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estant ministers. He was tried before the Gov-
ernor and two assessors, fined for offensive
" speeches and unseasonable disputations on
points of religion contrary to the public procla-
mation prohibiting all such disputes," and
bound over to behave better in future. Thus in
1638, eleven years before the Act concerning
Religion was passed, the principle of toleration
was enforced and placed on record ; and at a
still earlier date, even contentions about religion
had been authoritatively forbidden. The other
case was in 1642, when a Mr. Gerrard, a mem-
ber of the Assembly, and a zealous Catholic,
took away certain books and a key from the
chapel at St. Mary's, apparently on the ground
of some claim to the property. The Protest-


ants, who seem to have used the chapel, peti-
tioned against this proceeding, and Gerrai'd was
fined, the fine to be appropriated " toward the
maintenance of the first minister that should
arrive; " by which it would seem that down to
this time there was no Protestant clergj^man in
the Province.



The execution of Cbarles was a death-blow
to the hopes of the royalists. That Baltimore
was a king's friend, thei'e is no doubt ; but
from the first he had taken no part in English
politics, and it may be that he foresaw the
downfall of the royalist cause long before it
came. One singular, and perhaps apocryphal
incident, slightly connecting him with that
great tragedy, has been preserved. Shortly
before the execution of the King, the " Close
Committee " of Parliament held a secret meet-
ing, at which Baltimore and two or three other
Catholics were present, and sent a message to
Charles in prison that if he would recede from
his firm stand, and own himself to have been
in some measure in the wrong, they would save
his life, and, if possible, his crown. The asso-
ciation of Baltimore and other moderate royal-
ists (of course not members of Parliament) with
themselves was probably meant as a guaranty
of their sincerity ; but the attempt was fruit-
less.^ Baltimore's attitude toward the Parlia-

1 Surtees Soc. Pubns. Ixii. 347.


ment was wisely taken. That body certainly
represented for the time the will of the major-
ity, and we cannot say that it may not, in some
respects, have had his sympathy. Be this as
it may, to assume an attitude of defiance toward
it would not only have been insensate quixotism,
but would probably have kindled civil war in
the Province. He acquiesced in the new order
of things. Stone was not only a Protestant,
but known to be a friend of Parliament. The
oath of allegiance was no longer demanded, and
every show of opposition avoided. The leaders
in England appear to have had no ill-will to-
ward him, and for a while it seemed that the
storm would leave Maryland untouched.

Charles II., in 1650, being then a fugitive in
the island of Jersey, was pleased to consider Bal-
timore a rebel, and granted the government of
Maryland to Sir William Davenant, the' poet.
Davenant, it is said, actually set sail for the
Province, but was seized in the British Chan-
nel by a Parliament cruiser, and his plans and
ambitions brought to an untimely end.

In 1650 the Assembly was organized in two
Houses, the Governor, Secretary, and one or
more of the Council forming the Upper House,
and the Burgesses the Lower ; and the assent
of both Houses was necessary to the passage of
any bill. The members of the Upper House,


being appointees of the Proprietary, might be
trusted to guard his rights and interests, and,
being men of experience and substance, might
be expected to check over-hasty legislation ;
while the Burgesses gave expression to the pop-
ular will. Though this severance of the Houses
gave greater freedom to the Burgesses, the
Proprietary not only confirnred it, but forbade
that it should be changed.

The temper of the Assembly seemed good ; a
dispute that had arisen the previous session on
the old question of originating laws had been
settled ; an Act of Oblivion for those concerned
in the late rebellion was passed ; and an Act
fully recognizing the Proprietarj^'s rights and
the benefits the colony enjoyed under his rule,
was placed on record by the Burgesses " as a
memorial to all posterit}^ of their thankfulness,
fidelity, and obedience." Compliance with
Claiborne was prohibited. In all these acts
the burgesses from Providence concurred ; and
that settlement was erected into the county of
Ann Arundel, so named from the Proprietary's

Now this settlement at Providence was a
Puritan settlement, and its origin was this :
In 1643 the Virginia Assembly passed a law
that all Nonconformists should be expelled the
colony ; and in the following years many of


tliein asked and obtained leave to settle in Ma-
ryland. Freedom of conscience was assured
them, and nothing demanded of them but obe-
dience to the laws, fidelity to the Proprietary'-,
and the usual quit-rents ; conditions which they
gladly accepted. They settled in groups, ap-
pointed their own officers, managed their affairs,
religious and secular, in their own way, sent
burgesses to the Assembly, and seemed for a
while content. Their largest settlement was
on the Severn, and to this they gave the name
of Providence, in acknowledgment of the Hand
that had guided them to a haven of safety and

In November, 1650, Governor Stone being in
Virginia, Greene, his temporary deputy, com-
mitted the strange folly of proclaiming Charles
II. as heir to his father's dominions. Stone
quickly returned and displaced Greene, and no
harm seemed to have been done ; but the act
was treasured in tenacious memories.

