Kittamaquund, Tayac of the Piscataway (d.
MSA SC 3520-14041
Founding of Maryland - Educational Project for Elementary
and Middle School Students
Maryland Public Television and Maryland State Archives (January-February 2003)
written by Maria A. Day, MSA Archival Intern
(Alternative spelling = Chitomachon)
The Native Americans of southern Maryland played an important role in the founding of the Maryland colony. While some native peoples made war on the colonists, others, like the Piscataway, became their allies and trading partners.
Kittamaquund was an important Piscataway warrior and the younger brother of a man named Wannas. Wannas served as the Piscataway's head chieftain, or tayac, when Governor Leonard Calvert arrived in 1634. "Tayac" is the Piscataway word meaning "Emperor" or "ruler of all the chiefs." The Piscataway Tayac ruled over 130 miles of native territory and villages on the both shores of the Chesapeake Bay. Kittamaquund and his followers saw that Wannas mistrusted the English. They believed that Wannas might lead the Piscataway to war against the colonists. Kittamaquund killed his brother in 1634, and became tayac in his place.1 As tayac, Kittamaquund led his people to peaceful ties with the Marylanders. Some of the Piscataway were angry that Kittamaquund had killed Wannas, but Kittamaquund also had friends among his people. They thought their new tayac was wise. They also wanted the benefits of English fur trade and military protection from their enemies, the Susquehannocks.2
Father White visited Kittamaquund in June 1639. Father Andrew White was a Jesuit priest who had learned some of the native language and who wanted to teach the Indians about his Christian beliefs. The tayac liked Father White, and invited the priest to live in his "palace" with his family. Later that year, Kittamaquund became ill with a disease that native medicine men could not cure. Father White cured the tayac with some English medicine powder and blood-letting.3 Kittamaquund was so grateful that he allowed Father White to instruct him in Christianity. He also adopted the colonists' style of clothes and learned to speak some English.4
Kittamaquund finally converted to Christianity in 1640. He asked to be baptized along with his wife and daughters. Other Piscataway leaders decided to become Christians with their tayac. Father Andrew White performed Kittamaquund's baptism on July 5, 1640. Governor Leonard Calvert, other Maryland officials, and Piscataway leaders all attended the ceremony. The ceremony took place at a chapel built with bark walls, just like other Piscataway buildings. During the baptism, the priests gave the Piscataway Christian names. Kittamaquund's name became Charles, and his wife was named Mary.5 Kittamaquund's daughter, Princess Mary, went to live with the Brent's and later married Giles Brent.6 Kittamaquund died in 1641.7
1"Annual Letter of the English Province of the Society of Jesus, 1639," in Clayton Colman Hall, ed., Narratives of Early Maryland, 1633-1684 (New York: Barnes & Noble, Inc., 1910) 126; "Letter of Governor Leonard Calvert to Lord Baltimore, 1638," in Hall, ed. Narratives of Early Maryland, 158-159; Archives of Maryland, vol. 3, 454.
2For detailed information about Wannas' and Kittamaquund's relationships with the English colonists, see James H. Merrell, "Cultural Continuity among the Piscataway Indians of colonial Maryland," William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 36 (4) (Oct. 1979): 548-570.
3"Annual Letter of 1639," 126; Merrell, "Cultural Continuity," 557.
4"Annual Letter of 1639," 127.
5"Annual Letter of 1640," 131; Timothy B. Riordan, The Plundering Time: Maryland in the English Civil War, 1642-1650 ( St. Mary's City, Maryland, forthcoming publication), 3-6.
6Archives of Maryland vol. 15, "Preface," p. 8
7"Annual Letter of 1642," 136.
Clayton Colman Hall, ed. "Extracts from the Annual Letter of the English Province of the Society of Jesus, 1639, 1640, 1642." In Narratives of Early Maryland, 1633-1684. New York: Barnes & Noble, Inc., 1910.
Hughes, Thomas. History of the Society of Jesus in North America: Colonial and Federal Documents, 1605-1838, 4 vols. London and New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1908.
Roundtree, Helen C. and Thomas E. Davidson. "Chapter Three: The First
Century with Maryland." In Eastern Shore Indians of Virginia and Maryland.
Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press, 1977.
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