Featured Article and Did You Know That?.....

October, 2002

St. Mary's County, Maryland: Proprietary Manors

Peter Himmelheber, Marcella Dawson, Linda Davis Reno


The interest in the land genealogy of St. Mary's County has encouraged us to write a brief summary of the manorial system as practiced in the earliest years of the Colony. We endeavored to

  • describe the manor system,

  • name and locate all of the known manors,

  • list the owners as recorded in the Archives of Maryland and in the survey and patent records,

  • briefly relate what happened to each manor.

For a complete description of the earliest land transactions, refer to the linked Maryland State Archives and St. Mary's County Land Genealogy. See also the map of the St. Mary's Manors.



There are three meanings of the word manor:

  • a residence,
  • a unit of estate administration,
  • a piece of landed property with tenants over whom the landlord exercised rights of jurisdiction in a private court.

History of Manorial Land Administration

After the Norman conquest at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William the Conqueror (Duke of Normandy) became King William I of England and introduced feudalism.  From that time forward, the King alone owned all the land except for that which he gave to Earls, Barons and others in return for their support, especially in providing military resources.

The person holding land directly on behalf of the King was known as a tenant-in-chief. To obtain knights for the King's service, the tenants-in-chief "sub-infeuded" some of their land (that is, permitted men to manage land on their behalf). The sub-infeuding process continued downwards to a lord of a single manor.

The manor was the basic unit of estate administration. Typically the manor contained a village church, and agricultural land usually consisting of three large arable fields in which the inhabitants (tenants) held scattered strips. Manor houses were built on land near rivers or streams.

The ownership of a lordship of a manor is treated in English law as being separate from the actual lands of the manor. The correct form for any manorial lord who uses a manorial style is "Lord of the Manor." For instance:

  • Correct ~ Nicholas Harvey, Lord of the Manor of Harvey
  • Custom & practice ~ Lord Harvey, or Lord of Harvey

Manorial and parish boundaries did not always coincide. One parish could be split between several manors. Conversely, one manor could include land in several parishes.

Manorial land was divided into two categories:  The lord’s demesne, for the support of the lord's own household and tenanted land (originally granted in return for services on the demesne land). By the 15th century these services had mostly been commuted to a money payment, known as a quit rent.

There were two main types of manorial tenure:  copyhold tenancy (the land being held by virtue of a copy of the entry in the court rolls, recording the admission of the tenant) whereby services or quit rent was paid to his lord and freehold tenancy whereby the tenant paid rent to the lord of the manor but did not owe services or quit rent.

The Lord of the Manor, or his deputy (the steward), held a meeting of the manor court at least twice a year. Every tenant had to attend, on penalty of a fine, unless he could provide a valid reason for his absence. These excuses/fines were known as Essoins.  The purpose of the court was to administer the agriculture of the manor, the Lord's and tenant's rights and duties, and to resolve disputes between tenants. There were two types of manor court, with different functions.

The court leet (granted by the monarch to the manorial lord, who usually applied for it) dealt with the appointment of manorial officials; heard those criminal offenses not punishable by common law (usually referred to as the assizes); resolved disputes involving money in excess of 40 shillings; and handled non-estate matters such as affray, selling of merchandise, instruments of punishment and general unsocial conduct.

The court baron dealt with changes in manorial tenancy; heard cases of petty misdemeanors; resolved money disputes involving less than 40 shillings and minor infringements of property rights. It also legislated for the customs applying to the land, its use and its family descent.  Each court upheld the rights of both its lord and its tenants. It was the lord's court and was chaired normally by his official, the steward. For matters over and beyond such agricultural concerns, the manor was represented at the Hundred Court, an open-air forum.

From surviving material, it appears there were only two manors in Maryland which are stated to have had court leet and courts baron--St. Clement's (as some of those records survived) and St. Gabriel's where it is stated that on March 7, 1656, James Gaylard, the steward of Mrs. Mary Brent, “the Lady” of the manor, gave delivery “by the rod according to the custome of the sayd Mannor” of a messuage and thirty-seven and a half acres of land to one Martin Kirke (Arch. Md. xli, 94).

The court leet and court baron were usually combined in one sitting.  Manorial records included:  Court rolls/books to record manor court proceedings; a listing the tenants, with rents due; and extents and surveys (statements of the extent and valuation of the manorial lands and properties--usually made when the manor changed hands and often accompanied by maps or plans of the estate). Names of tenants were sometimes included.

Glossary of Manorial Terms:



Admission of a tenant to manorial property, following the surrender of the tenancy by the previous tenant.


Fine levied by the manor court.

Borough English:

Custom of inheritance through the youngest son.


Traditional rules by which the manor was run, and the periodic reading of these rules as a reminder to the tenants.

Customary Tenant:

One whose tenure depended on the custom of the manor. When he died, his heir would be determined by this custom.
(e.g. Borough English or Primogeniture).


Oath of allegiance to the Crown.


The surrender to the Lord of the best beast or money from the estate of a deceased tenant.


Leading tenants who acted as jury at the manor court.

Lease and Release:

Sometimes tenants sublet their properties.


A dwelling house, with its outbuildings and land. A capital messuage was a large dwelling house.


A half.


The enclosure where stray animals were impounded. They would be released to their owners on payment of a fine.


Custom of exclusive inheritance by the eldest son.

Quit Claim

The formal renunciation of a claim.


Payment made to the lord of the manor by the heir to a tenancy on his succession.


Possessed of freehold land.

Seizin by the Rod

A custom by which an agreement was 'sealed'. The parties concerned took hold of each end of a rod. (Like shaking hands!).


