University LibrariesDigital CollectionsHomeCatalogResearch PortAsk us!Archives UM HomeSpecial CollectionsSearchAbout Archives UMHelpHow Do I...?Site Index A-ZSearch

Hamilton Family papers


Hamilton Family papers
Hamilton Family
Collection number:
1.25 linear feet (109 items)
Bulk dates:
1827-1883 and undated
Inclusive dates:
1803-1923 and undated
Collection Area:
State of Maryland and Historical Collections
Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries, Hornbake Library, College Park, MD 20742. Tel: 301-405-9212, Fax: 301-314-2709, Email:

The papers of the Hamilton family of Charles County, Maryland, pertain to family members as well as other contemporary leading figures of Charles County. The collection consists primarily of correspondence and addresses such topics as tobacco and agriculture, family matters, slavery, and Catholic schooling, as well as national events such as the Civil War and the development of the West.

Important Information for Users of the Collection


This collection is open for research.

Preferred citation:

Hamilton Family papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Publication rights:

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.

Alternate formats:

Digital copies of select letters in this collection are available at in the University of Maryland's Digital Collections.


This collection is PROCESSED.

Historical Note

The Hamilton papers document the life and times of the family of John Hamilton, a Roman Catholic planter from Port Tobacco in Charles County, Maryland. The Hamiltons were descendants of John Hamilton, a Roman Catholic émigré who settled in Charles County in 1674. By the early nineteenth century, Hamilton's progeny were affluent planters and landholders in Charles County. According to the 1860 United States census, John Hamilton (1798-1883), the great-great grandson of the immigrant, owned nearly ninety slaves and held land valued at $75,000. Hamilton's farming ventures focused mostly on the production of tobacco and other crops.

John Hamilton married a distant cousin, Anne Catherine Hamilton, known as "Nancy." The couple's daughter, Eleanor, died at six years of age. After Nancy's death in 1827, John married Henrietta Spalding Jameson, who died shortly thereafter. This union produced no children. In 1835, Hamilton married Mary Emily Hawkins, who bore nine children: Mary (b. 1837), Francis Patrick (b. 1839), Katherine (b. 1841), Elizabeth or Lizzie (b. 1842), John Edward (b. 1844), William (b. 1846), John Paul (b. 1848), Samuel Henry (b. 1850), and George Ernest (b. 1853)

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Papers of the Hamilton Family date from 1803 to 1923, although the bulk of the collection spans the period 1827 to 1883. The papers include correspondence; financial, legal, and land records; and a photograph.

Most of the correspondence consists of personal letters sent by the Hamilton children to their parents in Port Tobacco. The letters were typically written while the children were attending various academies and colleges. Topics covered include Catholic schooling at Mount de Sales Academy, Mount St. Mary's College, and Georgetown College; family matters; and national events, including the Civil War and development of the West. Other personal correspondence includes ten letters from Rebekah M. Wilmer to F. Hill Hamilton, possibly a cousin, written in 1909.

The collection also contains business documents and letters concerning the commercial dealings of John Hamilton and other Charles County, Maryland, figures including Charles A. Pye and John Adams. Among the business records are items from the mercantile of house of Neale, Harris, and Company, which addresses tobacco and other agricultural trade, particularly transactions between Charles County farmers and Baltimore agents, and a financial ledger belonging to John Hamilton which lists transactions such as slave purchases, farm product sales, expenses, and disbursements to his children. Other topics include personal indebtedness and the resettlement of a slave

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The University of Maryland Libraries purchased the Papers of the Hamilton Family from Wyngate Manuscripts of Bethesda, Maryland, in 1990. The financial ledger in Series II was donated in April 2010 by the Strasburg Community Library, Strasburg, Virginia.

Processing Information

Processed by:

Processed by Kathryn M. Wills, November, 1999. Guide revised by Jennie A. Levine, May 2004 and David Travis, July 2010.

Processing note:

Materials in the collection were separated into three series. All materials, except the photographs, deed, bond, and map have been arranged chronologically within each series and placed in acid-free folders in an acid-free box. The 1803 deed, 1818 bond, and 1918 map have been encapsulated and placed in a map case. The photographs have been separated and placed in the Photograph Collection.

Encoded by:

EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Sarah Heim.

Arrangement of Collection

The collection has been arranged into three series

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Family Correspondence and Documents, 1827-1923 (56 items)

This series contains correspondence, a legal inventory and distribution list for the personal estate of John P. Hamilton, and bills and receipts for schooling expenses. The earliest letters were written by Nancy Hamilton to her husband, John, presumable while she was undergoing treatment for an illness and was separated from her home and family. The bulk of this series consists of letters daughter Lizzie and sons John E., Samuel Henry, and G. P. (George) sent to their parents from their respective schools. Also included are student report statements and bills for tuition and fees from officials at Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and Mount de Sales Academy in Baltimore County. Other correspondents include a niece, Susan A. Hill, of Washington, D. C., and Elizabeth B. Hawkins, probably a relative of John Hamilton's third wife, Mary Emily Hawkins Hamilton. An additional set of ten letters was written between May and November 1909 by Rebekah M. Wilmer to F. Hill Hamilton, then a student at Mount St. Mary's College.

