Barton Lucas: well-off Cadet, Ensign, and Captain

Battlefields of the Seven Years War, courtesy of this website.

Reposted from Academia.edu. I originally wrote this biography when I was working at the Maryland State Archives for the Finding the Maryland 400 project.

Barton Lucas, a captain of the Third Company of the First Maryland Regiment, was born, according to some sources, in 1730, in Prince George’s County. His father was Thomas Lucas and mother Anne Keene. Barton had four siblings named Basil, Margaret, Thomas, and Sarah. [1]

Lucas served in the Seven Years’ War (1754-1763) which had Britain, France and indigenous people as combatants, resulting in transfer of northern parts of America and Canada from France to Britain. [2] In 1758, he signed on as a cadet, a military officer in waiting, in Joshua Bell’s Company and he soon was a ensign in Captain Alexander Beall’s Maryland Company, for which he received modest pay. [3] Maryland troops fought at the battle of Fort Duquesne in September of that year, joined by South Carolinian troops, to fend off indigenous attacks, but the English were defeated and Marylanders covered their retreat. [4] During these military engagements, Lucas was injured. [5]

In 1762, Lucas married Priscilla Sprigg, whose last name changed to Lucas after their marriage. His “beloved wife” Priscilla, “Prisey,” was born in 1735 to Osborn Sprigg, a Maryland legislator, and Rachel Belt, and was one of five siblings. [6] In 1756, Lucas’s father died, willing 112 acres and his plantation to Lucas. [7] In the 1750s and 1760s, Barton bought and sold enslaved blacks for his plantation. [8]

During the Revolutionary War, Lucas, a prominent community figure and combat veteran, served in the military. He was recommended as a field officer to a Battalion “on the upper part of the Patuxent” in 1775, however, he likely never served in this capacity since he was chosen in January of the next year as a Captain of the Third Company of Col. William Smallwood‘s Maryland Battalion. [9] In the summer of 1776, this Maryland regiment marched to New York and was put under the command of Gen. George Washington.

At the Battle of Brooklyn, the First Maryland Regiment, especially companies led by Lucas, Daniel Bowie, Peter Adams, Benjamin Ford, and Edward Veazey, later called the Maryland 400, held off the British while the rest of the Continental Army escaped Long Island to safety. While Lucas’s company played a key role in the Battle of Brooklyn, on August 27, 1776 with sixty percent of his company killed, Lucas was ill and could not participate in the battle itself. [10] John Hughes, a private in his company, said years later that “Capt. Barton Lucas became deranged in consequence of losing his company.” Still listed as ill, after the battle, Lucas was returned home and later resigned on October 11, 1776. However, Lucas rejoined the military as a colonel in the Prince George’s County Militia from 1777-1778. [11]

After his military service, Lucas settled down to his plantation in Prince George’s County. Existing records show that enslaved blacks, plantation tools, and farm animals were part of his overall property. [12] At his death, sometime between April 8, 1784 and May 16, 1785, in Prince George’s County, he was still called a colonel and much of his property value consisted of enslaved blacks. [13]

– Burkely Hermann, Maryland Society of the Sons of American Revolution Research Fellow, 2016.

Notes

[1] Will of Thomas Lucas, 1765, Prerogative Court, Wills, Liber BT2, p. 114, MdHR 1308-1. [MSA S538-44, 1/11/01/038].

[2] John Frost, Pictorial Life of General Washington: Embracing a Complete History of the Seven Years War, the Revolutionary War, The Formation of the Federal Constitution, and the Administration of Washington (Philadelphia: Lery, Getz & Co., 1860), 52, 65, 106.

[3] Letter to George Washington from Captain Nathaniel Ewing, 9 March 1779. Founders Online. National Archives; Orderly Book, 10 November 1758. Founders Online. National Archives; Letter to George Washington from Robert Stewart, 25 February 1762. Founders Online. National Archives; Archives of Maryland, vol. 61, pp. 392; Archives of Maryland vol. 59, pp. 54, 159, 170, 173, 196-7, and 251; “French and Indian War: Roster of Maryland Troops, 1757-1759 [Calvert Papers].” Maryland Historical Magazine 5, no. 3 (1910): 281; Maryland State Papers (Scharf Collection). 1759-1801. Certification of military service on the frontier [2/19/1767]. S1005 [MSA S1005-57-2, 1/8/5/44].

