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St. Mary's City in St. Mary's County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

A Private Lodging House

 
 
A Private Lodging House Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, August 30, 2019
1. A Private Lodging House Marker
Inscription.  Garrett Van Sweringen ran a unique establishment. In Maryland, public inns were known as ordinaries. They had their prices for lodging, food, and drink fixed by law. They were open to all customers, and ordinary keepers could not choose who stayed with them. By opening a private inn or lodging house, Van Sweringen escaped many of these regulations and could select who lodged with him.

Van Sweringen appealed to wealthier customers who could pay more for better services. These ranged from Charles Calvert, Lord Baltimore, and royal governors to elite planters but he could not escape one innkeeper's headache. In the tobacco economy, people typically paid with an IOU called a tobacco note, not cash. Van Sweringen, like all innkeepers, was forced to spend much time going to court to collect debts owed him.

[Captions:]
Charles Calvert, Lord Baltimore, was a patron of Van Sweringen's private inn and often held meetings of his council here.

Very little hard currency was available in early Maryland. Instead, colonists relied primarily on a credit system using promissory notes for later payment in tobacco.
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The issuer of the note was indebted to whoever held it for a given weight of tobacco.

This portrait is of Sir Edmund Andros. After Sir Lionel Copley died in 1693, Virginia's Royal Governor Andros briefly acted as Maryland's governor. On his two brief visits to St. Mary's City, Andros stayed at Van Sweringen's Council Chamber and ran up an enormous bill of over 96 sterling. This sum was greater than the value of the entire estates of most Maryland families.

This bill was for Sir Edmond Andros and his party for one day at the Council Chamber. The amounts are listed in pounds, shillings, and pence.

 
Erected by Historic St. Mary's City.
 
Location. 38° 11.116′ N, 76° 26.043′ W. Marker is in St. Mary's City, Maryland, in St. Mary's County. Marker is on Old State House Road north of Point Lookout Road (Maryland Route 5), on the left when traveling north. The marker is inside the open-air Council Chamber on the Van Sweringen site. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 47414 Old State House Road, Saint Marys City MD 20686, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Council Roome (here, next to this marker); The Servants (here, next to this marker); The Illusion of Brick (here, next to this marker); The Kitchen
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(here, next to this marker); A Change in Government (here, next to this marker); A Busy Kitchen (here, next to this marker); The Cooling House (here, next to this marker); Cellar Archaeology (here, next to this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in St. Mary's City.
 
Categories. Colonial EraGovernment & PoliticsIndustry & Commerce
 

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Credits. This page was last revised on September 3, 2019. This page originally submitted on September 3, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 43 times since then. Photo   1. submitted on September 3, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.
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