Monday, January 21, 2019

Augustine Herrman 1605-1686 - From Enemy to Colonist with an "Inattentive Wife"

Article from The Salisbury Times (now called The Delmarva Times), Salisbury, Maryland from the Delmarva Heritage Series, by Dr. William H. Wroten, Jr.
Augustine Herrman (1605-1686) Artist Unknown c. 1800-1900 Maryland Historical Society

Augustine Herrman, son of a wealthy and important merchant of Prague (in present day Czechoslovakia) was able to speak at least six languages and in addition was an artist, surveyor, and mapmaker. As a soldier of fortune he fought in the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) under the famous (or infamous) Wallenstein at the Battle of Lutzen, where King Gustavus Adolphus was killed in 1632. The next year, 1633, Herrman became interested in the work of the Dutch West India Company and sailed to America where he was active in the Dutch purchase from the Indians of lands on the Schuykill River. His rise to a position of importance in this Dutch Colony was rapid for he was soon a wealthy and prosperous merchant, banker, lawyer, sponsor of privateering, and influential in governmental circles. On occasions Governor Peter Stuyvesant chose him as an ambassador to Maryland, Virginia and sections of New England. Later, however Herrman fell from the good graces of the Governor when he opposed him in the Council, and for this Herrman was imprisoned.

In the meantime (1654-1655) the Dutch had taken over the Swedish settlement along the Delaware and thus they ran into conflict over boundary lines and land possession with Lord Baltimore's family. On September 30, 1659, two Dutch ambassadors, accompanied by some guides, mostly Indians, and conveyed by a few soldiers, left New Amsterdam for Maryland. On Oct. 16, this Dutch commission delivered a "declaration and manifesto" to the Council of Maryland which was meeting at Patuxent. It was suggested by the Dutch that in order to prevent further trouble, three delegates from each colony be appointed to meet "about the middle of between the Bay of Chesapeake and the aforesaid South river or Delaware Bay, at the hill lying to the head of Sassafras River and another river coming from our river almost meet together," with full power to settle the boundary and limits of the two provinces. After hours of debate, the Council on Oct. 19 announced to the Dutch, by way of the ambassadors, Augustine Herrman and Resolved Waldron, that the land settled and claimed by them in the vicinity of the 40th degree north latitude belonged to Lord Baltimore and the King of England and that such authority must be recognized. The Council made it clear, although using diplomatic language, that force would be used against the Dutch if necessary. With this reply, Waldron returned to New Amsterdam, while Herrman journeyed on to Virginia to see how the Governor of that Colony felt about the matter and also if possible to create seeds of dissention between the two English settlements. The Dutch mission was unsuccessful but the disputed territory continued to be troublesome for Maryland and Delaware even after the Dutch had been removed from the area.
Augustine Herman, First Lord of Bohemia Manor (Czech Augustin Heřman, c. 1621 – September 1686). However, during Herrman's visit to Maryland in 1659, Gov. Philip Calvert, recognizing this foreigner as a man of ability, took a liking to him. At the same time Herrman was quite pleased with the northern region of the Eastern Shore. Soon a deal was made between the two, whereby Herrman would make a map of the Province of Maryland, for which a large grant of land was to be given him at the head of the Chesapeake Bay. This estate was named Bohemia Manor, in honor of his native land. In 1666 he was made a naturalized citizen of Maryland, probably the first foreigner so honored. 

The map was finally completed and published in London in the 1670's, being inscribed by Herrman as "Virginia and Maryland as it is now planted and inhabited this present year of 1670, surveyed and exactly drawn by the only labors and endeavors of Augustine Herrman, Behemiensis." This original map is supposed to be still in the British Museum, in four folio sheets, with a self portrait of the artist.
Southeast portion of Augustine Herrman Map showing the Eastern Shore of Virginia and Maryland