[4] Joshua Dorsey Warfield, The founders of Anne Arundel and Howard Counties, Maryland: A genealogical and biographical review from wills, deeds and church records (Baltimore: Kohn & Pollack, 1905), 213; “French and Indian War: Roster of Maryland Troops, 1757-1759 [Calvert Papers],” Maryland Historical Magazine 5, no.3, (1910): 272; Mary K. Meyer, “Genealogica Marylandia: MARYLAND MUSTER ROLLS 1757-1758.” Maryland Historical Magazine 70, no. 2 (1975): 225; Mary K. Meyer, “Genealogica Marylandia: MARYLAND MUSTER ROLLS 1757-1758.” Maryland Historical Magazine 70, no. 1 (1975): 107.

[5] Archives of Maryland vol. 61, page 392.

[6] Effie G. Bowie, Across the Years in Prince George’s County: Genealogical and Biographical History of Some Prince George’s County, Maryland and Allied Families (Richmond: Garrett and Massie, Inc., 1947), 595; “Sprigg Family,” Maryland Historical Magazine. 8 (1913): 80; Edward C. Papenfuse, Alan F. Day, David W. Jordan, and Gregory A. Stiverson. “Sprigg, Osborn.”  A Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature, 1635-1789. Vol. 2: I-Z (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1985), 763; Special Collections, Legislative History Project Collection, Osborn Sprigg (ca. 1741-1815) [MSA SC 1138-001-1160/1177, 2/11/12/72]; Prince George’s County Court, Land Records, 1765, Liber TT, p. 0338-9 [MSA CE65-19, accessed via MDLANDREC.NET].

[7] Will of Thomas Lucas, 1765, Prerogative Court, Wills, Liber BT2, pp. 114, MdHR 1308-1. [MSA S538-44, 1/11/01/038].

[8] Will of Thomas Lucas, 1765, Prerogative Court, Wills, Liber BT2, pp. 114, MdHR 1308-1. [MSA S538-44, 1/11/01/038]; Prince George’s County Court, Land Records, 1765, Liber TT, p. 0338-9 [MSA CE65-19, accessed via MDLANDREC.NET]; Prince George’s County Court, Land Records, 1759, Liber PP, p. 0093, 0144, 0321-2 [MSA CE65-17, accessed via MDLANDREC.NET]; Prince George’s County Court, Land Records, 1772, Liber BB 3, p. 0068, 0085 [MSA CE65-22, accessed via MDLANDREC.NET]; Prince George’s County Court, Land Records, 1775, Liber CC 2, p. 0135 [MSA CE65-23, accessed via MDLANDREC.NET].

[9] “Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution,” Archives of Maryland vol. 18, pp. 9; Archives of Maryland vol. 78, pp. 67 and 93; Archives of Maryland vol. 12, pp. 16; Archives of Maryland vol. 11, 92, 169, and 406.

[10] Fragments of letter of an Unknown Patriot Soldier (September 1, 1776), The Sprit of ‘Seventy-Six: The Story of the American Revolution as Told by Participants (ed. Henry Steele Commager and Richard B. Morris. New York: Harper and Row, 1967), 440 [0/60/3/35]. Fully reprinted in Henry Onderdonk, Revolutionary Incidents of Suffolk and Kings Counties (New York: Levitt & Company, 1849), 147-8.

[11] “Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution.” Archives of Maryland vol. 18, pp. 333; Archives of Maryland vol. 16, pp. 532.

[12] Prince George’s County Commissioners of the Tax, Assessment Record, Rock Creek Hundred, personal property, MdHR 40220-24 [MSA C1162-10, 1/21/10/011]; Will of Barton Lucas, Prince George’s County, Register of Wills, Administration Bonds, October 1785, MdHR 9791 [MSA C1146-4, 1/25/08/003].

