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Cyprian Thorowgood

(Alternative Spellings = Ciprian, Thoroughgood)

Cyprian Thorowgood is known for his successful fur trade with local Native Americans. This English adventurer, Thorowgood, probably came to Maryland aboard the Ark or Dove in 1633 or 1634.

Early government records describe him as "Mr. Cyprian Thorowgood, Gent.," or gentleman. This means that he was an educated man from a well-to-do family.1 He lived near the Jesuit Mission at St. Inego's Plantation, outside of St. Mary's City.2 He was one of the first Maryland colonists to explore the entire Chesapeake Bay by ship.

Cecil Calvert, Second Lord Baltimore, received a letter describing a voyage Thorowgood made with seven men from April 25 to May 15, 1634.3 Thorowgood gave Lord Baltimore a full account of his exploration to the northern end of the Chesapeake Bay in this letter. Thorowgood describes the many islands and waterways that he and his men saw as their trading ship sailed north. The Maryland traders also came upon William Claiborne and his men trading with the Susquehannock Indians. The Susquehannocks agreed to trade with the Marylanders for 230 beaver furs.4

By the early 1640s, Thorowgood had earned a lot of money in the fur trade. He owned land in St. Mary's County. He took an active role in the government, serving in the Maryland Assembly in 1637, 1641 and 1642. Lord Baltimore appointed Thorowgood to be sheriff of St. Mary's County in 1642. Baltimore explained to Thorowgood that he had "especiall trust and Confidence in [Thorowgood's] faithful diligence."5 This meant that Lord Baltimore thought Cyprian Thorowgood was the best gentleman for the job of sheriff.

1COUNCIL OF MARYLAND (Proceedings), Liber F, p. 147, Archives of Maryland, vol. 3, p. 96, April 8, 1641; Harry Wright Newman, "The Flowering of the Maryland Palatinate," (Published by the author, Washington, D.C. 1961), 263.

2Maryland State Archives, SPECIAL COLLECTION (Biographical Series) Cyprian Thorowgood file, MSA SC 3520-2854, 2/11/11/81.

3See, George E. Gifford, Jr and Marion Tinling, "A Relation of a Voyage to the Head of the Bay," The Historian 20 (May 1958): 347-348.

4"A Relation of a Voyage Made by Mr. Cyprian Thorowgood to the Head of the Baye," in Gifford and Tingling, "A Relation," 349-351.

5COUNCIL OF MARYLAND (Proceedings), Liber F, p. 147, Archives of Maryland, vol. 3, pg. 96, April 8, 1641.

  • "A Relation of a Voyage Made by Mr. Cyprian Thorowgood to the Head of the Baye" 1634, from the Hugh H. Young Collection, Enoch Pratt Free Library; "A Relation of a Voyage to the Head of the Bay," by George E. Gifford, Jr. and Marion Tinling, The Historian, 20 (May 1958); transcribed and annotated by Clifford Lewis, III, in Chronicles of St. Mary's, 32, (November 1984). DOCUMENTS FOR THE CLASSROOM SERIES. Colonial Encounters in the Chesapeake: The Natural World of Native Americans, Europeans, and Africans, 1560 -1800. Designed and developed by Edward C. Papenfuse and Dr. M. Mercer Neale, prepared with the assistance of R. J. Rockefeller, Lynne MacAdam and other members of the Archives staff. 1993. MSA SC 2221-17-7. Publication no. 4198. MSA SC 2221-17-7.

  • Pages from a Court case involving Cyprian Thorowgood vs. Thomas Cornwalis, Esq., Executer of Jerome Hawley's Will. Court and Testamentary Business, August 1638. LAND OFFICE (Patent Records), Liber Z. MSA No.: S 1071- 1 Archives of Maryland, vol. 4, pp. 44-45 and pp. 58-59.
  • Gifford, George E., Jr. and Marion Tinling. "A Relation of a Voyage to the Head of the Bay." The Historian 20 (May 1958): 347-351.

  • Lewis, Clifford, III, trans. "A Relation of a Voyage Made by Mr. Cyprian Thorowgood (From the Patuxent) to the Head of the Baye, April 24-May 5, 1634." Chronicles of St. Mary's 32 (November 1984): 201-206.

  • Newman, Harry Wright. "The Flowering of the Maryland Palatinate." Published by the author, Washington, D.C. 1961.
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