Saturday, August 3, 1678, probably somewhere between the
present Trent Hall Farm and Golden Beach in Mechanicsville, a
small band of Indians attacked the farm of Daniel Cunningham
early in the morning, killing him and the brother of Mrs.
Cunningham while they were working in the field.
His wife, who was in the house, was tomahawked in the
head. She was found four days later and taken to the home of
her father, Thomas Edwards.
Mrs. Cunningham was unable to speak, but was able to
signify that there were four Indians involved. When her
mother, Mrs. Edwards, said that she believed the “rogue”,
Wassetass was the one responsible for this attack, Mrs.
Cunningham indicated that he was.
Mrs. Cunningham died on August 9.
Burroughs, a neighbor of the Edwards family, was present when
Mrs. Cunningham was brought to her father’s house and on the
following day gave a deposition to Governor Thomas Notley
relative to the events that had occurred.
Because Wassetass was a Piscataway Indian, it was
determined that this tribe was responsible for the murders.
Notley and the Council immediately ordered Major William
Boarman to go to the Piscataway Fort and meet with the Emperor
and other elders of the tribe.
His orders were to make them think that the Council
wished to meet with them relative to a number of requests that
had been made by the Piscataways the previous week and that
they were now ready to respond to those requests.
A meeting was to be held on August 19 at Manahowick
Neck (located on the Wicomico River).
This is where the home of Governor Notley was located!
Boarman was further instructed that if the Indians seemed to
doubt that this was the purpose of the meeting, he should then
tell them about the murders.
It appears, in reading the record, that one of the
reasons the Piscataways had met the previous week with the
Governor was to ask for help because several of their
tribesmen had been killed by some Senniquo and Susquehanna
Indians in violation of their treaty with Maryland (the treaty
required that these tribes were to keep the peace with the
10, the Governor and Council wrote a letter to Lord Baltimore
advising him of the course of events in this case and advising
him that it was their belief
that war with these Indians was inevitable.
The letter was signed by Thomas Notley, Philip Calvert,
Baker Brooke, and Benjamin Rozer.
preparation for what the Council believed to be an impending
Indian war, Maj. Henry Jowles was ordered to raise a company
of men for the security and defense of the inhabitants at the
head of the Patuxent River.
Maj. Jowles recruited 60 men, but the Council felt that
only half that number were needed, so 30 men were sent home.
Of the remaining force, 20 men were to be distributed
among the plantations along the river for the defense of the
houses and the other 10 men, under the command of Capt. Ninian
Beall, were to roam about the head of the Patuxent River.
credit, the Council ordered that while the inhabitants should
defend themselves in case of attack, no soldier or civilian
was to commit any violence against the Indians.
19, at the appointed time, the Piscataways, represented by
Nicotaghsen, the Emperor; Ouquintimo, the Speaker; Chotike and
several other Choptico Indians met with
Governor Notley, and the Council, consisting of Philip
Calvert, William Calvert, and Baker Brooke.
Maj. William Boarman served as interpreter.
were presented with the facts involving the murder of the
Cunninghams by Wassetass and three more Indians.
no evidence that there had been any “foreign” Indians in
--The day of
the murder, Mr. Cunningham’s clothes, hat, bundle of
matchcoats and tobacco was taken from the house.
That very same day, three Piscataway Indians were seen
within two miles of the house; three of them being painted.
were reminded of the treaty made with them some 12 years
before which required that if one of their tribe murdered an
Englishman, the perpetrator was to be surrendered to the
If, on the other hand, a Marylander murdered one of the
Indians, the Marylanders dealt with it.
behalf of the Indians present, answered that they were very
troubled about this murder but that they did not know who was
stated that they were aware that the English had always been
their greatest friend and without the aid and protection of
the English from their enemies, they would be “most
miserable, expecting nothing but death”.
They promised to “make strict inquisition” amongst
their young men and to return on August 27 to give their
then immediately ordered that the men under the command of
Maj. Jowles and Capt. Beall continue in service and that Anne
Arundel troops (commanded by Col. Thomas Taylor) and Charles
County troops (commanded by Capt. Randolph Brandt), each to
select 20 men, to continue ranging and to scour the heads of
the rivers and other places on the frontiers of their
respective counties. It
was also ordered that the men who were not actively serving
were to tend the crops of those that were.
At a Council
held at Manahowickes Neck Plantation in Wicomico River the 27th
day of August, 1678. Same
participants as the week before.
Piscataways responded that they had not known about the
murders in question until the week before.