Major topics discussed in the letters include Catholic education in the mid-nineteenth century; health concerns; the Hamilton children's homesickness and desire for more news, packages, and visits from home; shortage of funds; and references to events in the large world, including the Civil War, Georgetown College at the time of Abraham Lincoln's assassination, and farming and immigration in southern Illinois. The Wilmer letters describe her life as a teacher in Charles County, Maryland, sporting events in the community, and her eagerness to be home with her family. She describes her life and local events, including a prank she and a friend played, and frequently mentions her eagerness to see Hamilton on his next visit home.

The last two items in this series are legal documents regarding the appraisal, inventory, and distribution of the personal estate of John P. Hamilton (1848-1923), the son of John Hamilton.

Arrangement is chronological

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Family Correspondence, 1827-1860 series 1box 1folder 1
Family Correspondence (Online), 1861-1883 series 1box 1folder 2
Family Correspondence, 1909 series 1box 1folder 3
Family Documents, 1923 series 1box 1folder 4

Series 2: Business-Related Records, 1803-1918 and undated (51 items)

This series contains three sets of correspondence and related documents, and a financial ledger, each arranged chronologically. The first group, dated 1818 to 1874, includes fifteen letters and three receipts documenting John Hamilton's business affairs. These deal largely with agricultural matters, including tobacco and corn crops and prices; timber and inferior shingles; taxes; and a new law for the weighing and inspection of grain. Two of the letters in this group deal with the purchase of and care for slaves. Correspondents are other Charles County, Maryland, farmers and planters and the Baltimore mercantile firms of Neale, Harris & Company and Penn & Mitchell.

The second set of correspondence, consisting of nine letters dated from 1851 to 1855, deals primarily with John Hamilton's role in the financial troubles of Charles A. Pye, who may have served as the agent for Hamilton in Baltimore. In one letter Pye requests a loan from Hamilton; in another he pleads for oat seed on credit and feed for his cattle. In additional letters, R. H. Mitchell and Mr. Oliver of Baltimore offer several negative comments concerning Mr. Pye and his ability to handle business. Sister Mary Aloysius (Mary Clare Pye), under the auspices of the Sister of the Visitation, also writes to inform Hamilton of her willingness to assist her brother by signing a deed.

The third group of correspondence and documents, dated from 1846 to 1848, concerns the business interest and communications of a farmer named John Adams. Most of this correspondence deals with the sale of Adams's grain by his Baltimore agents, Neale and Luckett, and orders for supplies shipped to him from Newport, Charles County, Maryland, by Baltimore merchants Dinsmore & Kyle.

Two other notable items in this series include an 1803 deed of trust conveying the Charles County, Maryland, property known as "Beach Neck" to Edward Hamilton, the father of John Hamilton's first wife, Nancy. There is also an 1818 bond, signed by Edward Hamilton, acknowledging Charles Neale's final payment of a debt. The two oversize documents were moved to flat storage.

This series also contains a financial ledger of John Hamilton, which lists transactions such as slave purchases, farm product sales, expences, and disbursements to his children, from 1857-1882. Included with this ledger are some miscellaneous items that were found in the ledger. These include a 1918 map of Zekiah Swap near La Plata, Maryland (oversize), period copies of two Senate floor speeches about the admission of Kansas as a state to the United States in 1858, an 1846 broadside relating to a person dispute in Charles county, a late 19th century flyer about St. Mary's College, a political cartoon about the National Anti-Monopoly League and two ads.

The series is grouped by family or individual or individual relationship; within the groupings, the documents are arranged chronologically

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Business Records (Includes Oversize), 1818-1874 series 2box 1folder 5
Charles A. Pye, 1851-1855 series 2box 1folder 6
John Adams, 1846-1848 series 2box 1folder 7
John Hamilton Financial Ledger (Oversize Only), 1857-1882 series 2box 2folder 1
Loose items from John Hamilton Financial Ledger (Oversize Only), 1846-1918 and undated series 2box 2folder 2

Series 3: Photographs, undated (2 items)

This series consists of two undated and unidentified photographs. The first photograph depicts three young boys, possibly members of the Hamilton Family, on the front porch of a large home. The second is a calling card sized photograph of an unidentified young woman. Both of these photographs are probably from the late 1800's and have been moved to the photograph collection.

The box inventory for this series is not currently available online. Please refer to the series description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Related Material

For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.

Selected Search Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the University of Maryland Libraries' Catalog. Researchers desiring related materials about these topics, names, or places may search the Catalog using these headings.


Names (Added Entries)