An American Family History

Colonel John Douglas and Sarah Bonner

Charles County, Maryland
Alternate spellings of Douglas: Dougals, Doughlass, Douglace, Douglass, Dougless, Douglasse, Dowglas, Dowglass, Duglas, Duglass
A society's legal system reveals much about it. A broad spectrum of behavior was considered criminal in Colonial Maryland and punishment was harsh.
The first European settlements in Maryland were made in 1634 when English settlers created a permanent colony.
In Colonial Maryland, the governor appointed justices to the county courts. Some of these justices were "Justices (or Gentlemen) of the Quorum" which meant that court could not be held without at least one of them being present.
Maryland was established with religious freedom for Catholics. The colonial economy was based on tobacco cultivated by Africans who had been enslaved.

In 1688, during the Glorious Revolution, the Protestant king and queen,William and Mary, took the English throne from Catholic King James II. The bloodless revolution profoundly impacted the American colonies.

John Douglas and Sarah Bonner married on August 17, 1663 in Charles County, Maryland.

Five of John and Sarah's living children were listed in 1688 in Peter Carr's will. He mentioned Robert, Charles, Joseph, Eliza, and Sarah. He left them some of his personal property, in part, to pay a debt he owned their mother.

They acquired considerable property in Charles County, Maryland. The first was Bowles which, Sarah had inherited from her first husband, William Bowles.

Bowles Plantation (Bowls, Bowlesley) was a plantation on the Potomac River near Pickawaxon Creek in Charles County, Maryland.
Sarah Bonner inherited it from
William Bowles who had inherited it from his father
Edward Bowles. Sarah left it to her son,
Joseph Douglas.

John Douglas was born about 1664. Robert Douglas was born about 1665.

According to Raphael Semms in Crime and Punishment in Early Maryland

At a session of the Charles county court held during the fall of 1665 there were several bastardy cases. Constable Thomas Gibson. . .alleged that at the house of John Douglas there was a woman servant "illegitiately got with child."

Their infant son , John, Jr., inherited from his grandparents in 1665 and Beach Neck was part of the inherited property.

He bought the small four acre plantation called Douglas Delight in 1667. It was later called Bailey's Fancy.

He purchased the 100 acre Douglas Adventure plantation on March 26, 1667.

He purchased 100 acre Blythswood (Bliihewoode) Manor. It was surveyed on May 10, 1667. It on the north side of the Potomac River in the Picccowaxen area.

Sarah Douglas Gifford Barnes was born about 1670.

John was appointed the "Commissioner of Peace" from 1672 to 1678 in Charles County.

He bought St. Edmonds on September 16, 1672 for 11,000 pounds of tobacco from Edmund Lindsey for whom it was originally surveyed on October 13, 1670. It was next to William Heard's land.

Elizabeth Douglas Brandt Howard Thompson was born on April 26, 1673.

John was appointed "Gentleman of the Quorum" in 1675 in Charles County.

Joseph Douglas was born about 1675.

He was elected to the Lower House, from Charles County on May 30, 1676. He was one of the seven members representing Charles County. He only attended the first two sessions before his death.

John owned 1,050 Cold Spring Manor plantation on May 10, 1677 in Calvert County, Maryland.

Charles was born on January 3, 1678.

On August 13, 1678, John gave St. Edmunds to John Hamilton. John had been John Hamilton's apprentice when he was a boy in Scotland.

John signed his will on December 14, 1678 in Charles County.

He left his wife Sarah their house at Pickiawaxen. He left John part of Cold Spring Manor when he turned 21. Robert received Blythswood when he turned 21. Charles and Joseph each received part of Cold Spring Manor at 21 years.

John died about about the time the will was written in Picawaxon County since the estate was probated on January 3, 1679 in Charles County.

Sarah married Ralph Smith after his death. In 1683 Ralph Smith was named as her husband in Peter Carr's will.

After Ralph's death, she married William Harbert (Herbert, Herbart).

Sarah died before July 26, 1718 when her will was probated in Charles County. She left her son, Joseph, Bowles, 200 acres, and The Hills and the residual of the estate. She left grandchildren Thomas, Benjamin, and Joseph Douglas, Douglas Gifford, Elizabeth Howard and Mary Douglas her personal property.

Piccowaxen Parish, Maryland was on Cobb Neck between the Wicomico and Potomac Rivers. It has been spelled as Pickawaxon, Pickiawaxen, Pickwaten, Pickwixon, Pykawaxen in Douglas family records. Christ Church Wayside was built there in 1692.The parish became William and Mary Parish.
Beach Neck (Locust Grove, Beech Neck) was a plantation in Charles County, Maryland taken up by William Heard in 1644 and left to his wife Bridget Yowkins. In 1655 Bridget left half her property to her sister and half to her grandson, John Douglas, Jr. John sold to it to Philip Lynes and in 1697, Philip Lynes leased it to John Ward. The title to the property was later disputed.

