|The Maryland Protestant Revolution of 1689
Peter Sayer Writes Lord Baltimore
Last updated 25 Mar 2005
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In the Summer of 1689, the Rev. John COODE of St. Mary's County, Province of Maryland, impatient over the failure of the newly-crowned Protestant King William to oust the Catholic Lord Baltimore (Charles Calvert), decided to take matters into his own hands, and Catholic Col. Peter SAYERS of Talbot County was one of those in COODE'S way:
On Wednesday, 4 Sep 1689, Col. SAYER learned that he that he was allegedly seen the Saturday before in Indian town, and accused of recruiting armies of Indians to join forces with the Catholics in attacking the Protestants of Maryland. The following morning, Col. SAYER rode to the nearby home of William and Elizabeth ROE Combes to find out the facts of the matter, and was greeted by Elizabeth with a cry of relief: "Oh, Lord! Colonel, I was always glad to see you, but now am ten times gladder than ever I was."
The Colonel had known Elizabeth for many years, and in 1676, had even been named a co-executor of the estate of her father, Edward ROE (formerly of Lancaster County, Virginia). William COMBES may have been a Protestant, but in Talbot County, Catholics and Protestants (including numerous Quaker families) had lived side by side in harmony for many years. In fact, Col. SAYER'S sister-in-law, Barbara MORGAN of Calvert County, and both her husbands, John ROUSBY who had died in 1685, and Richard SMITH, Jr., were Protestant, and Rev. COODE had also just arrested the latter, for his insistence on following the letter of the law (translation: his refusal to follow Rev. COODE'S orders). Richard SMITH had married Barbara MORGAN, widow of John ROUSBY and sister of Frances (daughters of Henry and Frances MORGAN of Kent Island).
Reverend COODE'S activities escalated over the days that followed, and in a letter probably written in mid-September of 1689, 1 and possibly even hand-delivered by his sister-in-law, Peter SAYER wrote Lord Baltimore (Charles Calvert):
Since my last to your Lordship (which was in Johnson the verriest rogue that ever crost saltwater) there has not bin a more tragick comedy of rebellion acted, since the royall bounty of King James and King Charles of blessed memory bestowed upon your Ancestors the Charter of this Province of Maryland; to lay itt downe in all its acts, and scenes would be too tedious, there being some of the actors (whom God send safely to arrive) will give your Lordship an orall relation of all. I shall onely trouble your Lordship with some few particulars, which they (being forc'd to abscond may not have notice of. As soon as the noise came into our County, that our Masinella COADE 2 had gott at the head of five or six hundred men, Griff JONES sends a note to CLAYLAND (then preaching) 3 that he and his auditory must come away presently to the Court house which they did; where this villanous rascal persuaded the poor silly mobile that if they did not sign to that paper (a copy of which your Ldpp hath) they should all certainly loose their estates: Upon this our County (who were before as quiet as lambs) gott to such a head, and crying that all their throats should be cutt by the Papists, that if COADES's order for disbandeing of everybody then in armes had not come to Will: COMBES, 4 our timorous Magistrates could never have quietted 'em. With this order came up his declaration, which was read att our Court house the fourth day following which was the 15th of August, all people being warned to come and hear it by the cleark of our County Nicholas LOWE; Coll: COURSEY being likewise invited for his advice by Mr ROBOTHAM 5 who accordingly came, and advised them to lett no papers be read that came from any of the rebells, except they would permitt him, or that Mr ROBOTHAM himself would paraphrase, and lett the people know what damn'd falsities were contained in 'em; butt Mr ROBOTHAM reply'd, that if any body should contradict anything, in that humor the people were in, they should have all their braines knockt out; says Coll: COURSEY, what did you send for me for, if you won't take my advice; would you have me hear a company of lyes tould against My Lord Baltemore, to whom I have sworn fidelity, and so have you; if your conscience will, mine won't permitt me to doe itt. After a great many arguments the Court was call'd, but noe Coll: would appeare with 'em; In short, my Lord, the declaration was read, with COAD'S other orders by Nick LOWE, after which Mr ROBOTHAM (without mentioning the goodness or