Newsletter of
The Maryland State Archives
Vol. 17, No. 5
March 10, 2003
private Schools" and administer "the Oaths to the Government required by Law...." 

Evidence of the oath taking activities in 1754 is found mostly in Maryland State Papers (Black Books) in series S987. Vol. IV, Nos. 133 and 135-137, and Vol. X, Nos. 38-39, that contain lists of teachers from Talbot, Queen Anne's, Somerset, Prince George's, and Dorchester counties. The minutes for these county courts, except for Dorchester, do not include references to the oaths. Other extant county court minutes, specifically Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Charles, Frederick, and Kent counties, also lacked such information. 

The lists of school masters provide names, whether or not the oath was taken, and some information about location and status. In Talbot County, George Rule, as master of the county free school, took the oath. Others included Samuel Hopkins, Joseph Toope, William Sikes, Richard Street, Thomas Ellis, Richard Rawlinson, William West, Thomas Smith, John Davison, Lawrence Maynard, William Adams, and James Donald. Not taking the oath were David Jones, servant of Mathew Tilghman; James Price, servant of William Lambden; and Joseph Williams, Quaker. 

The Queen Anne's County Court chose to list all known teachers, but only one had taken the oath. The county free school was not open in 1754. The return grouped school masters by hundred and specified the Catholics - Worrell: Thomas Walker, William Heath, John Morton, Michael Flower, 

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by Pat Melville

During the French and Indian War and at a time of heightened anti-Catholic sentiments, many officials in England and Maryland sought ways to curb the inculcation of Papist doctrines that could hamper the military campaigns against France. Instructions given the newly appointed Governor Horatio Sharpe in 1753 included a provision that any schoolmaster coming from England could teach in Maryland only with a license from Lord Baltimore. The governor was authorized to license those already in the province and any coming from elsewhere. Evidence of actual licensing has not been found. 

At the same time the Committee on Grievances and Courts of Justice of the Lower House of the General Assembly reported on the potential perversion of Protestant citizens and the spread of Popery through public preaching by priests and teaching by Catholic school masters. The Lower House passed a bill for "the Security of his Majesty's Dominions, and to prevent the growth of Popery." It provided for the seizure and sale of lands owned by any Catholic priest or Jesuit, with the proceeds to be used to finance the war against France. The less anti-Catholic Upper House rejected the proposal. 

At least twice during the mid -18th century, the governor and council issued orders requiring teachers to take an oath of abjuration. The one in 1754 does not appear in the proceedings of the governor and council, but the one for 1757 was recorded. The county magistrates were ordered to "call before them all Persons keeping  public or 

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The Archivists' Bulldog
OATHS (continued from Page 1) 

Thomas Wilkinson, and John Walker; Town: John Fare and John Holt; Choptank: Joseph Councill (Catholic), Nicholas Seamore, and George Warren (Catholic); Kent Island: Michael Griffith, William Obryan (took oath), and William Weaver; Tuckahoe: Nicholas Bedgood, Nathaniel King, Thomas Marsh, and Thomas Vickars; Chester: John Jackson; Wye: John Browne; Island: John Lumley, John Marsh, Christopher Irwin, Stephen Gudgeon, Jonathan Jolly, and George Perssnett. 

The Somerset County Court provided a list of teachers taking the oath - Benjamin Burridge, William Taylor, William Fodred, John Finch, John Chatbourn, George Gastans, John Pitts, John Dawson, W. Austen, Samuel Jarvis, Thomas Parramore, Isaac Jones, Francis Mathews, James Smith, Richard Bigland, Benona Wheldon, and Stephen Harris. Alexander Fullerton was the only one who did not take oath. 

The Prince George's County return included supplemental information about many of the individuals who subscribed to the oath - Rev. William Brogden, master of the county free school; James Beck, private schoolmaster and register of Queen Anne Parish; Capt. Thomas Gantt's servant, a Protestant; Enoch Magruder, a convict servant; Jeremiah Berry's indentured servant; Francis Waring's indentured servant, a Protestant; David Price, a Protestant; Samuel Selby's convict servant; Peter Robinson; John Haggerty's indentured servant; Richard Blew; Thomas Harrison, a convict; Daniel Wallahorn's convict servant; and James Gibson, a Protestant. 

