Friday, November 20, 2009


My Maryland ancestry goes back to Governor William Stone (1603-1660) and his wife Verlinda Graves or Cotton (?-c. 1675). (See “A Protestant Governor for Catholic Maryland” in ALL OF THE ABOVE, Richard Baldwin Cook, published by NATVA LLC, 2007, 2009, pp. 363-375.)

In 1648, Captain William and Verlinda Stone came into Maryland from Virginia Colony. They had been part of the influential and wealthy elite of Virginia. They were typical of the well-connected, ambitious, talented, assertive and miniscule colonial patrician class, who wanted large tracts and many slaves to make their lands ever more productive and profitable for themselves and their heirs.

A communicant of the Church of England, Stone became Governor of Maryland shortly before the beheading of Charles I in 1649. He was appointed by the Catholic Cecil Calvert, Second Lord Baltimore and colonizer (“proprietor”) of the Province of Maryland. Cecil Calvert “hastened to secure his tenure of Maryland by showing the world that his Province was not all Roman Catholic to the prejudice of Protestants.”

At the time of his appointment as Governor of Maryland, William Stone was already prominent in Virginia. Born in Northhamptonshire England in 1603, he was living in “the Plantation of Acchowmacke” [Accawmacke] in 1633, a commissioner, and member of the Accawmacke Court (Northampton County) that year. (Records of William Stone’s appointments, land transactions and other activities in Virginia are among the oldest surviving records in that state.) In 1634, Stone was appointed High Sheriff of the county. In 1635, Stone was listed as a member of the first Vestry to be organized at Hungars Episcopal Church, Eastville, in Northhampton County, Virginia Colony. Therefore, Stone was part of the religious establishment of Virginia.

The Protestant Stone promised Cecil Calvert, the Second Lord Baltimore, he would invite many of his co-adherents in Virginia to join Stone in populating the Calvert family’s proprietary colony. The appointment of a Protestant governor may have been for show. Stone, when absent from the Colony, would leave in charge the former Catholic governor. The governing council was evenly divided Catholic and Protestant. The Catholic population was primarily in southern Maryland, around St. Mary’s City, while a large group of Puritans from Virginia had settled in Anne Arundel County (named for the wife of Proprietor Cecil Calvert) at the community they called Providence, which shortly was renamed Annapolis (named for Princess Anne, daughter of English Queen Mary).

When William and Verlinda Stone moved their home from Virginia into Maryland, they brought with them a number of indentured servants. They also brought “four Negroes and one Turk and one Indian.” This accounting appears in a formal registration William Stone submitted to the land office in Maryland, demanding the right to enter lands he had been promised in exchange for bringing his family from Virginia to Maryland.  (More on human enslavement in Maryland, in a later blog.)

The Virginians had come into Maryland to avoid curtailments of their religious practices, as was being attempted by Virginia Governor William Berkeley. The new Marylanders proved unwilling to take an oath of allegiance to Lord Baltimore, holding the oath was “Romish” as it bound them to obey a “Popish Government.” The Puritans offered to swear to be true to Baltimore’s interests, but this compromise was not acceptable to the Lord Proprietary, who ordered all who refused the oath to be expelled. The impasse was compounded by continuing turbulence in England. William Stone was Protestant but not of a Separatist stripe. Unfortunately for him, many of the Virginians who joined him in Maryland, were blood and bone Puritans.

Stone’s appointment to the governorship in Maryland might have been portrayed by Lord Baltimore in London as a respectful bow to Protestantism. But in Virginia and Maryland, separatists would have seen this as no sort of recognition for themselves. Undoubtedly, some of these wrote letters and otherwise communicated to Cromwell and his agents in England, to state that an Anglican-Catholic consortium in charge in St Mary’s City was no true Protestant government for Maryland.  

In 1654, commissioners from England arrived in Maryland. They insisted that the province be governed directly from England by the Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell.  William Stone was compelled to resign. He stated in a proclamation that he did so “for prevention of the effusion of Blood and ruine of the Country and Inhabitants.” But the risk of “ruine” soon was reassessed.

In 1655, a ship, the Golden Fortune, arrived with reinforcements from Lord Baltimore. The emboldened William Stone, to his misfortune, then demanded that he be restored as Governor under the terms of the original charter. Marching with his supporters toward Patuxent to reclaim official records, Stone was met by an army of Puritans, many of them recently settled asylees from Virginia Colony, whom Stone himself had invited into Maryland. These hearty, serious planters were in no mood to come once again, under the thumb of an overreaching colonial administration, and certainly not a Catholic Proprietorship. Not for this had they crossed a wide ocean and lately uprooted themselves from Virginia to Maryland.

Near present day Annapolis, at the mouth of the Severn River, the Virginia Protestants, commanded by Captain William Fuller, defeated the little army of William Stone, agent of Lord Baltimore. Some of the defeated “Papists” were court marshaled and at least one was executed on the spot. Stone, wounded in the shoulder, only just escaped execution by firing squad.

For a time, Stone was held prisoner. His wife Verlinda boldly appealed to Lord Baltimore, reciting in her letter some of the details of the battle. “Not above five of our men escaped,” she wrote, “which ran away before the fight was ended . . . They have sequestered my Husband’s Estate, only they say they will allow a maintenance for me and my children which I do believe will be but small. They keep my husband with the rest of the Council, all other officers, still prisoners, et cetera.” Stone was freed and regained possession of at least some of his lands, including his estate, Nanjemy, later called Poynton Manor. William Stone died in 1660 in his house in St. Mary’s City.          

William and Verlinda Stone had seven children: Thomas, Richard, John, Matthew, Elizabeth, Katherine, and Mary Stone (?-before 1689), who became the wife, first of _____ Thomas and then, as a widow, of Robert Doyne (?-1689), High Sheriff of Charles County, Maryland. Verlinda Stone, in her will, dated March 3, 1675, and probated Sept 17, 1675, left “my dearest daughter Doyne my silver salt.” Mary had a place to put the silver salt as this sentimental gift had been preceded by a donation to her of considerable land from her father William Stone, in his 1659 will. (I am descended from the Stones through their daughter, Mary.)

Verlinda and William Stone had many prominent connections and descendents. Their daughter Elizabeth married William Calvert, son of Maryland Governor Leonard Calvert and grandson of George Calvert, First Lord Baltimore. Another descendent, William Murray Stone, was the third Protestant Episcopal Bishop of Maryland. Thomas Stone, a double great grandson, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Descendent Michael Jennifer was a member of the Maryland Convention that ratified the Constitution of the United States in 1788. John, a brother of the signer Thomas Stone, was a governor of Maryland.