Notes on Hampton Mansion
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The Ridgely Papers offer us a great many bits of information about the landscaping of Hampton and through the years there are a number of interesting references made by visitors. The following are but a sampling.

A. Period 1772-1790

Even before the Revolution there were gardeners on Captain Ridgely's property. A list of ninety-one "white servants" in the period 1772-74 includes the gardeners James Barber, English, and John Fowloe, Irish. Whether they only worked at raising food for the industrial community or at ornamental horticulture we do not know. [1] We have record of a payment to Thos. Todd on March 19, 1773 "for 24 post 9 feet Long for Garding for 5 ditto post & Railes," and for "3 Cedar gate post" on May 1. That there was a huge orchard is shown by the entries on February 24, 1773, when James Lennox was paid ten pounds for "Triming 772 Apple Trees." [2]

Just after the war, the name of John Willis, gardener, appears in the Northampton furnace daybooks. On October 30, 1783, Willis was charged for pork and corn flour, in the next month for making a pair of shoes for his wife and having a pair soled for himself. There were afterwards occasional purchases of whiskey, brandy, beef, bacon, mackerel, potatoes, tea and sugar, the last entry noted being for October 1, 1785. Whether or not Willis was an indentured servant does not appear, though the time of other indentured servants (not named) was charged in the books. [3]

The next gardener of record, however, is remarkably well documented.

One of the most interesting items preserved among the Ridgely Papers is the printed form of indenture by which Daniel Healy, a gardener, "Voluntarily put himself Servant to Hugh Lyle, master of the Ship Harmony" at Cork, Ireland, on March 2, 1784. Healy was bound to serve Lyle for three and a half years after arrival in Baltimore. The latter agreed to "find and supply the said Daniel with sufficient Meat, Drink, Apparel, Lodging and all other necessaries befitting such a Servant." The act was performed in the presence of the Right Worshipful Richard Kellett, Mayor of the City of Cork. These agreements or indentures were typical means for poor people to get passage across the Atlantic and a large part of our pre-Revolutionary American stock managed to get here by means of such arrangements.

Endorsements on the reverse show that Lyle made over the indenture to Robert Ballard at Baltimore on May 12, 1784, and Ballard passed Healy along to Charles Ridgely six months later. [4] A letter in the Ridgely Papers explains this as follows:

9th Oct. 1784

To Capt. Chas. Ridgely

D. Sir,

I have sent you Daniel Healy a gardner who I believe to be Master of his Trade, he cost me about 12 Guineas. As I do not mean to finish my garden I have no use for him. I promised him if he behaved himself well, to give him up a year of his time. If you have a garden to make, he is worth a great deal of money to you. If you take him please send me word.

I am Dr. Sir          
Your most obt. Servt.     
(signed) Robert Ballard [5]

It is not unlikely that Healy worked on the grounds of Hampton Mansion, then abuilding. [6]

Lists of indentured servants offered for sale at Chesapeake Bay ports show that the importation of Irish bondsmen was common just after the Revolutionary War and gardeners were often included along with mechanics of the building trades. [7] Earlier there had been discrimination against Ireland under the colonial laws of Maryland. [8]

Captain Ridgely must have been interested in the landscape for just before he died we find--in a letter from Moses Dillon of March 17, 1790--fair-sized trees being moved, perhaps to make a setting for the new Mansion, perhaps for an orchard:

Frd I will get the trees according to direction as near as I can I will also Engage the Rest if I can wich I have not much doubt of, thee may Send the waggons next Sixth Day morning & Seventh Day Evening they may get home & on first Day Evening I can come down & Seconday morning begin to plant if health & the weather permit I am afraid two waggon will not hold them they are so large & I should supose the would weight 20lb per tree one with another at the Rate 250 would weigh 2-1/2 ton so perhaps three will be best but it will take the best part of a Day to dig & trim so many the wagons ought to Start to be at my house Early as possible M D--17 of 3d mo 1790. [9]

There is no indication as to the type of trees being moved; whether forest, orchard or other types.

