Chronicles of America 

William Claiborne and Kent Island

On the whole how advantageously are the Marylanders placed! There is peace with the Indians. Huts, lodges, are already built, fields already cleared or planted. The site is high and healthful. They have at first few dissensions among themselves. Nor are they entirely alone or isolated in the New World. There is a New England to the north of them and a Virginia to the south. From the one they get in the autumn salted fish, from the other store of swine and cattle. Famine and pestilence are far from them. They build a "fort" and perhaps a stockade, but there are none of the stealthy deaths given by arrow and tomahawk in the north, nor are there any of the Spanish alarms that terrified the south. From the first they have with them women and children. They know that their settlement is "home." Soon other ships and colonists follow the Ark and the Dove to St. Mary's, and the history of this middle colony is well begun.

In Virginia, meantime, there was jealousy enough of the new colony, taking as it did territory held to be Virginian and renaming it, not for the old, independent, Protestant, virgin queen, but for a French, Catholic, queen consort -- even settling it with believers in the Mass and bringing in Jesuits! It was, says a Jamestown settler, "accounted a crime almost as heinous as treason to favour, nay to speak well of that colony." Beside the Virginian folk as a whole, one man, in particular, William Claiborne, nursed an individual grievance. He had it from Governor Calvert that he might dwell on in Kent Island, trading from there, but only under license from the Lord Proprietor and as an inhabitant of Maryland, not of Virginia. Claiborne, with the Assembly at Jamestown secretly on his side, resisted this interference with his rights, and, as he continued to trade with a high hand, he soon fell under suspicion of stirring up the Indians against the Marylanders.

At the time, this quarrel rang loud through Maryland and Virginia, and even echoed across the Atlantic. Leonard Calvert had a trading-boat of Claiborne's seized in the Patuxent River. Thereupon Claiborne's men, with the shallop Cockatrice, in retaliation attacked Maryland pinnaces and lost both their lives and their boat. For several years Maryland and Kent Island continued intermittently to make petty war on each other. At last, in 1638, Calvert took the island by main force and hanged for piracy a captain of Claiborne's. The Maryland Assembly brought the trader under a Bill of Attainder; and a little later, in England, the Lords Commissioners of Foreign Plantations formally awarded Kent Island to the Lord Proprietor. Thus defeated, Claiborne, nursing his wrath, moved down the bay to Virginia.

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