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The Hansons and Smallwoods of Early Maryland and North Carolina


Article #1
Like it or not, tobacco played a significant role in the American Revolution

Today, there is an ever-increasing push-back against the sale and use of tobacco, and yet it played a major role in funding the movement for American independence.  Col. Robert Hanson and Bayne Smallwood were delegates to the first Assembies of Maryland and both of them voted to use proceeds from the sale of tobacco for the purchase of arms and ammunition to defend Maryland.1  It is presumed that this Bayne Smallwood was the one born in 1711, son of Pryor Smallwood and Elizabeth (McMillion) Stone.  In the years when documents are recorded in the Maryland General Assembly (1737-1740) Bayne would have been in his twenties.  Col. Robert Hanson would have been in his sixties. Robert died in 1748.

Col. Robert Hanson was the possible uncle of Mary Hanson who possibly married Bayne's cousin, William Smallwood (the subject of an extensive narrative on this web site).  Bayne's son, General William Smallwood, played a major role in the conduct of the Revolution.  The Smallwood family was heavily involved in the planting and sale of tobacco, and the Hanson family was probably also involved.  Both families lived in Port Tobacco, Charles County, Maryland. 

In some of the documents contained in the Maryland Archives - General Assembly, Col. Hanson and Bayne Smallwood are the only delegates representing Charles County 5.  In some documents, other names are also mentioned, including John Courts and William Middleton.  The Courts and Middleton names are familiar to Smallwood researchers, as some of them married into these families.


Article #2

Hanson and Smallwood were members of the Election Committee

According to records dated May 11, 1738, Col. Robert Hanson and Bayne Smallwood were members of the Election Committee from Charles County.2  Others were William Middleton and John Courts. 
Article #3
Some Interesting Acts of the General Assemby
Robert Hanson and Bayne Smallwood were among the General Assembly delegates who considered Acts involving impositions on negroes, imported liquor and Irish servants.  One of the goals was to see to it that a minimal number of Irish papists (Catholics) were allowed to live in Maryland.3

This illustrates that some of our forefathers were quite prejudice against certain races and religions, even though the Constitution, the Federalist Papers and other founding documents argued for equality of both.  Of course, these Acts in Maryland were taking place about 30-35 years before the Revolutionary War, and the delegation was still loyal to the British Crown. It is also possible that they were simply following the desires of the British Crown, and may not have believed in this sort of lawmaking.  At least one thing is certain - general public opinion began to  change before the ratification of the Constitution, with the exception of attitudes toward slaves.  Slavery was still alive and well for more than a century after these Acts were considered.  Census records in 1790 and 1800 show that both the Hansons and Smallwoods had quite a few slaves.  One such person, Hoskins Hanson, had 32 slaves recorded in the 1790 Charles County census.4 (Hoskins was the probable first cousin of Mary).

Article #4

Excessive Fees Levied by Great Britain Are Protested by Maryland Delegates

A General Assembly record dated May 1-June 12, 1739 demonstrates the deep frustration that many of the Maryland settlers felt in regard to excessive fees and taxes levied by His Majesty on the citizenship.  Not once, but several times, they express their dire concern that the excessive fees are causing great hardship and ruin for many of the citizens.6  They even went so far as to accuse the officers of avarice.  This is evidence of the growing sentiment against those who pursued oppressive and overbearing methods against the settlers of the new world.  It was part of the many reasons that a movement was growing behind the scenes to gain independence from the Crown.  Col. Robert Hanson and Bayne Smallwood both voted to affirm the language of this particular protest and place it in the official records.  John Courts and William Middleton also voted in the affirmative.  Only two delegates voted in the negative.

Article #5

Pryor Smallwood Appears Before Maryland Court of Appeals in 1727

In 1727 Pryor Smallwood, father of Bayne Smallwood, appeared before the magistrate of the Maryland Court of Appeals and Errors.7  The record refers to a judgment against Daniel Bryon in the amount of Ten Thousand pounds of Tobacco.  This demonstrates that many of the local residents of the area did not use British currency for purposes of trade and/or settling debts, but, rather, used the most important commodity in the region - tobacco.  To many, tobacco was the currency of the new world.

