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Hoyt collection of Ridgely papers

Identifier: MS 2891


This collection consists of papers of various members of the Ridgley Family and related families including the Gough, Howard, Hoyt, and Yeaton families. There are also bills and receipts for the Hampton house, the Ridgley family estate. Among the materials are the papers of Family members including Captain Charles Ridgely (1733-1790), John Ridgely (1792 – 1867), Charles Ridgely (1830 – 1872), and Helen West Stewart Ridgely (1854 – 1929).


  • 1716-1970


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

The reproduction of materials in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine and satisfy copyright clearances or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information visit the MCHC’s Rights and Permissions page.

Biographical / Historical

The biographical sketches below give some background on the main persons in this collection. The H. Furlong Baldwin Library contains many collections pertaining to the Ridgely Family. A list of the major Ridgely Family collections at the Maryland Historical Society can be found at the end of the scope and content note. Information about additional collections relating to the Ridgley Family can be located through our online catalog or by inquiring at the Special Collections Desk.

Capt. Charles Ridgely (1733 – 1790)

Capt. Charles Ridgely was a sea captain, iron master, politician, and the builder of Hampton mansion. He began his career as a mariner and 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 England. Sailing was his only avocation until 1761, when he formed a partnership with his father Col. Charles Ridgely and his brother John to build Northampton Furnace, an ironworks in Baltimore County. His time was increasingly spent with the iron works, especially after his brother’s death in 1771 and his father’s death in 1772. Capt. Charles did continue to buy good from London merchants until the Revolution, paying with shipments of pig iron and tobacco. His mercantile business pursuits were conducted under several different firm names, including Ridgely and Goodwin (1757); and Ridgely McLure and Goodwin (ca. 1770-1773).

Capt. Ridgely was a political power in Baltimore County throughout the Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary period. He served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1777 to 1787. He corresponded with political elites such as Samuel Chase, Tench Tilghman, George Lux, and Robert Gilchrist.

In 1760, Capt. Charles inherited the Northampton land from his father. In 1783, he commissioned Jehu Howell to begin building an estate house on this land. Known as Hampton, it is thought to have been based on captain Ridgely’s own design, and it served as the seat of the Ridgely family until 1948, when it passed into the hands of the National Park Service. Although Capt. Ridgely was married – his wife Rebecca Ridgely converted to Methodism and was a correspondent of Francis Asbury – none of his children survived to adulthood. Instead, he adopted his nephew, Charles Carnan, as heir to the Hampton estate.

Charles [Carnan] Ridgely (1760 – 1829)

Charles [Carnan] Ridgely was the nephew of Captain Charles Ridgely who took the surname Ridgely in order to inherit his uncle’s estate. He ran the iron works at Northampton, as well as pursuing a political career, serving in the Maryland legislature from 1790-1800, and as governor of Maryland from 1816 to 1819. Charles [Carnan] also corresponded with the famous and influential Marylanders of his day, including Samuel chase and the Baltimore architect Robert Cary Long Sr. Like his uncle, Charles [Carnan] relied on slave labor to maintain the farm and iron works at Hampton.

John Ridgely (1792 – 1867)

John Ridgely was the son of Charles [Carnan] Ridgely. In 1828, he married his distant cousin Eliza E. Ridgely (1803 – 1867), who was the daughter of Nicholas G. Ridgely, a Baltimore grocery merchant. The union would produce five children. John served as a trustee for Nicholas G. Ridgely’s estate when Eliza inherited it, and the estate settlements of both of their fathers in 1829 provide important information about inheritance, wealth, and financial arrangements in the early nineteenth century. John inherited the Hampton estate, and continued to live as a gentleman farmer as well as overseeing the iron works. Correspondents included Charles Caroll, Robert Gilmor, and N. G. Starkweather. His use of slaves at Hampton has resulted in substantial records of slavery in antebellum Baltimore County.

Eliza E. Ridgely (1803 – 1867)

Eliza E. Ridgely was the wife of John Ridgely and the daughter of Nicholas G. Ridgely. Eliza was very talented musically. A famous portrait by Thomas Sully depicts Eliza and her harp in the early years of her marriage. As mistress of Hampton, Eliza was involved in running the household, keeping track of accounts, in subscribing to charitable organizations. As heir to her father’s extensive estate, she inherited lands in the Illinois and Nebraska territories, which remained in the Ridgely family well into the twentieth century.

