“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
St. Mary's City in St. Mary's County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

From Many Lands

From Many Lands Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), August 30, 2019
1. From Many Lands Marker
Inscription.  Maryland was an English colony but people from many different places settled here. While the majority came from England, others were from various parts of Europe and some came from Africa. Eventually, many more were brought from Africa. All those who came and the Chesapeake Indians already living here created a highly diverse cultural setting in which the Maryland colony grew. Having people from many lands was a hallmark of American society from its beginning. We know the origin of some settlers by their requests for citizenship. Originally, only persons of English or Irish birth had full legal rights. In 1666, an official naturalization policy began, with the legislature approving each case. Among the earliest families to be naturalized were the Van Sweringens in 1669. Maryland was the first English colony to establish a formal means by which free immigrants could become full citizens with all the rights and privileges of those of British or Irish descent.

"...humble peticoners Garrett Vansweringen and Barbarah his wife Elizabeth and Zachariais Vansweringen ... shall from henceforth be adjudged, Reputed as Taken as Naturall borne
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people of this Province of Maryland... or were of Brittish or Irish Discent..."
Assembly Proceedings, April 1669

In the 17th century, people came to Maryland from many countries in Europe including England, Ireland, the Netherlands, France, Scandinavia, Bohemia, Germany, Switzerland, Portugal, and Italy, and various areas of Africa including Angola, the Congo, Ghana, Senegal, and The Gambia.

Colonists who wanted to become Maryland citizens came from many countries. Those requesting naturalization between 1666 and 1676 had to list their country of origin.

What countries did these early colonists come from?

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Identifying Origins
Maryland settlers came from many places but archaeologists often find it difficult to determine someone's origin from their artifacts. Isolation from the homeland, reliance on different trade networks, and efforts to fit into the new society often mask ethnic identity. Two of the artifacts that do suggest peoples' origins are shown here.

This small medallion bears the likenesses of the King of Sweden, Gustavus Adolphus II. Gustavus was a hero to Protestants throughout Europe for his participation in the Thirty Years War. It was either
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worn by a person from Sweden or someone who greatly admired the Swedish king. How it came to be at the Van Sweringen site is unknown.

Cowry shells were widely used as a means of exchange in Africa as worn by Africans. They are rare on archaeological sites in St. Mary's City. These shells indicate the presence of Africans and a continuation of some African practices in the New World.

Erected by Historic St. Mary's City.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Churches & ReligionColonial EraSettlements & Settlers. A significant historical month for this entry is April 1669.
Location. 38° 11.131′ N, 76° 26.047′ W. Marker is in St. Mary's City, Maryland, in St. Mary's County. Marker can be reached from Old State House Road west of Point Lookout Road (Maryland Route 5), on the left when traveling north. 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. Meet Garrett Van Sweringen (here, next to this marker); A Busy Enterprise (here, next to this marker); The Van Sweringen Site (here, next to this marker); The Van Sweringen Family (here, next to this marker); An Innovative Entrepreneur (here, next to this marker); Tobacco... "our meat, drink, clothing and monies" (a few steps from this marker); …Adjourn to the Arbour at Vansweringens (a few steps from this marker); Mathias de Sousa (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in St. Mary's City.
Credits. This page was last revised on September 4, 2019. It was originally submitted on September 4, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 153 times since then and 59 times this year. Photo   1. submitted on September 4, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.

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Oct. 3, 2023