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Re: Whitehall Plantation, Kent County, DE

John H. Chew

Any input on John H Chew?

General Saunders (b. circa 1793 - d. ?)
MSA SC 5496-050640
War of 1812 Escaped Slave, Calvert County, Maryland, 1814


General Saunders was born into slavery around 1793. He had at least one brother, Davy, as well as a sister whose name is currently unknown. Saunders was enslaved on Thomas Reynolds's farm near Chesapeake Beach in Calvert County, while his brother and sister were enslaved on John H. Chew's farm in the same county.1

On a Sunday evening in October 1814,2 General Saunders escaped with David Saunders and Harry Quary, both slaves of John H. Chew, and Elleck, a slave of William Ward.3 Saunders' sister had encouraged him to escape, but did not accompany him.4 The four men reached the British sloop-of-war Dauntless, part of a squadron lying near Sharp's Island in the Chesapeake Bay by the Choptank River's mouth.5 General and David Saunders had transferred to the HMS Orlando by March 6, 1815.6

Rear Admiral George Cockburn of the Royal Navy had initially considered Sharp's Island too remote to serve as a location for taking in runaway slaves. In April 1814, Cockburn had written to Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane in the Chesapeake Bay: "The places you have pointed out to me, as fit for Posts for receiving the Refugee Negroes &c., will not I think any of them answer... Sharp's Island being too far distant from those parts of the Country, from which alone we find the Slaves inclined to emigrate."7

John H. Chew later heard that both General Saunders and David Saunders were serving "as Marines on board The British fleet after peace."8 The British had organized the Colonial Marines in 1814 from men who fled slavery during the war.9 Cochrane referred to the Colonial Marines, based on Tangier Island, as "infinitely more dreaded" than British soldiers."10

General Saunders and his brother were listed among black refugees who arrived between 1815 and 1818 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The list of African American refugees in Halifax also recorded a twenty-year-old "wife of General Saunders."11 Whether he and his wife remained in Halifax is unknown, since they did not appear in subsequent lists for the refugee settlements at Preston, Hammonds Plains, or Windsor Road. However, Britain gave each former Colonial Marine sixteen acres of land in Trinidad around 1816,12 so Saunders and his wife may have joined with the ninety-five Nova Scotia refugees who left for Trinidad and settled in the "Company Villages.

Messages In This Thread

Whitehall Plantation, Kent County, DE
Re: Whitehall Plantation, Kent County, DE

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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