Moore's Lodge (18CH777)


1697 plat of the court house at Moore's Lodge (St. Mary's College of Maryland)

Moore's Lodge (18CH777) is the site of the first Charles County Court House, established in 1674 and abandoned in 1727 when the court was moved to Port Tobacco. Located on Clark's Run, a branch of Zekiah Run just below La Plata in Charles County, Maryland, Moore's Lodge was a 150-acre tract of land acquired by Henry More before 1672. More contracted with John Allen to build the courthouse which appears to have been started, but More was dead by 1673. In 1674, Allen entered into a detailed contract with the county court commissioners to complete the courthouse and build a prison; Allen was also to keep an ordinary on the site. Allen was unable to complete the terms of the contract and, in 1676, Thomas Notley conveyed Moore's Lodge to Thomas Hussey. Hussey served as a court justice until 1677; after that date, he operated the ordinary at Moore's Lodge.

Hussey appears to have lived in a dwelling he built by the courthouse and it was out of this dwelling that he probably operated his ordinary. More than once, however, Hussey found himself at odds with the court commissioners and, in 1667, they took the ordinary concession away from him and gave it to Philip Lynes. Lynes built a new and separate structure adjacent to the court house. Obviously angered by this move, the following year, in 1668, Hussey released and drove away the justices' horses from the courthouse. Hussey's conflicts with the justices and Lynes were the impetus for the creation of a detailed survey in 1697, one unparalleled in the colony's 17th-century archives. This survey shows the court house, Lynes' ordinary, Hussey's dwelling, outbuildings, an orchard, fencing, and a road. Hussey's son-in-law, Samuel Luckett, took over the ordinary concession in 1698.

Hussey lived on the property with his wife, Johanna, and their two children, Mary and Elizabeth. Johanna died between 1684 and 1690 and Hussey married Jane Cockshutt in 1698. Jane died the next year, in 1699, and Hussey died in 1700; his estate was appraised at 707 pounds sterling. His house and property at Moore's Lodge went to his surviving daughter, Elizabeth, who was married to Samuel Luckett. Luckett, who was still maintaining the ordinary, died in 1705. Elizabeth married John Hanson, who helped her settle her husband's estate and possibly ran the ordinary. Hanson died in 1715 and the archaeological evidence suggests that the dwelling on the property was abandoned soon after. Elizabeth and her minor children may have gone to live with her children by Samuel Luckett.

A probate inventory recorded after Samuel Luckett's death indicates that the home house was divided into a number of spaces, including, on the first floor, a hall, Mrs. Luckett's room, a small room off of Mrs. Luckett's room, a new room, and a passage, and, on the second floor, chambers above all of the first floor rooms including the passage. A detached kitchen, milk house, and salt house were found outside the home house, with the ordinary nearby.

Luckett's inventory also describes "two old eight foot tables and two formes [benches]" at the ordinary, but no beds or bed furniture. One of the eight foot tables may have been a piece commissioned by the justices and made by Michael Ashford in 1682. There are no other furnishings or goods in the ordinary, and the absence of beds suggests that, when in use by the court, the building served primarily as a space apart from the court house. Indeed, the inventory reveals that cattle and pigs were kept at the ordinary, although it is unclear if this building was now serving as a shed for livestock. Luckett had at least 23 beds elsewhere on the plantation, some of which were surely used by Luckett, his wife, their four sons, and their servants. The rest probably accommodated visitors to the courthouse.

The bound labor owned by each man at his death suggests the transformations then occurring in Chesapeake society. In 1700, Hussey owned 12 "English servants" and only one African, an individual listed as a "blind Negroe." His son-in-law, however, had much more invested in Africans, with at least 7 "negros" found at Zekiah Quarter (a parcel separate and distant from Moore's Lodge). Two of these individuals were under 18. Two others, "Jack and his wife Sarah," were recognized by the appraisers as married. Luckett also owned 8 servants, including Jark (or Jack), described as a "Maloh Man" [mulatto], and John Bennitta, "a white servant." The use of the word, 'white,' for identifying people of European ancestry was, at this time, a relatively new way of conceiving human difference, and contrasts with the description accorded Hussey's 'English servants' five years earlier. Bennitta was probably not of English ancestry. The remaining six servants were not identified by nationality or the color of their skin, but each was accorded a surname in the inventory, while the Africans were not.

