Walter Peake (c.1609 - 1668)

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Nicknames: "Pake"
Birthplace: Probably , England
Death: Died in St. Mary's, Maryland
Cause of death: Hanged
Occupation: planter, miller, attorney & innkeeper
Managed by: Bernie Alvey
Last Updated:

About Walter Peake

PEAKE (PAKES), WALTER (ca. 1609-1668).

  • BORN. ca. 1609, probably in England.
  • IMMIGRATED: in 1646 as a free adult with his wife and son from Virginia.
  • RESIDED: in St. Mary's County.
  • MARRIED Frances, who in 1652 was accused by her husband of committing adultery with Paul Simpson, Peake's business partner.
  • SON: Peter, who had been captured by Indians while living in Virginia, and who was claimed by Peake as his son.
  • DAUGHTERS: Mary, who married in 1663/64 Henry Aspinall, a justice of Calvert County, 1680/81; Margaret, who married John Noble, a carpenter; and Ann.
  • EDUCATION: literate.
  • RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION: probably Protestant with close Catholic connections.
  • SOCIAL STATUS AND ACTIVITIES: lived in James City, Virginia, by 1639; Mr., by 1660/61.
  • OCCUPATIONAL PROFILE: planter; innholder, 1666; attorney.
  • PUBLIC CAREER. LEGISLATIVE SERVICE: Assembly, present 1647/48, St. Mary's County, 1649 (Accounts).
  • WEALTH DURING LIFETIME. LAND AT FIRST ELECTION: at least 100 acres; owned 600 acres in Virginia. SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IN LAND: 1660s owned more than 5,900 acres in Maryland;
  • sold 1,600 acres, 1651-1663; gave 1,450 acres to his daughter Mary between 1663 and 1666.
  • DIED. Peake was convicted of the murder of William Price. He was hanged on December 17, 1668.
  • LAND: 2,850 acres.

The Maryland Peakes

From http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~slhessick/peakes03.htm

3A. Walter Peake

The earliest records of a Peake family in the Maryland colony were those of Walter Peake, who moved there with his wife Frances and son Peter around 1646. Peake was born in England2 around 1609. M. L. Donnelly2 states that he was a Catholic and a member of the Catholic congregation at Newtown, near St. Clement's Bay in St. Mary's County. This would appear to be confirmed by the later history of his family and by his associations of the day, particularly with John Jarboe and the Mattingly family. Jarboe was a French Catholic who emigrated first to Virginia, and in 1646 joined the military force organized by Governor Leonard Calvert in Virginia to restore Lord Baltimore's rule following the rebellions of Ingle and Claiborne2. However, a second source3 identifies Walter Peake as non-Catholic.

Walter Peake was an affluent and influential man in early Maryland society. He served in the Lower House of the Provincial Government1 in 1649. He was a planter, miller, and kept an inn at St. Lawrence in Bretton's Bay. He was also a practicing attorney, involved in 121 documented court proceedings3. A legal case of particular interest transpired in the Charles County Court in June of 1668, in which Walter Peake, identified as a resident of St. Mary's County, sued Miles Chaffe for 795 pounds of tobacco for a debt which was not yet due41. He claimed that Chaffe was a "non-resident person" and demanded payment of the debt. Chaffe denied nonresident status and stated that he had agreed, in return for accommodation in the county, to undertake employment to repay the debt. The court found in favor of the defendant, whereupon Peake's attorney entered an appeal to the Provincial Court. This appeal was never heard due to the tragic events which later took place. Of note in this case is the fact that Peake's attorney was William Price41.

As with other successful members of society, Walter Peake was sometimes directed to share in the care of the indigent. At the April, 1667, Provincial Court a poor and crippled Martha Crab was ordered to live at the house of Walter Peake, and a year later the order was continued42.

