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Kemp family manuscript collection

Identifier: MS 3181


This collection contains the correspondence and financial, legal, and genealogical records of the Kemp family, especially that of Thomas and John W. Kemp.


  • 1732 - 2004


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 Kemp family was settled in Talbot County, Maryland in the 1660’s by Robert Kemp. He married Elizabeth Webb in 1678. They had seven children. After the death of her father, Edmond Webb, Elizabeth, Robert, and their children moved to the Webb family farm in Bay Hundred, Bolton, where Kemp family members continued to live until 1915. The Kemps were Quakers who practiced at the Bayside Meeting House, which was built on land donated by Robert in 1667.

Thomas Kemp (1779-1824) was born in St. Michaels, Maryland. In 1803, he and his brother Joseph moved to Baltimore to enter the shipbuilding business. Their shipyard was located in Fells Point, and Thomas became renowned for building clipper ships. He built the Rossie, Chasseur, and Comet for the United States Navy, which had great success against the British during the War of 1812. Thomas returned to Talbot County with his family in 1813. He purchased property known as Wades Point from Colonel Hugh Auld.

Upon Thomas’ death, his oldest son by his second wife, John Washington Kemp (1812-1881), took over the Wades Point property. John expanded converted the farm from producing tobacco to grain, which he managed with the help of slaves. In 1876, he passed the farm to his son Joseph, who in turned the property into a summer resort. The Kemp family remained at Wades Point until 1984.


0.63 Linear Feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials



The collection is organized by subject, and the documents are in chronological order. The papers were initially arranged by the Kemp family, and this order has been respected. Each folder contains a detailed inventory of document.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Lee Kemp Aldrich, Jane Kemp Christianson, Elaine Kemp Napier, and Anne Kemp Roxbrough, March 24, 2008.

Related Materials

MS 2335, Thomas Kemp Papers, 1803-1857

MS 689, Logs, ships Chasseur & Rolla, 1812-1815

MS 748, Ships named Comet, Wasp, Bona, Kemp, and Lawrence, 19th century: log books/papers, 1812-15

MS 3082, Schooner Mammoth Logs, 1814 and the Schooner Independencia del Sud, November, 1817 – January, 1822 1814-1822

Scope and Contents

The collection contains the correspondence and financial, legal, and genealogical records of the Kemp family, especially that of Thomas and John W. Kemp. Correspondence and legal documents comprise the majority of the collection. Much of the correspondence discusses family matters, such as health and travel plans, but also provides insight to life in Talbot County during the late 1800’s. The letters from the 1860’s touch upon the Civil War, in particular a letter from W. T. Kemp written aboard the U.S.S. Patroon, which discusses efforts to blockade Florida and his experiences as a Union seaman. Legal documents related to land purchases in Baltimore and Talbot County also make up a significant portion of the collection. This includes indentures for the family’s Wades Point property purchased by Thomas Kemp in 1813. The collection also includes the financial records for the property after it was converted to a guest house. Another highlight of the collection is purchase orders to Thomas Kemp held in the “ship records” folder in Box 1. These documents include an 1813 order from the United States Navy.

Guide to the Kemp family manuscript collection
Under Revision
Lara Westwood
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 2020-04-15: Manually entered into ArchivesSpace by Mallory Herberger.

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