We do not know when the famous garden terraces of Hampton were constructed. "Falls" is the local term for such features. At least as far as the showy Governor's Palace in Williamsburg at the very beginning of the 18th century, there had been ample precedent in the Chesapeake region. "Belmont," the Dorsey place near Elkridge (house, 1738) from which came the first two mistresses of Hampton, and "Mount Clare" (house, 1754) have terraced gardens which may well have served as precedent for the one at Hampton. Yankee John Adams described the layout at Mount Clare as "a beautiful garden and then a fall, another flat garden, and then a fall, and so on down the river." [10] Such gardens seemed to enjoy a vogue around hilly Baltimore. In calling attention to a building lot on Jones Falls an owner of the period advertised:

. . . there is a space sufficient for an extensive garden. From the particular form of the ground, it might at no great expense, be made into several falls, terminating with the water. [11]

B. Period 1790-1829

Over the years the new owner, Charles Carnan Ridgely, evidenced a great interest in making Hampton a showplace. But we do not have much detail for the beginnings of this period. Ledger K shows that one John Willis got £ 3...13...6-1/2 for working in the garden from April 12 to June 30, 1791. [12] John Ludley £ 26...7...6 for 211 days in the garden between March 18 and December 20, 1793. [13] Various items in an account book for the period 1796-1808 reflect the development of the Mansion grounds, though they don't distinguish between vegetables and ornamental plants. William Bartlett, gardener, was employed on September 29, 1796, at 45 guineas per annum and received £ 61...6...8 for nine months and nine days' services. Edward Nagle, gardener, received £ 75 in 1797. In 1798 and 1799 John Lindley better than £ 87 for 440 days "work done in the Garden."

A great project for the years 1800-1801 was the introduction of water in quantity to the hill crowned by the Mansion. An account book for the period 1796-1808 gives the following details:

August 27, 1800Samuel Wolf 74...12...0 Making 2984 of water pipe at 6d.
May 23, 1801Samuel Wolf 107...16...0 Making and laying down 3696 feet water pipe a 7d.
July 16, 1801Samuel Wolf 3..15 Putting down pipes to convey the water to the Garden
July 16, 1801Samuel Wolf 1...4...7 Cash paid for strainers
------ 1801John Prendergrass 7...3 Making a Ditch for conveying the water into the Garden 25-1/2 perches @ 5/6

The well-known engraver and enamel painter William Russell Birch of Philadelphia, who left us an old view of Hampton Mansion, seems to have had a part in the design of the grounds. About 1802 he paid his

second visit to Gen'l Ridgely at Hampton, after my introduction to him by my friend Judge Sam'l Chase; the Gen'ls attention to me was very polite and marked with every appearance of respect. I stoppe(d) several days with him, the situation of Hampton is beautiful and richly deserved the adoption of Art in its improvement, I made several designs for that purpose which was approved. [14]

One of the Mrs. John Ridgelys attributed the design of the flower garden to another man:

The flower beds were laid out about the year 1810, and possibly earlier, by William Booth, a man of English birth, who, according to the historian Scharf, "stood high among the earlier botanists, florists and seedsmen" of the United States, and laid out some of the finest gardens attached to the old mansions around Baltimore. Scharf says: "His own grounds on West Baltimore Street, extending south to Pratt, were celebrated for the care and exquisite culture with which they were kept." [15]

In this period the account books tell us of three more men working at Hampton: [16]

Nov. 25, 1802Bartholomew Flarity 31...10... 7 months work in the garden @ 9/
Feb. 28, 1803Bartholomew Flarity 9...2..3 3 months and 1 days work @ 9/
March 31, 1803Bartholomew Flarity 3... 1 months work
April 30, 1803Bartholomew Flarity 4...16..0 23-1/2 days work @ 9/
July 4, 1807Gerard Gibson 9...17..3-1/2 2 months & 5 days work in the Garden @ 9/

