Suffolk is today a house and 200 acre farm located at 39° 20’ N 75° 59’ W. It was originally a 742 acre plantation adjacent to the tidal waters of Turner’s Creek on the southern shore of the Sassafras River, a large tributary of the Upper Chesapeake Bay on the Delmarva Peninsula. Suffolk is to the east of Turner’s Creek Road 2 miles (3.4 km) north of Kennedyville, an unincorporated community in Kent County, Maryland. Kent County is on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Suffolk is around 10 miles (17 km) to the northeast of Chestertown, the county seat, and 80 miles (128 km) from the City of Baltimore MD directly due east across the Bay.
Population:- The population of Kennedyville in 2020 was 199. The population of the larger rural area of Kennedyville, centred on the village of that name, was 436. In 2020 Kent County was the county with the smallest population (19,198) in Maryland.
How to get there:-
By road: From Baltimore, take State Highway 2 southwards, then turn east onto US Highway 50. Cross Chesapeake Bay Bridge before taking US Highway 301/Blue Star Memorial Highway northbound. Turn left at junction with State Highway 313 until you reach Galena. From there take State Highway 213, then State Highway 298. Turn right into Turner’s Creek Road.
Alternately, take Interstate Highway 95 northbound, before joining US Highway 40 to Elkton. From there take State Highway 213 southwards & then head west on State Highway 298 to junction with Turner’s Creek Road.
From Philadelphia, take Interstate Highway 95 southbound into Delaware, before taking State Highway 1, then State Highway 299 westbound. Merge with US Highway 301 near the state line, & head south, before turning onto State Highway 290/213. Turn right onto State Highway 298, then follow route as above.
From Norfolk, Virginia & the south, take US Highway 13 northbound via Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, & continue until you reach Salisbury. From there take US Highway 50 northwards until you reach the intersection with US Highway 301/Blue Star Memorial Highway. From there take route as from Baltimore.
By rail:The station at Kennedyville no longer operates as a passenger terminal, although it is still used for grain shipments.
Philadelphia International Airport is around 70 miles to the northeast. Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport is approximately 85 miles by road to the west.
Time Zone: Eastern Standard Time (GMT -5 hrs). Daylight saving time in summer + 1 hr.
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The tidal rivers were important to the early colonial settlement of this area because access and communications were easier by water than across the heavily forested land. Capt. John Smith in 1608 was the first European to land and meet the Native Americans at today’s Shrewsbury Neck on the east side of Turner’s Creek. This was the territory of the Susquehannock nation, and until a treaty was negotiated in 1652 no Europeans dared settle permanently in the area. The treaty ceded the territories on both shores of Chesapeake Bay to the Colony of Maryland.
In 1659 the land on the southern shore of the Sassafras River was organised as part of East Baltimore County, and the first land patent was granted to Richard Turner after whom Turner’s Creek was named. His plantation (1,000 acres) was known as Buckingham, presumably after his home county in England, and was in the upper western part of today’s Shrewsbury Neck.
The first record of Suffolk is in the land register for 1681 where it is stated that “a land survey of 742 acres in Talbot County known as Suffolk was conducted for James Staveley on March 3, 1681”. The scribe is incorrect in stating “Talbot County” since this particular county is far to the south, and never extended as far north as Suffolk. However, he was evidently aware that Suffolk was not then in Kent County. Between 1674 and 1706 the territory on the southern shore of the Sassafras River was part of Cecil County, which was located on the northern shore, as travel was easier by water at that time.
James Staveley is recognised as the first settler on the western shore of Turner’s Creek. He and his wife emigrated to New England in about 1664, and by 1675 James Staveley had settled at Turner’s Creek. In England he had been a merchant tailor and in Maryland he established a mercantile business operating out of Turner’s Creek Wharf which is just to the north of Suffolk. Today the wharf and 19th century granary store are protected historic sites (see photo, right).
