William Claiborne of Kent County, England, arrived in Virginia 1621 as royal surveyor, then built a successful fur trade in upper Chesapeake Bay, operating from Kent Island which he found, purchased from Indians, named, settled 1628, only to realize that territorial rights in early America were loosely defined and often ignored. Kent Island became the focus of first serious boundary controversy in colonies, leading to piracy and the first naval battle in American waters, when the English king gave a patent to his friend Lord Baltimore for Maryland province carved out of Virginia territory, including upper Chesapeake. Claiborne's one-man war with Maryland to protect his claim to Kent Island evolved into colonial extension of the English Civil War between Parliament and Charles I. In the end, Claiborne lost his island and trading venture to Lord Baltimore who was aided and abetted by the English crown and the betrayal of Claiborne's partner in England. Claiborne's repeated theme during this 50-year dispute was "We Claim Right of Possession."
This report prepared by Gene Williamson