C. Period 1829-1867

Shortly after Governor Ridgely's death we have two somewhat conflicting reports on Hampton. A reporter from the Baltimore American after a party on July 25, 1832, was enthusiastic:

You are delighted in beholding the rich profusion and balmy fragrance of numerous plants and flowers, adorned with orange trees, and an extensive and highly cultivated garden. [17]

On the other hand Charles Varle in A Complete View of Baltimore, 1833, while allowing the mansion house to be "a splendid building," of the pleasure grounds he could only say that they had once been in admirable order. [18]

The newspaper account is the first notice I have seen of the famous orange trees at Hampton. An historical note on that subject seems appropriate.

Orange and lemon trees were extensively cultivated in Genoa in the middle 17th century and their popularity spread northward. Le Notre collected three thousand specimens for Versailles and the Dutch became very expert in their culture. [19] In the northern climates these trees had to be moved indoors in winter and special glazed shelters called orangeries were built for the purpose. As the American colonists became more prosperous they were able to have such luxuries. Before the Revolution Charles Carroll of Annapolis ordered from merchants in Madeira "a Bearing Lemon Tree or two in Boxes with Earth." [20] Phillip Mazzei imported several hundred Italian orange trees to his Albemarle, Virginia, estate in 1775. [21] After the war orangeries appeared in different places--notably the one at Wye in Eastern Shore, Maryland (which still stands), and one at Lemon Hill just above Philadelphia on the Schuykill River. Susanna Diliwyn reported that in the greenhouse at Gray's Ferry "the lemons and oranges in particular appear as my Uncle Jemmy says, in as high perfection as in the West Indies." [22] The subject had enough general interest to be included in one of the first American garden books--one published in Baltimore. [23]

For the owner there is a new series of garden expenditures as set out in the John Ridgely Memorandum Book, 1830-1851, of which these are samples:

Dec. 10, 1830Dan Harris, Gardener$30.00-----
Jan. 1, 1831---20.00Rustic seats
Dec. 16, 1833I. Feast11.25Trees
Feb. 24, 1834------pr Fr.t & dray of Trees fr Ny.k & ph.a..
Apr. 5---4.75Freight & Dray Trees fr N York for Roses &c &c
Apr. 18M. Perin5.50200 flower Pots
May 3---1.75Freight Trees fr N York & dray
May 10W. Prince & Sons53.49Trees
May 30I. Wilk32.621/2 Trees Asparagus &c &c
May 31I. Hook6.90Lumber for Bee House
June l3Sinclair & Moore18.00Trees
Sept. 20, 1834I. S. Eastman23.43Trees, Int & Costs
Dec. 6---2.94Trees
June 15, 1836W. O. Eichelberger96.35Trees
Oct. 28Eichelberger, Sinclair & Moore40.00Trees
Nov. 4W.O.E.135.00Peach Trees etc. from N.Y.
July 10, 1837Pat Gardener1.14----
Nov. 17, 1838Underhille & Levris100.00pedistals

Perhaps in 1838 the upper greenhouse near the Mansion--later known as "the orangerie"--was built. There is a record of payment November 18 to Wm. Gregory for $22.00 for "plastering greenhouse." [24] We read in Little Eliza Ridgely's diary two years later that she "stayed some time in the two greenhouses where we got some oranges and lemons." [25]

Entries for the use of the garden continue:

May 31, 1839----$21.00Pitcher plant
April 26, 1841Mauldin Perine16.25Flower pots

For this period we have the exquisitely detailed Joshua Barney map of 1843 which delineates the general features of the garden and the grounds all the way to the iron furnace.

