PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT UNDER THE LATER RIDGELYS
The affluence and the social activities of the early proprietors made Hampton a conspicuous place throughout the 19th century. The industrial origins of the estate faded away. About 1850 the Northampton Furnace ceased operation but inherited money and some wealthy brides kept life going on a high plane. But toward the end of the century, the Ridgely fortunes waned until the operation of the property finally became a burden. Opportunity was taken to sell the property to the United States Government and in 1947 title passed into public hands. The National Park Service then assumed the responsibility for upkeep.
Below are offered some notes as to the physical developments under the various Ridgely proprietors through a century and a half. The dates refer to the years when each particular Ridgely was the dominant figure on the estate.
The builder of Hampton in his will dated April 7, 1786, had provided for his wife as follows:
To his nephew, Charles Ridgely Carnan, he left two-thirds of Northampton Furnace with all the land and stock belonging to it and one-eighth of the furnace and forges formerly belonging to the Nottingham Company and which he had purchased from the State. 
About that time bad feelings seem to have developed between the two heirs. Widow Rebecca complained in a letter to "Priscy" who was both her much younger sister and wife of the next owner:
In any case Rebecca decided not to remain in the Mansion. An agreement was finally reached on January 17, 1791, that Charles Carnan Ridgely would cede to the widow 244-1/4 acres of land called "Dimite's Delight," build thereon a carriage house and stable for six horses and deliver thereto five thousand chestnut Fence rails. In addition, he agreed to provide a house on Howard's Hill plus one ton of hay and a barrel of superfine flour. On her part Rebecca agreed "to give up all her the said Rebecca Ridgely's Right Title Interest and Claim to the house and The Three hundred Acres of land Laid of [f] to her out of the dwelling plantation. . .by George Fitzhugh Aquila Galloway and Moses Dillon." 
Early in Governor Ridgely's proprietorship we have a tax list of structures at Hampton. The extent of existing improvements as of October 1, 1798, is detailed in a manuscript volume at the Maryland Historical Society titled Particular List of Houses, Lands & Slaves in Back-River and Middle River Upper Hundreds in the Eighth Assessment District, John Orrick, Asst. Assr.: 
1 stone dwelling house, 2 stories, 56 by 80
Orrick valued these buildings at $20,000. The principal assessor cut the total down to $12,000. Most of the above were minor structures and have disappeared.
Public life at Annapolis (Ridgely was a representative in the legislature 1790-95, senator 1796-1800, and governor 1816-19) must have kept him away from Hampton much of the time. Finally retired at Hampton, where he "represented the typical aristocrat of the day. He had the fortune that enabled him to live like a prince, and he also had the inclination." 
Ridgely's interest in horses and other agricultural pursuits probably kept him at Hampton during the summer season. Perhaps he developed the usual city-county, winter-summer cycle of residence becoming generally fashionable in America among the well-to-do. This gave an opportunity of avoiding the city heat and the various deadly epidemics which often visited our seaports in the early days.
As an interesting note for the industrial history of Hampton it should be remembered that the Englishman Benjamin Henfrey discovered mineral coal on Governor Ridgely's land and made some experiments on its use there which resulted in a United States patent. 
On the death of Governor Ridgely in 1829 the liquidation of his estate was a tremendous operation; sales went on for more than a year. The list of sales items at the auction of October 1, 1829, covers many pages.  In view of the fact that we now know little or nothing of the use of particular rooms in the Mansion it is interesting to know how the auction clerks designated the various spaces, which were:
The "Catalogue of all the Stock, Farming Utensils, &c., upon the Hampton Farm, the Property of the late Charles Ridgely of Hampton" printed for the auction sale of October 13, 1829, lists property in the following spaces:
Long House Loft
As noted above, nearly all of Governor Ridgely's household furnishings left the house after the auctions of 1829. The Memorandum Book of John Ridgely, the new proprietor, for the period 1830-1851 tells us much about the Mansion, as well as the grounds and other matters. Some of the more interesting items are listed here. The classification of some of these items is tentative: in other words, we cannot be perfectly certain at this time that they all pertain to the Mansion.
Expenses at the Mansion
Lack of time--both in 1949 and 1970--has prevented the writer from continuing his notes to the end of the Ridgely ownership, though Part V on Grounds and Gardens has some material and so do the notations on the Illustrations in Part VIII.
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As a final item it might be noted that the Hampton lands became salable for suburban residential use as automobiles and roads developed apace. The residential future of property in the Dulaney Valley seemed promising and it was subdivided. On February 25, 1930, John Ridgely conveyed to the Hampton Company a parcel of land (Deeds Liber L McL M No. 846, Folio 57, etc.) subdivided according to a plot. The seven-page pamphlet issued concurrently stated the restrictions on development and names the sales agent as William H. Gisin, 100 E. Pleasant St., Baltimore.
Some properties were sold and developed but the depression of the 1930's dampened the promotion. After World War II suburban life began to boom again. The visitor today finds that real estate development is continuous from the heart of Baltimore, nine miles away, and has now engulfed all of Captain Ridgely's 18th-century iron plantation.
Last Updated: 07-Jul-2008