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Who's Who in Southern Maryland

Story by Christine Basham

More and more Americans are leaving the places where they grew up. The experiences of travel, and the career opportunities certainly are worthwhile. But without a traditional extended family living together, many people feel distanced from their roots.

Here in Southern Maryland, the telephone book and the local newspapers are full of familiar names-the Bowlings, Edelens, and Boarmans of Charles County, the Mattinglys, Fenwicks, Raleys and Grays of St Mary's, and the Bowens, Gotts, Williams, and Parrans of Calvert. Certain names keep coming up as place names, as heads of local businesses, and in county politics. Who established these cornerstones of Southern Maryland life?

Many of the first members of these founding families arrived in Southern Maryland at about the same time. They had business and personal connections, and married into each other's families. The ties they established still bind.

We researched some of the more familiar names in the three counties to try and find out where some of these folks came from. The information we came up with may or may not tie you to these first families if you share the same name, but it is sure to provide insight into how this region was first settled and by who.

Calvert County

The first colonists arrived in Calvert County some time after the landing of the Ark & Dove in 1634. The first recorded mention of the county was in the minutes of the Maryland General Assembly in 1642. Calvert County is Maryland's smallest county, only 220 square miles. The county was established in 1654 and was known as Patuxent County until 1658.

It's hard to find much information about the earliest residents of Calvert County, because most colonial records were destroyed in courthouse fires in 1748, 1814 (British set fire during the War of 1812), and two fires in 1882. Some deeds from as early as 1840 were re-recorded after the last fire. Abstracts of deeds sent to Annapolis from 1784 on, provincial court deeds and land office records help fill in gaps of missing records.


The Bowen family which is found in The Early Settlers of Maryland by Skordas shows eight Bowen family members that had arrived in Maryland from the 1650s through the 1670s. They are also found in Calvert County, Maryland, Rent Rolls, 1651-1671 and in many other books containing early records of Maryland.

Nineteen Bowen families are listed in the 1800 federal census of Calvert County. Throughout Calvert County's history the Bowens have played a major part in politics and continue today with their descendant Judge Perry Bowen.


Henry Gott was transported from England in 1651. A second member of the family, Robert Gott, was transported in 1669.


French Huguenots named Perrin (Perine) left France for England to escape persecution. They anglicized the name to Parran, and later came to the American Colonies. The first Parran in Calvert County was John Parran, who had immigrated from Oxfordshire, England by 1699.

The Parran families of today descended from Alexander Parran. Upon arrival, he settled 300 acres of "Parran Park" near the head of St. Leonard's Creek. By 1716, Alexander Parran had 1000 acres of land. He died in 1729 and is buried in Middleham Chapel in Lusby.

The 1760 will of his grandson, Nathaniel Parran, mentions lands at Sandy Point and Point Patience. Point Patience was sold to the Navy in the 1940s and is now the location of the Solomons Naval Recreation Center.

Two descendants were prominent doctors. The first Dr. Thomas Parran was a Revolutionary War surgeon. The second Dr. Thomas Parran of St. Leonard served as Surgeon General of the United States from 1936-1948.


Joseph Williams settled at the head of Battle Creek about 1668. The families birth, death, and marriage records are recorded in the early Christ Church Parish records. Joseph Williams was a Commissioner and Justice of Calvert County in 1683. The Williams family were owners of the land tract called Williams Littlefield later known as Williams Oldfield. This is the current home of the Prince Frederick restaurant Oldfield Inn, the county's current courthouse, and St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

Charles County

It is important to note that research shows that the following three families, the Bowlings, Boarmans, and Edelens, knew each other quite well and worked together to help lay the foundation for Charles County history. Other notable first families in Charles County include the Stone and Dyson families and others.


James Bowling was the first recorded Bowling in Charles County, 1666, though he owned land in St. Mary's County as well. He served on the grand jury and married into the prominent Robert Brooke family of Calvert County. He died in 1692.