Financial success did not keep Peake's life from being a troubled one, and the records show that he had an unfortunate proclivity to alcohol. This led to disaster when his colleague William Price visited his inn in October, 1668. Price was a man of notorious reputation, a former indentured servant who married his mistress Hannah Lee, and spent considerable time in Maryland prisons42. He had been forbidden by the Court to interfere in his wife's affairs. Peake had in the past acted as attorney for Price in the St. Mary's County Court, as Price had acted as Peake's attorney in the Charles County Court41, 42. Their meeting at Peake's inn ended in an altercation in which Peake stabbed Price to death with a sword. A graphic description of the murder is contained in the records of the Provincial Court42, which accuse Peake that "...by force and Armes and of malice forethought, upon William Price, ....an assault did make and with a Certaine drawne Sword ....., which thou, the said Walter Pake, did then and there in thy right hand did hold, the said William Price, did, on the left side of his body, thrust and pierce through to his right side under the souldier, and by the same thrust a certaine mortall wound of the length of seaven inches and the bredth of one inch to the said William Price did give, of which mortall wound the said William Price immediately did dye...."42, 43. For good measure Peake stabbed Price again, this time in the throat. The Court described the wound as being ".... Of the depth of three inches and breadth of one inch, ....soe that the said William Price of the last wound had dyed if he had not dyed of the former wound ...". The Court concludes in its indictment that "...thow, the said Walter Pake of St. Lawrences aforesaid in the county aforesaid in the manner and forme aforesaid feloniously and of malice forethought did Kill and murder, Contrary to the Peace of his lordship, his rule and dignity.42"

Peake pleaded not guilty to the charges, whereupon a jury of twelve men was appointed, with Christopher Rowsby as foreman. The records note that one man was fined for not showing up for jury duty, and a second, presumed to be a Quaker, was fined for refusing to take the juror's oath. Peake was given the opportunity to challenge jurors, but declined. The charges were read to the jury and three witnesses called to give evidence against the prisoner. The jury left to deliberate the charges. When they returned with the verdict, the court clerk order Peake to the bar, where he held up his hand as the jury was ordered to look upon him. When asked for their verdict of guilty or not guilty of murder, the jury foreman submitted their decision in writing. Their verdict appears to turn over primary responsibility to the Court, stating that they find "that Walter Pake is guilty in the death of William Price...., that Walter Pake was drunk and did not know what he did att the time of committing the fact aforesaid, and Therefore if the Court are of the Judgment that it was murder, Then the Jury doe find it murder, But if not then the Jury doe find it manslaughter." The bench then gave their judgment and found Peake guilty of murder. Peake had nothing to say in mitigation, and so was sentenced to death. At Peake's own request, the judge ordered that the hanging be carried out before Peake's house, where the murder took place. Thus the warrant of execution was issued to the sheriff of St. Mary's County "....to Cause the Body of the said Walter Pake to be Executed att the place aforesaid by the hands of Pope Alvey on Thursday next being the seaventh day of this Instant, between nine and twelve of the Clock in the morning, then and there to hang by the neck untill he shall be dead.42" After his execution, most of Peake's property was forfeited to the Lord Proprietary, whence it was redistributed. Peake's property at New Town was leased to Thomas Cosden less then two months after Peake's execution42.

Notes

From http://userpages.umbc.edu/~pdavis2/Participants/dawsonm/smc/articles_files/manor_historySEP2.htm

Beaverdam Manor was referenced as a proprietary manor in 1664 {PA:07:229}. An undated survey was recorded in 1666 that contained 7,680 acres “in Calvert County” {PA:10:329}. This manor was “lying in the woods” just to the southwest of Resurrection Manor, Fenwick Manor and DeLaBrooke Manor. The northeast boundary corresponds roughly to the present Md. route 235. The assessment done in 1768 shows the manor contained 82 lots {GMB:II:063}. Two of these were patent lands, i.e. a 90-acre portion of The Inclosure which was Surveyed for Henry Lowe on 16 August 1694, and a 500-acre tract named Rich Neck which was patented to John Attaway on 10 December 1714 {PA:FF#7:223}.

I have two dates of death for Walter Pake, who was hung in Leonardtown for murder {of William Price}: November 2, 1668 and December 17,1668.

Sources

  1. A Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature 1635-1789 by Edward C. Papenfuse, et. al. Volume 426, Page 639 

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