The prosecution of a claim in court of law.

Tenant at Will

One who could will his property to whomever he wished, provided that his will was produced at the manor court for the relevant part to be enrolled in the court rolls. Only then could the new tenant be admitted on payment of an entry fine and/or a heriot.

View of Frankpledge

An ancient Saxon custom by which an area was divided into 'associations' of ten men (tithingmen), each bound to stand surety for the good behavior of the other nine.


Proprietary Manors in Maryland:

Lord Baltimore received a royal grant of that part of Virginia north and east of the Potomac River between 38 degrees and 40 degrees north latitude. The designated area included what is now Maryland, Delaware and the southern part of Pennsylvania up to about present day Philadelphia.

The first Lord Baltimore died in 1632, but his son and heir, Cecil Calvert sent his younger brother, Leonard, with "very near 20 gentleman of very good fashion and 300 laboring men" and two Catholic fathers, Andrew White and John Altham to begin the Maryland colonization. They arrived in Chesapeake waters in March, 1634, coming to anchor near the mouth of the "Petomeack" - or, as they renamed it, the "St Gregory" - at St. Clement’s Island.

In 1633, before the first colonists departed England, Lord Baltimore published a document, called Conditions of Plantation, which used a system called head rights for the purposes of populating his colony. For every five men transported, 1,000 acres was granted. Each 1,000 acres would form a manor. As a result, the province was divided into proprietary manors. The Conditions of Plantation, and hence the acre amounts, were revised many times throughout Maryland’s infancy.

A warrant would be issued to the surveyor general to lay off the required acres and then a deed or grant (called a patent) was issued in the name of the proprietor to the “freeholder”.

Patents specified the conditions of holding the land. One of these conditions was that the land (not the freeholder) pay an annual quit rent based on its size or acres. Failure to pay the quit rent usually resulted in the land being escheat back to “his Lordship”. Accounts were kept of which tracts were paying their quit rent by use of unofficial “Rent Rolls” which normally tabulated the tract name, acres, survey/patent data, annual rent due, alienations and current possessor. By 1683, the proprietor stopped granting land based on the Conditions of Plantation but instead started charging a fee (called caution money) for the patent of tracts in Maryland.

The lord proprietor also leased land to those who could not afford to pay the cost of survey, patent and quit rent. In 1666, the proprietor had large tracts of land called proprietary manors surveyed whose ownership was to remain with his lordship and which would not be granted for patents {PA:10:327,328,etc}. These lands were divided up into tracts and assigned to  “leaseholders”. The period of rent was usually for three lives (three people named and as long as one still lived the lease was in effect) or some other extended period of time. Ironically, the aforementioned rent rolls did not include entries for this rented land! St Mary’s County, Maryland (as bounded today) contained six such proprietary manors.

About 1765 the then Lord Baltimore, Fredrick Calvert, being desperate for funds, attempted to sell off all of the leased land on his Maryland manors. This attempt prompted an assessment of all of the tracts on these manors in 1767/68. Brumbaugh (1928) has provided a compilation of these assessments. {GMB:II:002}. No lots were sold in Beaverdam Manor and only about 30% of the available land of Chaptico Manor was sold.

During the time of the Revolutionary war, the Continental Congress urged the newfound states to confiscate lands belonging to the British loyalists. By the 1780s, Maryland found itself in possession of huge manors as the result of an Act for the Confiscation of British Properties. The individual tracts of the leaseholders were put up for auction by the state soon after the war. These large-scale land sales produced surveys and plats which may now be found at the Maryland State Archives in Annapolis Md. These include survey/plats both before and after the sales. There are sometimes differences in the two but most of these may be considered minor. The intention here is to show the lots as surveyed in the 1780/90s. The eventual possessors of the patented land were sometimes different than those for whom the lots were surveyed.

Almost all of the plats and assessments used some sort of numbering system to identify the manor lots. These lot numbers do not appear to remain in any sequence or order and may have been assigned by the person doing the assessment/survey. The lot numbers as given on the plats with the exception of Chaptico, are numbered as found listed in Ben Tippett’s Survey Journal {BT:B:205}.

St. Marys County Manors:

Basford Manor was granted to Thomas Gerard in March 1650.  It was located to the north of St. Clement's Manor and was laid out for 1500 ac. but a resurvey found that it contained a much larger area.  The property was sold to Governor Thomas Notley prior to Gerard’s death in 1673.  In 1678, Notley laid off 300 acres of this property as "Bachelor's Hope" and placed it in the possession of Benjamin Rozier.  He sold the remaining part to Lord Baltimore who conveyed part of it as  "Bachelor's Hope" to Joshua Doyne. The remainder of the manor was subsequently divided up and sold as follows:  James Mills, 100 ac., Notley Goldsmith, 100 ac., Michael Goldsmith, 100 ac., John Reeves, 100 ac., Nathaniel Truman Greenfield, 104 ac., Benjamin Moulton, 200 ac., Edward Turner, 200 ac., John Smith, 200 ac., Samuel Maddox, 69 ac., John Maddox, 150 ac., and John Eden, 277 ac.

Beaverdam Manor was referenced as a proprietary manor in 1664 {PA:07:229}. An undated survey was recorded in 1666 that contained 7,680 acres “in Calvert County” {PA:10:329}. This manor was “lying in the woods” just to the southwest of Resurrection Manor, Fenwick Manor and DeLaBrooke Manor. The northeast boundary corresponds roughly to the present Md. route 235. The assessment done in 1768 shows the manor contained 82 lots {GMB:II:063}. Two of these were patent lands, i.e. a 90-acre portion of The Inclosure which was Surveyed for Henry Lowe on 16 August 1694, and a 500-acre tract named Rich Neck which was patented to John Attaway on 10 December 1714 {PA:FF#7:223}.

