Notley Hall (18ST74)


Notley Hall (18ST74), also known as Manahowick's Neck, was the home plantation complex of Maryland Deputy Governor Thomas Notley and later, William Digges, a son of a Virginia governor and the son-in-law of Lord Baltimore. Notley's dwelling, the second of two on the site and probably built ca. 1672, was one of the grandest structures in the colony. The Notley Hall plantation complex was located on the south or east bank of the Wicomico River near the mouth of Manahowick's Creek in St. Mary's County. Manahowick's Neck is the name Notley used for his plantation; when the property was acquired by William Digges, it was renamed Notley Hall.

Thomas Notley had come to Maryland from Barbados in 1662. In Maryland, he made his living as a planter, merchant, and political official in both elected and appointed capacities. It is possible that the Calverts encouraged Notley's immigration to the colony in their effort to promote the slave trade in Maryland. Notley may have initially rented Manahowick's Neck, which was part of St. Clement's Manor, before purchasing it from Thomas Gerard in 1664.

Notley either built a dwelling or moved into an existing dwelling on the property. Notley's 1679 inventory describes an "old hall" and an "Old Roome within ye payles" which could represent an earlier structure, possibly fortified in the same way John Hallowes fortified his dwelling house on the Potomac's south side. In 1672 or later, Notley built a new T-shaped house of substantial size. The house was at least partly of brick construction and included the incorporation of yellow brick in chimney construction.

Manahowick's Neck served as a meeting place for the Maryland Council on at least 15 occasions and was also an important meeting location when the Calvert government would meet with the Piscataway and other Indian nations. A Court of Admiralty was held at Manahowick's Neck in 1672 when the captain of a confiscated Swedish ship was tried for violating the Navigation Acts. The bulk of the ship's cargo, 50,000 yellow bricks, is probably the source of the yellow brick observed at the Notley Hall site and at a number of other contemporary sites in the Wicomico River.

Thomas Notley died in 1679 without heirs (he never married), willing the property to Charles Calvert, his friend and by then the third Lord Baltimore. Baltimore placed his step-daughter and her husband, Elizabeth and William Digges, in the house and renamed the property Notley Hall. William Digges was the son of Edmund Digges, a former governor of Virginia. "Notley Hall field" became an important space for militia and other political events, and at least some weapons from the colony's principal magazine at Mattapany were kept at Notley Hall.

Notley Hall was one of three Calvert properties the Protestant Associators (or rebels) seized in 1689 in an uprising that ended Calvert rule in Maryland. The State House at St. Mary's City and Mattapany, Baltimore's dwelling plantation, were the other two. Digges and his family fled the colony for Virginia and Notley Hall was put into use as a prison by the rebels. The property was restored to Baltimore in 1692 as part of the Calvert family's settlement with the Crown. Archaeological evidence suggests the site was abandoned by 1695. This abandonment represents a mystery given that the house was just over twenty years old and represented a substantial investment that had been made in the property's development. After the rebellion, Digges and his family returned from Virginia but lived at Charles Town or Charleston, across the Wicomico River from Notley Hall.

Thomas Notley's 1679 room-by-room probate inventory surely ranks as one of the most extraordinary inventories recorded in 17th-century Maryland. The inventory, which stretches for 21 pages in its original form, lists 25 rooms or spaces on Notley's Manahowick's Neck plantation. The inventory suggests as many as seven buildings, including Notley's dwelling house, an older dwelling house still used in some capacity, a kitchen, a store house, a salt house, a quarter, and a stable. A counting house may have been part of the dwelling house or it could have been a detached structure, raising the total number of associated structures to eight.

The inventory reveals that Notley's dwelling house was one of the most well-furnished and comfortable structures in 17th-century Maryland. The dwelling house itself appears to have contained as many as 15 rooms or spaces (some of these spaces are passages, used to store goods and connect rooms, but which were probably not used as living spaces). The "Great Hall" was where the Maryland Council almost certainly sat when they met at Manahowick's Neck beginning in 1676. This heated room contained 22 "high leather chaires" and two "Turky worked chaires," two "great" tables covered with green cloth, a smaller table, wall hangings, three framed pictures, a mirror, and a "Coate of Armes of Mr: Winsors." A pewter cistern, presumably for rinsing plates and considered essential for an elite "dining room," was also found in the Great Hall. In addition to the building's domestic furnishings, the house was packed with goods that Notley may have intended for sale or exchange with his neighbors and with the neighboring Indigenous communities.

Notley owned the labor of 37 individuals, both indentured and enslaved. Twenty-five individuals were located at Manahowick's Neck and twelve were located at Bachelor's Hope, a second plantation owned by Notley near present-day Chaptico. Five indentured servants and 22 slaves lived at Manahowick's Neck. Notley's inventory also mentions "an Irish Wench at the House" and "Charles Negro," likely Eleanor and Charles Butler, a mixed couple whose heirs went on to challenge Maryland slave law. Eleanor Butler was an Irish servant who, in 1681, married the enslaved Charles, becoming subject to a Maryland law that enslaved her and their children.

