Ridgely Papers 1733-1817, MS. 692.1

Maryland Historical Society
Library of Maryland History


Ridgely Papers, 1733-1817
Maryland Historical Society


(Text converted and initial EAD tagging provided by Apex Data Services, March 1999.)

Ridgely Papers, 1733-1817
Maryland Historical Society

Contact Information:
Manuscripts Department
Maryland Historical Society Library
201 West Monument Street
Baltimore MD 21201-4674
Fax: 410.385.2105

Descriptive Summary


MS. 692.1

Maryland Historical Society

Baltimore MD 21201-4674


Scope and Content Notes

These papers are an addition to those in MS. 692. The papers in this collection are largely those of Capt. Charles Ridgely and deal with his earlier career as sea captain and merchant. There are a few papers pertaining to Charles [Carnan] Ridgely.

Captain Charles Ridgely Papers

Ridgely's papers in this collection supplement those in MS. 692. They deal primarily with the years 1757-1778. Ridgely began his career as a mariner and had reached the rank of Captain by 1757. He sailed ships for London merchants bringing cargoes of pig iron and tobacco or lumber from the colonies to London. Sailing was his only avocation until 1761 when he formed a partnership with his father Col. Charles and brother John to build the Northampton Furnance. His time was increasingly spent with the iron works especially after his brother's death in 1771 and his father's in 1772. He did continue to buy goods from London merchants paying with shipments of pig iron and tobacco until the Revolution.

This portion of Ridgely's papers is almost exclusively concerned with Ridgely's mercantile pursuits although there are a few items relating to the Northampton Furnace, Ridgely's political career in Baltimore County, and his home Hampton.

Ridgely's papers in MS 692.1 consist of incoming letters with some drafts of his replies (1757-1790, ca. 300 items), bills and receipts (1757-1789, ca. 400 items), and land and legal papers (1759-1789, ca. 100 items).

The letters are concentrated in the years 1757-1778. During this period Ridgely acted alone or as Ridgely and Goodwin (1757), or as Ridgely, McLure, and Goodwin (ca. 1770-1773). The letters are business letters dealing with shipments of goods and methods of payment. Ridgely frequently was unable to pay his debts to London merchants,

and there are letters requesting payment. The London merchants he dealt with most frequently were James Russell, William Molleson, John Buchanan, and the firm Mildred and Roberts. These letters reveal much about colonial trade in the 1760s and 1770s.

Two topics outside routine trade arrangements were land and guns. There is frequent correspondence between Ridgely and James Russell over Affinity, a tract of 1500 acres on the Gunpowder River, that Russell purchased for Ridgely from John Hyde. This dispute was under discussion throughout the 1760s. Letters from William Molleson during 1765-1768 discuss procuring guns and shot for Ridgely.

The few letters in this collection that do not concern mercantile activities deal with Northampton Furnace and Baltimore County politics.

The letters concerning the Northampton Furnace include 2 from Col. Charles (1765) to his sons and 2 from John Ridgely 1768, 1769. There are 2 letters, 1777 and 1780, from doctors for the iron works. In 1777 Dr. Randle Hulse detailed the reasons he was leaving Ridgely's employ. Included were Ridgely's poor treatment of his workers and Rebecca Ridgely's inept attempts at medical practice. Hulse's indenture and will are in Box 6. In the 1780s there are several letters referring to the furnace from Ridgely's employees John Sterett and Daniel Sheredine.

The 4 letters concerning Baltimore County politics compliment those letters in MS. 692. Samuel Chase wrote Ridgely in 1778 asking him to oppose an unnamed pending proclamation. Ridgely also had a copy of a 1778 letter from Samuel Smith to Gov. Thomas Johnson. In it Smith explains how and why the continental Army should enlist convict servants before General Howe did. An undated exchange between Ridgely and Harry Dorsey Gough [UNK] Gough's impending candidacy. Another undated (possibly 1786) letter from Ridgely discusses a pending road bill. This could be in reference to the turnpike Ridgely opposed in Baltimore County.

One unrelated letter was one written in 1788 by a Richard Sheepshanks. In applying for a job as clerk for Ridgely he gives a detailed autobiography.

Ridgely's bills and receipts (1757-1789, ca. 400 items) also deal largely with his mercantile activities in the 1760s and 1770s. Many receipts are for money owed Ridgely or money owed London merchants which Ridgely was empowered to collect. There are some receipts relating to Northampton Furnace and receipts for building Hampton including the account with the estate of builder Jehu Howell. This account [1787] details the cost of building.

Among Ridgely's legal papers are land deeds and bonds for convict servants bound to him and to others. In [1785] there was a move to create a new county, to be called Paca County, out of Baltimore and Frederick counties. Several signed petitions for this are in these papers. Also included is a list of books purchased [by Ridgely?] and a list of horses beaten by Ridgely's horse.

Charles [Carnan] Ridgely Papers

There are few of Ridgely's papers in this collection. Most are bills and receipts (1787-1808, ca. 50 items) for food, clothing, some household items.


Container List

Box 1

Capt. Charles Ridgely Incoming Letters


Box 2

Capt. Charles Ridgely Incoming Letters

1768-1790, n.d.

Box 3

Capt. Charles Ridgely Bills and Receipts


Box 4

Capt. Charles Ridgely Bills and Receipts

1767-1789, n.d.

Box 5

Capt. Charles Ridgely Land Papers


Capt. Charles Ridgely Servants' Bonds


Capt. Charles Ridgely Bonds


Capt. Charles Ridgely Legal Papers


Paca County petitions

List of books

List of horses beaten by Figure

William Ridgely (son of Robert) Receipts


Col. Charles Ridgely Papers


Henry Ridgely Receipts


John Ridgely Bill


Charles [Carnan] Ridgely Incoming Letters

1797, 1817

Charles [Carnan] Ridgely Bills and Receipts


Non-Ridgely Papers

land grant


Randle Hulse papers

servant bonds

list of workers and families at Olde Plass and Stansbury Quarter


Ann Chew petition

Boxes 506 consolidated, 1/15/92 MNB.