Benjamin Murdoch’s life after the war

1865 map of Frederick County by Simon J. Martenet. Courtesy of the Maryland State Archives‘ now-defunct Legacy of Slavery project.

Benjamin Murdoch/Murdock, born (and lived most of his life) in Frederick County, was a young man, twenty-one years old in 1780. In previous posts we have noted how Benjamin Murdoch was described by Mountjoy Bayly as an officer in the Maryland Line, the same year that Bayly’s first wife, Elizabeth, would die from a form of cancer. Beyond that, we have written about how he commanded the First Company of the Extra Regiment, with Theodore Middleton within the same unit, was promoted in September 1780, and is one of the 19 people in the unit with a pension. There is much more than these titillating tidbits suggest.

The final years of the war

Throughout the war, Benjamin held many military positions and was recruited from Frederick County. He was appointed 2nd Lieutenant in the 7th Maryland Regiment, commanded by Col. John Gunby, in April 1777 and continued in this position until May 1779. He returned home after “some difference arose respecting my Rank” which was settled and he returned home. In 1780, after the state created the Extra Regiment, he was appointed as a captain, “one of the oldest…in said Regiment,” which implies that the other captains were younger than 21 years, hence they were born after 1759. Other than describing officers such as Alexander Lawson Smith and Edward Giles, he goes on to describe the movement of the regiment to Philadelphia to report to Washington, then once equipped, they marched south to join Nathanial Greene. He adds, still within his federal veterans pension application, that he “left the service in the Spring of 1781 in consequence of the Maryland Line consisting of Eight Regiments being consolidated into Four” and that the officers of the Extra Regiment “were all sent home as supernumaries.” He also notes that he was at the Battles of Brandywine, Germantown where he was “wounded,” and the battle of Monmouth. Within the same document, Mountjoy Bayly certifies that Murdoch was a captain as noted previously on this blog.

Existing records confirm his account of service. Apart from the question of whether it was him who marched out to Washington County “with all deliberate speed” there is no doubt that he served as a Lieutenant in the Maryland Line and later as a captain. [1] Dr. David B. Boles, the founder of Bolesbooks, who has been publishing family ancestries since the 1980s also mentions Benjamin, writing:

“…A Capt. Benjamin Murdock was also mentioned. Of these the only one who completely checks out was Benjamin Murdock, who was a Lt. of the first Maryland Regiment of Continental troops in Mar 1779, and a Capt. in July 1780. Isaac said that in early 1779, Continental officer Capt. Benjamin Murdock performed enlistment duty in Fredericktown”

After the end of his war service, on December 22, 1781, he married a woman named Mary Ann Magruder in Seneca, Montgomery County, MD. [2] He would eventually have three children with her, named Richard, Eliza, and Anitta. The Magruder family, which were Royalists from Scotland back in the 1650s, had settled in Prince George’s County, amassing thousands of acres of land, and became prominent across Southern Maryland.

Little else is known about Benjamin’s life in the 1780s. However, it is clear that in 1787, Benjamin sold over 200 acres which had been given to him by his father, Reverend George, when he was only thirteen, in 1772. The above link claims he patented a tract called The Garden two years before. Searching available resources, it shows this is correct. He did patent it, but no more information is known currently as the record has not been scanned in:

Courtesy of plats.net. This was the same source the above link cited.

Looking through the same site, I found a number of tracts named Discovery. They range from 89 to over 173 acres. [3] It is not known which of these Benjamin owned later on in his life. Regardless, he later settled some of his deeds in Montgomery County in the Orphans Court with his relatives there reportedly. There is no doubt, however, that in 1778, a William Murdoch bought a part of a tract named Discovery from Moses Ouno. [4] This would be the land Benjamin would own in later years.  It is known also how Henry Baggerty and Charles Philips paid Benjamin, described as a planter, for Beall and Edmondson’s Discovery. [5] This could be found that this tract was 894 acres but no other information has been found:

Courtesy of Plats.net

Into the 1790s

Like the 1780s, little information is known about Benjamin and his family during this time period. While he is not mentioned in the 1790 federal census, a man named George Murdock Esquire was living in Frederick, Maryland with 19 enslaved Blacks, two men with the last name Murdock living in Montgomery, Maryland, and another man, named William Murdock living in Frederick, Maryland. [6] It is not known if any of these men are related to Benjamin. The following year a man named named John Murdock had a plat to a land tract called Friendship. This is the same man, who in 1783, owned over 2,000 acres of land in Montgomery County alone.

This was the time period, as briefly mentioned in his federal veterans pension application, he had a “few years residence in Montgomery County.” In June 1794, he was undoubtedly living in the county. The Maryland Gazette proves this by showing that he was made a major in the Montgomery County grouping of the Maryland militia, along with five other individuals:

From Maryland Gazette. Used photo editing software to add category titles from top of newspaper page to just include this county.

This was a far cry from his ancestors who were the first settlers of Western Maryland in 1730 and his father (possibly) who was committed and loyal to the British Crown. [7] Instead, Benjamin was loyal to the United States and the county he lived in, which at that time was Montgomery.

Moving onto the 19th century

For many years, the life of Benjamin is hazy. In 1800, a man named “George Mindock” (supposed to be Murdock) is listed as living in Frederick, Frederick, Maryland with nine enslaved people and another named William Murdock living in Emmitsburg, Frederick, Maryland with one enslaved person. It is not known whether these men are related to Benjamin.

However, there is concrete evidence he was living in the county. When George Fraser Magruder died on January 27, 1801, Benjamin, his son-in-law, became the executor of his estate. [8] Five years later, his sister, Eleanor died in the District of Columbia sometime before June 25, 1805. Within her will, she called Benjamin a “kind brother and friend”:

Source: “Wills.” The Washington Post (1923-1954): 1. Sep 01 1935. ProQuest. Web. 31 May 2017 .

There are other records that attest to his residency. In July 1800, Benjamin, Thomas Taylor of Pennsylvania, and Benjamin Huff Canby of Virginia, the latter two executors of the will of another individual, made an agreement. [9] Not only does this note that Benjamin was living in Frederick County, but that he paid Taylor and Canby six hundred pounds for a 200 acre land tract known as “Joseph’s Advance.” Two years later, in August 1803, Benjamin bought another tract of land. He paid a man named Abraham Plummer two thousand dollars for a tract of land known as Hickory Plains which was 454 acres. [10]

Sadly on Plats no image of the certificate or other information is available, but it is evident that the Hickory Plains tract was patented in 1752 by a man by the name of Samuel Plummer. The same is the case for the Joseph’s Advance tract. That piece of land was patented the same year by a man named Joseph Waters. Nothing else is known.

Coming into the 1810s

Benjamin petitions the House of Delegates about his military service. This is discussed later in this section.