Article #6

Hansons and Smallwoods in the Maryland Troops in the American Revolution

Many Hansons and Smallwoods participated in the American Revolution and appeared on the muster rolls for the Maryland Troops.8  Included on the list were Bayne and General William Smallwood along with John, Ledstone and Walter Bean Smallwood.  Among the Hansons on the list were John and Peter Contee Hanson, probable cousins of Mary.  A Robert Hanson also appears on the list, but Col. Robert Hanson died in 1748, so this is presumed to be his son, Robert Hanson Jr.  A Samuel Hanson also appears on the list and this is presumed to be Mary's probable brother, Major Samuel Hanson.

William Smallwood who possibly married Mary Hanson died in 1768 in Granville Co, North Carolina, and he did not participate in the American Revolution (he would have been age 57 at that time, if he had lived).  .

Article #7
Smallwoods of North Carolina in the American Revolution
The North Carolina Archives 9 revealed Revolutionary War records for several Smallwoods and several Hansons, including Elijah Smallwood Sr., son of William Smallwood and Mary Hanson (?).  Also included were William and John Smallwood, along with Gen. Wm. Smallwood.  It is possible that John and William (not the General) were brothers of Elijah Sr. 

Hansons on the list include a John and Samuel Hanson.  It is not known which Hansons these were, but other North Carolina records indicate there were no Hansons living in the same counties that our Smallwoods lived.

So, at least one child of William Smallwood and Mary Hanson (?) participated in the Revolutionary War even though he was not living in Maryland at the time, but was living in Granville Co, NC.

Article #8
Biography and Political Career of Col. John Hanson and Alexander Contee Hanson

Col. John Hanson was heavily involved in the formation of the United States government and also the government of Maryland.  Only two years before his death he was elected President of the Continental Congress.  He also signed the Articles of Confederation of the United States.  John was the possible first cousin of Mary Hanson who possibly married William Smallwood.

His grandson, Alexander Contee Hanson, carried on his grandfather's tradition of public service.  He served as a U.S. Representative and a U.S. Senator, as a member of the Federalist Party.

HANSON, John, (1715 - 1783)
HANSON, John, (grandfather of Alexander Contee Hanson), a Delegate from Maryland; born at Mulberry Grove, near Port Tobacco, Charles County, Md., April 3, 1715; pursued an academic course; engaged in agricultural pursuits; member of the State house of delegates for nine terms; member of the State senate 1757-1773; moved to Frederick County in 1773; delegate to the General Congress at Annapolis in 1774; treasurer of Frederick County in 1775; member of the Maryland convention of 1775; Member of the Continental Congress 1780-1782; elected President of the Continental Congress on November 5, 1781; signer of the Articles of Confederation of the United States; died at the residence of his nephew at Oxon Hill, Prince Georges County, Md., November 22, 1783

Hanson, Alexander Contee (1786-1819) of near Elkridge, Howard County, Md. Born in Annapolis, Anne Arundel County, Md., February 27, 1786. Grandson of John Hanson; nephew of Benjamin Contee. Member of Maryland state house of delegates, 1811-15; U.S. Representative from Maryland 3rd District, 1813-16; U.S. Senator from Maryland, 1816-19; died in office 1819. Episcopalian. Died near Elkridge, Howard County, Md., April 23, 1819. Interment at a private or family graveyard, Howard County, Md.

Hanson, John (1715-1783) of Maryland. Born near Port Tobacco, Charles County, Md., April 3, 1715. Grandfather of Alexander Contee Hanson. Member of Maryland state senate, 1757-73; Delegate to Continental Congress from Maryland, 1779-82; signer, Articles of Confederation, 1781. Died in Prince George's County, Md., November 22, 1783. Interment at a private or family graveyard, Prince George's County, Md.

Signers, Articles of Confederation, 1777, 1777-1781 (may be Incomplete!)
Thomas Adams Elbridge Gerry John Harvie Edward Langworthy Henry Marchant Thomas McKean Gouverneur Morris John Penn Roger Sherman Edward Telfair Nicholas Van Dyke John Walton John Wentworth, Jr. Andrew Adams John Banister Francis Dana Richard Hutson Josiah Bartlett William Clingan Daniel Carroll
John Hanson

Article #9
Life and Political Career of General/Governor William Smallwood
Gen. William Smallwood has been memorialized in the State of Maryland in many ways.  One such tribute is the Smallwood State Park.

