Elizabeth Maynadier Key and Janet (Wherritt) Thompson

Tudor Hall, the childhood home of Elizabeth Key
Tudor Hall, the childhood home of Elizabeth Key

“On Monday [July 19, 1814] the shipping (except the detachment to the Patuxent) disappeared from the mouth of the Patuxent and a heavy force appeared off Britton’s Bay on Monday night.

On Tuesday morning, they landed near Newtown, a heavy force which marched to the right at Leonardtown, another marched to the left, and a third commanded by Admiral Cockburn, landed at the warehouse and took possession of Leonardtown.

The two flanking parties, it is stated, reached the rear of the town a few minutes after the barges reached the landing.  Their whole force in this expedition was estimated to be about 1,300 men.

During their stay in the village, which was til about 2 o’clock, they behaved with great politeness to the ladies, respected private property wherever the proprietors remained at home, destroyed about 100 bbls. of supplies belonging to Col. Carberry’s regiment, the whole of Mr. Haislip’s store, and the furniture, clothing, and bedding of Captains Forrest and Millard, all of whom had left town.

They got possession of some muskets belonging to the state, which they broke to pieces, saying they were only fit to stick frogs with.

Mrs. Thomson and Miss Eliza Key were very instrumental in saving the court house, stating that it was sometimes a place for divine worship.”

Who were these two brave women who saved the court house from destruction?

Eliza Maynadier Key, daughter of Philip B. and Rebecca Jowles (Sothoron) Key, was born at “Gravelly Hills” near Chaptico in St. Mary’s County on January 28, 1792.  Two years after this event, Eliza married John Scott, Jr. of Kent County.  In addition to being the second cousin of Francis Scott Key who wrote the “Star Spangled Banner”, she was the great-grandmother of F. Scott Fitzgerard (Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald) author of “The Great Gatsby” and other famous works.

Janet Wherritt, born about 1777, was the daughter of Nicholas and Rebecca (Thompson) Wherritt.  In 1804 she married James Thompson, Jr., a widower and owner of “Thompson’s Inn” in Leonardtown who died in 1810.  Janet was the stepmother of “The Fightin’ Thompsons”, four of the six sons of James Thompson, Jr. and his first wife, Ann “Nancy” King, all of whom fought during the War of 1812.  One of these was Benjamin Thompson, a midshipman, who was killed on April 27, 1813 in the capture of the British fort at York, Canada (known today as Toronto).  Two others, William and John, served in the 14th Regiment, U. S. Army.  They were both taken prisoner at the Battle of Beaverdams (Upper Canada) on June 24, 1813 and held in Quebec for the duration of the war.  The last brother, Barzallai Thompson served in St. Mary’s County with the local militia.


A few sources:

Baltimore Patriot, October 12, 1813

Maryland Gazette, August 4, 1814

U.S. Army Records

War of 1812: Battle of York (History Net.com)

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