In 1810, a man named C[harles?] Murdock was living in Frederick, Maryland with seven enslaved people. A W[illiam?] Murdock in living the same location with two enslaved people. It is not known if either of these men is related to Benjamin. There are also two tracts called Murdoch’s Mount Resurvey but it is not known if this is his tract or not. There, is, however, strong evidence, once again, that he was living in Frederick county.

In June 1811, Benjamin was paid $3,120 by Allen and Sarah Farguhar (if I have that spelling right) for the resurveyed Hickory Plains tract which is still 454 acres. As readers may recall, he paid Abraham Plummer $2,000 for this tract back in 1803, eight years earlier. [11] While the relative value of the $2,000 he had paid had decreased to $1,490 due to inflation and other factors by 1811, he still had gained a $1,120 above from the original amount, and $1,630 above the amount adjusted to values that year. Hence, he garnered an almost 200% profit from this transactions, using the adjusted figure, so he was more than willing to sell the land to the Farguhars.

Three years later, in 1814, he was appointed as commissioner, along with Edward Owings, Jesse Wright, Samuel Hobbs, and Ed Brashears, to “assess the damages” to Nicholas Hall’s land, which sat in Frederick County. The act specified the following aspects of this situation:

…[the] appointed commissioners…are hereby authorised and empowered to view and assess the damages if any, which in their judgment the said Nicholas Hull shall have sustained by the locating and making of a road through his lands…a road from near the old glass Works called New Bremen in Frederick county, to intersect the Baltimore and Frederick-Town turnpike road, at the town of New-Market in the said county, and…the said commissioners or a majority of them shall make out…a fair valuation of the damages

Nicholas was a man who was allowed by the Maryland General Assembly to raise money for a lottery for $2,000 dollars and noted that he owned land in New Market, Frederick County. Hence, it is possible that Benjamin knew this individual. It is also clear that this was not payment for “devaluation” of his land due to the British campaign in the military operations from 1812 to 1814 in the Chesapeake Bay but was rather a consequence of the changing nature of US society from an agrarian one to a more urban one, with “internal improvements.” Benjamin’s role as a commissioner could also imply that he was a Federalist since such individuals pushed forward this idea, and was later picked up by Henry Clay of the Whig Party.

A couple of years later, the Murdoch family gained additional land. More land was patented under the name of “Murdoch’s Fancy” which was not unusual as land had been patented under the names of “Murdoch’s Mountain Resurvey” and “Murdock’s Inheritance” years later. There is no record that Benjamin was involved in any of these land agreements, although it is possible he was somehow tied in.

In 1817, Benjamin petitioned the Maryland General Assembly to be paid for his war service, and the legislature agreed with him. Hence, he was to be paid the half-pay of a lieutenant until his death:

“That the treasurer of the western shore be and he is hereby authorised and directed, to pay, annually, in quarterly payments, to Benjamin Murdock, a lieutenant in the Maryland line during the revolutionary war, the half pay of a lieutenant during life.”

Almost a year later, Benjamin petitioned the Maryland House of Delegates over the same issue. His petition was reported favorably by Mr. Hawkins in the Maryland House of Delegates as the Maryland Gazette noted later that month.

And his petition related to his military payments as the journal of the House of Delegates makes abundantly clear:

It should be no surprise that it turns out that Mr. Hawkins, or Thomas Hawkins, was one of the four delegates representing Frederick County that year in the House of Delegates. The other delegates were Joshua Cockey, Thomas C. Worthington, and John H.M. Smith.

The blur of the 1820s

In 1820 there is a person Elemer Murdock living in Frederick, Frederick, Maryland, with eight enslaved people. It is not known if he is related to Benjamin. Some say he was in the 1820 Census for Frederick County. A search of the Census for District 2 within the county does not pull up any results other than the person mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph. It is possible he is within a different district of the county or that this person is mistaken in their records. The reality is not clear. Even looking it up on Family Search only brings up one result, the 1830 census.

Other records of Benjamin this decade are scattered. In the 1820s, he is described as part of Zion Parish in Frederick County, reportedly. [12] And in 1824, he is mentioned in the will of William Murdoch. This may was Benjamin’s brother, as he laid out very clearly:

I desire to be buried in such Protestant burying ground as may be most convenient to the place of my decease and that my funeral may be conducted with the smallest intention”. I give and bequeath to: my brother, Benjamin MURDOCH of Frederick County, State of Maryland. my niece Eleanor POTTS, widow of Richard Potts late of Frederick Town in the State of Maryland and daughter of my late brother George MURDOCH, deceased. my niece Ann POTTS (wife of Richard Potts [Junior] of Frederick Town and sister of the said Eleanor Potts)”

Nothing else is known about this will or Benjamin, although this could be found by looking at the records of the Maryland State Archives.

In November 1825, Benjamin paid $5,475 dollars to Levi Phillips for land called Hope or Resurvey of Hope. [13] Eleanor, Levi’s wife, agrees with the transaction. The land tract has an interesting story. It originally was within Prince George’s County but with changing borderlines, it became part of Frederick County, with a 1797 agreement between varying individuals confirming the ownership by the Darnell family. [14] Within the said agreement, which spelled out the specific contours of the land, was a map of the land, which had been divided between numerous men of the Darnell family:

This map was reconstructed using images of the property on pages 43, 43a, and 43b. It is not perfect, but it does show the contour of the property. Map made using photo editing software to bring the pieces together into a coherent image.A gray background was added, as one can tell, to match with the map itself.

That same month, Benjamin paid Charles Fenton Mercer, of London County, Virginia, $4,410 dollars for his estate and tract within “The Hope.” [15] This could indicate that he started building a plantation there. Such purchases in the same month may indicate a certain level of wealth for Benjamin, since he made another purchase of land within the tract later that month from Robert Darnell, of the Darnell family mentioned earlier. [16]

The last four years

In 1830, Benjamin finally appeared in the Federal Census. He was living in Frederick County’s District 1 and was running a plantation with 27 enslaved Blacks and six “free white” individuals. [17] For the latter, one White male was aged 20-29 [Richard?], one White male was aged 40-49 [his son?], one was between ages 70 and 79 (himself). The other three were his daughter Anitta (under age 5), his wife Mary (between ages 20 and 29), and his daughter Eliza between ages 20 and 29. As for the enslaved blacks, the following chart suffices:

Made with Chartgo.

This means that the number of enslaved men and women were almost equally divided, with a simple majority for the women. The fact that only two were above age 36 shows that these enslaved individuals could have been from recent transactions, or show that he had a “changing” work force.

Two years later, he would apply for a pension from the federal government. [18] Within it he would say he was a resident of the county, born in the county in 1759, and was about 73 years old. On August 14, his pension money would begin flowing, with $1,200 received, with $400 each given annually, as noted in the Maryland Pension Roll of 1835. He would be described as a former “Lieutenant – Captain” who had served in the Maryland militia and said to be age 75.