They stated that they had made a diligent inquisition
amongst their young men but did not find out who the
responsible party was. The
Council immediately dismissed the Piscataways, again reminding
them of the requirement, under their treaty, to turn over the
felon to the Marylanders.
and Council immediately went into action to prepare Maryland
for war with the Indians.
A meeting of the General Assembly, which had been
scheduled for February of the following year was rescheduled
to October 20. The
Sheriffs of the Counties were instructed to post a public
proclamation to their inhabitants that a levy would be
assessed for the protection of the Colony.
meantime, other murders were being committed by Indians.
Three Englishmen were found dead on the east side of
the Susquehanna River. David
Williams and his family, of Somerset County, had been killed.
These murders had happened about the same time as
Cunningham family and a
Nanticoke Indian who had been found guilty of murder, had
escaped and was said to be among the Rappahanock Indians in
Indian was the prisoner of Capt. Gerard Slye, High Sheriff of
St. Mary’s County “out of whose custody the said Indian
prisoner, through negligence of his keeper escaped”.
Capt. Slye was ordered to take two Choptico Indians and
go to Virginia, retrieve the prisoner and take him to his (Slye’s)
house and keep him securely there until the Governor signed a
warrant for execution and then “he is to be immediately put
to death without any further respite”.
As a result
of the on-going murders, further troops were called out in
Calvert County, Cecil County, Kent County, Baltimore County,
and Dorchester County, sufficient in number to “let the
Indians know that we are awake and watchful”.
Inhabitants were instructed that upon the appearance of
any enemy (that is any Indian), they were to fire three shots,
“after the ancient manner”, and that every house answer
the alarm by firing one gun and then immediately go to the
place where the three shots had been fired to render
guards were put into place at Mattapany to guard the weapons
and ammunition that was stored for the defense of the Colony.
In the midst
of these on-going problems, the Council was advised that the
freemen of Charles County were determined to elect Josias
Fendall as their representative to the General Assembly prior
to October 20, despite the fact that he had been barred from
holding any public office.
The Sheriff of Charles County was directed to instruct
the freemen that they might choose Mr. Fendall as their
representative, but he would not be admitted to sit in the
Assembly convened on October 20 as planned and stayed in
session until November 15, with Charles Calvert, Lord
Baltimore (who had been in England) in attendance.
It was agreed that Lord Baltimore would meet with the
Piscataways himself; that he would remind them that when he
left Maryland they gave him assurance of their friendship to
him and the people of this Province and he gave the same
assurance to them; that he is heartily glad to see them and
hopes that their reciprocal friendship remains the same.
He will speak to them in relation to their encounter
with the Susequehannas and their protection; he is now ready
to receive their positions, consider them, and give them a
13, 1678 a peace treaty was concluded and agreed upon by
Charles, Lord Baltimore, the Emperor of Assateague, the Kings
of Pokomoke, Yingoteague, Nuswattax, Annamesse, and Acquintica,
Morumsco and all of the Indians under their control to last to
the “world’s end.”
This treaty has a number of interesting provisions:
Indians who signed this treaty agreed to deliver any Indian
enemies of the English as prisoners to them.
English cannot tell one Indian from another, no Indian was to
come into an English plantation painted.
Indians were to call out loud before they came within 300
paces of any Englishman’s ground and lay down their arms.
Englishman who kills an Indian who complies with the above
provisions shall die for it, as well as an Indian that kills
Indian and an Englishman accidentally meet in the woods while
hunting, the Indian must immediately throw down his arms. If
he refuses, he shall be deemed an enemy.
--If any of
the Indians who are party to this treaty kill Ababco or any of
his Indians, it is as great an offense as killing an
foreign Indians come into Maryland and commit any crimes, the
parties to this treaty are responsible.
have knowledge of any other murders; who killed David Williams
and his family, there are hereby engaged to deliver them up to
the next Magistrate.
parties to this treaty will deliver at the plantation where
William Stevens in Pokomoke now lives called “Rehoboth”,
six Indian arrows yearly by the 10th day of October
as an acknowledgement of Lord Baltimore’s dominion over them
and also as a pledge of peace.
30, 1679 a meeting was held by Lord Baltimore and Council with
the Emperor of the Piscataways, who brought with him (among
others) Azazames, and Manahawton not knowing that the
Marylanders now believed that these two were part of the group
responsible for the murder of the Daniel Cunningham family.
When confronted with this information, the Emperor
again stated that none of his Indians were responsible for
this crime. Capt.
Gerard Slye and Lt. Thomas Courtney were ordered to take
Azazams and Manahawton into their custody and secure them
until further order.
