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The Maryland Protestant Revolution of 1689
Oh, Lord! Colonel, I was always glad to see you, but now
am ten times gladder than ever I was.
-- Elizabeth ROE Combes, August 1689
Hats Off to the Maryland State Archives, without whom this site would not exist!
Colonel Peter Sayer Writes Lord Baltimore
(includes Major William and Elizabeth ROE Combs)
Barbara Morgan Rousby Smith Sails to London
(and Richard Smith, Jr. writes from Jail)
County Protestant Petition
(signed by Enoch Combes)
County Protestant Petition
(not signed by Major William Combes)
County Protestant Associator's Petition
(signed by Major William Combes)
Col. John Coode
(Coode, Stacy, Combes, Cooms, &c)
About the Revolution
In November 1688, the Protestant William of Orange invaded England. In December, Catholic King James II fled to France; and in February, William and wife Mary were crowned King William III and Queen Mary II of England. Far, far away in the Province of Mary-Land, Proprietorship of the Catholic Lord Baltimore (Charles Calvert), some Protestants cheered, and some Catholics groaned, but most folks just hoped to be left alone. It was not to be: The Reverend John COOD of St. Mary's County, Maryland, an ordained minister of the Church of England, 1 wanted not only a Protestant Province, but one free of the extra powers granted its Proprietor, not just the required oath of allegiance to Lord Baltimore, but also the governance of the proprietorship. 2 The "trouble" started in late March with apparently false reports of thousands of bloodthirsty Indian savages (led by Papist Priests, of course) on their way to Maryland to with murder and mayhem on their minds. Whether false or not, the reports frightened white settlers sufficiently that many who were Protestant, and would otherwise undoubtedly have ignored the changing of the guard, instead became fearful that there might be truth to the rumors... and supportive of Rev. COODE. But the rumors of Indian uprisings in March came to nothing, and all was relatively quiet and peaceful until late July when Rev. COODE and his followers again made claims of Indian uprisings and massacres, this time stating that the "Papists had invited the Northern Indians to come down and cutt off the Protestants and that their descent was to be about the latter end of August..." The populace grew fearful again, and concerned about their ability to protect themselves, and in late Jul 1689, Rev. COODE, without the authority of either the Proprietor or the King, issued a call for Arms, insisting that attack was imminent and that Maryland's magazines must be secured. Those who refused to obey were accused of being traitors, and on 25 Jul 1689, Rev. COODE'S Protestant Associators Assembly issued the first of numerous declarations, proclamations and petitions, the start of one of the shortest revolutions in history. Attacking the the State House at St. Mary's, they seized Government records and stores, and thence went on to Mattapony where a group including Col. Henry DARNELL (a member of the Provincial Council), had garrisoned themselves. According to Col. DARNELL, he and his men had no choice but to surrender given the false rumors that had been fed to "the People," and thus was the Revolution brought to a quick resolution -- except: Some incumbent officials, particularly in outlying areas, continued to refuse to accept the authority of Rev. COODE, including Protestant Richard SMITH, Jr. of Calvert County, who was imprisoned for his refusal, with the result that his wife, Barbara MORGAN, the widow of John ROUSBY, set sail for London to petition the King, accompanied by Col. Henry DARNELL and others. Col. Peter SAYER of Talbot County was another who protested COODE'S actions, but because he was Catholic, he was simply stripped of all authority by COODE, not only as a Colonel of the Militia, but also as a Justice (and former High Sheriff) of Talbot. Col. SAYER also happened to be the brother-in-law of Barbara MORGAN Rousby Smith, having married her sister, Frances, and a long-time associate of Talbot County Major William COMBES, the husband of Elizabeth ROE, daughter of Edward whose will Peter SAYER had witnessed back in 1676. Because William COMBES was not only Protestant, but had acceded to the Protestant Assembly's orders, he continued to hold office in Talbot, both as a Major of the Militia and County Justice, and was also one of the signers to the Talbot County Protestant Associator's Petition. He nevertheless did not break off his relationship with Col. SAYER, or at least not immediately, as is evidenced by a letter from Col. SAYER to Lord Baltimore in early September of 1689, when SAYER speaks of two visits to the COMBES' home, and even quotes William's wife. In the meantime, the citizenry of Calvert County, home of Richard SMITH, Jr. and High Sheriff Michael TANEY, both imprisoned in Charlestowne, were not as pleased with Col. COODE as those of Charles and St. Mary's appeared to be, and when Barbara MORGAN Rousby Smith left for London, she was probably the bearer of a number of letters, and possibly even some of the several Protestant petitions that were presented to the Lord's Committee not long thereafter, including a Calvert County Petition signed by Enoch COMBES. In London, it was the end of December before Barbara MORGAN Rousby Smith's petition was heard by the Committee, and likewise for Henry DARNELL and others. In the meantime, charges and counter-charges flew back and forth and soon the Rev. Col. COODE and some of his followers were also in London -- both to attack and defend, including complaints of further imprisonments, fines and penalties, etc. Despite the efforts of the anti-Coode Protestants, Rev. John COODE and his followers did ultimately win. On 1 Feb 1689/90, King William formally confirmed COODE'S self-appointment, 3 and Lord Baltimore's proprietorship was cancelled, albeit not formally (the original charter never revoked). His Lordship was still permitted his lands, but another twenty-five years passed before England had a Catholic King again: King George I, who restored the proprietorship within the year. So far as is known, only William COMBES of Talbot, an "Associator," and Enoch COMBS of Calvert, a "Jacobite," participated "actively" in this mostly bloodless "revolution." 