Notley's inventory lists 90 "sheppes" or sheep in "ye Stable," 25 cows, six steers, two bulls, and 12 calves, 100 "hogs boares & sowes," and an unrecorded number of "Horses & Mares" at Manahowick's Neck. An additional eight cows and 52 pigs were found at Bachelor's Hope. The livestock at Notley Hall was valued at 27 pounds sterling (sheep) and nearly 32,000 pounds of tobacco (all other animals) and the livestock at Bachelor's Hope was valued at 7,700 pounds of tobacco.

Archaeological Investigations

Although the Notley Hall site has long been known by local residents, the site was not formally recorded until 1972 by Barbara McMillan. McMillan only made mention of Native American artifacts (there is a significant pre-1600 component at Notley Hall), describing the site as measuring 500 by 200 yards (1500 by 600 feet) and consisting mostly of oyster shells in rich dark soil.

In 1981, archaeologists Michael Smolek and Dennis Pogue visited Notley Hall to verify the site's 17th-century date and to examine yellow brick previously observed on the surface. They also examined a collection in the possession of a local resident. Smolek and Pogue reported seeing thousands of 17th- through 20th-century and Native American artifacts in the collection and on the ground's surface. They estimated that the 17th-century site area measured approximately 100 by 50 meters (320 by 160 feet). Smolek and Pogue collected some artifacts, which are now curated at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory in St. Leonard, Maryland (MAC Lab). One of the artifacts at the MAC Lab includes a red earthenware flat roofing tile with an attachment hole through the body.

In 2011, archaeologists from St. Mary's College of Maryland under the direction of Skylar A. Bauer and Julia A. King conducted a shovel test pit survey at Notley Hall. The grid used at the site for this project follows Maryland State Plane. A total of 349 shovel tests were excavated at 25-foot intervals across an area measuring approximately 300-by-600 feet. Soil from each shovel test was screened through ¼-inch hardware cloth.

Excavating shovel tests, Notley Hall (St. Mary's College of Maryland)
Intact foundation in shovel test, Notley Hall (St. Mary's College of Maryland)

The stratigraphy at Notley Hall, which continues in use today as an active agricultural field, consists of a plow zone overlying subsoil. The plow zone ranges in thickness from 0.6 to 1.2 feet and consists of a brown silt loam mottled with up to two percent yellowish brown sandy silt and varying quantities of brick flecks and/or gravel. In most cases, plow zone overlies an undisturbed subsoil consisting of a yellowish brown clay.

Feature deposits were encountered in eight shovel tests, with three features associated with the Notley Hall house. These features include an intact brick foundation, an unidentified intrusion consisting of brick rubble (possibly a cellar), and an unidentified intrusion of brown loam adjacent to the brick foundation. Using a steel probe, the brick course was followed and revealed a continuous foundation measuring at least 20 by 40 feet. Other features were characterized by different soil colors and textures, and one, south of the structure, may be the remnants of a paling fence, perhaps even the "payles" mentioned in Notley's inventory.

Magnetometer survey results (St. Mary's College of Maryland)

A remote sensing survey was conducted at the site in December 2013 by Dr. Tim Horsley. Horsley used both a magnetometer and ground-penetrating radar to document and interpret the site's subsurface stratigraphy. Horsley's work revealed a massive T-shaped structure with the main block measuring approximately 20 by 50 feet and the back wing measuring approximately 20 by 40 feet. The strength of the readings suggests that the building probably had a full cellar with a brick or tile floor. What is probably a brick-lined drain extends from the riverside façade of the house for approximately 200 feet; this drain is the earliest example of such a feature in Maryland. The remote sensing survey detected features in a likely service area southwest of the main structure, including what may be a well, one of only a very few wells known for the 17th century from Maryland. Traces of a path from Manahowick's Creek to the brick foundation are also evident in the magnetometer findings.


A total of 43,224 artifacts from Notley Hall are included in the database. Fully 97 percent of these materials include shell (n=23,249) and brick (n=18,691). Of the brick, 2,105 fragments are yellow brick. The shell probably comes from an earlier pre-1600 occupation as well as the 17th-century occupation while the brick derives almost exclusively from the 17th-century occupation. The remaining artifacts include lithics (Native and European), ceramics (Native and European), bottle and table glass, nails, window glass, window lead, and animal bone. Small finds include an iron pin, a gunflint fashioned from European flint, and a fragment of table glass with a "comet" prunt attached.

Along with the documents, the artifacts recovered from Notley Hall suggest that the property was occupied from at least ca. 1664 until ca. 1695. The distribution of tobacco pipe stem bore diameters correspond with Harrington's 1650-1680 period, although the ceramics do not suggest an occupation before about 1665. Absent from the collection are both lead-backed tin-glazed earthenware and North Italian slipware, wares that would be expected if the site was occupied before 1665. The recovery of four fragments of English brown stoneware indicates the site was occupied at least through 1690-1695.

