Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Ann Harrison Paca (1757-1780)
MSA SC 3520-2231
Wife of William Paca, Governor of  Maryland 1782-1785

Ann Harrison Paca was the second wife of William Paca. She was the daughter of Henry Harrison, a wealthy businessman from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania who served both as alderman and mayor of the town. Anne's mother, Mary Aspden Harrison, was the daughter of prominent Philadelphia merchant Mathias Aspden. In addition to Ann, the Harrison family included siblings Joseph, Mathias, George, and Mary.1

Ann most likely met William Paca when he traveled to Philadelphia to represent Maryland in the Continental Congress in 1776.2  The couple was married on February 28, 1777 when she was twenty and he was thirty-six.  They soon moved to Wye Island, the estate left to William by his first wife, Mary Lloyd Chew Paca, with the possible goal in mind of avoiding the British occupation of Philadelphia.  Ann was apparently unhappy with her new life at Wye Island which was isolated and dull compared to the festive social seasons in Philadelphia. She found herself alone much of the time, since William frequently traveled to York, Pennsylvania as a member of Congress. Her friends wrote to her begging her to visit and regaling her with the latest news of the best parties being given. Perhaps to accommodate his wife's desires, Paca decided to move back to Philadelphia in August 1777, but the couple was foiled by the British troops which cut off the route. It was not until the British left the city in the summer of 1778 that the Pacas were able to move back to Ann's home city.3

The move back to familiar surroundings came at an especially good time for Ann, since she was about to give birth to her first child. On October 28, 1778, Henry Paca was born. The Pacas remained in Philadelphia for the next two years, although William returned to Maryland to fulfill his duties as a state Senator, and a judge of the General Court.4

Sadly, Ann never fully recovered from having given birth to little Henry.  She was ill throughout 1779, and in December of that year, William was compelled to return to Philadelphia from Annapolis, where he had been attending a session of the Maryland Senate.  He was unable to help her, however, for she died in February, 1780 at the age of twenty-three, and was buried in Christ Church Cemetery in Philadelphia. Two-year-old Henry passed away the following year.5  William Paca was a widower for the second time, and the state was without a First Lady when he became governor in 1782.

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