Beaverdam Manor  was seized as British property by the State of Maryland in 1780. The sale of the property was to be used to pay those who had loaned money for the war effort and to soldiers of the American Revolution.   (Archives of MD, Vol. 14, p. 189, 1765; Vol. 203, p. 275, 1780). In 1790 it was laid out into 49 lots by George Fenwick {BT:A:153} and these lots were sold in the same year are tabulated in table 7.

Chaptico Manor was a propriety manor established in 1671, said to contain about 20,000 acres. It was seized as British property by the State of Maryland in 1780, to be sold to pay those who had loaned money for the war effort and to soldiers of the Revolutionary War.  (Archives of MD, Vol. 203, p. 275).

A letter dated August 26, 1651, from Cecil(ius) Calvert, Lord Baltimore, to the governor and inhabitants “of our said Providence of Maryland” did “hereby authorise and require a manor of about eight or ten thousand acres be erected in the head of the Wicocomico River called Choptico”. The surveyor-general of the province, Robert Clarke, was charged with laying out the tract which was to contain 1,000 acres of demesne land for the Calverts and the rest to be granted as estates for one, two or three lives “to any Indian or Indians that shall desire the same”. Cecil even proposed the name of Calverton Manor for what appears to be Maryland’s first Indian reservation {AM:I:329}.

The civil war in England and the resultant turmoil in the colony’s government apparently resulted in the first official survey of the manor being done some 20 years later. On September 14, 1671, this survey of “his lordships Mannor of Chopticoe” was done by Richard Edelen {PA:16:406}. No acres were cited in the survey, but based on the bounds given, the manor contained about 20,000 acres. During the 20-year hiatus between the manor’s authorization and its first survey, many Indian-Colonist-Proprietor confrontations were experienced within the area since the proprietor had also been granting patents to colonists within the manor’s bounds {AM:I:431, AM:LI:440}.

Before 1695, St Mary’s County extended north to the fresh run (Zachiah Swamp) of the Wicomico River and encompassed all of Chaptico Manor. The realignment of Maryland’s counties and the removal of the capital to Annapolis circa 1695, resulted in moving the county line just north of Budd’s Creek and essentially divided Chaptico Manor between St. Mary’s County and Charles County.

The manor’s 1768 assessment revealed 53 leasehold lots containing 6876.25 acres while 2,120 acres had been granted patents. An additional 441 leasehold acres were sold during Fredrick’s 1768-1771 manor sale {GAS:106}.

The post-revolutionary sale consisted of 32 lots containing 5,375.125 acres, most of which were surveyed by one John Fredrick Augustice Priggs in 1783/84. Mr. Priggs often referred to a plat of the Chaptico Manor lots, which has not yet been located.

Conception Manor: Surveyed for Ferdinand Poulton, a Jesuit priest, in 1639 {01:039} who was never granted a patent since the land was acquired from the Indians. Instead, "St. George's Island", 1,000 ac. was surveyed for him on 11/9/1639 and on 7/28/1641, it was combined with St. Inigoes Manor and granted to Thomas Copley (Chr. of SM). 

Delabrooke Manor:   2,000 acres granted to Robert Brooke in 1650 {AB&H:350}.   By agreement with Cecelius Calvert, Robert Brooke was to receive a manor of 2,000 acres for every 10 persons that he transported.  When he arrived in Maryland, he brought his wife, 10 children and 28 servants. The lands granted to Robert Brooke were located on either side of the Patuxent River.  Although Delabrooke Manor was sometimes described as being located in Calvert County, it was actually in St. Mary’s County.  When Calvert County was created, the upper part of St. Mary’s County was made a part of the new county.  Although there must have been some reason for this decision, the rationing behind it escapes me as the natural barrier between the counties was the Patuxent River. This decision was reversed some 50 years later.  “Brooke Place Manor”, another major parcel, became a part of Calvert County.

Eltonhead Manor:  Granted to William Eltonhead in 1649.  In 1648, William Eltonhead (brother of Jane Eltonhead who married first, Robert Moryson of VA and secondly, Cuthbert Fenwick) had been granted letters patent to the Manor of Little Eltonhead of 2,000 ac. described then as in Calvert Co. but later in St. Mary’s County.  In 1652, his uncle, Edward Eltonhead, Esq. was granted Great Eltonhead Manor, 5,000 acres in Calvert County proper and was also given a warrant for another manorial grant of 10,000 ac. which he requested that his nephew William to put through the proper channels.  The seizure of power by the Puritans and the employment of the firing squad at the Battle of the Severn in 1655 in which William Eltonhead with other conservatives was one of the first victims, precluded the formal survey and patent.  (Flowering of the MD Palantine  by Harry Wright Newman).  Newman is INCORRECT.  This William Eltonhead was not the brother of Jane.  Her brother, William Eltonhead was living as late as 1656.  He may be an uncle, rather than a brother.  NOTE: William Eltonhead was executed by the Puritans on 3/25/1655.

Fenwick Manor was granted to Cuthbert Fenwick in 1651.  As soon as Cuthbert Fenwick completed his service under Capt. Thomas Cornwalys, he assumed his place among the major gentry of the Province and thereafter was given the title of Gentleman.  In 1640 he transported six servants and the next year another five for which he was granted baronial rights on a 2,000 ac. manor called "Fenwick" but which he also referred to as "The Manor of St. Cuthbert".  (Flowering of the Maryland Palantine by Harry Wright Newman).

