Samuel Magruder’s Patuxent Tobacco Ship

Duncan McGruther sent a message a few days ago:

Alexander the Immigrant left an eighth share of the ‘Patuxent Tobacco ship’ in his Will. Has anyone come across this vessel? Or details of where it berthed, or the other shareholders? I assume it was not seagoing and confined its activities to collecting and accumulating tobacco from growers on the Patuxent, but if so where was its home port and where did it deliver to for onward transmission across the Atlantic.

I don’t know of any record pertaining to the tobacco ship, which appears in the 1710/1711 will of Samuel Magruder, Alexander’s oldest known son. He appears to have owned a one-fourth interest in the ship, as he bequeathed one-eighth each to his sons Alexander and Nathaniel. We know Alexander the Immigrant owned the tobacco landing (shipping point) for which this website is named, and it’s likely that business accounted for much of his prosperity, as he made money there even when the (notoriously unstable) price of tobacco was down. That business-sense seems to have passed to his wealthy oldest son, who owned town lots in Marlborough as well as numerous plantations.

The Patuxent is silted in & shallow these days, but in the 17th c. was both wider & deeper, navigable for ocean-going vessels. They anchored mid-channel & sent smaller boats to the landings to take on hogsheads of tobacco. I have not read much detail about those operations, but always assumed the ships used their own small boats. It could have been the opposite, I suppose, with each landing sending out its own boat. However, since his shares of the “Pertuxson Merchant ship” were named & bequeathed as an item in Samuel’s will, separate from any real estate, my assumption would be that he owned it jointly with other growers/shippers & that it collected tobacco up & down the Patuxent for transport to Magruder’s or other landings. It is also possible the ship transported other commercial goods.

A tobacco warehouse stood at the Magruder site until it was burned down by the British in 1814, during what we Americans, for some reason, persist in calling The War of 1812. Was the Patuxent already silting up Samuel’s time, so this river-going ship was needed to transport tobacco and other produce down to the river mouth?

Can you answer that question, or do you have other detail about the operations of the tobacco landings and transatlantic ships? If so, please get in touch via the Contact tab on any page of this site.

[This post was corrected after I checked the wills of Alexander & his son Samuel, confirming my recollection that it was Samuel, not his father, who owned shares in the ship.]

2 comments on “Samuel Magruder’s Patuxent Tobacco Ship

  1. Michael Mills says:

    Samuel Magruder, son of Alex the Immigrant and Husband of Sarah (née Mills) died 1711. His Will are as dated 1711 as I recall. I assume the Will you refer to is the 1710/1711 Will as opposed to 1810/1811.

    The area of the Patuxent whereat lies Magruder’s and Mills Landings is referred to as the “Freshes” and was serviceable to seafaring ships as late as the Civil War. Silting was ultimately caused by years of timbering and the over farming / production of tobacco and the soils loss of fertility (Nitrogen and Phosphorous).

    Please provide a link to the URL which exhibits Alexander’s the Immigrants Will. I am very intrigued by the inclusion of a ship.

    More later regarding navigation of and by whom upon the Patuxent River.

    William Samuel Mills is my 10th Generation Grandfather and Alexander is my 11th Generation Grandfather. Sarah Mills was the eldest daughter of William Samuel Mills.

    More later as time allows.

    Look forward to viewing the Alexander’s Will.

    With kindest regards,

    Michael A. Mills

    • susantichy says:

      Hi Michael. Thanks for catching the typo in the date of Samuel’s will. I’ve fixed that. And thanks for the detail about Patuxent navigation. I look forward to hearing more about that. As to Alexander’s will, as it says in the header and in the body of the post, the ship is mentioned in Samuel’s will. I reproduced Duncan’s message because it prompted my post, but he was mistaken. I’m sorry if that was misleading. There is no mention of a ship in Alexander’s will. I know many people now believe Samuel’s wife was Sarah Mills, but no one I have asked has said what the evidence is. I would very much like to know that. And, do you know if the Mills family were also investors in the merchant ship? You can find a link to Alexander’s will and estate inventory on the new root page for Alexander (the tab) or at the end of the new bio for him, Alexander Magruder, the Immigrant (under the tab). Cheers, Susan

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