William Paca

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Founding Fathers
William Paca
State Maryland
Religion Christian- Episcopalian [1]
Founding Documents Declaration of Independence

William Paca (October 31, 1740 – October 23, 1799) was a founding father of America, he was a lawyer, Annapolis mayor, vestryman of St. Anne's Church, a state legislator, Maryland delegate to the Continental Congress that signed the Declaration of Independence. Also, Chief Justice, Federal District Judge and three-term Governor of Maryland.

Early life

Paca was born in Abington, Maryland and was home schooled until attending Philadelphia College (now the University of Pennsylvania) at age fifteen.[2] He graduated with a Masters Degree and studied law in Annapolis. For his law studies he would attend training at the Inner Temple in London, England. In 1763, Paca would marry the prominent Mary Chew. Mary died in 1774 and Paca would remarry to Ann Harrison. Paca had a total of six children.[3]


Paca was a leader of the patriot cause in Maryland as a member of the Sons of Liberty with his close friend Samuel Chase,[4] in complete opposition to the Stamp Act. He was elected to the State Legislature of Maryland in 1771 and to the Continental Congress in 1774. After the American Revolution, Paca resigned his seat to become a judge of the Admiralty Court and was involved in maritime cases. He would resign that position when elected governor in 1782. After his third term, he represented his Eastern Shore district in the House of Delegates before George Washington appointed him a Federal district judge in December 1789.


William Paca died at his home in Queen Anne's County just days short of his 59th birthday. His house, at one time known as Carvel Hall, is a National Historic Landmark in Maryland.

Italian ancestry debate

Some historians have debated whether or not Paca has a heritage traced to Italy.[5] The last name of Paca, according to one of his descendants, would have been spelled Pacci in the old world. The oldest claim goes back to 1911, by Cardinal James Gibbons of Baltimore, who also believed that the Italian family name would have been Pecci.[6]


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