Early Maryland Timeline, 1629-1715

The following article is by my good friend, William Dollarhide:

An historical timeline of events relating to the founding and early development of the Province of Maryland was extracted from the Maryland Censuses & Substitute Name Lists book. The history begins with the time of George Calvert’s petitions for a proprietary colony in the Chesapeake Bay area, and continues up to the restoration of the Calvert proprietorship in 1715.

1629. George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore, founder of the Avalon Colony of Newfoundland, arrived in Virginia. Calvert was a former Secretary of State in the government of King James I. He was not well received in Virginia, partly because of his Catholic beliefs, but also because of his known desire to start a colony in an area north of Jamestown claimed by the Virginia Company. George Calvert had been raised a Catholic, but during his political career, held several offices that required loyalty oaths to the Church of England. He resigned all his government duties in 1625, publicly declared his Catholic faith, and began planning for an English colony in North America that could be a haven for the persecuted Catholics of England.

1631. Claiborne Colony. William Claiborne was a successful planter, trader, and prominent leader of the Virginia Colony. He was a rival of George Calvert for obtaining rights for a colony north of Jamestown on Chesapeake Bay. Claiborne was a councilor and received backing by the Virginia council for a fur trading operation with the Indians. On a trip to London, Claiborne received a royal trading commission from King Charles I that essentially granted him rights to settle any part of North America not previously granted. In 1631, Claiborne recruited a group of indentured servants in London and established a small plantation on Kent Island (present Kent County, Eastern Shore of Maryland).

1632. Province of Maryland. George Calvert was successful in petitioning King Charles I for a royal charter, but died five weeks before the charter was signed. The Maryland Proprietorship was granted to his son, Cecilius (Cecil) Calvert, 2nd Lord Baltimore. The colony was named Maryland after Henrietta Maria of France, the Catholic Queen Consort of Protestant English King Charles I. Cecil Calvert managed the Province of Maryland from his home, Kiplin Hall, in North Yorkshire, England. The area of the royal charter included most of the Chesapeake peninsula (now Delmarva Peninsula), including all present Delaware, and extended north from the Potomac River to the 40th Parallel.

1633. William Claiborne’s claims that the Virginia colony still had jurisdiction over his Kent Island settlement went to the Privy Council in London. The Council ruled against Claiborne, and he lost jurisdiction of the settlement to the new Maryland colony.

1634. The Ark and The Dove were hired by Cecil Calvert to transport the first settlers to the Province of Maryland. In early 1634, the two ships carrying over 120 settlers arrived at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. After exploring the area of the Potomac River, on March 25, 1634 the settlers went ashore on St. Clement’s Island. Soon after, they purchased land from the Indians and established the first settlement of St. Mary’s City. One of the passengers was 28-year old Leonard Calvert, who was named the colonial governor of the colony by his older brother, the Proprietor Governor, Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore. About half of the first settlers were known to be Roman Catholics. The Province of Maryland, led by the Catholic Calvert family, allowed religious freedom for all who came. The uniqueness of the Maryland freedoms might be compared with the Massachusetts Bay Colony, that had a law against being a Catholic (or the wrong kind of Protestant). The penalty in 1634 Massachusetts for being a Quaker or a Catholic was a death sentence. Regardless of their religious beliefs, the first settlers to the Maryland colony discovered some the world’s most perfect soil and climate for raising bumper crops of tobacco. Because of that fact, the colony was successful immediately.

1635. General Assembly. The first session of the General Assembly of the Province of Maryland was held at St. Mary’s City. Patterned after the House of Commons of England, the legislators were freemen (land owners) selected from the parishes and hundreds prior to the formation of counties. Lord Baltimore, as the proprietor and original owner of all land in the colony, had the right to appoint any number of delegates.

