Middleham Chapel was founded in 1684 as a chapel of ease for Christ Church Parish, Calvert County. It is the third oldest church in the diocese. The original chapel was constructed of wood. A bell was installed in the chapel in 1699. It is the oldest bell in continuous use in the state of Maryland.
In 1748, this structure was replaced with the current brick structure that you see today, with some minor additions. The bell from the old chapel was kept.
Between 1700 and the revolution there were nearly 100,000 African slaves brought to Maryland and Virginia. Most all of the land around the chapel was planted with tobacco, which required the extensive labor of enslaved people. In 1782, tax assessor records show the area of what is Lusby today having a population of 690 white inhabitants and 642 slaves. By 1800 there were approximately 800 free white heads of household names in Calvert County’s census with almost 4,000 enslaved, about 1,700 in Christ Church Parish alone.
Many priests during this period owned slaves. This included the Rev. George Cook, the priest at Christ Church, Port Republic, from 1750 to 1763 who also served at Middleham chapel. A copy of his will can be found at the church, and it states: “I bequeath to my son George Cook and his heirs and assigns forever my Negroe man Cesar and a mulatto named Moses…” He also gives to his son George a young girl, about 14, named Maryann and a boy about 7 years old named Samboy.
Through the Civil War, slaves worshipped at Middleham and are also understood to be buried in the cemetery beside their owner families. Much of our history is drawn from the larger history of the area, the priest at that time, owned slaves who most likely worshipped in the balcony of our chapel.
In 2009 the congregation celebrated the impact of African Americans on this community as a major part of its 325th anniversary.
Learn more: https://middlehamandstpeters.org
Middleham & St. Peter’s Parish
Lusby/Solomon’s, Maryland 20657
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