Maryland Colony Founded
The Maryland Colony was founded in 1632 after its charter was approved by King Charles I. It was a proprietary colony of Cecil Calvert, the second Lord Baltimore.
Like other settlements in the New World, the Maryland Colony was established as a religious refuge. Although it was created as a haven for English Catholics, many of the original settlers were Protestants.
In 1649, Maryland passed the Maryland Toleration Act, the first law in the New World designed to encourage religious tolerance.
Land Grant by Lord Baltimore
In 1651 Lord Baltimore had presented Cuthbert Fenwick a grant of 2,000 acres of land lying on the Patuxent River, adjoining the historic De La Brooke Manor, which belonged to Robert Brooke.
Below De La Brooke, and separated from it by Cat Creek, was “Fenwick’s Manor”, granted in 1651, to Mr. Cuthbert Fenwick. The manor extended down the Patuxent as far as St. Cuthbert’s Creek and that part of it bordering on this creek still retains its original name – St. Cuthbert’s.
The Hanging of a “Witch“
The manor house, it is said, stood on the site occupied by the residence of the late Joseph Forrest. This house was referred to as early as 1659 in the proceedings against Edward Prescott for “hanging a witch.”
One of the earliest witchcraft cases in the Maryland Colony involved the execution aboard a ship bound for Maryland from England. Two men who recently had arrived on the ship “Sarah Artch” told colonial officials in St. Mary’s City in 1659 that the ship’s owner had hanged a woman named Elizabeth Richardson after she was accused of summoning a relentless storm that some on board blamed on “the malevolence of witches.”
George Washington’s great-grandfather, John Washington of Westmoreland County, VA was aboard the the ship. Washington felt it was an outrage, and filed a complaint to Josias Fendall, governor of the Maryland province. Fendall had Prescott arrested and set a court date for October 4, 1659 and sent a correspondence to Washington summoning him from Virginia. He desired Washington to bring all witnesses who were present at the execution of Elizabeth. Washington’s son was to be baptized that day and requested to have court moved to the next morning and promised to appear. Fendall did not change the court date to the following day and followed through with the interrogation of Prescott who claimed although he was the ship owner, Master Greene, along with his crew “were ready to mutiny” and he had no choice.
At the trial instead of the witness, John Washington, sent a letter of excuse in the following phraseology: “Because then, God willing, I intend to get my young son baptized, all the Company and Gossips being already invited.” As the witness did not appear, the prisoner was discharged.
There was on the manor, also, Fenwick’s Tavern, a part of which is still standing and constitutes a portion of the dwelling house on the estate of Mr. James T. King
The death and will of Cuthbert Fenwick.
Cuthbert Fenwick’s will allowed 756 lbs of corn to be paid to John Darnall, who as it was later discovered, was the tenant on the manor. Before his death, he assigned a portion of Fenwick Manor to his brother Richard, in as much as on July 10, 1677 according to provincial court liber 1676-1699 folio 49 Richard Fenwick of *Calvert County, Planter, conveyed to John Darnall of the aid County, Gent for consideration of 20,000 lbs a portion of Fenwick Manor on the southwest side of the Patuxent River and containing 400 acres more or less lately made over to the said Richard Fenwick by his late brother Cuthbert Fenwick.
Cuthbert Fenwick 2nd married Anne. Cuthbert died at age 36 in 1676. Before his death he assigned a portion of “Fenwick Manor” to his brother, Richard Fenwick. Richard conveyed to John Darnall a portion of “Fenwick Manor” on the southwest side of the Patuxent River and containing 400 acres.
Anne Fenwick, daughter of Cuthbert and Anne, was the sole heiress, born 1671, was placed under guardianship of her half uncle, Judge Richard Fenwick, who leased portions of her manor for his ward’s benefit.
*The farm and manor was once part of Calvert County. In 1695 Calvert County was partitioned into St. Mary’s County.
The death and will of John Darnall
Marriage of Col. Henry Lowe and Susannah (Bennett) Darnall
Thomas and Anne Brooke signed a document as part of the marriage of Col. Henry Lowe, and Susannah Lowe indicating the manor house and farm belonging to the Lowe’s.