Hussey probably entertained members of the local Indigenous groups at Moore's Lodge. In 1681, he reported that, during a raid on his property, a group of "fforeign Indians" "did robb me of Linnen, Blanketts, and weareing clothes and Rings to the value of Thirty pounds sterling they have not left me any clotheing but what I had on and almost all the chiefest of our Linnen, and they have taken away Eleaven Pascattoway Indians being One Man and Tenn Weomen and Children, every roome in the house they have ransack'd …" (Archives Md 17: 20).

Archaeological Investigations

Excavating shovel tests, the court house at Moore's Lodge (St. Mary's College of Maryland)

Although an exceptionally detailed plat of the Court House lot at Moore's Lodge survives, the location of the site was unknown. In 2008, on the occasion of Charles County's 350th anniversary, a consortium of businessmen funded an effort to locate and document the court house site. The project involved detailed research of the area's land records by registered Maryland surveyor Kevin Norris. After Norris had developed a model of where the 150-acre Moore's Lodge tract was located, archaeologists from St. Mary's College of Maryland under the direction of Julia A. King initiated a Phase I survey of the property.

Shovel tests were excavated at intervals of 25 and 50 feet with the fill screened through ¼-inch mesh. Five 5-by-5-foot test units were excavated in areas where high concentrations of artifacts were observed in an effort to locate and identify sub-surface features. Fill from each test unit was screened through ¼-inch mesh. All artifacts were retained.

Test Units 1-4, court house at Moore's Lodge (St. Mary's College of Maryland)

Test Unit 2 was excavated in the area where the courthouse building is believed to have stood, and Test Units 1, 3, 4, and 5 were excavated in the area where Hussey's and later Luckett's dwelling house stood.

Test Unit 2 contained little domestic material but considerable architectural material. A single feature, probably a post hole and post mold, was observed in this unit. The post hole and mold, which were recorded but not excavated, may represent the traces of a post that was pulled.

Test Units 1, 3, 4, and 5, which were excavated as a block, were rich in domestic and architectural artifacts and contained a large, circular feature at the base of plow zone. The feature, which extended beyond the bounds of the test unit, contains multiple episodes of fill, rocks, burned daub, and charcoal. It is possible that this feature represents the remains of a cellar or borrow pit. The feature was not excavated.


The Moore's Lodge collection contains 8,960 artifacts, including a significant portion that date to the late 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries and are associated with a nearby standing structure built at the very end of the 18th century.

Domestic artifacts dating to the courthouse period of the site include ceramics, tobacco pipes, bottle glass, and a number of small finds. Ceramics include tin-glazed earthenwares, Staffordshire slipwares, Manganese Mottled ware, Buckley and Buckley-like wares, Borderware, Rhenish brown stoneware, Hohrware, Rhenish blue and gray stoneware, Nottingham stoneware, English brown stoneware, dipped white salt-glazed stoneware, white salt-glazed stoneware, Chinese porcelain, and unidentified earthenwares, stonewares, and porcelains. Only one unidentified Native American ceramic was recovered from the site.

Eight red clay tobacco pipe and 182 white clay tobacco pipes were recovered from Moore's Lodge. At least one red pipe bears evidence of rouletting that may be in the form of a running deer. Only one white pipe is marked with the letters "LE" for Lewellin Evans.

Other domestic artifacts include 5 English flint flakes, 1 iron knife fragment, 1 glass bead, 1 iron tack, 1 flat piece of copper, and 1 copper alloy gear, possibly from a clock.

Architectural artifacts form the largest part of the collection, including brick (n=4,221), daub (n=1,642), nails (n=1,180), and unglazed floor tile (n=41). Some brick fragments are glazed, and no yellow brick was recovered from the site. The nails include wrought (n=139), cut (n=40), wire (n=4), square (n=126), and unidentified (n=881). The unglazed floor tile is almost certainly colonial in date. Window glass is also present in the collection, although no lead calmes were recovered. Surprisingly, no evidence of plaster was recovered from the site.


King, Julia A., Scott M. Strickland, and Kevin Norris. 2008. The Search for the Court House at Moore's Lodge: Charles County's First County Seat. Report prepared for the Citizens of Charles County. St. Mary's City: St. Mary's College of Maryland.

What You Need To Know To Use This Collection

  • Moore's Lodge was occupied ca. 1674-1727.
  • Moore's Lodge served a domestic and governmental function.
  • The site is represented in the database by 296 shovel test pits and five 5-by-5-foot test units.
  • All soils were screened thorugh 1/4-inch mesh.
  • No features were excavated.

Further Information About the Collection

The Moore's Lodge 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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