Matthias de Sousa

Matthias de Sousa

Matthias de Sousa

In 1634 Matthias de Sousa and John Price were picked up on the island of Barbados by two small ships that were sailing towards the Chesapeake Bay. Neither of the men had any money to pay for their voyage, so they agreed to work for up to seven years in order to repay the debt. Once their term of service was over, they were both to be declared freemen. Not much is known about the life of John Price after the seven years of service, but there is some documented records concerning Matthias de Sousa.

Matthias de Sousa was a passenger on the Dove when it landed on St. Clemens Island on March 25, 1634. “He was an aide to Father White, the Jesuit priest who came with the founding company of the state of Maryland.” 

After seven years of service Matthias was said to have been the captain of a sailboat. Looking for Indian villages to trade with, he had explored new rivers and inlets. When he would find one he would stop and trade his cloth and knives for shining beaver skins which were very popular in Europe.

Matthias is believed to have possibly witnessed the first shipment of slaves into Maryland; the first slaves that emerged from the slaver’s hold and blinked at the bright sun that greeted them once they got off the slaver. One time when he was sailing down the Chesapeake Bay another ship was making its way north, loaded with what seemed unwilling passengers. Perhaps when the black men on the slaver saw Matthias, a freeman, they hoped that they would soon be free too.