Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Dennis Claude (c. 1782-1863)
MSA SC 3520-1540

Biography:

Born c. 1782, probably in Anne Arundel County.  Son of Abraham Claude (?-1800) and his first wife (name unknown).  Attended St. John's College, Annapolis; studied medicine with Dr. Reverdy Ghiselin (later partner).  Married Anne Jacob (c. 1784-1871) on February 13, 1816.  Four children including Ann H. Claude Handy (ca. 1816-1864), Abram Claude (1818-1901), William Tell Claude (1821-1873), and Elizabeth Claude Harwood (1811-1868).  Died December 9, 1863.  Buried in St. Anne's Cemetery, Annapolis.

Surgeon's mate, U.S. Army, 1804.  Surgeon of the Regiment of Light Artillery, 1808, serving in the south and southwest.  Member, Maryland Medical and Chirurgical Society, admitted in 1808.  House of Delegates from Annapolis, 1811-18; 1829-30.  Medical attendant and assistant surgeon at Fort Severn, Annapolis, 1819 to 1829.  Member of the Maryland Senate, 1821-25 and 1831-36.  Presidential elector, third district, 1825.  Mayor of Annapolis, 1828-37 and 1853-54.  Senate elector for Annapolis, 1831.  Treasurer of the Western Shore, 1844-52.  State Treasurer, 1854-60.  Comptroller of the treasury, 1861.  Visitor and governor, St. John's College.  Member,  Annapolis Lodge No. 71, Freemasons.  Owner of stock in the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the Annapolis Gaslight Company.  Owner of eight houses on leased land in Annapolis.

Claude was involved in an interesting episode in Maryland history involving the office of comptroller.  In the fall of 1859, A. Lingan Jarrett ran for comptroller against incumbent William Henry Purnell.  Purnell won the race, but only with obviously inflated numbers from the city of Baltimore that were achieved by questionable means.  As a result, the Maryland House of Delegates passed Resolution No. 6 on March 10, 1860, declaring the elections void in Baltimore due to widespread rioting and fraud, and declaring that Jarrett was elected comptroller.  Governor Thomas Holliday Hicks refused to recognize Jarrett or administer the oath of office to him, and Purnell continued in office until he resigned on May 8, 1861.  In the wake of Purnell's resignation, Governor Hicks appointed Dennis Claude comptroller.  Claude took possession of the comptroller's account books, stamp, and office space in the record office building in Annapolis, while Jarrett started his own books, procured another copy of the comptroller's stamp, and set up office in the old comptroller's office in the State House.  During the spring, summer and early fall of 1861, Claude and Jarrett held competing claims to the office of comptroller.  Jarrett had the support of the treasurer, Sprigg Harwood, while Claude was supported by Governor Hicks.  Because the governor had refused to administer the oath of office to Jarrett, the legislature acted again on June 21, 1861 by passing an act (chapter 43) enabling Jarrett to take the oath by a Court of Appeals judge.  Jarrett took the oath of office in July, 1861 before Judge James L. Bartol.  Claude then took the case to the Harford County Circuit Court asking for an injunction against Jarrett to prevent him from acting as comptroller.  The court held that the constitution called for disputed elections to be decided by the legislature, that the governor had the power to make appointments only until the legislature acted, and that it had done so in this case by deciding the election for Jarrett.  Claude appealed to the Court of Appeals (State of Maryland vs. A. Lingan Jarrett and Sprigg Harwood.  Court of Appeals of Maryland.  17 Md. 309; 1861 Md. LEXIS 42), which unanimously upheld the lower court's decision on October 8, 1861.  Unfortunately, Jarrett was unable to enjoy the role of undisputed comptroller for long, as the elections held shortly thereafter brought Samuel Snowden Maffit to the office on January 8, 1862.

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