Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Thomas Whittington (b. circa 1785 - d. circa 1826)
MSA SC 5496-050819
War of 1812 Claimant, Baltimore City, Maryland

Biography:

Thomas Whittington lived the majority of his life in Northumberland County, Virginia, near the Potomac River. In 1810, the census recorded his farm producing twenty gallons of brandy and 250 yards of woven cloth. Eight slaves worked on the farm. A woman over forty-five, likely his mother, and a girl under the age of fifteen were living with Whittington that year. Whittington himself was under twenty-five years old.1 He married Frances Nelms Turner on May 11, 1810.2

In November 1813, ten of Whittington's slaves escaped to the British frigate Dragon under Commodore John Barrie.3 The ship had dropped anchor off St. George's Island near the Maryland shore of the Potomac River, but it was also visible from the Virginia shore. The ten slaves were George, age twenty-five; Jane, age thirty-three; Leviticus, age sixteen; Willouby, age thirteen; Levincy, age ten; John, age ten; Eliza, age seven; Louisa, age five; and Ezekiel and Isaiah, both six months old.4 A large number of Maryland slaves had already escaped from the farms of St. Mary's County residents, including Mathias Clarke, George Loker, and Dr. Hezekiah Dent (see Peter U. Thomson), all of whom lived near St. George's Island.

That November, Thomas Whittington, his neighbor John Grinstead, and several other Virginians boarded the Dragon under a flag of truce. The commander of the 37th Regiment of the Virginia militia sent along an artillery captain, Joseph Deshields, to accompany them.5 However, when Whittington demanded the return of his slaves, Commodore Barrie replied that the slaves "would not be delivered up unless they were willing to go."6

On November 14, 1814, Barrie reported to Admiral Sir John Borlase Warren that "Several Flags of Truce have been off to make application for their Slaves &ca., but not a single black would return to his former owner." By that date, Barrie had counted "upwards of 120 men, women, and Children on board, and I shall send about 50 of them to Bermuda in the Conflict."7 However, slavery was still legal in Bermuda, so most of the refugees chose to continue to Canada.8

The British raided Northumberland County in October 1814, although it is unknown if Whittington's farm was affected.9 Following the war, Whittington moved to Baltimore City, Maryland. In 1820, he was likely the "Thomas Weathington" who was living with his wife in Ward 1. The census stated his age as between twenty-six and forty-five.10 He was still living in Baltimore in 1823, when he petitioned for reparations from Britain for his escaped slaves.11 Whittington died intestate in 1826, and his personal property was appraised at $190.621/2, which did not include any slaves. He died with $2,610.85 in debt to various lenders, including Jerningham Drury of Anne Arundel County.12 Thomas Whittington was buried at the Mount Olivet Cemetery in Baltimore City on July 27, 1826.13
 



Footnotes

1.     1810 U.S. Federal Census Record (VA) for Thomas Whittington, Northumberland County, Richmond, Page 28, 10th line from bottom. Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

2.     Virginia Marriage Record for Thomas Whittington and Frances Nelms Turner, May 11, 1810, Westmoreland County. Virginia Marriages, 1740-1850. The Generations Network, Inc., 1999. www.ancestry.com.

3.     Claim of Thomas Whittington, Case 818. Case Files, compiled ca. 1827 - ca. 1828, documenting the period ca. 1814 - ca. 1828. *ARC Identifier 1174160 / MLR Number PI 177 190*. National Archives, College Park.
        David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler. Encyclopedia of the War of 1812 (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1997) 224.

4.     Claim of Thomas Whittington, Case 818. Case Files, compiled ca. 1827 - ca. 1828, documenting the period ca. 1814 - ca. 1828. *ARC Identifier 1174160 / MLR Number PI 177 190*. National Archives, College Park.

5.     Ibid.
        1810 U.S. Federal Census Record (VA) for Thomas Whittington, Northumberland County, Richmond, Page 28, 10th line from bottom. Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
        1810 U.S. Federal Census Record (VA) for John Grinstead, Northumberland County, Richmond, Page 10, Line 15. Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
        1810 U.S. Federal Census Record (VA) for Joseph Deshields, Northumberland County, Richmond, Page 8, Line 13. Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.
        United States Senate. Report of the Secretary of the Senate Vol. 145 (Washington, D.C.: Sales & Seaton, 1826) 86.

6.     Claim of Thomas Whittington, Case 818. Case Files, compiled ca. 1827 - ca. 1828, documenting the period ca. 1814 - ca. 1828. *ARC Identifier 1174160 / MLR Number PI 177 190*. National Archives, College Park.

7.     Qtd. in William S. Dudley, ed. The Naval War of 1812. Vol. 2 (Washington, D.C.: Naval History Center, 1992) 396.

8.     John K. Mahon. The War of 1812 (New York, NY: Da Capo Press, 1991) 314.

9.     Claim of Thomas Whittington, Case 818. Case Files, compiled ca. 1827 - ca. 1828, documenting the period ca. 1814 - ca. 1828. *ARC Identifier 1174160 / MLR Number PI 177 190*. National Archives, College Park.

10.   Heidler 538.

11.   U.S. Census Bureau (Census Record, MD) Thomas Weathington, 1810, Baltimore, Ward 1, Page 18, Line 7 [MSA SM61-63, M 2064].

12.   BALTIMORE COUNTY REGISTER OF WILLS, (Inventories), 1826-1828, Liber 36, Folio 249, [MSA C340-37]. Thomas Whittington, March 20, 1827.

13.   "Interment Records Database, Mt. Olivet Cemetery." Lovely Lane United Methodist Church. http://www.lovelylane.net/mtolivet/interments.html.
        "Thomas Whittington." Baltimore City, Maryland. Find a Grave, Inc. www.findagrave.com.
 

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