Smallwood State Park is a memorial to the life and public service of William Smallwood, a Revolutionary War officer, Governor of Maryland, and a member of the colonial tidewater aristocracy. Smallwood's plantation house has been restored and furnished in the manner of the early Federal period of American history and is open to the public.

William Smallwood was born in 1732. His family was wealthy and active in the political affairs of colonial Maryland. Bayne Smallwood, his father, was a Charles County delegate to the Maryland Assembly and a justice of the Charles County Court. In private life Bayne was a merchant and tobacco planter. He owned a large tract of land on the Potomac River called Mattawoman Plantation.

William's public career began in the early 1760's upon his election to the Assembly. During the decade and a half that he sat in the Assembly, William Smallwood served on a number of important committees and gained a reputation for decisive leadership. As Bayne Smallwood grew older William took over management of the family estate. He built his own house in 1760. As with all planters in tidewater Maryland and Virginia, the Smallwoods' cash crop was tobacco. But they also raised other crops and livestock to feed their family, servants and slaves.

William Smallwood's tenure in the Assembly spanned the period of the growing colonial resistance to British imperial policy that led to the Revolution. The colonial assemblies were focal points of resistance, and Smallwood was an active advocate of the anti-British position. Upon the outbreak of hostilities (in the mid-1770's) Smallwood took command of the first full strength Maryland battalion to join the Continental Army.

Smallwood's battalion reached the theater of action in time to play a key role in the Battle of Long Island, August 26, 1776. Thanks to a valiant rear guard action by the Maryland and Delaware troops, Washington's routed army narrowly avoided destruction. Smallwood's troops continued in active service throughout the following autumn, as Washington was forced to retreat slowly from New York. At the Battle of White Plains Smallwood received a bad wound in action that gained him a promotion to Brigadier General.

Although separated from his troops and not actually involved in the fighting, Smallwood was included in a blanket statement of thanks voted by Congress to the Maryland and Delaware lines because of the key role he played in keeping the American army together after the defeat. He was also promoted to Major General, the highest rank attained by a Marylander in Continental service. Unfortunately, Smallwood had difficulties getting along with his fellow officers. This resulted in his recall to Maryland to serve as a recruiting and supply officer.

Following the Revolution, Smallwood returned to his Charles County plantation. In 1785 the state legislature elected him Governor. He served in that office until 1788 and played an important role in Maryland's ratification of the Federal Constitution. In 1791 Smallwood was elected to the State Senate and the Senate promptly chose him its presiding officer.

Besides his duties as a public official Smallwood engaged in other important activities. He was a founder and first president of the Maryland chapter of the Sons of the Cincinnati, an organization of regular officer veterans. Smallwood was also a member of the Alexandria, Virginia, Masonic Lodge, a distinction he shared with George Washington, and was active in the affairs of Durham Parish Church, an Episcopal congregation still in existence. Smallwood died in 1792. A memorial to his service stands on the slope below his house.



Tuesday Morning June the 5th 1739, p. 879

The House met according to Adjournment & The Members
all Present as yesterday
On Reading the second time the Bill Entituled An Act reviving
An Act Entituled An Act for raising three Pence p hhd on all
Tobacco to be exported for purchasing Arms and Ammunition for
the defence of this province

The Question was put whether the Continuance of the Act be
for three Years and to the end of the next Session of Assembly or
for one year Resolved that it be for three years

Those who Voted For three years:
Mr Waughop, Mr Middleton, M.r Mathews, Swann, Hanson, Caswell, Wilson, Smallwood, Wootton, Carroll, King, Os. Sprigg, Gassaway, Stoughton, Dulany , Smith, R. Lloyd, Gordon, Weems, Sheredine, Clayton, Hall, Moale, Pemberton

The Lower House. 185

The House concurs with the aforesaid Report.
Col Hanson from the Committee of Elections &ca delivers the
following Report