From 1832 to 1833 he would engage in varied land agreements with individuals across Frederick County. On May 15, 1832, Benjamin made an agreement with Charles Johnson (executor), John H (or is it F?). Simmons, John Montgomery, Sebastian Sraff, Congo Doddoner, Elisha Beall, Plummer Simmes, and another Charles Johnson, a vestryman of a Protestant Episcopal Church. [19] In this agreement, lots 10 and 14 were granted by Charles Johnson (executor), in carrying out the will of William Johnson (presumably his father), to Benjamin, and all the others. Seemingly this was done to help with the Zion Parish, of which Benjamin and all others except the executor, were part of at the time. This means that Benjamin was an Episcopalian in faith. It also confirms the early listing of him in the 1820s as part of this parish. He likely was a worshipper at this church which has since been reconstructed since the original was burned down:

Courtesy of the Frederick County Landmarks Foundation. Used in accordance with fair use guidelines under existing copyright law.

Later that year, Benjamin was part of an agreement with the same individuals of the Zion Parish, agreeing to buy more lots for use of the church. [20] This would help with his standing in the county.  The following year, on April 20, he would again help expand the church’s land. [21] These transactions show how dedicated he was to the church and his faith.

The following year, he died reportedly (also see here) in Urbana, Maryland, a census designated place, probably a small to medium-sized town at the time. It is not known if he was alive in May 1834 when someone cited him as a character reference to support their claim for a federal pension

In his will, Benjamin granted his daughter Harretta 300 acres of  “the Resurvey on the Hope” which he had finished buying in nine years earlier, who had married a man named John F. Simmons, possibly the same man who mad made the agreement about the Zion Parish years before. This area would become the John F. Simmons farmstead or “High Hope” with a house in Greek Revival style built around 1835, with the house still standing:

The years after his death

In 1840, a man named Richard Murdoch, called “Richd Mardock” in the census, had eight enslaved individuals, and was living with nine White people in Buckeye, Frederick, Maryland. [22] This was Benjamin’s son.

Ten years later, in 1850, Richard, a farmer was living in Buckeystown, Frederick, Maryland. [23] He was age 58 (meaning he was born in 1792), with 11 other Whites, including his sister, Eliza, with Anitta not in the same household:

 

Anitta was likely living in Frederick, Frederick, Maryland with a man named John A Simmons, listed in the 1840 Federal Census. That same year, multiracial and Black individuals named “Harriet Murdock,” “Matilda Murdock,” and Rachael Murdock” were living in Frederick County. It is possible these individuals were former enslaved people owned by Benjamin.

Two years later, Richard B. Murdoch assigned power of attorney named William Peugh to obtain an increase in the pension or of bounty land for the service of his father. He claimed that he was the only son and that he had two surviving sisters: Eliza Murdoch and Anitta Simmons. Looking at the actual pension implies that Benjamin and Mary Ann, his wife, had more than three children:

Fast forward to 1887. That year, Eliza Murdoch, who was noted as born Jan. 1, 1800, and the youngest child of Benjamin and Mary Ann, implying that others were born before 1800, died. She died “near Sykesville” in northern Baltimore County, at the residence of her niece:

Source for image: “Obituary,” The Sun (1837-1991): 4. May 27 1887. ProQuest. Web. 31 May 2017. Obit also in this Westminster, MD paper, The Democratic advocate the same year.

Despite the fact it says that Benjamin served on the staff of Horatio Gates, no evidence suggests this to the knowledge of this researcher, even though he could have been a major. It is interesting to note that she was native to Frederick County and related to William Murdoch, a London merchant, suggesting some familial connection between Benjamin and this individual. I think they may confusing this person with the other Benjamin Murdock in Vermont, a private in a Massachusetts Regiment, this individual seemingly who died in Oct. 1833:

 

In 1908, a descendant of the same name as Benjamin died, showing that the family lineage still lived on:

Concluding words

While there are many gaps in the story of Benjamin, many can be filled by looking at land records. There many questions about how a person named Mary Magruder Tarr Willard, Marie Benjamin Murdock Brown, and Richard Bruce Murdock are related to Benjamin. Regardless, there are still questions to be answered about his life, but this is a good start to the topic and hopefully opens doors for many in terms of different areas of Maryland history. [24]

Notes

[1] Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, 1779-1780, Archives of Maryland Online, Vol. 43, 234; Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, 1781-1784, Archives of Maryland Online, Vol. 48, 144, 385, 387, 388, 494; Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, April 1, 1778 through October 26, 1779, Archives of Maryland Online, Vol. 21, 321; Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777, Archives of Maryland Online, Vol. 16, 308.

[2] Genealogies of Virginia Families: From Tyler’s Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine, Vol. 1 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2007 reprint), 596, 599; Roberta Julia (Magruder) Bukey, “The Magruder Family In Its Religious Affiliations” within Yearbook of the American Clan Society (ed. Egbert Watson Magruder, Richmond, VA: Appeals Press, Inc., 1916), 50-51; George Brick Smith, “Some Descendants of George Fraser Magruder” within Year Book of the American Clan Society (ed. John Bowie Ferneyhough, Richmond, VA, 1937), 60, 65. Mary may have been another daughter.

[3] One 89-acre tract patented by Thomas Beall in 1796 (Patent Record IC G, p. 707; Patent Record IC O, p. 85), a 119 acre tract patented by John Bradford in 1724 (Patent Record PL 5, p. 632; Patent Record IL A, p. 324), a 100 acre tract patented by James Halmeard, Jr. in 1748 (Patent Record PT 2, p. 293; Patent Record LG E, p. 564), a 100 acre tract patented by John Eason in 1752 (Patent Record Y and S 6, p. 244; Patent Record GS 1, p. 99), a 173 1/4 acre tract patented by Elizabeth Lashley in 1836 and similar by Arnold Lashley (Patent Record GGB 1, p. 616; Patent Record GGB 2, p. 630). There’s also a tract called “A Discovery” (36 1/4 acres which was patented by David Mitchell in 1784 (Patent Record IC A, p. 364; Patent Record IC B, p. 303) and this of which I’m not sure of the relevance to the land. There’s also a tract called Addition to Discovery but clearly Murdoch is not related to it.

[4] Deed between William Murdoch and Moses Ouno, Montgomery County Court, Land Records,July 13, 1778, Liber A, p. 195, 196 [MSA CE 148-1]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net. Not sure how pages of Liber D, 166 and 167 [MSA CE 148-4] relate to this topic as one source suggests.