Mill Manor:   This Proprietary Manor included 1,924 acres in 1765 and was situated on the western side of the main and northern branches of the St. George’s River (now the St. Mary’s River). Two tracts in the area, The Mill and The Mill Dam, were laid out in 1665 for Charles Calvert {PA:08:499}. A tract named St. Leonard’s containing 2400 acres was surveyed on 30 April 1675 for “his Lords.p”, later assigned to his son Leonard and by 1707 was being called Mill Manor {RR:7&8:20}. The first survey found of the manor’s bounds occurred in 1755 and claimed the manor contained 1,924 acres. The lots were re-surveyed in 1768 by Benjamin Morgan {PA:UPC:307}. An undated plat of the manor’s bounds and its lots was done by  Jesse Locke circa 1788 {PR:4:040}. This plat also shows the location of four millponds along the St Mary’s river within the manor. The lots' individual surveys all appear to be dated 12 August 1788 {BT:B:083,84,242,243. Lord Baltimore directed the property to be sold in 1765. (Archives of MD, Vol. 14, p. 189).

Resurrection Manor: contained 4,000 acres patented by Thomas Cornwallis on 3/24/1650.  This property was in the possession of George Plowden by 1707. Cornwallis apparently disposed of this property prior to his return to England in 1659.  The ownership of all of the land after that time is not clear.

John Bateman, a haberdasher from London, immigrated to Maryland in 1659.  He died in 1663.  He patented  "The Farm", 500 ac. (Resurrection 100) before 1663 and his wife patented the same, 8/28/1666.  Richard Perry sold the property to George and Thomas Plowden, 5/10/1684 (Fresco). He also patented "Thorp", 400 ac. (Resurrection 100) 5/26/1663 which was poss. by Captain Perry in England, 1707 (Chr. of SM).  His ownership, of course, only accounts for 900 of the 4000 acres.

St. Ann’s Manor: Granted to John Lewger in 1640 {01:108}. He gave it back after the Indian raids of 1642.

St. Clement's Manor was granted to Thomas Gerard on November 3, 1639. It originally lay on the island of that name in St. Mary's County and contained 1,030 acres. It was resurveyed for Gerard in 1642.  Additional land was added which increased the size to 6,000 acres. In 1678 it was resurveyed again for Justinian Gerard, who had inherited it from his father, and again with additional acreage, it then contained 11,400 acres.

Marmaduke Snow, brother-in-law of Thomas Gerrard, attempted to take St. Clement’s Manor and did, in fact succeed in Provincial Court in 1664.  In 1666, however, the decision was overturned by the General Assembly, but by this time Gerard had moved to his property in Westmoreland Co., VA.

St. Elizabeth's Manor: Granted to Thomas Cornwallis in 1639 {01:110}.  Next to “Cornwallis’ Cross Manor” (now known as Cross Manor). On 9 Aug 1661 Cornwallis sold Cross Manor and St. Elizabeth’s Mannor to John Nutthall of Virginia {AM:XLIX:003}. On 21 July 1669 both Cross Manor, and St. Elizabeths Manor were sold by John Nutthall to Walter Hall {AM:LVII:557}.

St. Gabriel's Manor: containing 900 acres, was granted onAugust 13, 1641 to Gov. Leonard Calvert (1606-1647), the younger brother of Cecilius Calvert, the Lord Proprietary. Mary Brent, the lady of the manor in 1656, was probably a close relative of Leonard Calvert's wife, and may have been the guardian of his two children, who were minors at that time. (Archives of Maryland, Vol. 53, preface 61).  

St. Gregory’s Manor: Surveyed for Ferdinand Pulton in 1639 {01:039}. Never granted.

St. Inigoes Manor: Granted to Ferdinand Pulton in 1639 {01:040}. Repatented to include St. George’s Island by Cuthbert Fenwick in 1641 {01:115}. At this time Fenwick was an agent for the Jesuits.

In 1662 and 1663 two prominent Catholics, Thomas Mathews and Cuthbert Fenwick, conveyed separately three important manors to Henry Warren of St. Inigoes, unquestionably for church purposes and probably as Jesuit holdings, although no reference is made to this in the deeds, which were not recorded until 1666. On July 12, 1663, Fenwick conveyed to Warren the manor of St. Inigoes, containing 2000 acres and St. George's Island, both lying in St. Mary's County. The deeds were recorded March 22, 1666. (Proceedings of the Provincial Court of Maryland 1666-1670, Volume LVII Preface 55). 

St. Jerome’s Freehold: Not a manor. Granted as a freehold to William Hawley in 1653 {AB&H:346}.

St. Joseph’s Manor: was granted to Nicholas Harvey on 1/25/1642.  He arrived on the "Ark and Dove" and is noted as having been transported into the Colony by Father Andrew White.  In January, 1639, Governor Calvert selected him as Captain of 12 men to wage a war against the Mattapanient Indians (Archives of MD, III:87).  He returned to England where he married and had a daughter, Frances.  On 9/1/1641 Cecelius Calvert (Second Lord Baltimore who was running the Colony from England) wrote a letter to his brother, Leonard Calvert, Governor of MD, requesting that Nicholas Harvey be given manorial rights provided he transport himself, his wife, and five other persons. In 1641 Harvey received 1,000 A. for transporting himself, his wife (not named), three menservants--Robert Beard, Henry Spink, and John Chair, a boy named Robert Ford, and his daughter Frances Harvey.  His patent was for "St. Joseph's Manor".  It was formally granted to him on 1/25/1642.

St. Leonard’s Manor: Also surveyed for Ferdinand Pulton in 1639 {01:039}. Never granted.

