Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature: An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891. Vols. III: Colonial Literature, 16071764
A Story of Colonial Ingratitude
By John Hammond (d. 1707)
[Leah and Rachel, or the Two Fruitfull Sisters, Virginia and Mary-land. 1656.]
HAVING for nineteen year served Virginia the elder sister, I casting my eye on Mary-land the younger, grew enamored on her beauty, resolving like Jacob when he had first served for Leah, to begin a fresh service for Rachel.
Two year and upward have I enjoyed her company with delight and profit, but was enforced by reason of her unnatural disturbances to leave her weeping for her children and would not be comforted, because they were not; yet will I never totally forsake or be beaten off from her .
Mary-land is a province not commonly known in England, because the name of Virginia includes or clouds it. It is a country wholly belonging to that honorable Gentleman the Lord of Baltimore, granted him by Patent under the broad Seal of England long since, and at his charge settled, granted for many reasons, and this for one; that Virginia having more land than they could manure or look after in convenient time, first the Dutch came and took from the English much land which they still hold, next the Swede, who entrenched nearer and had not this Patent came and prevented it, Dutch, Swede, French and other strangers had penned up our nation within the bounds of Virginia, whereas now they have now all Mary-land, as it were their own, it being only granted for the use of Brittains and Irish.
It is (not an Island as is reported, but) part of that main adjoining to Virginia, only separated or parted from Virginia by a river of ten miles broad, called Patomack river, the commodities and manner of living as in Virginia, the soil somewhat more temperate (as being more Northerly), many stately and navigable rivers are contained in it, plentifully stored with wholesome springs, a rich and pleasant soil, and so that its extraordinary goodness hath made it rather desired than envied, which hath been fatal to her (as beauty is oftentimes to those that are endued with it), and that the reader may thoroughly be informed how she hath suffered, I shall in brief relate, and conclude.
It is to be understood that in the time of the late King, Virginia being whole for monarchy, and the last country belonging to England that submitted to obedience of the Commonwealth of England. And there was in Virginia a certain people congregated into a Church, calling themselves Independents, which daily increasing, several consultations were had by the state of that colony, how to suppress and extinguish them, which was daily put in execution, as first their Pastor was banished, next their other teachers, then many by informations clapt up in prison, then generally disarmed (which was very harsh in such a country where the heathen live round about them) by one Colonel Samuel Mathews then a Counsellor in Virginia and since Agent for Virginia to the then parliament, and lastly in a condition of banishment, so that they knew not in those straits how to dispose of themselves.
Mary-land (my present subject) was courted by them as a refuge, the Lord Proprietor and his Governor solicited to, and several addresses and treaties made for their admittance and entertainment into that province, their conditions were pitied, their propositions were hearkened to and agreed on, which was that they should have convenient portions of land assigned them, liberty of conscience and privilege to choose their own officers, and hold courts within themselves, all was granted them. They had a whole county of the richest land in the province assigned them, and such as themselves made choice of, the conditions of plantations (such as were common to all adventurers) were showed and propounded to them, which they extremely approved of, and nothing was in those conditions exacted from them, but appeals to the Provincial court, quit-rents, and an oath of fidelity to the Proprietor. An assembly was called throughout the whole country after their coming over (consisting as well of themselves as the rest), and because there were some few Papists that first inhabited these themselves, and others being of different judgments, an act passed that all professing in Jesus Christ should have equal justice, privileges and benefits in that province, and that none on penalty (mentioned) should disturb each other in their several professions, nor give the urging terms, either of Roundheads, sectary, Independent, Jesuit, Papist, etc. Intending an absolute peace and union; the Oath of Fidelity (although none other than such as every Lord of a manor requires from his tenant) was overhauled, and this clause added to it (provided it infringe not the liberty of the conscience).
But these people finding themselves in a capacity not only to capitulate, but to oversway those that had so received and relieved them, began to pick quarrels, first with the Papists, next with the oath, and lastly declared their averseness to all conformality, wholly aiming (as themselves since confessed) to deprive the Lord Proprietor of all his interest in that country, and make it their own. What unworthiness! What ingratitude! What unparalleled inhumanity was in these practices made obvious!
Amongst others that became tenants in this aforesaid distress was one Richard Bennet, merchant, who seated and settled amongst them, and so (not only owed obedience to that government, but) was obliged as a man received in his pretended distress, to be a grateful benefactor; upon the setting forth of a fleet intended for the reducement of Virginia, the said Bennet and one Claiborne (a pestilent enemy to the welfare of that province and the Lord Proprietor, although he had formerly submissively acknowledged he owed his forfeited life to the said proprietor, for dealing so favorably with him for his misdemeanors, as by his treacherous letters under his hand (now in print) is manifest, and many other acts of grace conferred on him, having a commission directed to them and others (who miscarried by sea) to reduce Virginia (not Mary-land, for they were in obedience to the Commonwealth of England, and great assistance to the said fleet) although they knew Mary-land to be excluded and dasht out of their commission, yet because the commission mentioned the Bay of Chesapeack, in which Mary-land was (as well as Virginia) yet they were resolved to wreth and stretch their commission to the prejudice of Maryland and becoming abettors and confederates with those serpents that have been so taken in, presumed to alter the government and take away the governors commission, putting in others in their place, viz., a Papist in chief, and one more, who misgoverning the country, they were excluded, and the former governor restored with an addition of Commissioners of their own creatures, and as taking power from them, until further knowledge from England, driving herein at their own interest.