It seems that James had some training in legal matters as he administered the estates of other planters and served as an attorney. In 1679 and 1680 he was one of the Justices of the Cecil County Court. The delay of several years between his arrival and the formal registering of his property is not uncommon for that period in Maryland. However, it has to be said that it is unclear why he should have named it “Suffolk”. He was born in 1630 at Over Staveley, Kendal, in Westmorland, England. James married Francis Fulcher in 1657 at Old St Paul’s Cathedral, London. She was born in Battersea, Surrey. Thus, there are no known connections of his family with Suffolk, England. His two business partners in Maryland came from Kent and Hertfordshire in England. It is not recorded where the family lived while they were in New England, so it is possible that they stayed in Suffolk County, Massachusetts.
It is also possible that neighbouring planters could have suggested the name. A likely candidate would be John Veazey. He was descended from the Vesy family of Hadleigh and Hintlesham in Suffolk, England. They were a minor aristocratic family who also held “Wickes Abbey” near Colchester, Essex after the dissolution of the monasteries, and where John Veazey was born. He had arrived in Cecil County on the northern shore of the Sassafras River prior to 1670, the year he married the daughter of William Broccas (Brocas), the largest landowner of the territory opposite Turner’s Creek. Broccas was of Scottish origin, but he named his plantation “Essex Lodge” in 1672, seemingly on the suggestion of his son-in-law. It is not impossible that such an influential person also suggested “Suffolk” to his neighbour across the river. John Veasey himself did not purchase any land until 1687, well after the two names he would be most likely to select had already been registered, thus his own properties have rather innocuous names.
James Staveley died in 1682 and Suffolk passed through the hands of several other families until 1823 when the Howard family bought the plantation. The Howard family settled in Kent County in 1725. Another interesting connection with Suffolk, England, is the fact that some members of the family claim that their ancestor Matthew Howard, who first came to America, was a great grandson of Thomas Howard, the Duke of Norfolk. The latter nobleman was the ancestor of the Earls of Suffolk (see Suffolk as a Title, para.5 on page). It is true that the American Howard family did use the coat of arms of the Howard family of the Duke of Norfolk, but the illegal use of arms was a problem, both in England and America. Matthew Howard can be documented in Lower Norfolk County, VA, in 1637, when he was mentioned in a court record, but earlier than that his ancestry is completely unknown.
The Suffolk plantation house (see photo, left) has been listed as a State Historic Site since 1977. Benjamin Howard began acquiring land in the vicinity in 1821, and in 1823 bought the Suffolk plantation. In the late 1830s or early 1840s he built the house for his daughter and her husband, Dr James Haman. Their son, B. Howard Haman, who lived in the house, was a prominent Maryland legislator who is noted for getting a law passed surveying and protecting the oyster beds in Chesapeake Bay that are so important a part of the economy. The estate passed down through the Howard family until 1951 when the family sold Suffolk.
Plantations along the river shorelines were the basis of community living. Each plantation was a largely self-sufficient unit, able to feed itself, thus there was no real need for an urban centre. Communal life centred on the church and this was often in an isolated location convenient only for the farming community. Kennedyville is one of the 12 villages in Kent County, and to some extent an artificial creation of a land speculator. In 1853 John Kennedy of Port Kennedy, Chester County, Pennsylvania, began buying land in anticipation of the railroad service being extended here so that oysters and farm products could be shipped to the northern cities. In 1868 he began selling his lots, and between 1870 and 1872 the Kent County Railroad was constructed. By 1875 the present shape and size of Kennedyville had been established. There has been no real need for it to expand further since that time.
Named after the English county of that name, Kent County was established in 1642. The county seat is Chestertown. It is bordered by the Maryland counties of Cecil to the north and Queen Anne’s to the south. New Castle County in Delaware lies to the northeast, whilst to the southeast Kent County, Maryland borders its namesake: Kent County, Delaware. To the west is Chesapeake Bay.