EDEN, ROBERT. (1741–1784). Royal governor of Maryland. Born in Durham, in England, on 14 September 1741, Eden married Caroline Calvert, the sister of Lord Baltimore, in 1765. Three years later he was commissioned to serve as governor of Maryland. With his wife and two sons he reached Annapolis on 5 June 1769 and immediately proved himself to be admirably suited for his difficult post. His first important official act was to prorogue the General Assembly before it could protest passage of the Townshend Acts. He skillfully attempted to steer a middle course between the demands of the colonists and what they saw as the coercive policies of the government. His authority effectively ended with the convening of the Maryland Convention in June 1774, yet incredibly Eden remained governor even after the Revolution started. Although his reports went to great pains to explain the viewpoint of the colonists, in April 1776 a letter from Eden to George Sackville Germain was intercepted and interpreted to mean that the governor was an enemy of the people. The Maryland Council of Safety considered the charges groundless and refused to act on a resolution of the Continental Congress that Eden be arrested. However, the Convention ordered him out of the country in May 1776 after learning that the government had ordered Eden to support the British armed forces in America. He left Annapolis on 26 June 1776 and returned to England. On 10 September 1776 he was made a baronet for his service. When the war ended he returned to Maryland to recover some property, and died at Annapolis on 2 September 1784.
Eden Papers. Maryland Hall of Records, Annapolis.
Steiner, B. C. Life and Administration of Sir Robert Eden. Baltimore, Md.: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1898.
revised by Michael Bellesiles