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Lord Baltimore Defends His Record on Religious Freedom
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The response of Calvert, proprietor of Maryland, to charges that he should forfeit his royal grant because he was not maintaining and defending the Protestant religion in his colony.

[CECIL CALVERT, SECOND LORD BALTIMORE]. Manuscript Document, “The Lord Baltimore’s Case, Concerning his Plantation in Mary=Land”. [London, February 1649]. In contemporary secretarial hand (perhaps that of Philip Calvert, brother to Cecil, later chancellor of Maryland; or that of Father Andrew White). 2 pp.

Inventory #20880.99       Price: $45,000

“The Lord Baltimore’s Case, concerning his
Plantation in Mary=Land.

The Lord Baltimore has a Pattent of the Province of Maryland (being on the Continent of America) granted unto him, and his heyres in ye eighth Yeare of the late King’s Raigne, with divers privileges and Jurisdictions for the Governement of his Collony there.

In Confidence whereof hee hath layd over the greatest part of his Fortune to ye vallue of Fortie thousand pounds for ye planting ye said Province.

Hee was att ye tyme of the granting the Laws-Pattent knowne to bee a Recusant; and it was then thought a good expedient to remove deeds of that profession in Religion from hence to so remote a place.

But some persons having now a Disigne to gett ye said Plantation from him, uppon that pretence cheifely of his being a Recusant, have caused one Capt Ingle to present a Petition & Remonstrance lately to the Councelle of State, contayning many false accusations against him. (Viz.)

That hee was bound by his Pattent to maintain the Protestant religion there, &c.

That contrary thereunto hee doth endeavour to extirpate the same, &c.

That hee hath wrongfully seized divers protestants estates, &c.

That hee receyved a Commission from the late King, for the seizing of all Shipps and goods (in those parts) of such as owned the Parlyament, &c.

And that hee hath done the said Ingle many Injuries, in his particular, &c.

Whereas in truth: his Pattent obliged him to mayntayne no particular profession in Religion; And hee is so farre from extirpating the protestant Religion there That his Deputy, and also his Secretary there, att this tyme, are both Protestants; and well asserted to ye Parliament.

That there is a Lawe of Published there for the Freedom of Religion to allsuch as profess to beelieve in Jesus Christ.

That he never seized upon any men’s estates unjustly; nor ever received any such Commission from the late Kinge, as aforesaid, <p.2> nor ever did ye said Ingle any wronge; But the said Ingle hath in a fellonious and Pyraticall way about four years synce, (without any authoritye or warrant for soo doing) plundered his Plantation, and most barbarously used many of the Inhabitants there.

The aforesaid Petition and Remonstrance, was referred to the Committee of ye Councell of State, for carrying on the affairs of the Admiralty, and the business is to bee heard on Monday the 25° of this instant February 1649 by ye said Committee in the Pryvy=Chamber, at Whitehall; at three or four of ye Clock in ye afternoone; at which tyme, the Lo: Baltimore, is to delyver in his Answer in wryting to ye said Ingle’s Remonstrance.

The truth of which Answer hee can in part make appeare by some wyttnesses who are now in England: But in case ye Committee shall not bee fully satisfied therewith for ye present; hee shall bee able to make it more fully and evidently manifest, when the Shipps returne from those parts; which are expected heere about six weeks hence: March & April being the usuall tyme of returne yearely of shipping from thence: And hee hopes that in a business of so great importance to him and relating to things done att so great a distance from hence; hee shall not bee surprised; but (if neede be) some reasonable tyme given him to make proofe of his defence in justification of himselfe: And hee humbly desires, and hopes, that his Religion shall not now bee esteemed, a sufficient cause to deprive him of his Inheritance in those parts: either in ye Law, or Government of his Colony there. For the government, was ye chiefest encouragement hee had to adventure a greate parte of his fortune thither: There beeing not Laws att ye tyme of his Grant, to prohibite any Recusant, from having ye command of his owne in so desert a place of the world./”

Historical Background

This document constitutes the response of Cecil Calvert (1605-1675), the 2nd Lord Baltimore, to charges that he was not maintaining and defending the Protestant religion in his colony.

Cecil Calvert’s father, George, the 1st Lord Baltimore, was granted a patent to the Chesapeake Bay region in 1632. The Calverts were Catholics, and Maryland was established partly as a refuge for Catholics persecuted in England. After the death of George, his son Cecil assumed proprietorship of the colony in England, while George Calvert’s other son, Leonard, ruled as governor in America. The conflicts raging in England between the King and Parliament had their manifestations in the American colonies, including struggles between Protestant Virginia and predominantly Catholic Maryland over contested lands, such as Kent Island in the Chesapeake. In 1648-49, in order to ease tensions, Cecil Calvert encouraged Protestant settlements in Providence, Maryland. The present document grows out of the continuing tensions between Protestants and Catholics in the Chesapeake region.

