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.
Browne, George and Cecilius Calvert (New York, 1880); Idem, Maryland; Hughes, History of the Society of Jesus in North America, Federal and Colonial (Cleveland, 1970); Hart, American History Told by Contemporaries; Chalmers, Political Annals of the present United Colonies from their Settlement to the Peace of 1763; Bancroft, History of the United States; Russell, Maryland, the Land of the Sanctuary (Baltimore, 1907).
Transcribed by M. Donahue
The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume III
Copyright © 1908 by Robert Appleton Company
Online Edition Copyright © 1999 by Kevin Knight
Nihil Obstat, November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor
Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York