An American Family History

The Ridgely Family

Maryland was established with religious freedom for Catholics. The colonial economy was based on tobacco cultivated by Africans who had been enslaved.

from Ancestral Records and Portraits by Colonial Dames of America. Chapter I, Baltimore

William Ridgely, of South River (1645-1716), came to the Province of Maryland in 1672. His first survey, 1697, was Ridgely's Beginning, north side of South River, which in 1710 he and his wife Elizabeth sold to Amos Garrett, the Annapolis merchant.

In 1690 he bought of James Finley a portion of Abbington at the head of South River, and made it his homestead.

William Ridgely's landed estates were, Ridgely's Beginning, forty acres; Ridgely's Chance, three hundred and five acres, and Abbington, two hundred acres.

He died intestate.

The first European settlements in Maryland were made in 1634 when English settlers created a permanent colony.

A Dower is a provision for a wife's support should her husband die before her. Her dower right was the use of ⅓ of her husband's estate. The dower was settled on the bride at the time of the wedding.

From: Anne Arundel Gentry, Vol. 3, William Ridgely

William Ridgely emigrated to the Province of Maryland, that is, he financed his own passage, and therefore was entitled to 50 acres of land, as the following will prove:

27 June 1672. Came William Ridgely of Anne Arundel County and proved his Right to 50 acres of land for Transporting himself into this Province to Inhabit.

He was a brother to Colonel Henry Ridgely, but unlike his brother he lived a quiet life and acquired no great wealth. He was literate, however, and in his inventory there were several books. He outlived his brother who bequeathed him his wearing apparel. His only known activity in the service of the Lord Proprietary was in 1678 when he received 240 lbs. tob. for participation in the Nanticoke Indian War.

In 1679 he with twelve other gentlemen met at the home of Richard Rawlings and testified that John Vennall died seized of 50 acres of land then possessed lawfully by Richard Rawlings.

His early dwelling was at Ridgely's Beginning, but in 1700 he purchased a portion of Abington from James Finley where he later established his seat. Elizabeth Finley, wife to James, waived all dower rights.

His wife was Elizabeth ---, and it is possible that she was Elizabeth Vennail, the daughter of George or John Vennall. On August 8, 1710, William Ridgely with his wife, Elizabeth, joining him as grantor conveyed to Amos Garrett, Merchant, a portion of Vennell's Inheritance, of 50 acres, which had been granted to John Vennell, late of Anne Arundel County, deceased.

At the same time he deeded to Amos Garrett Ridgely's Beginning of 40 acres which had been granted by His Lordship. William Ridgely signed the deed of conveyance.

Children of William and Elizabeth Ridgely
1. William Ridgely married Jane Westall.
2. Jehoshaphat Ridgely married Frances Ruley.
3. Elizabeth Ridgely married Thomas Maccauley.
4. Eleanor Ridgely, married [John Rawlings].
5. Sarah Ridgely married John Barry, All Hallow's Parish, June 10, 1712.
6. Margaret Ridgely married Nicholas Saunders, All Hallow's Parish, Dec. 24, 1727.
7. Anne Ridgely.

On October 3, 1712, William Ridgely Sr. and Elizabeth his wife and William Ridgely Jr. "son of ye said William Ridgely" and Jane his wife deeded to Mary Ridgely, Widow, of Prince George's County, 200 acres of Abington for a consideration of £200. The grantee was the widow of Colonel Henry Ridgely who died in 1710. William Ridgely and his son signed the deed, while their respective wives made their marks.

He died intestate. On November 16, 1716, letters of administration were granted to his widow, with bond placed at £60. Thomas Reynolds and John Rawlings were her sureties. William Ridgely and Jehoshaphat Ridgely approved as the next of kin, while Benjamin Warfield and John Gaither approved as the greatest creditors.

His widow was living as late as May 3, 1733, when by deed she gave her daughter, Elizabeth Maccauley, and her granddaughter, Elizabeth Maccauley Jr., all wearing apparel and to her said granddaughter the residue of her estate. She apparently died soon thereafter.

It was common for bequests to include wearing apparel.
In Protestant Revolution of 1689, Maryland Puritans called Associators, revolted against the Roman Catholic government.

from Side-lights on Maryland History: With Sketches of Early Maryland ..., Volume 2 by Hester Dorsey Richardson

Colonel Henry Ridgely [1635-1710] arrived in the Province of Maryland in the year 1659, and demanded land for transporting himself, his wife, Elizabeth Howard, and four servants (Land Office, Annapolis, Warrants, Liber 7, folio 461). He became a distinguished member of the Provincial government and acquired extensive estates in Anne Arundel and Prince George Counties.

Charles Calvert, third Lord Baltimore, commissioned him Justice of Anne Arundel County in the year 1679, and he continued to fill this important office for many years (see Maryland Archives, volume 15, folios 253, 323, etc.). He was commissioned "Captain of Foote" by the Associators Assembly September 4, 1689 (Ibid., volume 13, p. 242): was promoted to Major in 1694 (Ibid., volume 20, p. 108), and commissioned Lieutenant-Colonel July 30, 1694.

According to a family Bible record preserved in the family, Colonel Henry Ridgely had a second wife named Sarah, who is entered as the mother of Henry Ridgely, Jr.

