George H. Steuart (politician)

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For information about other persons with the name George H. Steuart, see George H. Steuart.
George Hume Steuart
Mayor of Annapolis
In office
1759–1763
Preceded by John Brice, Jr.
Succeeded by Daniel Dulany
Colonel of the Horse Militia
Incumbent
Assumed office
1753
Deputy Secretary of Maryland
In office
1755–1756
Judge of the Land Office
In office
1755–1775
Succeeded by St George Peale
Personal details
Born c1700
Argaty, Perthshire, Scotland
Died 1784
Perthshire, Scotland
Spouse(s) Ann Digges
Relations Major General George H. Steuart (grandson)
Richard Sprigg Steuart (grandson)
Brigadier General George H. Steuart (great-grandson)
Residence Dodon
Alma mater University of Edinburgh
Occupation planter, politician, soldier
Religion Episcopalian

George Hume Steuart, (1700–1784) was a Scottish physician, tobacco planter, and Loyalist politician in colonial Maryland. Born in Perthshire, Steuart emigrated to Maryland in around 1721, where he benefited from proprietarial patronage and was appointed to a number of colonial offices, eventually becoming a wealthy landowner with estates in both Maryland and Scotland. However, he was forced by the outbreak of the American Revolution to decide whether to remain loyal to the Crown or to throw in his lot with the American rebels. In 1775 Steuart sailed to Scotland, deciding at age 75 that "he could not turn rebel in his old age". He remained there until his death in 1784.

Early life[edit]

Steuart was born in Argaty, Perthshire (now Stirling), in around 1695-1700,[1] the second son of George Steuart and Mary Hume. His family were members of the Balquhidder Stewart clan, descendants of Murdoch Stewart, Duke of Albany, executed by King James I of Scotland in 1425.

It is likely that Steuart spoke both Gaelic and English. According to the Old Statistical Account of 1799, Scottish Gaelic was the language of the “common people” of Balquhidder and the surrounding area, although English would have been spoken in the “low country”, around Stirling. This would in fact have been the Scots language of the Stirlingshire area, rather than Standard English.[2]

Steuart's elder brother David stood to inherit the family estates, and Steuart studied medicine, receiving his MD at the University of Edinburgh. In 1721 he emigrated to Annapolis, in the colony of Maryland, where he settled and established a medical practice.[1][3]

In the early 18th century Maryland was a sparsely settled, largely rural society. In 1715 the population of Annapolis was just 405, though by 1730 this number had increased to 776.[4]

Planter and horse breeder[edit]

Steuart Plantation house at Dodon, on the South River near Annapolis, built c1800.

In 1725 Steuart purchased the estate of Dodon in South River, Anne Arundel County, Maryland, on the Chesapeake Bay, from Nicholas Carroll.[5][6] At Dodon, Steuart farmed tobacco, bred thoroughbreds and held match races. His most successful horse was Dungannon, which he had brought from England to compete against the stable of his rival, Charles Carroll of Annapolis (1703–1783), whose son Charles Carroll of Carrollton would later sign the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Dungannon won the Annapolis Subscription Plate, the first recorded formal horse race in Maryland, in May 1743.[7] The race took place in Parole and the original silver cup is now displayed in the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Horse racing formed an important part of the social and political life of the colony, with numerous gentlemen of means forming large studs. George Washington attended early meetings of the Maryland Jockey Club,[8] and Steuart entertained the future president at his home in Annapolis.[9]

According to the writer Abbe Robin, who travelled through Maryland during the Revolutionary War, men of Steuart's class and status enjoyed considerable wealth and prosperity:

"[Maryland houses] are large and spacious habitations, widely separated, composed of a number of buildings and surrounded by plantations extending farther than the eye can reach, cultivated...by unhappy black men whom European avarice brings hither...Their furniture is of the most costly wood, and rarest marbles, enriched by skilful and artistic work. Their elegant and light carriages are drawn by finely bred horses, and driven by richly apparelled slaves."[10]

In 1744 Steuart married Ann Digges (c1723-1814), daughter of the planter Charles Digges, in Prince George County, Maryland. They would have ten children. Anne came from a wealthy Roman Catholic family; her grandfather was Edward Digges (1620-1674/5) an English barrister and colonist who had served as the Colonial Governor of Virginia from March 1655 to December 1656.