[13] At her death in October 1785, Priscilla’s will listed one enslaved black woman and named her next of kin. Will of Priscilla Lucas, Prince George’s County Register of Wills, Administration Bonds, October 1785, MdHR 9791 [MSA C1146-4, 1/25/08/003]; Inventories of Precilla Lucas and Col. Barton Lucas, Prince George’s County Register of Wills, Inventories, Liber ST, pp. 337-40, MdHR 9799 [MSA C1228-9, 1/25/09/001]; Prince George’s County Register of Wills, Administration Accounts, 1791, Liber ST 1, p. 376, MdHR 9805 [MSA C1144-4, 1/25/10/015]; Prince George’s County Register of Wills, Administration Accounts, Liber ST 2, p. 6, MdHR 18865 [MSA C1144-6, 1/25/10/017]; Will of Barton Lucas, 1784, Prince George’s County Register of Wills, Wills, Liber T1, p. 216, MdHR 9725-1 [MSA C1326-3, 1/25/07/004]

A “dull place” on the Patapsco: Baltimore and the Marr Brothers

Reposted from Academia.edu. I originally wrote this when I was working for the Maryland State Archives on the Finding the Maryland 400 project.

In 1776, Baltimore’s population was just over 6,000. This zoomed-in version of a map, courtesy of the Library of Congress, shows how Baltimore was portrayed in 1776.

In May 1776, the Revolution had been raging for almost a year with skirmishes between the British imperial army and the rag-tag revolutionaries. William Marr, probably with his brothers Nicholas and James, enlisted in the Continental Army in Capt. Nathaniel Ramsey’s Fifth Company, a section of the First Maryland Regiment, at Whetstone Point. [1] It was not uncommon for multiple men of the same immediate family to enlist in the Revolutionary War. Many company members were young and residents from the Baltimore area. The Fifth Company included the Marr brothers at Whetstone Point, fortified with 38 cannons and earthworks, two miles below Baltimore, to defend it from British attack. [2] They were joined by Daniel Bowie’s Fourth Company and Samuel Smith’s Eighth Company, as we have noted on this blog in the past. The Marr brothers and members of the three companies of the First Maryland Regiment would have seen a Baltimore that few of us can imagine today. This article is the beginning of a series about Baltimore.

In 1776, Baltimore was a small, pre-industrial town on the Patapsco River. It was officially called Baltimore Town until a city charter was received in 1797. [3] The Revolution caused difficulties by ending trade of exports such as wheat, flour, and tobacco with the British West Indies, but due to the war, Baltimore still grew economically and by population beyond 6,000 residents. [4] John Adams, in his stay in late 1776 and early 1777 as part of the Continental Congress, described the town as “very pretty” with revolutionary sentiments, but having dirty, mirey, and foul streets, a “monstrous price of things,” unhealthy air and a “dull place” not even worth defending from the British. [5] Still, Baltimore Town was a bustling and growing commercial port with a job market open to immigrants containing more than 500 dwellings. [6]

Baltimore Town was not as big as Philadelphia, in terms of population. However, the seventy-four enlisted soldiers in the Fifth Company would have seen people of varying backgrounds. There were people from many trades ranging from blacksmiths, shipbuilders at Fells Point, cabinetmakers, bricklayers, shoemakers, among others. [7] Many of these local artisans supplied common amenities and engaged in craft services in Baltimore and neighboring counties, working in a town economy “dominated by commerce.” [8]

Many of these craftspeople relied on unpaid labor such as indentured servants, mostly comprised of male English convicts, thousands of whom were trafficked into the Chesapeake Bay from the early 1700s up until 1776. [9] However, convict trade was brought to a halt due to ending of trade between Britain and colonial America as a result of the beginning of the Revolution. The enlistment of servants to the Continental Army created a labor shortage addressed by an increase of slave importation by master craftspeople. [10] At the time, others entering Baltimore included those of a “middling sort,” German immigrants, and Irish immigrants. [11] In describing Baltimore, John Adams once said that there were a few planters and farmers, who were also merchants, with lands cultivated and trades exercised by convicts and enslaved Blacks. [12] He further described these planters and farmers as having “little public spirit” as they held their enslaved Blacks and convicts “in contempt” and thought of themselves “a distinct order of beings.” [13] It is possible Adams thought lowly of these planters and farmers because they were not contributing to the revolutionary cause as much as he wanted. Still, the attitudes and actions of the planters and farmers was not unique to Baltimore.

