||Heritage Books Inc.
||Jun 1 1995
Maryland's troubles began before there was a Maryland--in 1621, the year William Claiborne of England arrived in Virginia and built his successful trading venture in upper Chesapeake Bay.
Heritage Books Inc.
Chesapeake Bay Bookstore
Chesapeake Conflict deals with the first serious boundary controversy in the American colonies, leading to the first naval battle in America. It began in 1632, the year the English king gave a patent to his friend Lord Baltimore for a province carved out of territory originally granted to Virginia. The province became Maryland and absorbed territories settled in the upper Chesapeake by Virginia fur trader William Claiborne. This historic dispute, primarily between parliamentarianClaiborne and royalist Baltimore evolved into a colonial extension of the bloody English Civil War between the monarchy and the parliament.
The Claiborne-Baltimore conflict dominated events and issues that helped to shape the Maryland colony, and was the opening salvo in a series of disputes over Chesapeake rights which have never been completely resolved.
William Claiborne was twenty-one when the George and the Charles sailed through the Virginia capes into the lower Chesapeake Bay on August 8, 1621, to be welcomed by the cannons of the Point Comfort fort guarding the entrance into the James River. The ships anchored while the new governor was rowed ashore to exchange greetings with the fort commander and to report that the voyage had been calm, without the loss of a single life among the two hundred passengers--a significant achievement in the seventeenth century, when death was not uncommon in the filthy holds of the small merchant vessels. Nor was death a stranger in the colony. In spite of mass migration to Virginia in previous years--averaging a thousand settlers a year--the population stood at only twelve hundred when Claiborne arrived.
But on this warm August day as Virginia's new surveyor stood on the deck of the George, gazing at the site of an ancient Indian village near the mouth of majestic Chesapeake Bay, he decided that he had reached the Promised Land. Reality would not strike until the following year, when the Indian massacre of 1622 nearly wiped out the colony.
Fighting on the Chesapeake
Gene Williamson, a native of Hampton who now lives in New Jersey, has written a book about the territorial dispute between William Claiborne, who in 1628 built a fur trade based on Kent Island in the Chesapeake Bay, and Lord Baltimore, who was granted in 1632 a land patent in the upper Chesapeake region by the English king. The boundary dispute led to the first naval battle in America. Williamson's book is "Chesapeake Conflict: The Troublesome Early Days of Maryland," and it relates how this historic struggle between the parliamentarianClaiborne and the royalist Baltimore evolved and was a colonial extension of the bloody English Civil War between Parliament and the monarchy. Parliament's overthrow of Charles I in 1649 was a victory for Claiborne, but the resolution of the war in England and the recognition of Charles II in 1660 restored Maryland to the Baltimore family.
--Hampton Daily Press
New Jersey resident pens book about Chesapeake
Love of place can carry people far. In the case of Gene Williamson, it's carried him through two books.
Williamson, who lived for many years in Hampton, Va., and now lives in Upper Township NJ, is the author of two history books, the latest about the troublesome days of early Maryland.
"Chesapeake Conflict: The Troublesome Early Days of Maryland" tells the story of Maryland's first wave of colonial immigration in the early 1660s. Incuded in the assortment of hardy pioneers is Williamson's favorite character, William Claiborne, who arrived from England in 1621 like a storm trooper of British capitalism.
Claiborne operated a thriving trade of furs and other commodities. He founded, bought and named Kent Island, near the state's Eastern Shore. And he went to war over territorial rights with that other great land baron, Lord Baltimnore.
--Rob Laymon, Atlantic City Press
There's a smart new book out by author Gene Williamson titled CHESAPEAKECONFLICT. The subtitle of the small softcover is "The Troublesome Early Days of Maryland." Troublesome may be putting it lightly.
The book is a scholarly, but not long winded, account of William Claiborne's decades long battle with the Calvert Family over control of Kent Island and its natural riches. As a Virginian, Claiborne argued that he had justly founded the island and deserved to run the fur trade, shipbuilding, and farming located here. The Calverts, also known as the Lord Baltimores, were nevertheless able to wrestle control of the lucrative enterprise for their Maryland colony through extensive political finagling.
In time Claiborne won back his claim, but lost it forever 12 years later.
Along the way, his story is rife with soap opera-like intrigue. There are scenes of swashbuckling sea battles (the first in American waters), piracy, midnight kidnappings, slimy politics, Indian adventure, romance, crime, punishment and even a witch trial and a public dunking.
Claiborne himself could have come right from central casting. There are lots of known personal details--he was a surveyor, trader, explorer, planter, soldier, and bureaucrat. He's been portrayed as restless, tenacious, violent. Picture Errol Flynn. Or Harrison Ford...
CHESAPEAKECONFLICT explores why a man with such varied interests spends the better part of his life waging a single all-important feud.
Some passages in Mr. Williamson's book are taken directly from centuries old letters and documents. Trudging through the Olde English type can be daunting, but worth the effort. Though the verbage might be archaic, the thoughts expressed are often as modern as anyone you've spoken to today.
--Brent Lewis, The Kent Island Bay Times
And Compuserve reports (September 1996): This is an interesting story that has definite ties with the rise and fall of the monarchy in England.
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