John Brice III (1738-1820)
MSA SC 3520-148
John Brice III was born on September 22, 1738, the first son of John and Sarah Brice. He had three brothers: James, Benedict, and Edmund, and five sisters: Arianna, Sarah, Anne, Margaretta Augustina, and Elizabeth. He had three other siblings who died in infancy.1 Brice III lived with his family in Anne Arundel County until he went to England in his late teen years. He attended Clare College of Cambridge University, matriculating in November 1757, and was under the supervision of his grandfather and uncle who both lived in England.2 Letters home to his family in Maryland indicate a sense of alienation from them. For example, in 1758 Brice III writes, "I never hear a word of any of the family from anybody. I should have as great pleasure by hearing how they all are as they would to hear from me. My mother is afraid I have forgot my native place, but I am sure nobody thinks more of it than I do, and I hope in the next letter to hear more of the family."3
Brice III returned to Annapolis at the age of 22. Soon after his return, he studied law with local attorney Stephen Bordley, a well known lawyer and also the half-brother of his mother Sarah.4 His studying paid off, as he was admitted to the Mayor's Court in 1761. In addition to practicing law, Brice also co-owned a store with Thomas Harwood III and worked as a planter on his land north of the Severn River, inherited from his father and mother.5 In 1765, Brice II retired as Clerk of the Court so that his son, Brice III, could take over the office. He served as Clerk until 1777.6 Toward the end of his term, Brice III also served on the Committee of Observation. After leaving the position of Clerk, Brice served as a justice for Anne Arundel County in 1777, 1778, and from 1782 until around 1805. He was also a justice for the county's Orphan's Court from 1777-1790. While a justice, Brice III was the commissioner of taxes for Anne Arundel County from 1783 until 1798 and a member of the Executive Council from 1779 to 1780. On the municipal level, he was an alderman for the City of Annapolis in 1780, 1782, 1783, 1785, 1789, 1791, and 1792, in which year he resigned.7 During his time as alderman, the Corporation of Annapolis offered territory to Congress to make it a permanent home for the legislative body.8 He was also mayor of Annapolis from 1780-81.9 Throughout his public service, John Brice III often served alongside his brother, James Brice, who was also quite a prominent figure in colonial, state, and local politics.10
Like many other young Annapolitans of his day, John Brice III became active in the revolutionary movement. He joined the county militia and was commissioned as Lieutenant of the Independent Companies of Militias in Annapolis in October 1777.11 He helped in the defense of Annapolis and also in several southern battles of the Revolutionary War.12
On October 30, 1766 John Brice III married Mary Clare Maccubbin (1749-1806), the daughter of Nicholas Maccubbin and Mary Clare Carroll who was the daughter of early Marylander Charles Carroll (1691-1755). John and Mary had four sons: John IV, Nicholas, Henry, and Edmond, and one daughter, Margaretta Clare, who married Clement Smith and moved to Georgetown in Washington, D.C. The Brice family resided on Prince George St. in Annapolis. In 1782, after the death of his mother, Brice III inherited a large amount of land in Anne Arundel County, particularly north of the Severn River, where he worked as a planter.13 He owned over forty slaves to help keep house and work the land.14 In addition to his involvement in local law and politics and working on his plantation, Brice III was an active member of St. Anne's Parish, serving as churchwarden from 1767 to 1768.15
John and Mary Brice may have moved to Baltimore later in life, as she was in Baltimore at the time of her death in 1806, and his will states that he was "formerly of Annapolis, now of Baltimore."16 John Brice III died in Annapolis on July 20, 1820 and was buried at St. Paul's Church Cemetery in Baltimore.17 He left Nicholas, Margarett, and Edmond with some of his land. He left Henry either $5400 in money or in land. He did not leave his son John anything in his will because he had previously given him quite a bit of money.18
1. Robert Harry McIntire, Annapolis Maryland Families (Baltimore: Gateway Press, 1979), 86.
2. "Marylanders at Oxford and Cambridge before 1776." Maryland Historical Magazine 37 (1942), 335-6. See also Orlando Ridout, "The James Brice House, Annapolis, Maryland," M.A. thesis, University of Maryland, 1978, 30. Ridout states that John Brice III was frequently referred to as "Jack" by family members.
3. Ridout, 32.
4. Ibid., 33-4.
5. Edward C. Papenfuse, et al., A Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature, 1635-1789. Vol. I, A-H (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979), 165-6.
6. Donnell MacClure Owings, His Lordship's Patronage: Offices of Profit in Colonial Maryland (Baltimore: The Maryland Historical Society, 1953), 147-8.
8. Elihu S. Riley, 'The Ancient City:' A History of Annapolis, in Maryland, 1649 - 1887 (Annapolis: Record Printing Office, 1887), 198-9.
10. Ridout, 44.
11. Archives of Maryland Online, Vol. 16, 392.
12. Ridout, 21.
13. Papenfuse. See also Maryland State Archives ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY REGISTER OF WILLS (Wills, Original) 1820, MSA C155-3, Box B, folder 66, 1/4/13/41.
14. Maryland State Tax Assessment of 1783, Annapolis Hundred AA, S 1161-1-1-115 and Broad Neck Hundred, AA, S 1161-1-2-112.
16. The Maryland Gazette, 13 February 1806; Maryland State Archives ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY REGISTER OF WILLS (Wills, Original) 1820, MSA C155-3, Box B, folder 66, 1/4/13/41.
17. McIntire; Papenfuse, Maryland State Archives ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY REGISTER OF WILLS (Wills, Original) 1820, MSA C155-3, Box B, folder 66, 1/4/13/41.
18. Maryland State Archives ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY REGISTER OF WILLS (Wills, Original) 1820, MSA C155-3, Box B, folder 66, 1/4/13/41.
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