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Edward Lloyd (VII)

Master of Wye House


For evident reasons peculiar difficulties oppose the compilation of the lives of living persons. So great are these difficulties that many of the best biographical compendiums exclude accounts of those who have not finished their course. But in order to give a certain completeness, to this series of papers it is necessary to say something of the present representative of the Lloyds, Edward Lloyd, Seventh of the name, who may be denominated the Master of Wye House. What shall be done in this emergency of having to speak of a man face to face, as it were, and speak truly, "nothing extenuate nor sit down aught in malice," must necessarily be to give but a sketch, mere outlines without shading or coloring from the literary artist; for to attempt more than to men- tion the principal incidents of the life of Col. Lloyd, without comment or reflection upon them would be running the risk of offending his modesty by praise, or his pride by censure, either of which would be violations of the proprieties. Offence may be given to a man of sensibility ahnost as easily by panegyric as by disparagement. It is agree- able to all to be well spoken of, but accompanying the pleasure of praise is the painful distrust of its being wholly merited; and as for blame, it can hardly be meted out so justly that the subject will feel that he has got merely his due. Edward Lloyd (VII), the son of Edward Lloyd (VI), the fariner, and Alicia McBlair, was born in the house of his maternal grandparents in the city of Baltimore on the 22d day of October, 1825, the eldest of five children and the only son that attained majority. His early edu- cation was conducted by tutors, but when he arrived at proper age he was placed under the care of the Rev. Dr. Muhlenburg at College Point, near Flushing, in the State of New York. By this eminent instructor he was prepared for college and he was entered at Princeton, New Jersey; but as his preference lay in the direction of a life of activity he did not complete the prescribed course. He proposed to himself the following of the calling of his forefathers, that of the farmer, and soon after leaving college he took charge of one or more of his father's farms, living at " Presq'ile " formerly the residence of Mr. Murray Lloyd, his uncle. Since that time he has given himself unremittingly to the duties of his avocation, with occasional diversions into poli- tics, which seems to be at the present the principal amusement of country gentlemen, as they afford a substitute for the excitements of the fox-hunt and the horse-race, and like those sports have they a pretended utility. Those who follow the hounds claim that they are destroying noxious vermin; those who patronize the turf that they are improving the breeds of horses; so politics are pursued under the thin disguise of solicitude for public welfare. As those sports have been in great measure abandoned by self-respecting men, there is dangerpolities may also be forsaken by the same class and for the same reasons, namely, their disreputable associations and their discreditable methods. So noble a pursuit as politics, in its best sense, should confer honor upon and not receive it from any man, however worthy, who follows it; but that Col. Lloyd and men like him still participate in the pastime or the game as it is played is the cause of its maintaining a respectability which would otherwise be lost.

The first appearance of Mr. Edward Lloyd, Jr., in a public capacity however, was as a military man. In the year 1846, when he had barely attained his majority, the Mexican war broke out, under circumstances far from creditable to the nation; but as men have not yet lost the propensities of their savage ancestors, or even their more remote brutal progenitors, when blood is once shed, the ravening madness seized them, so at this time upon the reception of the news from the frontier of a collision of Texans and Mexicans, a rage out of all proportion with the puny object exciting it, possessed the people of the United States. In Maryland, Talbot of course included, the militia was organized, the roll of officers eliminated of the old, feeble or incompetent, military companies were formed, the minds of our sober citizens were wrought up to a condition of warlike enthusiasm by the orators and journals, and then the pride and pomp and circumstance of glorious war was travestied upon this narrow field. Mr. Lloyd formed a company in his own neighborhood of which he became captain, but soon he was placed upon the staff of Brigadier-General Tench Tilghman. He was promoted to the rank of major and served as aide to Major-General Handy. Subsequently he was commissioned colonel by Governor Thomas, and served upon his staff during his official term. He was not called upon to perform active service in Mexico, but no one doubts that there would have been willingness if there had been necessity for him to do so.

