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Home > Catholic Encyclopedia > C > Cecilius Calvert

Cecilius Calvert

Second Lord Baltimore, founder of Maryland, born 1606, died 1675. At the age of thirteen, he entered Trinity College, Oxford, where he was educated. In 1629 he married Anne Arundell, of Wardour. When his father died, in 1632, the charter of Maryland was granted to Cecilius, who was made a palatine, and "Absolute Lord of Maryland and Avalon." It was Lord Baltimore's intention, at first to come to America with the colonists, but as there were many enemies of his colonial project at home, he concluded to send his brothers, Leonard and George, at the head of the expedition. The former was appointed governor. The enemies of the charter, chiefly members of the London Company, did everything in their power to defeat the objects of the proprietor. It was claimed that the charter interfered with the grant of land of the Virginia Company and that, owing to its liberality, it would attract people from other colonies and depopulate them. The arguments of the enemies of the charter were of no avail, and finally the colonists, numbering twenty gentlemen and about three hundred labourers, embarked on the Ark and the Dove, in the harbour of Cowes, Nov., 1633. Before sailing, Leonard received instructions for the government of the colonists. Religious toleration was the keynote of Baltimore's policy throughout his long career. In spite of the fact that the Catholics were persecuted when Calvert's government was overthrown, every time his authority was restored persecution ceased and every faith had equal rights. When the Puritans were persecuted in Massachusetts, Baltimore offered them a refuge in Maryland, with freedom of worship.

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.

About this page

APA citation. Hagerty, J. (1908). Cecilius Calvert. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03193a.htm

MLA citation. Hagerty, James. "Cecilius Calvert." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 3. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03193a.htm>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by M. Donahue.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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