By the Committee of Elections and Priviledges 11th May 1738

Your Committee having Examined the Writs and inspected the
several Indentures of the members returned to serve this Assembly
do find, That Mr Jno Read, Mr James Waughop, Mr James Swan and
Mr Thomas Aisquith, Members returned for St Marys County are
duly elected. That Mr John Courts, Mr William Middleton, Mr
Bayne Smallwood and Col Robert Hanson Members returned for
Charles County are duly elected.
Thursday Morning May the 17th 1739
The House met according to adjournment.
Mr Denton from the Committee of Laws brings in a bill En-
tituled an Act Reviving an Act Entituled an Act for the advance-
ment of Justice as also an Act of Assembly Entituled a Supple-
mentary Act to the Act for the Advancement of Justice, a bill
Entituled an Act reviving and Continuing the Several Acts therein
mentioned. A Bill Entituled an Act reviving An Act Entituled a
Supplementary Act to the Act Entituled an Act laying an Imposition
on negroes and on Several Sorts Liquor imported and also on Irish
Servants to prevent the Importing too great a number of Irish papists
into this province.

Present for Charles County:
Mr. Middleton
Mr. Courts
Mr. Hanson
Mr. Smallwood
4 1790 CENSUS (semi-alphabetical)
Henry M Hanson Not Stated, Charles, MD 1790 (1-0-0) 7 slaves - Image 13
Hoskins Hanson Not Stated, Charles, MD 1790 (1-3-4) 32 slaves - Image 13
John, of Jno Hanson Not Stated, Charles, MD 1790 (2-0-0) 14 slaves - Image 13
John, Senr Hanson Not Stated, Charles, MD 1790 (1-0-1) 12 slaves - Image 13
Walter Hanson Jr. Not Stated, Charles, MD 1790 (1-1-3) 13 slaves - Image 13
Samuel Hanson (Major) Not Stated, Charles, MD 1790 (1-2-4) 14 slaves - Image 13
Samuel Hanson of Walter Not Stated, Charles, MD 1790 (1-1-2) 9 slaves - Image 13
Saml Hanson of William Not Stated, Charles, MD 1790 (1-1-2) 9 slaves - Image 13
Samuel Hanson Sr. Esq. Not Stated, Charles, MD 1790 (1-0-2) 28 slaves - Image 14
Theophilus Hanson Not Stated, Charles, MD 1790 (2-2-3) 23 slaves - Image 13
5 Maryland General Assemby, Lower House Record for May 18, 1738
(Click the image for a larger view)


Assembly Proceedings, May 1-June 12, 1739
The House met again according to Adjournment
Mr Philip Hammond a member returned for Ann Arundell
County appeared
Mr Benjamin Pearce a Member returned for Cecil County in the
Room of Mr Thomas Johnson dec'd appeared Mr Denton and Mr
George sent to the Upper House to see them qualified by taking-
the several Oaths to the Government required by Law by signing
the Oath of Abjuration by repeating and signing the Test
Who Return and acquaint Mr Speaker they saw them qualified
Mr Mathews from the Committee of Aggrievances delivers Mr
Speaker the following Report
Your Committee Observe that the fees of the several Officers and
Ministers of this province their Deputed Ministers, Servants, and
Officers are in themselves, as now paid, Excessive, Great and Op-
pressive to the Subject and that the said Fees are under no Regula-
tion of any law of this province that appears to your Committee
That the said Officers and Ministers their Deputed Ministers, Ser-
vants and officers by power of A Proclamation of the Right Honour-
able the Lord Proprietary dated the 14th day of April 1733 and one
order of Council dated the 23d day of April 1735 and one other
Order of Council dated the 15th day of July hereunto annexed, do
charge, Levy, Raise, and Receive from his Majestys Subjects of this
province such Fees so as aforesaid Burthensom, Great and Oppres-
sive, to the Discouragement, Ruin and undoing of many of his
Majestys Liege Subjects, and even the said colour of power is Ex-
ceeded by the Unlimitted Will, and unbounded Avarice of many of
the said Officers Ministers and their Deputies.

