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Providence, Province of Maryland

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Providence is the name given to their settlement by Puritan migrants who came to Maryland in 1649. Providence was the name of the settlement on the north bank of the Severn River until the name Annapolis was used instead. Providence County was often used to refer to Maryland's third county until the name Anne Arundel County came into use.

The accompanying category is intended to be a gathering point for profiles -- and those who edit them -- of settlers in this area of Maryland from 1649 until the name Providence ceased to be used for the city of Annapolis and county of Anne Arundel.


Settlers from Virginia to Maryland

J. D. Warfield, writing of the Founders of Anne Arundel and Howard Counties, lists many settlers who came first to Virginia and then appear in Maryland. [1]

  • Cornelius Lloyd, 800 acres in County of Elizabeth River
  • Henry Catlin
  • John Hill
  • Thomas Meeres, 300 acres, Upper Couty of New Norfolk, and churchwarden; a justice in 1645. Another record says "Edward Lloyd was acting for Thomas Meeres, of Providence, Maryland, in 1645."
  • John Gatear (Gaither), 300 acres in Elizabeth City County
  • John Watkins
  • John Chew, Gentleman, had 500 aqcres in Charles River County
  • Richard Preston, a justice of Nansemond County in 1636
  • William Ayres, plantation on Nansemond River
  • Thomas Davis, 300 acres in Upper County of New Norfolk. Justice in Nansemond County, 1654.
  • John Norwood was summoned to appear before the vestry of Elizabeth River Church in 1648 to give an account of the profits of the "glebe" land since the departure of the pastor. John Norwood was the first sheriff of Anne Arundel County.
  • William Durand having been banished in 1648, Thomas Marsh was ordered to pay the tax on Durand's property.

Many of the names of those who joined the Puritan exodus from Virginia to Maryland in 1649-50 should be among those who immigrated to Maryland from 1623-1666. [2]

Puritan Migration from Virginia to Providence

In August 1648 Lord Baltimore appointed William Stone, a Virginian and Protestant, as Governor of the Province of Maryland. Stone soon offered refuge in Maryland to a "band of persecuted Virginia Puritans"...Richard Bennett, the Puritan leader, settled his flock of three hundred at the mouth of the Severn River, calling the settlement Providence." [3]

The 1649 records of Lower Norfolk Co, Va report: “Whereas, Mr. Edward Lloyd and Mr. Thomas Meeres, Commissioners with Edward Selby, Richard Day, Richard Owens, Thomas Marsh, George Kemp and John Norwood were presented to ye board by the Sheriff for seditious sectuaries for not repairing to their church and for refusing to hear Common Prayer, liberty is granted till October next to inform their judgments and to conform themselves to the established law.” Before that term of probation had expired all the above named were safely settled in the province of Maryland. [4]

Puritan Commissioners in Maryland

July 22, 1654 to 1657, March 24. Government by Commissioners. Between 1652 and 1656, William Stone's commission as governor from the proprietor was contested by the Parliamentary Commissioners.

  • Richard Bennett and William Claiborne, with authorization from the Puritan government in England, issued an ordinance July 22, 1654, to ten Marylanders as commissioners for the well Ordering, directing and Governing the affaires of Maryland with powers that included the right to summon assemblies.
  • Commissioners appointed by Parliamentary Commissioners:
William Fuller,
William Durand,
John Smith,
John Lawson,
Richard Wells,
Richard Preston,
Edward Lloyd,
Leonard Strong,
John Hatch, and
Richard Ewen, 1654-1657
  • Later additions to the body of commissioners were
William Parker (October 20, 1654),
Robert Slye (April 24, 1655),
Thomas Meeres and
Thomas Marsha (June 26, 1655),
Sampson Waring,
Michael Brooke,
John Pott and
Woodman Stockley(August 13, 1655),
William Parrott (March 23, 1656/57), and
Philip Morgan,
William Ewen,
Thomas Thomas,
Philip Thomas,
Samuel Withers and
Richard Woolman (by spring, 1657).
Thomas Marsh died in 1656/57 and
Leonard Strong was serving as agent in England ca. 1655,

but the other commissioners presumably remained active. The records, however, are incomplete and therefore the full service of all the commissioners cannot be established. The commissioners surrended their powers to the restored proprietary government March 24, 1657/58. [5]

Battle of the Severn: 25 March 1655

For a detailed account of the Battle of the Severn, the reader is referred to Chapter 2 (pages 22-30) of J. D. Warfield's book, the founders of Anne Arundel and Howard Counties, Maryland. Below are extracted from that account the names of players, and their roles:

