Maidstone

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Its history

Maidstone was in Anne Arundel county until 1823 when the county line was moved. The records were secure in Annapolis instead of being destroyed in the ruinous courthouse fires of Calvert County.

In the 1600's, the Chew Family, Quakers from England, held many acres of land along "Herring Bay," known today as "Fairhaven," in Anne Arundel County. Legend has it that incoming ships navigated the channel by lining up various Chew family residences to give them their bearings.

In 1667, William Hunt is recorded to have applied to have about "350 acres of land more or less" patented in his name and called "Maidstone," and on July 2, 1679 he was granted the patent by Lord Baltimore.

Hunt shortly sold the land to William Crosby, who made no payments on the purchase for five years, and the best guess is that he returned to England.

Meanwhile, in the Chew family, Samuel Chew and his wife, Ann Ayers Chew, owned some 600 acres near the Bay. Samuel died in 1676, leaving his widow and six or seven sons. By custom and designation, the home-place was left to his oldest son, also named Samuel.

(In those days the boys got land and the girls received 100 pounds of tobacco and a servant.)

The widow, Ann Chew, evidently a lady of some enterprise, set about protecting the interests of her other sons, and acquired, in succession, the 500 acre parcel known as "Poppinjay", which comprised lands which later were known as Cherry Hill (owned by the Chaney family), Sparrow's Place (now known as Lyons Creek Hundred, owned by the Vanous family), and Sanctly, a tract in the same area which is now a residential development.

Finally, learning that William Crosby had defaulted on his purchase of the 350 acre Maidstone, she successfully petitioned Lord Baltimore to "escheat" the land to her, granting her, a patent on the property described as being "four miles in the woods from Herring Bay." Thus, Maidstone came into Chew ownership, designated for her sons Benjamin and John, " whoever shall live longest."

Son Benjamin Chew married in 1692 and had three children, two girls and a boy, but Benjamin died in 1699, surviving his mother who died in 1695. (John had died in 1692 or 1693 without marrying.)

In his carefully drawn will, Benjamin Chew named his two-year-old son Samuel as his heir, a wish which was honored, though his estate was not finally settled until some 25 years later.

Benjamin's widow, Elizabeth Benson Chew, re-married. Her new husband, Mr. Bond, was a widower also with children. The house on Maidstone was built for this new extended family.

Members of the Chew family continued to own Maidstone until 1745 when it was sold to an Anne Arundel County farmer named Lewin. (The last Chew owner was the first Benjamin Chew's grandson, Benjamin Chew, who became the Chief Justice of Pennsylvania, and whose home in Germantown, Pennsylvania, "Clivedon," was recently given by the Chew family to the National Trust.)

During the next hundred years, ownership was held by a Weems family and its various intermarriages, passing through a period of litigation in the 1820's, winding up finally in the ownership of Philip Chew (not believed to be related to the original Chew family) who sold the property to John Fletcher Wilson in 1855.

Earl and Jean Hicks bought the house and acreage from Dr. Compton Wilson and his son, "Young" Compton Wilson. The Wilson family had held the property for four generations since John Fletcher Wilson gave the property to his son Alvin for a wedding present. Alvin's son Compton (in his eighties in 1949) and Compton's namesake (in his 50's) had lived in the house and left their mark on its evolution until the Hicks family took stewardship in 1949.

Additions and modifications

maid-3 The original home was built for the combined Bond-Chew family was small by today's standards. Additions over the years have left some rakish angles and a noticeable sag in the roofline where a new section was added, but the house has natural charm which "grew." The dormers were added to the house in stages, the ones on the west (Greek. Revival) in 1825 or 1830, and the last dormer and chimney were completed about 1840. The porches were added around 1830.

Around 1840, it seems that the post and beam constructed house underwent a "modernization." The extension of the house was added, doors and woodwork from downstairs were moved upstairs, the stairway which had risen from what is now the now-dining room was removed and a new one was built in the hall, and panelling from that same room was stripped out. Some of it now lines the passageway between the pantry and bath. The dining room was restored with 18th century panelling which is at home with the facing of the unusual corner fireplace the only original panelling remaining in the room. The ceilings of the first floor were re-worked to expose the fine old wooden beams, and in the process the brick "nogging" above the plate in the hallway was left exposed because of its beauty and interest.

In May of 1971, Maidstone was placed on the National Register of Historical Places. Current owners, Earl and Jean Hicks gave a deed of perpetual easement on the 117 acres surrounding Maidstone to the Maryland Environmental Trust, assuring that the lands of Maidstone can never be lost to development.

Maidstone's Ghost

Honorable witnesses have soberly given credibility to the story that there is indeed a ghost, believed to be a later Ann Chew, who in 1724 married Philip Thomas (a forebear of Whitall Thomas Clevenger who now lives in another famous old house in the county.) The wedding was a Quaker ceremony, held at Maidstone, and the marriage certificate was signed by all the witnesses. No one knows what event left the spirit of the "grey lady" unable to rest, but during the last thirty years, Maidstone's corporal residents and their little grey lady have co-habited tranquilly, neither disturbing the other.

Modern Maidstone

gardens

Modelled after Williamsburg gardens, the Maidstone gardens were designed by Earl Hicks and planted by Jean Hicks, owners of Maidstone since 1949.

Maidstone remains a working farm.
The old barn has been well-maintained in the traditional red.

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Exerpted from an article by Anne Whisman in the August 1980 Chesapeake Country Life. Color photos by Calvert County Living. Black and white pictures scanned from printed photos by Tom Bland and Lesley Hicks Kuczera.



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