Bennett’s Point is located on a parcel
of land that was known as Morgan’s Neck when it was patented
in 1650 by Captain Henry Morgan. Morgan died in 1663, but he
and his widow, Frances Morgan, must have turned Morgan’s
Neck into a significant plantation, because in 1668 Morgan’s
Neck was among the areas designated by the Lord Proprietor to
be an official port for unloading and selling trade goods. In
1669 Frances married Jonathan Sibrey and they lived at Morgan’s
Neck until 1675. The couple had no children, however, so when
they died the land passed to Henry and Frances Morgan’s
daughter, Frances Morgan Sayer. Frances Sayer and her husband
Peter Sayer had no children either, and the tract passed to
Frances’ niece Elizabeth Rousby in 1698.
In 1700 or 1701, Elizabeth Rousby married
Richard Bennett III, a prominent merchant who benefitted greatly
from marrying a woman who controlled such a major plantation
and port. The Bennetts became one of the wealthiest couples
in Maryland. Elizabeth and Richard lived at the site together
from about 1700-1740, and after Elizabeth died, Richard continued
to live there until his death in 1749. The dwelling excavated
at Bennett’s Point was certainly the home of Elizabeth
and Richard Bennett, but it originally may have been built,
at least in part, by the Sayers in the late 17th century. It
burned down in the third quarter of the 18th century.
Bennett’s Point was excavated by volunteers
from the Archaeological Society of Delaware (ASD) between 1966
and 1974. Led by John Ludlow and John and Henry Watkins, ASD
members first excavated shovel test pits to locate activity
areas and then they focused in on a few features: an 18th century
trash pit (Pit A); the eroding foundation of an unidentified
building; and the brick foundation of the main dwelling.
Documentation of the excavation exists but
it is not comprehensive. There is no plan or profile of trash
Pit A, for example. The main dwelling is perhaps the best documented
excavation area. Between 1969 and 1973, ASD members excavated
48 test units in the main dwelling area before the site was
destroyed by the construction of a new home. These units sampled
the foundation and revealed the southwest corner of a 22’
x 80’ house with brick foundations and at least one H-shaped
brick chimney. The excavated hearth foundations were flanked
by four brick-lined sub-floor pits that presumably acted as
root cellars. Embellishments indicative of a high-class residence
were present, including at least two styles of tin-glazed fireplace
tiles and ornamental plasterwork. Charred flooring was a sign
that the house was destroyed by fire.
Artifacts from Bennett’s Point are indicative
of the comfortable lifestyle enjoyed by the Bennett family.
Elaborately decorated buckles and buttons, imported porcelain,
and several bottle seals personalized with Richard Bennett’s
merchant mark are among the types of objects recovered that
signify the family’s wealth.
The Bennett’s Point archaeological
collection is owned by the Maryland Historical Trust and curated
at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory.