Dan and Mary Clocker
Two of the more notable “middling” residents of St. Mary’s City represent the opportunity that was available to poor men and women in early Maryland. Dan Clocker arrived as an indentured servant of Thomas Cornwallis in 1636 and Mary Lawne arrived in 1638, a servant of Margaret Brent. In 1645, Dan married Mary and they began a family and developing a plantation. They lived on a tract called St. Andrews that is near where the current HSMC Godiah Spray Plantation exhibit is found. The Clockers had five children. Dan had carpentry skills and Mary was a midwife. Dan became a respected resident of St. Mary’s and was appointed to serve on the common council when the city was chartered. Mary, on the other hand, left a different record in the documents. She was accused of theft in 1659, brought to court and given a death sentence. Fortunately, it was later revoked but the record of the court case contains remarkable details about the St. John’s site and its then owner, Dutch merchant Simon Overzee. The Clocker’s plantation grew to 230 acres and in 1674, Dan acquired a one acre lot in St. Mary’s City which he named Clocker’s Choice and upon which he built an ordinary. Unfortunately, he and Mary were both dead by the following year. Their story is an excellent example of the opportunity and success that indentured servants could find in early Maryland, assuming they were healthy enough to survive. Coming from humble backgrounds, the Clocker plantation they built was far larger than any farm they could have hoped to acquire in England. After their deaths, Clocker descendants continued to live on the property and the last relative sold the land in 1877. The home built by an 18th-century Clocker still survives and bears the name “Clocker’s Fancy.”
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