Jan. 3, 1844Bell & Packer38.00Marble basins
Nov. 23, 1848Thomas Kellery23.00200 peach trees
March 20, 1851Gaddes90.004 Urns
Dec. 1----132.00Trees
Dec. 17----54.35Trees & ct
April 14, 1852Wm. Corse36.00200 apple trees
April 16John Frederick20.00planting trees
April 16----3.70transporting trees from N.Y.
April 16----24.00 ornamental fruit trees
May 31----2.00transportation on grape vines
May 3----13.63Pear trees on Quince stocks etc.
June 8Feast21.50for Mrs. R.
July 8James Gaibraith Gardener35.00---
August 3James Gaibraith Gardener70.00---
Sept. 27----285.76guano for farm and bone dust for garden
Nov. 5Galbraith35.00---
Nov. 20Allison87.00sash for greenhouse

In this period a laudatory article by a correspondent "J.C." appeared in The American Farmer for January, 1854 (Vol. IX, new series, No. 7, p. 212):

Jottings among the Gardens
. . . Prominent among the improvers of our neighborhood stands the honored name of Mrs. Ridgely of Hampton. This lady, I am told, is an accomplished florist, and enters with zeal and taste on the culture of the flowering treasures of her extensive gardens. Many elegant improvements were lately made to the garden at Hampton, and as these desultory jottings are designed to be practical, I will briefly notice for the present the new Vinery, and mode of growing the grape vine, as practiced by Mrs. Ridgely's very efficient gardener, James Golbraith. . . .The varieties cultivated at Hampton are the Black Hamburg, and Chasselas Muscat of Alexandria and had only been planted sixteen months when the writer saw them. . . .

There has also been erected a new propagating house, 50 feet by 12, divided into two apartments by a walk in the centre, heated by hot water on the tank system. This house is certainly one of the most perfect in its construction, for the uses and purposes designed, that I have ever seen. The whole place is copiously supplied with water conducted from a spring by over two thousand feet of lead pipe, to a reservoir at the mansion, from where it radiates to different sections of the garden, where hydrants are placed, and by a hose the entire garden can be watered at pleasure. Last summer, when all other places in the neighborhood were dry and barren, the flower garden at Hampton presented a gorgeous array of bloom. The Petunias, Verbenas, Geraniums and other Summer flowering plants, looked as though they lacked no moisture there.

The Memorandum Book continues on:

April 24, 1854James Cowan, Gardener$60.002 months wages to date
May 1James Galbraith140.00---
May 26----17.53bill of trees, evergreens from Bangor
May 26John Zimmerman, undergardener14.001 months wages
Nov.Henry Little & Co.48.64evergreens, &c.
Dec. 2SJames Reid, undergardener24.00---
---- 1855Michael, undergardener15.002 weeks wages
---- 1855James, undergardener15.00---
---- 1855Patrick, undergardener------
---- 1855Peter Reid, gardener105.00---
---- 1855---11.62pitcher plant from Philadelphia
Dec. 22, 1855Joseph Allison$80.00on account for building gardener's porch.
Feb. 24James Cowan gardener90.00---
Oct. 18O. W. Eichelberger50.00to pay Ady for gardener's house
Oct. 2SGeo. Houser45.62for plastering gardener's house
Feb. 18Joseph Allison50.00building gardener's house
--- 1856----108.00lawn mowing machine per draft
March 1----85.00trees from England and Scotland
May 7, 1857John Saul18.00300 arborvitae
March 1, 1858W. D. Brackenridge30.60ornamental trees
May 20, 1858James Pentland19.50evergreens, etc.
July 8Robert Buist13.53seeds plants
Aug. 4W. D. Brackenridge73.79evergreens and plants
Sept. 3Peter Reid gardener105.00---
Sept. 10Frederick Kruter undergardener24.00---
Sept. 10Paul Hooper undergardener24.00---
Sept. 20McCoy and Fortling30.50marble vases
---- 1859Peter Reid gardener105.00---
---- 1859James Reid undergardener$24.00---
April 19, 1860Waterer & Godfred74.75Trees
Sept. 25W. D. Brackenridge35.40pear trees, plants
Dec. 7C. Grosbeck undergardener108.00---
May 3, 1861W. D. Brackenridge72.33peach trees
      1863W. D. Brackenridge18.37---
----- 1863H. Fraser gardener105.00---
Feb. 2Alex Frazer105.00gardener 3 months
March 16Alexr Fraser105.00gardener to March 1st 1863
Oct. 1, 1864R. Buist7.00for Mrs. Ridgely
Dec. 28A. Fraser150.00in full to Jan. 7, 1865 & 21/2/board hands
Jan. 21, 1865Linton16.76flower pots
Feb.R. Buist2.35---
June 1A. Fraser72.00boarding hands in full, eggs & chickens
March 9, 1866James Galbraith7.30expenses of gardener from New York
March 9Henderson & Fleming35.60seeds in full
March 9N.Y. Herald6.00advertisement for gardener

