An American Family History

Godfrey Harmer

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

Godfrey Harmer was born about 1598. He was the son of Hans Willem Harmer of Worms, and a nephew of Pieter Minuiet.

He went with Pieter Minuiet to Goteborg in Sweden, from there to South River.

The land on which the town of Havre de Grace now stands was laid out for Godfrey Harmer on July 19, 1658. He called it Harmer's Town and Powdersby. Harmer's Swan Town was laid out for him in partnership with James Robinson on April 15, 1658, at the mouth of Swan Creek

He was naturalized as a citizen of Maryland in 1661. He transfered his allegiance from the King of Sweden to Lord Baltimore. He was an Indian trader and interpreter in New Sweden and Maryland.

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

He married Mary Sprye on June 20, 1663. Samson was deeded to Mary Harmer by her father that year, probably as a wedding present.

Sarah Harmer,
Elizabeth Harmer, and
Mary Hamer Gundry Maxwell was born about 1686.

He assigned Powdersby to Nathaniel Stiles some time before 1664, when Stiles resurveyed it under the name of Warrington.

Mary's Banks was surveyed for Godfrey Harmer in 1674;

Harmer's Addition in 1667.

Godfrey died on June 2, 1674.

After he died, Mary married Dr. John Stansby. John immigrated to Maryland in 1858 as an indentured servant of Francis Stockett. His first wife was Ann Wells.

Island Point was laid out in 1683 for Mary Stansby.

Lord Baltimore, Cecil Calvert (1605 -1675), 2nd Baron Baltimore was the first governor of Maryland.
Phillip Calvert (1626–1682), was the 5th governor from 1660 to1665.
Charles Calvert (1637 – 1715), 3rd Baron Baltimore inherited the colony in 1675.

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.




The rod or perch or pole is a surveyor's tool equal to 5 1⁄2 yards.

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.

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

The land on which the town of Havre de Grace now stands was laid out for Godfrey Harmer July 19, 1658, and is thus described in the certificate of survey:

. . .lying on the west side of Chesapeake Bay, beginning at a marked chesnut tree upon the point near the mouth of Sasquesahanah River running west and by south down the bay for breadth 100 perches, bounding on the west by a line drawn north and by west from the end of the west and by south line for length 320 perches to a marked oak, on the north by a line drawn east and by north from the said oak unto the said river, on the east with the river, on the south with the said bay, and now laid out for 200 acres.

The survey was called Harmer's Town.

In the same year Harmer surveyed two other tracts in Baltimore county. Harmer's Swan Town was laid out for him in partnership with James Robinson April 15, 1658, at the mouth of Swan Creek on the south side, and was the first land surveyed within the limits of what is now Harford county. Powdersby was laid out for him at the mouth of Bush river on the west side.

The land called Powdersby is described in the original survey as lying "near the mouth of a river called Gunpowder River." Bush River is not mentioned; but a correction is made in the Rent Roll. This (August 29, 1658) is the first mention of Gunpowder River by its present name. According to the Rent Rolls no lands were surveyed in that river until 1659. Powdersby was assigned by Harmer to Nathaniel Stiles some time before 1664, in which year Stiles resurveyed it under the name of Warrington. It is the land at Lego's Point.

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. , ,

A letter dated May 23, 1658, from Oliver Spry to "Mr. [Robert] 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).

Mary's Banks was surveyed for Godfrey Harmer in 1674;

Harmer's Addition in 1667.

Island Point was laid out in 1683 for Mary Stansby, wife of Captain John Stansby and widow of Godfrey Harmer, on the point of land which then ran from where Rickett's Point now is to Spry's Island, and which has since been entirely washed away. . .

. . .Godfrey (or Gothofrid) Harmer waa an Indian trader (Augustine Herman's Journal of the Dutch Embassy, Narratives of Early Maryland, folio 318). Naturalization papers were granted him in 1661 (Maryland Archives, Liber in, folio 430), and we learn that he was formerly "subject to the crowne of Sweeden." The same year he was appointed interpreter of the expedition under Captain John Odber sent to the Susquehanna Fort to aid the Susquehannough Indians (Maryland Archives, Liber M, folio 410).

There is little doubt that he was the same man as the Gotfred Hermannson or Harmer, a "Holland servant" and relative of Hindrick Hugen, the Commissary of New Sweden, whom we meet with in the Report of Governor Printz, 1644, whose retention in New Sweden in the event of the recall of his master Hugen, is urged by Governor Printz on account of the fact that the "boy" "knows the savage languages and understands well how to carry on the trade" (Narratives of Early Pennsylvania, West New Jersey and Delaware, folio 106).

From the way in which Augustine Herman speaks of Harmer in his Journal (Narratives of Early Maryland, folio 319) it is evident that the Dutch and Swedes were well acquainted with the trader.

Harmer married Mary Spry, the only child of Oliver Spry and Johanna his wife.

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.


from the Archives of Maryland Liber M M

On the backside of a patent Granted unto Gothfrid Harmar for three hundred and fifty acres the fourtenth day of January in the seaven & twentith yeare of the Dominion of Caecilius &c Annop Dom One thousand six hundred fifty eight [1658] was thus written

Know all men by these presents that I Gothofrid Harmar of the County of Ann Arundell in the Province of Maryland doe hereby assigne and make Over all my right title and interest of the within mentioned Pattent and Land unto John Hatton of London Merchant warranting it from all claime or claimes that shall be laid unto it by any person or persons whatsoever as wittnes my hand this 26th of march 1660.
Godhofryd Harmar
Wittnes John Stanesby James Rigbe

A land patent is an exclusive land grant made by the government. The certificate that grants the land rights is also called first-title deed and final certificate. In the United States, all land can be traced back to the original land patent.

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©Roberta Tuller 2020
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