Thomas Bladen

Thomas Bladen (1698–1780) was a colonial governor in North America and politician who sat in the British House of Commons between 1727 and 1741. He served as the 19th Proprietary Governor of Maryland from 1742 to 1747.

Thomas Bladen
8th Governor of Restored Proprietary Government
In office
Preceded bySamuel Ogle
Succeeded bySamuel Ogle
Personal details
Professionpolitician and colonial governor

Early lifeEdit

Bladen was born in Maryland in 1698, the eldest son of William Bladen (1672–1718), of Annapolis,[1] who came to Maryland in 1690, and his wife Anne Van Swearingen.[2][3] Thomas was the grandson of Nathaniel Bladen[4] and Isabella Fairfax (daughter of Sir William Fairfax of Steeton). He was the nephew of Colonel Martin Bladen, Commissioner of the Board of Trade and Plantations.[5]

Bladen travelled early to England in 1712, where he was educated at Westminster School. He disposed of his Maryland property on his father’s death in 1718. In 1731 he married, in England, Barbara Janssen (daughter of Sir Theodore Janssen, 1st Baronet, and Williamza Henley), who was also the sister-in-law of Charles Calvert, 5th Baron Baltimore and Proprietor of the Province.[6] and aunt to Caroline Calvert Eden wife of Governor Sir Robert Eden, 1st Baronet, of Maryland. Soon after his marriage he acquired the Glastonbury Abbey estate from the Duke of Devonshire for £12,700, it is said after beating him at dice.[7]

Political careerEdit

Bladen was returned as Member of Parliament (MP) for Steyning at the 1727 British general election by the Duke of Chandos at the request of his uncle Martin Bladen. He voted with the Government. At the 1734 British general election he stood for parliament at Amersham, where he was defeated then and at a by-election in February 1735. He was returned as MP for Ashburton at another by-election on 20 February 1735. He was defeated at the 1741 British general election.[8] He also saw military service as a colonel.

Life in MarylandEdit

In 1742, Bladen returned to Maryland as provincial Governor, on the recommendation of his brother-in-law, Lord Baltimore. He was the first governor to be born in the Province.[2] He also served as surveyor general, Western Shore, 1742–1746, and chancellor, 1742–1746/47. While governor, he concluded a peace with the Six Nations.[9] He negotiated with Pennsylvania authorities for the settlement of the Maryland–Pennsylvania boundary.

Upon his arrival in Maryland, the Legislature awarded him £4,000 to build himself a residence, which was £1,000 more than his predecessor.[2] In 1744, he bought 4 acres (16,000 m2) of land in Annapolis from Stephen Bordley and commenced construction of a building,[6] now McDowell Hall, St. John's College, as a governor's residence.[9] He quickly disagreed with the Legislature about its architecture[6] and became involved in a lawsuit with Bordley, the previous owner, and construction halted.[6]

While as governor in Maryland in 1744, Bladen organized the first ice cream social in the United States. The social was organized while at a dinner party.[10]

Bladen quickly became an unpopular Governor[6] and was dismissed from office by October 1746 because he was "tactless and quarrelsome". He returned to England in 1746, when he was succeeded by Samuel Ogle - husband of his niece Anne Tasker. Ogle had been Governor prior to Bladen's arrival in Maryland.

Death and legacyEdit

Bladen lived at Leyton Grange in England where he died in 1780 and was buried in the churchyard of St Mary's Leyton. [9] Bladen's wife Barbara, who had a life interest in Glastonbury, died in 1783 and their heirs were their daughters Barbara and Harriet who sold the whole estate in 1799.[7]

  • Barbara Bladen (1733-1821) married The Hon. Henry St John (1738–1818), a brother of Frederick St John, 2nd Viscount Bolingbroke, 3rd Viscount St John
  • Harriet Bladen (1735-1821) married William Capell, 4th Earl of Essex (1732–1799), becoming the Countess of Essex and the ancestress of the 6th and subsequent earls.

The Governor's residence sat uncompleted until 1766 when the roof collapsed. The building now serves as the central hall of St. John's College and is named McDowell Hall. The nickname for McDowell Hall is "Bladen's Folly".[6]

The town of Bladensburg, Maryland, which was incorporated in the first year of his governorship as Garrison's Landing, was renamed after him.


  1. ^ Life of Robert Fairfax of Steeton by Clements R Markham
  2. ^ a b c Mereness, Newton Dennison (1901). Maryland as a Proprietary Province (Thesis). London: The MacMillan Company. p. 350. OCLC 11223445.
  3. ^ "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". 2007.
  4. ^ 'Early Yorkshire Bladens' by Karen Proudler ISBN 978-0-9566831-6-8
  5. ^ 'Martin Bladen: A Biography' by Karen Proudler ISBN 978-0-9566831-5-1
  6. ^ a b c d e f Warfield, Joshua Dorsey (July 1905). The Founders of Anne Arundel And Howard Counties, Maryland. Baltimore, Maryland: Kohn & Pollock. p. 208. ISBN 0-8063-7971-5. Samuel Ogle.
  7. ^ a b M C Siraut, A T Thacker and Elizabeth Williamson. "'Glastonbury: Parish', in A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 9, Glastonbury and Street, ed. R W Dunning (London, 2006), pp. 43-58". British History Online. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  8. ^ "BLADEN, Thomas (?1698-1780), of St. James's, Westminster". History of Parliament Online. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  9. ^ a b c A history of Anne Arundel County in Maryland: adapted for use in the schools of the county, by Elihu Samuel Riley, C.G. Feldmeyer, 1905.
  10. ^ "History of Ice Cream Socials". Scoops2u. Retrieved 6 July 2016.

External linksEdit

Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
John Gumley
William Stanhope
Member of Parliament for Steyning
With: The Viscount Vane
Succeeded by
Marquess of Carnarvon
Sir Robert Fagg, Bt
Preceded by
Sir William Yonge
Roger Tuckfield
Member of Parliament for Ashburton
With: Roger Tuckfield to 1739
Joseph Taylor 1739–1741
Succeeded by
John Harris
John Arscott
Political offices
Preceded by
Samuel Ogle
Governor of Maryland
Succeeded by
Samuel Ogle