Alexander Baynham (c1620-c1660) of Maryland and Virginia

Alexander Baynham was the second of the name to arrive in the southern colonies. Like John Baynham of Jamestown, he left no male descendants.

Alexander Baynham appears to have come to America as a teenaged servant of Thomas Baldridge, though he exhibited virtually none of the characteristics of his fellow servants.  He first appears in the records of St. Mary’s County, Maryland, where the brothers James and Thomas Baldridge were among the earliest settlers.  Both brothers first appear in surviving records in early 1637.1   James Baldridge, whose daughter would marry Alexander Baynham, was appointed High Sheriff in January 1637/8, in which capacity he attended Maryland’s second General Assembly later the same month.2   (His brother Thomas attended the same session as a sergeant and planter, and succeeded James Baldridge as High Sheriff the following year.)  One or the other of the two brothers evidently imported Alexander Baynham about that time, for on 1 November 1642 Thomas Baldridge demanded pay for the services of “his servt. Alex Banum” in a military expedition which ended the prior month.3   Alexander Baynham was quite young at this time, having been born about 1620 from his testimony several years later.

Whether Alexander Baynham was actually imported as a servant isn’t clear.  If so, he was quite unlike the vast majority of indentured servants.  For one thing, he could write his own name, and did so as “Alexander Baynham” when he witnessed several deeds in St. Mary’s County beginning in  December 1643.4  ( I note that while records spell the name in several forms, he would consistently sign as “Alexander Baynham”.)  For another, he was later a High Sheriff, Justice, and Burgess – all of which were offices normally reserved for the upper classes.

The Baldridge brothers, as Protestants, had evidently participated in the rebellion led by Richard Ingle which temporarily forced Lord Calvert to leave the province.  Testimony in a later court case of December 1647 mentions “Capt Tho: Baldridge, who was Capt & Comder of those Rebells” who had seized a corn crop in St. Mary’s.   On 20 January 1646/7 one of Calvert’s officers seized household goods in St. Mary’s from “Mrs. Baldridge.”5  It seems clear that the Baldridge brothers sought sanctuary outside Maryland upon the restoration of the Proprietary government.  By 1649 they had moved across the Potomac River into what was then Northumberland County, Virginia.  It is possible they had temporarily sought refuge in Barbados prior to Virginia.  A letter dated 9 September 1649 from Thomas Baldridge of Barbados, late of Virginia, addressed to “my ever loveing cousin Mr. Tho. Baldreade (sic) living in Potomack River over against Maryland or for Mr. James Baldrege loveing cousin”  confirms their presence in Virginia in 1649.6    On 10 August 1648, Alexander Baynham and Ann Baynham witnessed the will of Andrew Sanders in Barbados.7  I note that the referenced letter from their Barbados cousin in 1649 suggests the possibility that the Baldridges and Baynhams may have sought sanctuary in Barbados prior to moving into Virginia.  That this person in Barbados was the same Alexander Baynham is therefore plausible, if not provable.  I also note that the spelling-challenged letter closes with the note, perhaps referring to Alexander Baynham, that “Elexand and his childe they are well but he sent me word this day that his wife is sick.”

About a year later, John Cocke received a patent in Northumberland adjoining James and Thomas Baldridge.8  James and Thomas Baldridge did not receive the patent to this referenced land until 3 April 1651, when it was described as 840 acres on “Holly’s” Creek in Northumberland County, due for transportation of 17 persons including themselves, William, “Lorida”, and Mary Baldridge, and Grace and Sarah Boman.9   Presumably all were imported from Maryland (or perhaps Barbados), a perfectly legitimate headright claim.10  The land itself was in what would shortly become Westmoreland County.