Augustine Herman, First Lord of Bohemia Manor (Czech, c 1621 – 1686) was a Bohemian explorer, merchant & cartographer who lived in New Amsterdam & Cecil County, Maryland. In the employment of Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore, he produced a remarkably accurate map of the Chesapeake Bay & Delaware Bay regions of North America, in exchange for which he was permitted to establish an enormous plantation that he named Bohemia Manor in what is now southeastern Cecil County, Maryland.  Land rights to the area now known as St. Augustine, Maryland were granted to Herman by Lord Baltimore prior to 1686, but the Herman family was never able to lay proper claim to the title.
According to the most reliable evidence, Augustine Herman was born about 1621 in Prague, Kingdom of Bohemia; the location he himself stated in his last testament. Herman was trained as a surveyor, & was skilled in sketching & drawing. He was also conversant in a number of languages, including Latin, which he successfully applied in his diplomatic assignments with the British.
In 1640, working for the West India Company Herman arrived in New Amsterdam, now Lower Manhattan in New York City. Due to his strong personality he soon became an important member of the Dutch community & its commerce.He was an agent for the mercantile house of Peter Gabry & Sons of Amsterdam, & was one of the owners of the frigate "La Grace," which was engaged in privateering against Spanish commerce. In partnership with his brother-in-law, George Hack, he became the largest exporter of tobacco in America. Trading furs & tobacco for wine & slaves, he quickly became wealthy & the owner of considerable real estate, including most of what is now Yonkers, New York.
In New Amsterdam, he was elected in 1647 to board of the Nine Men a body of prominent citizens organized to advise & guide the Director-General of New Netherland. In time he would chair this Board. Unhappy with the leadership of Peter Stuyvesant Herman was one of the signatories of a complaint, the "Vertoogh," which was sent to Holland in July 1649 "to represent the poor condition of this country & pray for redress." Stuyvesant could not let this challenge pass, & proceeded to take measures to assure Herman's financial ruin. In 1653, Herman was briefly imprisoned for indebtedness.  In 1651, a behalf of the province, Herman negotiated the purchase of Staten Island & a large tract along the western shore of Arthur Kill from what is now Perth Amboy to Elizabeth.
Herman married December 10, 1651, while he was in New Amsterdam. His wife was Jannetje Marie Varleth, the daughter of Caspar Varleth & Judith Tentenier, of New Amsterdam. They had five children, Ephraim, Casper, Anna, Judith & Francina. Jannetje died before 1665, & sometime after that Herman married again, this time to Mary Catherine Ward[dubious from Maryland.
Stuyvesant would send Herman on a diplomatic mission to New England to resolve concerns about rumors of a Dutch & Native American alliance against the English. Of greater lasting importance, in 1659 he was sent to St. Mary's, Maryland with Resolved Waldron to negotiate the dispute between New Netherlands & Maryland's proprietor Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore over ownership of the lands on the western shore of the Delaware Bay, that were claimed by both parties.
Herman first articulated the argument that Lord Baltimore's charter was only good for lands that had not been previously settled, & that the short-lived, 1631 Swanendael settlement(usually spelled Zwaanendael), at present day Lewes, Delaware, gave the Dutch prior rights to the whole Delaware River watershed. Baltimore rejected the argument completely, but subsequently the English successors to the Dutch title, the Duke of York & William Penn, were successful in making the case, ultimately leading to the separate existence of the state of Delaware. Regardless of the success of the negotiations, Herman had made a good impression on the Calverts.
Herman, weary of conflict with Stuyvesant & remembering the fine lands he crossed in the upper Chesapeake Bay, offered to produce Lord Baltimore a map of the region in return for a grant of land in the area of his choosing. The offer was accepted & the grant made in September 1660 so Herman began his 10 years of work on the map. It stated that as compensation for his services Lord Baltimore would grant him "Lands for Inhabitation to his Posterity & the Privilege of the Manor." Wasting no time, Herman moved his family to Maryland by 1661.
Herman selected his first grant of 4000 acres of land & named it "Bohemia Manor" after his birthplace. It included much of the land east of the Elk River & north of the Bohemia River. The manor house was built on the north shore of the Bohemia River, across from Hacks Point, & just to the west of present-day Maryland Route 213. The property included an enclosed park where Herman kept deer as pets.  Because he was of non-British origin, Herman was obliged to apply for citizenship of Maryland by an act of their Assembly. His petition, in 1666, was successful & he became a naturalized citizen of Maryland.
Once he completed the map of Maryland & Virginia in 1670, additional grants were made. They became known as "Little Bohemia," south of the Bohemia River, & "St. Augustine Manor," stretching to the Delaware River between St. George's Creek & Appoquinimink River. In all he owned nearly 30,000 acres & became one of the largest landowners in North America. For added insurance he then successfully negotiated a purchase agreement with the Susquehannock American Indians, who also viewed the land as theirs.
Jasper Danckaerts & Peter Sluyter, emissaries of Friesland pietists, known as Labadists, met Ephraim George Herman, the son of Herman, in New York & he introduced them to his father in 1679. Initially Herman did not want to grant land to them, only permit their settlement, but in 1683, he conveyed a tract of 3,750 acres to them. (The group established a colony but it was not very successful not growing larger than 100 people. The settlement ceased to exist after 1720.)
For the remainder of his long life, Herman managed his plantation & enjoyed the life of a country squire, occasionally engaging in mercantile activities & official duties. He was a member of the governor's council & a justice of Baltimore County which then included all of the upper Chesapeake Bay. In 1674, Cecil County was created, & the first courthouse was built near the Sassafras River. In 1678, Herman was appointed a commissioner to treat with the Indians.  During his last years Herman was disabled by paralysis, & according to one source, by an "inattentive 2nd wife." He was 65 years old when he died in September 1686 at Bohemia Manor in Cecil County, Maryland & he is buried there.