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A Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature 1635-1789 by Edward C. Papenfuse, et. al.
Volume 426, Page 741   View pdf image (33K)
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BIOGRAPHIES SMA

SMALL WOOD, WILLIAM (1732-1792) BORN:
in 1732, probably at "Smallwood's Retreat," his
father's dwelling plantation in Charles County;
elder son. NATIVE: fourth generation. RESIDED:
at "Smallwood's Retreat," situated in Chicka-
muxon District, on Mattawoman Creek in Dur-
ham Parish, Upper Hundred, Charles County.

FAMILY BACKGROUND. FATHER: Bayne Smallwood

(ca. 1711-1768). MOTHER: Priscilla Heabard (?-
1784). BROTHERS: Heabard (?-1780), who served
in the Revolutionary War as a Virginia resident
and who died without progeny. SISTERS: Lucy
Heabard (?-1768), who married John Truman
Stoddert (1732-1765); Elizabeth; Eleanor; Pris-
cilla Heabard; and Margaret. MARRIED never.
CHILDREN. Died without progeny. PRIVATE CA-
REER. EDUCATION: educated at Kendall, England,
then Eton. RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION: Anglican,
probably Durham Parish, Charles County. SO-
CIAL STATUS AND ACTIVITIES: Gent., by 1760; Esq.,
by 1777; probably a Freemason. OCCUPATIONAL
PROFILE: planter, 1763; career military officer.

PUBLIC CAREER. LEGISLATIVE SERVICE: Lower

House, Charles County, 1761 (elected to 3rd
Convention of the 1758-1761 Assembly, Public
Offices Cv 3), 1762-1763 (Arms and Ammuni-
tion 1,2), 1765-1766 (Grievances 2, Arms and
Ammunition 2, 4), 1768-1770 (Arms and Am-
munition 1-3), 1771, 1773-1774 (Public Offices
2, 3); Conventions, Charles County, 1st, 1774,
2nd, 1774, 4th, 1775 (elected, but did not attend),
5th, 1775, 6th-8th, 1775-1776 (did not attend
the 7th and 8th Conventions); Senate, Western
Shore, Term of 1791-1796: 1791 (president, 1st
session; died before 2nd session of the 1791-1792
Assembly). OTHER STATE OFFICE: governor, 1785-
1788. As governor, Smallwood called the Mary-
land convention that ratified the U.S. Constitu-
tion in 1788; in 1785 he formed a compact with
Virginia to improve navigation on the Potomac
River. LOCAL OFFICES: justice, Charles County,
1762, 1770-1773; Committee of Observation,
Charles County, 1774; Durham Parish Vestry,
Charles County, elected April 1775, discharged
April 1776; Maryland Senate elector, Charles
County, 1791. MILITARY SERVICE: served in the
French and Indian War; resumed his military ca-
reer on January 14, 1776, when he was commis-
sioned colonel of the First Maryland Regiment.
In April 1775, led 1,400 men from Annapolis to
join the Continental Army; participated in the
Battle of Long Island, and on October 28, 1776,
was wounded at the Battle of White Plains. That

same month he was commissioned brigadier gen-
eral of the Continental Army, and later fought
in the battles of Ft. Washington, Trenton, Prince-
ton, and Germantown. In October 1777 at Ger-
mantown, he captured part of a British camp.
Between 1779 and 1780, Smallwood was in charge
of surveillance of the Chesapeake Bay, with his
headquarters at Wilmington, Delaware. In Sep-
tember 1780, while headquartered in South Car-
olina, he was appointed major-general. After the
Camden engagement, Smallwood was made a di-
vision commander, but when he refused to serve
under the "foreigner" Baron von Stueben, he was
sent back to Maryland to assist in raising supplies
and reinforcements. Under the "Act to Raise Re-
cruits" passed by the General Assembly in Jan-
uary 1782, Smallwood was given the task of en-
listing troops to reinforce the Continental Army,
and succeeded in raising 308 men. OUT OF STATE
SERVICE: delegate, Continental Congress, 1784
(elected in December 1784, but declined to serve;
chosen instead to succeed William Paca (1740-
1799) as governor). STANDS ON PUBLIC/PRIVATE
ISSUES: subscribed to Maryland Non-Importation
Association, 1769; subscribed £20.0.0 towards the
building of Charlotte Hall School. WEALTH DUR-
ING LIFETIME. PERSON AL PROPERTY, assessed value
£500.15.0, including 8 slaves, 1783; 56 slaves in
1790 (probably included some slaves of other family
members living with him). LAND AT FIRST ELEC-
TION: 250 acres in Charles County (deed of gift
from his father). SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IN LAND

BETWEEN FIRST ELECTION AND DEATH: Purchased

ca. 5,500 acres in Charles and Frederick counties,
1763-1791, of which 339 acres in Frederick County
was confiscated British property formerly be-
longing to the proprietor, Henry Harford; inher-
ited 3,453 acres in Charles County from his father,
1768, and inherited 1,959 acres of Virginia land
at his mother's death in 1784; patented 722 acres
in Charles County, 1771-1787, and was assessed
for 400 acres of officer's bounty land in Allegany
County, 1793; sold 2 Charles County tracts to-
taling 189 acres, 1763 and 1777. WEALTH AT DEATH.
DIED: on February 14, 1792, at his plantation on
Mattawoman Creek; buried at "Smallwood's Re-
treat." Smallwood's heirs consisted of his only
surviving sister, Priscilla Courts, the several chil-
dren of his two deceased sisters Elizabeth and
Eleanor, and his great-grandnephews John Tru-
man Stoddert and Hebert Mitchell. In 1892 a bill
to move his remains to a suitable place in Balti-
more did not pass the Senate. Instead, the Senate

741



 

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A Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature 1635-1789 by Edward C. Papenfuse, et. al.
Volume 426, Page 741   View pdf image (33K)
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