Builders of our Country Vol. I - G. Southworth

Lord Baltimore

Besides the faith of Pilgrims and Puritans there was yet another creed in England that of the Roman Catholics. Like the Puritans, the Catholics were not allowed to live in peace rind worship God according to their conscience. So they, too, wanted to move to America and start life anew.

George Calvert, Lord Baltimore, felt that the Catholics were right in their desire; and he resolved to become their leader and help them all he could toward establishing their new colony. The English King granted Lord Baltimore plenty of land in Newfoundland; and there, in 1623, he sent his colonists.

Whether these colonists were long-suffering and uncomplaining, or whether their complaints were unheeded, it is hard to say. Be that as it may, for four years they lived in Newfoundland and no one bothered about them. At the end of that time, Lord Baltimore and his family left England to make their home in the Newfoundland colony. They expected to find a paradise; but what they found was very different.

Before long, Lord Baltimore was writing the King that the land was not at all what he had believed it to be; that the hard winters lasted from the middle of October to the middle of May; and that both the land and the water was so frozen up all those months that proper food was out of the question. Possibly Newfoundland was a splendid country for fishermen and those used to storms and tempests, but surely it was no place for Lord Baltimore's Catholic colony. That nobleman now wanted to take his people to Virginia, and he desired the King to grant him land in that warmer region.

Then, without waiting for the King's answer, Lord Baltimore sailed with his family and some others to visit Virginia. He was going to be sure this time what his colonists would have to expect.

George Calvert, Lord Baltimore


In October, 1629, Lord Baltimore reached Jamestown. The welcome he received was hardly what he had hoped for. The Virginians were suspicious of him and took no pains to hide their feelings. Why should he come to their part of the land? They did not want him and his followers. In spite of them, however, Lord Baltimore stayed long enough to look over the country and to decide that it suited him in every way.

This settled, he went back to England and petitioned Charles I to grant him a strip of land north of the Potomac River, which was not inhabited by English. King Charles consented, and a charter was drawn up. But before it was completed, Lord Baltimore died.

Fortunately Lord Baltimore had a son who was as eager as his father to find a home for his Catholic friends. And it was this son, the second Lord Baltimore, who founded and guided the new English colony during its first years in its new lands.

The old Lord Baltimore's charter was given to the second Lord Baltimore, Cecil Calvert. Leonard Calvert, the second son, was appointed governor of the new colony; and in November, 1633, he sailed with about three hundred people for America.

Early in 1634 the colonists entered Chesapeake Bay and sailed to the mouth of the Potomac. Here they found the country all their hearts could wish for. On the northern bank of the Potomac not far from its mouth lay an Indian village. The settlers were charmed with the spot and were very anxious to make their home there. Governor Calvert therefore bought the village from the Indians, giving for it some hatchets, hoes, and cloth; and the English landed as rightful possessors.

The new colony received the name of Maryland in honor of Henrietta Maria, the English Queen. And the ready-made town was called St. Mary's.

Unlike the Puritans and the Virginians, the Maryland settlers did not have to till an uncultivated ground. The Indians from whom they had bought the land had enriched the soil, laid out fields, and planted corn and other grains. The great forests, too, were full of game; and the best of fish were to be had for the catching. Good fortune smiled on the newcomers.

Such a prosperous beginning promised much for the future. New settlers soon followed on the heels of the first arrivals, and the little town of St. Mary's was quickly surrounded by tidy, well-kept farms.

Lord Baltimore


There were many things to draw settlers to Maryland. But perhaps the greatest attraction was that the new colony offered a home to any Christian whether Catholic or Protestant. Although founded as a refuge for Catholics, Lord Baltimore did not want his colony to close its doors on anyone who was suffering for religious views. All were welcomed to Maryland.

At first it seemed as if this good man's best hopes for his colony might be fulfilled. The settlers were on friendly terms with the Indians. They had no fear of starvation, and their country became a recognized retreat for Puritans and others who wished to have freedom in religion.

But when the Virginia colonists heard that Charles had granted Lord Baltimore the tract of land known as Maryland, they remonstrated and petitioned him to retract his grant. They said the land belonged to them by right of their first charter. However, the King refused to listen to them and allowed Lord Baltimore and his people to retain their charter.

Now, though the King had settled the question to his own satisfaction, his decision by no means pleased the Virginians. They regarded the Catholics with an evil eye and determined to create trouble for them. Chief among the creators of this trouble was a man by the name of William Clayborne, a member of the Jamestown council.

Before the Maryland settlers came to America, Clayborne had obtained from the King the right to trade in the region around the Potomac and, in fact, in any part of North America not controlled by some monopoly; and he had established a fur-trading settlement on the Isle of Kent.

The island of Kent was included in the land granted to Lord Baltimore, and one of Governor Calvert's first acts on reaching America was to see Clayborne. Treating him with all tenderness, the new governor still impressed it upon the fur trader that the island of Kent belonged to Maryland, and to Maryland alone. He might colonize it and welcome, but he must not forget that he was settling on Lord Baltimore's land.

Clayborne laid the matter before the Virginia council. They said that Governor Calvert was all wrong, and that the island of Kent belonged to Virginia. So this little island became a bone of contention.

Clayborne made the first move. He tried to arouse the Indians against the new colonists by saying that they were hated Spaniards.


Next the Maryland settlers seized one of Clayborne's trading ships and sold it with all its cargo. For this Clayborne sent out an armed sloop to make raids on Maryland's shipping. Then Governor Calvert sent two armed ships after Clayborne's one and captured it. Six men were killed.

A few days later, there was another battle and more bloodshed. This time Clayborne was victorious, and for over two years he held undisturbed possession of the island of Kent.

In 1637 Clayborne's London partners in the fur trade became dissatisfied with the number of furs they were receiving. So they sent a new man to look after the island of Kent, and ordered Clayborne to come to England. With Clayborne once out of the way, the new man in charge of the island of Kent turned it over to Governor Calvert. And the Maryland governor took not only the island, but all of Clayborne's property that he could lay his hands on. Clayborne tried to find some hope of redress in London, but could not. So he came back to Virginia and patiently awaited his turn.

Charles I of England


After a few years it came. Clayborne and a man named Ingle combined in an attack upon Maryland. Clayborne recovered his island of Kent, and Ingle captured the town of St. Mary's. Governor Calvert was obliged to flee to Virginia. Two years later he came back at the head of a small army and once more drove out the intruders.

But this was not the end. In 1649 King Charles I was beheaded. A new government was set up. And in 1652 this new government sent a body of commissioners to inspect "the colonies within the Bay of Chesapeake." One of the commissioners was Clayborne. Here was his chance for a last word. The Governor of Maryland was removed from office, a new governor was elected, and Lord Baltimore was declared to have no right in the colony.

You can imagine with what grief Lord Baltimore saw all this strife going on. He had tried all these years to have his colonists keep peace with the Indians and their English neighbors. And he had endeavored to found a settlement broad in views and generous in religious beliefs. Was all this noble effort to be destroyed by a few men who did not seem to have any conscience at all? About four years later Maryland was restored to Lord Baltimore; and the colony, its troubles over, once more grew and prospered.

When Cecil Calvert died, his eldest son succeeded him as proprietor of Maryland.

During the years Lord Baltimore had governed Maryland, the colonists had learned to love and respect him. He had been a kind father to his people and had done everything possible for their welfare. On his death the colonists sincerely mourned him and never forgot his many good qualities and unselfish acts.