1635. Headright System and Indentured Servants. As a proprietary colony, all land within the Province of Maryland was owned outright by the Lords Baltimore. Although Cecil Calvert issued several Maryland land grants as early as 1633 from his base in England, the first land grants issued in Maryland began in 1635, undertaken personally by Leonard Calvert, the colonial governor. The land grant system employed was identical to the Virginia system, often called the Headright System. The granting of land was based on the number of persons transported into the colony. A man transporting himself received land, and if he added others in the transportation, he would receive a certain number of acres of land “per head.” The key element in the Headright System was that all persons (including convicts) transported to the colony were also entitled to receive land grants. But, if the transported person could not repay the one who paid for his passage, he would be compelled to serve a period of servitude for several years to repay the debt, after which he could receive his land grant. The contract between the Master and the Servant was done on a single sheet of parchment, written twice, then torn in half with copies given to each party. The manner of tearing the paper was to use jagged edges, or in Latin, dentils, so rejoining the two halves would have to be an exact fit. The document, copied into the county court records, became known as an Indenture, and the person going into servitude became known as an Indentured Servant. The Headright system was the main method of obtaining workers for the tobacco plantations of Maryland until the early 1680s, and the use of slave labor eventually replaced the Headright system

1637. Saint Mary’s County was formed, the first county in the Province of Maryland. The original area included present Saint Mary’s, Anne Arundel, and Howard counties. The county seat and first capital of the Province of Maryland was at St. Mary’s City.

1642. Kent County was established, encompassing William Claiborne’s original Kent Island settlement of 1631, as well as the area of present Kent and Talbot counties. The first county seat was at New Yarmouth, later moved to Chestertown. The first settlers in the county were mostly Puritans.

1642. English Civil War. Since taking the throne in 1625, King Charles I had purged most of the Puritans from the Church of England. To deal with a Parliament opposing his every move, in 1629, Charles disbanded Parliament and ruled England on his own. That action canceled over 400 years of liberties gained by Parliament since the Magna Carta. When Parliament was restored in 1640, it quickly became dominated by the same Puritans who Charles had removed from the Church of England. Beginning in 1642, Royalist supporters were forced to fight the armies of the Puritan Parliament in the English Civil War. The supporters of Charles I did not fare well against them.

1645. Maryland. Captain Richard Ingle, an English privateer and supporter of the Puritan side in England, led a revolt against the Royalist government of Maryland. He joined with William Claiborne, another Puritan/Parliamentarian, who was looking for any opportunity to take back Kent Island. With a single ship, Captain Ingle attacked the Maryland capital St. Mary’s City in the name of Parliament. He imprisoned leaders of the colony, but Governor Leonard Calvert escaped to Virginia. Calvert returned with an armed force and took back his colony in August 1646. Though most of his men were granted amnesty, Ingle was specifically exempted from it and executed. Claiborne continued to fight the Calverts in any way he could.

1645. England. After his defeat and capture in 1645, Charles I refused to accept his captors’ demands for a constitutional monarchy, and briefly escaped captivity in 1647. While recaptured, his son, Prince Charles, marshalled Scottish forces for the king. However, by 1648, Oliver Cromwell had consolidated the English opposition. King Charles I was tried, convicted, and executed for high treason in January 1649. The Civil War continued until 1651.

1647-1648. Maryland. In June 1647, Leonard Calvert was stricken with a sudden illness and died at the age of 41 years. On his death-bed he appointed Thomas Greene as the 2nd Colonial Governor of Maryland. Greene was a Royalist and Roman Catholic, like Leonard Calvert. In 1648, Cecil Calvert replaced him with William Stone, a Protestant and supporter of Parliament. The Province of Maryland had many Catholics, but they were now slightly outnumbered by Protestants, and Cecil Calvert may have tried to appease the Protestants with his appointment of William Stone. Meanwhile, Calvert’s nemesis, William Claiborne, tried to get the Puritan-controlled Parliament to revoke the Maryland charter from the Calverts, saying they could not be trusted. Parliament disagreed, and the Calverts retained their Maryland charter. Claiborne did manage to get Parliament to grant him a commission to suppress any Royalist uprisings in the Chesapeake region.

