An American Family History

Captain Joseph Douglas 1675

“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves,
and, under a just God cannot retain it."
― Abraham Lincoln
Alternate spellings of Douglas: Dougals, Doughlass, Douglace, Douglass, Dougless, Douglasse, Dowglas, Dowglass, Duglas, Duglass
Bound children were indentured servants whose master provided training in a craft, board, lodging, and clothes for seven years or until the child came of age.

As of 1692, Charles County, Maryland was divided into 4 parishes (7 hundreds): the lower and upper part of William & Mary Parish hundreds, the east and west side of Port Tobacco hundreds, lower and upper part of Nanjemy (later Durham) Parish hundreds, and the upper part of King & Queen Parish hundred.

The first European settlements in Maryland were made in 1634 when English settlers created a permanent colony.

Captain Joseph Douglas was born about 1675 in Charles County, Maryland. His parents were Colonel John Douglas and Sarah Bonner. He was described as a gentleman.

In 1679, when his father died, the will provided that he inherit part of Cold Spring Manor when he was 21 years old.

In 1688 Peter Carr left him and his siblings some of his personal property to pay, in part, a debt he owned their mother.

Joseph married Penelope Morris about 1700. Penelope was born on November 13, 1684 in Cedar Point Neck, Charles County, Maryland. Her parents were Richard Morris and Penelope Theobald.

Joseph and Penelope's children included:
Penelope Douglas Courts (1702, married Charles Courts),
John Douglas (1703),
Mary Douglas Marshall (1706, married Richard Marshall), and
William Douglas (1709, married Sarah Berryman).

In 1701 Joseph sold some of his Cold Spring Manor land.

Penelope's mother, Penelope Theobald Land, gave her an indentured servant, Thomas Fountain. He was bound to Joseph in 1703/04. In 1693, 1698 and 1700, Mary Fountain was presented to the court for having illegitimate mixed race children. Penelope Land had bought Thomas Fountain, who was born in May, 1698, from the William and Mary vestry. She also directed that her daughter, Penelope live with Joseph and Penelope.

In 1711 Ann Lynes left their daughter, Mary, some of her personal property.

Penelope died on April 22, 1714. In April, 1714 he bought 200 acres for 10,000 pounds of tobacco from John Maddox. In August of that year he sold Maddox 300 acres for 12,000 pounds of tobacco.

In 1714, he and his brother, Benjamin were named in their brother-in-law, Charles Brandt's, will as his nearest relative.

In 1718 he inherited from his mother, Sarah, her "dwelling plantation" Bowles, The Hills, and the residual of her estate. He was the executor of his estate. Sarah had inherited Bowles from her first husband William Bowles. His daughter, Mary inherited personal property from her grandmother.

Joseph married Sarah Hanson after 1721. Sarah was born about 1698 in Port Tobacco Hundred. Her parents were John Hanson and Mary Hussey.

Joseph and Sarah's daughter was Sarah Douglas Thompson (1725, married Joseph Thompson son of Thomas Thompson, her aunt Elizabeth's step-son).

In 1723 Joseph had Maiden Point surveyed.

In 1733, Joseph sold 200 acres in Smith's Adventure.

Sarah died in 1640.

Joseph's third wife was Catherine Musgrove. She had been married before to John Harris.

Joseph and Catherine's children included:
Joseph Douglas (1747, married Rebecca Nichols) and
Elizabeth Douglas Smoot (married John Smoot, born 1748).

In 1744, Joseph gave his son, John, a gift of Douglas' Claim that had been Bowles, the land he lived on, and a desk. He also passed on a person he had enslaved.

In 1751 Joseph gave his youngest children, Joseph and Elizabeth, enslaved people.

Joseph died in 1754. His estate included bequests to his children and his wife, Elizabeth? His next of kin were his sons, William and John Douglas.

Catherine died in 1768

Prince George's County, Maryland was created in 1696 from portions of Charles, and Calvert Counties. It was divided into six districts called hundreds: Mattapany, Patuxant, Collington, Mount Calvert, Piscattoway, and New Scotland. A part the county became Frederick County in 1748.
Children of Colonel John Douglas and Sarah Bonner:
  • John Douglas
  • Robert Douglas
  • Sarah Douglas Gifford Barnes
  • Elizabeth Douglas Brandt Howard Thompson
  • Joseph Douglas
  • Charles Douglas
  • Old Style Calendar
    Before 1752 the year began on Lady Day, March 25th,. Dates between January 1st and March 24th were at the end of the year. Old Style (O.S.) and New Style (N.S.) are used to indicate whether the year has been adjusted. Often both dates are used.

    Slavery is an immoral system of forced labor where people are treated as property to be bought and sold. It was legal in the American Colonies and the United States until the Civil War.
    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.


    A society's legal system reveals much about it. A broad spectrum of behavior was considered criminal in Colonial Maryland and punishment was harsh.