D. Period 1867 and After

The entries above could be much amplified by the interpretation of loose vouchers in the Ridgely Papers and by a study of the record books of later years. The account book continues:

Feb. 2, 1867Henderson & Fleming27.57seeds, etc.
April 1867A. Gerisher gardener112.50---
Nov. 1867W. D. Brackenridge4.37asparagus plants
Feb. 8, 1868Sisson20.31marble slab for green house
March 21Feast5.00garden seeds
Sept. 29W. D. Brackenridge8.0050 peach trees
Oct. 17----15.95glass for hot beds, watering pots, etc.
Oct. 17Linton12.50flower pots
Sept. 13, 1869W. D. Brackenridge49.15flowers & fruit

J. C. Carpenter, in an article "An Old Maryland Mansion," in Appleton's Journal for May 8, 1875 (Vol. XIII, P. 577), was much impressed by Hampton in this period.

. . .The approach is by the north front--the one shown in the engraving. . .The south front falls away in terraces, and the lawn and flower garden are flanked on one side by the conservatories and the orangery, and on the other by a high and thick wall of clipped cedar, beyond which lie the kitchen gardens, the orchards, and, in a shady and secluded spot the family vault, provided for in the will of Captain Ridgely.

The first terrace, which is merely an extension of the ground on which the house stand, is broad and spacious, ornamented with orange and lemon trees in bearing and clumping pyramidal Norway spruces of great age. This terrace is the favorite resort, on summer evenings of the guests of Hampton.

At the edge of the slope, among the grouped trees seats are placed, and from them the out look over the Italian garden is most beautiful--rich in color and novel in effect. The area is several acres, and the terraces have a gentle incline, while down the middle there goes a broad avenue of smooth turf, branching off at every side into smaller avenues. The turf is nearly a century old, and is so soft and springy to the foot as the velvety moss of a mountain valley. It is thick, matted and carpetlike, with a depth of green very seldom seen in the dry atmosphere of America. All the paths are rendered delightful to stroll along by this yeilding surface, and on all sides lies the flower-garden, for which Hampton is noted, and for which rare plants often come from France and England. Though laid out in geometrical figures, the stiffness of the old fashion is relieved and modernized. The lilacs, the hardy roses, and those plants which stand the winter, are placed so as not to interfere with the view, nor dwarf and obscure the loveliness of the lower flowers.

In terrace after terrace, strictly kept distinct in masses of color, eight thousand plants are bedded out. The scarlet and orange and deep carmine of the geraniums; the blue and purple and white of the sweet-scented heliotropes; the tawny gold and red of the roses; and the ample leaves of the bronsy crimson and yellow of the coleus; the borderings of vivid green; the orange and lemon trees, with their sharp contrast of lustrous leaves and half-hidden burden of fruitage; the noble old house on its rising knoll, relieved by its evergreens and backed by its lordly acres make up a scene more English than American, but whether English or American, exceedingly beautiful. . .

Hampton is the "show place" of Maryland. There is certainly nothing like it south of Mason and Dixon's line. There may be more palatial dwellings; it is easy in this age of great industrial wealth to buy an extensive tract of land, and erect a magnificent residence; it takes a hundred years, however, to make a "Hampton."

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Last Updated: 07-Jul-2008