John Douglas (1636) bought Cold Spring Manor on May 10, 1677 from Josias Fendall for 22,000 pounds of tobacco. It consisted of a home on 1,050 acres on the west side of the Patuxent River in Mt. Calvert Hundred (now part of Patuxent Hundred) in Prince George's County, Maryland. The manor came with all rights of "Lord of the Manor."

500 acres was inherited by his John's son John Douglas (1664) who left it to his son, Benjamin Douglas (1685) who sold part in 1705. The residue of Cold Spring was inherited by John's younger sons, Joseph Douglas (1675) and Charles Douglas (1678).

Blythswood Manor (Blithwood, Blythwood) was surveyed on May 10, 1667 for John Douglas (b. 1636). It was a 100 acre plantation on the north side of the Potomac River in the Piccowaxon area. Blythswood may have been the name of the family manor house in Scotland. Inherited by his son, Robert Douglas then by Benjamin Douglas (b. 1685) then his son, John Douglas (1709) who sold it in 1769.

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.
Personal property can be called personalty (personality), goods, chattels, articles, or movable property. It includes both animate or inanimate property.

Calvert County Maryland was originally part of Charles County. It was settled about 1650. It was called Patuxent County between 1654 and 1658.

The Potomac River flows into the Chesapeake Bay and is about 405 miles long.



A gentleman had no title, but descended from an aristocratic family, was of the landed gentry, and had a coat of arms.

Charles County Maryland Land Record Liber X#2, 1743-1744; Page 128. At the request of Danl of St Thos Jenifer of Charles County, the following deed was recorded on Jul 9, 1744.

Jul 6, 1744 from Robert Wade of Prince Georges County, planter, and Elizabeth, his wife, to Daniel of St Thos Jenifer of Charles County, scrivener, for 2000 lbs tobacco and 10£ of paper currency, and for divers other good causes, all that parcel of land, being part of a tract of land called St Edmonds, lying in CC,

the same being first granted to Edmond Lyndsey of Charles County, by patent dated Mar 10, 1670, and by sd Lyndsey, by his deed dated Sep 16, 1672,

conveyed to John Douglass of Charles County, Gent:,

and by the said Douglass, by his deed of gift dated Aug 13, 1678,

conveyed to Jno Hamilton, and

by sd Hamilton's will, devised to Elizabeth Hamilton, daughter of sd John Hamilton and wife of the said Robert Wade, party to these presents,

bounded by a parcel of land formerly laid out for William Heard, lying on the east side of the Main fresh Run which runs into Portobacco Cr, the line of William Heard's land, containing about 100 acres.

Signed - Robt Wade Jr, Elie (Elizb her mark) Wade
Wit - Robt Hanson. Walter Hanson.

American colonists continued to use British monetary units, namely the pound, shilling and pence for which £1 (or li) equalled 20s and 1s equalled 12d. In 1792 the dollar was established as the basic unit of currency.

Maryland Genealogical Society Bulletin, Volume 8 number 3 Record of Births, Deaths and Marriages, 1654-1696, p 76

Douglas, Elizabeth dau of John b. 26th April 1673


from A Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature 1635-1789 by Edward C. Papenfuse, et. al.

Douglass, John (ca. 1636-ca. 1678/79).
Born ca. 1636, probably in England.
Immigrated in 1659 as a free adult.
Resided in Charles County.
Married Sarah Bouls, possibly a daughter of John Bouls. She subsequently married Ralph Smith.
Sons: John; Robert (?- 1694), who married Mary, widow of Richard Beaumont;
Charles (?-1703);
Joseph; and
Elizabeth (1673-?);
Education: literate.
Occupation: planter.
Public Carrer: Lower House, Charles County, 1676-1678 (Accounts 1; Defense 2; died before the 3rd session).
Local office: justice, Charles County, 1672-1678.
Military service: captain, 1675; major and colonel, 1676.
Land at first election: over 450 acres; acquired Cold Spring Manor, 1,050 acres, in 1677.
Died between December 14, 1678, and January 27, 1678/79.
Land: 1,600 acres.

Planter is an archaic term for a settler. Plantation was a method of colonization where settlers were "planted" abroad. A plantation is also the kind of large farm that was the economical basis of many American Colonies and owners of these farms were also called planters.

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©Roberta Tuller 2023
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