In the next year, 1847, his political career began, for he was brought forward, and this before he had reached the legal age for such a position, as a candidate for a seat in the lower house of the General Assembly by the democrats of Talbot with whom, like his father and grandfather, he was in political sympathy, the laws of heredity thus seeming to control means, opinions and actions as well as their bodily traits or features. He probably accounted it an honor to be elected, as he certainly was complimented by receiving a larger vote than either of his associates upon the swne ticket, Mr. Daniel Leonard and Mr. Benj. M. Bowdle. At the same election the Hon. Philip F. Thomas, of Talbot, was chosen governor. The campaign in this county was exceedingly spirited. As it had been determined in the previous year, 1846, by popular vote that the General Assembly should meet biennially instead of annually as hitherto, there was not another election until 1849, when Col. Lloyd (for by this time he had received the accolade of colonel) was again chosen, still leading his ticket and thus winning popularity. At the session that followed he had for his associates in the lower house Mr. I. C. W. Powell and Mr. William Spry Denny, while Colonel Samuel Hambleton, then a whig, represented the county in the Senate. Young as he was in years, his duties as a legislator appear to have been per- formed in a manner satisfactory to his constituents, and that he aided in affecting those measures which resulted in the restoration of the credit of the State, then sadly shaken, must be a matter of self-gratulation. This brief experience in political life was apparently sufficient to satisfy his aspirations for public station-at least for many years following. Though taking no active or prominent part in the operations of party management, be was, amidst the absorbing cares of his estate, an intelligent observer of the movements of public affairs, and of the efforts made to control them. But his was not the interest of the curious or amused spectator of the incidents of the political drama as it was played before him. Indeed events were occurring which compelled attention, as prelusive to that great tragedy that a few years later was presented to the awe-stricken world. Politics among men of the south, so circumstanced as Col. Lloyd, during the period under consideration, say from 1850 to 1860, aroused an intensity of interest which could not have originated in that vague apprehension of injury to the general prosperity or well-being which change of party or policy arouses, but in the well-defined fear that private interests would suffer by the loss of the dominance which one section of the Union under every admin- istration however named, had exercised. It was not until after the great earthquake which shook the nation to its centre and threatened to rend it asunder, which did actually change the face of the social structure and engulf vast properties, that he suffered himself to be brought forward as the candidate of his party for any position. In the year 1873 he consented to serve as the candidate of the democrats for the State Senate. He had for his competitor Mr. James M. Cowgill, a republican whose opinions were as unequivocal as his own. Col. Lloyd was successful in his canvass and took his seat in a body which so many of his ancestors had adorned. He was made chairman of the committee on finance. After serving his term in accordance with party custom, and not less in accordance with party expediency, he was in 1877 again nominated for the State Senate, and elected over his republican opponent, Mr. Reuben Tharp. Upon meeting, Col. Lloyd was chosen president of the Senate, receiving the full vote of his party, and having no opponent. It would be super- fluous to say of one in whom courtesy, dignity and ability are native, that he displayed all of these qualities while occupying the chair of presiding officer of this respectable body. In the year 1883, so evenly was the county divided between the two parties that it was necessary for the democrats to nominate candidates of character, capacity and popularity, and in as much as Col. Lloyd had served two years in the Senate most acceptably and capably, and in as much as no man was more justly esteemed, he was placed upon the ticket, having Messrs. Philip Francis Thomas and Joseph Bruff Seth as his associates. These gentlemen were elected. With Mr. I. Davis Clark, a republican, as Sena- tor, the county and people of Talbot have seldom been more ably repre- sented than in the Assembly of 1884. Since the completion of his term in the House of Delegates, Col. Lloyd has held no official position under county or State government, but he is regarded as a leader of  his party in Talbot and in Maryland, and as such has served on executive He conunittees for the management of campaigns and like services. has labored assiduously to maintain the supremacy which his party has long held and now holds, though with somewhat uncertain tenure, a supremacy which would be more tolerable to its opponents and more creditable to its adherents if it were maintained by such expedients only as he may be presumed to approve and not by such as the vulgar "bosses," to use the slang of the day, devise. If the national administration, now in power, would appoint him to some office of emolument and responsibility, it would go far to confirm the impression it is desirious of making upon the popular mind, that it wishes rather to secure the services of capable and honorable men than to reward political followers and "workers," and it would also serve, in no small measure, to disarm those most apt to criticise its conduct in the selections of the government agents or officers.

