Slavery history: Dallington

The Dallington property is a good example of a small Maryland plantation. It reaches deep into the history of Kent County, having once been owned by the ancient Calder family. The distressed Alexander Calder sold it along with all the lands he inherited from his father to Anthony Banning, a wealthy newcomer from Talbot County, in 1778. The Maryland tax assessment of 1783 showed it was a small farm with two hundred acres of arable land, 130 acres in woodlot, two white occupants (probably Banning and his daughter Catherine) and five enslaved workers. There were also nine horses and twenty five cattle.


Rose Hill at Dallington in the 1930s

Anthony Banning died in 1787 and left his estate, including “such of my Negroes who choose not to be sold” to his daughter. She in turn married Benjamin Chew Jr. (1758-1844) a year later, and they lived in nearby Chestertown, MD until 1789, then moved to his home in Philadelphia. The 1790 census undoubtedly shows how many enslaved people were on the Dallington property at this time, but I don’t know where to look–the listing are not by the owner of the property, but by the “head of household”, who would have been the overseer at that time; I don’t yet know his name.

The first known overseer for the site was William Thompson, who was hired for one year with a contracted dated November 26, 1794. This guaranteed him payment of 40 pounds and supplied him with corn, pork, wheat and the use of milk cow in return for running the farm. Apparently Chew wasn’t very impressed, because Thompson was replaced by Thomas Newell the next year, who remained on the farm until Chew sold it.

Because we know Newell’s name we can check the 1800 census, which shows eight white people (presumably Newel and his family) and eight unnamed enslaved at Dallington during that year.

Chew sold the farm in 1808 to Samuel Ringgold in 1808. It is not clear if the enslaved people on the site were included in the sale.

The house on this site, which dates back to at least 1798, is now called Rose Hill. It aquired this name after the Chew ownership, and this is how the property is known today.

About Phillip Seitz

Phillip Seitz is the 2011 recipient of the American Association of Museums' Brooking Prize for Creativity. He is an historian and curator (and home brewer, bread baker, and sometime certified beer judge). He lives in Philadelphia and has been listening to BB King since he was old enough to play a record.
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