Mary Ridout (1746-1808)
MSA SC 3520-16812
Birth: 1746 (to Samuel Ogle and Anne Tasker Ogle). Marriage: John Ridout (1764, Maryland). Children: Samuel Ridout (1765-1840), Horatio Ridout, Ann Gibson (1766-1821), Meliora (1780-1781).
The eldest daughter of provincial Maryland governor Samuel Ogle and a descendant of a long line of landed gentry, Mary (or Molly) Ogle was born into a distinctive family of both old English and Maryland roots. In 1764 she married John Ridout of Dorset, England. Ridout graduated from Oxford in 1749 after making the acquaintanceship of his tutor, Dr. Gregory Sharpe. This connection forged another friendship with Gregory's brother, Horatio Sharpe, the new governor of Maryland. Sharpe brought Ridout to Maryland with him as his personal secretary. Through their associations with Governor Sharpe, the Ridouts gained prominence, land, and wealth, and, upon Horatio Sharpe's departure from Maryland in 1773, they aquired his mansion, Whitehall. Ridout's success continued through the Revolutionary War era, and in 1783, he was recorded as the eleventh wealthiest man in Annapolis with his total amount of real and personal property amounting to £1125.08.4.
In Annapolis, the Ridout's home on 120 Duke of Gloucester Street gave them access to all of Annapolis society. Mary Ridout forged friendships with Governor Robert Eden and Henry Harford, the illegitimate son of Frederick Calvert, the last Lord of Baltimore. Perhaps most notably, the Ridouts had also established a friendship with George Washington, who in his diary remarked on dining at John Ridouts' during a stay in Annapolis prior to the Revolutionary War.[5/6] In a letter to Walter Stone in 1783, William Crait described a visit to Mary Ridout's home in Annapolis:
"There I spent two days also very happily...I became acquainted with Miss Ridout, at whose house I found my old acquaintance Sally Blckburne -- we had an agreeable little chat -- made up a sailing party in Mr. Fells Boat consisting of Madam Ridout, her daughter [Ann Ridout], Miss Blackburn, Messrs. Weems, Fell, Moore, Washington, myself and your old acquaintance Mat. Harrison, who appears to have suffered much by Miss Ridout's Eyes."
The Ridouts' allegiances to both England and America encouraged the couple to stay largely uninvolved in the war effort. In 1778, John Ridout signed the oath of loyalty to the State of Maryland. In a letter to her mother in England, Mrs. Anne Tasker Ogle, Mary voiced her opinions on the new nation: "Indeed My dear Madam you are exceedingly mistaken with regard to America. It is not at all disagreeable and as to our little town I believe I may [missing] say you would like it as well as ever you did tho there are not so many people in it as when you left."
In 1784, Mary Ridout, aged thirty-eight years, wrote to her mother in England about events in Annapolis, most notably George Washington's resignation as commander-in-chief in the Old Senate Chamber of the Maryland State House on December 23, 1783. Mary had been present for the resignation, and witnessed the proceedings from the visitor's gallery, the only place where women could be in the Chamber. In her letter, the only account of the event written by a woman, she described how: "The General seemed so much affected himself that everybody felt for him. He addressed Congress in a short Speech but very affecting. Many tears were shed. [...] I think the World never produced a greater man and very few so good."
John Ridout died in 1797, leaving much of his property to his wife. It is thought that Mary Ridout ended her days at Whitehall, where she was buried in 1808 alongside her husband. Her mother, Anne Tasker Ogle, after living to her mid-nineties, was also buried at Whitehall.
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