Mary Digges Lee

Mary Digges Lee (1745 – January 25, 1805) was an American patriot. She was called the "First Lady of Maryland" and later inducted into the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame.


Lee's ancestry goes back to Dudley Digges, a British politician. Edward Digges immigrated to the United States, and settled in York County, Virginia in the late 17th century. Lee's parents moved the family to a tract of land in Maryland.[1]

Lee was born in 1745 at Mellwood Park in Prince George's County, Maryland, to parents Ignatius Digges and Elizabeth Parnham Craycroft Digges. Elizabeth died early in Lee's life, and Ignatius Digges remarried to Mary Carroll. Mary Lee married Thomas Sim Lee. Though announced in early 1771, the marriage almost fell apart due to religious differences, and did not take place until October 27, 1771. The new couple moved to Thomas Lee's estate, Needwood. They had six children together.[2]

The couple founded St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Petersville, Maryland. During the American Revolution, the couple were prominent patriots. Thomas Sim Lee was elected the Second Governor of Maryland in 1779, a position he held until 1794. As the war began to go badly for the Americans, George Washington personally appealed to Thomas Lee for aid. In his letter, he wrote "unless some extraordinary and immediate exertions are made by the States from which we draw supplies, there is every appearance that the army will infallibly disband by fortnight." Mary Lee entered the public sphere at a time when it was uncommon for women to do so. She raised a large sum of goods, money and clothes to send to the troops, including 260 shirts. George Washington thanked Lee for the "patriotic exertions of the ladies of Maryland in favor of the army."[3][1]

Lee died on January 25, 1805.[1]


  1. 01, Conference Room. "Mary Digges Lee, MSA SC 3520-2229". Retrieved 2017-11-12.
  2. "Mary Digges Lee, Maryland Women's Hall of Fame". Retrieved 2017-11-12.
  3. "Mary Digges Lee | History of American Women". History of American Women. 2009-01-26. Retrieved 2017-11-12.
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