Settlement of Maryland, 1634-1684

Several categories of people settled early Maryland–

Gentleman Adventurers–Gentlemen paid their own expenses to America, bringing their families and servants with them.  They could claim bounty land for each person imported.  Usually named and certified before the county court in order to receive their land.  50 acres of land awarded per person.

Immigrants from Other Colonies–These were refugees seeking help and sustenance, including those from the West Indies, and dissidents and Quakers rejected by Virginia.   Bounty lands were also awarded to these persons.

Indentured Servants–Worked on contract with employers for a specified length of time.  Contracts were negotiated before emigration for 4-7 years or 21 years of age, whichever came first.  Irish servants were required to serve until age 25. When the contract was fulfilled, the servants received a new set of clothes, a set of tools, and a new occupational life.  They became Freemen with the right to apply for land.  Land holdings were required for the right to vote.

Redemptioners—Immigrants who were unable to pay their way to America.  Ship captains and shipping agents took the risk of bringing these servants over and selling their services to American merchants for the cost of their passage. They served 3-5 years.  Port officials in the British Isles recorded the departure of these redemptioners and their contracts may be found in local court records in America.

Convicts—These emigrants were of two categories:  1) political prisoners who were on the wrong side of the political fence after Monmouth’s Rebellion (1684) and the Jacobite uprisings in 1715 and 1745. When they refused to switch and take an oath of allegiance to the government, they were given the option of transportation.  And Scots, who revolted under Cromwell in the early seventeenth century were sent to the West Indies or dispersed among the New England colonies.  They became servants in America to finish their sentences. Many of these were sons of good families and even younger sons of noblemen. The term of service was usually 7 years with contracts sold to speculators who sold their services at auction.  2) criminal prisoners who were convicted of actual crimes and vagrants sentenced to deportation to the Plantations.

Free Settlers—who transported themselves and their families to America.  They purchased land to establish themselves or settled in towns and cities to follow a trade.

Study and Documentation Bibliography:

Jones, Frederick Robinson. The Colonization of the Middle States and Maryland.  Previously published in 1904, as the History of North America, Volume 4.  1904. Reprinted in 2000 by Heritage Books, Bowie MD.

Newman, Harry Wright.  To Maryland from Overseas:  A Complete Digest…Annapolis MD:  for the author, 1982. A study and list of Jacobite Loyalists and felons sentenced to transportation.

Skordas, Gust.  The Early Settlers of Maryland: An Index of Immigrants taken from Land Records, 1633-1680. Baltimore MD: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1968. About 20,000 settlers.  See also Supplement of 8680 additional names by Carson Gibb.

Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS  I plan to do client research in Maryland in November in these categories.  And I am very excited!


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