A Chronology


1703
Colonel Henry Darnall receives the patent for a 7,000 acre land grant from his relative by marriage Charles Calvert, the third Lord Baltimore. The 7,000 acre tract of land is named "His Lordship's Kindness" in recognition of Lord Baltimore's generosity. Darnall, who lived at the nearby "Woodyard" as well as at "Darnall's Chance" in Upper Marlboro, was a very wealthy gentleman and held many offices, including Proprietary Agent and Receiver General, one of the most lucrative positions in the provincial government of Maryland. His total land holdings in Prince George's County covered approximately 10% (27,000 acres) of the present area of the county.

1711
Col. Henry Darnall dies and wills most of his real estate to his son, Henry Darnall, II. By the 1720's the latter was experiencing serious financial difficulties, and in the period from 1727 to 1730 he liquidated much of his property (eventually 6,700 acres of His Lordship's Kindness, which Darnall disposed of, returned to the possession of the Calverts).

1729
Henry Darnall, II deeds a number of tracts, totaling around 1,500 acres, to his son, Henry Darnall III. Included in the transaction are 300 acres of His Lordship's Kindness containing the dwelling house of Henry, III - the first mansion house on the property.

1735
On August 2nd, a deed of trust is executed between Henry Darnall, III and George Talbot, the 14th Earl of Shrewsbury, and John Talbot covering His Lordship's Kindness and its house. The deed is made in consequence of Darnall's prior marriage to Anne Talbot, the niece and ward of the Earl in order to guarantee her dower right in the estate should her husband predecease her, and to assure its decendency, after her death, to the couple's eldest surviving son. The exact date of the marriage is still unknown.

1740
Henry Darnall III's plantation and mansion are being referred to as "Poplar Hill" by this time.

1744
Henry Darnall, III is appointed Attorney-General of Maryland after publicly renouncing his Catholicism. It would soon become apparent that while publicly swearing allegiance to the King and Church of England, Darnall continued to privately practice Catholicism.

1744 to 1756
During much of Henry Darnall, III's tenure as attorney general of the Maryland colony the members of the Lower House of the Assembly were in an uproar over what they maintained to be his "closet" Catholicism. His accusers cited Darnall's sending of his children to Catholic schools in Europe and rumors of his allowing Catholic mass to be said in his house as evidence for their charges. Eventually Lord Baltimore and the Governor Horatio Sharpe were so pressured by the Assembly to get rid of the "closet" Catholic Henry Darnall, III that the Governor asked him to resign as attorney general. However, Darnall resisted until he was able to secure for himself the less visible but rather lucrative customs post of Naval Officer of the Patuxent. He was sworn in as Naval Officer of the Patuxent in 1755 and then resigned as Attorney General of Maryland in 1756.

1761
Henry Darnall, III is accused of embezzling nearly to 1,000 pounds in his position as Naval Officer. He, along with his principal heir, Henry Darnall, IV mortgage Poplar Hill to Charles Carroll of Annapolis (one of the sureties for the performance bond given when he assumed office) before fleeing the colony for Europe to avoid being placed on trial.

Henry Darnall, IV is reported to have been executed in Canada for also having committed some crime. Henry IV's wife, Rachel Brooke Darnall, and their daughter, Mary (known as Molly Darnall), went to live in the home of Charles Carroll of Annapolis. Rachel was Mrs. Carroll's faithful attendant in her last illness and Molly Darnall later became the wife of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the signer of the Declaration of Independence. Robert Darnall, another son of Henry III, became a resident of Dorchester County on the Eastern Shore. There he married a very well-to-do widow, Sarah Ryder Nevett Fishwick, who had inherited wealth from two previous husbands, a brother and her father.

1773
Robert Darnall I, a friend and former classmate of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, purchases Poplar Hill from the latter's father, Charles Carroll of Annapolis, for 1,500 pounds. At the time the mansion house is described as being in dilapidated condition.

1784 to 1786
In 1784 Robert Darnall pays David Guisheard of Baltimore for plaster to work in Darnall's house. For years it had been thought that the original mansion of Robert's father, Henry Darnall, III, survived as the present house, and Guisheard's plaster work was believed to represent repairs or modifications to the original "Poplar Hill." However, in 1991 dendrochronological testing was done, and it proved incontrovertibly that the present mansion was built by Robert Darnall and completed in 1786 (to replace the earlier residence built for his father, Henry Darnall, III).

1803
Robert Darnall dies without heirs and wills Poplar Hill to his nephew, Robert Sewall, a man of some means with business interests in the District of Columbia.

1821
Robert Sewall dies leaving his estate to his son, Robert Darnall Sewall, at one time a member of the Prince George's County Levy Court, the governing body of the county.

1853
Robert Darnall Sewall dies without heirs leaving his estate to two minor nieces, Susan and Ellen Daingerfield of Alexandria, Virginia. The two sisters and their father and guardian Henry Daingerfield move from Alexandria to live at Poplar Hill. Henry Daingerfield was a very wealthy merchant and planter as well as a personal friend of Robert E. Lee.

1865
On October 17th, Susan Daingerfield marries Virginian John Strode Barbour, an executive of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad and later a U.S. Senator. They lived most of the time in Washington (their home still stands on Maryland Avenue), and Poplar Hill was their country home. Susan's sister, Ellen, never married and retained her ownership rights in Poplar Hill.

