Mary Darnell Carroll
Married to Charles Carroll, Signer of the Declaration of Independence
1749 – 1782 A.D.
Mary Darnell, daughter of Col. Henry Darnell and Rachel Brooke, of Prince George County, Maryland, was married to her distant cousin, the knightly Charles Carroll of Carrollton, in June, 1768, and the Maryland Gazette of that date makes this announcement: “On Sunday evening at his Father’s house in this city (Annapolis), Charles Carroll, jr., Esq., was married to Miss Mary Darnell, an agreeable young Lady endowed with every accomplishment necessary to render the connubial state happy.”
Charles Carroll’s own estimate of the young lady at the time may be learned from a letter that he wrote to a personal friend, August 13, 1767, which has been preserved:
“Dear Jennings: Perhaps before you receive this I shall be married. I have been so successful as to gain the affections of a young lady endowed with every quality to make me happy in the married state, virtue, good sense, good temper. These too receive no small lustre [sic] from her person which the partiality of a lover does not represent to me more agreeable than what it really is. She really is a sweet-tempered, charming girl – a little too young for me, I confess, especially as I am of weak and puny constitution…”
In the following January, Carroll wrote to another friend, as follows:
“My Dear Graves: I hope you received my last letter of the 7th of November. By that you will learn that my marriage with Miss Darnell was put off till the next spring, in order to obtain an Act of Assembly…Thus you see if the settlement cannot be securely made without an act to give it legal force, I may wait two years longer, that is, till the young lady comes of age. She will be nineteen years old on the 19th of next March…The young lady to whom I am to give my hand and who already has my heart, altho’ blessed in every good quality, has not been favoured [sic] by fortune in respect to money…”
The matter seems to have been settled satisfactorily, however, for on Saturday, June 4th, 1768, the marriage contract was drawn and styled “an Indenture between Charles Carroll of Carrollton, of the first part, Henry Darnell, jr., of the second part, Rachel Darnell, wife of said Henry, of the third part, Mary Darnell, uncle of said Mary of the fifth part.” Their marriage took place the following day.
Six daughters and one son were born to the Carrolls [sic] but four of the daughters died in infancy or early childhood.
Mrs. Carroll died in 1782 in the thirty-fifth year of her age. The writer of the Carroll sketches in Appleton’s Journal of September, 1874, tells the story of her death as follows: “The death of Mrs. Carroll was very sad. She was devotedly attached to her grandfather (father-in-law}. One day he was standing on the large porch of his Annapolis, watching a ship come into the harbour [sic]. He stepped back too far and was picked up dead. Mrs. Carroll, his child by marriage and his constant companion, never recovered from the shock, nor left her room afterward until death.”
A New York writer of half a century ago paid this tribute to Carroll of Carrollton, and his family: ”
“The Senator from Maryland, Charles Carroll, was in many respects one of the most remarkable men in a remarkable body. His family had been settled in Maryland since the days of James II and became gradually possessors of enormous estates. Educated abroad with the utmost care, Mr. Carroll’s long foreign residence, at the time when his mind was most open to receive permanent impressions, had not operated to alienate his love of country, and he returned to it more devoted than before. No one had more to lose in the desperate venture of rebellion and revolution than himself, yet none was more unflinching in his action.
“Thus it happened that no man was more respected and beloved and though his fortune had given him immense possessions, to no one were they less grudged by the envious and jealous vulgar. Lord Brougham in commenting on this remarkable character in the Edinburgh Review essays, speaks of him as a scholar of extraordinary accomplishments, whom few if any of the speakers of the new world approached in his nearness to the model of the refined oratory practised [sic] in the parent state. During the second session of Congress in New York, he was accompanied by several members of his family, who were destined to become connected with the most dignified representatives of the English nobility.
“Mrs. Charles Carroll, jr., was one of the few ladies of official rank in the times of Washington. Both Mrs. Carroll (Mrs. Charles, jr.) and her sister Mrs. Henry Phillips were great favourites [sic] with Gen. Washington and much in his society as young ladies; a third sister became the wife of Col. John Eager Howard, who was ultimately one of the Senators from Maryland.”
Charles Carroll never married again, but lived until 1832, when he died in Baltimore at the honoured [sic] age of ninety-five years, the last of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Reference: The Pioneer Mothers of America: A Record of the More Notable Women of the Early Days of the Country, and Particularly of the Colonial and Revolutionary Periods by Harry Clinton Green and Mary Wolcott Green, A.B. Third Volume, Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons.