Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mary Darnell Carroll

Mary Darnell, daughter of Rachel Brooke and Colonel Henry Darnell, Jr., of Prince George County, married Charles Carroll, Jr., Esquire, her distant cousin and future signer of the Declaration of Independence, on Sunday, June 5, 1768. The Maryland Gazette included the following concerning the new bride: "… Miss Mary Darnell, an agreeable young Lady endowed with every accomplishment necessary to render the connubial state happy."

Charles described Mary in a letter written August 13, 1767, as being "a young woman endowed with every quality to make me happy in the married state, virtue, good sense, good temper. These too receive no small luster from her person which the partiality of a lover does not represent to me more agreeable than what it really is. She really is a sweet-tempered, charming girl - a little too young for me, I confess, especially as I am of weak and puny constitution."

Mary was much younger than Charles and far less wealthy. She was probably seventeen or eighteen years old when the engagement took place. Charles would inherit a plantation, and he was well-educated in the Colonies, France and England, an established lawyer, and a popular patriot in the cause of liberty.

There was some question about whether or not the marriage could take place because of her age. Charles wrote in January 1768, "I hope you received my last letter of the 7th of November. By that you will learn that my marriage with Miss Darnell was put off till the next spring, in order to obtain an Act of Assembly…. Thus you see if the settlement cannot be securely made without an act to give it legal force, I may wait two years longer, that is, till the young lady comes of age. She will be nineteen years old the 19th of next March…. The young lady to whom I am to give my hand and who already has my heart, altho' blessed in every good quality, has not been favored by fortune in respect to money…."

The problem was solved when Mary, both of her parents and her uncle signed a marriage contract on Saturday, June 4, 1768, and the marriage took place the following day. Charles and Mary had six daughters and one son, but four of the daughters died in infancy or early childhood. The other children are as follows: Mary (born in 1770, married Richard Caton, son of Joseph Caton of Liverpool, England), Charles - afterward known as Charles Carrollton of Homewood (born in 1775, married Harriet Chew, daughter of Benjamin Chew of Philadelphia), and Catharine (born in 1778, married Robert Goodloe Harper).

Mary died in her thirty-fifth year of life (1782). The author of the Carroll sketches in Appleton's Journal dated September 1874, wrote the following: "The death of Mrs Carroll was very sad. She was devotedly attached to her grandfather [father-in-law]. One day he was standing on the large porch of his house in Annapolis, watching a ship come into the harbor. He stepped back too far and was picked up dead. Mrs. Carroll, his child by marriage and his constant companion, never recovered from the shock, nor left her room afterward until death."

Charles never remarried. He lived until 1832 and died in Baltimore at age 95, the last survivor of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence.

Facts and quotes are from Wives of the Signers: The women behind the Declaration of Independence, pp. 225-233.

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