Colonial Hardship - Maddox Genealogy
Living and Dying
|Life for the Maddox
settlers and the others in the Maryland of the late 1600's
was hardly easy. While settlers were granted substantial lands by the King of
England for the risks they took to colonize the New World on behalf of the
Crown, they battled disease, the elements, hostile
Indians, and in some cases other colonists over religion. This is a history lesson. It is important to
realize times and customs were very different--as were values. But that's the
way it was, and that helps us understand what our ancestors thought and what
for food and health
There were few crops to begin with
and wilderness winters could be harsh. Disease and malnutrition were apparently
prevalent. There is little evidence to know why many colonists died but a very
few graves have been found--of prominent citizens.
A celebrated find of three
lead-lined coffins has been analyzed by scientists in recent years. It revealed
a woman and infant, and a man--probably a brother of one of the Calverts,
Maryland's most prominent settlers. The woman, who had few remaining teeth, and
infant both showed signs of scurvy--a disease of malnutrition. Forensic
scientists say the infant was very sick at death (about 1689) and showed signs
of a an advanced and apparently painful infection.
Even the well-to-do colonists
could suffer. The will of Notley Maddox Jr., (at right) obviously was written
by someone else in 1758. But it was signed as a scribble from his deathbed,
Two-thirds of early Maryland's
colonists were indentured servants, generally ages 14-24, wo sold their labor to
pay for ships' passage to America. Generally, they would work for 4-7 years and
be given a small acreage, tools and supplies by their masters at the end of that
time so they could begin their own lives.
Servant labor included
domestic work and building and working the fields for food or tobacco--the
provinces' cash crops.
By 1700, black slaves appeared on the plantations and farms of St.
Mary's County. Wills which remain show that some of the early Maryland Maddox's
did own slaves to help work the
Most European men and women who
arrived in colonial Maryland came in search of better economic and social
opportunities. Expanding populations, harvest failures and decline of the cloth
trade caused vast unemployment in England. And there was religious persecution
for those who were not members of the Church of England.
While opportunities existed in
Maryland, the change in lifestyle was demanding. Differences in climate, diet,
and physical activity created a high death rate for the colonists. More men
than women came so there was an unbalanced gender ratio. Because of that,
families were difficult to form and short-lived. Nearly 24,000 people had
immigrated between 1634 and 1680 but only 19,000 colonists were living there in
Servitude placed strains on family
structure because neither men nor women could marry until their terms of service
had ended--postponing marriage until a person's late twenties. This shortened
child bearing years and couples produced only two or three
Most males did not live past 40
and many women died as a result of pregnancy, so children could expect that one
or both parents would die before the children's 16th birthday. Nearly one-half
of the children born in the 17th century died before the age of
By the end of the century, a
native-born population began to emerge and a more balanced of ratio of men to
women appeared. Since they were not indentured servants, couples married
younger and had more children than their parents did. Native born women married
in their late teens and produced an average of 4-5 children. Only then did the
population become more stable and begin to grow.
--By Webmaster from
materials provided by Pat Doster and Jefferson Park and Museum, MD Dept of
Housing and Community Development. Photos by Doster.