Nicholas G. Ridgely (1771 – 1829)

Nicholas G. Ridgely was a Baltimore grocery merchant in the firm of MacDonald and Ridgely, whose success contributed to his substantial wealth. He also owned land in the Louisiana territory, Illinois and Nebraska territories, and stock in a Pennsylvania bank. These speculations led to several lawsuits, including one in which Ridgely sued the heirs of Samuel Chase for a piece of waterfront property mortgaged to Ridgely, and another in which the Union Bank sued Ridgely for a variety of reasons. His wealth also made him the target of pleas from relatives for financial assistance, including his nephew Greenberry Ridgely. After Nicholas’ death in 1829, his business partner, A. MacDonald, served as the executor of his estate.

Charles Ridgely (1830 – 1872)

Charles Ridgely, the son of John and Eliza E. Ridgely, was a gentleman farmer at Hampton. He was educated at Harvard, and married Margaretta S. Howard of Baltimore’s prestigious Howard family. Charles spent much of his adult life abroad, living in London, Paris, and Rome. During his European travels, he corresponded frequently with his bankers and friends Henry and J. L. Johnston, and with his Hampton foreman, who sent him monthly financial statements on the farm’s production. In 1872, Charles died suddenly in Rome of typhoid fever. His estate was thus in some disarray, and the bills, letters, and settlements that resulted are amply contained in this collection.

Eliza Ridgely White Buckler (1828 - ?)

The sister of Charles Ridgely. Henry White, her son, was a diplomat during the 1890s and 1900s and was one of the signers of the Treaty of Versailles.

Margaretta S. [Howard] Ridgely (1824 – 1904)

Margaretta S. H. Ridgely was the wife of Charles Ridgely of Hampton. Her husband’s sudden death left her as a relatively young widow, with children still in school. Her older son, John, married soon after his father’s death, and Margaretta subsequently divided her time between Hampton and her house in Baltimore City. She corresponded chiefly with family members, Margaretta kept extensive records of her life in Baltimore and at Hampton. Her bills and receipts from after her husband’s death cover expenses for repairs to Hampton, furniture for her town house, books, clothing, dry goods, and music lessons and tutors for her younger children. Upon her death in 1904, a legal dispute broke out between John and his siblings over the proper settlement of both their mother’s and father’s wills. Margaretta’s daughters, Eliza Ridgely, Margaret Ridgely, and Julia Yeaton, served as the executors of her estate.

Capt. John Ridgely (1851 – 1938)

John Ridgely was the son of Charles and Margaretta S. H. Ridgely. Few of his papers have survived. John continued the family tradition of living as a gentleman farmer at Hampton. Most of his surviving papers thus relate to the farm, and reflect John’s interests in Jersey cattle, horses, and Hampton-made wines. He helped execute his father’s estate, and was involve in the land speculations in Illinois and Nebraska.

Eliza Ridgely (1858 – 1954)

Eliza Ridgely was the daughter of Charles and Margaretta S. H. Ridgely, the sister of John Ridgely. Although she remained unmarried, she was active in Baltimore social reform movements and literary societies. She traveled extensively with her friend Eleanor Freeland, visiting Europe, the Middle East, East Asia, and even the west coast of Africa. Eliza’s papers reflect her close relationships with her sisters and her mother, and her interest in her nieces and nephews.

Margaret Ridgely (1869 – 1949)

Margaret Ridgely was the daughter of Charles and Margaretta S. H. Ridgely. Named Margaretta after her mother, she frequently went by either Margaret or Margie, and thus is named Margaret in this collection to distinguish her from her mother. Only 3 when her father died, she was the youngest of Charles Ridgely’s children. Like her sister Eliza, Margaret remained unmarried, and was active in social reform. However, from 1904 - 1932, Margaret served as a Protestant Episcopal missionary in Liberia, where she founded and ran the House of Bethany, a boarding school for native girls in Cape Mount, Liberia. After her retirement in Baltimore, she continued to correspond with both the House of Bethany workers and with former students. While in Liberia, she designated her sister, Julia Yeaton, to serve on her behalf as executor of her mother’s estate, and gave Julia power of attorney to deal with Margaret’s financial and investment concerns.

Julie Southgate Ridgely Yeaton

Julie Yeaton was the daughter of Charles and Margaretta Ridgely.

Helen West Stewart Ridgely (1854 – 1929)

Helen West Stewart Ridgely was the wife of Capt. John Ridgely of Hampton. She was one of the foremost society matrons in Baltimore in the late nineteenth century, She was frequently away from her husband John, traveling for pleasure or her health, and her papers therefore contain many letters from John to his wife. Her other correspondents consisted primarily of family members, including her mother, Josephine Moulton Stewart, her grandmother Leonice Sampson Moulton, Many of the letters contain advice on proper upbringing for Helen’s children. She also corresponded frequently with her many children.

Helen was active in the Maryland Society of the Colonial Dames of America, in which she served as the chairman of their committee to research colonial graves. Her research in this direction led to the publication of Historic Graves of Maryland and the District of Columbia (New York, 1908), which she edited. Helen was also the chairman of the Maryland Commission to the Jamestown Exposition in 1907.