[5] Deed between Benjamin Murdoch, Henry Baggerty and Charles Philips, Oct. 19, 1786, Montgomery County Court, Land Records, Liber C, p. 407, 408, 409 [MSA CE 148-3]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net.

[6] This has been double checked, but NO person with the name of Benjamin Murdoch/Murdock, of any kind, is listed on the page with William Murdock and the same is the case for George Murdock, Esq. A look through the 61 pages of the census still turned up no results, even with the listing of two Magruders on one page (Samuel and William). The same was done for the 1800

[7] Folger McKinsey, History of Frederick County, Maryland: From the Earliest Settlements to the Beginning of the War Between the States, Vol.  2 (L.R. Titsworth & Co., 1910), 1278; Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, 1758-1761, Archives of Maryland Online, Vol. 56, 74; Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, 1757-1758, Archives of Maryland Online, Vol. 55, 219; Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, 1764-1765, Archives of Maryland Online, Vol. 59, 180.

[8] Thomas Settles, John Bankhead Magruder: A Military Reappraisal (Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press, 2009), 450; George Brick Smith, “Some Descendants of George Fraser Magruder,” 65.

[9] Agreement between Benjamin Murdoch, Thomas Taylor of Pennsylvania, and Benjamin Huff Canby, July 4, 1800, Frederick County Court, Land Records, Liber WR 20, p. 52, 53, 54 [MSA CE 108-40]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net.

[10] Benjamin Murdoch purchases land from Abraham Plummer, Aug. 31, 1803, , Frederick County Court, Land Records, Liber WR 24, p. 702, 703, 704 [MSA CE 108-44]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net.

[11] Deed between Benjamin Murdock, Allen and Sarah Farguhar, June 11, 1811, Frederick County Court, Land Records, Liber WR 40, p. 77, 78, 79 [MSA CE 108-60]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net.

[12] Journal of A Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church, Held in St. Paul’s Baltimore (Baltimore: J. Robinson, 1821), 103, 112, 114.

[13] Benjamin Murdoch purchases land from Levi Phillips, Nov. 2, 1825, Frederick County Court, Land Records, Liber JS 23, p. 401, 402, 403, 404 [MSA CE 108-91]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net.

[14] Agreement between William Pott, William Ballinger, Joseph Sweauinger, James Murphy, and Jesse Hughes concerning “The Hope” land tract and more, Nov. 27, 1797, Frederick County Court, Land Records, Liber WR 16, p. 40, 41, 42, 43, 43a, 43b, [MSA CE 108-36]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net. Considering it was originally in Prince George’s County, this (and this) is NOT the same land. There is a land in Prince George’s County named Hope, but no details can be provided.

[15] Benjamin Murdoch purchases land from Charles Fenton Mercer, Nov. 11, 1825, Frederick County Court, Land Records, Liber JS 23, p. 447, 448, 449, 450, 451 [MSA CE 108-91]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net.

[16] Benjamin Murdoch purchases land from Robert Darnell, Nov. 28, 1825, Frederick County Court, Land Records, Liber JS 23, p. 555, 556, 557, 558 [MSA CE 108-91]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net.

[17] Fifth Census of the United States, District 1, Frederick, Maryland, 1830, National Archives, NARA M19, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, Roll 57, Page 15. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest. He is called “Benjamin Murdock” in this census.

[18] Pension of Benjamin Murdoch, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, S.9046. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest.

[19] Agreement between Benjamin Murdock, Charles Johnson (executor), John H. Simmons, John Montgomery, Sebastian Sraff, Congo Doddoner, Elisha Beall, Plummer Simmes, and Charles Johnson, May 15, 1832, Frederick County Court, Land Records, Liber JS 40, p. 114, 115 [MSA CE 108-108]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net.

[20] Agreement between Benjamin Murdock, et al, Dec. 1, 1832, Frederick County Court, Land Records, Liber JS 41, p. 3, 4 [MSA CE 108-109]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net.

[21] Agreement between Benjamin Murdoch, et al, and Lloyd Keith, Dec. 1, 1832, Frederick County Court, Land Records, Liber JS 42, p. 263, 264, 265 [MSA CE 108-110]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net.

[22] Sixth Census of the United States, Buckeye, Frederick, Maryland, 1840, National Archives, NARA M704, . Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, Roll 166, Page 159. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest.

[23] Sixth Census of the United States, Buckeystown, Frederick, Maryland, USA, 1850, National Archives, NARA M432, . Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, Roll M432_293, Page 461-462. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest.

[24] See here, here, and here for others who have tried to explore his story.

 

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“A character for probity and honor”: the story of Theodore Middleton

A focus on Maryland, from John Churchman’s 1786 “…map of the peninsula between Delaware & Chesopeak bays.” Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Theodore Middleton was different than Alexander Lawson Smith and Archibald Golder (link when published on June 7). By 1781, he was a 23-year-old man, born in Charles County, Maryland, the son of Mary Hawkins and Smith Middleton. He had been, like the others mentioned, an officer in the Extra Regiment, but, different from them, a mid-level officer, who was promoted while others resigned their ranks.

Theodore was, when he joined the Extra Regiment, living in Prince George’s County, Maryland, where he would live until at least the 1830s. While the record of his age was lost or destroyed, he remembered when applying for his federal veterans pension, that he was a “commissioned Officer” who performed “three Tours of survice” and was acquainted with Col Luke Marbury, also from the same county, commanding a “Regiment at the battle of Jermons town” or Germantown in Pennsylvania where he was taken prisoner. He also recalled that he was acquainted with Col. John Hoskins Stone and Col. Uriah Forrest, both of whom were wounded in the battle just mentioned, along with a person named General Francis Nash, who was killed at the same battle.He also remembered that he did receive a “commission from the Governor and Council of Maryland,” but it had been “lost or mislaid” by the 1830s. [1]

As one of the 19 within the Extra Regiment with a pension, what he has to say is further worth noting. In applying for his pension in February 1833, he noted that he entered the Maryland Line in April 1779 as a Lieutenant and later served in the Extra Regiment with Captain Mountjoy Bayly, Major Edward Giles [link when published on June 21], Alexander Smith, and Nathanael Greene. He also recalled that he marched with the regiment

from Annapolis to Philad’a where he remained two months. From there a short time he took shipping at the head of Elk River and came to Annapolis in the State of Maryland where he staid for some considerable time. This tour of service embraced fourteen months. He then marched from Annapolis to Alexandria, Fredg. [Fredericksburg] Richmond and Petersburg Virginia, Crossed over into the State of North Carolina, and was at the battle of Guilford C. H. in said state, March 1781 [Guilford Courthouse, 15 Mar 1781]

He then said that after that point, with the end of a “Southern tour of sixteen months” he returned to Maryland in October 1781 “as a Supermerary
officer by General Green” during which time he was commissioned immediately as a Captain. At that point hewas commanded by Col. Uriah Forrest to go to Annapolis, where he stayed a recruiting officer for nine months, until he was “discharged by Col. U. Forest.” While this story has some truth to it, the fact is that he started as a Second Lieutenant, would help organize the specifics of a company within the Extra Regiment. He would later be paid as part of the “late Extra Regiment” in March and April of 1781, and be appointed “Capt. Lieutt of a Company of Foot to serve in this State for one year” the same month. He would write Governor Thomas Sim Lee in September 1781, noting about gathering infantry to organize a defense of the Chesapeake Bay region:

As a considerable time has elapsed since I had the Honor of hearing from you, concerning the raising the compy of infantry for the defence of the Bay, I should be glad to know if you still propose that corps to be raised, If not, I must Sollicit your Excellency In an apointment in the first com.[company] that may be recruited.