1649. Maryland. The English colonies were still divided between the Puritans/Parliamentarians and the Royalists. The New England colonies were probably 85-90% Puritan, and the Virginia colony was probably 60-65% Royalist. The Maryland colony was about 55% Puritan. In 1649, Maryland’s Governor, William Stone, invited any Puritans of Virginia to settle in Maryland. Also in that year, all Maryland settlers were granted religious freedom by the official Maryland Act of Religious Toleration.

1650. Anne Arundel County. The third county in the Province of Maryland was Providence County, established in 1650. The earliest settlers were mostly Puritans from Virginia who had been lured to Maryland with land grants offered by Governor William Stone. In 1658, Providence was renamed Anne Arundel to honor the wife of Cecil Calvert (she had died in 1649). The original county area was taken from the bounds of Saint Mary’s County, and included present Howard County.

1651-1658. Commonwealth of England. Prince Charles had lived in exile after the execution of his father, Charles I. In 1649, the Scots had proclaimed Charles the King of Scotland. But, the Puritan leader, Oliver Cromwell, defeated his army in 1651, and Charles fled to France. Cromwell was to become the Lord Protectorate of the Commonwealth of England, with a puritan-controlled Parliament. During this time, William Claiborne made attempts to have the Kent Island settlement restored to the Virginia Colony. In denying Claiborne’s requests, Parliament reinforced its support for the Calvert charter and the Maryland Colony. But taking on a role as a leader of the Puritan revolt, Claiborne led several armed attacks against the Maryland Colony, including the burning down of all the original Catholic churches of southern Maryland. After Cromwell died in 1658, the English people became dissatisfied with the government that Cromwell had established.

1660. England. In 1660, Parliament invited Charles to return and declared him king. Charles II was restored to the throne as King of England, Scotland, and Ireland. He was to become one of the most effective English monarchs of all time. He ruled until his death in 1685, and during his reign, the English colonials forced out the remaining pockets of Atlantic settlements made earlier by the Dutch, Swedes, and Danes. Charles II saw the Atlantic colonies as a source of trade and commerce, supported development, and granted several more charters for settlement. All the English colonies thrived as a result. He was the first monarch to recognize the potential for the North American colonies to become a contiguous, viable commonwealth. He encouraged the development of post roads, and a regular communication between the Governors. Charles II was responsible for setting the tone of self-government, religious tolerance, and individual freedoms in the English colonies that were to become American institutions.

1661. Charles Calvert arrived in St. Mary’s City as the new Deputy Governor of the Maryland colony. He was the 24-year old son and heir of Cecil Calvert, the proprietor of the Maryland colony.

1675. Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore, died at the age of 70 years at his home, Kiplin Hall, in North Yorkshire. He was succeeded by his son, Charles Calvert, who was living in Maryland at the time.

1684. Charles Calvert, the 3rd Baron Baltimore, left Maryland and arrived at his Kiplin Hall home in England. He was never to return to Maryland. A few years after his return to England, he saw the loss of his title to Maryland; the end of the Calvert family’s proprietorship; and the establishment of the replacement Royal Colony of Maryland.

1685. England. After the death of King Charles II, who died without issue, his brother, the Duke of York, became King James II. Parliament was suspicious of his religious beliefs, and thought he was too tolerant with Catholics. In 1686, James II was successful in establishing the Dominion of New England, an administrative union of colonies, encompassing the area from the Delaware River to the Penobscot River. The Dominion installed religious tolerance in the colonies of New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, New Haven, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Massachusetts Bay, but the reforms were short-lived.

