Undoubtedly the most famous and the most important of Maryland’s Founding Fathers, Charles Carroll of Carrollton has been the subject of multiple biographies which examines his upbringing, religion, politics, and career as the sole Catholic signer of the Declaration, a US Senator, and an American icon. However, all the works on Charles Carroll of Carrollton fail to give or draw appropriate attention to his creeper nature. See, Charles Carroll of Carrollton liked and eventually married a teenager.
Carrollton creepiness is first indicated in an October 1763 letter to his father Charles Carroll of Annapolis. A year prior, in September 1762, Annapolis wrote to his son and subtly advised that it was time for him to marry. Being Annapolis’ only child, it was critical that Carrollton produce grandchildren and an heir else the family state would be lost or Annapolis would have to raise another son. In this letter he gives a great deal of advice on woman most important for this article is Annapolis warns his son that “the Sex are the most Artful Dissemblers” and “it will be an advantage if the Lady should have been bred in a monastery”. (1)
A year after receiving the letter, Carrollton, through a friend, made the acquaintance of Louisa Baker an English Catholic being educated by “Ursilin nuns.” Baker was 17 years old and had a background that pleased Carrollton. Specifically, Carrollton wrote his father, “her inexperience will favour my design: unpractised in the wiles & artifices of worldly women her genuine candour & simplicity will lay open her real character, her good qualities and her defects.” (2) In short, she’s perfect for him because she’s young and lacking the worldliness to be able to resist his advances or to deceive him.
Ultimately this relationship failed. Carrollton was unable to convince Baker’s father to allow him to marry her. Baker’s father wanted Carrollton to either wait to woo his daughter or to relocate back to England which Carrollton was unable to do because of his close relationship with his father. (3)
Carrollton returned to the Maryland colony and in 1766, he became engaged to one Rachel Cooke. The planned marriage never took place due to illness. When the first marriage ceremony was scheduled, Carrollton fell ill. The second time his finance fell ill- and she died. (4)
After a period of mourning, Carrollton was engaged again this time to an 18-year-old named Mary Darnell. Mary Darnall was a daughter of, Robert Darnall, a friend of Charles Carroll of Annapolis who had fallen into troubles that eventually resulted in his execution. Carrollton had taken pity on his friend’s family and had taken in Darnell’s wife and daughter, the latter who he then raised as his own. (5) Carrollton was clearly smitten with Darnell, a feeling whether real or rationalized, he expressed most clearly in an August 1767 letter to his English friend William Graves:
“the ladys name is Darnall: of a good family, without money: in every other respect she is such as you would recommend to yr: friend: chearful, sweet tempered, virtuous & sensible – her person is agreeable & cleanly[.] Cleanliness in a woman Graves with me is a strong recommendation the more so, as it is a quality very often wanting in the fair sex at least I have found it so, perhaps you may have had better luck than yr. hum: Servant – if women who live by a certain profession are so deficient in an essential point of their calling, what are we not to apprehend from wives, who are above those little arts of pleasing: many married men have complained, that prostitutes are neater than their wives: I presume they spoke from experience-“ (6)
The Carrollton- Darnall nuptials were delayed for a period. Carrollton wanted, as did his father, Darnall to sign an indenture in which Darnall accepted a fix cash settlement in lieu of a dowry which was intended to prevent Darnall from walking away with a significant portion of the Carroll family estate in the event that Carrollton predeceased his would-be wife. The problem was that, even at 18, Mary Darnall was still a minor in the eyes of colonial Maryland law which meant that she could not legally sign the indenture unless Carrollton secured a private bill enabling Darnall to sign the agreement despite her age. (7) In this he was successful; he wedded Darnall in June 1768. (8)
(1) 9/1/1762 letter from Charles Carroll of Annapolis to Charles Carroll of Carrollton
(2) 10/3/1763 letter from Charles Carroll of Carrollton to Charles Carroll of Annapolis
(3) Scott McDermott, Charles Carroll of Carrollton: Faithful Revolutionary, 64
(4) McDermott, Charles Carroll of Carrollton: Faithful Revolutionary, 84
(5) McDermott, Charles Carroll of Carrollton: Faithful Revolutionary, 85
(6) 8/28/1767 letter from Charles Carroll of Carrollton to William Graves
(7)1/16/1768 letter from Charles Carroll of Carrollton to William Graves
(8) McDermott, Charles Carroll of Carrollton: Faithful Revolutionary, 86