Virginia, however, had declared by the voice
of her Assembly that Charles II. was King, and
had denounced the penalty of death against all
W'ho questioned his right. This act of defiance
could not be overlooked by Parliament, which,
in 1650, decided to send a fleet to reduce that
plantation and Barbadoes to submission. INIary-
land was threatened at the same time, Ingle,


now ill England, being a leading spirit in the
attack; but Baltimore went before the commit-
tee and produced such evidence that there was
no revolt in Maryland against the authority of
the Commonwealth, that his charter was con-
firmed, and the name of that Province was
stricken out of the instructions. He had vigi-
lant enemies, however, and by some underhand
means, not " Maryland," but " the plantations
within the Chesapeake Bay " was inserted in
the commission, dated September 26, 1651. We
have not far to seek for the inspiration of this
device, when we find Captain William Clai-
borne named as one of the commissioners, and
with him Richard Bennett, one of the perse-
cuted Puritans who had sought and found an
asylum in Maryland, and taken an obligation
of fidelity to the Proprietar}'. Two years be-
fore they had sent a declaration to Parliament
that Maryland was nothing but a nursery of
Jesuits, and that the "poor Protestants" were
everywhere " suppressed." To this Baltimore
answered by showing that the Nonconformists,
when driven from Virginia, had found a safe
refuge in Maryland.

Virginia being reduced to submission, the
Commissioners, after appointing Bennett Gov-
ernor and Claiborne Secretary of State, turned
their attention to Maryland. They began by


displacing Stone, but presently reinstated him
to govern with a council of their own selection.
For the future the inhabitants were to take the
engagement to Parliament, and all legal proc-
esses were to run in the name of the Keepers
of the Liberties of England, thus effacing the
Proprietary's rights. Baltimore took legal steps
for redress, but nothing was done at the time.

The desirableness of uniting Virginia and
Maryland had been strongly urged upon the
authorities in England, and to counteract these
intrigues Baltimoi'e, in 1652, laid before the
Commissioners of Plantations a paper entitled,
" Reasons of State concerning Maryland." He
shows that each plantation can be made a check
upon the other, and if there should be a revolt
in either, the well-affected could find a refuge
in the other ; that the Proprietary, living in
England, was a hostage for the good behavior
of his colony ; that Maryland had remained
faithful to the Commonwealth when other plan-
tations fell off, and that to strip him now of his
rights would be a discouragement to other ad-

These arguments were really sound, and
probably had weight, as we hear no more of
the union of the colonies. When Cromwell, in
1653, dissolved the Parliament, and caused
himself to be declared Protector, with the au-


thority, if not tlie title, of King, the Protec-
torate was publicly proclaimed by Stone in

This act of Cromwell's changed the whole
situation. At one blow Parliament and Keep-
ers had gone, and with them the authority of
every official who derived his power from them.
Cromwell and the ai'my were all the govern-
ment of England. And Cromwell was as anx-
ious now to consolidate his power, as he had
been eager to attain it. To j^ut an end to all
civil dissensions, to "heal and settle," as he
phrased it, was now his first wish. The dis-
putes between Maryland and Virginia were
brought before him, and he wrote a highly
characteristic letter to Bennett and Claiborne,
promising to consider the matters in question,
and exhorting them in the mean time to keep
the peace, and above all to give their minds
earnestly to religion.