Helen Ridgely was a conscientious diarist. The diaries (7 vols.) in this collection are detailed and introspective, giving her thoughts as well as a record of her activities. The earliest diary records her activities while in school, probably in the early 1870s. The most interesting diaries are the 3 volumes covering the years 1881-83, and 1886-1888, giving insight into the child-rearing philosophy of Ridgely. In the 1881-83 volume she records the activities of her 3 daughters as dictated by the girls. They are quite candid about their misdeeds and punishments. The 2 volumes of 1886-1888 contain Ridgely's thoughts on raising her children to be useful adults. These diaries coupled with the letters of advice from Ridgely's mother in MS 715 give a good view of childrearing in the late 19th century.

Ridgely's notebooks include her Bible study notes for 1877; one notebook of research on Maryland churches probably used for her book, The Old Brick Churches of Maryland; one scrapbook of obituaries; and one of articles on Baltimore. There is also an essay (ca. 1904) by Ridgely on the attitude of inquiry. One book has notes on keeping poultry (1913) and raising vegetables (1917).

Ridgely's account books include her expenses for 1904-1905 and her grocery account for 1907.

There is also some printed material about the 1914 Star-Spangled Banner Centennial.

Helen W. Ridgely wrote a genealogy/reminiscence of her family entitled, My Heritage. This 50-page article deals with the Moulton and Stewart families and contains copies of many family letters. A typescript of this work is part of the collection.

In 1894 Helen Ridgely published The Old Brick Churches of Maryland. There are letters (1893) from a J.W. Palmer discussing this book.


21 Linear Feet (21 boxes)

Language of Materials



Collection is arranged into twenty-one series, some of which are broken up into further subseries. :

Series I: Colonel Charles Ridgely Papers (1716 – 1772)

Series II: Captain Charles Ridgely Papers (1736 – 1791)

Series III: Rebecca Ridgely Papers (1790)

Series IV: Charles Carnan Ridgely (1790 – 1827)

Series V: Gough Family Papers (1786 – 1847)

Series VI: Nicholas G. Ridgely Papers (1814 – 1882)

Series VII: John Ridgely Papers (1829 - 1970)

Series VIII: Eliza E. Ridgely (1828 – 1867)

Series IX: Charles Ridgely Papers (1848? - 1913)

Series X: Hampton Bills (1863 – 1876)

Series XI: Trinity Church (1856 – 1880)

Series XII: Eliza Ridgely White Buckler (1848 – 1872)

Series XIII: Margaretta Stewart Howard Ridgely (1872 – 1909)

Series XIV: Captain John Ridgely (1866 – 1935)

Series XV: Margaret Ridgely (1904 – 1950)

Series XVI: Julia Yeaton (1873 – 1950)

Series XVII: Eliza Ridgely (1902 – 1937)

Series XVIII: Hoyt Family Papers (1930 – 1948)

Series XIX: Helen West Stewart Ridgely (1840 – 1970)

Series XX: Howard Family Papers (1863 – 1928)

Series XXI: Miscellaneous Papers (n.d., 1824 – 1927)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Hoyt Collection of Ridgely Papers was given to the H. Furlong Baldwin Library of the Maryland Historical Society in 1985 by members of the Hoyt family who were descended from the Ridgely family of Hampton. Accession Number: 1055

Related Materials

Ridgely Account Books, MS 691

Ridgely Papers, 1664-1882, MS 692

Ridgley Papers, 1733-1817, MS 692.1

Ridgely-Pue Papers, 1748-1932, MS 693

Helen West Stewart Ridgely Papers, 1868-1919, MS. 715

Helen West Stewart Ridgely Family Papers 1840-1918, MS. 715.1

Ridgely-Stewart Papers, 1773-1921, MS 716

Ridgely-Dorsey Papers, 1733-1885, MS 717

Ridgely Family Papers, 1757-1949, MS 1127

Charles Ridgely Papers, 1720-1841, MS 1620

Inventory of his goods and chattles, 1771 (Charles Ridgely), MS 2018

Separated Materials

The following items were removed from the collection and transfered to the MdHS Museum Department:

Margaretta S. H. Ridgely – drawings of proposed statuary in Rome, 1872

Guide to the Hoyt collection of Ridgely Papers
Joanna Lamb and Damon Talbot
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Revision Statements

  • 2020-03-20: Manually entered into ArchivesSpace by Emily Somach.

Repository Details

Part of the H. Furlong Baldwin Library Repository

H. Furlong Baldwin Library
Maryland Center for History and Culture
610 Park Avenue
Baltimore MD 21201 United States