Establishing a Colonial Town

Establishing a Colonial Town (HMEM4)

Location: Edgewater, MD 21037 Anne Arundel County
Buy Maryland State flags at!
Country: United States of America
Buy United States of America flags at!

N 38° 56.471', W 76° 32.384'

  • 0 check ins
  • 0 favorites
Scattered Settlements
Early Chesapeake Bay colonists did not settle in the concentrated villages typical of their home in England. Instead, they lived on large plots of waterfront land that isolated them from their neighbors.

Cheap and abundant property along the Bay and its rivers, provided tobacco farmers with easy access to water for transportation of their crop. These dispersed settlements made it difficult for the English governors to monitor trade and collect taxes on goods sent from the colonies.

A Town Plan

The Maryland colonial government attempted to control trade by passing several Town Acts which established official ports of entry where Taxes could be collected. The 1683 Town Act that created London Town specified 100 one-acre lots and nearly a dozen streets on land provided by William Burgess.

Though no map of the town survives today, a recreation of the original town plan is being pieced together using historical documents and archaeology.

[drawing of tobacco wharf] Colonial Tobacco Wharf: Detail from Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson, A Map of the most inhabited part of Virginia containing the whole Province of Maryland, 1751.

London Town and Its People
This map shows the roads of London Town and the locations of important buildings and businesses. The present day park is outlined in red.

[map of London Town]

Tavern A tavern was operated on Scott Street by Edward and Elinor Rumney from the 1690s to 1720s and later by Stephen West.

Ferries Edward Rumney operated a ferry from the foot of Scott Street starting in 1715.

David Macklefish operated the first ferry from this lot starting in the 1680s.

Courthouse The 25 x 25 Anne Arundel County courthouse - the cage, whipping post, pillory and stone used for punishing prisoners, stood in this vicinity from 1684 to 1695.

Slave Quarter/Carpenter Shop African slaves occupied this lot in the 1730s. Later the house became a carpenter shop, used by William Brown.

Storehouse Merchant Samuel Peele ran a storehouse here from 1715 to 1733.

Warehouse A brick warehouse owned by James Dick stood along this shore in the 1760s.

Ropewalk Stephen West, Jr. and James Dick opened a ropewalk here in 1747.

An Urban Center

Merchants, sea captains, planters, indentured servants, and slaves quickly transformed London Town into a bustling port of houses, ferries, store houses, taverns, warehouses, and workshops. Nearly 50 London Town lots were occupied by the 1740s. The town became one of the primary ports of entry and departure for trade vessels in the middle Chesapeake.

Each fall, the town's population ebbed and flowed with the arrival of tobacco fleets awaiting delivery of the tobacco crop from outlying plantations.

The active seaport suffered a blow in 1747 when the Maryland legislature did not select London Town as an official tobacco inspection station. The Tobacco Inspection Acts required that all tobacco grown in Maryland be shipped from designated stations.

The tobacco trade went elsewhere and the town slowly slid into decline. Travelers continued to use the ferry crossing, but the once vital urban center faded from the landscape with only a few houses left standing in the 20th century.

[digital image of Scott Street] Scott Street: A digital reconstruction of Scott Street showing (from left to right) William Brown's carpenter shop, an unidentified building, the Rumney-West Tavern and the William Brown House.

History Underfoot
The ravine behind you was Scott Street, London Town's busiest street and a colonial highway. Scott Street was home to many thriving shops and taverns which once stood where you are standing now.

Edward Rumney, a boat building by trade, operated both a tavern and a ferry. Remains of the tavern are located in the tent in front of you. Stephen West, Sr. took over the Rumney tavern in 1724. Later his son, Stephen West, Jr., and James Dick built the town's ropewalk (where rope was made). They also sold merchandise at storehouses in London Town and Annapolis.
HM NumberHMEM4
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Thursday, September 4th, 2014 at 11:23pm PDT -07:00
Sorry, but we don't have a picture of this historical marker yet. If you have a picture, please share it with us. It's simple to do. 1) Become a member. 2) Adopt this historical marker listing. 3) Upload the picture.
Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 366558 N 4311376
Decimal Degrees38.94118333, -76.53973333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 56.471', W 76° 32.384'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 56' 28.26" N, 76° 32' 23.04" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)410, 443, 301
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 833 Londontown Rd, Edgewater MD 21037, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

Is this marker missing? Are the coordinates wrong? Do you have additional information that you would like to share with us? If so, check in.

Check Ins  check in   |    all

Have you seen this marker? If so, check in and tell us about it.

Comments 0 comments

Maintenance Issues
  1. Is this marker part of a series?
  2. What historical period does the marker represent?
  3. What historical place does the marker represent?
  4. What type of marker is it?
  5. What class is the marker?
  6. What style is the marker?
  7. Does the marker have a number?
  8. What year was the marker erected?
  9. Who or what organization placed the marker?
  10. This marker needs at least one picture.
  11. Can this marker be seen from the road?
  12. Is the marker in the median?