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Tilghman family papers

Identifier: MS 2600


This collection consists of the papers of the Richard Tilghman family, spanning five generations and including three major wars. The papers, mostly correspondence, are divided into subgroups of land papers, papers of the four principal family members, and finally miscellaneous papers.


  • 1493-1940
  • Majority of material found in 1684-1918


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is restricted to microfilm. See Manuscripts Department microfilm MS 2600; 2 reels.

Conditions Governing Use

The reproduction of materials in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine and satisfy copyright clearances or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information visit the MCHC’s Rights and Permissions page.

Biographical Note

The Tilghmans of America descend from Dr. Richard Tilghman (1626-1675) who, with his wife, Mary Foxley, came to America in 1660 and settled at the Hermitage in Queen Anne's County, Maryland. His son, Richard Tilghman II (1672-1738), married Anna Maria Lloyd (1676-1748) of the same county. Their son, William (1711-1782), married his cousin Margaret Lloyd and came into possession of Gross' Coate, an estate located in Talbot County, Maryland, which remained the family seat for generations to come. Succeeding generations continued to add to the original parcel of land located on a peninsula flanked by Gross and Lloyd Creeks at their conjunction with the Wye River.

Captain William Gibson Tilghman (1785-1844) was born and raised at Gross' Coate. In 1808, he married Anna Polk by which he had seven children. He died in June 1844 leaving his estate to be divided up equally among his six remaining children but giving Gross' Coate itself to his son Richard Lloyd Tilghman.

Born at Gross' Coate in 1811, as a second son, Richard Lloyd Tilghman (1811-1867) followed the life his father believed best for him and joined the Navy as a midshipmen at the age of 19. For the next thirty years, he remained in the Navy, moving up to a Lieutenant and participating in the Mexican War. During one of his leaves in 1843, he married Agnes Riddell Owen, the daughter of Kennedy and Agnes (Riddell) Owen. For the next ten years, their relationship consisted mainly of correspondence and a few visits home, as Richard was stationed around Mexico and the Pacific Coast. During this time he was assigned to several ships: the U.S. Cyane, the U.S. Congress, and his own vessel, the Perry.

While Richard was on deployment with the navy, Agnes managed their home, splitting her time between Baltimore, Maryland and Gross' Coate. She was family oriented and kept in close contact with both her own as well as Richard's side of the family. She often visited relatives and even helped raise her sister's children after the death of her sister. While Richard was stationed away from home, she capably managed domestic issues, such as housekeeping and overseeing the harvest. Agnes also dealt with financial matters, such as buying and selling property and allocating resources. Richard and Agnes had eight children and she raised all of them. The love and admiration between Agnes and Richard can be seen in every letter. Richard Lloyd Tilghman died in September of 1867 leaving Agnes and seven remaining children. She later died on March 18, 1897.

Charles Henry Tilghman, the second child and eldest boy of Richard and Agnes, was born in January of 1846 while his father was at sea. After studying medicine in the United States, twenty-two year old Charles left to study abroad. In England, he discovered he admired the English way of life and enjoyed London's social whirl. A year later, he reluctantly decided it was time to move on and traveled to Paris. He did not like it as much and began to travel around Europe. In 1870, he joined the Franco-Prussian War on the French side. Sometime after 1871, Charles returned home and continued his profession as a doctor. He married Elizabeth Donnell in November of 1881 with whom he had nine children. Charles Tilghman died at home in 1906.

His namesake and sixth child, Charles Henry, Jr., was born in 1890. At the beginning of World War I, he entered the army and was sent to Fort Niagara and Fort Meade for training. On graduating from these camps, he was appointed a captain in the National Army and in charge of a regiment on the front line. Here he was wounded in action, when he was hit in the eye, and thus received the Distinguished Service Cross for bravery. At the end of the war, he served as a liaison officer in Poland and Germany. Upon returning home, Charles, Jr. married Carolyn Ward. He died in April of 1954.


1.5 Linear Feet (3 boxes; 6 oversized folders)

Language of Materials



The collection consists of the papers of the Richard Tilghman family, spanning five generations and including three major wars. The papers, mostly correspondence, are divided into subgroups of land papers, papers of the four principal family members, and finally miscellaneous papers.

1. Wills and Land Papers (1493; 1658-1821)

This section consists of the documents concerning the Tilghman estate Gross' Coate in Talbot County, Maryland. Among them are deeds and surveys showing the additions to and the ownership of the estate throughout the generations. There are also surveys, deeds, wills, and indentures for such parcels of land as Gross' Coate, the Adventure, Gross' Addition, Sawyer's Forest, Court Road, and Dundee. Also included is a typed copy of the will of William Tilghman of London, dated 1493. (See also oversize.)