Baltimore now thought it time to take a de-
cisive move. His patent stood firm. There
was no reason why lie should not hold the same
rights under the Protectorate that he had for-
merly held under the Crown ; and this theory,
that the Protectorate, as legitimate heir or as-
signee of the Crown, had succeeded to all its
rights and obligations, was Cromwell's own
view. With the authority of Parliament, that


delegated to the Commissioners had expired,
and Stone in his ^jroclamation had expressly
stated that the Proprietary government existed
by virtue of the charter, and was held under
the Protectorate. Strong in this position, Bal-
timore directed Stone to exact the customary
oath of fidelity from all taking up lands, and to
see that legal process ran in his name as here-

There was nothing in this offensive to Crom-
well or England. But it was not England's
game that Bennett and Claiborne were play-
ing, but their own. They mustered a force,
partly from Virginia, and partl}'^ froju JMary-
land, compelled Stone to resign, and placed
Captain William Fuller, a Puritan of Provi-
dence, with a body of commissioners, in pos-
session of the government.

The commissioners now went to work and is-
sued writs of election to a General Assembly,
writs of a tenor hitherto unknown in INIaryland.
No man of the Roman Catholic faith could be
elected as a burgess, or even cast a vote. The
Assembly obtained by this process of selection
justified its choice. It at once repealed the
Toleration Act of 1649, and enacted a new one
more to its mind, which also bore the title,
" An Act concerning Religion ; " but it was
toleration with a difference. It provided that


none who professed the 2)opisli religion could
be protected in the Province, but were to be
restrained from the exercise thereof. For Prot-
estants it provided that no one professing faith
in Christ was to be restrained from the exer-
cise of his religion, " provided that this liberty-
be not extended to popery nor prelacy, nor to
such as under the profession of Christ hold
forth and practice licentiousness." That is,
with the exception of the Roman Catholics
and the Churchmen, together with the Brown-
ists, Quakers, Anabaptists, and other miscel-
laneous Protestant sects aimed at by the third
exclusion, all others might profess their faith
without molestation. Surely this toleration
might have been expressed in briefer phrase.

Nor were they satisfied with overthrowing
the Proprietary's authority and persecuting his
fellow-believers ; they attacked his territorial
rights, declaring that all persons who liad
transported themselves into the Province were
entitled to land by "^rtue of such transporta-
tion, and might take it up at pleasure, without
any reference to Baltimore or his officers.

Baltimore remonstrated with the Protector,
who wrote to Bennett, not, as before, to give
his mind earnestly to religion, but to cease, and
to make all under his authority, cease from
disturbing the Marylanders, and to leave all


tilings as they had been before these altera-

But before this order was sent, Baltimore,
perhaps apprised of Cromwell's intentions,
wrote to Stone rebuking him for his too ready-
surrender, and directing him to resume his of-
fice. Stone thereupon bestirred himself, and
gathered a force for an advance upon Provi-
dence, the headquarters of the Puritans. Part
of his men marched by land, and part went by
water, until they reached the Severn River,
when all were embarked and entered the har-
bor on the evening of March 24, 1655. Fuller
assembled his party and advanced to meet the
Marylanders, who came up in spirited fashion,
with the gold and black flag of jNIaryland fly-
ing. Fuller's force was about 175, and Stone's
about 130. But Fuller's party had been
strengthened by two merchant ships in the
river, the Golden Lyon of London, and a small
trading-craft from New England. The captains
of these vessels, being Puritans, readily agreed
to help Fuller, and opened a severe fire upon
the Marylanders from the water side, while the
land forces attacked in front. Stone's party,
thus caught between two fires, was defeated
with severe loss, and surrendered upon promise
of quarter.

Fuller now held a court-martial upon his


pi'isoners, and condemned Stone and nine otlierg
to death, despite his promise of quarter. Even
an appeal to the Protector was disallowed, and
four were executed in cold blood ; but at the
intercession of the soldiers and of some humane
women, the lives of Stone and the survivors
were spared. Stone, who was wounded, was
kept for some time in rigorous confinement, not
even his wife being allowed to visit him.

The victors now went to work to reap the
fruit of their labors. They seized the records
and great seal, and proceeded to confiscate the
property of the opposite party and to behave as
in a conquered land. The missions among the
Indians were broken up, and the missionaries
arrested or forced to fly. From the letter of
1656 we catch a glimpse of their trials : —

" The English who inhabit Virginia had
made an attack on the colonists [of INIaryland],
and the Governor and others surrendered on the
assurance of their lives ; but these conditions
were treacherously violated, and four of the
prisoners were shot. They rushed into our
houses and demanded that the impostors, as
they called them, should be given up to slaugh-
ter. By God's mercy the fathers escaped, but
their books and other property were seized.
With the utmost hazard they escaped into Vir-
ginia, where they still are, sorel}' straitened,


and barely able to sustain life ; living in a lit-
tle low hut, like a cistern or a tomb."