While the information on Theodore is not as wide-spread as other officers, there is still a story worth telling.

Beyond the pension

Focus on Prince George’s County from J. Wallace’s 1795 map “of the State of Maryland laid down from an actual survey…” Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Scattered sources about Theodore do tell some parts of a story. On November 20, 1789, in Upper Marlborough, he married a woman named Julia/Juliana Huxton, and the following year he headed a household with two males under age 16, one female (Julia), and seven enslaved blacks. [2] With Julia he would have, ultimately, eight children. They would be named Sarah, Henry O., Theodore, Walter, Chloe Ann, Mary H. Charles S, and Susan.

Also in 1789, he was named as executor of Dr. Edward Semmes estate, possibly because of the close relationship between the two men. By April 1791 he was cited for not passing a final account on the estate but was allowed to sell a portion of the estate to meet the debts of Dr. Semmes. [3]

In later years, Theodore would still own enslaved blacks. In December 26, 1799, a woman named Ann would be described as  “natural daughter of Margis, slave,property of Theodore Middleton living in Prince George’s County.”

By 1800, would be living in “formerly part of Prince Georges MD, Washington, District of Columbia, United States,” but possibly didn’t move into the district, but rather where he was living became part of the federal capital. Three white males under age 10, one white male over age 45 (himself), two white females under age 10, and one white female under age 45 (his wife) would be living in the household. Of course, he would also own 15 enslaved blacks, more than anyone on either one of the corresponding census pages. The latter implies that he had a plantation of some type, although the location of this land is not known. Despite this mention of living in Washington, D.C., he would be noted as a resident in Prince George’s County through a number of land records, perhaps indicating that the area he lived was near the border line.

Twelve years later, in August 1812, Theodore would mortgage three enslaved black men to a man named Robert Bench. They would be: Joe, age 23, Daniel, age 21, Leonard, age 40, and Jim, age 15. [4] This business of mortgaging enslaved blacks, a “rent-a-slave industry” was a moneymaker for slaveowners, not only showing that “the legal treatment of slaves as property in the South” (the same goes for deeds of enslaved black people) but was, at the time, used to “solve” issues of ownership over such peoples. Furthermore, the acquisition of more enslaved blacks could be “financed by mortgages” with bonds sold to investors based on “value of those mortgages” leading to securities. The latter were “based on enslaved human beings” to create a “bubble” of such assets, leading to speculation which was like that on “home mortgage derivatives that helped cause the financial crisis of 2008” as some writers have pointed out. Even Thomas Jefferson (as did others) mortgaged his enslaved blacks, which was one of “rescues” the Jefferson family had “from a bad harvest,” keeping the “family afloat while a new and grander version of Monticello took shape” as Henry Wiencek writes in Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves.

This mortgage between Theodore and Bench was a bit ahead of the curve since widespread mortgaging would not occur until the 1830s. Historical scholar Edward Baptist explains this and how US finance grew on the back on enslaved labor in increasing intensity in the 19th century:

In the 1830s, powerful Southern slaveowners wanted to import capital into their states so they could buy more slaves. They came up with a new, two-part idea: mortgaging slaves; and then turning the mortgages into bonds that could be marketed all over the world. First, American planters organized new banks, usually in new states like Mississippi and Louisiana. Drawing up lists of slaves for collateral, the planters then mortgaged them to the banks they had created, enabling themselves to buy additional slaves to expand cotton production. To provide capital for those loans, the banks sold bonds to investors from around the globe — London, New York, Amsterdam, Paris. The bond buyers, many of whom lived in countries where slavery was illegal, didn’t own individual slaves — just bonds backed by their value. Planters’ mortgage payments paid the interest and the principle on these bond payments. Enslaved human beings had been, in modern financial lingo, “securitized.” As slave-backed mortgages became paper bonds, everybody profited — except, obviously, enslaved African Americans whose forced labor repaid owners’ mortgages. But investors owed a piece of slave-earned income. Older slave states such as Maryland and Virginia sold slaves to the new cotton states, at securitization-inflated prices, resulting in slave asset bubble. Cotton factor firms like the now-defunct Lehman Brothers — founded in Alabama — became wildly successful. Lehman moved to Wall Street, and for all these firms, every transaction in slave-earned money flowing in and out of the U.S. earned Wall Street firms a fee. The infant American financial industry nourished itself on profits taken from financing slave traders, cotton brokers and underwriting slave-backed bonds. But though slavery ended in 1865, in the years after the Civil War, black entrepreneurs would find themselves excluded from a financial system originally built on their bodies.

While what Baptist is saying is admittedly controversial to some, he helps put the mortgage between Theodore and Bench into context.

In later years, he would give away land for almost nothing. In 1814, two years after the previously mentioned mortgage, he would be one of five commissioners (the others named Josiah Moore, Thomas Bunch, James Beall Senior, and James Bealle Junior) who had gained lands after the death of Ignatius Handy in 1811. However, the courts said the lands should be divided without loss and injury to all parties, and the son of Ignatius, in 1812, received land, but not the commissioners so they advertised the real estate for sale and it was bought by Mordecai Ridgeway. [5] Perhaps due to legal wrangling they sold all of the estate to him, including numerous parcels of land such as Friendship’s Addition, Crichet Bat, and Lanhams Delight. By almost nothing I mean that they only received $5.00 from Ridgeway. This could be because all of the commissioners were good friends of his or that they wanted to be rid of the land and didn’t care what it sold for. Whatever the reason, Middleton was involved in the middle of it.

