The article reproduced below was sent to me on 11/25/2001 by Mrs. Betti Moore, of Middletown, Maryland. I scanned the document and ran it through an OCR engine, so there may be minor mistakes, but I have proofread it to try and eliminate any. The article is from the mss of Mrs. Robert Greenhow by David Rankin Barbee. John
In her girlhood days, and even in her widowhood, Mrs. Greenhow was often called "the Wild Rose of Wolleston Manor." The one referred to her exquisite beauty, the other to the ancient hall of her ancestors where she was born. To those who knew her intimately the sobriquet needed no explanation, for she never was a tame creature and yet she never was wild in the modern sense of that term. There was a luxuriant growth in her nature, that, with its blossoms, was characteristic of the Cherokee rose to which she was compared.
Do you know the Cherokee rose -
Flowers wild, whose hearts are golden,
With their petals white around them,
Like medallions dropped by fairies
On those heaps of green so massive,
Where the leafy cascades show them –
Thick with vines and tangled branches,
Hiding rocks and gulleyed landscape (1)
Her complexion had a wild-rose tint, and her hair was of the color that once set a war in motion. (2)
The people of the South have often given the name of a favorite flower to a young woman who possessed "great beauty, excellence of virtue," (3) And among Catholics, the faith to which she belonged, the name wild rose was "frequently used to designate the Virgin Mary." (4) Mrs. Grecnhow's baptismal name, Rose Maria, was not carelessly chosen by her parents.
If one had the privilege of choosing the spot where he wished to be born, he could find none more attractive than Wolleston Manor. Long ago the old manor house was destroyed by fire, and not a vestige of it remains to tell its story,
The site where once it reared its lofty walls still exists -a small plain fronting the majestic Potomac for a mile or more, and presenting a vista of such rare natural beauty and splendor as to have no compeer on either side of that noble stream. Standing on the spot where the manor was erected in the early days of the Seventeenth Century, to the left, as one looks out on the river, lies a grove of primeval oaks, beneath whose shade the heroine of this narrative played when a child. No doubt she heard from her parents and from her kindred the saga of her family, one of the proudest that ever came from England to settle this continent. Beautiful women, the queens of Maryland issued from that race, and men of great ability, who, from the founding of the colony down to the day of her death, made and were making great history. On both sides of the Chesapeake Bay and on both banks of the turbulent Potomac lived families of the first distinction in whose veins ran the same blood that coursed through young Rose Maria's. Southern people, particularly those from Maryland and Virginia, paid more attention to their birthright than did the people of the other colonies, and that characteristic alone set them apart, as different from their neighbors to the north. It was a remarkable connection in which to be bred and educated. No aristocratic race was ever finer. And we shall see that this famous woman, descended from Irish and Spanish royalty and having the best qualities of each, was ever and always an aristocrat , deeply attached to the soil which her ancestors had cultivated, and deeply loyal to the traditions which made Maryland
one of the foremost States in the Union.
Blood kin to many of the first families in Southern Maryland, she knew the history of each family and also the history of the other great families who lived on the shores of the Potomac and were neighbors to Wolleston Manor. Around one little town - a consequential town in colonial days and down to this century -Port Tobacco, there clustered the homes of some of the most distinguished men and women of their times - homes where Washington and Lafayette and other leaders in the War of Independence were often guests, wining and dining, dancing and reclining, and sitting down to a stout game of cards.
At Mulberry Grove lived John Hanson, President of the First Congress organized under the Articles of Confed-eration. in 1781, and often called the First President of the United States, who extended to Washington the official thanks of his country when that great soldier came to Philadelphia to make formal announcement of the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown.
Nearby is LaGrange, named in honor of the home of Lafayette, where resided Doctor James Craik, the first Surgeon General of the United States Army, but whose chief claim to our remembrance is that he was Washington’s most intimate friend, who closed his eyes in death.
Neighbor to LaGrange is Rose Hill, where Doctor Gustavus Brown , the consulting physician in Washington' s last illness, with his incomparable wife, dispensed a hostility that is
traditional even in our times.
Just beyond Rose Hill is Habre-de-Venture, the seat of Thomas Stone, one of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, although he did not favor a war with England. His fame lingers on with the passing years. Around it clings a romantic aura, for he died of a broken heart, while still
a young man, grieving over the loss of his beautiful young wife.
Some miles to the southeast of this cluster of historic halls stood Wolleston Manor, a great house older than any of the others. Here Captain James Neale, on October 21, 1642, established his residence, on a grant of two thousand acres, given him by Governor Leonard Calvert. (15)
Maryland Antiquarians are not agreed as to the origin of the Neale family, which is the family of Mrs. Greenhow. Raphael Thomas Semmes, who was a collateral member of the family, spent a lifetime of research on its history. He is certain beyond the shadow of a doubt that the American
gens were descended from Shane 0'Neill, the Earl of Ulster. and the last of the Irish Kings. (6)
Christopher Johnston, another antiquarian of note, is just as certain that the Neales of Maryland were descended from an ancient English family of that name.
