The main portion of the Rousby site dates to the second
half of the 17th century and was most likely the residence of
John Halfhead and his family. Halfhead was one of the original
settlers to arrive in Maryland aboard the Ark and the Dove in
1634. He was an illiterate brick-maker who served as an indentured
servant to pay for his passage to Maryland and then claimed land
in return for his service and for transporting other settlers
to the colony.
In 1649 Halfhead was awarded approximately 250
acres at the mouth of the Patuxent River, a tract that is currently
located aboard the Naval Air Station Patuxent River not far from
the Mattapany-Sewall site. As his plantation was already established
by the time Charles Calvert moved to Mattapany-Sewall, it is possible
that Calvert hired his new neighbor Halfhead to fire the bricks
for his new dwelling. Such skilled labor was scarce in the mid-17th
century in Maryland.
By 1684, the property may have been acquired
by Christopher Rousby, a prominent settler who held several public
offices but who suffered a falling out with the Calvert proprietary.
Though Rousby also owned other tracts in the area, the site was
named for him because its proximity to his grave indicated that
he might have resided there until his scandalous murder at the
hands of Charles Calvert’s cousin, George Talbot, in October
1684. If Rousby did live at the site, however, his tenure there
was short and the majority of the 17th-century occupation may
be attributed to the Halfhead family.
After Rousby’s death, the parcel seems
to have been abandoned. By the 19th-century, members of Maryland’s
well-known Carroll family had inherited the land. Although they
lived about a quarter mile away at Susquehanna (18ST399), artifacts
indicate that the northeastern portion of the site may have been
used during the Carroll occupation, possibly for creek access
or oyster processing.
Archaeologists identified the Rousby Site during
a Phase I survey of Harper’s Creek aboard the Naval Air
Station Patuxent River. Phase II excavations to follow up on the
Phase I survey placed 14 test units in areas of high-artifact
concentration. Notable 17th-century features indentified included
a refuse pit and an intact tile-paved floor, both dating to the
second half of the 17th century.
Nineteenth-century artifacts scattered across
the site indicate some use during the period, but no evidence
of a 19th-century structure has been found. The northeastern portion
of the site contained a mid-19th century pit feature with a great
deal of oyster shell. A silver-handled utensil with a bird engraved
on it was recovered in a nearby test unit, and it may indicate
that the area was used during the Carroll occupation of Susquehanna.
The engraved bird matches the Carroll family crest found on bottle
seals from the Charles Carroll House in Annapolis.
|Child, Kathleen M., Sean Alexander, Michael B. Hornum,
and Martha Williams
||Phase II Archaeological Evaluation of Site 18ST751,
Naval Air Station Patuxent River, St. Mary’s County,
Maryland. Report Prepared for Commander, Atlantic Division, Naval
Facilities Engineering Command,
|Galke, Laura, and Michael W. Kell
|| Phase I Archaeological Resources Inventory of the Harper’s
Creek Area Naval Air Station Patuxent River,
Mary’s County, Maryland.
The Rousby Site archaeological collection is owned by
the Naval District Washington, Naval Air Station Patuxent River
and curated at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory.