History

The Historical Significance of the Bush Declaration

On March 22, 1775, thirty-four men gathered in a small tavern to sign the historic Bush Declaration. In this short text, these unique individuals pledged their lives and fortune to support freedom.

Genealogist General, Henry C. Peden, Jr. describes the historical context of the Bush Declaration in this way:

The Bush Declaration is a document signed by 34 duly elected citizens in Harford County, Maryland on March 22, 1775. At that time the county seat was Harford Town, or Bush (so named for its location in the "bush country" as compared to most colonial towns on the waterfront, that is, Chesapeake Bay). Harford County had been separated from Baltimore County just a year earlier and in the interim there was considerable patriotic fervor against the British and their blockade of Boston (and other problems, like taxation). This committee in Harford County decided to show their support for Boston and their disdain for King George by signing this document "at the risque of their lives and fortunes." It has been characterized as the first Declaration of Independence and was signed just three weeks prior to the Battles of Lexington and Concord which signaled the beginning of the American Revolution.

  • ...to show their support for Boston and their disdain for King George

    Henry C. Peden, Jr., Genealogist General

The following is the language of the Bush Declaration dated March 22, 1775. Quoted from Walter W. Preston's HISTORY OF HARFORD COUNTY MARYLAND, published in 1901:

"We the Committee of Harford County, having most seriously and maturely considered the Resolves and Association of the Continental Congress, and the Resolves of the Provincial Convention, do most heartily approve of the same, and as we esteem ourselves in a more particular manner, intrusted by our constituents to see them carried into execution, we do most solemnly pledge ourselves to each other, and to our Country, and engage ourselves by every tie held sacred among mankind to perform the same at the risque of our lives and fortunes."

You can download the one page Bush Declaration or view the entire source documents on the Maryland State Archives website.

Interested in becoming a member of the The Hereditary Order Of The Signers Of The Bush Declaration? We encourage all individuals who can prove a blood relationship to a Signer within the second degree of kinship to apply. Get Started!

Original Bush Declaration Signed on May 22, 1775

The Signers

Learn about the Signers of the Bush Declaration

A critical prerequisite to membership in the Hereditary Order of the Signers of the Bush Declaration is proof of a relationship within the second degree of kinship to one of the original signers. To help prospective members identify this kinship, we have detailed here genealogical information arduously researched by current members.

We have also included an interactive learning tool using an image of all thirty-four signers. The mural was done by Marion Butler Ewald in 1934 (nearly 160 years after the signing). It depicts each of the 34 signers as they discussed the merits of the declaration. The mural is currently on display in the Harford County Circuit Courthouse in Bel Air, Maryland.

Note: the interactive elements of the image below is only accurate on larger screens, and will not work correctly on tablets or smart phones.

Note: the interactive elements of the image below is only accurate on larger screens, and will not work correctly on tablets or smart phones.

Note: the interactive elements of the image below is only accurate on larger, desktop screens, and will not work correctly on tablets or smart phones.

Hover over each individual in the mural to see more details.

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John Taylor William Webb Greenberry Dorsey Col. Alexander Rigdon William Smith Richard Dallam Robert Morgan Edward Prall William Fisher Jr. Abraham Whitaker Daniel Scott John Durham Aquila Paca John Patrick Charles Anderson John Donahuy James McComass William Morgan Benjamin Bradford Norris Edward Ward Thomas Brice Robert Lemmon James Harris William Bradford Sr. Aquila Hall Jr. Samuel Calwell William Smithson Dr. John Archer James Lytle Aquila Hall Thomas Johnson George Patterson Francis Holland Josias Carvil Hall

Genealogical Relationships

Ancestral and Historical Information About Each Signer

The following is an alphabetical list of the signers with their corresponding ancestral record. You can enter the signers last name in the box below to narrow the list, or scroll down the page to view details about all 34 individuals. Please note that ages listed at the time of signing the declaration are approximate.


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  • About Us

    To Honor the Bush Declaration Signers

    The Hereditary Order of the Signers of the Bush Declaration (HOSBD) is dedicated to honoring the Signers of the Bush Declaration through education about this historical document, and the men who signed it.

    Foundation

    In the year 2002 a chapter of the Children of the American Revolution was formed in Harford County, Maryland and named the Bush Declaration Society. It soon became apparent that there was no organization in existence to honor the actual Signers of the Bush Declaration on March 22, 1775. Nearly 229 years after the signing of the Bush Declaration, in March 2004, Christopher T. Smithson and Henry C. Peden, Jr. decided to organize such a society, and recruited J. Andrew Calwell and William P. Smithson, fellow members of the Col. Aquila Hall Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution, to work with them on this project.

    On June 4, 2004 The Hereditary Order of the Signers of the Bush Declaration was founded.

    Objectives

    The order is genealogical, historical and fraternal in its nature. Its membership endeavors to foster patriotism and to enlarge the knowledge of its membership through:

    • The collection of information concerning the Signers of the Bush Declaration.
    • The dissemination of such information to the Order’s membership, and eventually to other interested persons and organizations.
    • The building of a body of genealogical records showing descent from the Signers of the Bush Declaration, and their ancestors.
    • The creation of a spirit of good fellowship and friendship among members through meetings and other means, inherent in these purposes.

    Officers

    Below is a list of the The Hereditary Order of the Signers of the Bush Declaration (HOSBD) officers. Officers are elected at our annual meeting each year.

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    "The Signer" Newsletter

    HOSBD periodically publishes a newsletter for members. This newsletter is meant to inform members about upcoming events, and to continue our overall mission.

    Download Recent Newsletter

    Who Can Join? Those persons, male or female of the age of 18 years or more, who can prove a blood relationship to a Signer within the second degree of kinship.

    For a preliminary application and informational materials, please contact:

    Christopher T. Smithson
    Membership Developement Chair, HOSBD
    4219 Paddrick Road
    Darlington, MD 21034-1034



    • Direct descent is self-explanatory. The applicant is lineally (directly) descended from the Signer.
    • Collateral descent (or 1st degree of kinship) means the applicant’s ancestor and the Signer have the same parents.
    • Consanguine relation (or 2nd degree of kinship) means the applicant’s ancestor and the Signer have same grandparents.

    Contact Us

    We Want to Hear From You!

    Please contact us for more information about HOSBD or if you are interested in becoming a member.

    HOSBD
    4219 Paddrick Road
    Darlington, MD 21034


    HOSBD