Mathias de Sousa

Mathias de Sousa is widely considered to be the first colonist of African descent to land in the State of Maryland. He arrived in 1633 on a ship named The Ark as an indentured servant of Father Andrew White, a Jesuit priest. It is hard to say exactly how de Sousa became an indenture of Father White, and not much was written about de Sousa by people from his time. Patent records from the Land Office of the colony list de Sousa as a mulato. Scholars believe that, given his last name, he was of an Afro-Portuguese background, and he may have been Catholic because of his affiliation with Father White. Little is known about the details of de Sousa's life, but there are records available to help us piece together something about his time in Maryland. It is believed that he served his indenture until 1639 and became a free man. He was a planter and a trader, but it doesn't appear either occupation led to a lucrative lifestyle. On March 23, 1641, he was recorded in attendance of the proceedings of the General Assembly. By 1642, de Sousa found himself in the indenture of John Lewger and John Hollis due to debts he incurred over the years. Not much is known about de Sousa after 1642 because there no records that follow his life after that year. However, Mathias de Sousa is one the earliest notable persons of African descent to leave his imprint on Maryland's history.       

List of Mathias' Arrival

Mathias attends General Assembly

Mathias de Sousa's Biography


April: Verda Freeman Welcome (1990)

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