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Proceedings of the County Courts of Kent (1648-1676), Talbot (1662-1674), and Somerset (1665-1668)
Volume 54, Preface 27   View pdf image (33K)
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                     SOMERSET COUNTY.
     Somerset County was erected under a special proclamation, dated August
    22, 1666, issued by Cecilius, second Lord Baltimore, and the new county was
    named in honor of Lady Mary Somerset, the sister of his wife, Anne Arundell,
    the daughter of Thomas, Lord Arundell. This proclamation also named the
    commissioners or justices of Somerset (pp. 633-635; Arch. Md. iii, 553-555).
    Although the county dates from 1666, the territory which it embraced had
    been opened for settlement in 1660, and was variously referred to in the
    old provincial records before the erection of Somerset as “the Eastern
    Shore below the Choptank “, “the Eastern Shore newly seated and adjacent
    to Virginia “, “that part of the Province of Maryland lying between the
    Choptank and Watkins Point “, or sometimes merely as “the Eastern Shore “.
     Stirring events in this part of the Province had preceded the erection of the
    new county. Disputes about the location of the boundary line on the lower
    Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake between Maryland and Virginia had given
    rise in 1663 to border warfare on a small scale between these two colonies, but
    although the boundary had not yet been finally settled, matters had quieted
    down to such an extent in 1666 that the Lord Proprietary felt justified in
    creating the new county. With all the details of the dispute we cannot concern
    ourselves here, but it hinged upon the location of a certain landmark, Watkins
    Point, lying on the bay side, named in the Maryland charter as the point
    through which was to be run an east and west line marking the division be-
    tween the two colonies on the Eastern Shore. The Virginia authorities under
    the influence of Colonel Edmund Scarburgh, Surveyor-General of Virginia
    and the leading man of the eastern shore of that colony, sought by every
    subterfuge to identify Watkins Point with another point of land that lay thirty
    miles to the north of the true Watkins Point shown on the John Smith map,
    which in the Maryland charter was given as the southern boundary of the
    Province. It was this thirty-mile strip that was to be the battleground in the
    years immediately preceding the erection of Somerset County.
     The Lord Proprietary, Cecihius Calvert, apprehensive of possible boundary
    disputes, had in 1651 and 1656 instructed his representatives in the Province
    to make every effort to attract settlers to this neighborhood with a view to more
    firmly establishing his territorial claims to it. But this was the period of the
    civil wars in England when the Puritan element in Maryland was in the saddle,
    so that little could be then done to effect actual settlement here. The first wave
    of immigration to the section took place in 1660 as the result of Gov. Berke-
    ley's repressive measures against the Quakers in Virginia. In this year and in
    the year following a considerable number of Quakers moved across the border
    from what was then Northampton County on the eastern shore of Virginia
    and settled at Annemessex. On November 6, 1661, the Governor of Maryland
    issued a proclamation inviting additional settlers, and appointed three com-
    missioners with authority to grant land in this locality. Heading this com
    


 
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Proceedings of the County Courts of Kent (1648-1676), Talbot (1662-1674), and Somerset (1665-1668)
Volume 54, Preface 27   View pdf image (33K)
 Jump to  
  << PREVIOUS  NEXT >>


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