Your committee humbly Observe that by the Royal Charter, the
Resolves of your honourable House, and the Common Custom of
this province, the Subjects here are Entituled to the Customs, Com-
mon Law and the Securative Statutes of the Rights and Liberties
of the Subjects in our Mother Country Great Britain and by which
custom of Great Britain such like Fees of the Courts of Justice and
the several Officers have been setled by Acts of Parliament agreable
to which
Your Committee further most humbly Observe that from the
Earliest Times since the Settlement of this Province by British
Subjects, such Fees have been adjusted and Regulated by Acts of the

General Assembly and not by any other power or Authority till the
aforesaid proclamation
Your said committee most humbly conceive that such proclama-
tions or orders of Council charging his majestys Liege and dutiful
Subjects with any Tax or Talliage are Invasions on the Funda-
mental Constitution of this province and against the lawful Rights
and Liberties of the Subject and are in themselves and their Conse-
quences very Grievous and oppressive to his Majestys Liege Sub-
jects the Inhabitants of this Province, but the same is humbly Sub-
mitted to the consideration of your Honble House
Signed p Order of the Committee. S. Bordley Ct.

For the Affirmative
Mr Waughop, Mr Gassaway, Mr Goldsborough, Mr Moale, Mr Read, Mr Edwd Lloyd, Mr Mathews, Mr Aisquith, Mr Weems, Mr Robt Lloyd, Mr Caswell, Mr Swann, Mr Hall, Mr Thomas, Mr Edward Sprigg, Mr Wilson, Mr Courts, Mr Trippe, Mr Wotton, Mr Harris, Mr Middleton, Mr Ennals, Mr Osborn Sprigg, Mr Hynson, Mr Hanson, Mr Brannock, Mr Magruder, Mr Calder, Mr Smallwood, Mr George, Mr Gordon, Mr Carroll, Mr King, Mr Colvill, Mr Wright, Mr Hammond, Mr Henry, Mr Rumsey, Mr Clayton, Mr Denton, Mr Gale, Mr Sheredine, Mr Wilkinson, Mr Pemberton

For the Negative
Mr Hooper, Mr Dulany


Know all men by these presents that we Danl Bryon
Alexander Mcpherson and William Coomes are held and firmly bound unto
Pryor Smallwood in the full and Just Sum of Ten Thousand pounds of To-
bacco to be paid unto the Said Pryor Smallwood his Certain Attorney Exrs
Admrs or Assignes to Which payment well and truly to be made and Done
We bind our Selves and every of us our and every of our Heirs Exrs and Admrs
Jointly and Severally for the Whole and in the whole firmly by these presents
Sealed With our Seals and Dated this 18 Day of May Anno Dom 1727.

Daniel Bryon Shall prosecute with Effect an Appeale Brought or to be
Brought by the Said Daniel Bryon before his Lordships Governour and
honrble Council of Maryland from a Judgmt obtained by the afd Pryor Small-
wood in his Lordship's Provl Court and also Satisfie and pay unto the Said
Pryor Smallwood all and Singular the Costs and Damages that have been ad-
judged in the Sa Provl Court and Shall be Awarded by the Governour and
Council to be paid to the Pryor Smallwood by the Said Danl Bryan in Case
the Judgmt in the Sd Provl Court Shall be Affirmed then this obligation to be
Void and Null else [740] To Stand in full force and Virtue in Law

Signed Sealed and DehV ] Danl [sic] [Seale]
in the Presence or Mt
Joseph Polloke
Alexander CI Mcpharson [Seale]
Abraham Price
William Banfield William Coomes [Seale]
Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution

Smallwood, Bayne
Smallwood, John
Smallwood, Ledstone
Smallwood, Walter Bean
Smallwood, William (Gen., Brig. Gen.)

Hanson, Anthony
Hanson, Christian (see Hinson)
Hanson, George
Hanson, Isaac
Hanson, John
Hanson, Peter Contee
Hanson, Rezin (Reason,Reson)
Hansun, Robt.
Hanson, Samuel
Hanson, Thomas
Hanson, William
Elijah Smallwood
Gen. William Smallwood
W. Smallwood
William Smallwood
John Smallwood

John Hanson
Samuel Hanson
Erasmus Hanson
Edward Hanson