Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

George Calvert (1567/79-1632)
First Lord Baltimore
MSA SC 3520-2167

Extended Biography:

Founding of Maryland - Educational Project for Elementary and Middle School Students
Maryland Public Television and Maryland State Archives (January-February 2003)
written by Maria A. Day, MSA Archival Intern

George Calvert was the first person to dream of a colony in America where Catholics and Protestants could prosper together. He was born in Yorkshire, England and studied at Trinity College at Oxford. Sir Robert Cecil, King James I's Secretary of State, hired Calvert to be his secretary. Sir Robert trusted Calvert as a good advisor. King James I then rewarded him with the title of “Knight” for good service in 1617. Calvert became Sir George Calvert, Secretary of State for King James I.

By the time that King James I died and his son Charles I ruled England, Calvert had distinguished himself as a statesman and loyal subject. He served several terms as a Member of Parliament. King James I, and later his son King Charles I, gave Calvert lands in Ireland and grants of money. Yet George had a problem: he had become a member of the Roman Catholic Church. Catholics were not permitted to hold high offices for the King of England or to be Members of Parliament. In 1625, Calvert announced to James I that he had become a Catholic, and so had to resign his job. But King James I liked Calvert so much that he decided to give him another title. Sir George Calvert then became the First Baron of Baltimore, a town on the southern coast of Ireland.

Now that Calvert had both money and lands, he could support himself and his family. He was excited about exploration of the New World. He wanted to help create English colonies in America, so he invested money in both the New England and Virginia companies. He bought land on the coast of Newfoundland, Canada in 1620. Calvert sent Captain Edward Wynne to Newfoundland to lead a group of settlers and to serve as their Governor. Calvert soon received permission from King to establish a larger colony called the Province of Avalon in Newfoundland. Calvert himself voyaged to Avalon and lived there for two years, summer of 1627 to the winter of 1628/29. But Newfoundland’s climate was cold. The English settlers had a difficult time surviving there.

Calvert then asked the King for a grant of land further south, near the Chesapeake Bay. He drew a map for King Charles I, showing a territory that he wanted just north of the colony of Virginia. He hoped that this territory would have warmer weather and so be more suitable for an English colony. George Calvert died in 1632, before Charles I had time to approve the charter for his new colony, named Maryland (“Terra Mariae”).  Calvert’s eldest son, Cecil, the Second Lord Baltimore helped to bring his father’s dream colony to life. Another son, Leonard, became Maryland’s First Governor.

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