Whole Number 72
by Paul E. Sparks
That part of North America now called Maryland was first settled by white people in 1631 when William Claiborne came over from the colony of Virginia and established a trading post on Kent Island. He remained without neighbors until 1634 when the first colonists, led by Leonard Calvert, arrived from England in the vessels called the ARK and the DOVE, and founded the county of St. Marys. The future of the colony (named Terrae Marie or Maryland in honor of Queen Henrietta Maria) was assured. Thereafter, settlers from England poured in by shipload after shipload.
Each freeman who came to Maryland was given 100 acres of land for himself, his wife, and each child over age sixteen. In addition, he was given 50 acres for each child under age sixteen and for each "servant" he brought with him. "Servants" were persons brought in for hire and obligated to work or in some other manner pay for their transportation. In general, these persons were farmers, mechanics, masons, carpenters, shipbuilders, and often they were educated clerks and teachers.
Generally speaking, the lot of a servant was not especially unpleasant. The indenture usually lasted from two to six years and at the end provision was made to give him or her a degree of independence. In the case of a male servant, he was given fifty acres of land, an ox, a gun, two hoes, and a modest amount of clothing. If the servant were a female, she received a skirt, waistcoat, apron, smock, cap, shoes and stockings, and three barrels of Indian corn.
This provision for encouraging new colonist8 proved so popular that seven years after the colony was established the land allowance was reduced from 100 acres to 50 acres for adults and to 25 acres for each child under age sixteen. In like manner, the early liberal allowance of land for transporting colonists was tightened. Initially the transportation of five men was worth 2000 acres, but in 1636 this was changed to require the transportation of ten men for this amount of land, and in 1641 it was again changed to require twenty men and women to be worth 2000 acres.
In many cases, the servant paid for his transportation by simply transferring the acreage he was to receive as a new colonist to the person who transported him. In turn, the person who provided the transportation might transfer his right to the land to another person who had no actual part in arranging or providing the transportation.
The system was finally abolished in 1683.
In the index which follows, the names of many colonists have been omitted and in cases where there were many names, only those settlers named SPARKS have been included in the interest of brevity. In future issues of the Quarterly, we hope to be able to trace further the record of these Sparks immigrants to Maryland.
The book and page numbers which appear in the following list refer to the bound volumes at the Hall of Records in Annapolis, Mazyland, entitled INDEX OF EARLY SETTLERS, MARYLAND, 1633 -1680.
(Book 6, page 71) I, Thomas Skillingham, of the province of Maryland, do assign George Richardson all my right and title to these following Rights of Land. First for Thomas Skillingham and Mary, his wife, WILLIAM SPARKS (30)- - - Servants in all Six, Ann Powell, Mary Webb, John Green, as witness my hand this 2nd day of the month (sic) 1663. (signed) Thomas Skillingham.
(Book 6, page 80) I, Peter Bannister, do assign Thomas Bradly or his assignees, all my right and title of Land due to me for service done in this provice by myself who came in 1654, Catherine Birkby 1654, John Ashby 1657, WALTER SPARKE 1659, witness my hand this 27th day of October 1663. (signed) Peter P. Bannister.
(Book 6, page 90) Then came George Richardson and demanded Land for the transportation of himself in Anno 1661, Mary Richardson in 1663, Thomas Hayward in 1662, WILLIAM SPARKE in 1662
(Book 11, page 348) These servants were consigned to Thomas Motley by Mr. Willm. Dysester, merchant of Landon, for 1000 acres of land ... MARY SPARKES ... 1668.
(Book 12, page 413) 7 February 1669. Then came John Tench of Talbott County and proved right to 1100 acres of land for transporting ... MARY SPARKS
(Book 13, page 114) Rights proved by Richard Tilghman for whose transportation he hath paid in years 1668, 1669, and 1670. Dated 22 May 1671. ... THOMAS SPARKES, 1669
(Book 13, page 122) A list of the names of Servants consigned to Richard Carter of Talbot County ... THOMAS SPARKES, 1669... (Note: this is the same Thomas Sparkes whose transportation was paid by Richard Tilghman who now consigned him to Richard Carter.)
(Book 15, page 379) January 6, 1676. Came Samuell Lead Better, merchant, and proved rights to 2650 acres of land for transporting the 53 persons following into this province ... MARY SPARKE ... (Note: Apparently this was in Baltimore County.)
(Book 15, page 397) 3 March 1676/77. Know all men by these presents that I, Peter Paggan, Commander of the ship ELIZABETH KATHERINE, doe assigne over the rights to Thomas Taylor of the County of Anne Arundel ... MATT SPARKE...
(Book 17, page 477) Then came RICHARD SPARKS of St. Mary's County and proved Rights for So acres for his time of service performed in this province. 26 July 1673. (Note: he then assigned those rights to Edward Clarke.)
(Book 18, page 106) Then came John Hudson of Dorchester County and proved right to 200 acres of land for transporting himself, HESTER SPARKES, Rowland Williams and John Little into this province. 1674.
In the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, Vol. LXXIX, 1948, pp. 69-72, appears a list of "Servants to Foreign Plantations from Bristol, England, 1654-1686". In Table 1 there is a list of "Emigrants: Destination: Maryland" in which the servant numbed 120 is given as ROBERT SPARKES with the date September 13, 1670. In Table 2 appears a list of "Bondrnasters" for these servants, and the bondmaster given for servant 120 (i.e. Robert Sparkes) is named PETER SPARKES.