4 Nothing is known of Richard of Charles or Phillip of Charles and St. Mary's, most likely because both were Catholics, or at least maintaining low profiles. A third possibly "active participant" was one Capt. George COMBES, possibly of the ship The Palm Tree, who was referred to by Rev. John COODE in a letter to London the following year, although he was more likely a resident of England, not Maryland. Barbara eventually came home, Richard SMITH and Michael TANEY were eventually released from jail, and so far as we know, Enoch COMBES never went to jail at all. We will never know the whole story in all its particulars, but thanks to the London Public Records Office, Maryland Historical Society and Maryland State Archives, we know much more than we would otherwise, and the following reports all include extractions from the now-online Archives of Maryland. 5
1 John COODE, the second son of John COODE (a lawyer) and his wife, Grace ROBINS, was christened 3 Apr 1648 at St. Gluvias Parish, Penryn, Cornwall. At age 16 (ca 1664), he matriculated at Exeter College, Oxford University, two years, and was was ordained as a deacon in the Church of England in 1668. He was assigned to St. Gluvias, Cornwall, but left between 1670 and 1672 for Maryland. John the elder was likely the John COODE who was admitted sizar at age 18 to Sidney College, Cambridge University 20 Jun 1642 (matriculated as GOODE), son of John COODE, and christened 18 Sep 1625 at St. Wen, Cornwall. (Combs Researcher George Baumbach)
2 Unlike King's Colonies where governance was by, and allegiance to, the sovereign only, Proprietorships such as Maryland, Pennsylvania and Carolina (North Carolina and South Carolina) permitted governance and allegiance to the Proprietor first and the King second. The new English sovereigns and Parliament were not unaware of this fact as is evidenced by the following message to the King from "The Right Honorable the Lords of the Committee for Trade and Plantations" as published in the Archives of Maryland, Vol. 5:429:
Memoranda,The 26th Aprill 1689.
Their Lordships taking into consideration the Present State of the Plantations with Relation to the War with France, among other things to be Represented to his Majesty agree to move his Majesty that as Maryland Pensilvania and Carolina are Proprieties of Great extent in America which do not hold themselves subject to his imediate Government nor render any account to his Majesty of their proceedings his Majesty would please in this conjuncture to give such directions as may better secure their Majesty's interest in those parts and putt them into a condition of defence against the enemy. Upon which Representation his Majesty in Councill the 2nd of Aprill 1689 was pleased to order their Lordships to propose to his Majesty what may be fltt to be done for securing their Majesty's interest in the severall proprieties in America Whereupon their Lordships by their Report of the 16th of May 1689 among other things Represented to his Majesty as follows
May it please your Majesty
We have furthered considered the present condition of Maryland, Penselvania and Carolina, as they are Provinces of great extent and importance to the Crown, but as they have been formerly granted by your Majesty's Predecessors to severall persons in absolute propriety by which Title they claime a right of Government. Wee humbly conceive their present circumstances and relation they stand in to the Government of England to be a matter worthy the consideration of the Parliament for the bringing of those proprietys and dominions under a nearer dependance on the Crown
All which is most humbly submitted...
3 Archives of Maryland, Vol. 167-8
4 "Associators" is a term coined from the phrase "Protestant Association," which was how Rev. COODE and his followers defined their efforts in Maryland on behalf of King William and Queen Mary. "Jacobites" was a term used to indicate support of King James II, although in this case, the support may have been for Lord Baltimore instead, or even just for locals such as Richard SMITH, Jr.
5 Although most records of this period are missing from Maryland's Archives, England's PRO (Public Record Office) has masses of correspondence and petitions, a goodly part of which was published over the past 120 years by the Maryland Historical Society for the Maryland State Archives in the series, Archives of Maryland," which is now online and publicly available, although in rough format; i.e., the HTML files are scanned text and include all the usual OCR errors. Fortunately, the graphics are also online and useful for proofing. The Archives of Maryland extractions for Combs &c. have been edited and proofed by Combs researchers, although most still need a second proofing.
Excepting where sources are cited with text, our references are usually the electronic links to either end notes or other Combs &c. reports (such as our Combs Counties of Record). Errors and omissions should be reported to the Combs Webmaster.
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