William Boarman was born in England in 1630. The first record of him in Maryland was of him being sent to the colony to live with Jesuit priests when he was 15 years old.  From that time on the activities of the Boarman family are well documented. William Boarman was very active among the people who were running the government at the time. He acquired 300 acres of land in 1651 and in 1658 he received 300 acres East of "Nangemy Creek" near Port Tobacco. Finally, the Historic Marker, dedicated in 1969 by the National Society Descendants of Lords of the Maryland Manors, for Boarman's Manor reads: "Boarman's Manor, 3,333 acres. Granted 1674 to William Boarman, Esq. with royal courts, perquisites, profits of courts and other privileges and immunities belonging to manors in England. By proprietary patent Lord Baltimore granted the prerogatives of Court Baron and all things belonging thereunto."

By the mid-1700s, Boarman's property in Charles and St. Mary's Counties is mentioned in wills of the Boarman, Slye, and Mudd families. The wills direct the distribution of tobacco, slaves, and land in Bushwood, in St. Mary's County, and at Boarman's Rest. The 1810 Census for Charles County lists many Boarmans.


Richard Edelen came to Charles County from Pinner, Middlesex, England in 1664. The family was well established in Hertsforshire and Buckinghamshire, where Richard's father was buried. His son, Philip, returned with his parents to the colony in 1669. In 1674, as part of his duties as Deputy Surveyor of St Mary's County, he appraised the William Boarman estate. Two of his grand-children later married Boarmans, and through the years Edelen land passed to Boarman descendants through inheritance and marriage.

By the 1680s, his family had spread beyond Friendship in Charles County and Zachia Swamp and other parts of St. Mary's County to Upper Marlboro in Prince George's County.

Charles County Gentry, by Harry Wright Newman traces the Edelen family and several other founding families from their arrival to the early 20th century.

St. Mary's County

The Maryland Room of the Leonardtown branch of the St. Mary's County Public Library contains lots of information to help you understand your family's roots- and the history of Southern Maryland.


Thomas (1630-1664) and Elizabeth Mattingly and four children, including Cezar, Elizabeth, and Thomas, and a grandson fathered by Thomas, and also named Thomas, came to St Mary's from England prior to 1665.  Some Mattinglys eventually left for Kentucky. Most of the Catholic Church records of the family were destroyed because of religious intolerance, so early records are hard to find.


Between 1654 and 1680, many members of the Gray family immigrated or were transported to St. Mary's County from England and Virginia. John Gray, a planter, had lands in Anne Arundel and Charles County, while others settled in Kent and Somerset Counties.

John Wescott Gray, an apothecary of London, mentions in his 1694 will a sister, Mary, "of Maryland and Virginia."

In 1747, another John Gray was listed as a Scottish Rebel transported to Maryland on the "Johnson" of Liverpool.


Cuthbert Fenwick lived from 1614 until 1655. Married twice and the father of five children Fenwick was an overseer, steward, and attorney for Thomas Cornwaleys (maiden name of his first wife.) Fenwick also served as Justice of the Peace in 1644 and in many provincial offices throughout his lifetime. In 1642 he was a proprietary agent to New England and in 1643 a grand juror on the Provincial Court. He was commissioned to seize illegal traders from 1638 until 1639. At the time of his death he owned 2000 acres plus, including land tracts known as St. Inigoes Manor and St. Cuthbert's Manor.


In 1663, John Raley is listed on the rent rolls for property at Green Hill, New Town.  In 1690 Basil Raley owned land at New Town. In 1790 and 1791, a Basil Raley is listed as owner of land at New Town, much of it confiscated British property. In 1727, a Henry Raley is listed on the rent rolls for property at Saturday's Work in St Mary's.

Discover more about local names or your own family name. St. Mary's, Charles, and Calvert Counties all have genealogical societies with active online membership, all willing to help you research any local names.

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