St. Michael’s Manor: Granted to Leonard Calvert in 1641 {AB&H:098}. This manor, Trinity Manor and St Gabriels Manor where three tracts which were granted to Leonard Calvert, probably just after the colonists arrival. Since there were no eary written records, the official granting of these manors doesn't appear until 1641.

Trinity, St Gabriel and St Michael Manors:  These three manors were "laid out" for Leonard Calvert on 13 August 1641 {PA:01:121,123}.

The overall bounds were given first:  "... bounding on the North with Trinity Bay, on the East with a right line drawn from the head of a Creek in the said Bay called Norton's Creek along by the heads of Cauthers Creek and James Creek and so forward due South East untill it fall upon a Creek running into Chesapeake bay called the Deep Creek then with the Said Deep Creek and Chesapeake Bay on the South and West with Patowmock River Containing 3000 acres thereabouts."

The individual bounds were then: "The Said parcell of Land ffurther Subdivided into 3 parcells for manors, the first parcell by the name of Trinity Mannor, bounding on the North wth Trinity Bay, on the East with a line drawn from Norton's Creek unto the head of James's branch, on the South with the Said James's branch and broad creek and on the West with Patowmock River containing 600 acres thereabouts.~ The Second parcell of Land by the name of St. Gabriels Mannor, bounding on North with aforesaid Trinity Mannor, on the east with a line drawn from the head of James's branch unto the Deep Creek, and from the head of that Creek, Southwesterly unto the head of a Creek in the Patowmock River called the Oister Creek, on the South with the Said Oister Creek and on the West ith Patowmock River Containing 900 acres or thereabout.~The parcell of Land by the name of St. Michael's Mannor, bounding on the North with the Said St. Gabriel's Mannor and including all the residue of Land between Patowmock River on the West, Chesapeake Bay on the East and St. Michael's point on the South, containing 1500 acres or thereabouts".

The description of these tracts was relatively simple, cited topographical landmarks (waterways) and one would think be easy to locate. All one has to do is ascertain the locations of the various waterways cited. Current maps list only Potomac River, Chesapeake Bay, Deep Creek and a Harry James Creek. One Henry James was a tenant on St. Gabriel's Manor in the early 1640s {AM:X:93} and this creek most certainly has retained a modification of his name. Trinity Bay {Many early waterways progressed from being called bays and rivers to creeks.} can be proved to be the current Smith Creek and Jutland Creek by analyzing land tracts patented in the 1700s, which then bordered on Trinity Bay/Creek. These tracts include Triple Defense, Smiths Rest, Jones Fortune and Hazard and all contained metes and bounds which could be related to the shore line of Trinity/Smiths/Jutland creeks {PA etc etc etc}.

The location of Norton's Creek, the beginning of Trinity Manor, can be ascertained from the patents of Osberton's Oak, 1658, {PA:Q:441}, Smiths Rest, 1694, { PA:C#03:031} and Triple Defense, 1734 { PA:AM#1:211}. Today Norton's Creek is shown as Deep Cove on some maps. 

Trinity Manor: begins at the head of Norton's Creek. The eastern bound can be interpreted two different ways depending on which description is used- the overall or first parcel. The overall cites a right {straight} line along the heads of Cauther's Creek and James’ Creek. The only creek that would intersect such a line is today called Calvert's Creek and therefore Cauther's Creek is identified. The survey for Trinity Manor just says a line drawn from the head of Norton's Creek to the head of James's branch. This branch would extend further inland than the head of its creek. This line actually crosses over Cauther's Creek. Again adjacent tracts patented in the 1700s, Triple Defense, 1734 {PA:AM#1:211} and Pineland, 1728, { PA:EI#03:464} verify that the line did in fact cross over Cauther's/Calvert's Creek and not go around it.

Since the manor was also bounded on the south by Broad Creek this creek can now be identified as today's Rawley Bay.

Some "mapologists" have identified today's Calvert Creek as Norton's Creek. The above rationale should refute these claims. Another reason is that if Trinity Manor did begin at today's Calvert Creek, there would have been a large vacant and desirable tract between Calvert and Trinity Creek. It most certainly would have been surveyed and patented very early on. No records exist for such transactions.

The location of "the head of James' branch" had apparently mystified the local residents for some time. A special Land Commision was convened in March 1806 at the petition of one Mordecai Jones to "examine evidence and perpetuate the boundaries" of St. Gabriel's Manor {LC:JH01:183}. Depositions of local inhabitants were taken which revealed a similar commission had previously convened "between 1780 and 1783" to "prove the beginning of St. Gabriel's Manor and the ending of Trinity Manor". The depositions of Robert Armstrong, Elwiley Smith, Absalom Tennison, William Richardson and George Loker each verified "that at the place where he now stands or thereabouts" to be the beginning of St. Gabriel's Manor and ending of Trinity Manor. After two years and eleven pages of testimony, nowhere in the proceedings does the commission identify the actual place where the deponents stood!

Another Land Commission convened in 1817 for a division of Harry James Neck contains a survey with metes and bounds which states "...reputed to be the beginning of St. Gabriel's Manor and ending of Trinity Manor." {LC:JH02:006}.

St. Gabriel's Manor begins at the head of James’ branch. The line then runs "due South East" according to the overall description to Deep Creek. A line drawn SE (South 45 degrees East) does not fall "unto" Deep Creek but it does intersect what is now a branch of Long Neck Creek. From this point, the line goes southwesterly unto the head of Oister [Oyster] Creek. This "Southwesterly" line, no matter how sloppily drawn, will intersect today's Potter's Creek, which identifies the Oister Creek of the original survey. Just what part of this creek was considered the "head" is conjecture.