Col. Lloyd is now the largest farmer in Talbot county, as were his father and grandfather, from whom he inherited both his lands and skill in cultivating them before him. But those ancestors left him also an inheritance of debt, in the form of charges to heirs and other obligations, for the payment of which he has labored with most admirable assiduity and financial ability, though the burden for them has been rendered doubly heavy by the loss of his slaves and the long desolation of his southern property, which slaves and property together constituted so large a share of his fortune. He is said to have possessed before the war, in Maryland and Mississippi as many as 700 negroes, young and old, which at a valuation of 500 dollars per poll were worth 350,000 dollars. His southern plantations for many years were utterly valueless. His great loss he bore with an equanimity most admirable-with a fortitude really heroic. The conduct of men under such emergencies as those to which he was subjected by the war and its consequences, furnish the true indicia of character. For reasons already intimated or expressed, all cannot be said that might and ought to be said of Colonel Lloyd under the peculiarly trying, nay, the exasperating circumstances of the loss of his slaves and the desolation of his land. One who was in his company at the crisis of his suffering, said that on the very day when his field hands left their work at the call of the recruiting officers and marched in a body down to the transport steamer lying in Miles river at Ferry-landing, he was calrn and composed, talked of everything else than of what was occurring or had just occurred on his estate, or spoke of it without reproach or abuse of the government which had commanded, or of its officers who were committing, or of its adherents who were defending what he considered an. outrage upon his private rights; without railing at the black men who were deserting under promise of liberty; without repining over his misfortunes; and without indulging in gloomy anticipations of the dark future.

To this may be added that the self control and mental poise he then displayed were maintained through the tempestuous times of the rebellion, when, with less cause, many men were so unbalanced that they have not yet regained their equilibrium of judgment or their tranquillity of feeling. Again: It is known upon most competent authority, that he, in those hours of trial, resisted at once the promptings of revenge insti- gating retaliation for the wrongs he believed he had suffered; the suggestions of self-interest, always whispering at the ears of those who may be tempted by opportunity; and the guidance of legal counsel not always as nice in its interpretations of the moral as it is of the civil law:  for when smarting under the pecuniary losses and when vindictiveness towards those who had caused them, as he thought, had an apology; when circumstances favored the disburdening himself of obligations to those who destroyed the value of this property for the purchase of which those obligations had been incurred, and who thus destroyed their own security for their payment; when the learning of lawyers, the kind- ness of friends and the malice of partisans united to advise the repudiation of the debts of his father to northern men, he scornfully rejected all such suggestions, reaffirmed the validity of pledges and paid them in full. Further words would be superfluous, if not impertinent.

With regard to Col. Lloyd in his relation of master to his slaves, what was said of his father might be repeated of him. No change of circumstances had rendered necessary a change in the regime of the plantation that the experience of years had sanctioned with approval; and there was no such difference in the character of the two masters as to justify a belief that the disciplinary rules were administered differently under the younger, from what they were under the elder Lloyd. As evidence of the kindly feeling that subsisted between the slaves and their master, or at least, as evidence that the negroes, whose softness of temper dis- qualifies them for harboring resentments, retained no vindictiveness towards their former owner, and that the justness and benevolence of his mind entertained no animosities towards those who had deserted him, and disowned his right to their services, it may be noted, that after emancipation and the close of the war, when each freed man might go where he listed and serve whom he pleased, many of Col. Lloyd's former slaves particularly those of his immediate household who knew him best, remained in his employ, or returned to their old houses upon his farms as hired laborers. Still others now look to him as their friend and adviser in all emergencies of a personal nature.

