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Frederick in Frederick County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Frederick’s Poet Lawyer

Francis Scott Key

 
 
Frederick’s Poet Lawyer Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, August 1, 2013
1. Frederick’s Poet Lawyer Marker
Inscription. Born in what was then northeast Frederick County, Key’s parents first brought him to “Frederick-Town” to be baptized. His parents often rode to the county seat here. Key walked these streets whenever the family came to Frederick.

After attending school in Annapolis and studying law for four years, Key opened a law office near here. He argued cases in the old court house where today’s City Hall is located. He later appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court, and practiced law until the end of his life.

Key’s legal skills led him to a daring role during the Battle of Baltimore in 1814 where he negotiated the release of an American prisoner. His eloquence as a writer and poet gave us the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

Early Life of Francis Scott Key
1779
Francis Scott Key is born at Terra Rubra, his parent’s estate, in what was then northeast Frederick County.

1789
After ten years growing up in Frederick County, Key attends St. John’s Grammar School and then St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland.

1796
Key graduates from St. John’s College at the top of his class, then studies law.

1801
Key begins his law career in Frederick. His college friend, Robert Brooke Taney, also practices law in Frederick,
W Church St & N Court St image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, August 1, 2013
2. W Church St & N Court St
and later marries Key’s sister Anne.

1802
Key marries Mary Tayloe Lloyd in Annapolis.

1803
Key moves to Washington, D.C., to become a partner in the law practice of his uncle, Phillip Barton Key.

1814
Key writes “The Star-Spangled Banner” which would become the national anthem of the United States in 1931.

(sidebar)
In 1840, Key, at age 61, came here to visit his aged cousin Eleanor Potts who was then totally blind. She lived on Council Street across the courtyard. Key promised her a poem, and she listened as he read the stanzas which included these lines:

The “light of other days” was hers,
Of happy days now past and gone,
It called up friends long lov’d and mourn’d,
And sweetly round her shone.

Twas the, as by her side I sat,
She softly touch’d the light guitar,
And tones that had my childhood charm’d,
Fell sweetly, sadly on my ear.


(captions)
Key as a youth

Frederick in 1854

Trinity Chapel, visible to your right, marks the probable site of Key’s baptism. In 1779 it was the German Reformed Church

Frederick County’s second courthouse—the one Key knew—was built here in 1785, but burned in 1861. The third courthouse, completed in 1862, is the
Francis Scott Key image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, September 23, 2015
3. Francis Scott Key
Close-up of image on marker
building here today. It became Frederick’s City Hall in 1985.
 
Location. 39° 24.932′ N, 77° 24.732′ W. Marker is in Frederick, Maryland, in Frederick County. Marker is at the intersection of West Church Street and North Court Street, on the right when traveling west on West Church Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Frederick MD 21701, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. “South Magnetic” (here, next to this marker); Unanimous Resolution (a few steps from this marker); Thomas Johnson (was within shouting distance of this marker but has been reported missing. ); Site of Frederick County's First Y.M.C.A. (within shouting distance of this marker); The Dred Scott Decision (was within shouting distance of this marker but has been reported missing. ); The Congregation in Frederick (within shouting distance of this marker); City Hall (within shouting distance of this marker); No to the Stamp! (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Frederick.
 
Categories. Arts, Letters, MusicPatriots & PatriotismWar of 1812
 
Advertisement image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, September 23, 2015
4. Advertisement
F.S. Key
Means to attend the Frederick Courts for the trial of causes. He will be in Frederick-Town at adjourned Court, in August next. May 24. tf
Close-up of image on marker
Key as a youth image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, September 23, 2015
5. Key as a youth
Close-up of image on marker
Frederick in 1854 image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, September 23, 2015
6. Frederick in 1854
Close-up of image on marker
Trinity Chapel image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, September 23, 2015
7. Trinity Chapel
Trinity Chapel, visible to your right, marks the probable site of Key’s baptism. In 1779 it was the German Reformed Church.
The Second Courthouse Fire 1861 image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, September 23, 2015
8. The Second Courthouse Fire 1861
Frederick County’s second courthouse—the one Key knew—was built here in 1785, but burned in 1861. The third courthouse, completed in 1862, is the building here today. It became Frederick’s City Hall in 1985.
Close-up of image on marker
Ross Home<br>(105 Council Street) image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, September 23, 2015
9. Ross Home
(105 Council Street)

In 1840, Key, at age 61, came here to visit his aged cousin Eleanor Potts who was then totally blind. She lived on Council Street across the courtyard. Key promised her a poem, and she listened as he read the stanzas which included these lines:

The “light of other days” was hers,
Of happy days now past and gone,
It called up friends long lov’d and mourn’d,
And sweetly round her shone.

Twas then, as by her side I sat,
She softly touch’d the light guitar,
And tones that had my childhood charm’d,
Fell sweetly, sadly on my ear.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 3, 2013, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 437 times since then and 53 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on August 3, 2013, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.   3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on October 14, 2015, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.
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