2. Captain William Gibson Tilghman Papers, 1831-1850

His papers deal mainly with the division of his estate upon his death. They include correspondence between family and lawyers concerning the division, property lists for both Gross' Coate and the Dundee farm, and a list of all enslaved individuals that includes their age and the monetary value placed on them. Also included are the receipts and agreements of the final division showing the extent of each family member's acquisition. A letter from his son, Richard, describes Navy life in Norfolk, Virginia.

3. Lieutenant Richard Lloyd Tilghman Papers, 1830-1904

The bulk of the collection falls into this section and consists of correspondence. The decade of correspondence between the Lieutenant and his wife, Agnes, gives a rich view of life for a young married women. Agnes writes of everyday life; her health; her children, including their illnesses; town life; the farm; his family and the death of his brother, Charles; and the hardships of being alone. Richard, in return, discusses his life on ship and his different duty-stations during the Mexican War. He talks of news from home and his views on the management of Gross' Coate. Mixed in these letters are correspondence from other naval officers commending Richard on his service. Also included are his will and Agnes' widow pension records.

4. Doctor Charles Henry Tilghman Papers, 1868-1887

This entire section includes correspondence from Charles to his mother, Agnes, while he is in Europe. The letters begin in London where he has gone to study medicine and give a lively account of a variety of interests in nineteenth century London and America such as English society and fashions, English servants versus American, farming techniques, hospitals, the condition of the United States after the war, Yankee prejudice, and the expenses of living in London. A year later Charles moves to Paris where he continues to write home. Here he writes about the language, the differences of society, medical techniques, and his growing uncertainty about his profession. Probably because of this, he begins to travel writing of Germany, Baden-Baden, and his desire to go to Switzerland. Charles then joins the Franco-Prussian War in 1870-1871, describing in his letters the horrors of the war from the French side.

5. Captain Charles Henry Tilghman, Jr. Papers, 1917-1919

The correspondence in this section deals with World War I and training of men before they were assigned to duty on the front line. Stationed in Fort Niagara, Charles describes life in an army camp: the daily routines, recreation, and the study of such techniques as handling hand grenades and learning trench warfare. His letters from Fort Meade give an adequate account of the building of this camp into an army training base. Later correspondence comes directly from the front line in Europe and from Base Hospital #18, in France, after he was wounded. At the end of the war, Charles writes of the hardships of bringing his regiment back across Europe and later, of his duties as liaison officer in Germany and Poland.

6. Miscellaneous Papers, 1753-1916 and undated

The remainder of the collection consists of miscellaneous items dated throughout the time span. Richard Tilghman's ledger (1790-1806) lists interesting and everyday expenses including documentation of family portraits by Charles Willson Peale. This section also includes the Tilghman family genealogy dating back to the Richard Tilghman of Henry IV's reign (see also oversize). More recent genealogical notes describe the ascendancy of Halloway Court, the Tilghman's estate in Kent, England. It also details the branch that moves to America as the descendants of this family. Another noteworthy item is the draft to James Donnell Tilghman's "Maryland: A Guide to the Old Line State." These notes include descriptions of places and events in Maryland history. They discuss colonial and Maryland architecture, a history of the National Pike and other interesting tidbits of Maryland history. James gives a description of places of interest on two Maryland tours.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of the estate of James Donnell Tilghman.

Related Materials

MS 2001, Lloyd papers, 1658-1910

MS 2001.1, Edward Lloyd V collection, 1796-1817

PP 0242, Lloyd family photograph collection, 1860-1930

Processing Information

The contents of this collection and some other collections related to the Lloyd and Tilghman families have been indexed in detail in the Library's online catalog under a grant from the Tilghman family. This enables researchers to identify potential primary materials at both the collection and the item level through a single search. Researchers are advised that broad searches may produce an extensive list of results. A search by specific terms, such as name of individual or property, is recommended.

Scope and Contents

This collection spans five generations of the Richard Tilghman family of the Gross' Coate estate in Talbot County, Maryland. It is divided into subgroups of land papers, papers of the four principal family members, and miscellaneous papers of the family. Although mostly correspondence, the collection contains land documents, wills, a ledger from Gross' Coate, genealogical material, and a draft of "Maryland: A Guide to the Old Line State."

The correspondence includes a variety of subjects such as life in 19th century Baltimore and the Eastern Shore; the Gross' Coate estate; the Navy; the Mexican War; death; family; farming; London and English society; travels across Europe; the Franco-Prussian War; sentiments after the Civil War; and World War I and its training camps.

Guide to the Tilghman family papers
Under Revision
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2020-03-06: Manually entered into ArchivesSpace by Sandra Glascock

Repository Details

Part of the H. Furlong Baldwin Library Repository

H. Furlong Baldwin Library
Maryland Center for History and Culture
610 Park Avenue
Baltimore MD 21201 United States