In addition to the red and yellow brick recovered from Notley Hall, architectural artifacts recovered include 165 nails or nail fragments, 128 plaster fragments, four window glass fragments, a window lead fragment, an undecorated tin-glazed earthenware flat tile fragment (possibly for a fireplace), and three fragments of sandstone that appear to have been dressed. The whole nails range in size from 7/8-inch to 2½-inches.

Other artifacts that are not included in the database exist in two collections. The collection at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory in St. Leonard includes 26 artifacts: four white clay tobacco pipe stems, unmarked, 7/64ths-inch bore diameter; one tin-glazed earthenware fragment with purple manganese decoration; five Rhenish brown stoneware fragments, including one with a medallion; three Rhenish blue and gray stoneware fragments, including one handle fragment; one dark green wine bottle glass fragment; one colorless wine glass stem fragment; one redware flat roofing tile with attachment hole; one quartz projectile point tip; one red clay tobacco pipe stem, molded, 7/64ths-inch bore diameter; two tin-glazed earthenware fragments, one with blue painted decoration; one North Devon slipped earthenware fragment; two Rhenish blue and gray stoneware fragments; and three yellow brick samples.


Also found at the MAC Lab is an unusual telescope fragment recovered by archaeologists from Upper Notley Hall in 1981; Upper Notley Hall is located approximately a mile from Notley Hall and was owned by Calvert's descendants in the 18th century. Originally identified as a needle case, this turned bone artifact is a very close match for telescope fragments found in Amsterdam and dated to the 18th century; similar examples from the 17th century are also known. The Upper Notley Hall telescope would not have been used to observe stars or planets because of its relatively weak magnification. Still, it was a luxury good that would have allowed magnification for clearer vision. One interesting entry found in Notley's 1679 inventory lists "3 p spective glasse" appraised at six shillings (or two shillings each). These three items are found in the counting house along with all sorts of goods no doubt traded by Notley in his capacity as a merchant. Yellow bricks believed to have been salvaged from Notley Hall were found at Upper Notley Hall and perhaps this bone telescope case also came from Notley Hall.

A second collection of artifacts from Notley Hall remains in the possession of a former owner of the Notley Hall site. Archaeologists were unable to catalog this collection as part of the project but were permitted to examine it during the course of a visit. The collection included many white clay tobacco pipe fragments (perhaps several hundred), a 17th-century molded red clay tobacco pipe stem fragment marked "WD," several Native American-made red clay tobacco pipe fragments, Rhenish blue and gray fragments, Rhenish brown medallion fragments, other ceramics, North American stoneware, lithic points and tools, yellow brick, and oyster shell. The owner did eventually loan the collection for cataloguing. While these materials are not included in the database, a PDF catalog is available on this website.

In 2012, a neighbor reported finding a dated ceramic on the site's adjacent shoreline. This fragment appears to be a type of English stoneware with the initials, "WH," in the center of the medallion and the date, "1672," in the border encircling the initials. Other letters appear, although they are hard to decipher. This is an especially early date for English stoneware and may be a product of a migrant potter's kiln at Woolrich Ferry. More likely, the seal derives from a stoneware bottle, probably a Bartman, produced by John Stearne for a "Mr Killigrew of Chelsea," or William Killigrew (Haselgrove 1990).


Bauer, Skylar A., Julia A. King, and Scott M. Strickland. 2013. Archaeological Investigations at Notley Hall Near Chaptico, Maryland. St. Mary's City, St. Mary's College of Maryland.

Forte, A.D.M, Edward M. Furgol, and Steve Murdoch. 2004. The Burgh of Stade and the Maryland 'Court of Admiralty' of 1672. Forum Navale 60:94–112.

Haselgrove, Dennis. 1990. Steps Towards English Stoneware Manufacture in the 17th Century. Part 2 – 1650-1700. London Archaeologist 6(6): 152-159.

Hodes, Martha. 1997. White Women, Black Men: Illicit Sex in the 19th-Century South. New Haven, Yale.

McMillan, Barbara. 1972. An Archaeological Survey of St. Mary's County, Maryland. Unpublished M.A. Thesis, Department of Anthropology, American University.

Papenfuse, Edward C., et al. 1979. A Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature, 1635-1789. Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press.

Rivers-Cofield, Sara. 2013. Take a Closer Look at this 18th-Century Needle Case Telescope! Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum Curators Choice Archives, available online at

What You Need To Know To Use This Collection

  • Notley Hall was occupied ca. 1664-1690.
  • The Notley Hall collection is represented in the database by materials recovered from 349 shovel tests.
  • All shovel tests were screened thorugh 1/4-inch mesh.
  • The catalog for materials in a private collection is available on this website as a PDF, but this material is not included in the databse.

Further Information About the Collection

The Notley Hall collection (excluding the private collection) is owned by the State of Maryland and curated by the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory. For more information about the collection and collection access, contact Rebecca Morehouse, Collections Manager, at 410-586-8583; email

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