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Friends of Maryland and Virginia

Dunnock Johnson Family ~ Dorchester & Washington DC


Quakers first arrived in Southern Maryland after being expelled from Virginia.  They include Elizabeth Harris who convinces Puritans like Richard Preston of the "Inward Truth".  Richard Preston had his home at Preston-on-Patuxent, which was the seat of the Maryland government for a  period until 1658.  Another Preston home, called Charles Gift was located on the Chesapeake Bay, where the  Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant now stands.  Meetings began to be established in Calvert County at the Upper and Lower Cliffs.


The Provincial Council of Maryland referred to the "insolent behavior of Quakers". The latter were told they had to take oaths and remove their hats. They were called "vagabonds and idle persons". They were whipped from constable to constable, until they were tossed from the Province.


Despite persecution, Quaker meetings were spreading in Maryland  (except in St. Marys County. They existed on the Severn River, the South  River,  the West River, Herring  Creek, the Cliffs, and the Patuxent. 

A history records several established meetings, including one called "Patuxent". George Fox writes of meeting with Indian chieftains and of staying at the home of James Preston, son of Richard Preston, who died in 1669. On one occasion, after returning from a trip on horseback with James Preston, Fox found the Preston home burnt down and his chest destroyed. 


Fox returned to England, having taken passage from St. Leonards Creek on the Society of Bristol, which was held up for days at Patuxent Point due to unfavorable winds.


The Cliffs meeting house was built upon a tract near the Chesapeake Bay in Calvert County, called  "Garys Chance". Among the Friends involved were the Sharpe family of the Quaker physician of Calvert County and Richard Johns (whose descendents became the founders of  Johns Hopkins Hospital; one of the Johns family was disowned by Baltimore Yearly Meeting for selling whiskey). Some of these early Quakers were buried in a cemetery close to Scientists Cliffs in Calvert  County.


The existence of Pickawaxen Meeting in Charles County was reported.


Friends were no longer persecuted in Maryland

Our family Friends - The daughter of Thomas Preston marries John Stevens, a Friend of Calvert County. These lines descend to us through the Woolfords. The Denwoods were Virginia Friends who also are part of our Woolford ancestry. While George Fox visited Calvert County, he also visited the Eastern Shore of Virginia where Levin Denwood became one of the first Friends in Virginia.   from A History of Quakers In Southern Maryland  by Peter Rabenold.

Preston, Richard, Calvert County, 16 Sep 1669; 8 Jan 1669. w/p

To Thomas Preston, Upon the Clifts.
To Isaac Hunt and grandchild. William and James Berry, personalty.
To son James Preston, if living, use of home plantation until grandson Samuel Preston attains age of 21 yrs.; daughter-in-law Margaret Preston to have charge of her son, sd. Samuel, during minority.
To son James, Barren Island, on Eastern Shore.
To daus. Rebecca and Sarah Preston, equally, 600 A. by patent. In event of death of both daus. without issue, sd. patent to pass to son James, if living. In event of his death to pass to 2 kinsmen James and John Dorsey, or Darsey.
To 3 child. of testator, James, Rebecca and Sarah Preston, residue of estate equally. Ex. not named. Test: Enoch Coomes, Geo. Deulin, Thos. Peake

Preston, Thomas, Calvert County. 8 Nov 1674.
To wife Eliza: and hrs., 1/3 estate, real and personal.
To 3 child., viz., 1 boy and 2 girls, residue of estate equally; sd. child. to be of age at 21 yrs.
Exs.: Jno. Stevens, Wm. Stevens, Jr., Howell Powell.
Test: Henry Jowles, Richard Benger, Susanna Garnett.