The Rev. Fr. Charles Warren Currier, who wrote a history of "Carmel in America," a monastery founded by a member of the Neale family, and first located near Port Tobacco, agrees with Mr. Johnston. He quotes a letter from the Rev. Pye Neale, S. J., to this effect:
I don't See why it is improbable that Capt. Jas. Neale sprung from those Neales who lived at Alleslay, near Coventry in England, where tombs with the names may be seen , and that he was related to Father Thomas Neale, who was sent by Bishop Bonner to watch the sham consecration of Matthew Parker, Capt. James Neale is said to have stood on the scaffold and waited on Charles 1, who gave a present to each of his ‘faithful attendants present.’
His present to Neale was ring of a remarkable kind, that I have
described by Mr. Ben Harris of Baltimore. Neale named his daughter
Maria, after King Charles' wife, and left her the ring; she named her
Henrietta Maria, and left it to her; and so it has been handed down
the name of Henrietta Maria, going, from family to family, Protestant
Catholic, from Virginia to Maryland, from Eastern to Western shore, and
is now in Baltimore, with whom I don't remember. It was last with the
(8) I was told by Miss Tilghman, in whose family it had been.
Miss Katherine Scarborough and other Maryland historians, who have written since-Semmes and Johnston published the results of their researches, follow Semmes implicitly. (9) Semmes published his work six years after Johnston published his, and as both. were members of the Maryland Historical Society, surely he was acquainted with Johnston's genealogy of the Neale family.
Mrs. Greenhow had enough of the characteristics of Shane O'Neill to have been his descendant; and it is not without significance that in the last years of her life she changed the spelling of her name from 0' Neale to O'Neil. Let us take a look at that historic ancestor of hers. (10)
Known far and wide in Ireland, Scotland and England, as well as in France, as "Shane the Proud," O'Neill lived only a few years, but they were romantic and bloody years. Because his father, Conn O'Neill, surnamed Bacach (the Lame), the first Earl of Tyrone, nominated his bastard son, Matthew, as his successor, Shane carried on a feud with his father, and when Conn died, he murdered Matthew, who had been recognized
as Tanist by King Henry VIII of England, and thereby the titular successor of Conn. In the tribal war that followed Shane allied himself with the McDonnells, ancient enemies of his tribe, and in order to bring peace to Ireland, Queen Elizabeth, who had succeeded her father, sent for Shane, and, after a memorable interview, recognized his claims to be the Tanist or King of all the Irish tribes. (11)
A historian of our times has given us a picture of the first meeting of Elizabeth and Shane. The English Queen had gathered about her Ministers and the ladies of her Court, and at a signal the door was thrown open and the Irish rebel entered the audience chamber.
In height he topped all present, and his build was an admirable mixture of grace and strength. Long waving- hair, bright as the Queen's own, but more purely golden In color, fell over his shoulders, and was cut straight above the brows like that of his retainers, but no beard hid his proud firm mouth and chin.
He held his head like a king and he strode quickly up the long room, looking neither to right nor left, but keeping his eyes fixed on the queen as though she were the goal of all his hopes and wishes,
"Is this the savage?" Geraldine Howard whispered. "Methinks he is more like a knight of old romance."
And now the Irish chieftain began to speak in English, that sounded strange to English ears, with now and then a word in an unknown tongue, or in French or Latin... his voice was ringing and musical, and while he spoke he kept his eyes fixed on the Queen's face with a look of devotion that was evidently not displeasing to her. (12)
When the Queen asked him who he was, he replied:
"O'Neill the Great, cousin to St. Patrick, friend to the Queen of England, and enemy of all the world beside."
Every question she put to him about his conduct in Ireland, his quarrels with Essex and the other Lord Deputies she had sent to govern that unhappy land, or his love affairs, ho answered
With boldness and a directness that won her heart. Elizabeth had too much courage herself nor to like a brave man. Before the interview was over we are told, she "capitulated completely to the seductions of Shane." (14)
While he awaited her decision as to his fate, and chafing all the while under his restraint, "he intrigued with the Queen of the Scots and with the Cardinal of Lorraine, promising to become the subject of France if he could get assistance in expelling the English from Ireland.
During, his absence in England, Shane's kinsman, Turlough O'Neill had himself elected Tanist, expecting that Shane would never return alive to Ireland. This kingship was a short-lived affair. On his unexpected return, Shane took arms and renewed the tribal warfare. Turning against his old allies, the McDonnells, he routed them at the celebrated battle of Ballycastle, taking prisoner their chief, Sorley Boy McDonnell, who had married his bastard sister. This was the unwisest thing he ever did.
