Categories: Maryland Project-Managed | Battle of Baltimore | American Poets | Flags | Saint Pauls Cemetery, Baltimore, Maryland | Mount Olivet Cemetery, Frederick, Maryland | Maryland, War of 1812 | Notables | Georgetown Light Field Artillery, War of 1812.
Francis was a lawyer, having studied at St. John's College, then further under his uncle, Philip Barton Key. He practiced in Frederick, Maryland and Georgetown, Washington, D.C. He also worked as the U.S. District Attorney.
Washington, D.C. had been attacked and President Madison and his family had fled. The country knew the British would be sending more attacks by both land and sea soon. Francis heard that much loved town physician of Upper Marlboro, Dr. William Beanes, had been taken captive and was being held on the British flagship "Tonnant". It was feared that Dr. Beanes would be hanged. Key and Col. John Skinner, an American agent for prisoner exchange, made plans to get Beanes back.
On the morning of September 3, 1814, Key and Col. Skinner set sail on a sloop flying a flag of truce approved by President James Madison. They reached the ship and started negotiations with the British. At first they were refused but after reading through a pouch of letters written by wounded British prisoners praising the care they were receiving from the Americans, including Dr. Beanes, a plan was made to get Beanes back home. Key, Skinner, and Beanes had to wait out the Baltimore battle, though, before they were allowed to leave.
At 7 a.m. on the morning of September 13, 1814, the British bombardment began and continued for 25 hours. That evening the cannonading temporarily stopped, beginning again about 1 a.m. on the 14th, the British fleet lighting the rainy night sky with rockets' fireworks. The British eventually abandoned the attack.
Key waited for the sight of Gen. Armistead's great flag blowing in the breeze at the Fort, a sign that the skirmish was over. When at last daylight came, the moment which inspired the flag was still there!, Francis wrote a poem on the back of a letter, describing what he had just witnessed. It was published by his brother-in-law, Judge J. H. Nicholson, titled "Defence of Fort McHenry".
On September 20, 1814, newspapers printed the poem, noting that it should accompany the tune "Anacreon in Heaven" as suggested by his brother-in-law, Judge Nicholson. In October 1814, a Baltimore actor, Ferdinard Durang, sang Key's new song in a public performance and called it "The Star-Spangled Banner". Francis became forever famous for that poem. He continued as a lawyer and poet throughout the rest of his life.
Francis Scott Key died of pleurisy January 11, 1843 in Baltimore while visiting his daughter  and later was buried in Saint Paul's Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland then later reburied at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Frederick, Maryland in 1866.
A book of Key's poems were published years later. A copy written by Key of the 1814 poem remained with the Nicholson family (Key's wife's sister's family) for 93 years. That copy was auctioned off and eventually put in the Maryland Historical Society where it is now displayed.
On 12 Sep 2018 Charlie Burrow wrote:
On 10 Sep 2018 Abby (Brown) Glann wrote:
A Grandson - John Ross Key (July 16, 1837 - 1920) - an artist - worked as an engineer for The Confederate Army. A mapmaker in SC and VA, was was a LT in rank. A Grandson - Clarence Key was tall, 6 feet, with a full bread. He served Co. "B", Second Texas Cavalry, then 26th TX Cavalry and 33rd,Serve Co. "E", 26th Tenn Inf. Clarence and John’s father John Ross Key died young (1837)and they were raised by grandfather, Francis Scott Key. Another grandson - Francis Key Howard (1826 to 1872) was an editor of Baltimore Exchange newspaper. He wrote editorial about Lincoln’s suspending the Writ of habeas corpus. Francis Howard was arrested on order of US General Banks on Sept. 13, 1861 then sent to Ft. McHenry (where Francis Scott Key was 47 years earlier).
Eight grandsons of Francis Scott Key served in Confederate Army.
On 10 Sep 2018 Abby (Brown) Glann wrote:
Rebecca Lloyd Nicholson married Edward Shippen. The manuscript of the Star Spangled banner was passed through the Shippen family to Rebecca's and Edward's son Lloyd. Lloyd married Florence Hawley Brush. They sold the manuscript to a Texan in the 1930's, who in turn donated (or his family donated) it to the Maryland Historic Society. My father grew up with it hanging in the front hall of their house in Washington DC. I am Rebecca and Lloyds great granddaughter. Yours truly. Nina Shippen
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On 17 Sep 2018 at 20:41 GMT Jack Parker wrote:
On 4 Jul 2016 at 19:08 GMT Suzan (Cobb) Kaye wrote:
Towards the bottom of the page, there is a link to a KEY Family DNA Study, which includes many of the Project 50 participants. (My husband is one of them.) http://www.familytreedna.com/public/KEYsurnameY-chromosomeDNAtestproject/default.aspx?section=yresults
Francis is 20 degrees from SJ Baty, 16 degrees from Orville Redenbacher and 13 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.