Saturday, July 5, 2014

Baptism of tayac Kittamaquund, July 5, 1640

Today is the 374th anniversary of the baptism of tayac (“chief”) Kittamaquund of the Piscataway tribe of southern Maryland. He met Jesuit missionary Fr. Andrew White in 1639 and had some discussions with him. The tayac became ill with a disease that the tribal healers could not cure, and Fr. White treated him successfully with English medicine powders and blood-letting.

Stained glass window at St. Ignatius Church in Port Tobacco, Maryland. Photo by Aly Abell.

Not long after the cure, Kittamaquund agreed to receive instruction in the Christian faith and he was baptized on July 5, 1640. His family including his wife and daughter were baptized along with him, and other Piscataway soon decided to become Christians as well.

The Baptism of Kittamaquund, charcoal drawing by Edwin Tunis, from the Tunis Collection in the Maryland State Archives. The Maryland State Archives presented this image to the public domain for fair use.

Having recently read Edwin: High King of Britain, there are some similarities in these two conversion stories though they are separated by more than 1000 years. In both cases, a key precipitating event was a cure by a missionary cleric.

Although my heritage is almost entirely English, it appears that I may be a direct descendant of Kittamaquund. A recent analysis discussed at DNAeXplained concluded that Katherine Brent, wife of Richard Marsham, was indeed the daughter of Giles Brent and Mary Kittamaquund. Mary was the daughter of tayac Kittamaquund, and according to the best genealogical information I have at the moment, she would be my 8G grandmother. Apparently I am not the first descendant to mark the anniversary of Kittamaquund’s baptism; see also the posting by Richard Browne.

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