Throughout and after the war, Baltimore Town continued to expand. Evidence suggests the Marr brothers likely settled in the Baltimore area, among other surviving soldiers. Meanwhile, Baltimore Town continued to grow by population and export of commodities, such as wheat, although there were price increases, and became an important market. [14] Despite increases in trade and availability of agricultural products, many of the tradespeople could not afford to become property owners as the town was building its unique identity. [15] As 1800 approached and Baltimore developed into more of a maritime city, the town continued to change demographically. [16]

– Burkely Hermann, Maryland Society of the Sons of American Revolution Research Fellow, 2016

Notes

[1] National Archives, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 1631, William Marr, Pension number W. 3838. courtesy of fold3.com; Order to give back pay of Nicholas Marr, William Marr’s brother, to Lewis Lee. MdHR 19970-05-01-07 [MSA S997-5-7, 1/7/3/11].

[2] Neal A. Brooks and Eric G. Rockel. A History of Baltimore County. Towson: Friends of the Towson Library, 1979. pp. 85, 101; Richard C. Medford. Book Review: ‘Mirror of Americans,’ Maryland Historical Magazine Vol. XXXIX, March 1949, no. 1. pp. 90; S. Synthes Bradford. ‘In Fort McHenry 1814: The outworks in 1814,’ Maryland Historical Magazine Vol. 52, no. 2, June 1959. pp. 188-189, 191; Christopher T. George. ‘Book Review of Fort McHenry,’ Maryland Historical Magazine Vol. 9, no. 6, 1996. pp. 224; Hamilton Owens. Baltimore on the Chesapeake. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran and Company, 1991. pp. 85. Years later, in 1814, Whetstone Point, like during the during the Revolution, then the site of Fort McHenry (‘Notes and queries: The President visits Maryland, 1817,’ Maryland Historical Magazine, Vol. XLIX, June 1954, no. 2. pp. 168), held off the British destruction of the “”very pretty town.”

[3] Charles Francis Adams. Familiar Letters of John Adams and his wife Abigail Adams During the Revolution with a memoir of Mrs. Adams. New York: Hund and Houghton, 1876. pp. 296; Charles G. Steffen, The Mechanics of Baltimore: Workers and Politics in the Age of Revolution, 1763-1812. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1984. pp. 3; Kathryn Allamong Jacob. ‘The Women’s Lot in Baltimore Town: 1729-1797.’ Maryland Historical Magazine Vol. 71, no. 3, fall 1976. pp. 263.

[4] Edward J. Perkins. The Economy of Colonial America. New York: Columbia University Press, 1988, 135; Steffen, The Mechanics of Baltimore, 4; Matson, Cathy. “The Atlantic Economy in an Era of Revolutions: An Introduction.” The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, 62, no. 3 (2005): 360; US Census. A Century of population growth from the first census to the twelfth. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1909. pp. 30; Paul Kent Walker, ‘Business and commerce in Baltimore on the eve of independence,’ 296; Jacob Harry Hollander. The Financial History of Baltimore vol. 20. Baltimore: The John Hopkins Press, 1899. pp. 17; Arthur M. Schlesinger. ‘Maryland’s share in the last intercontinental war.’ Maryland Historical Magazine Vol. VIII June 1912, no. 2. pp. 125; Sherry H. Olson. Baltimore: The Building of an American City. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997. pp. 15; Henry C. Ward. The War for Independence and Transformation of American Society: War and Society in the United States, 1775-85. New York: Routledge, 1999. pp. 152.

[5] Owens, Baltimore on the Chesapeake, 110; Charles Francis Adams. The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States Vol. III. Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1851. pp. 25, 198; Tina M. Sheller. ‘Freeman, Servants, and Slaves: Artisans and the craft structure of Revolutionary Baltimore Town.’ American Artisans: Crafting Social Identity, 1750-1830 (ed. Howard C. Rock, Paul A. Gilje and Robert Asher). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995. pp. 26; Adams, Familiar Letters of John Adams and his wife Abigail Adams During the Revolution with a memoir of Mrs. Adams, 237; Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 18 February 1777Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society; Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 7 March 1777Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society; John Adams diary 28, 6 February – 21 November 1777Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society (entry for Feb. 9, 1777); Jacob, ‘The Women’s Lot in Baltimore Town: 1729-1797,’ 291.