Colonel Henry Ridgely outlived his son, and his will, probated in Prince George County, July 13, 1710, names his last wife as Mary [widow of Mareen Duvall]. In his will he bequeaths numerous tracts of land, aggregating over 2000 acres; to his son, Henry Ridgely's son, Henry, he left the residue of land called Waldridge. This tract of 600 acres, which was surveyed for Colonel Henry Ridgely and James Warner, on February 20, 1661, and part of which Colonel Ridgley gave to his son, Henry Ridgely, Jr., during the latter's lifetime; together with several other tracts in Anne Arundel County. . .

Lord Baltimore, Cecil Calvert (1605 -1675), 2nd Baron Baltimore was the first governor of Maryland.
Phillip Calvert (1626–1682), was the 5th governor from 1660 to1665.
Charles Calvert (1637 – 1715), 3rd Baron Baltimore inherited the colony in 1675.

Colonial Maryland used the headright system to encourage settlement. Land was granted to anyone who would pay fthe transportation costs of a laborer.


Know all men by these presents that I Robert Ridgely of St. Mary's County do Assign, Sell and make over unto Robert Johnson of Somerset County all my right, Title and Interest of, in and to Twelve Rights to Land to me due by assignment from Samuell Gibbons

due the said Samuell for Transporting Robert Morrison, John Stinson, Thomas Taggert, Alexander Mackdaniell, James mackmullen, Patrick Mackarmeck, Daniell Mackoy, John Keely, John Slone (Stone ?), John Camell, Thomas Belcher and Jane Anderson into this province to Inhabit.

To have and to hold the Said five and Twelve Rights to Land to him the Said Robert Johnson, his heirs and Assigns forever,

Witness my hand and Seale this Sixth of November 1674
Witnesses: John Blomfeild Robert Ridgely {Seale}
Robert Ellis

In contracts and pleadings usually people and things mentioned before are designated by the term said (sd ) for clarity. Aforesaid (afd, afsd, aforesd ) means it was already mentioned.
A gentleman had no title, but descended from an aristocratic family, was of the landed gentry, and had a coat of arms.
Anne Arundel County, Maryland was established in 1650.

Capt. Henry Ridgely, III, the oldest son of Col. Henry and Elizabeth (Howard) Ridgely of Devonshire, England, was born October 3, 1669, in Wardridge, Anne Arundel County, Maryland. His father, an immigrant merchant, established the family in the United States. The Ridgelys became one of the most aristocratic of Maryland families with a long tradition of holding important civil and military offices.

Henry married Catherine, eldest daughter of Col. Nicholas Greenberry and his wife.

Children of Henry and Catherine Ridgely
1. Charles Ridgely, born ca 1684.
2. Anne Ridgely Dorsey, born ca 1686-91.
3. Hon. Nicholas G. Ridgely, born 1694.
4. Henry Ridgely, IV, born ca 1695.
5. Elizabeth Ridgely Worthington, born 1696.

By deed of gift from his father, Henry received Broome, a portion of Waldridge and Ridgely, all lying in Anne Arundel County where he established his dwelling plantation. In 1691, as Henry Ridgely, Jr., he bought from John Hammond, Sr., Adventure, of 50 acres on the north side of South River adjoining the plantation of Nicholas Wyatt.

Henry drew up his will on September 13, 1699, in the presence of Robert Goldsborough, Thomas Reynolds, and William Johnson. He had a short life, dying March 19, 1700, at the age of 30 years, according to his gravestone. Henry was buried upon his plantation where an impressive slab marked his remains. His will was proved in Anne Arundel County, April 26, 1700.

To wife Catherine, executrix, dwelling plantation during life and 200 A, part of Warren's Ridge.
To son Henry and hrs., dwelling plantation and 200 A. afsd. at death of wife; also 282 A., Ridgely's Beginning, on n. side of Rogue Harbor Branch, Paturent R.
To son Nicholas at 18 yrs. of age, and hrs., 275 A., My Quarter Plantation, at hd. of Broad Ck., and 272 A., Ridgely's Lot, on n. e. side of great branch of Patuxent R.
To son Charles and hrs., money with which to buy land, at 21 yrs. of age.
To dau. Ann and hrs., 1/2 of Huntington Quarter taken up by testator's father (unnamed) and himself.
To dau. Eliza: and hrs., 1/2 of 300 A. at Chester at hd. of Morgan's Ck.
Sons to be of age at 21 yrs. and daus. at 16 yrs.
Overseers: Henry Ridgely and brother Charles Greenbury.
Test: Robt. Goldsborough, Thos. Reynolds, Wm. Johnson.

The widow married as his second wife, Capt. John Howard, in 1701 and died soon after the birth of a daughter who was given the name of Catherine in 1703. The administration of the estate of Henry Ridgely passed to John Howard in December 1703. It was stated at court that Henry Ridgely of Anne Arundel, Gent., by his last will and testament left his wife, Catherine, the executrix of his estate and that he give his children legacies, thereupon his widow married John Howard who in right of his wife became possessed of the estates of the orphans and "soon after the said Katharine dyed leaving John Howard in possession of Ridgely's estate." The statement was signed by John Howard and his brothers, Samuel Howard and Philip Howard.Birth: Oct. 3, 1669
Anne Arundel County
Maryland, USA
Death: Mar. 19, 1699
Anne Arundel County
Maryland, USA



Seals were used to authenticate documents and men were expected to have a personal die. Records in deed books are copies and signatures are usually in the clerk’s handwriting. The clerk drew a circle around the word “seal” to indicate that the original document was sealed.