About this time we note the first appearance
of the witchcraft delusion in Maryland. But,
to the credit of the Province, that cruel super-
stition took no hold, and the few charges that
were brought were dismissed as false and mali-
cious, though still, in 1669, we find the county
commissioners charged to inquire into " witch-
craft, enchantments, sorceries, and magick arts,"
as well as into " fores tailings, engrossings, and
extortions." One conviction is found in 1674,
of a certain Coman, but on the petition of the
Lower House he was reprieved by the Govern-
or, and no instance of an execution for this
cause has been discovered in the records.^

There were, however, at least two trials of
parties accused of hanging witches on the high
seas, and the report of one, as it is associated
with an illustrious name, we give in exact tran-
script from the original record of the Provincial
Court. The complainant was the great-grand-
father of George Washington : —

" Whereas John Washington of Westmoreland
county in Virginia hath made Complaynt agst. Ed-

1 With perhaps a solitary exception. In Kilty's English
Statutes there is a reference to an execution for witchcraft in
1685, but as the records of that year are lost, we are unable
to verifv it.


ward Prescott, raerch', Accusin the s** Prescott of
ffelony unto the Gouerm' of this Province. AUeag-
ing how that hee the s'^ Prescott hanged a Witch on
his ship as hee was outwards bownd from England
hither the last yeare. Vppon w"^"^ complaynt of the s'^
Washington, the Gou'" caused the s*^ Edward Prescott
to bee arrested : Taking Bond for his appearance att
this Prouinciall Court of 40000' of Tob. Gyulng
moreover notice to the s'^ Washington by letter of his
proceedings therein, a Cojjie of w*^'' Y w"^ the s*^ Wash-
ingtons answere thereto are as followeth

" ' M"" Washington

" ' Vppon yo'' Complaynt to mee th* M^ Prescott did
on his voyage from England hither cause a woman to
bee Executed for a Witch. I have caused him to
bee apprehended uppon suspition of ffelony, & doe
intend to bind him over to the Prouinciall Court to
answere it where I doe allso exspect yo^ to bee, to
make good yo'' Charge. Hee will bee called upjion
his Tryall the 4"' or 5'^ of Octob"" next att the Court
to bee held then att Patux' neere IVP fFenwicks
howse. Where I suppose yo" will not fayle to bee.
Wittnesses examined iu Virginia will bee of noe
ualew here in this Case, for they must bee face to
face w'^ the party accused, or they stand for nothing.
I thought good to acquaynt yo"' w*"^ this, that yo"
may not come unprouided. This att present S'' is all
from yo"^ ffreind



" ' Yo''^ of this 29"' instant this day I receaued. I am
sorry th* my extraordinary occasions will not permitt
mee to bee att the next ProUinciall Court, to bee
held in Maryland the 4"^ of this next Month. Because
then god willing I intend to geet my yowng sonne
bajDtized. All the Company & Gossips being all-
ready inuited. Besides in this short time Wittnesses
cannott be gott to come ouer. But if M' Prescott be
bownd to answere at the next Prouiuciall Court after
this, I shall doe what lyeth in my power to gett them
ouer. S"" I shall desyre yo^ for to acquayut mee
whither M'' Prescott be bound ouer to the next
Court, & where the Court is that I may have some
time for to prouide euidence, & soe I rest.
" ' yo"" ffreiud & Seru'

"'John Washington.

'"30"! of Scptemb'' 1659'

" To w'^'' complaynt of John Washington the s*^
Edward Prescott (submitting himselfe to his try-
all) denyeth not but that there was one Elizabeth
Richardson hanged on his ship as he was outward
Bownd the last yeare from England, & comming for
this prouince, neere unto the Westerne Islands, by his
Master & Company (Hee hauing appoynted one John
Greene for th* Voyage, Master, though himselfe was
both Merch* & owner of the ship) But further sayth,
Th*^ he w*'' stood the proceedings of his s*^ Master &
Company, & protested ag^' them in that business.
And that thereuppon both the Master & Company
were ready to mutinj-.


