Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum Winter Speaker Series to explore region’s early colonial story

The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Md., will begin its Winter Speaker Series on Thursday, Feb. 7, and continue on select dates through Thursday, March 7. All sessions take place in CBMM’s Van Lennep Auditorium, and advance registration is encouraged.

This year’s Winter Speaker Series will explore the Chesapeake’s early colonial story. The Bay and its tributaries provided a natural transportation network in an era that preceded roads and bridges, making the region’s colonial experience an inherently maritime tale.

The speaker series kicks off on Thursday, Feb. 7, at 2pm with “Augustine Herrman’s Remarkable Map of the 17th-Century Chesapeake.” Tucked inside a now almost forgotten set of maps once owned by famous London diarist Samuel Pepys is one of the most extraordinary maps of colonial English America. Created by a colonial merchant, planter, and diplomat named Augustine Herrman, Virginia and Maryland as it is Planted and Inhabited (1673) shows the Mid-Atlantic in breathtaking detail, capturing its waterways, coastlines, and communities. In this talk, historian Christian Koot uncovers the story of this map by tracing its Atlantic journey.

“Exploring Maryland’s Lost Capital of St. Mary’s City” is scheduled for 5:30pm on Wednesday, Feb. 13. St. Mary’s City was founded in 1634 and served as Maryland’s capital until 1695. It was abandoned soon after, and all aboveground traces gradually vanished. In this lecture, Henry M. Miller, Ph.D., Maryland heritage scholar at Historic St. Mary’s City, will explore the findings from half a century of sustained archaeological exploration of Maryland’s first city and capital. This will include the fascinating clues from the recent testing of an underwater site found along the St. Mary’s shoreline, which may be the first 17th-century tobacco-fleet vessel discovered in the Chesapeake.

At 5:30pm on Wednesday, Feb. 20, CBMM will present “Gubernatorial Residence, Rebel Fort, and Maryland’s First Statehouse: The History and Archaeology of the Leonard Calvert House Site.” Home to the colony’s first (and later third) governor, the Leonard Calvert House was one of the largest wooden structures in colonial Maryland that also functioned, at varying times, as a statehouse, an ordinary, and the fortified center of a short-lived rebellion. Join Historic St. Mary’s City’s Director of Research and Collections, Travis Parno, to learn about the history of this important site, reviewing the results of nearly 40 years of on-site archaeology and examining some of Historic St. Mary’s City’s recent research into the property’s rich history.

As English Roman Catholics, the Calvert family created a very liberal polity in their new Maryland colony that allowed numerous religious beliefs to freely worship. Silas D. Hurry, curator of collections and archaeological laboratory director at Historic St. Mary’s City, will review what was known as the “Maryland Design” and explain how it was made real on the landscape of St. Mary’s City at 5:30pm on Wednesday, Feb. 27. The discussion will incorporate the Calverts’ concept of “liberty of conscience,” the artifacts of Roman Catholicism, the architecture of the Jesuits’ brick chapel, and the end of this unique experiment with the establishment of a government-supported Church of England in the 1690s.

The final offering in the series, “Towns in the Colonial Chesapeake: London Town’s Experience” invites guests to Join Rod Cofield, executive director of Historic London Town and Gardens, as he examines London Town’s development—and decline—as a colonial Chesapeake town. London Town’s experience as a non-capital urban area helps illuminate the economic forces and changes in the Chesapeake during the colonial period. This session will be held at 2pm Thursday, March 7.

The cost per session is $7.50 per person, with a 20% discount for CBMM members. Register online for all five sessions using code SPEAKER5 or SPEAKER5MEMBERS for an additional discount. To sign up, and for more information, visit

Bohemian native Augustine Hermann surveyed the Chesapeake Bay colonies and published a large-scale map for Maryland’s proprietor, Lord Baltimore.