[6] Lawrence C. Wroth, ‘A Maryland Merchant and his friends in 1750,’ Maryland Historical Magazine Vol. VI, Sept. 1911, no. 3. pp. 215, 219; Sheller, ‘Freeman, Servants, and Slaves,’ 18; George W. Howard. The Monumental City, Its Past History and Present Resources. Baltimore: J.D. Ehlers and Co., 1873. pp. 20.

[7] Daniels, Christine. “”WANTED: A Blacksmith Who Understands Plantation Work”: Artisans in Maryland, 1700-1810.” The William and Mary Quarterly 50, no. 4 (1993): 760-761, 766; Mariana L.R. Darlas. Black Townsmen: Urban Slavery and Freedom in the Eighteenth Century Americas. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2008. pp. 90; Adams, Familiar Letters of John Adams and his wife Abigail Adams During the Revolution with a memoir of Mrs. Adams, 18; Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 10 February 1777Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society; Sheller, ‘Freeman, Servants, and Slaves: Artisans and the craft structure of Revolutionary Baltimore Town,’ 18, 25.

[8] Sheller, ‘Freeman, Servants, and Slaves: Artisans and the craft structure of Revolutionary Baltimore Town,’ 19-20.

[9] Daniels, ‘Artisans in Maryland, 1700-1810,’ 752; Morgan, Kenneth. “The Organization of the Convict Trade to Maryland: Stevenson, Randolph and Cheston, 1768-1775.” The William and Mary Quarterly 42, no. 2 (1985): 203, 205, 211, 217; M. Darlas. Black Townsmen: Urban Slavery and Freedom in Eighteenth Century Americas. pp. 40-41.

[10] Morgan, “The Organization of the Convict Trade to Maryland: Stevenson, Randolph and Cheston, 1768-1775,” 202, 222; Darlas, Black Townsmen, 75; Ward, The War for Independence and Transformation of American Society, 215; Sheller, ‘Freeman, Servants, and Slaves: Artisans and the craft structure of Revolutionary Baltimore Town,’ 27.

[11] Eugene Irving McCormac. White servitude in Maryland, 1634-1820. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1902. pp. 32; Middleton, Simon, and Smith Billy G. “Class and Early America: An Introduction.” The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, 63, no. 2 (2006): 219; Allan Kulikoff. Tobacco and Slaves: The Development of Southern Cultures in the Chesapeake, 1680-1800. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1986. pp. 425; Olson, Baltimore, 15.

[12] John Adams diary 28, 6 February – 21 November 1777 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society (entry for Feb. 23, 1777).

[13] John Adams diary 28, 6 February – 21 November 1777 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society (entry for Feb. 28, 1777).

[14] Brooks and Rockel, A History of Baltimore County, 107; Hunter, Brooke. “Wheat, War, and the American Economy during the Age of Revolution.” The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, 62, no. 3 (2005): 510, 516, 522, 524; Cometti, Elizabeth. “Inflation in Revolutionary Maryland.” The William and Mary Quarterly 8, no. 2 (1951): 230; George W. Howard. The Monumental City, Its Past History and Present Resources. Baltimore: J.D. Ehlers and Co., 1873. pp. 25; Steffen, The Mechanics of Baltimore, 10-11; Olson, Baltimore, 10; Shammas, Carole. “The Space Problem in Early United States Cities.” The William and Mary Quarterly 57, no. 3 (2000): 505-506, 509.

[15] Steffen, Charles G. “Changes in the Organization of Artisan Production in Baltimore, 1790 to 1820.” The William and Mary Quarterly 36, no. 1 (1979): 103, 113.

[16] Mark N. Ozer. Baltimore: Persons and Places. Baltimore: Garden Publishing, 2013. pp. 37; Olson, Baltimore, 10.