An American Family History

Elizabeth Robins Burgess

“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists."
― Franklin D. Roosevelt
The first European settlements in Maryland were made in 1634 when English settlers created a permanent colony.
Europeans who made the voyage to America faced a difficult journey of several months.

Elizabeth Robins Burgess was baptized on May 20, 1635 at St. Mary Magdalen Church on Milk Street in London, England. She was the daughter of Edward Robins and Jane Cornish and the step-daughter of George Puddington.

When she was an infant, she came to America with her family in 1635 on the ship Thomas.

She married Colonel William Burgess. William was born in England or Wales.

Their children probably included:
Susannah Burgess.
Captain Edward Burgess (about 1655, married Sarah Chew), and
George Burgess.

They moved to Anne Arundel County, Maryland in 1650 from Virginia. They came with her sister, Rachel, and brother-in-law, Richard Beard. They were part of a group of non-conformist or Puritans who left Virginia.

They owned a great deal of land including Betty's Choice, Morley's Lott, Bednall's Green, Benjamin's Choice, and Benjamin's Addition, West Puddington, Beard's Habitation, Bessington, and Burgess Choice.

They bought Morley's Lot and Morley's Grove from John Gaither.

In 1658 William was witness to Richard Cheney's will.

Elizabeth died before 1658 in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.

In 1674 her step-grandfather, George Puddington, left personal property to her children: George, William, and Sussanna Burgess.

After her death, William married Ursula in 1686.

Ursula and William's children included:
William Burgess,
John Burgess,
Joseph Burgess,
Benjamin Burgess,
Charles Burgess,
Elizabeth Burgess, and
Anne Burgess.

William died in 1686.

Fendall's Rebellion
In March, 1660 Josias Fendall attempted to overthrow the proprietary government of Maryland. It was a bloodless coup.

St. Mary Magdalen Church, Milk Street, was a small parish church in London. It was Roman Catholic until the Reformation. It was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666.

A Puritan was a member of the religious group in the 16th and 17th centuries that advocated "purity" of worship and doctrine who believed in personal and group piety. Puritans were persecuted in England and came to America so they would be free to practice their religion.
Estate inventories give us a glance into the home life of Colonial Americans.


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.

All Hallows or South River Parish, Anne Arundel County, Maryland was created in 1672.

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 Founders of Anne Arundel and Howard Counties, Maryland by Joshua Dorsey Warfield

Colonel William Burgess
After William Stone, of Northampton, became the first Protestant governor, Beard and Burgess removed to Maryland. . . . William Burgess began, at once, his commanding career. In 1655, he was one of the Council of War to condemn Governor Stone,—the very man he had followed to Maryland.

In 1657, he was named, first by Governor Josias Fendall, a commissioner and associate justice of the new County of Anne Arundel. Declining to take the necessary oath, on the ground it was not lawful to swear, his plea was rejected and another name was substituted.

In 1660, when Governor Fendall had been banished, and Philip Calvert had succeeded him, William Burgess sent in a petition reviewing his former refusal to take the oath, and ascribing it to the influence of ill-advised friends. He announced his determination, henceforth, to devote his remaining days to the service of the proprietary. His petition was favorably received and he was set free without fine or trial.

In 1661, he was placed in command of the South River Rangers, and was ordered to send all Indian prisoners to St. Mary's for trial.

In 1663, he was placed at the head of the Anne Arundel Commissioners.

In 1664, he was high sheriff of Anne Arundel. Upon receiving orders to go against the Indians, he named his successor, Major Richard Ewen, from whose family he had taken his second wife.

In 1665, Charles Calvert, son of Lord Baltimore, having succeeded his uncle Philip, honored William Burgess in the following commission:

Captain William Burgess,
Greeting,—Whereas, Diverse Forraing Indians have of late committed divers murthers upon our people, I have thought fitt to raise a sufficient number of men. Now know ye that I reposing especial confidence in your fidelity, courage and experience in martial affaires, have constituted, ordained and appointed you Commander-in-Chief of all forces raised in St. Maries, Kent, Charles, Calvert and Anne Arundel Counties.

Given under my hand, 34th year of his Lordship's Dom., 1665.
Charles Calvert.

Then follow instructions for the campaign.

Major Thomas Brooke was ordered

to raise forty men and march to Captain William Burgess, in Anne Arundel, there to receive orders from him as Commander-in-Chief. Ordered that Captain William Burgess raise by presse, or otherwise, thirty men with arms and ammunition to proceed according to former orders.

Some Seneca Indians had killed several English settlers in Anne Arundel. The following reward was offered:

One hundred arms length of Roan Oake, for bringing in a cenego prisoner, or both of his ears, if he be slain.

In 1675, Colonel William Burgess and Colonel Samuel Chew were ordered to go against the Indians on the Severn.

In 1679, it was ordered,

That Colonel Burgess supply Baltimore County with twenty men from Anne Arundel, for the defense of that county.

