Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Charles Calvert (1637-1714/15)
Third Lord Baltimore
MSA SC 3520-193

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

Charles Calvert grew up with the knowledge that he would some day become the third Lord Baltimore and Proprietary Governor of Maryland. As the son of  Cecil Calvert and Anne Arundell, Charles lived the privileged life of an English noble. Charles was also raised as a Roman Catholic, as was the rest of the Calvert family. As a young man, Charles witnessed the religious conflicts between Protestants and Catholics in the English Civil Wars. He watched his father, Cecil, handle very difficult political situations in order to protect his control of the Maryland Province.

Cecil Calvert sent his 24-year-old son Charles to Maryland in 1661. Charles replaced his uncle Philip Calvert as Governor. Philip then became Charles' advisor in government affairs. Charles remained colonial Governor until his father's death in 1675. The colony's population and economy expanded quickly during Charles's term. Charles created four new counties on the Eastern Shore.  During his term as Governor, Charles ordered many public projects to help Marylanders. He built court houses, jails, and roads. He improved the defense of the colony by building magazines where gunpowder could be stored. Under his administration, Maryland's government passed laws regulating how people could leave land to their heirs when they died. Charles also reformed the lower house in the Maryland Assembly, now called the House of Delegates. He decided to restrict voting to men who owned property worth at least 40 pounds. He also ruled that only men who owned 1,000 acres of land could be elected as a delegate. He changed the voting requirements because he was concerned that less wealthy delegates might oppose the Proprietary government.  Slaves' lives were made more difficult under Charles's government. During his term, the Assembly officially made slavery legal, ordering that slaves serve their masters for life and that their children would inherit that status

In 1675, Cecil Calvert died in England. Charles inherited his father's lands, title, and government roles, becoming the Third Baron of Baltimore and new Lord Proprietor of Maryland. He was the first member of the Calvert family to serve both as Maryland's governor and as Lord Proprietor. Charles went to England shortly after his father died, but returned to live in Maryland and oversee the colony personally.  During his years as Proprietor, there was a boundary dispute between Maryland and William Penn's Quaker colony in Pennsylvania. Charles left Maryland and sailed back to England in 1684 to settle the dispute with William Penn. Before the boundary line could be verified, another revolution, known as the Glorious Revolution, took place in England in 1688-89. Two Protestants, Mary Stuart, daughter of King James II, and her husband, William of Orange, accepted joint rule of England. Maryland Protestants took control of the colony's government in 1689 and petitioned to become a royal colony. Charles Calvert lost the right to govern Maryland, although he continued to own the land. Now Maryland was ruled directly by the English monarchy and overseen by a royal governor. Charles died in 1715 without recovering legal power over his colony, but his son Benedict Leonard, fourth Lord Baltimore, had converted to the Anglican faith. Benedict Leonard also died in 1715, but in that same year, King George I restored to Charles' grandson, also named Charles after his grandfather, full proprietary rights to govern Maryland as fifth Lord Baltimore.

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