Col. Lloyd is in person rather above the medium height, robustly built, with florid countenance, light hair, and grey eyes. He is yet in full and vigorous life (1885) and though years have xnultiplied, much of the enthusiasm of youth remains. Amidst the good wishes of everyone he is striving-it is hoped and believed successfully striving- with courage and skill, industry and economy to rebuild his fortunes shattered by the war, and to maintain the ancient dignity of his family. Wye House, to which he removed after the death of his father, retains all its beauty and stateliness without, and all its social graces and charm- ing hospitality within. Changes, there have been, but in its master there have been preserved what is best-those ancestral traits that have marked the Lloyds of Wye for many generations---elevation of character, amiability of disposition united with a refinedsimplicity of manners.72

In the year 1851 Col. Lloyd married Miss Mary Key, the daughter of Charles Howard, Esq., of Baltimore, a lady of excellent lineage and no less excellent qualities, who is the mother of nine children, six sons and three daughters, eight of whom survive. The eldest son Edward, born July 20th, 1857, and educated at Annapolis, is now a Lieutenant in the United States Navy. His biography cannot yet be written, but his horoscope may be cast. Having his nativity under more favor- able influence than the conjunction of the most propitious stars, it is safe to prognosticate that he will bring no humiliation to the pride of the Lloyds, the Howards and the Keys, whose blood mingles in his veins, that he will not dim the glory of the flag under which he serves, and which an ancestor immortalized in song; that he will not derogate from the honor of the country in whose service he is engaged, and for whose independence the sword of a revolutionary sire was drawn. The biographer of the future may be able to write of him when promoted to the highest rank for gallant deeds, as of Edward Lloyd, the eighth of his name, the Admiral.

Here will close this account of the Lloyds of Wye. There were other members of this remarkable family as deserving of mention as those whose careers have been thus imperfectly described, but it was thought best to confine these brief sketches to those of a single line, and to disregard, at least for the present, those of collateral lines, although many of these were men of strongly marked characters, and eminent for abilities and long public service. It is proper to say, that while the family at Wye House has rendered every facility that was possible to the collection of materials for these memoirs it is in no way responsible for the manner in which these materials have been used. They have been collected with much labor from diverse sources but are thought to be entirely authentic. At least, nothing has has been invented for the sake of its lesson, or of adding interest to the narrative, To point a moral or adorn a tale.

It would be surprising of many errors had not crept in through ignorance or inadvertence. None has been permitted to do so by design. The difficulty of escaping these can be appreciated only by those who have attempted similar tasks. As praise or blame can scarcely be bestowed with justice, since it is so hard to know men's motives and controling circumstances, so panegyric has been sparingly used and even omitted when seemingly well deserved; while censure has been seldom employed because, if for no other reason, not often merited or required. Col. Edward Lloyd died October 22, 1907 on his 82nd birthday.

  1. The following in the first item of his will: "I desire that my funeral may be plain and private, and without parade and preaching." The same expressions are employed in the will of Governor Lloyd. It is worthy of notice, that neither will is introduced with the pious formula that was customarily employed in writing such documents.
  2. A notable incident in the history of Wye House, one illustrative of the great social revolution that had been effected in the county, through the changed relations of the races, was the visit of Frederick Douglass in the year 1881, to the scenes of his youth. He was politely received by the sons of Col. Lloyd he being absent, and invited to partake of the hospitalities of the house. He who left a slave of a poor man, came back a great nation's officer, to receive from the scions of a proud family the courtesies due an honored guest. He was deeply affected by all he saw, but more by the consideration and kindness that was shown him by the young men who were doing the honors in the absence of their father. He plucked flowers from the graves of the Lloyds that he had known but had passed away as mementoes, and he drank with an effusion that marked its sincerity, the health of "the Master of the Old House" and of his children, with the wish that the horn of plenty might be poured out abundantly upon them, and that they and their descendants to remote generations might "worthily maintain the fame and the character of their ancestors."- Hon. J. 0. Thomas in the Baltimore American, of June, 1881.