Eden, Robert (1741-1784), soldier and colonial governor, was born on 14 Sept 1741, in Durham, the second son of Sir Robert Eden (c.1712-1755), 3rd Baronet of West Auckland and MP, and his wife Mary (c.1720-1794), daughter of William Davison, Esq., of Beamish, County Durham. Eden was one of eight children, having four brothers and three sisters.

Two years after the death of his father, at the age of sixteen, in Feb 1757, Eden obtained an army commission in the Royal Regiment of Artillery. In May 1758 he was promoted to the rank of ensign in the Coldstream Regiment of Footguards, and in July 1760 was posted with the regiment's second battalion to Germany for active service in the Seven Years' War. At the war's conclusion, Eden returned with his regiment to London in Sept 1762, having achieved the rank of lieutenant and captain

Within a few years of his return, on 26 April 1765 in London, Eden married the Hon. Caroline Calvert (fl. c.1748-1781), daughter of Charles, 5th Lord Baltimore (1699-1751) and his wife Mary (?-1748), daughter of Sir Theodore Janssen (c.1658-1748) and his wife Williamsa (?-1731). Caroline's brother Frederick (1732-1771) was the 6th Lord Baltimore at the time of her marriage. Within another three years, Eden's marriage brought him the governorship of Maryland, the proprietary colony ruled by Lord Baltimore.

The official letter informing the incumbent governor, Horatio Sharpe, of the appointment of Eden as his successor, ascribed the decision to Baltimore's "partiality for his sister," "the merit of his brother-in-law to himself," and "the solicitations of relatives" (Steiner, 11). Sharpe had served the proprietor well but competence was no match for kinship. Eden resigned his army commission on 14 July 1768 and arrived in Maryland on 5 June 1769, with his wife and two sons. The following year saw the birth of the couple's third and last child.

Eden's affable nature quickly won him many friends among the colony's social and political elite. A leader of Annapolis society during his tenure, Eden supported the touring theatrical companies that visited the city; became an honorary member of the Homony Club, a gathering place for young gentlemen of wealth and position; owned a stable of horses that he raced in the fall season; and took part in the rounds of visiting that occurred in town and at rural plantations.

The early years of Eden's administration were marked by only one serious dispute with the legislature, concerning the related issues of the power to set the fees charged by government officials and the amount of tobacco collected per poll for support of the Anglican clergy. Not until 1773 did the assembly finally resolve the issues, passing an act setting the clerical poll tax at the previous rate and allowing to stand the fee proclamation Eden had issued in Nov 1770, after proroguing the assembly, as it too continued the old rates.

Eden was less successful, however, when the crisis in relations between colonists and crown came to a head. Although he retained the good will of his Maryland subjects, he was unable to reconcile the colonists to continued parliamentary rule despite his best efforts to act as a buffer between the two sides. Eden succeeded in remaining in Maryland as nominal governor until June 1776, but his effective authority had ended two years earlier when the first extralegal Maryland convention assembled in June 1774. "He [had] survived without being able to prevail." (Land, 309) Finally, in May 1776, Maryland's sixth convention resolved "that the Publick quiet and safety . . . require that [Eden] leave the Province and that he is at full liberty to depart peaceably with all his effects." (Beirne, 173) On 26 June, Robert Eden sailed for England on H.M.S. Fowey, his wife and children having departed earlier.

In recognition of his service as governor, King George III created Eden first Baron of Maryland in Oct 1776. A Parliamentary act of 1781 awarded Eden and his wife £17,500 as settlement of litigation over the proprietorship of Maryland, and Eden was also awarded a pension by the government. At the conclusion of hostilities, Eden returned to Maryland in 1783 with Henry Harford, the illegitimate son of Frederick, 6th Lord Baltimore, and the inheritor of the proprietorship, who hoped to gain compensation for his confiscated property. Eden and Harford stayed with Dr. Upton Scott while in Annapolis, and it was at Scott's home that Eden died on 2 Sept 1784 of "dropsy" (most likely kidney or congestive heart failure). Eden was buried in St. Margaret's Parish church, but his body was reinterred in St. Anne's churchyard in Annapolis in 1926.

774 Biography Project, Maryland State Archives

New DNB Sources sheet

Subject's name: Eden, Robert


1* E. C. Papenfuse, A. F. Day, D. W. Jordan, and G. A. Stiverson, eds., A biographical dictionary of the Maryland legislature, 1635-1789, Baltimore, Maryland (1979)

2* B. C. Steiner, Life and administration of sir Robert Eden, n.pl. (1898)

3* R. R. Beirne, "Portrait of a colonial governor: Robert Eden, I -- his entrance," Maryland Historical Magazine (Sept 1950), 153-175

4* R. R. Beirne, "Portrait of a colonial governor: Robert Eden, II -- his exit," Maryland Historical Magazine (Dec 1950), 294-311

5 "Correspondence of governor Robert Eden," Maryland Historical Magazine (1907), 1-13, 66-67, 97-110, 227-244, 293-309











* F. MacKubin, portrait (oils), 1914 (after C. W. Peale, portrait (oils), 1775), Annapolis, Maryland


Value of estate or

possessions at death Personal property appraised by General Assembly at £2,745.15.0 current money. Owned no land in Maryland. Income at death at least £800 from British government pension.

Source of data Biographical Dictionary, 1:300

New DNB Information sheet


Main Name Eden Robert

Variants of main names none

Alternative names none

Name as known none


1776-1784 1st Baronet of Maryland

Source of data: Biographical Dictionary: 1:300


Birth 14 September 1741

Source of data: Biographical Dictionary, 1:299

Baptism unknown


Main name Eden Robert

Alternative names none

Titles 3rd baronet of West Auckland

Birth date c.1712 Death date 1755



Maiden name Davison Mary

Alternative names none

Titles none

Birth date ? Death date 1794

Occupation none

Source of Parents' data: Biographical Dictionary, 1:299


?-? received a classical education

Source of data and comments: Biographical Dictionary, 1:299


1741-1784 Christian: Church of England

Source of data: Biographical Dictionary, 1:299


Main name Calvert Caroline

Alternative name none

Titles none

Birth date Death date fl. c.1748-1781

Occupation none

Relationship married x

Date started 26 April 1765 Ended 1784 by death

Source of data: Biographical Dictionary, 1:299-300


Date Address

1741-1769 England

1769-1776 Annapolis, Maryland

1776-1783 England

1783-1784 Annapolis, Maryland

Source of data: Biographical Dictionary, 1:299


By descent England

By association England, Maryland


Death 2 September 1784 Annapolis, Maryland

Cause of death dropsy

Burial St. Margaret's Parish church, Anne Arundel County, Maryland

reinterred at St. Anne's Church, Annapolis, Maryland

Source of data: Biographical Dictionary, 1:300

Missing data

None not noted above.


Birth, death, burial x

Parents x

Spouse/partners x


Double spacing x

Quotations x