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Adams family of Maryland

The Adams family was one of the largest free African American families in Maryland during the colonial period, but little is known about their origins because few of St. Mary's County's records have survived.

I just came across the following in the Prerogative Court (Inventories and Accounts, Maryland State Archives SM 13, roll 64, 1682, volume 7c, pages 206-215, Inventory of the Honorable William Calvert, Esquire, (who lived in St. Mary's County):

Mary Adams Marryed to a Negro 13 pounds
William a Negro about 30 years old 30 pounds
John a Mallato boy 2 years old 8 pounds
taken and appraised 13 July 1682.

The inventory filed at the St. Mary's County courthouse did not survive. However, the one above survived because at that time inventories were required to be filed with the provincial court as well.

There was a famous case of a white indentured servant named Eleanor Butler in adjoining Charles County who married "Negro Charles" one of Major William Boarman's slaves and became a slave herself (as did her children and their descendants). This case was so well known at the time that the law was changed in 1682 to allow the white woman to remain free as long as the marriage was permitted by her master. Thus, Mary Adams and her descendants were free,and there were about 50-100 free members of the Adams family in St. Mary's and surrounding counties by 1800.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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