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An American Family History

Oliver Sprye

 
Baltimore (now Harford) County, Maryland
 
Maryland was established with religious freedom for Catholics. The colonial economy was based on tobacco cultivated by Africans who had been enslaved.

Oliver Sprye was born about 1638 in England. His wife was named Johanna. Their daughter was Mary Sprye Harmer.

A letter dated May 23, 1658 he wrote to "Mr. [Robert Clarke]" requesting that his warrant for 850 acres be laid out "near my son Godfrid."

Oliver and his son-in-law, Godfrey Harmer, built a fort at Ford (or Fort) Point.

In 1659 three tracts were laid out for him at the lower end of Gunpowder Neck near the bay: Upper Ollives, Middle Ollives and Ollives.

Samson was surveyed for Thomas Sampson in 1659 and assigned to Oliver. He deeded it to his daughter Mary Harmer, wife of Godfrey Harmer in 1663, the year they married.

In 1661 Oliver sued William Hambleton for payment for his wife's services.

his wife hath Ceured William Hambitons wife of Some Distemper she had

for which sattisfat beinge demanded in Court the said william Hamblton hath proffered Six hundred pounds of tobaco which this Court thinks Suffitient Sattisfaction . . .

Hopewell and Chestnut Neck were laid out for Spry in 1662 Hopewell Marsh in 1667.

Tobacco is a native American herb that is cultivated for its leaves which are prepared for smoking, chewing or snuff. In parts of colonial America, it was used as money. Tobacco plantations in the colonial south fueled the need for enslaving people.
 

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Colonial Maryland used the headright system to encourage settlement. Land was granted to anyone who would pay fthe transportation costs of a laborer.

from Maryland Historical Magazine, Volume 13 edited by William Hand Browne, Louis Henry Dielman

That the point of marsh on Chesapeake Bay between the mouths of Bush River and Gunpowder River marked on the map of the Maryland Geological Survey "Ford Point," but always known among the natives as Fort Point, commemorates by its name the site of an ancient fort, erected not improbably by Oliver Spry and his son-in-law Godfrey Harmer, the Indian trader, is the inference we draw from the old records of the locality.

Oliver Spry probably came into Maryland from Virginia (see Early Va. Immigrants, Oliver Spry, transported 1639 by Rd. Parsons, Lower Norfolk County; Oliver Spry, transported 1636, by Oliver Spry, Warrisquinoak County). In 1649 or 1650 he came into the Province and settled with Richard Bennett, Esq., and others for mutual security at Town Neck on Severn River (Patents, Liber Q, folios 385-386). Augustine Herman was his guest there October 4, 1659 (Journal of the Dutch Embassy, Narratives of Early Maryland, folio 318. Through a defect in the text the name of Spry does not appear, but it is stated that Herman's host was the father-in-law of Godfried Harmer, the Indian trader).

A letter dated May 23, 1658, from Oliver Spry to "Mr. Clarke" requests that his warrant for 850 acres be laid out

near my son Godfrid . . . where my son Godfrid shall appoint you (Patents, Liber Q, folio 64).

In 1659 three tracts were laid out at the lower end of Gunpowder Neck near the bay in the name of Oliver Spry: Upper Ollives, Middle Ollives and Ollives.

Sampson surveyed for Thomas Sampson in 1659 and assigned to Oliver Spry, was deeded by Spry to his daughter Mary Harmer, wife of Godfrey Harmer, 1663 (Land Records Baltimore County, Liber R. M. No. H. S., folio 4).

Hopewell and Chesnut Neck were laid out for Spry in 1662 Hopewell Marsh in 1667.

Harmer married Mary Spry, the only child of Oliver Spry and Johanna his wife. It is probable that his first permanent home in Baltimore county was in Gunpowder Neck, where his father-in-law took up land in 1659.

The name of Oliver Spry is [no longer] still preserved in Spry's Island, which was formerly the end of a long point extending into the Bay from where Rickett's Point now is; and a high bank on Gunpowder River between Day's Point and the mouth of Watson's (originally Waterton's) Creek still keeps the name of Mary's Banks given it in 1674 by Godfrey Harmer in honor, no doubt, of his wife Mary.