The governor (so restored) being truly informed that their proceedings were illegal held Courts and proceeds as if no such alteration had been made, issues out writs (according to order) In the name of the Lord Proprietor, but they require and command them to do it in the name of the Keepers of the Liberties of England, according to act of Parliament; to which answer sufficient was given, that they never were in opposition to the present power, they had taken the Engagement, and for the tenure of form of writs, they were not compelled by virtue of that act to make them otherwise than they always had done, for by Patent from the late K. they had power to issue out in the Proprietors name, and never had used the Kings name at all, therefore that act requiring all writs formerly issuing out in the late Kings name, now to revolve to the Keepers of the Liberties of England, was no way binding to them, who had never used the Kings name at all.
But it was not religion, it was not punctilios they stood upon, it was that sweet, that rich, that large country they aimed at; and therefore agrees amongst themselves to frame petitions, complaints, and subscriptions from those bandittos to themselves (the said Bennet and Claiborne) to ease them of their pretended sufferings, and then come with arms, and again make the Province their own, exalting themselves in all places of trust and command, totally expulsing the Governor, and all the hospitable Proprietors Officers out of their places.
But when his Highness (not acquainted with these machinations) had owned and under his hand and signet acknowledged Capt. Will. Stone (the former governor) Governor for the Lord Baltimore of his Province of Mary-land, he again endeavored to reassume the government, and fetched away the records from those usurpers, proclaimed peace to all not obstinate, and favorably received many submissives, who with seeming joy returned, bewailing their unworthy ingratitude and inhumanity, blaming the unbridled ambition and base avarice of those that had misled them.
The Governor desirous to reclaim those opposing, takes a party about one hundred and thirty persons with him, and sails into those parts, one Roger Heamans who had a great ship under him, and who had promised to be instrumental to the Governor, to wind up those differences (being, Judas-like, hired to join with those opposing countries) and having the Governor and his vessels within reach of his ordnance, perfidiously and contrary to his undertaking and engagements, fires at them and enforces them to the first shore to prevent that mischief.
The next morning he sends messengers to those of Anne Arundall to treat, and messengers aboard that Shittlecock Heamans, but all were detained; and on the 25th of March last (being the next day and the Lords day) about one hundred and seventy and odd of Kent and Anne Arundall came marching against them, Heaman fires apace at them, and a small vessel of New England under the command of one John Cutts comes near the shore and seizes the boats, provision and ammunition belonging to the Governor and his party, and so in a nick, in a strait were they fallen upon.
The Governor being shot in many places yields on quarter, which was granted; but being in hold, was threatened (notwithstanding that quarter given) to be immediately executed, unless he would write to the rest to take quarter, which upon his request they did. Twenty odd were killed in this skirmish, and all the rest prisoners on quarter, who were disarmed and taken into custody.
But these formerly distressed supplicants for admittance, being now become High and Mighty States, and supposing their conquest unquestionable, consult with themselves (notwithstanding their quarter given) to make their conquest more absolute, by cutting off the heads of the Province, viz., the Governor, the Council and Commanders thereof; and so make themselves a Council of War, and condemn them to death. Four were presently executed, scilicet, Mr. William Eltonhead, one of the Council; Capt. William Lewis, Mr. John Legate, gentleman, and John Pedro; the rest at the importunity of some women, and resolution of some of their soldiers (who would not suffer their design to take thorough effect, as being pricked in conscience for their ingratitudes) were saved, but were amerced, fined and plundered at their pleasures. And although this was prophetically foreseen by divers eminent merchants of London, who petitioned his Highness for prevention, and that his Highness sent a gracious command to Bennet, and all others, not to disturb the Lord Baltimores officers, nor people in Mary-land, but recalled all power or pretence of power from them; yet they still hold, and possess (in defiance of so sacred a mandate) the said Province of Mary-land, and sent an impious Agent home to parley whilst they plundered; but he hath long since given up his account to the great avenger of all injuries. Although sticklers (somewhat more powerful, but by many degrees more brazen-faced than his spirit could bare him forth to appear) now labor to justify these inhumanities, disorders, contempts, and rebellions; so that I may say with the Prophet Jeremiah: How doth the City sit solitary that was full of people! How is she become as a widow! She that was great amongst the Nations, and Princess amongst the Provinces! How is she become tributary! Thus have they brought to desolation, one of the happiest plantations that ever Englishmen set foot in, and such a country (that if it were again made formal) might harbor in peace and plenty all such as England shall have occasion to disburden, or desire to forsake England.