Tuesday, September 18, 2012

OXFORD IN USA 1: Peaceful Evolution–The Calverts

Maryland came into being as a result of a grant of land to the Catholic Calvert family. The grant was originally requested by Sir George Calvert (1578-1632), the 1st Baron Baltimore, and was implemented by two of his sons. All three of these men were graduates of Trinity College, Oxford. 

The Calverts are credited with two important developments in the American colonies: (1) They founded the entire state of Maryland. (2) They pre-empted an area that was in the path of an expanding Virginia, which would not permit Catholics to settle. They thereby created a haven for Roman Catholicism in the colonies and played a huge role in ensuring religious liberty in the American colonies and then in the United States. They encouraged nonviolent growth of the colonies and thereby laid the groundwork for their independence.

The Land Grant on Chesapeake Bay

Charles I (1600-1649, reigned 1625-1649) made a major grant of land on Chesapeake Bay in 1632 to George Calvert, 1st Lord Baltimore, who unfortunately died before the seal was affixed to the charter. So Cecil Calvert, 2nd Lord Baltimore, is credited with the grant and is the person the City of Baltimore is named after. President Michael Beloff of Trinity College, Oxford called on the Mayor of Baltimore a few years ago (I planted the idea when he was first elected President) and the favor was recently returned by the Mayor.
Henrietta Maria, Queen Consort of Charles I,
after whom Maryland is named.

Maryland is named after Charles I's consort, Queen Henrietta Maria. The Catholic daughter of France's King Henri IV (Henry of Navarre, Henry the Great), she became a major problem for Charles I because Parliament voted to send military support to the Protestant Huguenots in France against Henry IV's successor, the Catholic Louis XIII. 

During the waning days of the Charles I's reign, Henrietta Maria occupied Merton College, Oxford - the only Oxford college that did not support the king against Parliament - when Charles I was attempting to run the country from Oxford and Oliver Cromwell's Parliament was seeking to oust him. Charles I was beheaded in 1649. I read somewhere that Charles I was the only British monarch whose reign was terminated by execution.

Here's an excerpt from a reference selected by the State of Maryland and posted on the history page of its website:
In 1632, Charles I granted a charter to George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore, yielding him feudal rights to the region between lat. 40°N and the Potomac River. Disagreement over the boundaries of the grant led to a long series of border disputes with Virginia that were not resolved until 1930. The states still dispute the use of the Potomac River. The territory was named Maryland in honor of Henrietta Maria, queen consort of Charles I. Before the great seal was affixed to the charter, George Calvert died, but his son Cecilius [Cecil] Calvert, 2d Baron Baltimore, undertook development of the colony as a haven for his persecuted fellow Catholics and also as a source of income. In 1634 the ships Ark and Dove brought settlers (both Catholic and Protestant) to the Western Shore, and a settlement called St. Mary's was set up. During the colonial period the Algonquian-speaking Native Americans withdrew from the area gradually and for the most part peacefully, sparing Maryland the conflicts other colonies experienced. [For more on the Native Americans, see my post to come on Pitt the Elder, Lord Chatham and his role in making possible the independence of the United States possible.]
The original grant is said to have included land from the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay south to the Potomac River as well as all of the eastern shore. But Virginian settlers had already crossed the bay to settle the southern tip of the eastern shore, so the King revised the grant to include the eastern shore only to a line drawn east from the Potomac River. The charter confirmed on June 20, 1632 charged Baltimore a rental of  one-fifth of all gold or silver found, plus delivery to the King every Easter of two Native American arrows.

The charter established Maryland as a feudal palatinate, giving Baltimore and his descendants rights nearly equal to those of an independent state, including rights to wage war, collect taxes, and establish a colonial nobility. The charter was heavily weighted toward the proprietor. However, supporters in England of the Virginia colony opposed the charter, as they had little interest in conceding the land to religious followers that they would not admit. A crucial feature of the success of the Calverts in holding on to their huge land grant is that they were able as a family to keep the Virginians at bay both in England and in the colonies.

George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore,
true founder of Maryland
George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore

George Calvert graduated with a BA at 19 from Trinity College, Oxford in 1597. He married Anne Mynne (also spelled Mayne). His first job was serving as secretary to Robert Cecil, later Earl of Salisbury, doubtless determining the name of his first son. Calvert was elected to the House of Commons  in 1609-1611. He became Sir George Calvert in 1617, then secretary of state in 1619. He was given a pension in 1620 and returned to the House of Commons the following year. The Protestant Parliament distrusted him for supporting Catholic King James I and his Spanish wife. In 1625, the year Charles I succeeded to the throne, Calvert decided to give up his office and declared himself a Roman Catholic. For his loyalty, the King made him the 1st Baron Baltimore in the Irish peerage, which means he did not vote in the House of Lords. 

(The town of Baltimore that gives the name to his title is a fishing village on the southern Irish shore near Cork. I have been there several times during the course of a couple of summers in nearby Skibbereen.) 

Lord Baltimore received a grant of large estates in Ireland. On his own, he established a small settlement called Avalon in fish-wealthy Newfoundland. He visited Avalon briefly in 1627 and brought his family for a longer visit the following year. During the second visit, conflict arose over his Roman Catholicism. For that reason - and the cold climate! - Lady Baltimore left for Virginia in 1628. Baltimore petitioned Charles I for a land grant in the warmer Chesapeake Bay area. As a Catholic, he was not allowed to settle in Virginia. He returned to England to plead his case for the Maryland charter but died in 1621 while changes were being made in the charter and before it was official. 
Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore,
after whom the City of Baltimore is named.
George founded Maryland; Cecil kept it;
Leonard ran it.

Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore

Although George Calvert did almost all the work, his son Cecil Calvert gets most of the credit. He is the person usually referred to as Lord Baltimore in U.S. history books. Cecilius Calvert was born August 8, 1605, in Kent, England. At the time, his father was under pressure to conform to the Church of England, so all ten children were baptized Anglican. Calvert entered Trinity College, Oxford  in 1621. His mother died the following year. As noted above, George Calvert converted to Catholicism in 1625, and his sons followed him.  In 1633, Cecil Calvert was admitted to Gray's Inn as a barrister, a training in the law that would be of crucial importance in retaining rights to the Maryland land grant. He married Anne Arundell, daughter of the 1st Baron Arundell of Wardour, in 1627 or 1628. They had nine children, of whom  three, including Charles Calvert, 3rd Baron Baltimore, survived to adulthood. 

Rather than going to the Maryland colony, Baltimore stayed behind in England to deal with the political threat to the charter and sent his next younger brother Leonard in his stead. He never actually visited Maryland! - because he was busy defending the charter from advocates from the Virginia Company, who were trying to regain their charter, including all of Maryland. Their formal complaint with the Lords of Foreign Plantations in July 1633 had two arguments: (1) Maryland was not unsettled, as stated in its charter, because William Claiborne had run a trading station on Kent Island. (2) The breadth of the powers of the charter violated the liberties of existing settlers. 
Leonard Calvert, the first to run
Maryland. No title for him.

Leonard Calvert

Leonard (1606–1647), younger brother of Cecil, also attended Trinity College, Oxford. Ironically, he tends to be skipped over because he did not inherit the Barony, which passed to his nephew and because history at that point was being written in England where Cecil was defending the charter. 

However, Leonard is crucial in establishing the family's unequivocal right to be called founders of Maryland.  

Unlike Cecil, Leonard actually went to Maryland! He actually did the work of running the place! He was the first Governor of the Province of Maryland!

The Calvert family figures prominently in subsequent Maryland and Baltimore history, to this day.

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