In her Aug. 20 Real Estate story about the history of Cobb Island, Md., Patrice Gaines erroneously accepted a tale that Capt. James Neale was a pirate. He was not.
In 1635-36, Neale had a warrant of 1,000 acres in Maryland. He raised crops of that period and dealt in commerce with the Indians. Several years later, Lord Baltimore (Cecil Calvert) instructed his brother Leonard to assign 2,000 acres to Neale, thus granting him manorial privileges under English law. His holdings included all the land on the peninsula from Cuckhold Creek to Cobb Island on the Potomac river.
He performed many commissions for the governor in addition to his service as member of the assembly as one of the governor's Privy Council and as commissioner the treasury.
Just before his return to England in 1643 to assist his king in the war against the Cromwellian forces, an incident occurred that brought indictments against Neale for aiding in the escape of Richard Ingle, said to have been a pirate. Ingle was captured during a dispute over the ownership of Kent Island by a Virginian named Claibourne and for attempting to do trade at various Maryland ports without a license. With war raging in England and Maryland's desire to remain neutral, it was considered prudent not to create a political incident, and Ingle was allowed "to escape" to his ship and flee. Charges against Neale were quickly dropped.
Neale was in England from about 1644 to 1660 to fight for King Charles I and to serve Charles II and the Duke of York (later James II) on emergent matters in Spain and Portugal. Neale's wife, Anne Gill, was a lady in waiting to the Queen Henrietta Marie.
Neale also represented Lord Baltimore in Amsterdam to protest the encroachment of the Dutch on the Delaware River. The commissioners of the Dutch West India House threatened war with Maryland if English colonists tried to remove the Dutch from their territory. When Neale returned to Maryland, Lord Baltimore instructed him to mount an expedition to expel the Dutch, but before hostilities began, New Amsterdam fell to English warships. The Dutch then considered their position on the Delaware River untenable and halted the takeover of additional land.
About three years after Neale's return to the province with his family, he petitioned the Privy Council for the naturalization of his five children. His request was approved, and the descendants of Capt. James Neale became one of the first families of Maryland and Virginia.
GERVAISE A. NEALE JR.