Flouting the advice of his counsellors, Shane then made war on the O'Donnells and they routed him at the battle of Letterkenny. Fleeing with the remnant of his army, he threw himself on the mercy of the McDonnells. Sorley Boy, who had meanwhile been released from custody, received him kindly, and they appeared to have buried the hatchet; but it was only temporary.
For two days all went well, but a dispute arising as to the claims to precedence between the two families, Shane, heated with wine, his pride and temper carried him away into insulting speeches, which the Scots so much resented that they fell on him with their dirks and literally hacked him to pieces. (16)
His head was removed from his body and sent to the Lord Deputy as a trophy and peace offering. To the everlasting shame of that functionary, he had it placed on a pole over Dublin Cattle. Later Shane's body was privately buried in a Franciscan Monastery at Glenarm. (17)
If the head was ever reunited with it, history saith not.
Shane left two small children, both boys, who were saved from death by his chaplain, who hid them among the Irish peasantry on Shane's estate until he could escape with them to France. This priest took the lads to the Kings of France and Spain, who refused to receive them, fearing
trouble with England. Then he carried them to the "Pope in Rome, "and the Holy Father insisted upon the Kings of France and Spain each taking one of the boys to educate and bring them up at their courts."
This was done. The boys dropped the "0" from their names, the one in France further changing the spelling of his to Neil, he being the ancestor of the celebrated Marechal Neil, for whom the famed rose was called. The one in Spain changed his name to Neale. He married one of the ladies of the Court. (18)
His son (says Semmes) became Admiral Neale of the Spanish navy, and. in this capacity and in command of Spain's war vessels, he accompanied her merchantmen between Spain's American possessions and Spain, laden with qold and precious stones, to prevent England from capturing them.
The Admiral O'Neal (he means Neale), during one of his visits across the ocean, came to the Colony of Maryland, and was delighted with Lord Baltimore and with his Catholic Colony of Maryland, where religious liberty was allowed. He decided to return to Maryland, which he did during, the time of the second Lord Baltimore, bringing his family and locating in St. Mary's or Charles County. His wife was Spanish and so was his mother.
He was the ancestor or the Neales of Maryland, among whom was the Second Archbishop of Baltimore, Leonard Neale, who established the Visitation Convent in Georgetown, D.C. and the Carmelite Convent in Baltimore, and assisted in the establishment of Georgetown College. (19)
Semmes was in error about the wife of Shane's grandson, and also about the consort of King Charles I. The former was an English woman, Anne Gill, whom Captain Neale married in Maryland; and the latter was a French woman. The Rev. Pye Neale was also in error in saying that Captain James Neale was on the scaffold when Charles I was beheaded, for not one of the histories of England and none of the biographies of the King mention his name. The very latest and probably the most authoritative biography of Charles states that "upon the scaffold, besides the executioner and his assistant, there stood only the soldiers of the guard, the Bishop of London, and the (20) King himself. " Falous in uno falous in omnes.
Maryland was settled in March 1634. Five years later Captain James
arrived in the Province, "and although a young man, was at once
to posts of trust and im-portance. Within a year after his coming, he
made a 'member of his Lordship's Council and Commissioner of the
After remaining in the Province long enough to win the charming Anne
for his wife, he sailed for England with his bride." (21)
The same historian says that "during their absence abroad Captain James Neale and his wife resided mostly in Spain, where he was employed in some diplomatic service for the King and the Duke of York." (22)
There is a tradition in the Neale family that Captain Neale and his wife spent some time in England,
Where Mrs. Neale was "a maid of honor to Oueen Henrietta Maria for whom she named her first daughter, and that when this daughter was christened, the Queen acted as her godmother. (23)
It must have been after the execution of the King, that Captain Neale took his family to Spain, where, being Catholic in religion and because of his connection with the Court, they could find a more hospitable home than in England, where Catholics were then being persecuted.
The date of Captain Neale's return to Maryland is unre-corded, but in 1660 he was chosen "to represent Lord Baltimore at Amsterdam in a protest against the seating of the Dutch on the Delaware River and Bay," and "at the close of his mission he returned to Maryland when he was commissioned Captain by the Proprietary to raise troops against the Dutch, and also appointed a member of his Lordship's Council. He was that same year comissioned Deputy Governor with others, if Governor Philip Calvert should die." (24)
As a merchant in Spain, Neale accumulated wealth, and on his return to the Province of Maryland he purchased large holdings adjoining his great estate of Wolleston Manor. In I666 he presented a petition to the Council "for the naturalization of his four children - Henrietta Maria, James, Dorothy and Anthony - born in Spain during his residence there as a merchant, and employed by the King of England and by the Duke of York in several emergent matters as by his commission herewith produced might appear." (25)
Captain Neale died in 1684. He had founded, at Wolleston Manor, one of the great families in Maryland and in Virginia. His sons and daughters all married into distinguished families,
And became the progenitors of families that made history. Henrietta Maria Neale, twice married, was reputed to be the most beautiful woman in Maryland. She left children in Virginia and in Maryland who married into representative families. In the records of her day, she is "designated as 'Madam Lloyd,' a mark of the highest social distinction in the Colonial period." (26)
What a distinction to have been the ancestress of John Randolph of Roanoke; Richard Bland, member of the First Continental Congress; Theodore Bland, Colonel in the Revolutionary Army; Henry St. George Tucker, President of the Virginia Court of Appeals; John Randolph Tucker, Attorney General of Virginia; General "Light Horse Harry" Lee, of the Revolutionary Army, and his two sons, General Robert E. Lee and Admiral Sydney S. Lee, and their notable sons.