badness of the things read) asks them how they would dispose of the County Arms, and who should be their Officers, never mentioning the duty or faithfulness they owed to your Lordship, and your substitutes (which I believe was forgettfulness, butt hoped that none of 'em (by what they heard read) would act anything against your Lordship, or your Countrey, and to be quiet and peaceable & in a small time all would be well. Two or three dayes after came up COAD'S circular letters commanding every County to choose four delegates, who were to be ready at St Maries on the 26th August. The 24th they sent, for my arms and ammunition & Madm LLOYD'S; 6 betwixt thirty and forty men headed by SWEATNAM, who had a warrant (in their Majestys' names) from Edward MAN, Willm COMBES, and Jno EDMONDSON to take what arms, and amunition they could find for the country's use; for that our Indians (haveing fled from the towne, and cutt up their corne) had reported, that they onely staid till the two great men came from the North, meaning Coll: DARNALL and Major SEWALL, who the day before parted from my house. I was resolved to find out who was the Inventor of those falsities, and rid down to Oxford to our Burgesses, who were just then takeing boat, where I mett a great Company of people, who askt me whether I knew not of Coll: DARNALL and Major SEWALLS being at our Indian towne: No, said I; but I know they were last night att Coll: LOWES'S, 7 and are now gone home. Upon this I desired the Burgesses to send some people to the Indians, to know the cause why they deserted the Towne, and betook themselves to that swamp; they said, it was a folly to goe, for the Indians would not come out except Coll: COURSEY came; I tould 'em a Jackahick 8 from him would doe, and I would frame one, and send Mr John HAWKINS with itt, Att last they pickt out four or five men (who knew best where the Indians were) and signed instructions for 'em to enquire as above; they went, and brought the answer which your Ldp has a Copy off. This was the Tuesday; & because Will: COMBES was to muster by COADE'S order on Thursday,I stay'd with him, to see how my old souldiers would look upon me being cashier'd. On Thursday night I came home. The Wednesday following came a Justice of peace and three or four more, who had a kindness for me, and askt me where I was last Saterday where, sayes I, here: Lord Jesus! said they, what lyes goes abroad? why, what's the matter? said I; Begod, said the Justice, Dick SWEATNAM had much adoe to keep Capt: HATFIELD and his Company from comeing to take you; take me, said I; for what? why, sayes he, there's two men att old WATTS' will swear that last Saturday they see you over against the Indian towne, where you shot of two pistols, and three or four cannows full of Indians came over to you, to whom you tould that within ten days you would be with 'em at the head of a thousand other Indians. I asked the fellows names; & they tould me, and that they lived by the Indian Towne, and desired me withall to make hast to Major COMBES, 9 for tht SWEATNAM was gone to tell him the story. The next day I went to COMBES'S, where meeting his wife att the door, she imediately cryed out; O Lord! Coll: I was always glad to see you, but now am ten times gladder than ever I was; why? says I, why, says she there's a parcell of lying devills would persuade the people that you were att the Indian Towne last Saturday, butt that I tould 'em you were a Thursday att our house, they would all come to your house. My husband's gone to the Indian Towne to know the certainty. Well, sayes I, I'le stay till he comes back, and he sha'nt be hanged for your sake; nay gad, sayes she, if I knew this would have excused him, I had not spoke a word. I stay'd till they came back, and tould me that the fellows said they were tould so by an Indian, and the Indian being questioned said, he heard it from two of the Nanticoke Indians, and so itt was put of from one to t'other till itt was lost, and they all say now (being deceived so many times by these sham reports) that if I should really deal with the Indians against the Protestants (which God forbid I should be so wicked) they would never believe itt, yett those damned malitious stories was in a fair way to pull my house downe about my ears; and which has really turned your Lordship's Government out of the Province; for they doe not pretend to meddle with your Lordship's title to itt. Coll: DARNALL and Major SEWALL wont come so well off about their treaties with the Northern Indians, altho' there is as much truth in one as t'other.