    Prince George's County Land Records, Folio 26; Indenture, 25 May 1701
    From: Joseph Duglace of Charles County, Gent.
    To: Francis Collier of Calvert County
    For 50£ a 100 acre parcel of the 1,050 acre Cook [Cold] Spring Manner in Fendall's fresh; originally granted to Capt. Josias Fendell now occupied by Duglass
    Signed: Joseph Duglace
    Witnessed: William Hollyday and Joshua Hall
    Endorsement: 28 May 1701 signed Rob't Tyler and James Stoddart
    Alienation: 25 Jun 1701 Francis Collier paid the sum of 2s, 100 acres of land for use of Rich'd Bennett and James Heath

    Prince George's County Land Records, Folio 31; Indenture, 7 May 1701
    From: Joseph Duglace, Gent of Charles County
    To: Guy White
    For 1852 a parcel of 100 acres of the 1050 acre Cook [Cold] Spring Manorgranted Capt. Josiah (sic) Fendall bounded by a run called Bower Brook and land of Mr. Francis Collier
    Signed: Joseph Duglace
    Witnessed: William Hollyday and Joshua Hall
    Endorsement 28 May 1701 signed by Robt. Tyler and James Stoddart
    Alienation: 25 Jun 1701 for the sum of 17s 6p paid by Guy White

    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.

    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.


    Charles County Land Records, Liber F#2, Page 10

    26 Apr 1714; Recorded at request of Joseph Douglas, Gent.:
    19 Apr 1714; Indenture from John Maddox, carpenter, and Sarah his wife, to Joseph Douglas; for 10,000# tobacco; a parcel land on the west side of Wicomico River; bounded by Court Marsh and land of John Hatch; containing 200 acres; also 1 acres adjoining this tract and the Wicomico River;
    signed John Maddox, Sarah Maddox (mark);
    wit. Wm. Harbert, John Fendall;
    ack. by John Maddox and Sarah his wife 19 Apr 1714


    Charles County Land Records, Liber F#2, Page 19

    3 Aug 1714; Recorded at request of John Maddox, carpenter:
    22 Apr 1714; Indenture from Joseph Douglas, Gent., to John Maddox, carpenter; for 12,000# tobacco; a parcel on the west side of the Wicomico River; 200 acres bounded by John Hatch also 100 acres adjoining sd tract;
    signed Joseph Douglas;
    wit. Wm. Harbert, Jon. Fendall; 2 Apr 1714
    ack. by Douglas in open court

    In contracts and pleadings usually people and things mentioned before are designated by the term said (sd ) for clarity. Aforesaid (afd, afsd, aforesd ) means it was already mentioned.
    A gentleman had no title, but descended from an aristocratic family, was of the landed gentry, and had a coat of arms.


    1642-1753 Rent Rolls Charles County Maryland Hundred

    Piccawaxen or William and Mary: Rent Roll page/Sequence: 424-321:
    Maiden Point:
    38 acres; Possession of - 38 Acres
    Douglass, Joseph: escheat land originally so called, Re-surveyed,
    30 Dec 1723 for Joseph Douglass


    Land Records of Prince George's County, Maryland
    Liber T
    , Page 76
    Recorded at request of Richard Marshall, 9 Mar 1733:
    23 Feb 1733;
    Indenture between Joseph Douglass, Gent., and Richard Marshall, planter;
    for £5; his rights in 200 acres taken up by Ralph Smith; called Smith's Adventure on Oxen Run half mile above None-Such;
    signed Joseph Douglass;
    ack. Joseph Douglas


    Charles County Maryland Land Record Liber X#2, 1743-1744; Page 149.
    At the request of John Douglass, the following deed was recorded on Sep 6, 1744.
    I, Joseph Douglass of Charles County, Gent, for the natural love have for my son, John Douglass of Charles County, have given him all that tract of land, originally Bowles land, now called Douglass' Clame, containing 514 acres, adjoining the land of Thomas Harriss.

    Also, all that tract of land and plantation whereon I now live, containing about 60 acres.

    Also, 1 Negro boy called Jack and my writing desk.

    John Douglass is only to possess the above land and chattels after my death or with my leave.
    Signed - Joseph Douglass,
    wit - Geo Dent,
    Wm Clary.


    Charles County Maryland Land Record Liber Z#2, 1744-1753; Page 434.
    At the request of Jno Douglass, the following deed of gift was recorded on Dec 3, 1750. [sic] At the request of William Douglass, the following deed was recorded on Nov 1, 1750.

    I, Wm Duglass of Charles County, for the natural love that I have for my brother, John Duglass, I have given him and the male issue of his body, a clock which is in the possession of my father, Joseph Duglass his life, but is given to me by him, sd Joseph Duglass, after his death, by deed of gift recorded in Charles County to me, sd William Duglass.
    Signed Nov 1, 1750 - Wm Duglass.
    Wit - James Keech Jr, William Courts.

    ye is an archaic spelling of "the."