Politics[edit]

The Annapolis Subscription Plate, awarded to Steuart's racehorse Dungannon in 1743.
Argaty, Steuart's Perthshire estate.

Politically, Steuart was a Loyalist, his interests being closely aligned with those of the Calvert family, proprietors of the colony of Maryland. In 1742 Charles Calvert, 5th Baron Baltimore (1699–1751) sent his eldest but illegitimate son, Benedict Swingate Calvert, then aged around ten years old,[11] to America and placed him in Steuart's care.[12][13] The boy was provided with a tutor, the Italian Onorio Razzolini.[14]

Steuart evidently benefited from the Calvert family's patronage as he went on to hold a number of important Colonial offices. In 1753 he was appointed lieutenant-colonel of The Horse Militia under Governor Horatio Sharpe,[7] and he was Deputy Secretary of Maryland from 1755 to 1756. He served two one year terms as Mayor of Annapolis, from 1759 to 1761 and from 1763 to 1764.[15][16] He was also a judge of the Land Office (1755–1775),[17][18] a member of the "Council of Twelve", and a judge of the Court of Admiralty.[7][19] In recognition of his services, Lord Baltimore appears to have given Steuart the nickname "Honest Steuart", a sobriquet later thrown back at him by his political enemies.[20]

Maryland politics could evidently be rancorous. Court records show that Steuart and his successor as Annapolis mayor, Michael MacNamara, were both required "to post a bond to keep the peace...especially with each other".[21]

Steuart returned to Scotland in 1758 in order to inherit the estate of Argaty, near Doune, Perthshire, through his mother Mary Hume (also spelled "Home"), and other estates through his father. By 1761 Steuart was back in Maryland; a series of letters dated March 1761 shows him, as Commissioner of the Loan Office, attempting to collect taxes due to the Proprietary Government from Sheriffs who were behind in their payments.[22]

Revolutionary War[edit]

The coming of war[edit]

Lord North, to whom Steuart made representations in 1864.
Samuel Chase, Steuart's implacable opponent.

In the 1760s relations between Britain and her colonies began to deteriorate. Steuart was and would remain a Loyalist; like many Scots he was likely influenced by the terrible consequences of the failed Jacobite uprisings against the Crown in his home country. Many Scots had fled to the colonies following the crushing of the Jacobite rising of 1745, and had little appetite for further rebellion. However, like other Marylanders, Steuart opposed the taxes imposed by London and in 1764 he travelled to England where he made representations to the government at Westminster. Steuart's grandson, Richard Sprigg Steuart (1797–1876), recalled in his memoirs:

"When he went over [to England] in 1764, to take my father [James Steuart] to school, he was commissioned by a number of Marylanders to call upon Lord North, England's new Chancellor of the Exchequer, hostile to America, on his way through London, and make representations on the subject of taxation. He was politely received and the minister put a great many questions to him, and seemed to acquiesce in all he said. [...] At all events my Grandfather had the pleasure soon after to hear of the repeal of this obnoxious tax".[23]

Steuart's loyalist politics were opposed by, among others, Samuel Chase, co-founder of the Anne Arundel County chapter of the Sons of Liberty, a leading opponent of the 1765 Stamp Act, and later one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.[24] In an open letter dated July 18, 1766 Chase attacked John Brice, Steuart, Walter Dulany, Michael MacNamara and others for publishing an article in the Maryland Gazette Extraordinary of June 19, 1766, in which Chase had been accused of being: "a busy, reckless incendiary, a ringleader of mobs, a foul-mouthed and inflaming son of discord and faction, a common disturber of the public tranquility". In his response, Chase accused Steuart and the others of "vanity...pride and arrogance":

"...the people rejecting you [Steuart], as unfit for their confidence and trust, which you had repeatedly betrayed, and elected me in your room. I am not ashamed to own that I exerted myself in opposition to you. It was my opinion that a man without merit, integrity or abilities, was totally disqualified to be the representative of a free people. You had nothing to recommend you but proprietary influence, court favour, and the wealth and influence of the tools and favourites who infest this city."[25]