1688. The Glorious Revolution. After James II had declared his Catholic beliefs, he was deposed in 1688. His Protestant daughter, Mary, was declared the legal heir to the throne. She had married her cousin, William of Orange, the Stadtholder/Ruler of Holland, and Europe’s most staunch Protestant leader. Because of William’s stature as the leader of the Protestant insurrection which had overthrown the Catholic James II, Parliament asked both William and Mary to rule England jointly. The Protestant-controlled Parliament considered the skirmish a holy war, and later gave the insurrection the name of Glorious Revolution. The Dominion of New England was dissolved in 1689, and the concept of religious tolerance reverted to the prohibition of Catholics to hold public office in all the English colonies. James was exiled to France, where he died in 1701.

1689. Maryland. The Protestant Revolution of 1689, sometimes called “Coode’s Rebellion” after one of its leaders, John Coode, took place in the Province of Maryland when Puritans, by then a majority in the colony, revolted against the proprietary government, led by the Roman Catholic Charles Calvert, 3rd Baron Baltimore. The rebellion followed the “Glorious Revolution” in England of 1688, which saw the Protestant Monarchs William and Mary replace the Catholic King James II. In Maryland, the Lords Baltimore lost control of their proprietary colony and for the next 25 years Maryland would be ruled directly by the English Crown. The Protestant Revolution also saw the effective end of Maryland’s early experiments with religious toleration, as Catholicism was outlawed and Roman Catholics forbidden from holding public office. Religious toleration would not be restored in Maryland until after the American Revolution.

1689. The Jacobites. After the English Revolution of 1688, a political party of supporters of deposed King James II was established in England They became known as Jacobites (derived from Jacobus, Latin for James). Parliament, however, was under control of the political party called the Whigs who saw the Jacobites as their mortal enemy and fought them in battle during and after the 1688 Revolution. In the first armed Jacobite Rising of 1689, they were quickly defeated; but they continued to oppose the Whigs for decades after the Revolution. The Whigs dominated Parliament from the 1680s to the 1760s. They were made up of Puritans, Non-conformists, and other anti-Catholic sects. The Jacobites were Roman Catholics or liberal Protestants. At the hands of the Whigs, the Jacobites experienced forced evacuations from Scotland and England as part of the Whigs penal policies. After the second Jacobite Rising of 1715, many of the expelled Jacobites were transported to the Province of Maryland.

1692. William III and Mary II declared Maryland to be a royal colony. The first official royal governor appointed was Sir Lionel Copley.

1695. The capital of the Province of Maryland was moved from mostly Catholic St. Mary’s City to mostly Protestant Annapolis.

1707. During the reign of Queen Anne, the United Kingdom of Great Britain was established after the Union with Scotland Act passed the English Parliament in 1706; and the Union with England Act passed the Parliament of Scotland in 1707.

1715-1788. After the death of Charles Calvert, 3rd Baron Baltimore, his 36-year old son, Benedict Calvert became the 4th Baron Baltimore. Benedict had spent most of his adult life trying to get the king to restore the Maryland Proprietorship to the Calvert family, but after he attained his title, he died two months later, making his son, Charles Calvert, the 5th Baron Baltimore at the age of fifteen years. Young Charles benefited from the petitions of his father, who had assured the king that he was willing to convert to the Anglican faith. After declaring a sworn oath that he was renouncing Roman Catholicism and joining the Church of England, young Charles Calvert was granted the restored proprietorship of the Province of Maryland by King George I. Charles Calvert came of age in 1721 and then assumed personal control of Maryland, now a proprietary colony again with the Church of England as its official church. The Calvert family continued as the proprietors of the Province of Maryland until the province became the state of Maryland in 1788.

Further Reading:
Maryland Censuses & Substitute Name Lists, 1633-2013, by William Dollarhide
Maryland Censuses & Substitute Name Lists, 1633-2013 (PDF eBook)
Online Maryland Censuses & Substitutes, a 4-page laminated Insta-GuideTM
Online Maryland Censuses & Substitutes (PDF eBook)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.