Baltimore told the Emperor that Mrs. Cunningham had identified
these two as having attacked her family, along with another
Indian. Now, if
you will recall, it was stated that Mrs. Cunningham had never
spoken prior to her death and only signified that the family
was attacked by four Indians.
person involved in the murder, namely Wassetaw, was identified
and it was demanded that he be delivered to the Marylanders.
The Emperor, again, flatly denied that any of his
Indians had been involved.
and the other Indians left to meet alone taking with them Maj.
Boarman and Mr. John Stone. While they met, the Council voted
to immediately execute Azasames and Manahawton.
entire group reconvened, the Indians, through their interpeter
(Maj. Boarman) stated “formerly we were in the dark but God
has now opened our eyes.”
They agreed to the seizure of Azazames and Manahawton
as murderers of the English and agreed to turn over Wassetaw.
They stated they could not turn over the fourth Indian
as he had been killed in a recent encounter with the
Baltimore assured them that he did not believe in his exposing
his enemies to a lingering death and as such he would have a
speedy execution. After
the Indians had departed the room, the Council found Asazams
and Manahawton guilty of the murder of Daniel Cunningham and
his family. Lord
Baltimore issued an order that they be shot to death that
evening at Manahowickes Neck Plantation.
By the Lord Proprietary and Council
“Ordered that Capt. Gerard Slye, High Sheriff of St.
Mary’s County take into his custody Azazams and Manahawton,
two Piscataway Indians, and cause them forthwith to be shot to
death without delay.”
day, January 31, the Council met again.
The discussion was about whether they should demand the
delivery of Wassetass, the other murderer, he being accused by
Manahawton himself yesterday in the presence of the Emperor
and others before he was executed; and that Wassetass was the
only one accused by Mrs. Cunningham herself before her death.
Boarman was directed to go the Emperor of the Piscataways who
agreed to deliver Wassetass to Col. Benjamin Rozer within 10
days. A warrant
of execution was immediately prepared.directing Col. Rozer to
shoot Wassetass as soon as he was taken into custody.
As of March
10, Wassetass was still living!
Apparently the Piscataway tribe had intervened on his
behalf and begged the Marylanders not to kill him.
Lord Baltimore declined to answer this plea until he
met with an Indian who had come to the Piscataway Fort from
Smallwood was directed to give notice to the Piscataway
Indians to meet with the Council at Governor Notley’s house
on March 17 and to bring the Indian with them.
Thomas Baker of Charles County was directed to attend
as an interpreter and if he could not come, then Maj. William
Boarman of St. Mary’s County was to be present.
The Indians were told that if they came to his meeting,
they would be given an answer relative to Wassetass.
reason, the meeting was not held until March 19 and was
attended by Lord Baltimore, Thomas Notley, and the Speaker and
great men of the Indians of Piscataway.
Thomas Baker served as interpreter.
Baltimore expressed his concern that the Emperor was not there
as he was going to deliver
his answer about the fate of Wassetass.
The Indians responded that the Emperor was too sick to
attend. They told
him that the Emperor, his great men, and other members of the
tribe all believed Wassetass to be innocent of any murder
committed on the English at Patuxent.
Lord Baltimore then advised them that he was granting
their request by “giving them the life of this person,
hoping that for this favor they would give their young men
good advice and counsel to carry themselves civilly towards
all the English”.
The Speaker, on
behalf of the Indians earnestly thanked Lord Baltimore who
responds that he will confirm pardon in writing of his own
hand. The Indians
approved and told him that although they could not read yet,
they would be sure to preserve the document and make much of
by: Linda Reno, 01/25/2001
you know that...
Stallone briefly attended Charlotte Hall Military
Rogers’ real name was Leonard Franklin Slye and that
he was a descendant of William Slye who died 1766 in
Scott Fitzgerald (aka F. Scott Fitzgerald), author of
“The Great Gatsby” was a descendant of Philip Key
and Susanna Gardiner of Chaptico, St. Mary’s County?
His great grandmother was Eliza Maynadier Key,
born January 28, 1792 in St. Mary’s County, the
daughter of Philip B. Key and Rebecca Jowles Sothoron.
Thomson Mason (1811-1843), the first Governor of
Michigan, was the great grandson of Abraham Barnes of
Tudor Hall, St. Mary’s County?
He became Governor at the age of 24 and was
known as “The Boy Governor”.
Mason County, Michigan is named for him.
Mason, another great granddaughter of Abraham Barnes
was the wife of Benjamin Howard (1760-1814), the first
Governor of Louisiana (Missouri) Territory, 1810-1812
and then Governor of the Missouri Territory 1812-1813?
Howard County, Missouri is named for him.