The mid-1810s and into the 1820s

Focus on Prince George’s County within T.l. Powman’s 1814 “…map of Virginia with Maryland, Delaware.” Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

By 1815, Theodore was buying and selling land with relatively large price tags, possibly showing his wealth. That year, he paid a man named Stanislaus Hoxton $2,176 dollars for two tracts which were named “Triall” and “Deer Pond Enlarged.” [6] This wasn’t the end of the story for those land tracts. In 1820, his son, Henry O. paid him $50 dollars for “10 parcels” of a land, which were part of the two above mentioned tracts. [7] The same year, George Semmes would pay him for these two tracts. He would pay $2,000. [8] Six years later, the tracts were sold again. Likely because of his role as an administrator of Semmes estate, he had regained ownership over the land, and sold it for $2,000 to a woman named  Sarah Folson of the same county. [9]

Some may say that Theodore lost money in these land dealings. After all, there was a negative 3.93% average inflation rate between 1815 and 1826, as noted by Measuring Worth, meaning that the relative value of the $2,176, which had had paid for the land, was now $1,400. Hence, you could take from this, he had a money loss, with his land worth less. However, he still gained, even when you factor in the lower relative value, he brought in $3,690 for the varied land sales in 1820 and 1826. [10] Hence, he garnered, approximately, a 69.6% profit from the transaction as a whole. This land dealing was noting new. Some his ancestors within the county had sold numerous tracts of land to willing buyers. [11]

In 1820, two men, Francis John Lobson and George Semmes, would buy $3,000 dollars worth of “goods” from Theodore. [12] He would grant them 12 enslaved blacks named Daniel, Phil, George, Lewis, John, Sam, Grace, Betty, Celey, Eliza, Grispey?, and Margarett. He would also give them the following:

“five head of horses, nine head of cattle, twelve head of hogs, thirty two head of sheep, and all the household and kitchen furniture which at this time belongs to me the said Theodore Middleton”

While the average price of enslaved blacks was definitely not $900.00 (if it was, they would have been paying $10,800 dollars) as it was in New Orleans at this time, they undoubtedly figured into his transactions. [13] Those involved in the transaction probably did not consider the dehumanizing effects of enslaved blacks being sold alongside livestock, only considering them another form of “property” as part of their wheeling and dealings.

Selling and buying of enslaved people ran in the Middleton family. His son, called Theodore Middleton, Jr. in land records, while he is called Theodore Middleton, Sr.,would pay General Semmes and Francis Tolson for a “young negro man named Sandy.” [14] One of his ancestors, Thomas Middleton Sr. of Piscataway, Prince George’s County, was a major player in the business as well. In February 1743, he sold an enslaved black woman named Lucy to John Lawrence for several thousand pounds, while the following year he would be paid four thousand pounds of tobacco for two enslaved blacks by James Gibbs. The first individual, a woman named Judith, he would pay three thousand pounds of tobacco, while the second was a man named Henry for which he would pay 1,000 pounds of tobacco. [15] Such tobacco not only determined a “man’s wealth” but it was a principal source of revenue for the colonial governments of Virginia and Maryland. After 1730, Marylanders became aware that Virginia’s inspection system gave the state “a great advantage over Maryland by raising the quality and reputation of its’ tobacco” so in 1747 the Maryland General Assembly “passed the Maryland Inspection Acts which remained a permanent feature of the trade in Maryland.” By the time Thomas engaged in this transaction, the price of tobacco has stabilized, avoiding wild price fluctuations that has been a feature in the past within the Chesapeake Bay region.

Jumping forward to the 1830s

By the 1830s, Theodore was bringing in $320 a year as the annual allowance of his federal pension, but it was noted that he was paid in the District of Columbia, which indicated where he lived.

In 1832, a Virginia man named Erasmus Gantt noted he served with Middleton in the spring of 1782, including on the Potomac River, ending his military service in Annapolis. [16] All that is known beyond this is that he was part of the defense of the Chesapeake Bay, and would appointed a Lieutenant.

The same year as Erasmus submitted his pension, another man named John Boone, of Charles County, a Lieutenant in the First Maryland Regiment would also mention Theodore. [17] In the pension, which would continue after his death, sometime before 1853, by his wife Mary Laud, it would note he served from May 1776 to October 1781, fought at the battle of Yorktown, still had his discharge certificate. Even with all of that, Theodore is mentioned only in passing, deep inside the pension:

The second paragraph is where Middleton is mentioned.

The same would seem, from a simple search, to be the case in the pension Henry Hill filed by Hester Hill, his wife. Apart from being a captain, Henry, who lived in D.C. in the 1830s, he would serve from 1777-1782, throughout the Revolutionary war, and be a native of Prince George’s County. [18] Unlike Boone’s pension, in 1841, Theodore would personally attest that Henry was a captain, commanding a company of Maryland militia at the Battle of Germantown (1777):

In 1838, five years after Captain Bayly, in Washington City attested to the fact that he and Benjamin Murdoch were part of the Extra Regiment, he would petition the US House of Representatives for relief. [19] In his petition, he would note his service as a lieutenant in the Extra Regiment, wanting five years pay for his service, and he would receive such pay accordingly.

Into the 1840s

By 1840, Theodore would still be living in D.C. while his son lived in Baltimore. Within the household would be two white males, one under age 5, the other between ages 30 and 40, and two white females, one between ages 5 and 10, the other between ages 20 and 30. With these individuals were undoubtedly his children, would be two enslaved blacks, one whom was a male between ages 5-10 and the other also a male but between ages 20 and 30. There would also be one “free” black woman living in the household between ages 10 and 24.

There a few other facts which are known about his life. [20] The Theodore’s wife, Julia, owned varying enslaved blacks and was well-off, to an extent, before her death in November 1842. When she died, eight children were left with only Theodore living until his death.

In terms of Theodore’s death, some sources seem to indicate that he died 85 years of age on January 28, 1844, Theodore died in Prince George’s County, but still within the bounds of Washington, D.C. seemingly. Others seem to think that he died in 1845 for some reason. [21] As it turns out, those that said he died in 1844 would be correct, as proved by the short death notice in the Baltimore Sun:

Source: “DIED.” The Sun (1837-1991): 2. Feb 06 1844. ProQuest. Web. 30 May 2017 .

It would be at this point that the Baltimore Republican & Daily Argus would call him “a character for probity and honor” from what we know. Other requests of the exact copy of the newspaper would be required to verify this quote, specifically from these institutions.

After his death

Hence, after his death, his heirs began to collect his pension benefits from the Federal government. Many of his descendants, including his son, had the same name, owning property in Prince George’s County which included a house of some kind. Also there are reports that his son Theodore served as a traveling agent in Baltimore for the Maryland State Colonization Society and possible mentions of him in within Daniel Boone Lloyd’s genealogy titled The Middletons and kindred families of southern Maryland. [22] Later, one of his descendants, James Middleton, would serve as a Confederate soldier while another would be sheriff in Harlon County, Kentucky in the early 20th century as numerous newspapers, ranging from the New York Times to Washington Post would attest.

In all, he would be honored by his family and part of the annals of Maryland history for years to come.

