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Henry M. Ridgely

In office
January 23, 1827 – March 3, 1829
Preceded by Daniel Rodney
Succeeded by John M. Clayton

In office
March 4, 1811 – March 3, 1815
Preceded by Nicholas Van Dyke
Succeeded by Thomas Clayton

Born August 6, 1779(1779-08-06)
Dover, Delaware
Died August 6, 1847 (aged 68)
Dover, Delaware
Political party Federalist Party
Spouse(s) Sally Banning
Sarah Ann Comegys
Residence Dover, Delaware
Alma mater Dickinson College
Profession lawyer
Religion Episcopalian

Henry Moore Ridgely (August 6, 1779 - August 6, 1847) was an American lawyer and politician from Dover, in Kent County, Delaware. He was a member of the Federalist Party, and later the Democratic Party, who served as U.S. Representative from Delaware and as U.S. Senator from Delaware.


Early life and family

Ridgely was born in Dover, Delaware, the son of Dr. Charles and Ann Moore Ridgely. He attended Dickinson College and studied law with Charles Smith of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Admitted to the Delaware Bar in 1802, he began a practice in Dover. Sally Banning of Dover was his first wife, and they had fifteen children, including eight who lived to adulthood: Charles George, Elizabeth, Ann, Henry, Nicholas, Eugene, Williamina and Edward. In 1842, Ridgely married Sarah Ann Comegys, the daughter of Cornelius P. Comegys, the former Governor of Delaware. They had no children. They were all members of Christ Episcopal Church. Ridgely was instrumental in the organization of the Farmer’s Bank and served as its president in Dover for forty years.

Professional and political career

Ridgely was a Federalist and began his political career in the State House, serving in three sessions from 1808 through 1810. He was a Kent County Levy Court Commissioner as well. Subsequently, he was elected to the 12th and 13th United State House from required until March 4, 1811 until March 3, 1815. There he joined the general Federalist opposition to the War of 1812. Much of his correspondence from these days is published in A Calendar of Ridgely Family Letters, 1742-1899.

Not seeking reelection in 1814, he returned to Dover and resumed the practice of law. He served as the Secretary of State of Delaware from 1817 until 1827 and also was elected to the State House for the 1816, 1822, and 1827 sessions. In 1827, he was elected to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Nicholas Van Dyke and served out his term from January 12, 1827 until March 3, 1829. He was not reelected to the next Congress because, in the great political realignment then underway, Ridgely had become a supporter of President Andrew Jackson, in opposition to the majority in the Delaware General Assembly. He was an opponent of slavery and is said to have bought slaves, only to release them.

Death and legacy

Ridgely died at Dover and is buried there in the Christ Episcopal Church Cemetery. He was considered a man of superior judgment with a considerable talent for business.


Elections were held the first Tuesday of October. Members of the State House took office on the first Tuesday of January for a one year term. U.S. Representatives took office March 4th and have a two year term. The General Assembly chose the U.S. Senators, who also took office March 4th, but for a six year term.

Public Offices
Office Type Location Began office Ended office notes
State Representative Legislature Dover January 1, 1808 January 7, 1809
State Representative Legislature Dover January 1, 1809 January 7, 1810
State Representative Legislature Dover January 1, 1810 January 7, 1811
U.S. Representative Legislature Washington March 4, 1811 March 3, 1813
U.S. Representative Legislature Washington March 4, 1813 March 3, 1815
Secretary of State Executive Dover 1817 1827
State Representative Legislature Dover January 1, 1816 January 7, 1817
State Representative Legislature Dover January 1, 1822 January 7, 1823
State Representative Legislature Dover January 1, 1827 January 7, 1828
U.S. Senator Legislature Washington January 12, 1827 March 3, 1829
Delaware General Assembly service
Dates Assembly Chamber Majority Governor Committees District
1808 32nd State House Federalist George Truitt Kent at-large
1809 33rd State House Federalist George Truitt Kent at-large
1810 34th State House Federalist George Truitt Kent at-large
1816 40th State House Federalist Daniel Rodney Kent at-large
1822 46th State House Federalist John Collins Kent at-large
1827 51st State House Federalist Charles Polk, Jr. Kent at-large
United States Congressional service
Dates Congress Chamber Majority President Committees Class/District
1811-1813 12th U.S. House Republican James Madison at-large
1813-1815 13th U.S. House Republican James Madison 1st at-large
1825-1827 19th U.S. Senate Democratic John Quincy Adams class 2
1827-1829 20th U.S. Senate Democratic John Quincy Adams class 2
Election results
Year Office Subject Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes %
1810 U.S. Representative Henry M. Ridgely Federalist 3,634 50% Richard C. Dale Republican 6,229 51%
1812 U.S. Representative Henry M. Ridgely
Thomas Cooper
Federalist 4,193
David Hall
Richard C. Dale
Republican 3,221


  • Conrad, Henry C. (1908). History of the State of Delaware, 3 vols.. Lancaster, Pennsylvania: Wickersham Company.  
  • Martin, Roger A. (2003). Delawareans in Congress 1789-1900. ISBN 0-924117-26-5.  
  • Scharf, John Thomas. (1888). History of Delaware 1609-1888. 2 vols. L. J. Richards & Co Philadelphia.  

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