St. Margaret’s Church, Westminster Parish, Annapolis (on the Broadneck Peninsula), was one of 30 parishes established by the colony in 1692 when it declared the Church of England the official church of Maryland. The parish’s nearly 325-year history spans 172 years when slavery was legal in Maryland. And while the parish served the spiritual needs of some enslaved and free persons of African descent, it also benefitted from the atrocities of slavery and consistently misrepresented and omitted records of marginalized persons.
Historians believe slavery first came to the Broade Necke Peninsula in 1649 with the arrival of Virginia Puritans. Maryland legalized slavery in 1664, and designated imported Africans slaves for life.
St. Margaret’s founding members (at least three of the first six vestrymen were slaveholders) worshiped in a meeting house first built by Puritans until 1696 when its original house of worship was completed on the south bank of the Magothy River at Deep Creek (today’s Cape St. Claire). By then, slavery was becoming vital to the area’s agricultural economy.
As part of the Trail of Souls, St. Margaret’s dedicated five hand-crafted historical markers that recall its history during slavery. Visit them online or in person.
Historical Marker I – Recalls colored baptisms, weddings, funerals/burials in the 1800s held at St. Margaret’s and conducted by its clergy for both enslaved and free persons of African descent.
Historical Marker II – Recalls Sunday colored afternoon worship services held at St. Margaret’s in the mid-1800s.
Historical Marker III – Remembers that between 33 and 100 enslaved persons worked the White Hall (Whitehall) Plantation when owned by St. Margaret’s from 1749-1764.
Historical Marker IV – Acknowledges that enslaved persons likely served as unskilled laborers in the construction of three or four church buildings and a chapel of ease erected at four different locations from 1695 to 1851.
Historical Marker V – Acknowledges that enslaved persons were typically buried outside white-only portions of graveyards and churchyards, and their first-name-only markers soon disintegrated.
Learn more: www.st-margarets.org
St. Margaret’s Church, Westminster Parish
1601 Pleasant Plains Road
Annapolis, Maryland 21409
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