Family Stories · Richard Warfield, Progenitor of the Warfield Family in Maryland
Richard Warfield, Progenitor of the Warfield Family in Maryland

The founder of the Warfield family in the State of Maryland was Richard Warfield, who was brought to Maryland in 1659 as an indentured servant for a John Sisson and later bequeathed to Cornelius Howard, son of Mathew the Immigrant. By 1670 he had completed his service and subsequently rose to positions of prominence and affluence.

The origins of Richard Warfield in England have recently been uncovered by Richard T. Foose in two articles for the Maryland Geneological Society Bulletin. Mr. Foose comments that "There were so few Warfields in London in the decades before Richard came to Maryland, that one gets the impression of a family constantly at the edge of extinction, a fate that could easily have befallen them in any one of several plague years. It looks as if the male line just managed to survive to pass on the name."

Richard Warfield was apparently the son of John Warfield, a watch-maker on Fleet Street in London. Richard the immigrant gave his eldest son the name of John, the name of his father in London. He gave one of his daughters the name of Rachell, the name of his mother in London. And he gave his third son the name of Alexander, the name of his half-brother in England.

Richard was 13 years old when he was brought to Maryland. No record of him has been found in England after his baptism on August 27, 1646. In the wills of several of Richard's children, there are bequests of silver watches, each containing a "Seal", possibly representative of three successive generations of watchmakers in London.

All of Richard's brothers and sisters except his half-brother, Alexander, died before he left for Maryland. Alexander took up his father's profession of watch-making. Because of the turbulence of religion and politics in England at the time, the scale of commercial competition on Fleet Street, known for its denizens of artisans and pubs, and the catastrophic effects of periodic outbreaks of the plague, it was decided that Richard should be sent abroad, to take advantage of the opportunities present in the New World. This decision was apparently preferred to the prospect of years as an apprentice in seventeenth century London. However, this decision meant that his mother, Rachell, had to part with her only living child.

The timing could not have been better. The Plague carried off a fifth of the people of London in 1665, including Richard's presumed father, John Warfield, and the streets were deserted with houses bearing Red Crosses and the words, "Lord, have mercy on us!" The "dreadful fire" in 1666 destroyed the remainder of London. When London was rebuilt, legislation mandated that the houses had to be entirely of brick; no more half-timbered structures were allowed.

In the New World, Richard married Elinor Browne, daughter of Captain John Browne, a mariner who shipped between Maryland and London. On at least one occasion, Richard Warfield returned to England aboard the ship, Anne, captained by his father-in-law. He returned to England as one of the signers of an address to the King. When he returned to England, thirty years after he immigrated to the New World, he was a leading citizen of the Province of Maryland, an Officer of the Militia and a wealthy planter. By then his land holdings "exceeded the acreage of the city of London, his birthplace."

He was a member of the first Vestry at St. Anne's in Annapolis. He owned the "Black Horse Tavern", nine miles west of Annapolis. He held tracks of land named "Wayfield", "Warfield's Right", "Hope", "Increase", "Warfield's Plains", "Warfield's Forest", "Warfield's Addition", "Brandy" and "Warfield's Range".

Richard Warfield died in Anne Arundel County, Maryland in 1704. Elinor Browne died in Anne Arundel County in 1718/19. Historians estimate that Richard's burial place is probably under the street at Church Circle, St. Anne's, in Annapolis. Mr. Foose's final conclusion is correct: "In the end 'fate' was kindest to Richard Warfield", the progenitor of the Warfield family in America.

Adapted from two articles authored by Richard T. Foose:

  • Maryland Geneological Society Bulletin, Volume 32, number 4 in the Fall of 1991, pages 397-445.
  • Maryland Geneological Society Bulletin, Volume 33, number 1 in the Winter of 1992, pages 44-82.
  Back To Family Stories

Acknowledgements | Mission

©2005 George A. Scheele MD