The accusations against the Calverts were brought before the Committee of the Council of State by Capt. Richard Ingle, a Protestant Parliamentarian, pirate, and rebel. Since his first arrival in Maryland in 1642, Ingle had been a thorn in the side of the Calverts and the Maryland colonial authorities, and he contributed greatly to the instability in that colony in the 1640s. Ingle was several times accused of treason or piracy, was instrumental in the capture of Kent Island from Maryland in 1645, ransacked the homes of many of the wealthiest Marylanders, and captured St. Thomas’ Fort. In 1646 he seized the government at St. Mary’s, and forced Leonard Calvert into exile. In all, “there is no doubt that his presence in the early days of Maryland ultimately resulted in a period of turmoil in the colony that lasted nearly two years” (ANB). That turmoil reached England when Ingle brought an action against the Calverts in 1646, seeking to disallow their legal title to Maryland. He argued that the Calverts were bound by their royal patent to maintain the Protestant religion in Maryland, that they had not done so, that Protestant estates in Maryland had been seized, and that Ingle personally had been persecuted. Given the religious zeal of the English Commonwealth and the turmoil caused by the Civil Wars (including Charles II’s beheading just one month before this was written), this put Lord Baltimore’s assets in a perilous situation.

Ingle’s complaint was heard by the Council of State on February 25, 1649, and the present document constitutes Cecil Calvert’s pre-hearing response to Ingle’s charges. Calvert states that at the time King Charles I granted the proprietorship of Maryland to his family, it was well known that they were “Recusants,” or Catholics. He claims that the royal charter “obliged him to mayntayne no particular profession in religion” and points out that his Deputy and Secretary in Maryland are known to be Protestants. He also states that in Maryland “there is a law published there for the freedom of religion to allsuch as profess to believe in Jesus Christ,” referring no doubt to the “Act Concerning Religion” that soon would be passed by the Maryland colonial assembly in April, 1649, and would constitute the first law guaranteeing religious freedom to those professing any Christian faith in the British colonies. Lord Baltimore goes on to assert that Ingle had behaved “in a fellonious and pyraticall way, about four years tyme (without any authority or warrant for soo doing) plundered his plantation and most barbarously used many of the inhabitants there.” Lord Baltimore maintains that he is prepared to call witnesses currently in England, and to bring over witnesses from the colonies, who could attest to Ingle’s actions and to the religious freedom practiced in Maryland. He concludes by appealing to the Council for a continued toleration of his rights as a Catholic Recusant: “Hee humbly desires, and hopes, that his Religion shall not now bee esteemed, a sufficient cause to deprive him of his Inheritance in those parts: either in ye Law, or Government of his Colony there. For the government, was ye chiefest encouragement hee had to adventure a greate parte of his fortune thither: There beeing not Laws att ye tyme of his Grant, to prohibite any Recusant, from having ye command of his owne in so desert a place of the world.”

In 1651, two years after the hearing, Ingle’s claims and petitions were found to be “unprovided to prove his charges” (ANB) and the case was dismissed. Calvert though, still fearing a possible loss of his territory, published in 1653, The Lord Baltimore’s Case, Concerning the Province of Maryland, adjoining to Virginia in America…

This manuscript is from the Lord Fairfax family collection. The Fairfaxes had vast interests in colonial Virginia, which were often at odds with the Calvert family. The letter contained in the manuscript has had a convoluted journey. Lord Fairfax bought it in 1937 from J. Alex Symington, the Librarian & Keeper of the Brotherton Collection Library at The University of Leeds. Prior to that it seems to have been owned by Dr. Hugh Young, who acquired it from Quaritch in 1929 (Bernard Quaritch catalogue no. 427, item 58). Quaritch appears to have acquired the document at a Sotheby’s auction out of Woodcote (the last country residence of Frederick, Lord Baltimore) earlier in 1929. Sotheby’s seems to have acquired the document still earlier that year from Henry Stevens Son & Stiles. Henry Stevens Son & Stiles claimed to have acquired the lot “15 or 20 years” earlier “from a family that could document the collection back to Secretary of State under Charles II and James II.” (Letter from Edward C. Papenfuse, State Archivist and Commissioner of Land Patents, Maryland State Archives, December 7, 2001).

A fascinating and central document in the religious history of Maryland and the American colonies, in which Lord Baltimore publicly defends freedom of Christian religion in his colony, the first of the American colonies to allow it. The document “is the most concise contemporary account of the benefits of the Maryland Act of Toleration” (1649) (Papenfuse). A seminal American manuscript.

Bound with biographical information on Lord Baltimore, a typescript of the manuscript, and two 19th-century engravings of George Calvert, First Lord Baltimore.

Reference

ANB 11, pp.654-55. Shown at http://www.msa.md.gov/msa/speccol/sc5400/sc5451/html/sc5451.html


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