Attorney Hammond Defends Family Honor
A response to an article in one of our newsletters...
Edward H. Hammond, Jr.
I read with interest your article in the Summer edition of the STATION SCUTTLEBUTT entitled THE ASSATEAGUE INDIANS: WHAT BECAME OF THEM.
Judging by the number of copies that people have sent me in the mail and the number of times it has been brought to my attention, your readers have apparently discovered that, Edward Hammond was, in fact, my Great, Great, Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather. I write to defend his honor.
I will admit that Edward not only had some problems with Native Americans in Worcester County but, also with women in Worcester County (more correctly, their husbands). It is a historical fact, however, that he was never found guilty of the crime to which you refer in your article. In fact, the proprietary officials found "no cause for that Complaint, nor any shadow or appearance of truth in it."
Edward, or Captain Eddie as he was sometimes known, was the son of Marks Hammond, who emigrated from England in 1634, moved his family and servants to Somerset (Worcester wasn't "erected" out of Somerset until 1742), and proved his right to substantial lands by bringing his wife, Elizabeth, four children and four indentured servants from Virginia's Eastern Shore in 1677. He was somewhat of a land baron and, had been granted, or acquired an area called KEYPUNCH (west of what is now Newark). Keypunch had formerly been Indian land and our Edward was apparently less than skilled in public relations. The Assateague constantly complained about their neighbor. There is, however, no record of his ever having been convicted of the crimes of which they accused him: "seeking his dogs on the Indians" (sic) and killing the Indians' dogs. As a matter of fact, he defended the later charge with the allegation that the Indian dogs were attacking his swine.
The Indians, through Chief Choata also charged him with stealing their land in "Caponco". Lord Baltimore, who had received a grant for it from the King of England and who, presumably, had stolen it fair and square from the Indians, had in fact, granted it to Edward. At any rate, it was apparently incumbent upon people who "proved their right" to also make a deal with the Indians. That is exactly what our Edward did. He was able to convince the Governor and Council that he had acquired the land by having paid the Chief for the land in question with "a match coat and a long coat, in English fashion, in consideration of his peaceable and quiet settlement". The Chief even admitted that he had received the consideration. The Governor and Council found that the Chief's position was unreasonable in view of the fact that Edward Hammond had "purchased their consent and good liking att his sitting down".
It seems that the simple truth of the matter was that the Native Americans didn't like having Edward Hammond living among them. This may have been (and this is purely conjectural) caused by Edward's other problem (that of women).
In those bawdy times in the worldly new world, sexual mores were somewhat loose (about like they are today). (One need only read John Barth's SOTWEED FACTOR to get the flavor.) Even against that licentious and bawdy backdrop, our Edward apparently stood out and his reputation as a libertine was apparently well deserved.
Despite being a Captain in the militia and a vestryman of All Hallow's Church, he was, nonetheless, much maligned as a libertine. He was presented to the Grand Jury by the vestry of the Snow Hill Parish in 1706 after warning and admonishment by Mr. Robert Keith, the Rector, as being a notorious and defiant evil liver.
The incident that sparked the action occurred when he was in the twilight years of his life (about 50 years old) and one would think that the type of foolishness in which he was apparently engaged would have tapered off by then. His problem was that he was accused by a certain Enoch Griffin of consorting with Griffin's wife, Jane. The record of the case, including much of the testimony, can be found among the court records of Somerset County. Unfortunately, the court record, being in long hand, is indecipherable, so I really can't tell what happened. From the general drift of it Captain Hammond was not in a position to deny the charge. One witness clearly stated that he saw Captain Hammond knock Enoch Griffin to the ground when Griffin encountered Captain Hammond in a compromising position with Jane. It appears from the testimony that poor Enoch arrived home one evening only to find Captain Hammond in his "nether" garments under his (Griffin's ) house. Despite Jane's protestation that the noise which attracted Enoch's attention under the house was "ye dogs". Enoch investigated and made his dreadful discovery, and was then the victim of the Captain's assault.
Finally, I would suggest that if Edward Hammond was, in fact, as uncivil to the Indians as may be surmised, then that might explain the reaction of my son, Edward, now a graduate student at the University of Texas in Latin American Culture and Regional Planning, who seems determined to save Agaruna Indians of the Peruvian Rain forest from the rubber tappers, Shining Path, and civilization generally, and why my daughter, Elizabeth, is currently in the jungles of Bolivia, trying to figure out a way to save the Chimane Indians of that jungle by developing a program of sustained growth for the mahogany forests. As for Captain Edward's other propensity, it seems to have been bred out of the family in three hundred years.
Edward Hopkins Hammond, Jr.
Related StoriesThe Assateague Indians: What Became Of Them
1722 Peace Treaty
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