In 1681, Robert Proctor, from his town on the Severn, Thomas Francis, from South River and Colonel Samuel Lane, from the same section, all wrote urgent letters stating that the Indians had killed and wounded both negroes and English men "at a plantation of Major [John] Welsh's," and "had attempted to enter the houses of Mr. Mareen Duvall and Richard Snowden."

. . .Upon such information, followed the decisive order to Colonel William Burgess and Colonel Thomas Tailler,

to fight, kill, take, vanquish, overcome, follow and destroy them.

Colonel Taylor commanded the horse, Colonel Burgess the foot, and both were Protestants.

From that date on to 1682, Colonel Burgess was a delegate to the Lower House; from 1682 to his death in 1686, he was in the Upper House. He was upon many committees.

His epitaph is a most remarkable condensation of his eventful life. It reads:

Here lyeth the body of Wm. Burgess,
Esq., who departed this life on ye
24th of January, 1686,
Aged 64 years: leaving his
Dear beloved wife, Ursula and eleven
children, viz.: seven sons and four daughters,
And eight grand-children.
In his life-time, a member of
His Lordship's Deputy Governors;
A Justice of ye High Provincial Court;
Colonel of a regiment of Trained Bands:
And sometimes General of all ye
Military Forces of this Province.
His loving wife, Ursula, his executrix
In testimony of her true respect,
And due regard to the worthy
Deserts of her dear deceased
Husband, hath erected this monument.

. . .Colonel Burgess left an exceedingly intelligent will of entail; naming his sons and daughters, Edward, George, William, John, Joseph, Benjamin, Charles, Elizabeth, Susannah, Anne.

I give to my sonne William my message [messuage is a dwelling-house and includes outbuildings, orchard, curtilage or court-yard and garden] land where I now dwell, near South River, together with eighteen hundred acres adjoining, which I purchased of George Westall, and one part whereof is a Town appointed called London, provided my wife, Ursula, shall live there until my son is of age.

I give unto William, all of Betty's Choice, in Balto. Co., near Col. Geo. Wells, containing 480 acres.

I give to my sonne, John Burgess, four tracts, Morley's Lott, Bednall's Green, Benjamin's Choice, and Benjamin's Addition, lying near Herring Creek, some 800 acres.

I give to my sonne, Joseph, lands purchased of Richard Beard, near South River, called West Puddington, and Beard's Habitation, 1300 acres.

I give to my sonne Benjamin, a tract, Bessington, near the Ridge, also Burgess Choice, near South River.

I give to my sonne, Charles, a tract, purchased of Vincent Lowe, at the head of Sasafras River, of 1600 acres, and another of Vincent Lowe, on the Susquehannah, of 500 acres;

provided, if any should die before attaining age, then every such tract shall descend to the eldest then living.

I give all the rest of my estate, here or in England, to my dear wife, Ursula, at pleasure, and she shall have the care of the education of my children and the use of their portions.

I desire that she shall be my executrix, with my friends Major Nicholas Sewall, Major Nicholas Gassaway and Captain Henry Hanslap, as supervisors, and to each of them I grant £5.
William Burgess, (seal.)

His sons, Edward and George, had been provided for before his will. His daughters received £300 in money, plate and other personals.

His seal-ring of gold was willed to his daughter, Susannah, wife of Major Nicholas Sewall. She was the daughter of Colonel Burgess, by Mrs. Richard Ewen. . .

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.

Anne Arundel County, Maryland was established in 1650 and was originally part of St. Mary's County.
European and indiginous American fought fierce battles as the Europeans expanded their territory.
Maryland was established with religious freedom for Catholics. The colonial economy was based on tobacco cultivated by Africans who had been enslaved.
A Trainband (or training band) was the basic tactical unit of the colonial militia. Men were required to join the local trainband. In wartime, military units were formed by selecting men from the trainband.

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.


from Ancestral Records and Portraits, Volume 1 by Colonial Dames of America. Chapter I, Baltimore

Colonel William Burgess (1622-1686), settled first in Northampton County, Va., but followed Governor William Stone to Maryland, and settled on South River, bringing there a company of one hundred and fifty "adventurers."

In 1661, he was in command of the South River Rangers; in 1664, he was High Sheriff of Anne Arundel County, and in 1665 he was Commander-in-chief of all the forces of the five western shore counties. He was a member of the Council of the State of Maryland, a Justice of the Provincial Court, and a Deputy-Governor from 1678 to 1683.

He married Elizabeth, the daughter of Edward Robins, who was born in England 1602, and came to Virginia 1615, in the bark Thomas;
he lived in Northampton and Accomac Counties, and built Newport House, now Eyreville.

Edward Burgess (1651-1703), went to Maryland with his father, Colonel William, and was a Justice of the Provincial Court of Anne Arundel County, and one of the Quorum 1685; also "Captain of the Foote." He married Sarah, the daughter of Samuel and Anne (Ayres) Chew. Their daughter, Sarah, married Benjamin Gaither.

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.



Bauman & Dreisbach

©Roberta Tuller 2017