On 3 October 1661 William Calvert, Leonard's son, made an indenture with Thomas and Henry Potter to "farme Letten" (rent) a tenement called Potter's Plantation {AM:LVII:285}. This tenement was within St. Gabriel's Manor.

St. Michael's Manor was bounded on the North by St. Gabriel's Manor and then Deep Creek . I feel that part of the northern boundary was actually what is today called Long Neck Creek and not Deep Creek. The following rationale supports this theory.

As stated before, a line drawn from the head of James' branch, due Southwest will not intersect Deep Creek but will intersect the main branch of Long Neck Creek. Furthermore the entire western side of Deep Creek was granted in 1658 to Thomas Keyting and called Bella Keyting {PA:Q:444}. .

Likewise, on 2 November 1694, a 150-acre tract named Bampfield Woods was surveyed for Thomas Grunwin and patented on 5 October 1695 { PA:C#03:001} . This tract is between Deep Creek and Long Neck Creek. Grunwin would never have been able to patent this land if the area was part of St. Michael's Manor {Once land was patented it could only be re-patented if it became escheat or the re-patent corrected errors or included vacancies. Grunwin's land was warranted under the Conditions of Plantation and not as escheat or correction}.

St. Richard’s Manor:  Granted to Richard Gardiner in 1640 for 1,000 acres. On September 23, 1662, Luke Gardiner and his wife, Elizabeth gave a quit claim deed to Luke Barber and his wife, Elizabeth for St. Richard’s Manor, 1,000 acres.  (Provincial Court Proceedings, Archives of MD, Vol. 49, p. 33).  Gardiner abandoned the manor during the raids of 1642 and during Ingle’s Rebellion 1645-1646.  The property was repatented to his son, Luke Gardiner, in 1652.  Luke Gardner (and  wife Elizabeth) sold it to Luke Barber on 23 Sep 1662 {AM:XLIX:033}. Luke Barber sold it to Richard Cane on 27 Oct 1662 {AM:XLIX:127}.  By 1707, St. Richard’s Manor belonged to the heirs of Andrew Abington.

Snow Hill Manor: On 29 February 1639/40, a patent was issued to London merchant Abel Snow, brother of Susanna Snow (wife of Thomas Gerard) for 6000 acres. (PA:01:056}. A year later it was noted that this manor “was never seated and the tract was resurveyed but now contained only 1000 acres. On 12 February 1640/41 a patent was issued again to Abel Snow {PA:01:109}.  Abel probably never came to Maryland but his brothers Justinian and Marmaduke had been here since 25 January 1637/38 {AM:I:002}. It appears Justinian was seated in the manor when he died in the winter/spring of 1638/39 {AM:IV:079}. It is thought Marmaduke later returned to England and the manor went escheat based on an act “relating to deserted plantations” passed on 29 April 1650. On 24 December 1652, the manor was resurveyed for 900 acres and a patent was granted to James Lindsey and Richard Willan {PA:AB&H:252}. Lindsey sold his half to Philip Calvert in 1663. After the death of Abel Snow in 1666, Thomas Gerard claimed the land in right of his wife but Marmaduke Snow, another of her brothers, filed suit.

The rent rolls of 1705 reveal that all of Snow Hill Manor was being leased by his Lordship with the exception of 200 acres in the possession of Richard Calvert. The assessment of 1768 reveals that the manor contained a total of 982.5 acres which included the escheat freeholds of St. John’s and St. Barbara’s.

The land to the west of the manor were first granted to Thomas Gerard and called Gerard’s Freehold {PA:01:050}. These lands became escheat and were then granted to Jerome White and called Pork Hall {PA:05:421}. The land to the east of Snow Hill was granted to Nathaniel Pope on 27 February 1639 and called Pope’s Freehold {PA:01:054}. This land eventually became part of St John’s Freehold and even later was included in Snow Hill Manor. On 13 May 1769, this area was surveyed for Reverend Moses Tabbs and on 25 November 1769 was patented to him as Tabb’s Purchase {PA:BC&GS40:237}.

The resultant post revolution sale of the leaseholds and vacancies resulted in eight lots (two of which were patented land) plotted by Jesse Locke and shown in table 4 {PR:4:002}.

There appeared to be some confusion as to the later bounds of Pork Hall. The eastern bound was a creek called fresh creek and the western bound was another creek called Gerard’s Creek. These original bounds approximate those of Lot VIII (The Vineyard). Later tracts of the area place the western bound even further west at what was then called Bluestone Run but is now called the Eastern Branch {PA:AB&H:382 & LR:JH10:056}.

West St. Mary’s Manor: On 9 May 1634, a patent for 4,000 acres was granted to Henry Fleete, a Virginia trader, who acted as interpreter and guide for the Maryland colonists when they first arrived in the Potomac River. This property was “upon the West Side of St George’s [Mary’s] River over against St Maries” {PA:01:097}. No description of the bounds of this early grant has been found. By 1638, Fleete appears to have become disgruntled with the Calverts due to the trading restrictions they imposed in the colony and he returned to Virginia {PA:02:085}. West Saint Mary’s went escheat to his Lordship.

On 26 September 1640, West St. Mary’s manor was resurveyed for Thomas Cornwallis and contained 2,000 acres {PA:01:096}. The patent was issued on 10 November 1640 and excluded five freeholds previously patented or possessed within the manor’s boundaries. By 1654, Cornwallis had granted his “attorney”, Richard Hodgkeys, the power to sell all of his Maryland holdings with the exception of 100 acres {PA:01:627}. West St. Mary’s Manor again went escheat to his Lordship.

