Ara Spence (February 26, 1793 – May 27, 1866)[1][2][3] was a justice of the Maryland Court of Appeals from 1835 to 1851.[4]

Born in Worcester County, Maryland, Spence married Anna Maria Robins (1798–1827) on September 30, 1818. After her death, Spence remarried to Priscilla Wilson (1813–1837) on February 20, 1833. She was the daughter of Maryland political figure Ephraim King Wilson. After Priscilla's death, Spence remained a widower until his death.[2][1] Spence owned the Mansion House at Public Landing,[5] where he "spent a long widowerhood... with his servants and numerous cats".[3] Spence was a slaveowner, and one account has him ordering a lazy and impudent slave boy to be thrown in the bay, only to give the boy a reprieve when he objected that he had not yet had breakfast.[3] Spence's will provided for his slaves "to be freed and transported to Liberia following his death".[5]


  1. ^ a b Leslie P. Dryden, Dryden Family & Descendants (1999), p. 52.
  2. ^ a b Stell, Judy. "PURNELL: A Family Journal". Retrieved January 1, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c Maryland: A Guide to the Old Line State (1976), p. 445.
  4. ^ "Maryland Court of Appeals Judges, 1778–". Archives of Maryland. Retrieved September 22, 2021.
  5. ^ a b Touart, Paul. "Worcester County's African American Heritage" (PDF). Worcester County Tourism. p. 12.
Political offices
Preceded by Judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals
Succeeded by
Court reconfigured