Out and About (Sort of): Stories in Stone by Howard Freedlander

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Stones have stories, particularly when located in a private family cemetery at Wye House, an Eastern Shore gem and ancestral home of the famed Lloyd’s, the Talbot County family that once controlled more than 42,000 acres.

As I walked through the cemetery with Richard Tilghman, current owner and 12th generation descendant of the Lloyd family, I realized I was amidst a rarefied neighborhood occupied by the remains of people who had significant roles in county, state and national history.

Like family members for more than 350 years, Richard Tilghman is the steward of a magnificent property imbued with history defined by the times. He understands that Wye House is principally a home, but also a designated National Historic Landmark that is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Wye House’s roots extend back to 1659 when Edward Lloyd, a Welsh Puritan, acquired the Wye Plantation and settled on it in 1660. After accumulating wealth and property, he returned to London, where he died in 1695.

In the 19th century, the Lloyds attained high political rank in Maryland and Washington. For example, Edward Lloyd V, who was born in 1779 and died in 1834, served as governor of Maryland in 1809 at the age of 30. He was a U.S. Senator, 1819-1826 and a U.S. congressman in the 7th District of Maryland, 1807-1809. He served in the Maryland State Senate, 1826-1831.

Edward Lloyd VII served as president of the Maryland State Senate in 1878 and 1892. An ivory gavel remains in the home as a relic of his tenure in the state capital in Annapolis.

I referred earlier to the times in which the Lloyd ancestors lived and succeeded. This perspective is crucial in understanding the import of this small private cemetery. Stories have contexts.

Buried there is the only admiral in the Confederate Navy during the Civil War. Franklin Buchanan, formerly a U.S. Navy captain and the first superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy, commanded the ironclad USS Virginia (formerly the USS Merrimack) during the Battle of Hampton Roads in Virginia. His wife was Anna Catherine Lloyd.

Another Confederate officer was Brig. Gen. Charles S. Winder, who was killed on Aug. 9, 1862 at Cedar Run in Culpeper County, VA. He was well-respected by the famed Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Winder’s mother was Elizabeth Tayloe Lloyd; his wife was Alice Lloyd, daughter of Edward Lloyd V and Alice McBride Lloyd.

One last stop in this historic burial site—which contains 125 graves in eight rows—is the grave of Charles H. Key, who was born in 1827 and died in 1869. Married to Elizabeth Lloyd, he was the son of Francis Scott Key, author of a poem written in 1814 during the British bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore. This poem, as we all know, became the lyrics for our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Charles Key’s mother was Mary Taylor Lloyd.

The Wye House cemetery represents for me a keen look into, and a perspective of a Talbot County family that produced major players in the history of Maryland and our nation. Though blessed with wealth and property, the Lloyds were participants, not mere onlookers. They understood the need to give back to the community.

Though many of the tombstones are degraded by age, making it difficult to read the inscriptions, they represent the significance of a family that traces its roots to a Welsh Puritan seeking a better life in the New World. Their achievements are impressive.

For someone who loves history, I found the tour given by Richard Tilghman, who is impressively well-versed in knowledge of Lloyd family history, fascinating in its insight and perspective.

Stones have meaning.

Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland.  Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He  also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer.  In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.

Letters to Editor

  1. Fascinating ! I love this local historic stuff! Keep it coming.

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