WHOSE OWNER WAS THE LAST SURVIVING SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
It is true that when Charles Carroll was about to sign his name to the Declaration of Independence he added the words, ” of Carrollton,” but the story that he added the words there that he might be distinguished from a second Charles Carroll is an error; he had been writing his name thus since 1765. It would have been just as true a description if he had used the name of another of the numerous Carroll estates, Doughoregan Manor, but the designation he chose was simpler. At any rate he could not spell it in so many ways as the name of the family estate where he lived and died. Letters written by him at different periods show such di-verse spellings as ” Doeheragen,” ” Doohoragen,” ” Dooheragon,” and ” Dougheragen,” before he settled down to ” Doughoregan.”
Doughoregan Manor, which was named for one of the O’Carroll estates in Ireland, is one of the most ancient family seats in Maryland. In 1688 Charles Car-roll, I, came over from England. He became a large landed proprietor, in part as a result of his appeal to the king of England for a part in the estate of the O’Carrolls of King’s County, Ireland. The king satisfied the claim by offering him 60,000 acres of land in the Colonies. His heir was Charles Carroll, II, who was born in 1702. Fifteen years later Doughoregan Manor was built, and twenty-seven years later Charles Carroll, II, and his brother Daniel sold sixty acres of land which became the site of old Baltimore.
Charles Carroll, II, divided his time between Doughoregan Manor and the Carroll Mansion in Annapolis, his town house. Here was born, in 1737, Charles Carroll, III, the Signer. Most of the education of this heir to the vast estate of Charles Carroll, II, was secured in France. He was in Paris when his father wrote to him, in 1764, telling him of the large property that was to come to him. After speaking of this in detail, he concluded :
” On my death I am willing to add my Manor of Doughoregan, 10,000 acres, and also 1,425 Acres called Chance adjacent thereto, on the bulk of which my negroes are settled. As you are my only child, you will, of course, have all the residue of my estate at my death.”
When the estate of his father finally came into his hands, Charles Carroll, III, was the richest man in Maryland. That he knew how to handle such a large property he showed by a letter which he wrote to his son, Charles Carroll, IV, on July 10, 1801:
” He who postpones till to-morrow what can and ought to be done to-day, will never thrive in this world. It was not by procrastination this estate was acquired, but by activity, thought, perseverance, and economy, and by the same means it must be preserved and prevented from melting away.”
But while the owner of Doughoregan Manor was careful, he was not penurious. He kept open house to his numerous friends, of whom George Washington was one.
In one of ,the rooms of the Manor Washington sat to Gilbert Stuart for his portrait.
Both Mr. Carroll’s property and his services were at his country’s call. From the days of the Stamp Act to the close of the Revolution there was no more ardent patriot than he. He served as a member of the Continental Congress, was for three months with Washington at Valley Forge, by appointment of Congress, was later United States Senator, and was a leader in business as well as in political affairs. With Washington he was a member from the beginning of the Potomac Canal Company, which later was merged into the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company.
After the Revolution he spent most of his time at Doughoregan Manor, where he completed the remarkable three-hundred-foot facade by the addition of the chapel which has been used by the family for more than a century.
One by one the sons and daughters went out from the house, carrying the Carroll name or the Carroll training into many sections of Maryland and Virginia. Perhaps the most interesting marriage was that of Charles Carroll, IV, who was mentioned by Washing-ton in his diary for 1798:
” March 27-Mr. Charles Carroll, Jr. came to dinner.
” March 28-Mr. Carroll went away after breakfast.”
William Spohn Baker, in ” Washington after the Revolution,” after quoting these extracts from the diary, says :
” The visit of young Mr. Carroll having given rise at Annapolis to a rumor that it was made with the intention of paying his addresses to Nelly Custis, her brother wrote to the General in allusion to it, saying, ‘ I think it a most desirable match, and wish that it may take place with all my heart.’ In reply, under date of April 15, Washington wrote, ‘ Young Mr. Carroll came here about a fortnight ago to dinner, and left on next morning after breakfast. If his object was such as you say has been reported, it was not declared here; and there-fore, the less is said upon the subject, particularly by your sister’s friends, the more prudent it will be, until the subject develops itself more.’
” But youthful alliances are not always made at the nod of Dame Rumor, nor are they always controlled by the wishes of relatives. Nelly Custis married, February 22, 1799, at Mount Vernon, Laurence Lewis, a nephew of Washington; and Charles Carroll, Junior, found, in the following year, a bride at Philadelphia, Harriet, a daughter of Benjamin Chew” [of Cliveden].
A delightful picture of life at the Manor was given by Adam Hodgson, an English visitor, who wrote from Baltimore on July 13, 1820: ” I have lately been paying some very agreeable visits at the country seats of some of my acquaintances in the neighborhood The other morning I set out, at four o’clock, with General H, on a visit to a most agreeable family, who reside at a large Manor, about seventeen miles distant. We arrived about seven o’clock, and the family soon afterward assembled to breakfast. It consisted of several friends from France, Canada, and Washington, and the children and grand-children of my host, a venerable patriarch, nearly eighty-five (83) years of age, and one of the four survivors of those who signed the Declaration of Independence. . . . After breakfasting the following morning, the ladies played for us on the harp; and in the evening, I set out on horseback, to return hither, not without a feeling of regret, that I had probably taken a final leave of my hospitable friend, who, although still an ex-pert horseman, seldom goes beyond the limits of his manor. . . .”
The other three surviving Signers died first, so that when Charles Carroll of Carrollton followed on November 14, 1832, the last Signer was gone. Among his last words were these :
” I have lived to my ninety-sixth year; I have enjoyed continued health, I have been blessed with great wealth, prosperity, and most of the good things which this world can bestowpublic approbation, esteem, applause; but what I now look back on with the greatest satisfaction to myself is, that I have practiced the duties of my religion.”
He was buried under the pavement of the chapel at the Manor.
The present occupants of Doughoregan are Mr. and Mrs. Charles Carroll, who followed Governor John Lee Carroll, after his death in 1911.