Royall, Anne

Royall, Anne (b. Newport)

(1769–1854) author, journalist, gadfly; born near Baltimore, Md. Her father lost whatever he had because he was a Loyalist when he died (c. 1775), and by 1785 her mother had gone to work as a servant in the home of a wealthy and well-educated gentleman, William Royall. He helped educate young Anne by encouraging her to read, and in 1797, although 20 years older, he married her. After he died in 1813, his relatives eventually succeeded in depriving Anne of his estate; it was 1848 before she got Congress to vote her a Revolutionary veteran's widow's pension (which yielded her only $10). Meanwhile, in the 1820s she set forth, by foot, stagecoach, and steamer, to visit every corner of the United States; this resulted in ten volumes of still revealing travel books (1826–31). In 1830, now settled in Washington, D.C., she began a publishing firm that published a weekly newspaper, Paul Pry (1831–36), combining news with gossip and her feisty editorials. Its successor, the Huntress (1836–54), was even more aggressive in pursuit of her enemies (corruption, politicians, ministers, the British) and in support of her causes (Catholics, Masons, states' rights). Notorious for her intemperate language and eccentric ways, she died a pauper but with the grudging respect of many contemporaries.