The Local Legend
Banning’s Tavern has been named to honor Jeremiah Banning and to serve as a reminder of the wonderful heritage and history in Easton and Talbot County. Jeremiah Banning was born in Talbot County March 25, 1733 and lead a fascinating life full of high adventure and service to his Country and to his friends and neighbors in Maryland, until his death December 23, 1798.
At 17 years old Jeremiah’s quest for adventure was first realized by signing on as a hand aboard the schooner, Mary, and Nancy, under the command of Captain Rook bound for Madeira, Portugal. One month after his 22nd birthday Jeremiah became master of his own ship, a sloop, Humming Bird, and continued his seafaring life for the next 18 years, at the helm of a succession of ships. He sailed the Atlantic Coast, and to exotic ports of call like Barbados, London, the Channel Islands, West Africa and Portugal. On one notorious trip from London, one of his passengers turned out to be Zachary Hood, the despised stamp tax collector, who was forced to flee Oxford, Maryland shortly after disembarking. Had he known of Hood’s “unpopular and execrable mission,” wrote Banning in an early display of rebelliousness, he “would not have brought him over.”
His career as a professional mariner included surviving a number of “near starvation” voyages, hurricanes, uncountable storms and being captured by French privateers in Spain and Barbados. In 1772, he was 39 and decided to return to the family plantation, The Isthmus, located across the Tred Avon River from Oxford.
Banning soon realized that war with England was inevitable and soon became a colonial patriot. From May of 1775 until the Treaty of Paris ended the Revolutionary War in September 1783, he served as an officer in the colonial militia. He did not seek personal fame or notoriety but did associate and work with some of the most famous leaders of the time. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Hanson, Trench Tilghman and Robert Morris have all been linked with Jeremiah Banning. This is evidenced by his (Banning) naming many of the streets of Easton after his famous friends and relatives.
He was no doubt a very prominent citizen in Talbot County, for he received a number of appointments: Colonel in the 38th Battalion; Commissioner of Taxes, a member of the Board of Commissioners, magistrate, and Chief Justice of the Orphans Court, of Talbot County; Naval Officer, Collector, and inspector of Revenue, for the Port of Oxford; and a vestryman of St. Michael's Parish. He was also authorized, like a provincial Secretary of the Treasury, to sign paper money issued by the State. In May 1787 he was one of four men to represent Talbot County at the Constitutional Ratification Convention in Annapolis.
Banning finalized his will in September of 1798, about three months before his death. After filling it with advice aplenty to his three adopted sons, he wrote:
“I have done my part by showing the rocks, and it remains with them only to avoid the danger.”