Such protests were essentially a complaint against a civic government which was still dominated by men loyal to the Calvert interest, and had arguably grown lazy and careless. However, such highly personalized attacks did little to reduce the political temperature.[26]

War with Great Britain[edit]

War broke out in 1775, and the fact of owning estates in both Scotland and Maryland caused Steuart considerable political difficulties. As Richard Sprigg Steuart recalled:

"He was an ardent admirer of the American Colonies, and believed the principles for which the colonists contended were just, and truly English. But though he sympathized with his American friends, he said he could not turn rebel in his old age, being 75 years old when the Revolution broke out...he would have forfeited [his Scottish estates] if he had joined the Revolutionists. He therefore went over to Scotland and saved his property there. He gave all his estates in Maryland to his wife [Ann], telling her by letter...how to leave the property in America, which was finally done."[27]

Ann therefore remained in America despite her own Loyalist sympathies. She would never again see her husband, and she continued to live at Dodon until her death in 1814. According to Richard Sprigg Steuart:

"My Grandmother's family, the Digges, were at heart all Torys but kept quiet...they were called non-jurors and paid double taxes. [After the War] she lived comfortably, but she kept at home because her good husband was called by the mob a Tory, which he was not....he never while in Scotland heard of a battle that he did not express his regret and call it a fratricidal war."[28]

Aftermath[edit]

Steuart never returned to Maryland, and he died in 1784 in Scotland, one year after the Revolutionary War ended. He was buried in Kilmadock, Perthshire. No portrait of him survives.[7] When he left Maryland, his estates in Anne Arundel County comprised around 4,100 acres (17 km2) of land.[9] In 1780, these were transferred to his sons Charles and William, for a nominal sum.[9]

The Argaty estate in Scotland was inherited by Steuart's eldest son, also named George Hume Steuart, who remained loyal to the British Crown. The estate, which was eventually sold in 1914, now forms part of a red kite conservation area.

Family life[edit]

Dr James Steuart was a physician who served during the Revolutionary War
Steuart's fourth son William Steuart

Steuart married Ann Digges (c1723-1814) in Prince George County, Maryland in 1744. They had ten children, of whom six survived to adulthood:

Religion[edit]

Steuart was an Episcopalian, though his wife Anne was a Roman Catholic.[9] According to Richard Sprigg Steuart:

"Though he and his excellent wife were of different churches, they never disagreed on the subject of religion; they found enough to believe in common to make them good Christians. And such was his confidence in her that he requested her to bring up his sons Episcopalians, as he knew the disadvantages politically of joining any other."[27]

Legacy[edit]

Obelisk at Dodon, marking the burial place of Steuart's widow Anne Digges.
The Dungannon Bowl, a 1955 replica of the original Annapolis Subscription Plate, awarded to the winner of the annual Dixie Stakes.

A stone obelisk at Dodon marks the burial place of Ann Digges and a number of other family members. The farm estate, somewhat reduced in size, still remains home to Steuart's descendants today.

The unusual spelling of "Steuart" was widespread in the 18th century ("Steuart", "Stewart" and "Stuart" being essentially interchangeable), but has since mainly fallen into disuse. However, Steuart's numerous North American descendants have retained the archaic spelling.