" And it appearing to the Court by the Printed
Custome howse Discliarge & Light-howse Bills or
acquittances produced & sheweu by the s"^ Edw.
Prescott taken or gyuen in John Greene's name, that
the s*^ Greene was master for th' voyage, & not Ed-
ward Prescott. And noe one comming to prosequute,
The s*^ Prescott therefore prays that hee may bee ac-

" Whereuppon (standing uppon his Justificaon).
Proclamaon was made by the SherifFe in these uery

" O yes &c. Edward Prescott Prisoner att the
Bar uppon suspition of ffelony stand uppon his ac-
quittal]. If any person can giue evidence against
him, lett him come in, for the Prisoner otherwise
will bee acquitt.

" And noe one appearing, the Prisoner is acquitted
by the Board."

The Virginians were again vociferous for the
destruction of Maryland, now reduced to ex-
tremity, and the old clamor of Claiborne and
hactenus inculta, the cuckoo-cry of " papists,
Jesuits, oppressors of the poor Protestants,"
were again dinned into the Protector's weary
ears. Once more the question was referred to
the Commissioners for Plantations, and with it,
"under particular reference from his High-
ness," Baltimore's complaint against Bennett
and Claiborne for the massacre at Providence,


and once more Baltimore's rights were con-

Baltimore, before the decision was rendered,
had appointed Captain Josias Fendall, gov-
ernor, with a body of Councillors ; an unfortu-
nate choice as it proved. But before Fendall
could assume the government, he was arrested
by Fuller, and only released on his pledge not
to attempt anything against the Commission-

In 1656 the Commissioners of Plantations,
after a thorough investigation of the question,
decided, as has been said, in Baltimore's favor ;
and the Proprietary now renewed his instruc-
tions to Fendall, and sent out his brother,
Philip Calvert, as Secretary of the Province.
It would seem as if Cromwell, getting to under-
stand the rights of the case, brought some pres-
sure to bear on Bennett and Mathews, another
of the Virginia Commissionei's ; at all events,
their policy toward Maryland changed, and
Claiborne, it seems, had no voice in the matter.
On November 30, 1657, Mathews, being then
in England, made an agreement in Bennett's
name with the Proprietary by which they sur-
rendered all that had been gained, and balked
the hopes of the Virginians when they seemed
just within their grasp. Baltimore's rights,
both sovereign and territorial, were fully con-


ceded, and his authority was reestablished
throughout the Province. A general amnesty
■was declared, and for the oath of fidelity, so
much scrupled at by those who disliked oaths
and who disliked fidelity, was substituted a sim-
ple obligation to submit to and sustain the Pro-
prietary's government. Those who had been in
arms against him had the option of taking this
obligation, or quitting the Province within a
year. All disputes arising from the late dis-
turbances were to be referred to the Lord Pro-
tector and Council ; and no one was to be dis-
franchised, disabled from holding office, or
disarmed for any part he had taken in the late
troubles. The legislation of the interregnum
of course fell to the ground ; but the Commis-
sioners even took pains to annul the most char-
acteristic of their laws, by inserting in the
agreement a clause that the Toleration Act of
1649 was to be made perpetual. No mention
was made of Claiborne, who has now finally
disappeared from Maryland history, though we
shall hear of him once more in a new character.
This agreement was signed and sealed on
March 23, 1657-58, and thus Baltimore's strug-
gle with Virginia and the Puritans ended in
his complete triumph and reinstatement in all
his rights. Every engine had been brought
to bear against him : fraud, misrepresentation,


religious animosities, and force ; and each, for
a time, had succeeded. He owed his triumph
to neither violence, fraud, nor intrigue, but to
the justice of his cause, and his wisdom, con-
stancy, and patience.



What precious properties Baltimore had dis-
covered in Fendall that he should select him to
be governor, we cannot now see ; but his choice
may have been guided by the zeal and devotion
which he had displayed in the late troubles.
Baltimore also gave substantial rewards to
others who had proved their fidelity and suf-
fered for it ; and he sent particular directions
for provision to be made out of his own rents
for the widows of those who fell at Providence.
They were charged to "■ let him know wherein
he can do them any good, in recompense of
their sufferings, of which he is very sensible ; "
and he promises to do his best to obtain them

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Online LibraryWilliam Hand BrowneMaryland; the history of a palatinate → online text (page 5 of 17)