Last Saturday Jack LLEWELLIN 10 came up to my house, and gives me this brief account of the Assembly The first thing they did (after they voted themselves a full house, tho' there were ten of the forty two absent, vizt Anarundell, Somersett, and two of Cecill, but Somersett came over the last day, and excused their delay, saying, they heard all things were done in your Lordship's name, but indeed they intended to own no other power but their Majesties which excuse was readyly accepted of nemine contradicente. 11 Little JENKINS was chief, whom your Lordship may remember, and I hope will. They fixed upon the State house Doore a prohibition that no Papist should come into the citty dureing the Assembly. The rest of the transactions your Lordship will see in the papers, which Jack LLEWELLIN has promised to give to my man who's goeing down with him; Onely I must tell your Lordship that the Committee of Secrecy appointed for the discovery of Coll: DARNALL'S and Major SEWALL'S dealing with the Northern Indians is kept on foot still; It's composed of BLACSTONE, JOWLES, Gilbert CLARK, 12 and one or two more I forgott: Upon their report to the House (which was presently voted to be entered) a vote past that letters should be sent to each neighbouring Government, as farr as new England, that the house had found by severall substantiall evidences that your Lordship's deputies have been tampering with the Northern Indians to come in and cut off the Protestants, and therefore desires all of 'em to hold a strict correspondency with this Government and to take up all persons of this Colony that shall seem any way suspicious; This is the purport, but I'me promised a copy of the letter ittselfe. The grand Ordinance is not yett come up, which must give the measures to all their actions both civill and millitary. Your Lordship will see in itt all the Officers, and by that know that those that have gott Estates under your Lordship, are as ready to serve Jack COADE as your Lordship, butt there are some entered that I'me sure will never comply with itt. People in debt think itt the bravest time that ever was, no Courts open, nor no law proceedings, which they pray may continue, as long as they live. I asked why COADE & his Councill divested themselves of that supream power wch they usurped att first; and t'was tould me that COADE proposed to the House to have a standing Committee to receive all appeals, and be as the Grand Councill of the Countrey; but the house would be all alike in power; that the Officers civill & millitary of each respective County should give definitive sentences in all matters whatsoever, till further Orders out of Engld so that COADE & his adherents now have no more power out of their County than we cashiered Officers. They have drawne many impeachments against severall, which are not sent home, and which they keep untill the King sends or orders Commrs. It's a pleasant thing to see the rascals in their cupps, COADE calls himself Massinella, but vaunts he has outraigned him, & little TAYLARD is his Higgins; JOWLES will be Count Scamburgh & Ninian BEAL, Argyle; FURLIN, glories in the name of Ferguson, and CHESELDYN is speaker Williams, but the Dog will never have so much witt; 13 & I believe that if those persons of honour whose names they usurp did but know what villians they were, instead of a recompence (which they expect from His Majestie) would gett an order that they may be try'd & hanged. And now I think I have given your Lordship trouble enough to spoile your next meale; yett, my Lord, this comfort remains still, that the best men & best Protestants such as Coll: COURSEY, Coll: CODD, Coll: WELLS, and a great many others (men of the best Estates, & real professors of the Protestant Religion) stand stifly up for your Lordship's interests.
This onely more I have to say in my own behalf, being att present much afflicted with the Gout, as I have been this pretty while, which will be enough (I hope) to gain your Ldp's pardon for all faults committed in this relation. Comitting your Ldp and family to the Protection of Allmighty God, presenting my humble duty to your Ldp, & Lady, & my humble service to little Master, & the young ladies, I am, My Lord
most humble servant
Mr SAYER'S letter to my Lord Baltemore
Recd from my Lord Baltemore
31. December 1689.
Col. Peter SAYERS had arrived in Maryland sometime before 1 Oct 1674 when Peeter SAYER [sic] was listed as a debtor in the Kent County estate account of Joshua MENTON (Maryland Testamentary Accounts, 1.79), but from where or whence is unknown, which is also the case with William and John COMBES, both first found in the records of Talbot County in 1676 when they married the daughters of Edward ROWE. Some of the Combes of Early Maryland appear to have been kin to John COMBE and Margaret ARCHDALE of London. Margaret was the daughter of Thomas and Mary CLIFTON Archdale and sister of Sarah ARCHDALE who married an Ady SARE, and it has not gone unnoticed that SARE may have been a.k.a. SAYER.
Col. Peter SAYERS died testate in 1697 in Talbot County, with his estate bequeathed one-third to his wife, Frances, one-third to his nephew Charles (who died testate in 1726/7 in Queen Anne's County), and one-third to "...the English Benedictine Nuns and English Benedictine Monks at Paris, and to English Friars..." He also bequeathed personalty to a Thomas LIFEHOLLY and to unnamed grandchildren, and asked that his executors (said wife and nephew) care for "Aunt VARNEY" (not identified). (Maryland Wills, 7:334) Col. SAYER may have been married more than once since Frances MORGAN Sayer's 1698 Talbot will made no mention of children or grandchildren, her bequests including Catholic Priests (Mr. HUNTER, Mr. HALE, Mr. GEULICK, Mr. BROOKES and Mr. PLUNKETT), and nieces and nephews: "to each of sister Barbara's child., viz., John ROUSBY, Walter, Francis, Susanna, and Barbara SMITH... niece Eliza: ROUSBEY and hrs..." (Maryland Wills, 6:166) It is not known whether Frances and Barbara MORGAN were raised in the Catholic faith or as Protestants (including possibly Quakers), only that Barbara was a Protestant in 1689 and Frances a Catholic at the time of her death.
The Maryland Protestant Revolution of 1689
Edited and proofed by Combs Researchers George Baumbach and Carole Hamnet from Archives of Maryland, Vol. VIII, Proceedings of the Council of Maryland, 1687/8-1693, "Letters Illustrating the History of Maryland in the Years 90," William Hand Browne, Editor, Maryland Historical Society, 1890, pp. 158-162