A silver replica of the original Annapolis Subscription Plate was commissioned in 1955 by the Maryland Jockey Club. The "Dungannon Bowl" is a perpetual trophy presented to the winner of annual Dixie Stakes, the oldest stakes race run in Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic states.[32]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Papenfeuse, p.773
  2. ^ “Parish of Balquhidder”, Old Statistical Account of Scotland, Vol. 12, 1799.
  3. ^ American Swedish 1973, Edited by Leif Sjoberg, at p.69 Retrieved Jan 15, 2010
  4. ^ Yentsch, p.39
  5. ^ Harrison, Bruce, p.559, The Family Forest Descendants of Lady Joan Beaufort Retrieved October 2010
  6. ^ Hanson, George A., p.266, Old Kent: The Eastern Shore of Maryland Retrieved June 2012
  7. ^ a b c d Nelker, p.118
  8. ^ Maryland Jockey Club website Retrieved Jan 15, 2010
  9. ^ a b c d Papenfeuse, p.774
  10. ^ Yentsch, Anne E, p.265, A Chesapeake Family and their Slaves: a Study in Historical Archaeology, Cambridge University Press (1994) Retrieved Jan 2010
  11. ^ Yentsch, Anne E, p.260, A Chesapeake Family and their Slaves: a Study in Historical Archaeology, Cambridge University Press (1994) Retrieved Jan 2010
  12. ^ Callcott, Margaret Law, p.390, Mistress of Riversdale: The Plantation Letters of Rosalie Stier Calvert Retrieved August 17, 2010
  13. ^ Eby, Jerrilynn, p.76, Laying the Hoe: a Century of Iron Manufacturing in Stafford County, Virginia, Vol 1, Heritage Books (2007). Retrieved Jan 19, 2010
  14. ^ Fucilla, Joseph Guerin, p.23, The teaching of Italian in the United States: a Documentary History Arno Press (1975) Retrieved Jan 20, 2010
  15. ^ Nelker, p.117
  16. ^ George Steuart at www.politicalgraveyard.com Retrieved Jan 19, 2010
  17. ^ Reports of Cases Argued in the Court of Appeal of Maryland, p301, Volume 1, by Thomas Harris (1821) Retrieved Jan 14, 2010
  18. ^ Kilty, John, p.270, The Land-holder's Assistant, and Land-office Guide...from the Proprietory Government Dobbin and Murphy (1808) Retrieved Jan 21, 2010
  19. ^ Quinan, John Russel, p.163, Medical Annals of Baltimore from 1608 to 1880 BiblioLife (2008) Retrieved Jan 2010
  20. ^ Sanderson, John J, p.365, Biography of the Signers To the Declaration of Independence, Volume 5, published by R W Pomery (1823). Retrieved November 2010
  21. ^ Yentsch, Anne E, p.313, A Chesapeake Family and their Slaves: a Study in Historical Archaeology, Cambridge University Press (1994) Retrieved Jan 2010
  22. ^ p.161, Calendar of Maryland State Papers No: The Black Books Retrieved November 2010
  23. ^ a b c Nelker, 131, memoirs of Richard Sprigg Steuart
  24. ^ Samuel Chase at Maryland Online Encyclopedia Retrieved Jan 19, 2010
  25. ^ Sanderson, John J, p.67, Biography of the Signers To the Declaration of Independence, Volume 5, published by R W Pomery (1823). Retrieved Jan 14, 2010
  26. ^ McWilliams, Jane W., p.68 Retrieved June 2012
  27. ^ a b Nelker, p.123, memoirs of Richard Sprigg Steuart
  28. ^ Nelker, 128, memoirs of Richard Sprigg Steuart
  29. ^ Nelker, 24
  30. ^ Maryland Archives, Muster Rolls, Volume 18, 1775–1783, p.647
  31. ^ Nelker, p.120
  32. ^ 126th Preakness Stakes Souvenir Magazine, May 19, 2001, article titled, "It All Began Here, In Annapolis..." page 95-96

References[edit]

  • Callcott, Margaret Law, p.390, Mistress of Riversdale: The Plantation Letters of Rosalie Stier Calvert Retrieved August 17, 2010
  • Hanson, George A., Old Kent: The Eastern Shore of Maryland Retrieved June 2012
  • McWilliams, Jane W., Annapolis, City on the Severn: A History, (2011)
  • Nelker, Gladys P., The Clan Steuart, Genealogical Publishing (1970).
  • Papenfeuse, Edward C. (editor), A Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature, 1635–1789, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-8018-9096-3
  • Richardson. Hester Dorey, Side-Lights on Maryland History: With Sketches of Early Maryland Families, Williams and Wilkins (1913). ASIN: B000VAWR4Q
  • Steuart, Richard Sprigg, Dr. George Steuart of Annapolis and Doden, Anne Arundel County and his descendants, S.N. 1955, ASIN: B0007GTCFG
  • 126th Preakness Stakes Souvenir Magazine, May 19, 2001, article titled, "It All Began Here, In Annapolis..." page 95-96

External links[edit]