Copied from the papers of Wilson S. Davis of Clayton, Wilmington, Bishop's Corner and Dover, DE, and Beltsville, MD

 

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Ned Heite comments about Donald Downs' "The Moors of Delaware."

"Donald Downs was a distant cousin of mine, so I can say it.

"His story just doesn't hold water. There are too many places along the trail where records would have been created and kept. The Kirke's Lambs story is totally made up. The only place it appears is in the mind of my cousin Donald and George Valentine Massey, both of whom had fertile imaginations and well-exercised elbows. Donald went to great lengths to corroborate the military story, but never went to sources such as Virginia local records that could corroborate the actual movement of people into the Chesapeake.

"Personally, I prefer "Occam's Razor," which states that the simplest answer is probably correct," i.e., the ancestry of the "Moors" is largely Native American.

 

 

The Moors of Delaware

By Donald VanLear Downs (Xeroxed typescript)

Charles II of England married Catharine of Braganza (Portugal) on April 23, 1662. By this marriage England acquired from Portugal, Tangier, located in the northwest corner of Morocco in north Africa, where the Mediterranean Sea joins the Atlantic Ocean.

The Queens regiment of Foot, existent 1661 to 1831, generally known as "Kirke's Lambs," had as its distinguishing badge the Paschall Lamb which was also the distinguishing badge of Portugal. Piercy Kirke, the celebrated general of Tangier renown, belonged to the Kirkes of Norton, England and married Lady Mary Howard, daughter of Searge, the 4th Earl of Suffolk. Piercy Kirke was Colonel of "Kirke's Lambs" in Tangier from November, 1680 to April, 1682.

Extracts from the "Calendar of State Papers - Domestic, October 1663 to April 1684" in the files of the British Museum in London and copied out by Donald V.L. Downs, "Aspendale," Downs Chapel, Delaware on April 16, 1959 as follows:

April 17, 1684

"Lord Dartmouth appointed by King Charles II, Admiral and Commander-in-Chief of the fleet to be employed for withdrawing inhabitants and garrison of Tangier with arms and stores thereto belonging and for destroying the said city arid mole the said service being now performed to the King's satisfaction."

March, 1684

 

"Mary, wife of Captain George Talbot, now under certain Command of Colonel Piercy Kirke, Governor of Tangier, to the king a petition stating that she understands that six of the youngest companies of that regiment are to be disbanded, etc., etc."

April 9, 1684

The Earl of Sunderland to Colonel Kirke, "I have received your letter of the third with an account of those Companies of your regiment that are already arrived, wherewith I have acquainted His Majesty who is very well pleased and gives you leave to repair hither (to England) as soon as you have taken all necessary care that your absence be in no way prejudicial to his Service." (S.P. Dom Entry Book 56 p. 53 British Museum)

In the winter of 1938, Donald V.L. Downs visited for two months James Wyllie, Esquire, a cousin through his Scotch forbears of the present Queen Mother of England. Mr. Wyllie had a house in the Kasbah in Tangier and still occupies that house each winter. While a guest of Mr. Wyllie, Donald Downs met the then Agent and Consul General of the U.S.A., Mr. Maxwell Blake, and dined with him at the American Legation in Tangiers It was on these occasions that Mr. Maxwell Blake, considered an outstanding historian of Tangier and to whom several historical books have been dedicated, told Donald Downs the following:-

"When England decided to give up Tangier and did so in 1684, a number of the younger companies of "Kirke's Lambs" decided to go to America and set sail in that year and took with them Moorish women. They landed in America on an island in the Chesapeake Bay and named it "Tangier Island," for the country from which they had come. However, these so-called "Moors" remained a very short time on Tangier Island but moved to Sussex County and Kent County , Delaware."

From the above verbal report by Mr. Maxwell Blake, the "Moors" were descended from the English members of "Kirke's Lambs" and the Moorish women they brought to America. This explains the predominating English names of the "Moors" of Kent County -- Morgan, Ridgway, Beckett, Moseley, Dean, Durham, Carney, Carey, Seeney, etc., etc.

Some of the Moors who went to Sussex County intermarried with the Nanticoke Indians, as some of the ones who came to Kent County may have also married with Indians but predominantly they intermarried among themselves as they still do today. There have been very few marriages with Negroes.

The Moors have for a century been farmer tenants on farms owned by my grandfather, father and myself and excelled farmers they are. My grandfather, Charles Brown of Philadelphia, when be bought considerable acreage of land in Delaware in l851 moved to Dover in that year to look after this land. Soon afterward he built the first school house for the Moors between Cheswold and Moore's Corner in Kent County , Delaware.

The present tenant farmer at "Aspendale," Lawrence Ridgway married to Glendora Durham, is the grandson of Edgar and Em Ridgway who ran "Aspendale" farm and the great grandson of John and Mary Morgan who also ran "Aspendale" farm for many years.

These "Moors" in looks are like the "Moors" of Morocco and have many traits and a few customs of the "Moors" of Morocco.

I would like to be able to obtain an actual written record of the "Moors" and their coming to America and also of their being here immediately after their landing on Tangier Island, but I feel quite sure Mr. Maxwell Blake was accurate in his verbal history as told me in 1938.

I returned to Tangier in 1959 but was unsuccessful in finding any record there at that time. Unfortunately the British Minister was in England and while I was in Tangier, all the flags were at half mast on February ? 1959 the day Mr. Maxwell Blake, the much revered historian died. Mr. Blake had left Tangier fifteen years ago and retired to his native state Indiana, but had always kept in touch with Tangier, particularly in historical studies.

I shall continue to endeavor to find records relating to the Moors both here in Virginia, Maryland and Delaware and also in Tangier and England.

(Signed)

Donald VanLear Downs

"Aspendale"
Downs Chapel
Delaware.

August 10, 1960



 

 

 

 

MITSAWOKETT

"The History and Genealogy of the
Native American Isolate Communities
of Kent County, Delaware, and
Surrounding Areas on the Delmarva Peninsula
and Southern New Jersey"

 

 

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