On Friday the 22 of November 1633, a small gale of winde comming gently from the Northwest, weighed from the Cowes, in the Ile of Wight, about ten in the morning; & (hauing stayed by the way twenty dayes at the Barbada's, and fourtene dayes at St. Christophers, vpon some necessary occasions,) wee arrived at Point-Comfort in Virginia, on the 24. of February following, the Lord be praised for it. At this time one Captaine Claybourne was come from parts where wee intended to plant, to Virginia, and from him wee vnderstood, that all the natiues of these parts were in preparation of defence, by reason of a rumour somebody had raised amongst them, of sixe ships that were come with a power of Spanyards, whose meaning was to driue all the inhabitants out of the Countrey.
On the 3. of March wee came into Chesapeake Bay, and made sayle to the North of Patoemeck riuer, the Bay running betweene two sweete lands in the channell of 7. 8. and 9 fathome deepe, 10 leagues broad, and full of fish at the time of the yeere; It is one of the delightfullest waters I euer saw, except Potoemeck, which wee named St. Gregories. And now being in our own Countrey, wee began to giue names to places, and called the Southerne Pointe, Cape Saint Gregory; and the Northerly Point, Saint Michaels.
This riuer, of all I know, is the greatest and sweetest, much broader than the Thames; so pleasant, as I for my part, was neuer satisfied in beholding it. Few marshes or swamps, but the greatest part sollid good earth, with great Curiosity of woods which are not Choaked vp with vndershrubbes, but set commonly one from the other in such distance, as a Coach and foure horses may easily trauell through them.
At the first loaming of the ship vpon the river, wee found (as was foretold vs) all the Countrey in Armes. The King of the Paschattowayes had drawen together 1500 bowe-men, which wee ourselues saw, the woods were fired in manner of beacons the night after; and for that our vessell was the greatest that euer those Indians saw, the scowtes reported wee came in a Canoe, as bigge as an Island, and had as many men as there bee trees in the woods.
Wee sayled vp the river till wee came to Heron Ilands, so called from the infinite swarmes of that fowle there. The first of those Ilands we called Saint Clement's: The second Saint Katharine's; And the third, Saint Cicilie's. We took land first in Saint Clement's, which is compassed about with a shallow water, and admitts no accesse without wading; here by the ouerturning of the Shallop, the maids which had been washing at the land were almost drowned, beside the losse of much linnen, and amongst the rest, I lost the best of mine which is a very maine losse in these parts. The ground is couered thicke with pokickeries (which is a wild Wall-nut very hard and thick of shell; but the meate (though little) is passing sweete,) with black Wall-nuts, and acorns bigger than Ours. It abounds with Vines and Salletts, hearbs and flowers, full of Cedar and Sassafras. It is but 400 acres bigg, & therefore too little for vs to settle vpon.
Heere we went to a place, where a large tree was made into a Crosse; and taking it on our shoulders, wee carried it to the place appointed for it. The Gouernour and Commissioners putting their hands first vnto it, then the rest of the chiefest aduenturers. At the place prepared wee all kneeled downe, & said certain Prayers; taking possession of the Countrey for our Saviour, and for our soueraigne Lord the King of England. . . .
The Gouernour being returned, wee Came some nine leagues lower to a riuer on the North Side of that land, as bigg as the Thames: which wee called Saint Gregorie's river.2 It runs vp to the North about 20 miles before it comes to the fresh. This river makes two excellent Bayes, for 300 sayle of Shippes of 1000. tunne, to harbour in with great safety. The one Bay we named Saint George's; the other (and more inward) Saint Marie's. The King of Yaocomico, dwells on the left-hand or side thereof: & we tooke vp our Seate on the right, one mile within the land. It is as braue a piece of ground to set down on as most is in the Countrey, & I suppose as good, (if not much better) than the primest parcel of English ground.
Our Town we call Saint Marie's; and to auoid all iust occasion of offence, & collour of wrong, wee bought of the King for Hatchets, Axes, Howes, and Cloathes, a quantitie of some 30 miles of Land, which wee call Augusta Carolina; And that which made them the more willing to sell it, was the warres they had with the Sasqusa-hanoughs,3 a mighty bordering nation, who came often into their Countrey, to waste & destroy; & forced many of them to leaue their Countrey, and passe ouer Patoemeck to free themselues from perill before wee came. God no doubt disposing all this for them, who were to bring his law and light among the Infidells. Yet, seeing wee came soe well prepared with armes, their feare was much lesse, & they could be content to dwell by vs: Yet doe they daily relinquish their houses, lands, & Corneflelds, & leaue them to vs. Is not this a piece of wonder that a- nation, which a few dayes before was in armes with the rest against vs, should yeeld themselues now vnto vs like lambes, & giue vs their houses, land & linings, for a trifle? Digitus Dei est hie: and surely some great good is entended by God to his Nation. Some few families of Indians, are permitted to stay by vs till next yeere, & then the land is free. . . .
And now to returne to the place itself, chosen for our plantation. Wee haue been vpon it but one month, and therefore can make no large relation of it. Yet thus much I can say of it allready; For our own safety, we haue built a good strong Fort or Palizado, & haue mounted vpon it one good piece of Ordnance, and 4 Murderers, and haue seuen pieces of Ordnance more, ready to mount forthwith. For our prouision, heere is some store of Peasen, and Beanes, and Wheate, left on the ground by the Indians, who had satisfaction for it.
Wee haue planted since wee came, as much Maize (or Indian Wheate) as will suffice (if God prosper it) much more company than we haue. It is vp about knee high aboue ground allready, and wee expect return of 1000. for one, as wee haue reason for our hope, from the experience of the yeelde in other parts of this Countrey, as is very credibly related to vs.
Wee haue also English Peasen, & French-beanes, Cotten, Oringes, Limons, Melocotunes, Apples, Peares, Potatos, and Sugar-Canes of our owne planting, beside Hortage comming vp very finely.
But such is the quantity of Vines and Grapes now allready vpon them (though young) as I dare say if wee had Vessells and skill, wee might make many a tonne of Wine, euen from about our Plantation; and such Wine, as those of Virginia say (for yet we can say nothing) as is as good as the Wine of Spaine. I feare they exceede; but surely very good. For the Clime of this Countrey is neere the same with Sivill and Corduba: lying betweene 38 & 40 degrees of Northerlie latitude.
Of Hoggs wee haue allready got from Achomack (a plantation in Virginia) to the number of 100, & more: and some 30 Cowes; and more wee expect daily, with Goates and Hennes; our Horses and Sheepe wee must have out of England, or some other place by the way, for wee can haue none in Virginia.
1This account was compiled from letters written to friends in England by some of the original settlers about a year after their arrival. George Calvert, first Lord Baltimore, founder of Maryland, had sent a group of colonists to Newfoundland in 1621, but the venture being unsuccessful he secured a new grant north of the Potomac, to which, at the request of Charles I, he gave the name of Maryland, in honor of Queen Henrietta Maria. Calvert, after a visit to Virginia, returned to England and there died before his charter was actually issued. In consequence the grant was made out to Calvert's son, Cecil. Cecil Calvert at once organized a company of more than two hundred men, who effected a permanent settlement at St. Mary's, which for sixty years was the capital of the colony of Maryland, Annapolis being afterward chosen. Baltimore was not founded until 1729.
The account here given was published in London in 1634, and is the first extant description of the province. It has been conjectured that Cecil Calvert prepared it from letters written by his brothers, Leonard and George. The account is believed to preserve the exact language of the original writers of the letters. Printed in "Old South Leaflets."
2Now called the Susquehanna.
3The Susquehanna Indiana.