Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Mary Lloyd Chew Paca (1735-1774)
MSA SC 3520-2230
Wife of William Paca, Governor of Maryland 1782-1785

Mary Lloyd Chew Paca was linked by birth and by marriage to the most prominent families in colonial Maryland. Her mother, Henrietta Maria Lloyd Chew, was the granddaughter of Colonel Philemon Lloyd, owner of Wye Island in Queen Anne's County.  Her biological father was Samuel Chew; he died when Mary was two years old, leaving her mother to support the large Chew family.  The family included Mary and her siblings Philemon Lloyd, Bennett, Samuel, Henrietta Maria, and Margaret.  Her mother soon remarried the widower Daniel Dulany, Sr. whose family led the state in landholding, political influence, and wealth.  Mary Lloyd Chew thus grew up in the very center of colonial society.1

Although she was pursued by many suitors, Mary waited until the age of twenty-eight to be married, an age that was above the average for women at that time.  On May 26, 1763, Mary Lloyd Chew married William Paca. At the time, Paca was a junior associate in the law offices of Stephan Bordley and was five years younger than his new bride. His marriage to Mary Chew enhanced both his social and financial standing in the state.2

The Pacas probably lived in a house on School Street in Annapolis while their new home on Prince George Street, known today as "Paca House," was being built.3 At Paca House, Mary kept busy by caring for the extensive gardens which became known throughout the state for their beauty.In late 1764 or early 1765 Mary gave birth to a daughter named after her mother, Henrietta Maria, but the baby died in infancy.  She later had other children, but only one, John Philemon, survived to adulthood.5

Mary's family connections continued to enhance the Paca's wealth.   In 1765, Mary's mother Henrietta Maria Lloyd Chew Dulany died, adding more property to Mary's estate.  Mary's brother, Philemon Lloyd Chew, died childless in 1770 and left the Wye Island estate to her and her sister Margaret Chew Bordley.  The Pacas and the Bordleys divided the island in half, and the Pacas used their half as a tobacco plantation that required ninety-two slaves to maintain.6

After eleven years of marriage, tragedy struck the Paca family. On January 15, 1774, Mary Paca died after having given birth to her third child.7 As a result, Mary did not live to see her husband achieve the accomplishments for which he is best known---signing the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and serving as the Governor of Maryland from 1782 to 1785.8  Although she was married to William Paca, Mary Lloyd Chew Paca never became the First Lady of Maryland.

Notes on sources

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