Gunpowder Neck, was in Baltimore, County but is now in Harford County, Maryland. Joppa was a major seaport and the county seat of Baltimore County from 1712 to 1769. St. John's Parish was in Joppa, but later moved to Kingsville, Maryland. Robins Point, Rickett Point Road, Maxwell Point Road, and Ford Point are south of the current Joppatowne on Gunpowder Neck. Spry Shoal is just off Rickett Point.

 

Baltimore County, Maryland was founded in 1659 and included most of northeastern Maryland. The original county included parts of Cecil, Frederick, Harford, Carroll, and Baltimore Counties.

 
 
 

from The Disappearing Islands of the Chesapeake by William B. Cronin

In 1846-47 a chart showed Spry's Island as a small marshy island near the mouth of Middle River. In 1845 it had an area of 89 acres, and by 1974 had totally disappeared.

Tiny Spry's Island at the mouth of Middle River was one of those bits of waterbound land that went from owner to owner as part of larger properties. Oliver Spry patented a 640-acre tract of land known as Sprys Inheritance in 1658. Sprys Inheritance and the island passed from Oliver Spry to his daughter Mary Strandsby in 1683 as part of Maxwell's Conclusion a tract of 1,623 acres.

The island appears again in an 1807 deed by which Charlotte Waltham conveyed to Samuel Rickets

one third part of Maxwell's Conclusion including a small island known as Spryes Island.

No one seems to have occuped the island, which was mostly marsh, and it had washed away by 1974.

 
 
 
 

from Maryland Historical Magazine, Volume 13 edited by William Hand Browne, Louis Henry Dielman

The name of Oliver Spry is still preserved in Spry's Island, which was formerly the end of a long point extending into the Bay from where Rickett's Point now is; and a high bank on Gunpowder River between Day's Point and the mouth of Watson's (originally Waterton's) Creek still keeps the name of Mary's Banks given it in 1674 by Godfrey Harmer in honor, no doubt, of his wife Mary.

 
 

From the Maryland State Archives

Att A Court holden upon Kent the first day of november 1661 [lot. 106] Liber B MT

Weekes and loveing frind
Both I and my wife are not well in helh to apeare at the Court:

These are thearfore to Intreate youe to prosecute the Seute depending against William Hamblton for which thes shall give as Suffitient poure and athority as if I my Self ware parsonally psent

that what Soeuer youe shall doe hearin I doe hearby ratify allow and Conferme I have Sent youe Mr peningtons deposition & Mrs Katheren Coursey & John Morgan are supd

I shall desire youe to delliver thes Inclosed to Mr william Coursey and lik wise that to Anthony Griffin who hath promised to receve my tobaco dew upon Kent thes not douting yor Indeauers hearin and I shall evuer Rest yours to my poure
October the 30th 1661
Oliuer Sprye

Oliuer Sprye By his atturny plant
William Hamblton Defendt

John Morgan Aged 27 years or therabouts Sworne in Court Saith that William Hamblton demanded of Mrs Sprye wt she would have for the Ceure of his wifes

whearupon she replied what he would give

wheareupon theare past Some words betwext them

In the Conclusion Mrs Sprey demanded a fortnights worke and whether he promised or not I Cannot remember and further saith not

Teste Tobye Weells Cite John Morgan

Whearas Mr Oliver Sprey By his Atturny hath made apeare that his wife hath Ceured William Hambitons wife of Some Distemper she had for which sattisfat beinge demanded in Court the said william Hamblton hath proffered Six hundred pounds of tobaco which this Court thinks Suffitient Sattisfaction and doth order psent payment with Cost of Seut Elce Exeqution

 
 
 
Testis (Test) is latin for witness. Testes is the plural.

On the backside of a patent granted Oliver Spry for Six hundred acres of land the 17th of January in the 27th yeare of the Dominion of Caecilius &c Annoq Doth 1658 was thus written

Know all men by these presents that I Oliver Spry Senior planter in the County of Providence in the Province of Maryland me my heirs executors & assignes doth hereby assigne and make Over all my right title and interest of the within mentioned Pattent and land unto John Hatton of London merchant or his assignes Giveing and granting unto him aforesaid and warranting it unto him it from all claime or claimes whatsoever

as wittnes my hand this 10th of November 1660 me
Oliver Sprye
Tested by us Robt: Vaughan

This assignmt acknowledged in Court by
Oliver Thomas
Stegoll Sprye and his wife
10th 9th mo
Teste James Rigbie