1892
Senator Barbour dies and lies in state in the U.S. Capitol, attended by the Vice President and his fellow members of Congress. After a funeral procession to Poplar Hill his casket was carried into the large central hall on the first floor where it rested amid the portraits of earlier owners hanging on the walls. Barbour joined his wife, Susan, who had died in 1886, in the nearby family burial plot. The couple had no surviving children, and Ellen Daingerfield became the sole owner of Poplar Hill.

1912
Ellen Daingerfield dies, and Poplar Hill, containing more than 1,000 acres, is inherited by her three nephews. Ellen was also buried in the family graveyard, and the iron fence, now surrounding it, was placed there in compliance with a provision in her will.

1929
Two hundred two and a quarter (202.25) acres, on which the house is located, were sold to Rachel Cameron Hale, the wife of Chandler Hale, a diplomatic official. Mrs. Hale was responsible for changing the name of the estate from "Poplar Hill" to "His Lordship's Kindness." She installed wiring and plumbing in the house and converted the chapel into a library. She changed the landscaping of the former rose garden and, after a damaging fire in the carriage house, tore that structure down and used the salvaged bricks to build a garage with a residence apartment above for her chauffeur.

1940
The Hales sell "His Lordship's Kindness" to Caroline E. Dunham. Mrs. Dunham operated a "tea room" in the brick dependency known as the "slaves' hospital" or "slaves' infirmary." Among her patrons were the elite of the nation's capital, including Eleanor Roosevelt. Unfortunately gas rationing brought on by the United States' entry into World War II forced Mrs. Dunham to close her tearoom.

1946
Mrs. Dunham and her husband, Thomas, sell "His Lordship's Kindness" with a total of slightly more than 230 acres to Ambassador David K.E. Bruce a world renown diplomat. Bruce held diplomatic posts in Italy, France, Germany, and Great Britain. He was also Under Secretary of State at the time of the Vietnam peace talks and was U.S. liaison during the negotiations to resume diplomatic relations with China. The house was used primarily as a setting for Mrs. Bruce's fine collection of antiques, but was seldom occupied by the couple.

1950
David and Evangeline Bruce, while in Paris, convey "His Lordship's Kindness" to Royd and Edna Sayers, who make the house their full-time residence. Mr. Sayers' career included a position with the U.S. Bureau of Mines.

1954
On September 21st, the estate was sold to the Catholic Archdiocese of  Washington, D.C. in the name of the "New Mt. Olivet Cemetery Co., Inc." This acquisition led to the eventual development in the mid-1960's of what is known today as Resurrection Cemetery.

1955
A little more than 137 acres along with the historic mansion are sold to John and Sara Walton. The Waltons first became interested in acquiring the historic estate shortly after their marriage in 1938. However, each time that "His Lordship's Kindness" came up for sale, they felt the purchase price was beyond their financial means. It wasn't until 1955 that their dream became a reality. Sara Walton, a retired teacher and noted figure in the historic preservation movement in Prince George's County, Maryland, died in 1988 but her husband, John M. Walton, Sr., lives today in the couple's second home in Talbot County on the Eastern Shore of Maryland at age 84. Mr. Walton began a distinguished career as an architect in the mid-1930s, retiring in the mid-1970s. He is well known throughout the Washington, D.C. area and the state of Maryland for the many homes, churches, educational buildings (including many on the College Park Campus of the University of Maryland), courthouses, and shopping facilities that he has designed.

1970
"His Lordship's Kindness" receives national recognition when it is designated as a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Even today it is one of only two historic sites in Prince George's County to have this distinction.

1988
The John M. and Sara R Walton Foundation, Inc. is established as a 501(c)3 corporation to provide for the perpetual preservation and educational use of "His Lordship's Kindness.

1991
Christmas candlelight tours for the general public are held for the very first time at "His Lordship's Kindness."

1994 to 1996
The Walton Foundation undertakes the restoration of the chapel wing of the mansion. The completion of the restoration construction is officially dedicated on May 12, 1996.

December 31, 1995
John M. Walton Sr. transfers ownership of "His Lordship's Kindness" and the 7.6614 surrounding acres, which includes five historic outbuildings as well as elaborate terranced gardens, by deed of gift to the John M. and Sara R. Walton Foundation, Inc.

April 1996
Regular tours begin at "His Lordship's Kindness on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of every month.

May 4, 1996
"His Lordship's Kindness" is open to the public on a walk-in basis for the Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage.

October 26 and 27, 1996
The Walton Foundation sponsors the first "living history" event, a civil war encampment, at "His Lordship's Kindness."

June 2009
Museum presents lecture series “Breaking the Chains” sponsored by the Maryland Humanities Council.

June 2009
Museum completes restoration of the historic roof. Worked performed by All Star Roofing.

September 2009
Museum staff hosts the Police District V Explorers Club who spends the day cleaning the interior of the museum, the immediate grounds around the museum, and the carriage museum.

September 2009
Museum suspends walk-in tours to the public as a result of the impact of the 2008 economic downturn. Group tours (15 or more) are still available upon request.