Henry and Susannah Lowe owned Manor House on Part of De la Brooke Manor SMC Chron Vol 1 No 6 P20
Description of property in marriage settlement of Henry and Susannah Lowe
Present at marriage of Col Henry Lowe and Susannah (Bennett) Darnall: Vincent Lowe (Col. Henry Lowe’s grandfather), and Anthony Neale
Anne (Daughter of Cuthbert Fenwick and Anne) married John Sewell. John Sewell is the son of Jane Lowe (Susannah’s Daughter) and Henry Sewell.
John Sewell dies, the entire manor of 2000 acres goes to Adam Head for marrying Ann Fenwick
Susannah Marie (Bennett) Darnall Lowe dies at age 48. Her grave stone sits atop a knoll overlooking the Patuxent River in front of the Manor House.
In 2020 a St. Mary’s College Archeology Professor identified at least 5 additional grave sites adjacent to Susannah’s grave stone. If John Darnall was buried on the property, it would be the oldest grave in St. Mary’s County. There is no record of where John Darnall was buried, and he was said to have been living in the manor house at the time of his death.
John Taney (Tawney) who had acquired a portion of the land petitioned the court to establish boundaries, and a number of depositions were taken about the manor.
Anne (Fenwick) Head, aged 45 years, declared that sometime during her minority her uncle Mr. Richard Fenwick did lease the land now in possession of Mr. Taney (then belonging to her) to Mr. John Darnall and that ye said Darnall did occupy the same some years as tenant to her uncle.
Her husband, Adam Head, did show the head of a branch where stood a cedar post which was the dividing line between the land formerly of Fenwick’s and Col Henry Lowe’s possession.
Martin Yates, aged 49, swore that as a servant to Mr. Henry Darnall and about 29 years or since he did work upon a piece of land now in posession of Mr. John Taney. His master had leased from Mr. Richard Fenwick.
Simon Gerling, aged 50, had once been a servant to Mr. John Gittings, and swore that a certain bound tree during his time of service to Mr. Gittings was the boundary between his master and the land of Mr. Fenwick, formerly in possession of Col. Henry Lowe.
Peter Joy, aged 50, swore that the land then in possession of Mr. John Taney was in the hands of John Sewell’s when he tended some ground in the neck between the two branches.
[In Maryland Col. William Digges became a merchant and planter in St. Mary’s County. He married Elizabeth Sewall. Elizabeth Sewall’s mother is Jane Lowe, Jane’s father is Vincent Lowe (grandfather to Col. Henry Lowe) Jane Lowe married Hon. Henry Sewell who was Secretary of Maryland.]
Lewis Hasler, aged 65, stated that he was in company with Mr. Fenwick and he inquired of Fenwick how far the land of Mr. John Darnall (since Col. Henry Lowe) then Cuthbert Fenwick’s possession, and Mr. Fenwick pointed to a certain cedar post which was the same one mentioned by Mr. Adam Head.
Nicholas Cooper, of St. Mary’s County, aged 42 years, stated that 26 years ago he was servant to Mr. Michael Taney and he dwelt on a tract of land formerly in tenure of John and Ann Sewell, now in possession of Mr. John Taney.
Paul Peacock who was the overseer to Michael Taney, said that he had asked John Sewell who held at that time part of the same tract to fence a cold spring which was the boundary between Mr. Taney and Mr. Sewell.
John Hall, aged 50 years, also made deposition relative to the dividing line and cedar post.
(page 293) The Flowering of the Maryland Palatinate: An Intimate and Objective History by Harry Wright Newmann
Nicholas Lowe (son of Col. Henry Lowe and Susannah (Bennett) Darnall Lowe) dies in 1729. His estate was valued at £2,030.12.17 which included 51 slaves, a library of books and a sloop. Nicholas, unmarried, leaves his dwelling plantation, called Part of De la Brooke Manor, to his sister Elizabeth Lowe Darnall. Elizabeth was married to Henry Darnall of Portland Manor.
