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William Patterson


Oil on canvas portrait painting of William Patterson, 1821, by Thomas Sully (1783-1872). Patterson was born in Fanat, County Donegal, Ireland and came to Maryland in 1775. In 1779, he married Dorcas Spear Patterson (1761-1814) and the couple had fourteen children. Among their many children was the famous American socialite Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte (1785-1879). Several of their sons served in the Maryland Militia during the War of 1812. Patterson himself helped raise money to complete Fort McHenry in 1799 and allocated supplies for the fort's defense during the Battle of Baltimore in 1814. In his later years, he became one of the wealthiest merchants in all of Baltimore. Patterson was a founder of the Merchant's Exchange, Bank of Maryland, and Canton Company, among other business ventures. He was a major investor, and founder, of the Baltimore & Ohio (B&O) Railroad Company in 1827. In addition to business, he also donated acreage, which is part of Patterson Park, which was later named for him. Patterson is buried in the Patterson Family Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland.




Oil on canvas


30 x 25 inches

Object ID


Resource ID


Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. Andrew Robeson

Digital Publisher

Digital resource provided by the Maryland Center for History and Culture


This digital image is made available here for private study, scholarship, and research. Commercial and other uses are prohibited without the permission of the Maryland Center for History and Culture. For more information, visit the MCHC’s Reproductions and Permissions web page.