Ships Ark and Dove

This is a replica of the "Dove", the smaller of the two ships, which sails Maryland and other eastern ports for display and tourism.
              --photos by Pat Doster

Adventure to the New World

How many people actually went to Maryland on the first expedition? Lord Baltimore spoke of 300, but it was likely fewer.  Excluding the crew of the two ships "Ark" & "Dove," the colonists numbered between 130 to 150.  Planning for the voyage took a year.  Lord Baltimore chartered the "Ark" --a very large ship for the time--and one built to be both a merchant ship and Royal Navy ship if  needed in time of war.  It had a cargo capacity of 300 tons. It was perhaps 110 ft. long by 30 ft. wide, and about 13 feet deep.

Lord Baltimore and his co-investors purchased a second, smaller vessel, the "Dove" to accompany the "Ark."  Just 76 feet long (56 feet of deck and a beam of just 17 feet) , the "Dove" was referred to as a pinnace.  Its cargo capacity was 45 tons; or six to eight times less than the Ark. The Dove carried a passenger or two, but nearly all of the colonists traveled on the larger Ark for the two month voyage.

Life at sea for sailors and settlers

By Pat Doster

Provisions for the voyage consisted of wood for cooking over fires, water, beer, cheese, dried meat, and biscuits. The Royal Navy allowed one ton of food in wine measure for every four men. Of this provision: beer was one-fourth; wood & water one-fourth, and solid food one-fourth. Water turned rancid faster than beer. Lord Baltimore put aboard 107 tons of beer & six tons of Canary wine; also lemons to stave off scurvy--sailors knew nothing of vitamins, but they knew about lemons for scurvy!  The big name investors who funded the voyage may have added varied supplies for themselves: live chickens,  wheat flour for puddings, butter, and potted meats.

 In addition, Lord Baltimore supplied his colonists with armaments: four sakers and four demiculverins. Sakers were cannon 9 ft long and demiculverins were 10 to 13 ft. long. They also carried materials to build a barge for river exploration and quantities of trade goods for buying livestock in VA and furs from the Indians.

So equipped, the ships set sail from Gravesend, Eng., in mid-October 1634. Probably, the Jesuit priests and a few other Catholics joined the colonists in Cowes on the Isle of Wight. Finally Nov. 22, 1634 the ships departed from Cowes becoming a "cramped, wooden world for all aboard."

Wooden ships were cramped, dark, and leaky

The Ark, though small, gives us a good understanding of what the trip would have been like for those aboard these two ships and the thousands who would follow from England.  Below deck was dark and damp, and crowded.  The cargo area amidships held fifty tons of  carefully stacked tobacco hogsheads or canvas-covered boxes of trade goods.  Thousands of English and Welsh teenagers spent six miserable weeks and more locked in the holds, traveling to the Chesapeake to sell their labor in exchange for a parcel of land.  Paying passengers had access to cupboard bunks.

Sailing wooden ships

Voyages were continuous work for the crew.  There was endless painting, scraping and mending of wood, rope and sail.  Wooden ships always leaked so sailors used log pumps  to clear out the bilge water.

The skill and experience of the ships' masters, the captains, made all the difference in a trans-Atlantic voyage.  Their judgement would direct the the vessels through storms, calms, and pirates.  Seventeenth century navigation was a 'seat of the pants' business.  Mariners had a compass to steer and could measure latitude by the sun and stars, but longitude could only be gauged by estimating a ship's speed and distance. 

For sailors and settlers alike, the voyages were uncomfortable and risky.  For the settlers, like the first Maddox immigrants  the trip was the first of many struggles for a new life  in Maryland.

Maddox Captains a Maryland Schooner

1819 April 27 th

The Schooner Henery & Rebecah sold and delivered this day as joint property, now lying in Chaptico Bay for the sum of $1200.00.  An effort was made to find out more about the Henery & Rebecah, but no one remembered anything about her. An in-quiry was then sent to the National Archives and records Service, and they forwarded this information:

  The Schooner Henery & Rebecah was built at Maiden Bower Creek ( White's Neck), St Mary's Co, Maryland in 1816-1817, and was registered under the names of Philip Turner and George Morgan. She was a two-masted scooner of 54 1/2 tons, 56 feet long,17 1/2 feet wide. She was re-registered under the names of Philip Turner and Charles Shaw December 11, 1820 and Samuel J. Maddox was her captain. After the death of Captain Maddox she was sold to Ignatius Luckell, Alexander Greer, and John T. Speak, all of Charles County, and captained bt Henry Rogers. There are no more records after 1825.
>From the book YESTERDAY IN OLD ST. MARY'S COUNTY   By Robert E.T. Pogue


Above: Dove's captain oversees his ship.

 Turn of the Century Oyster Battles

    "A naval battle between a fleet of eight Oyster-dredging boats and the Major Murray and the Accomac, of the Maryland and Virginia oyster navies, took place today on the Potomac River off the mouth of Port Tobacco Creek, resulting in the capture of the eight oyster boats. The captains of The dredgers were taken off the boats and the whole fleet, escorted by the police, proceeded down the river to Brush wood." 

Captured violators were usually taken to Brush Wood wharf, where the magistrate was summoned, and the trial was held on the spot.  Justice was quick and effective.  In 1906 an Eastern Shore dredger name Alex Harris lost his life at Brush Wood wharf because he failed to stop when ordered to by Captain Douglas Russell of the police Schooner Bessie Jones.  Captain Harris started the shooting by firing on The Bessie Jones, and went captain Douglas and his mate returned the fire Harris was shot between the eyes. Captain Douglas and his crew were completely exonerated by but corner’s jury, of course.

 The Bessie Jones was one of the earliest police Schooners to patrol the waters of the Wicomico and Potomac.  Captain George W. (Willie) Maddox, of the Chaptico district captained her for many years.  Captain Maddox was a descendant of Captain Samuel J. Maddox, who sailed the Schooner Henry and Rebecca in 1818, mentioned in an earlier chapter.  The Bessie Jones was a very beautiful and famous schooner, celebrated in song and story.