The Dorchester County list identified Edward McShehey as the master of the free school. Masters of private schools taking the oath included Patrick McGauran, Charles Rawlins, Samuel Rose,  Thomas

Calwell, Isaac Obier, John Swan, Joshua Wheeler, John Kidd, Nehemiah Froumantiel, John Day, and Andrew Willson. Of the teachers who did not take the oath Lancelot Slevin was said to be Catholic and had left the county, Charles Handley as a Catholic refused, and Francis Edwards and Andrew Banning were summoned to appear at the next court session. The minutes of the March 1755 term in Dorchester County Court (Judgment Record) in series C704 show that Francis Edwards came to court to take the oath, along with John Clark and Martin Stoughton. 

Records of teachers' oaths in 1757-1758 are sparse, with a few appearing in the minutes of only three county courts - Queen Anne's, Talbot, and Prince George's. In Queen Anne's County in 1758 Francis Rochester, Jr., John Kitts, and Patrick McGauran took the oath, as recorded in Queen Anne's County Court (Judgment Record) in series C1416. Four years earlier McGauran had been teaching in Dorchester County. 

Talbot County minutes for 1757 in Talbot County Court (Judgment Record) in series C1875 show oaths taken by Michael Griffith, John Davison, George Warren, William Sykes, Joseph Price, William Edmondson, and schoolmistress Sidney Hughs. Davison and Sykes had been included in the 1754 list.  Prince George's County minutes between June 1757 and March 1758 in Prince George's County (Court Record) in series C1191 contains information about several teachers. Three repeats from the 1754 record appeared - Thomas Harrison, James Gibson, and David Price. Other school masters and mistresses taking the oath included David Read, Edward Baughan, Ely Valetta, Peter Longsworth, William Lumly, John 

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OATHS (continued from Page 2)

Scholfield, Hannah Tool, William Ellis, John Willen, and Mary Flowers. Four individuals refused to subscribe, three because they did not consider themselves real educators. John Rivers taught only dancing, and his wife taught French and needlework to girls. Ann Campbell taught sewing, but not reading, to three girls.

The fourth person was Mary Ann March whose refusal in March 1758 was based on her Catholic religion. Apparently she previously had operated a school in Baltimore. Rev. Thomas Chase in a deposition before the House Committee on Grievances and Courts of Justice in April 1757 mentioned a school opened in Baltimore by Mary Ann March, a reputed Papist, and closed about October 1756. Chase had applied to three magistrates to stop her teaching, but they did nothing. In fact, one justice was sending his child to the school. 

Peter Robinson, another Prince George's County teacher who had taken the oath in 1754, failed to do so in 1757 for very good reasons. In August 1755, he was imprisoned for nonpayment of debts, and was still there two years later. In August 1755, he filed a petition with the court, describing his situation and seeking a recommendation so he could ask for relief through the General Assembly. His family consisted of three children and a wife who had broken her arm while traveling to visit him in jail. "[I]t is well known your petitioner has been serviceable to multitudes in his vocation of teaching for above twenty years; and (with compassion and permission authority) may still continue to be useful to society. That your petitioner hopes all merciful men will make such allowance for poverty, inadvertence; want of prudence or economy; and have such bowels of compassion for their fellow creatures and his deplorable family; as not to desire his perpetual confinement´┐Ż." Not until August 1757 did the justices recommend Robinson as a person worthy of consideration by the legislature. The attempt failed as the Lower House in November 1757 rejected numerous petitions for relief by persons imprisoned for debt.


Research Archivist Alexander (Sasha) Lourie has received a full scholarship to attend the prestigious Attingham Summer School program, sponsored by The Attingham Trust for the Study of Country Houses and Collections. Sasha, along with about 30 other participants, will spend three weeks in July touring and studying houses throughout England. The purpose of the program is to study the architectural and social history of Britain's great country houses, as well as their contents--paintings, sculpture, furniture, ceramics, silver, and textiles--and the history of their interior design from as early as the 14th century. The group will be led by a panel of renowned experts in the field of British history and decorative arts, as well as curators from the individual houses. Highlights include two private visits to Chatsworth, the seat of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire in Derbyshire, as well as Arundel Castle in Sussex, home to the Dukes of Norfolk for over 700 years. 

Sasha received his B.A. in History from Kenyon College, and is currently completing his M.A. in American Studies from the University of Maryland. His thesis will
explore the work of early nineteenth century Annapolis cabinetmakers, Washington Tuck and William Tuck. 

Sasha Lourie


    (Adoption File) 1947-1976 [MSA T3558] 
    (Civil Docket) 1948-1968 [MSA T3560] 
    (Election Returns) 1893-1990
    [MSA T3106] 
    (Equity Docket) 1852-1990 [MSA T3561]

    (Equity Papers) 1968-1984 [MSA T3158]