In 1663, Maryland’s colonial proprietary
granted a 1,000 acre tract known as Mattapany to Henry Sewall
in exchange for 15,000 pounds of tobacco. Henry and his family
founded a plantation there that would come to be known as Mattapany-Sewall
(18ST390). Henry’s occupation of the property was short-lived,
however. He died in 1665, leaving his estate to his widow Jane
Lowe Sewall and their children.
In 1666, Jane Sewall married Charles Calvert,
who then moved in with her at Mattapany and erected a new dwelling.
Charles Calvert was the governor of the colony, so his home became
a center of political activity in Maryland. Ships stopped in port
at Mattapany, Council meetings were held there, and between 1671
and 1690, Mattapany was home to the primary magazine of the colony.
To accommodate all of these public functions, the plantation had
to be both sizable and defensible.
In 1676, Charles Calvert’s father died
and he became the Third Lord Baltimore, Proprietor of Maryland,
and the only Lord Baltimore to have ever actually resided in the
colony. He and his wife returned to England in 1684, after which
Mattapany-Sewall was occupied by a succession of tenants until
a descendant of Henry Sewall, Nicholas Lewis Sewall, inherited
the plantation and erected a new (ca. 1740) home about 300 yards
away, leaving the dwelling erected by Calvert to fall into ruin.
Archaeological excavations in the 1980s and 1990s
concentrated on two areas of the Mattapany-Sewall site: the dwelling
erected during Charles Calvert’s occupation of the property,
and the magazine. Excavations at the dwelling identified a structure
with a 25’ by 50’ brick foundation and a tiled cellar
floor. Features around the house included a possible kitchen cellar,
scattered postholes, and a hastily-erected defensive palisade
that may date to 1689, when Protestants overthrew the Catholic
Calvert family and raided the Mattapany magazine. Based on diagnostic
artifacts and historical documents, this portion of the site dates
to ca. 1666-1740.
Excavations of the magazine yielded artifacts
such as large quantities of lead shot, gunflints, and a gun barrel.
These finds coincide with historical accounts of the types of
objects stored there. A 1694 inventory of the munitions seized
from Mattapany listed four barrels of gunpowder, 194 muskets,
118 carbines, 32 other assorted guns, 3,000 pounds of shot, and
another 3,000 pounds of shot, “found Afterwards plaistered
up in the Wall.” This account indicates that the structure
was dismantled shortly after the Protestant takeover. Diagnostic
artifacts help confirm the historical records, dating the magazine
to ca. 1660-1700.
||Seventeenth-Century Proprietary Rule and
Rebellion: Archeology at Charles Calvert’s Mattapany-Sewall.
Maryland Archeology 23(1):1-37.
The Mattapany archaeological collection is owned by the
Naval District Washington, Naval Air Station Patuxent River and
curated at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory.