Charles’ Gift plantation was established by Nicholas
Sewall when he came of age c. 1676. Nicholas Sewall was the eldest son
of Henry and Jane Sewall, and after his father’s death and mother’s
remarriage, he became the stepson of Charles Calvert in 1666. Nicholas
Sewall grew up at the Mattapany-Sewall site which he would have inherited
had his father lived. Since Charles Calvert married into the property
and established his home there, however, Calvert gifted another parcel
of land to Jane Sewall to make up for her children’s lost inheritance.
When Nicholas came of age, he presumably settled the tract, which became
known as Charles’ Gift plantation.
Nicholas Sewall, his wife Susanna, and their children
lived at the site through the tumultuous period of the 1689 Protestant
rebellion and the overthrow of the Calvert Proprietary, and passed the
land to several generations of descendants. Though different dwellings
and structures were erected over the years, Sewall descendants occupied
the property until 1836. The site then passed to a series of different
owners, but continued as a farmstead until it was purchased by the Navy
18ST704 was indentified when proposed changes to the
Naval Air Station Patuxent River’s Officer’s Club prompted
an archaeological survey. Phase III excavations were performed to recover
data from intact features that were slated to be impacted by the Officer’s
Club project. The excavations revealed that the intact subsurface features
were so extensive as to warrant abandonment of the construction project
in favor of conservation of the archaeological site.
The major cluster of features representing the Charles’
Gift site comprise a row of postholes that probably represent Nicholas
Sewall’s c. 1676 dwelling, a brick foundation from Sewall’s
replacement dwelling constructed c. 1694 and occupied into the 19th century,
and a large borrow pit excavated for the extraction of clay for the brick
foundation of the c. 1694 house. The borrow pit, Feature 12, was filled
with construction debris from the c. 1694 structure and demolition debris
from the c. 1676 structure. It therefore represents a pre-1700 component
of the first Sewall occupation of the site.
|Hornum, Michael B., Andrew D. Madsen, Christian Davenport,
John Clarke, Kathleen M. Child, and Martha Williams
III Archaeological Data Recovery at Site 18ST704, Naval Air Station
Patuxent River, St. Mary’s County, Maryland. Report Prepared
for Tams Consultants, Inc., Arlington, Virginia.
The Charles Gift archaeological collection is
owned by the Naval District Washington, Naval Air Station Patuxent
River and curated at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation