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Calvert, George, first Lord Baltimore, statesman and colonizer. Born at Kiplin, Yorkshire, England, c. 1580; died in London, England, 15 April, 1632. He graduated from Oxford in 1597. In 1605 he married a daughter of John Mayne, a lady of distinguished family, who died in 1622. He spent some time on the continent, where he met Robert Cecil, the secretary of state. After his return, Calvert was made private secretary to Lord Cecil. He was soon appointed by the king a Clerk of the Crown for the Province of Connaught and the County Clare of Ireland. In 1609 he was sent to Parliament from Bossiney. He was sent on a mission to the French Court in 1610 on the occasion of the accession of Louis XIII. Upon the death of Lord Cecil in 1613, Calvert was made clerk of the Privy Council. Afterwards he was sent by the king to Ireland to report on the success of the policy of bringing the Irish people into conformity with the Church of England. There was a great deal of discontent among the Irish, and several commissions were appointed to hear and report on the grievances. Calvert served on two of these commissions. He became a favorite of King James I. He translated into Latin the argument of the king against the Dutch theologian, Vorstius. In 1617 the order of knighthood was conferred on him and two years later he was appointed principal secretary of state. Spain and France were rivals for English favor. Calvert, believing Spain would be the better friend or more formidable foe, favored the proposed marriage of Charles, Prince of Wales, with the Infanta Maria, daughter of Philip III, although the majority in Parliament were opposed to this union. In the year 1620 the king made Calvert one of the commissioners for the office of treasurer. In 1621 he served in Parliament as a representative from Yorkshire, and in 1624 from Oxford. He was one of the minority that favored the Spanish Court policy. He also tried to be a conciliator between the king and the country party. As a reward for faithful service the king granted him (in 1621) a manor of 2300 acres, in the county of Longford, Ireland, on the condition that all settlers "should be conformable in point of religion." Calvert, becoming a Catholic, in 1624, surrendered this manor, but received it again, with the religious clause omitted. On becoming a Catholic he resigned his secretaryship. The king retained him in his Privy Council and in 1625, elevated him to the Irish Peerage as Baron Baltimore of Baltimore in County Longford. After the death of James, Charles offered to dispense with the oath of religious supremacy, if Calvert would remain in the council, but Calvert declined.
Lord Baltimore purchased a plantation in Newfoundland in 1620, which he called Avalon, and quasi-royal authority was given him. He went to Avalon in 1627 to observe conditions in the province and to establish a colony where all might enjoy freedom in worshipping God. He landed at Fairyland, the settlement of the province, in 1627 and remained till fall. When he returned next spring he brought with him his family, including Lady Baltimore, his second wife, and about forty colonists. On his first visit to Avalon he brought two priests, and on his second visit one priest. After Lord Baltimore's second visit to Avalon, a Protestant minister, Mr. Stourton, went back to England and complained to the Privy Council that his patron was having Mass said in the province, and that he favored the Catholics. No attention, however, was paid to Stourton's complaints. In the war with France French cruisers attacked the English fisheries, and Lord Baltimore's interests suffered heavily.
About 1628 Lord Baltimore requested a new grant in a better climate. In the following year, before word came before the king, he went to Virginia and being a Catholic, was received with various indignities. He returned to England and at first received from Charles a grant of land south of the James River. Meeting opposition from some of the Virginia company, he sought another grant north and east of the Potomac, which he obtained. Before the charter was granted, however, he died. It is claimed that he dictated its provisions. Baltimore's works are "Carmen Funebre in D. Hen. Untonum." in a collection of verses on Sir Henry Unton's death, 1596; "The Answer to Tom Tell-troth: The Practice of Princes and the Lamentations of the Kirk," (1642), a justification of the policy of King James in refusing to support the claim of the Elector Palatine to the crown of Bohemia; various letters and papers of value.
Lord Baltimore paid for the expedition, which cost him in the first two years forty thousand pounds in transportation, provisions, and stores. He provided them not only with the necessity but also many of the conveniences adapted to a new country. So well were they equipped for the founding of a colony that it was said they as much progress in six months as Virginia made in many years. Unable to go with the first settlers he believed that he could soon follow them to Maryland. The privilege was forever denied him, as the enemies of his charter kept him at home fighting fore his rights. His absence from the colony produced a peculiar condition, the absence of laws. The charter gave the proprietor the right to make laws with the advice and consent of the freemen. The latter met in 1634-35 and passed "wholesome laws and ordinances." Feeling that this act had infringed on his rights, in his commission to the governor, April, 1637, the proprietor expressed his disapproval of all laws passed by the colonists. For the endorsement of the assembly of 1637-38, he sent a body of laws with his secretary, John Lewger. These laws were rejected by the assembly, as they were considered unsuited to the colony. A few laws not differing materially from those sent by Baltimore were agreed to and sent to the proprietor for his consent. At first his approval was withheld, and the colony was without laws. Later, however, his sanction was given to the laws in a commission to the governor, authorizing him to give his assent to the laws made by the freemen, which would make the laws binding until they were either approved or rejected by the proprietor. With this commission the privilege of initiative in matters of legislation was conceded to the colonists, the proprietor retaining the right of absolute veto. As this power was never used by Baltimore except in extreme cases, the colonists practically enjoyed freedom in self-government.
The difficulties between Baltimore and the Jesuits were very difficult for the welfare of the colony. Jesuit priests were on the first expedition. From the Indians they received grants of large tracts of land. Baltimore objected to this, believing that any other grants than those coming from the proprietor were illegal. The Jesuits believed that they, their domestic servants, and half their planting servants should be exempted from taxation and military service; that they and their adherents should not be tried by the civil authority in temporal matters; and that they should have the same privileges here that were enjoyed by religious orders in Catholic countries. On each of these points, their views clashed with those of the proprietor. Baltimore applied to the Propaganda in Rome "to appoint a prefect and send secular priests to take charge of the Maryland Mission." Dom Rosetti, titular Archbishop of Tarsus, was appointed prefect, and two secular priests were sent to the colony. To this the Jesuits objected, claiming that they were the first on the ground, and had endured great hardships in the interests of the colony. Finally an agreement was entered into between the provincial, acting for the Jesuits, and Baltimore which, if not satisfactory to both parties, closed the matter. The whole affair seems even to this day somewhat cloudy, as good authorities take opposing points of view. Cecilius Calvert ruled over the colony for nearly forty years. Although he never interfered with the administration of details, he ruled at every turn with an iron hand.
The troubles in England following 1640 were responsible for disturbances in Maryland. In 1643 Governor Calvert went to England to discuss policies with the proprietor, leaving the affairs of the colony in charge of acting Governor Brent. At the close of 1643 Captain Ingle appeared at St. Mary's with a vessel commissioned by Parliament. The ship was captured and the oath against Parliament was tendered the crew. Ingle escaped. When Governor Calvert returned he found the colony distracted by factions. Ingle returned the following year, and, with the assistance of the Protestants and Clayborne, the Catholics, including Governor Calvert, were driven into Virginia. An oath of submission was tendered but not one Catholic took it. The Jesuit priests were sent to England. A state of anarchy prevailed for two years. Calvert returned in 1646 and captured St. Mary's, and in the following year Kent island. he favored the right of initiative in legislation by the colonists and won for them this privilege. In the difficulty between the proprietor and the Jesuits, he sympathized with the latter and prevented a rupture between them. In 1890 the state of Maryland erected a monument to him and his wife at St. Mary's.
J. E. Hagerty.