Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Philip Barton Key (1757-1815)
MSA SC 3520-2060


Born near Charlestown, Cecil County, Maryland, April 12, 1757.  Son of Francis and Ann Arnold (Ross) Key.  Studied law in England and in Maryland under Gabriel Duvall.  Admitted to the bar, 1787.  Married Ann Plater (d. 1834), daughter of Governor George Plater, on July 4, 1790.  Children:  Mary Lloyd, Philip Barton, John Ross.  Died July 28, 1815.  Interred at "Woodley," Georgetown, Washington, D.C.; reinterred at Oak Hill Cemetery, Washington, D.C.

Philip Barton Key served as a captain in the United Corps of Maryland and Pennsylvania Loyalists during the Revolutionary War, 1778-1783.   He then traveled to England and studied law there, being admitted to the Inns of Court in 1784.  He returned to Maryland in 1785 and studied law under Gabriel Duvall.  After admission to the bar he practiced law in Leonardtown, Maryland before moving to Annapolis in 1790.  He was a member of the state House of Delegates representing Annapolis from 1794 to 1799, and mayor of Annapolis from 1797 to 1798.  He was nominated to the Fourth United States Circuit Court on February 25, 1801, and presided over sessions of the Circuit Court in Baltimore until the act under which he had been appointed was repealed in early 1802.  In the fall of 1806 Key moved to Montgomery County and became interested in agricultural pursuits.  He was elected as a Federalist to the U.S. House of Representatives and served from 1807 to 1813.  He was chair of the Committee on the District of Columbia.  His cousin, Philip Key, also served in the U.S. House of Representatives from Maryland.  He died in Georgetown in the District of Columbia on July 28, 1815.  His body was interred on his estate "Woodley," in Georgetown, District of Columbia.  It was later reinterred at Oak Hill Cemetery, Washington, D.C.

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