The time of William Whitelyís leaving Delaware and coming to Maryland is not definitely known but we do know that when the first gun of the Revolution was fired, April 19, 1775, he was a citizen of Caroline County, well established, of some note and ready to take up arms in defense of his country.
He at once became active in the military organization for the defense of his country and the subjugation of tories; and entered the Eastern Shore militia where he was immediately made Lieutenant.
That he was probably in active service with the Maryland Line is shown by a report (1776) of Col. Wm. Richardson who says,- "Col. Whitely will set off on Monday next and I hope will head the first Division of our Battalion at Philadelphia."
His most important military position, however, was that of Commander-in-chief of the Militia of Caroline County. As Commander-in-chief it was his business to see that all male citizens between the ages of sixteen and fifty were enrolled in the militia and drilled for service. This position was much more important than would seem to us at the present day, and for a youth in his early twenties it was certainly a responsible one. His Revolutionary work continued in some capacity throughout the war and was productive of much good both for his state and nation.
After the close of the war he left the military field and soon became prominent in politics, taking part in the many meetings called at Hillsboro and Denton prior to the War of 1812. Among these was the remonstrance meeting held at Denton relative to the Chesapeake-Leopard trouble at which Whitely acted as chairman, and was voted a member of the Committee of Correspondence which was "Empowered by the meeting to represent Caroline in any subsequent measures taken by her sister counties in vindication of the national honor." Later he became (1811) senator from this district and was a co-worker with Culbreth, signing the remonstrance against the compensation Bill of 1816.
Always a staunch Democrat, he continued for some time after this in local politics, acting as a member of Democratic Caucuses and chairman of important committees, etc.; but when a comparatively young man he withdrew entirely from public life.
While speaking of William Whitely as a military man and a prominent citizen we must not forget to land him as a member of his immediate vicinity. His wealth made him a prominent figure of his day.
His holdings included 1,500 acres immediately surrounding Whitelysburg, $30,000 in stocks as well as a number of minor possessions while the ownership of 30 pieces of solid silver table service indicates his mode of living.
Yet he was a liberal supporter of all religious work, giving freely to such causes and with his family was a regular attendant of the Presbyterian Church then organized in Greensboro. Of this church he was one of the founders as well as a member of the first Board of Trustees.
His religion was practical as was evidenced by the readiness and generosity with which he extended a helping hand to his friends.
Col. Whitely, retiring entirely from public life at a comparatively early age, returned to Delaware from whence the family came, and there he died, Aug.15, 1816, aged 63 years.
He has gone! Death took him. The Whitely mansion is gone, fire destroyed it many years ago. His tomb alone remains, a colonial structure in the Whitely burying ground which marks his last resting place. The tomb is covered by a marble slab inscribed with his name and a beautiful tribute.
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