In April 1660, Robert Clarke “laid out” for the proprietor, Cecil Calvert, 2,000 acres called West Saint Mary’s {PA:04:543}. Since the proprietor now “re-owned” the land, a patent was not needed. The rent rolls of 1660 cited six freeholds within the manor’s bounds {RR:0:12,13} as shown in table 2. Interestingly, Philip West’s freehold, Frog Marsh, 200 acres {PA:01:074}, is stated as not being part of the manor. It is well within the manor bounds and was one of the five freeholds excluded in the 1640 patent.

An undated survey recorded in 1666 defining West St Maries Proprietary Mannour increased the manor’s size to 2,300 acres {PA:10:328}. Since the bounds essentially remained the same, this increase is not considered due to an enlargement of the manor’s size but to a refined calculation of the manor’s area.

On 12 May 1676, his Lordship granted a 334-acre tract within the manor to Kenelm Cheseldine, which he called Dryden, after his daughter.  Dryden was resurveyed for 483 acres in 1695 {PA:CC#4:149}. Another 75 acre tract called The Inclosure was laid out on 5 May 1700 and granted to John Lowe {PA:DD#5:006}.

The 1768 assessment showed the manor to contain 3,091 acres (another refinement in the acre calculation) of which leaseholds (16) and vacancies comprised 1,370.25 acres. The majority of the tracts contained “...the soil stiff & poor...”{GMB:II:xi}. Patented lands within the manor now comprised 8 freeholds totaling 1,720.75 acres. Most of these were owned by Vernon Hebb {GMB:II:74}.

The resultant post revolution sale of the leaseholds and vacancies resulted in eight lots as plotted by Jesse Locke. Jesse was the first St Mary’s County Surveyor under statehood.

Westbury Manor: Granted to Thomas Weston in 1642 {AB&H:058}. This manor eventually was in possession of John Connant by 1707. Connant had married the daughter of Thomas Weston, the original patentee, and lived in new England. In 1737 John Connant sold it to Josiah Connant. {RR:7&8:016}. By 1753 Westbury Manor was in the possession of Abraham Barnes who had devised it to his son Richard Barnes by 1793 By 1812 the land had passed to Richard Barnes heirs ie John Mason. Mason divided and sold many lots off the manor between ca 1820 and ca 1840.

Westwood Manor: 1600 acres granted to Thomas Gerard in 1657 {AB&H:199} Patent not found.  Now in Charles County.

Wollaston Manor: 2000 acres granted to James Neale in 1642 {01:113}.  Now in Charles County.

Woolsey Manor: This manor, often spelled Wolseley, Wolsey, Woosley, etc., was situated on the eastern side of the main and northern branches of the St. George’s River and was part of the original 6,000 acres of Snow Hill Manor in an area called Portoback’s Quarter {PA:01:055}. Woolsey Manor was first surveyed on 18 August 1664 for Phillip Calvert for 1900 acres {PA:06:277}. A later survey done on 18 August 1764 (exactly 100 years later) increased the size to 2,950 acres {PA:UC:513}. There are no records of any patented lots within this manor prior to 1790. Another undated plat of this manor and its lots was also done by Jesse Locke {PR:4:040}. The lots, whose individual surveys were dated 24 June 1790 {BT:B:74,75,78,272}.

Some Observations (by Pete):         

Miles of Mills: Four of the six proprietary manors in St Mary’s County were located on either side of the St. George’s River. By 1743, this river was also being called the St. Mary’s River {BT:B:226}. The headwaters or branches of this river contained many milldams and lots. . It is quite conceivable that there were additional mills further up the northern and western branches. Ben Tippett says the northern mill (Watts’ Mill) was washed away “...by the memorable flood in August 1817. {BT:A:226}. It is most probable that the mills further down river suffered extensive damage as well. Tippett also provides a later history (circa 1870) of the Indian Bridge Mill and the Middle Mill also named Tarlton’s, Clifton Factory and later Cecil’s Mill {BT:B:298}. 

The location of the Great Mill pond as shown by Locke appears to cover today’s “downtown” Great Mills. I can understand this as I once had to row a Volkswagen through there. A review of a topographical map done by Major James Kearney in 1823, shows the roads in this area to be quite different than today. I’ve assumed the roads shown on this 1823 map to have remained fairly stable in location for the ensuing 30 years. The Great Mills beltway is quite obvious. 

Regina Combs Hammett has written an excellent article on the mills in this area entitled “My Search for the Great Mill” and the result is presented in five succeeding issues of the Chronicles of St. Mary’s {CSM:20:11 to 21:4}. The article provides a definitive history of the Great Mills area. 

Vacancies and Resurveys:  Many of the early land surveys in the Maryland colony were done to satisfy the acre requirements due the freeholder or leaseholder. As a result, many early tracts were rectangular in dimension and usually oriented on an existing body of water (rivers, bays, streams, etc.). Many of these tracts excluded undesirable land such as swamps, large ravines and areas inaccessible to navigable waters. These trends in laying off the early tracts produced many “vacancies”, i.e. unclaimed or unpatented land lying between existing tracts. The beginning of the 18th century saw many land entrepreneurs taking advantage of new land laws to claim these vacancies and also abandoned or escheat tracts. The resultant resurveys, which by now were also incorporating improved survey procedures, produced many odd shaped tracts of land. By the late 1700’s some tracts were a combination of many courses which sometimes defy the imagination. TheLabyrinth” in Chaptico Manor, “Jarboe’s Ramble” near Mill Manor and both “Harm Watch Harm Ketch” and “Abell’s Inclosure” to the south of Beaverdam Manor are examples of some of the more bizarre tracts found. Roundabouts were rampant and the Ramble did just that{CSM:47:01:356}.


