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Richard Spencer Can't Read or Write?
Signatories and Objectors to the Declaration of Independence in Harford County Maryland

The names of the men who signed and declined to sign this document will be compared with the runaway servant advertisements from the period, to determine if runaways and their descendants were more or less likely to side with the crown or the provincial landowners. Thanks to Mescaline Franklin for this find.

Association of Freemen of Maryland

There were in Harford County by the census of 1840 ten persons drawing pensions as soldiers of the Revolutionary War. They were Andrew McAdow, Jarret Tracey, Thomas Schivington, William Sloan, Henry Long, John Heaps and Archibald Heaps.

The following named persons were designated by the Harford Committee to solicit subscriptions to the Association of the Freemen of Maryland, viz:

Deer Creek Upper—John Donohoo, Wm. Fisher, Jr., and Alex. Rigdon.

Deer Creek Lower—John Winston Dallam.

Bush Upper—William McComas, Jr., John Kean and Robert Harris.

Spesutie Upper—James Moores, (tanner), Bennet Mathews, James Clendenin and David Clark.

Spesutie Lower—Edward Hall, Jacob Forwood, Francis Holland.

Susquehanna—James Horner, John Rodgers, John Rumsey, Samuel Howell and Samuel Bayless.

Gunpowder Lower—Henry Wetherall, John Day, Jr., John Durham, Alex. Cowan, Benjamin Rumsey.

Bush Lower—John Taylor, Gabriel Vanhorn, William Bond, Henry Wilson, Jr.

(From a detached paper from the clerk's office, 1776:)

Note that all the signatories are given according to what river or creek they lived on, as these were the highways and power sources of the age.

A List Of Non-Associators

Benj. Herbert, Jr., refuses to sign through religious principles.

Richard Hargrove refuses to sign through religious principles.

William Wilson, son of John, refuses to sign through religious principles.

Benj. Harboard refuses to sign through religious principles. [1]

Michael Bocer don't sign by reason he signed before.

Thomas Gilbert don't sign by reason he don't choose it.

Thos. West don't sign by reason it is a mystery to him.

Philip Cummins don't sign by reason he don't understand the matter.

John Ward don't sign by reason the Congress don't sign and by reason he thinks that if the English gain the day then the Congress and the great people will turn the scale and say the commonality of people force them to stand in opposition to the English. [2]

John Clark don't sign by no reason he can give.

Ephraim Arnold don't sign for fear it would fetch him into a scrape.

Isaac Penrose don't sign for reason he don't choose to fight for liberty and never will. [3]

Benjamin Fleetwood refuses to sign. He says he will go in a vessel, but will not fight by land.

Samuel Gallion says if he should sign he may fetch on himself that he cannot go through.

Richard Spencer says he cannot write nor read, and shall not sign any paper.

—History of Harford County, Maryland: From 1608 (the Year of Smith's Expedition) to the Close of the War of 1812, Walter Wilkes Preston, 1901 sd


1. In Maryland more likely because they were Anglicans [members of the Church of England] than that they were pacifists Congregationalists.

2. This demonstrates a deeper distrust of colonial politicians than royal officials, suggesting he may have been a slave.

3. This was understood to be liberty from England for the landed class, not liberty of common men from servitude under the landed class. indeed, the articles of confederation and the eventually the Constitution would strengthen and affirm the power of landowners over the lower class.

4. The signers outnumbered those who abstained 29 to 14, roughly 2-1, if we take Michael Bocer at his word.

Thanks to the following online publisher for the preservation and use of this historical document. Please patronize their site.

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