Cary Family (Virginia and Maryland)

Wilson Miles Cary (2 Sep 1806-9 Jan 1877) was the son of Wilson Jefferson Cary (1783-1823) of Fluvanna County, Virginia, and his wife, Virginia Randolph (1786-1852). Mrs. Cary was the sister of Thomas Mann Randolph, Jr., a son-in-law of President Thomas Jefferson. Wilson Miles Cary first attended Hampden-Sydney College, then the University of Virginia in session 1, enrolling on March 9, 1825, and being expelled October 6, 1825. (UVA Matriculation books)

Wilson was among a group of students expelled for conducting a “a serious riot and disturbance” on Oct. 1, 1825. The faculty met on Oct. 2 and 3 about this matter, and then handed the issue to the Board of Visitors to determine the punishment for those involved. The faculty minutes summarized Cary’s statement:

Wilson Miles Carey was not intoxicated; made no noise; was laid hold of by Mr. [George] Tucker but escaped and afterwards by Dr. Emmet, who tore a counterpane which witness had around him as well as his shirt sleeve; was seized by two Professors but not at the same time; heard the language regarding the European Professors; did not use it himself; thinks he did aim a blow at Professor Emmet; cried a rescue; said in allusion to Professor E, “the damn’d rascal has torn my shirt”; conceived he was assaulted and therefore acted as he did; had no intention when he left his Dormitory to make any disturbance ; took up a brick expecting that Dr. Emmet would stand back and be intimidated ; was not of the party who took up sticks; did not throw any brick or stick; does not recollect having been asked his name by Dr. Emmet. (Faculty Minutes, Oct. 2-5, 1825)

The Board of Visitors determined that Cary should be expelled:

A communication from the Faculty of Professors is rec[ei]ved in the following words, to wit, `University of Virginia. Ordered that Wilson Miles Carey having on the night of the 1st. instant resisted the authority of a Professor, used violence against him, and excited others to follow his example, and for abusive epithets concerning the said Professor, be expelled from the University. Copied from the minutes of the Faculty. Robley Dunglison Secretary. George Tucker. (UVA Board of Visitors Minutes, Oct. 6, 1825)

Subsequently, Cary studied law with Judge Brockenbrough and Judge Henry St. George Tucker, and was admitted to the bar in Charlottesville, Virginia. He married Jane Margaret Carr (1809-1903) in 1831. Their children were Sarah Nicholas, Virginia (died in infancy), Hetty, Virginia Randolph, Wilson-Miles Jr., John Brune, Jane Margaret, and Sydney Carr Cary. (The Virginia Carys) Hetty Cary was a famous Southern belle and Confederate spy. Her sister Jane (“Jenny”) set the words of the poem “Maryland, My Maryland” to a tune called “Lauriger Horatius.”  The combination later became the Maryland State Song.)

After his marriage, Cary practiced law in Charlottesville and was the editor of the Virginia Advocate newspaper. He also served in the local militia, and was called “Colonel” Cary all his life.

In 1833, Wilson Miles Cary and his family moved to Baltimore, Maryland, where Cary practiced law for a time. In 1835, he bought a farm in Baltimore County called “Haystack,” and “was engaged in agricultural pursuits” for some years. (Baltimore Sun Jan. 10, 1877) Cary was elected to the Maryland Senate, and served in that body from 1846-1852.

The Carys established a school for young ladies at Haystack. In 1850, the family moved into Baltimore. The school was continued in Baltimore as the Southern Home School and was in existence at least through 1906, when it was listed as a girls’ preparatory school in Patterson’s American Education.

Wilson Miles Cary senior died in 1877, in Baltimore County, Maryland, and is buried in Saint Thomas Episcopal Church Cemetery, in Owings Mills, Maryland. (

His son, Wilson-Miles Cary, Jr. (12 Dec. 1838-28 Aug. 1914), was born at “Haystack” in Baltimore County, Maryland. He attended the University of Virginia in sessions 33-34 (1856-1858). He served in the Confederate army as a captain and major in the Quartermaster Department. After the Civil War, he established a classical boys’ school in Baltimore, and then became a lawyer and served as the Clerk of the Criminal Court of Baltimore. He later became a genealogist, and had articles published in various genealogical and historical periodicals, as well as writing a novel, Sally Cary; a long hidden romance of Washington’s life. Cary Jr. never married and had no children. (Death certificate)

He is buried at Saint Thomas Episcopal Church Cemetery in Owings Mills, Maryland, with his mother and father.


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1 Response to Cary Family (Virginia and Maryland)

  1. Joanne Yeck says:

    This is wonderful. Love 19th century student riots!

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