Alexander Baynham, by then a son-in-law of James Baldridge, joined them across the Potomac, for on 20 February 1650/1 he received a certificate for 150 acres for importation of “himselfe, Anne his wife, [and] Alexand’r Baineham.”11   Westmoreland County was shortly thereafter formed from upper Northumberland, and on 3 April 1653 Alexander Baynham was appointed its first High Sheriff, and James Baldridge was appointed a justice.12  The following day, the Governor appointed Alexander Baynham as a justice and Captain of militia for the new county.13  He also served as a Burgess from Westmoreland in 1654, his rank given as “Major”.14   On 1 October 1655 Alexander Baynham “aged 35 yeares or thereabouts” made a deposition in the Westmoreland court, and William Baldridge, aged 24, deposed in the same case.15  All these records indicate he ws a freeholder of some status, but there seems no record of his acquiring land until his patent of 18 March 1662/3 for 300 acres near the Baldridges on Hollis Creek.16

At least two records show that Alexander Baynham married a daughter of James and Dorothy Baldridge.   James Baldridge had a son named William Baldridge, who left a will dated 20 March 1658/9 and proved 20 July 1659, leaving his estate to his wife Elizabeth and son Charles.17  A day after writing the will, he added a codicil to give “unto my brother Bainham his three children three cows… which…I had forgotten them in the will.”   James Baldridge himself left a will in 1658, but it named only his wife Dorothy.18  However, Dorothy Baldridge left a will dated 2 November 1662 and proved 11 March 1662/3 which divided her residual estate among three grandchildren Elizabeth Baynham, Ann Baynham, and Mary Baynham.19  The only other family members named in the will were bequests to her grandson Charles Baldridge, to her nephew James Baldridge, and to Joshua Butler son of Thomas Butler, and the selection of son-in-law Thomas Butler as executor.

No record of Alexander Baynham’s death was uncovered, but he was last mentioned in the records searched in 1658.  He was clearly dead by November 1664 when the Westmoreland court ordered that  “Thomas Butler who married the widow of Capt Alexander Baynham shall have [her] thirds of the personal estate of Capt Baynham.”  Alexander Baynham was probably  dead when Dorothy Baldridge wrote her will in 1662, for she did not mention him and named Thomas Butler as a son-in-law.  (This means the patent was issued posthumously.)  It is not clear (to me, anyway) whether Thomas Butler was at that time married to Baynham’s widow or to another daughter of Dorothy Baldridge.  (Butler’s wife at his death was named Jane, obviously yet another wife.)

These records indicate four children,  Since it is clear that Alexander Baynham left no male descendants, I did not pursue them further.

  1. Alexander Baynham   The only record of him is the headright certificate of 1651, and he evidently died in childhood.   William Baldridge’s 1659 will speaks of his brother Baynham’s “three children” who were presumably the three daughters named in the 1662 will of Dorothy Baldridge.
  2. Elizabeth Baynham  None of the daughters were claimed in the headright certificate, thus may all have been born after 1650.  No further record.
  3. Anne Baynham   She is thought to have married as her first husband John Butler, a son of Thomas Butler by an earlier marriage.
  4. Mary Baynham     No further record.
  1. Archives of Maryland, Vol. 4, p24. []
  2. Archives of Maryland, Vol. 3, p61 and Vol. 1, p2 respectively. []
  3. Archives of Maryland, Vol. 3, p119. []
  4. Archives of Maryland, Vol. 4, p284. []
  5. Archives of Maryland, Vol. 3, p178. []
  6. Westmoreland County General Records Book 1, p29.  I note that this letter mentions Thomas Baldridge’s “sisters”, though their identity is unknown. []
  7. Barbados Records, Wills and Administrations, Joanne McRee Sanders, Vol. 1, p316. []
  8. Virginia Patent Book 2, p280. []
  9. Virginia Patent Book 2, p307.  Grace Boman was evidently a widow with children of her own, who later married Thomas Baldridge.  She and successive husbands are mentioned frequently in Westmoreland records. []
  10. A headright merely required that the person be imported into the colony of Virginia.  The origination point, whether England or another colony like Maryland, was immaterial. []
  11. Virginia Colonial Abstracts, Beverley Fleete (1988 reprint of multiple volumes), Vol. 1, p637. []
  12. Fleete, p659. []
  13. Ibid. []
  14. Statutes at Large, William Waller Hening, Vol. 1, p387. []
  15. Westmoreland County General Record Book 1 (1653-1659), p43.  Per Fleete, p664. []
  16. Virginia Patent Book 5, p330. []
  17. Westmoreland County Will Book 1, p93. []
  18. Westmoreland County Will Book 1, p106. []
  19. Westmoreland County Will Book 1, p188. []