The Ghostly Romance

According to Paul Beckwith


The Ghostly Romance of Old Beckwith Manor


How the Cavalier, George Beckwith, Returned to His Home from Over the Sea


Washington, D. C., Oct. 6th ____

In 1648, Nicholas Hervey, a near relative of the Governor of Virginia, of that name, and a member of the General Assembly of Maryland, received from London a grant of 1,000 acres, lying on the shore of the Patuxent River, then in Calvert and now in St. Marys County. He was a bluff old soldier who had fought in the wars in Flanders. He was commissioned by Lord Baltimore, a Captain, to prevent the encroachment of the Indians on the new settlement.

He built himself a home in a beautiful cove at the mouth of “Town Creek,” on a sloping hill overlooking the Patuxent River and Chesapeake Bay. The bricks he used were bricks used as ballast, imported from the Mother Country. Here he married and lived, respected by all, for many years. He served the Province in the General Assembly, and at his home the courts met.

He had one child, a daughter, Frances, who, growing up into womanhood, was wooed and won by a newcomer in the colony - George Beckwith - “Gentleman and Planter,” as stated in the “Old Records” in Annapolis.

George Beckwith, who had emigrated to the Province shortly before, was a scion of one of the oldest and most prominent families in Yorkshire, England. It was a love match, and it was the custom of the lovers to sit, in the gloaming of the evening, beneath the spreading Elm tree on the sloping hill overlooking the bay. They had four children, a son and three daughters, whose descendents are to be found in Maryland and other states, at the present time.

Urgent business called George Beckwith to England in 1675, and the family, friends and neighbors and workmen of the plantation all congregated at the landing to bid the husband, father, friend and master “Godspeed.” The vessel, with sails ready set, lay at anchor in the offing. The small boat manned by four robust slaves of the plantation, waited with oars raised for the last word to be said. The husband taking his wife in his arms, said in a loud voice, so that all would hear, “Do not weep, sweetheart, for living or dead, I shall come back to you.” The oars dipped in the water, the little boat grew fainter and fainter and the vessel sailed out into the Chesapeake bay and was soon lost to sight in the mists of the sea.

There were but few colonists in that day. The settlements were widely scattered and but few vessels put into the Patuxent with news of the Mother Country. Months passed away and no news came from the husband and father. The disconsolate wife and mother, at dusk each evening, took her seat beneath the Elm and expectantly waited for the return of her beloved.

As days passed, a visible change took place, and she gradually became more frail. At last she was laid away in the little graveyard, a few rods up the hill. The orphans, minors, were placed under the care of the state, and a gaurdian appointed for them.

It was not long before a slight misty form, dressed all in somber black, was seen seated beneath the Elm on the lawn, on moonlight nights, gazing out into the dim distance of the Bay, and as darkness drew on, it would slowly vanish. Whence she came or whither she went, none knew—possibly back to the little graveyard up on the hill, where she had been laid to rest.

Months had rolled on until two years had passed. When, on a bright moonlight night, the lights of a large ship were seen entering the Patuxent. More and more distinct became the form of a majestic ship of the sea, with every sail in place, of ghostly whiteness. The news spread from plantation to plantation, and many persons assembled at the landing place expecting the sad homecoming of the husband and father. The ship came to anchor with all her sails still to the wind. Because of this unseemly act, a shudder passed over the onlookers. A small boat was seen to leave the vessel with but a single figure in ita tall man wrapped in a long mantle with his broad brimmed hat, fastened with a single feather, drawn down upon his forehead. Motionless the cavalier stood, as the boat approached the landing place. The pale handsome features of George Beckwith were soon distinguished by all. An awful stillness fell upon the the visitors upon the wharf. No one was prepared to tell him of the sad death of his wife.

A gentle wind from the direction of the mansion on the hill was felt, and involuntarily turning in that direction, all saw approaching the figure of the wife. The figure of the father and husband sprang uopn the landing and clasping the ghostly wife in his arms, said, in a loud voice, “As I promised sweetheart, living or dead, I have returned to you.” As the startled onlookers stood spellbound, the cavalier, lady, boat and vessel had all disappeared.</p>

<p class="normalindentfirst">Shortly after this incident, it was learned that George Beckwith had died in London the year before. The news was brought back by an incoming vessel.

In the long 250 years that have followed, the two figures of cavalier and lady have frequently been seen standing beneath the Elm tree, always in somber black, their eyes always directed towards the pathway of incoming vessels. Lately, Cavalier and Lady have reappeared all dressed in courtly fashion—in spotless white and flashing jewels—standing beneath the Elm on the lawn, still gazing seaward, as if expecting a coming guest.

The plantation passed into other hands and the old brick house, long since in ruins, was, about 1858, cleared away. The then owner commenced to build a modern home upon the old foundation. Hardly had the framework been placed and the weatherboards applied, than strange noises were heard. So loud and persistent were these noises, that the partially finished building was abandoned. It is unfinished and empty to this day.

There is an old tradition that never again will the old plantation be inhabited until a descendent of Frances Harvey and George Beckwith become its owner. Then the manor house will be rebuilt and the old plantation bloom in old time splendor, taking its place among the Baronial Manors of Maryland.

“Paul Beckwith”