Many works have been published which give the history, development and the demise of Maryland”s proprietary manors. Some of the more excellent sources are:

Fenwick, Laverne. (1957).  “The Confiscation of British Property in Maryland.”  Chronicles of St. Marys” (July, 1957),  Vol. 7, p. 68-81.

Stiverson, Gregory A. (1977).  Poverty in a Land of Plenty: Tenancy in Eighteen-Century Maryland.  Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Extensive history of Maryland”s Proprietary manors. Includes political, economical, social factors. Charts, tables, appendices and references galore.

Brumbaugh, Gauis M. (1928).  Maryland Records  Colonial: Revolutionary, County and Church (Volume II).  Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc.

Original assessment of Kent and West Saint Maries manors is photocopied in frontispiece. Tabulated data for all of the 1767/1768 proprietary manor assessments. Great genealogical source for late 1700s.

Land Ownership History from Chronicles of St. Mary's
Article Volume Number Date
1705 Tract Map of SMC 21 5 5/1973
A Trip on the Patuxent River 16 7 7/1968
A Trip on the Patuxent River 16 9 9/1968
A Trip on the Patuxent River 16 10 10/1968
America Felix Secundus 46 3 Fall 1998
Cobb's Island 17 4 4/1969
Confiscation of British Property in Maryland 5 7 7/1957
Earliest Proprietors of Capitol Hill 13 1 1/1965
Earliest Proprietors of Capitol Hill 13 2 2/1965
General Index - Land Records, SMC 1827-1907 13 12 12/1965
Glossary for Colonial Cloth fabrics 29 12 12/1981
Keeping History Alive at Sotterly Plantation 46 4 Winter 1998
Leonardtown 11 8 8/1963
Leonardtown, Maryland 28 10 10/1980
Memories of St. George's Island 40 1 Spring 1992
Old St. Mary's 15 7 7/1967
Papist Lands in St. Mary's County, 1760 49 1 Spring 2001
Piney Point, St. Mary's County 32 8 8/1984
Place Names in SMC 27 1 1/1979
Reconstructing the shifting Boundaries of St. John's with addition 37 3 Fall 1989
Resurrection Manor 46 1 Spring 1998
Scenes from St. George's Island 40 1 Spring 1992
Search for Radnor 45 3 Fall 1997
Settlement of Wickliff's Creek 31 9 9/1983
Short History of St. Clement's Island 6 11 11/1958
St. Clement's (Blackistone) Island 11 7 7/1963
St. Clement's Island 18 3 3/1970
St. Clement's Island 9 9 9/1961
St. Clements Island 12 8 8/1964
St. George's Island 13 11 11/1965
St. George's Island Memories 40 1 Spring 1992
St. George's Island Revisited 46 4 Winter 1998
St. Mary's City Motel 32 10 10/1984
The St. Mary's - Charles County Border 34 2 2/1985
Tour of the Wicomico River 16 11 11/1968
Vanishing Assets, The Land That Was and Isn't (Scotland Beach) 34 9 9/1985
Vineyard of Beaverdam Manor 39 2 Summer 1991
Manor History from Chronicles of St. Mary's
Manor volume
Basford Manor Vol. 9, No. 11 November 1961; Vol. 9, No 12
Bushwood Manor Vol. 12, No. 12, December 1964; Vol. 7, No. 10, October 1959
Cross Manor Vol. 13, No. 7, July 1965
Delabrooke Manor Vol. 1, No. 6, November 1953; Vol. 14, No. 3, March 1966; Vol. 16, No. 10, October 1968
Fenwick Manor Vol. 16, No. 10, October 1968
His Lordship's Manor Vol. 16, No. 7, July 1968
Newtown Manor Vol. 7, No. 10, October 1959
Resurrection Manor Vol. 16, No. 10, October 1968; Vol. 5, No. 8, August 1957
St. Clements Manor Vol. 12, No. 4, April 1964; No. 5, May 1964; Vol. 9, No. 11, November, 1961
St. Inigoes Manor Vol. 8, No. 3, March 1960
St. Joseph's Manor Vol. 16, No. 10, October 1968
St. Richard's Manor Vol. 9, No. 1 January 1961
West St. Mary's Manor Vol. 36, No.4, Winter 1988

References Codes:          

{Source: Liber: Folio} where:

Source is an abbreviation for the documentation, records, index etc.

·        LR = Land Records, St. Mary”s County Courthouse, Leonardtown, Md.

·        PA = Patent Records (index 55), Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, Md.

·        PR = Plat References (index 112), Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, Md.

·        RR = Rent Rolls (index 56), Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, Md. Copies available at St Mary”s County Historical Society, Leonardtown, Md.

·        AM = Archives of Maryland, 72 volumes, William H. Browne etal, 1891, St. Mary”s County Historical Society, Leonardtown, Md.

·        BT = Ben Tippett”s Survey Journal Books A & B, St. Mary”s County Courthouse, Leonardtown, Md.

·        GAS = Stiverson (as cited above), Historic St. Mary”s City Interpreter”s Library, St Mary”s City,  Md.

·        GMB =  Brumbaugh (as cited above), St Mary”s County Library, Leonardtown, Md.

·        CSM = Chronicles of St. Mary”s (as cited above), Quarterly Magazine of the St. Mary”s County Historical Society, Leonardtown, Md.


Liber is the Liber, Book, Volume, etc.

Folio is the Folio, Page.

UC is an Unpatented Certificate (survey)


               All names of persons, places and things are spelled as when found in the references.


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