John Taney married Catherine Fenwick.
Map showing the area including the farm with Henry Hill and Mr. Taney (also spelled Tawney in other documents) noted.
Ellen Taney and Ann Alice Taney own Manor House
War of 1812, the British sailed up Patuxent River and burned farms and houses along the shore during the summer of 1814.
Materials used in the construction of the manor house looks to be built in 1820, based on the nails and lumber. The bricks and hearth in dining room fireplace look to be from late 1600’s.
Our theory, the British burned the manor house down, and was rebuilt on the same foundation in 1820. We plan to travel to England in search of records of what the British torched along the Patuxent River.
Harry Jones, Son of Stephen Jones & Lydia Wood; husband of Ann Worthington [1792-1879] owned a 330 acre tract on the Patuxent River known as “Part of De La Brooke Manor”; served as enrollment officer for the Patuxent District for the Union Army during the Civil War
The Emancipation Proclamation, which freed the slaves in the states that had seceded, went into effect on Jan. 1, 1863.
General Lew Wallace ordered the seizure of lands in Sandgates area (including the Cat Creek House). Wallace created the Freedmen’s Bureau, giving former slaves living quarters and livelihood using abandoned lands and turning into farms for freed slaves.
Jim and Mary Robinson living in the manor house. Land and farm owned by Henry “Harry” Jones.
Henry “Harry” Jones will:
I give and devise to my granddaughter Nettie Starr and Essie Jones the part of the home farm where Mr. Robinson is now living, beginning at the road by the river side and running with the swamp to what we call the cherry tree gate, and with the fence over and down to the head of a gully and down to the beach spring swamp thence down the said swamp as the outer line to be equally divided between the two sisters.
I give and devise to my son Stephen Jones the farm where he is now living, it being the part he is now cultivating, a part of my home farm tract as it now stands, being the residue of said tract after deducting devises of land (from Nettie and Essie).
Manor House tenant, Jim Robinson, dies shortly after Henry “Harry” Jones. Mrs. Robinson moves out of the Manor House.
Lydia M Jones marries Joseph Thomas Dixon
Thomas Raymond Dixon born
William Reck Dixon Born (Jeff’s Grandfather)
Manor House first appears on USGS map
T. Raymond Dixon, Edgar D. Dixon, Harry O. Dixon, and William R. Dixon are willed the manor house.
All that tract or parcel of land of which the late Henry Jones of St. Mary’s County deceased died seized and possessed and by the last will and testament 120 acres less 8.5 acres conveyed to Methodist Episcopal Church and School Commissioners of St. Mary’s County, and County Commissioners for public road/landing.
The land hereby conveyed is located at or near Sandgates and is bounded on the north by the Patuxent River, East and South by the original tract formerly owned by the late Henry Jones and devised by him to the late Stephen Jones and on the west by Cat Creek property.
Essie and Nettie sold the farm to the Dixon Brothers (Raymond, Edgar, Bill and Harry).
Edgar and Carrie Dixon live in the Manor House.
Edgar Dixon Dies. With no children, the house goes into St. Mary’s County Orphan’s Court.
Being a portion of a larger tract called and known as Part of Della Brook conveyed unto T. Raymond Dixon et al from Henrietta A.M. Stars and Easie P. Jones 1/4/1920 19.45 acres. Part of Della Brook Conveyed unto T. Raymond Dixon et al. from Henrietta A.M. Stars and Easie P. Jones 1/4/1920
Rebecca Dixon Tennison purchased the manor house and adjoining farm land from St. Mary’s County Orphans Court.
Joan Wallace Dixon Bailey FROM Rebecca W. Dixon Tennison, Carol Ann Dixon Miller, and Joan Wallace Dixon Bailey 8/11/1989
EWA 750/272 Part of a larger tract to the above by 7/5/1973 deed 194/93
Claudinne and Jeffrey Miller purchased house from Jeff’s aunt, Joan Wallace Dixon Bailey 12/30/2019