Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)


William Hammond Dorsey (1764-1819)
MSA SC 3520-362

Biography
Born: February 12, 1764, at "Oaklands," in the Elkridge section of Anne Arundel or Baltimore counties; fourth son. 
Native: At least third generation. 
Resided: in Georgetown, D.C., and Montgomery County. 

Family Background:
Father: Col. John Dorsey (ca. 1736-1810), amassed a fortune from iron deposits on Curtis Creek in Anne Arundel County, which enabled him to establish John Dorsey & Co. in Baltimore Town; eventually his company became insolvent and he lost practically all of his former wealth.
Mother:Mary (ca. 1738-?), daughter of Col. William Hammond and wife Elizabeth Hughes.
Brothers: Robert (1758-1841); Larkin (1760-?), a captain in the Revolution who died in the West Indies; Alexander (1762-1813); Walter (1771-?), a merchant, who married Hopewell, daughter of Vernon Hebb, of St. Mary's County; John E. (1773-?), a merchant, who married Margaret, widow of (first name unknown) Hudson; and Clement (1773-1848), a major in the militia from 1812 to 1818, judge of the Fifth Circuit Court of Maryland, who married first, Priscilla, daughter of Vernon Hebb, of St. Mary's County, and second, Decandia, widow of Henry Smith and daughter of Henry Ireland and wife Susannah Reeder. 
Sisters: Elizabeth (1766-?), who married Edward Dorsey; Sarah (1768-1846).
Married: First, Anne Brooke (1773-1802), Daughter of Richard Brooke (1736-1788) m. Nov. 2, 1789; Second, in 1808, Rosina Lynn (Aunt of Anne Brooke).

Children 
Sons: Robert E. (?-1876), a physician, who married on July 20, 1826, Sarah Duvall; Richard Brooke (1790-?), who married his first cousin Anne, daughter of Clement Dorsey; James M. (1798-1808); and William Hammond (1800-?), who married on October 31, 1825, Susan Robertson. 
Daughters: Anne (1792-died young); Maria A. (1794-?), who married William Johnson. 

Private Career
Education:
 Literate. 
Religious Affiliation: Unknown. Though Dorsey married a woman of Quaker lineage, there is no evidence that he himself was Quaker.
Occupational Profile: Ironmaster; joint partner in the Etna Furnace with his brothers Walter and John. Heavily in debt, the business was sold for $102,697.70 in 1813. 

Public Career
Legislative Service: House of Delegates, Montgomery County, 1788; Senate, Western Shore, 1796-1800.
Out of State Service: Judge, Orphans' Court, Washington, D.C., appointed 1801. 

Wealth During Lifetime
Property: 18 slaves, 1790; assessed value 593.0.0, including 15 slaves, 1798-1812; assessed value 483.5.0, including 3 slaves, 1813. 
Significant Changes in Land Between First Election and Death: Acquired at least 4,500 acres in Montgomery County through his marriage in 1789. Between 1794 and 1802 he sold or mortgaged all except ca. 500 acres. Purchased 792 acres in Montgomery County (592 acres of this between 1813 and 1816) and sold 246 acres between 1815 and 1818; the sale of the ironworks owned by him and his two brothers included 5,810 acres in Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties, 1813. 

Wealth at Death.
Died: Administration bond granted on January 24, 1819, in Montgomery County. 
Personal Property: Total Estate Value, $13,031.31 (including 3 slaves, more than 48 books, and plate); Final Balance- $10,481.23. 
Land: Probably ca. 1,050 acres in Montgomery County.

Source: Edward C. Papenfuse, et al., eds. A Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature, 1635-1789. Vol I. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985, p. 279. Additional research by Jackson Gilman-Forlini, DAR Research Fellow, 2012.
 

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