Notes

[1] He also said that in his present living area he was “personally acquainted with the Rev. Spencer Mitchell, George Semmes, Henry A. Callis, Henry Gantt, John Addison, Bazil Hatten, Notley Maddox…Henry Tolson Esqrs…Judge Key, and the Hon’le B. J. Semmes.”

[2] Henry Wright Newman, “Captain Theodore Middleton” within The Maryland Semmes and Kindred Families (Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1956), 282. Later one of the Middleton family would marry into the Boone family.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Mortgage between Theodore Middleton and Robert Bench, Aug 12, 1812, Prince George’s County Court, Land Records, Liber JRM 15, p. 283, 284 [MSA CE 65-44]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net.

[5] Deed between Theodore Middleton, Josiah Moore, Thomas Bunch, and Mordecai Ridgeway, Oct. 5, 1814, Prince George’s County Court, Land Records, Liber JRM 16, p. 208, 209, 210211 [MSA CE 65-45]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net.

[6] Deed between Theodore Middleton and Stanislaus Hoxton, May 22, 1815, Prince George’s County Court, Land Records, Liber JRM 16, p. 362363 [MSA CE 65-45]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net.

[7] Deed between Theodore Middleton and Henry O. Middleton, Mar. 14, 1820, Prince George’s County Court, Land Records, Liber AB 1, p. 412, 413 [MSA CE 65-48]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net.

[8] Deed between Theodore Middleton and George Semmes, Aug. 29, 1820, Prince George’s County Court, Land Records, Liber AB 1, p. 413, 414 [MSA CE 65-48]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net.

[9] Deed between Theodore Middleton and Sarah Folson, Sept. 13, 1826,  Prince George’s County Court, Land Records, Liber AB 4, p. 342, 343 [MSA CE 65-51]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net.

[10] Originally he was paid $2,050 for such land in 1820, and $2,000 in 1826.

[11] [Deed involving Thomas Middleton and Catherine Plajay, Mar. 13, 1743, Prince George’s County, Land Records, Liber BB 1, p. 103, 104, 105 [MSA CE 65-12]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net.

[12] Bill of sale by Theodore Middleton to Francis John Lobson, April 3, 1820, Prince George’s County Court, Land Records, Liber AB 1, p. 264 [MSA CE 65-48]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net.

[13] “Average Price of Slaves, New Orleans, 1804-1862” within Edward Baptist, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism (New York: Basic Books, 2014), 174, citing the New Orleans Sale Sample, 1805-1862, which was compiled by Robert W. Fogel and Stanley L. Engerman.

[14] Bill of Sale from Gen. Semmes and Francis Tolson to Theodore Middleton, November 12, 1821, Prince George’s County Court, Land Records, Liber AB 2, p. 33 [MSA CE 65-49]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net.

[15] Bill of sale involving Thomas Middleton and John Lawrence, Feb. 24, 1743, Prince George’s County, Land Records, Liber BB 1, p. 85, 86 [MSA CE 65-12]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net; Bill of sale involving Thomas Middleton and James Gibbs, May 17, 1744, Prince George’s County, Land Records, Liber BB 1, p. 130131 [MSA CE 65-12]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net; Bill of sale involving Thomas Middleton and James Gibbs, May 17, 1744, Prince George’s County, Land Records, Liber BB 1, p. 131, [MSA CE 65-12]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net.

[16] Pension of Erasmus Gantt, 1832, Survivor’s Pension Application File, S.10.727, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest.

[17] Pension of John Boone, 1832, Pension Application File, S. 8076, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest.

[18] Pension of Hester Hill for benefits of Henry Hill her husband, 1856, Pension Application File, W. 14,907, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest.

[19] Middleton’s pension “includes a certificate by Mountjoy Bayly of the District of Columbia dated 27 Feb 1833, signed as shown, certifying Middleton’s service in words almost identical to those in the above application. On 11 March 1833 Theodore Middleton applied to have his pension payable in Washington, DC. A note by W. H. Middleton dated 25 Oct 1855 asks that the Commissioner of Pensions allow examination of the papers pertaining to his father, Theodore Middleton.”

[20] Reportedly there is information about him within this article and this newspaper although that cannot be confirmed.

[21] Newman, “Captain Theodore Middleton,” 283.

[22] “Reports of Traveling Agents,” Maryland Colonization Journal, Baltimore, Dec. 1856, Vol. 8, no. 19, 304. He is reportedly mentioned on pages 97 and 376 at least of Daniel Boone Lloyd’s The Middletons and kindred families of southern Maryland.

Col. Barton Lucas: more than a military man

Reposted from Academia.edu. I originally wrote this while working at the Maryland State Archives on the Finding the Maryland 400 project.

A zoomed version of a 1754 map by Emanuel Bowen apparently showing English Plantations

In the past, we have written about Col. Barton Lucas, captain of the Third Company. Previous posts have focused on records kept by Lucas’s clerk about the clothing worn by members of the Maryland 400 and mentioned in passing that he was sick and missed the Battle of Brooklyn. We also recalled how John Hughes, a private in Lucas’s company, mentioned how the Battle of Brooklyn made Capt. Barton Lucas “deranged in consequence of losing his company” and about his other military duties in the rest of the war including his service as a militia captain. Rather than just reciting the recently expanded biography of Lucas, this post focuses on a number of aspects of Lucas’s life including his family relations and life as a slaveowner with a plantation.

According to some sources, Barton Lucas was born in Prince George’s County in 1730. Thomas Lucas was his father and Anne Keene his mother, and Barton had four other siblings named Basil, Sarah, Margaret, and Thomas. [1] In 1756, Lucas’s father died, willing his half of his 112-acre-plantation on land called “Hopeyard” or “Hope yard,” sitting on the Potomac River, to Lucas and the other half to his brother, Basil. [2] Six years later, in 1762, Lucas married Priscilla Sprigg, the daughter of Osborn Sprigg, a prominent Maryland legislator, whose last name changed to Lucas after their marriage. Prisey, his “beloved wife” was born in 1735 and, like Lucas, had four siblings named Lucy, Esther, Rachel, and Eliza. [3] In the 1750s and 1760s, Barton cemented himself as a well-off plantation owner and slaveowner like his father, buying and selling enslaved blacks for his farming plantation. [4]

When he inherited the land from his father, plantations were transitioning. During the 1740s Maryland slavery began to change with enslaved blacks developing immunity to diseases in the Americas and planters, seeing the advantage of a domestic, self-reproducing labor force, imported men and women so that ratio of enslaved men and women balanced out and they, as a result, relied less on the transatlantic slave trade. On Maryland plantations, this change definitely had an impact. [5]