Henrietta Maria's brother, James Neale, Jr. married Elizabeth
daughter of William Calvert, the grandson of the first Lord Baltimore;
and that brought the Neale family into the connection of the Calverts,
including the children and grand children of Martha Washington.
Another brother, Anthony Neale, married Elizabeth Roswell, and that tied another representative family into the connection. "Through the alliances with other families in later generations," says Mrs. Richardson, "we find most of the Eastern Shore families of prominence, and not a few of the Western Shore, pointing with pride to Captain James Neale and Anne Gill as Colonial ancestors." (28)
Charles Neale, grandson of Anthony and Elizabeth Calvert,
Left a daughter named Henrietta Maria, the heiress of Wolleston Manor, who wedded Lawrence 0"Neale, planter of Montgomery County, Maryland; and their son, John 0'Neale was the father of Rose Maria O'Neale, who was born at Wolleston Manor and married Dr. Robert Greenhow. (29)
No woman in the distinguished Neale family had more grace and beauty than this great-great-grandaunhter of Captain James Neale, and none of them her intellect and culture and power; yet she is never mentioned in the chronicles of the family. I have talked to Neales of the present generation who told me they had never heard of her; and when I recounted her deeds and the story of her remarkable life and informed them that she had conferred more distinction on the family than any of the race, they were astonished.
If Mrs. Greenhow was not descended from Shane O'Neill she should have been, for to her were descended all of his noblest virtues without any of his base vices. She had his commanding height, his remarkable comeliness, his versatile mind, his tact for diplomacy, his savoir-faire, and, above all, his courage. Her enemies - of whom she had not a few - in the days of her supreme adventure, denied her the possession of any of these qualities, chiefly that of courage; but a calm, objective study of her life and cool reflection on its incidents, show that she had the highest form of courage - intrepidity and perseverance. She never knew what fear was, and only once did her heart beat faster in the presence of danger.
It was in Washington city that her mind and character were formed, and there we must go and take a glimpse of the people and incidents that contributed so largely to that.
1. The Cherokee Rose, by Marvin C. Quillian, the georgia Poet.
2. Chestnut - a bright reddish brown, Red in her young, growing darker with age.
3. 0xford Dictionary.
4. Encyclopedia Americana, vol. 23, p. 693. ''In ecclesiastical art we early find the Holy Virgin symbolized by the rose and one of her titles became in Italy Santa Maria dela Rosa."
5. All of these famous manors are described in brilliant colors by Miss Katherine Scar-borough of The Baltimore Sun in Homes of The Cavaliers. I have visited all of these ancient seats and spent much time at the site of Wolleston Manor, which, in the Maryland Archives is spelled Wollaston, Wooleston, Worleston and Woolston.
6. The Semmes and Allied Families , p. 239, et seq Mrs. Greenhow was related to Admiral Semmes and to Chief Justice Taney,
7. Maryland Historical Magazine, vol. 7, Art. "The Neale family of Charles County»" pp. 202-203.
8. Carmel in America, pp, 52-53
9. Homes of the Cavaliers, p.
10. Semmes, p, 239, tells a very pretty story of Shane's death, etc., but it is not as substantial as the narratives of English and Irish historians,
11. Encyclopedia Britannica, vol 16, pp. 790-791
12. A Prince of Tyrone by Charlotte Pennell; pp. 58-59
13. A History of Ireland by Eleanor Hull, vol.1, p. 332.
14. Ibid., p. 333.
15. Ibid., p. 334.
16. Ibid., p, 344-345.
18. The Semmes and Allied Families, p. 239.
19 , Ibid., pp. 239-240.
20. The Life of Charles the First by Charles Wheeler Coit, p 362.
21. Sidelights on Maryland History by Hester Dorsey Richardson, p. 184.
22. Ibid., p. 185.
24. ^bid., pp. 185-185.
26. Ibid. , p. 186
27. Semmes, p. 239.
28. Sidelights, p. 137.
29, Maryland Historical Magazine, vol. 7; op. cit. Johnston spells name O'Neal.