  • William Eltonhead, a messenger from Lord Baltimore to Governor Stone, who took passage on Captain Tilghman's Golden Fortune. The message was that Lord Baltimore had retained his leadership of Maryland, even under the Puritan Commonwealth in England, and Governor Stone was still Governor.
  • John Hammond, historian, dispatched by Governor Stone to seize and bring back the County's records.
  • Col. Richard Preston, whose home contained the records until John Hammond seized them.
  • Governor William Stone, who thereupon organized a military company of 200 men and 11 vessels with the Severn River as their destination.
  • William Durand. Secretary of the Puritans of Providence, who responded to Stone's approach with a letter that begin with "Sir,--The People of these parts have met together and considered the present transactions on your part..." and ended, after presenting several conditions, with "We are content to own yourself as governor, and submit to your government. If not, we are resolved to submit ourselves into the hands of God, and rather die like men than be made slaves." [6]
  • Dr. Luke Barber, a messenger sent by Stone to Providence, to treat with the people of Anne Arundel.
  • Mr. Coursey -- a second messenger accompanying Barber. Both messengers, after delivering their message stayed with the people of Providence.
  • Roger Heamans, master of the Golden Lyon, then at harbor on the Severn. Captain Fuller, commander of the Anne Arundel forces, "called a council together and dispatched Secretary Durand to Heamans to command his assistance "in the name of the Lord Protector and Commonwealth of England." Heamans complied. As Stone's flotilla approached, the Golden Lyon fired a shot, which Stone's flotilla ignored, taking anchor in Herring Creek. A small ship of Captain Cuts of New England was also present, and the Puritans employed it to block Herring Creek to keep Stone's flotilla at bay during the night. The next morning, 25 March 1655, Stone's men assembled in formation flying the black and gold flag of Lord Baltimore's Calvert family. Shots from the Golden Lyon killed one and wounded another of Stone's men.
  • Captain Fuller took 170 of the Providence men six miles upstream to cross the Severn, and came down to engage Governor Stone's men from the rear. His men flew the Standard of the Commonwealth of England. Captain Fuller ordered his men not to shoot unless shot at. Stone's men shot at the flag and then killed a man.
  • William Ayers, the standard bearer, was the first man shot. A battle then ensued. The Providence men's slogan was "God is our strength"The Maryland word was "Hey! for St. Maries!" Heamans then wrote:
The charge was fierce and sharp for a time; but through the glorious presence of the Lord of Hosts the enemy could not endure, but gave back and were so effectually chargeed home, that they were all routed, turned their backs, threw down their arms, and begged for mercy. After the first shot a small company of the enemy from behind a great tree fallen, galled us, and wounded divers of our men, but were soon beaten off. Of the whole company of Marylanders there escaped only four or five, who ran away out of the army to carry the news of their confederates. Captain Stone, Colonel Peirce, Major Chandler and all of the rest of the councillors, officers and soldiers of the Lord Baltimore, among whom were a great number of Papists, wer taken; and so were all their vessels, arms, ammunition, provisions. About fifty men were slain and wounded. (Mr. Thomas Hatton, late secretary of the province, was one of the slain). We lost only two in the field, but two died since of their wounds. God did appear wonderful in the field and in the harts of the people; all confessing him to be the worker of this victory and deliverance. [7]

Dr. Barber records:

After the skirmish, the governor, upon quarter given him and all his company in the field, yielded to be prisoners; but two or three days after, the victors condemned ten to death, and executed four, and had executed all had not the incessant petitioning and begging of some good women saved them, and the soldiers, others. The governor himself being condemned by them, and since begged by the soldiers; some being saved just as they were leading out to execution. [8]

The four who were shot were:

  • William Eltonhead, of Governor Stones' council
  • Captain William Lewis
  • John Legatt
  • John Pedro.

The deposition of Henry Coursey, one of Governor Stone's messengers, sheds this further light on the contest: "Governor Stone and most of his party (after their surrender), were transported over the river to a fort at Anne Arundel, where they were all kept prisoners, and about three days after, the Providence leaders sat in a council of war and condemned prisoners. The Providence leaders sitting as a council of war and doing the condemning were:

The "Maryland men" who were condemned were:


  1. Warfield, pp. 5-6
  2. Complete listing of Early Virginia Immigrants, 1623-1666 (from book published 1912 by George Cabell Greer, now copyright-free) http://www.evmedia.com/virginia/. Accessed April 10, 2015
  3. Brugger, p. 20
  4. Edward Lloyd, The Puritan, Talbot County Free Library, http://www.tcfl.org/mdroom/worthies/lloyd/puritan.html, also in Warfield, p. 6
  5. David Selleck and the Virginia Puritans. http://www.mosesrawlings.freeservers.com/davidselleck.html
  6. Warfield, pp. 22-23
  7. Warfield, p. 25
  8. Warfield, p. 25-6

See also:

Robert J. Brugger: Maryland: A Middle Temperament 1634-1980. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1988.

J. D. Warfield, The Founders of Anne Arundel and Howard Counties, Maryland. Baltimore: Regional Publishing Company, 1973 (originally published 1905)

Colleagues and Acknowledgements

Wikitree Members with a working interest in Providence, Province of Maryland:

Jack Day, descended from Sampson Waring

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