In the years after the Revolutionary War, a time when Lucas returned as the overseer of his plantation, many planters shifted from tobacco to a mix of corn, wheat, hay, and livestock raising, among other products, with important markets of urban populations in Maryland cities and towns. [6] The list of his possessions, which showed that he possessed plantation tools, tanned leather, and sizable amount of wool, along with numerous farm animals and six enslaved blacks, could indicate that the plant sheered sheep, slaughtered and skinned cows for their leather, which could be used for leather shoes or belts, and killed pigs for their own consumption and sold to broader markets. [7] During the Revolutionary War, the previous trade exchange between Britain and the 13 colonies was disrupted, but commodities such as bread, flour, wheat and tobacco were sent to parts of the world, such as the West Indies, while vital supplies sent back to sustain the war effort. [8] In addition, livestock, in Charles County for example, had to be pastured and fed, beef and pork salted, and wheat grown to feed the Continental Army and other military forces despite a “war ravaged economy.” [9]

Lucas’s plantation falls into an existing historical context. Based on the list of his possessions after his death, which includes tablecloths, napkins, walnut chairs and tables, wine glasses, tea kettles, and pots, it is clear that he, a well-off planter, was part of a broader trend of eighteenth century Maryland plantations, in the pseudo-classic Georgian style, which came with “tea, china, and good manners.” [10]

When Lucas died in either 1784 or 1785, in Prince George’s County, with six enslaved blacks held collectively by his wife and himself, and much of his property value consisted of enslaved blacks. [11] Lucas’s brother-in-law, Osborn Sprigg Jr., who was a prominent figure in the revolutionary period, became executor of the estate because Priscilla Lucas died. [12] Lucas’s plantation stayed in the family with Sprigg sold the land in 1786 by a member of the Lucas family. [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, pp. 114, MdHR 1308-1. [MSA S538-44, 1/11/01/038].

[2] Ibid. The will of a well-off planter, a “John Smith,” who was “sick and weak in body,” wills all sorts of land to his descendants and 150 acres of a land called “Hopeyard” to “Thomas Lucas son of Thomas Lucas and to his heirs forever” (Will of John Smith, Prince George’s County Register of Wills, Liber 1, p. 31-2, MdHR 9724-1 [MSA C1326-1, 1/25/07/002]; Inventory of John Smith, Prince George’s County Register of Wills, Liber BB 1, p. 31-2, MdHR 9792 [MSA C1228-1, 1/25/08/038]

[3] 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; 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; Prince George’s County Court, Land Records, 1765, Liber TT, p. 0338-9 [MSA CE65-19]; Special Collections, Legislative History Project Collection, Osborn Sprigg (ca. 1741-1815) [MSA SC 1138-001-1160/1177, 2/11/12/72].

[4] Prince George’s County Court, Land Records, 1775, Liber CC 2, p. 0135 [MSA CE 65-23]. Prince George’s County Court, Land Records, 1759, Liber PP, p. 0093, 0144, 0321-2 [MSA CE65-17]. Prince George’s County Court, Land Records, 1772, Liber BB 3, p. 0068, 0085 [MSA CE65-22]. Prince George’s County Court, Land Records, 1765, Liber TT, p. 0338-9 [MSA CE65-19]; Will of Thomas Lucas, 1765, Prerogative Court, Wills, Liber BT2, pp. 114, MdHR 1308-1 [MSA S538-44, 1/11/01/038]; 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].The slaveowning was basically a family affair as shown in the will of his father, Thomas Lucas, which gives his sons (Basil and Thomas) and daughters (Margaret and Sarah) a number of slaves named Amy, Hamilton, and James.

[5] Also see this report titled “Records of Ante-Bellum Southern Plantations from the Revolution through the Civil War.” It is worth also noting the existence of Sotterley Plantation in Southern Maryland as well.

[6] Such Maryland towns included Baltimore, Fredericksburg, Frederick, and a number of towns in Virginia (Richmond, Norfolk, Alexandria, and Lynchburg). Lorena Walsh. “Slave Life, Society, and Tobacco Production in the Tidewater Chesapeake.” Cultivation and Culture: Labor and the Shaping of Slave Life in the Americas (ed. Ira Berlin and Philip D. Morgan). London: University Press of Virginia, 1993, 191.

[7] As Jean B. Lee notes on page 173 of The Price of Nationhood, during the Revolutionary War, cowhide was used in shoes.

[8] Ernest M. Eller. “Chesapeake in the American Revolution.” Chesapeake Bay in the American Revolution (ed. Ernest M. Eller. Centreville, MD: Tidewater Publishers, 1981), 5. Myron J. Smith and John G. Earle. “Maryland State Navy.” Chesapeake Bay in the American Revolution (ed. Ernest M. Eller. Centreville, MD: Tidewater Publishers, 1981), 212, 215, 219.

[9] Jean B. Lee, The Price of Nationhood: The American Revolution in Charles County (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1994), 176-8. 180.

[10] Other possessions include “iron dogs” for holding firewood and feather beds, as noted in his will (Inventory of Col. Barton Lucas, Prince George’s County Register of Wills, Inventories, Liber ST, pp. 338-40, MdHR 9799 [MSA C1228-9, 1/25/09/001]). In Prince George’s County, numerous plantation houses were constructed mostly in Georgian style and had a style of “strict symmetry” as noted by the Prince George’s County Planning Department report. Also see this set of reports by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.

[11] 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]; Prince George’s County Court, Land Records, 1759, Liber PP, p. 0093, 0144, 0321-2 [MSA CE65-17]; Prince George’s County Court, Land Records, 1775, Liber CC 2, p. 0135 [MSA CE65-23]; Prince George’s County Court, Land Records, 1772, Liber BB 3, p. 0068, 0085 [MSA CE65-22]; Prince George’s County Court, Land Records, 1765, Liber TT, p. 0338-9 [MSA CE65-19]; Will of Barton Lucas, Prince George’s County, Register of Wills, Administration Bonds, October 1785, MdHR 9791 [MSA C1146-4, 1/25/08/003]; 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]; 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]; Will of Thomas Lucas, 1765, Prerogative Court, Wills, Liber BT2, p. 114, MdHR 1308-1. [MSA S538-44, 1/11/01/038]. In his final will, Lucas gave real and personal estate to his wife Prisey for “many considerations” and said that his estate would be administered by her.

[12] Prince George’s County Register of Wills, Administration Accounts, Liber ST 2, p. 6, MdHR 18865 [MSA C1144-6, 1/25/10/017]; 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), 764. The administrative account only says that Osborn Sprigg is an executor and accountant for the estate, not if he inherited the land.

[13] Will of Osborn Sprigg, 1815, Prince George’s County Register of Wills, Estate Papers [C2119-81, 00/50/07/040]; Prince George’s County Court, Land Records, Liber HH, p. 0058-9 [MSA CE65-26]. His 1815 will, which says Sprigg passed down tracts of land to family members, may mention Hopeyard.

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]