    Charles County Maryland Land Record Liber Z#2, 1744-1753; Page 506.
    At the request of Joseph Dowglass, the following deed of gift was recorded on Oct 12, 1751.
    I, Joseph Dowglass of Charles County, for the natural love I have for my children, viz, Joseph Dowglass and Elizabeth Dowglass, and for sundry other good causes, I give them as follows:
    to my son Joseph, my Negro boy named James, and
    to Elizabeth, my Negro girl Susana.

    If my son Joseph dies before reaching age 21, then I give Negro James to my daughter Elizabeth. If Elizabeth dies before age 16 or day of marriage, then Negro Susana I give to my son Joseph Douglass.
    Signed Jul 22, 1751 - Jos Douglass.
    Wit - Jno Hamill, Jane Hamill.

    Estate inventories give us a glance into the home life of Colonial Americans.
    It was common for bequests to include wearing apparel.

    Charles County Maryland, Liber Z Book 2, Page 506;
    At the request of Joseph Douglass and Elizabeth Douglass the following Deed of gift was recorded this twelf day of October 1751.
    Charles County Maryland ss.

    To all Christian people to whom these presents may come greeting know ye that I Joseph Douglass of Charles County and providence aforesaid for and in consideration of the natural love and affection the witch I have and do bear with my well beloved children Viz Joseph Douglass and Elizabeth Douglass and for sundry other good causes and weighty considerations me especially thereunto moving have given granted bargained sold and made over and by confirm unto my said two children Joseph Douglass and Elizabeth Douglass the two Negros hereafter named and express’d

    that is to say I give deliver confirm and make over unto my son Joseph Douglass my Negro boy James from this day and forever and

    also I give confirm make over and deliver unto my Daughter Elizabeth Douglass my Negro girl Susana from this day forward and forever

    and it is the intent and true meaning of those presents and of the gifts herein contained that and if it should please God that my son Joseph Douglass before he should arrive to the year of twenty one, dye then and after this death, then the Negro James mentioned in those presents and given to him and in case of his death before he becomes of age and after his death as aforesaid I give confirm and make over the said Negro James to my Daughter Elizabeth Douglass freely forever and to no other intent nor purpose

    and it is further the intent and purpose of these presents that if it should happen that my Daughter Elliz Douglass should dye before she arrives to the year sixteen or day of marriage which may happen first that then and in that case the Negro girl given to her as above mentioned Negro Susana I give make over and confirm to my Son Joseph Douglass for ever and to no other intent nor purpose

    and I the said Joseph Douglass at the time of the insoaling and delivery of these presents having in myself full power just right and lawful authority to give and make over the above mentioned Negros unto my above mentioned children and shall warrant and forever defend the said Negros unto my children above mentioned against all manner of (pre?) whatsoever in witness whereof I here unto set my hand and seal this 22 day of July 1751 .
    Signed sealed and delivered in the presents of us
    Jur Hamell
    Sara Hamell

    Seals were used to authenticate documents and men were expected to have a personal die. Records in deed books are copies and signatures are usually in the clerk’s handwriting. The clerk drew a circle around the word “seal” to indicate that the original document was sealed.


    Douglas, Joseph, Charles County,
    7 July 1754; 23 Nov 1756
    To son, Joseph Douglass, 25a of land adj. Mr. Bradford and known as Smiths Fortune.
    To son Joseph 2 young negros, James and Hannah
    To dau. Elizabeth Douglas, negros Sue and Jane
    To wife Catherine Douglas, negro boy Qquominer, riding chair
    Remainder of estate to children, Mary Marshall, Penelope Courts, William Douglas, John Douglas, Sarah Thompson, Joseph Douglas and Elizabeth Douglass.
    Wife extx
    Wit: Nathaniel Harris, Hendley Courts, Mathew Pope. 30 274.

    Capt. Joseph Douglass 64.38 Charles County £427.3.9 Jun 21 1757
    Appraisers: Edward Ford, James Wood.
    Creditors: Gustavus Brown. Alexander McFarlane for Mr. John Pagan & Co.
    Next of kin: William Douglass, John Douglass.
    Executrix: Katharine Douglass.

    Mister ( Mr.) was derived from master and Mrs. and Miss were derived from mistress. They indicated people of superior social status in colonial America.


    Rent rolls were lists of landowners showing whether they had paid their annual quit-rents to the Crown. A quick-rent was a feudal remnant and was paid by a freeholder in lieu of services that might otherwise have been required.


    1642-1753 Rent Rolls Charles County Maryland Hundred - Wicomico: Rent Roll page/Sequence: 284-11:

    200 acres;
    Possession of - 200 Acres -
    Douglass, Joseph:
    Surveyed (blank) for William Smoote on the West side of Wicomico river the patent bears date 26 May 1658 but not the record:
    Conveyance notes - 200 Acres - John Mellor from John Fairfax 14 March 1720.

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    ©Roberta Tuller 2023
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