Calvert Hall College Highschool
Principal: Brother Kevin Strong
Leonard Calvert was Marylandís first colonial governor. A man of integrity, pride, and loyalty to his state, Leonard Calvert is the focus of the website. His accomplishments in the state of Maryland, both in his day and in modern-day Maryland, have had a profound impact on our history. We respect and admire Leonard Calvert for both his personal character and his achievements, which extend even beyond his lifetime. This is the story of a man who had influence as Marylandís first colonial governor, and is eternally remembered as a vital part of our history.
Leonard Calvert, seen in the watercolor painting to the right, was born circa the year 1606 in England as the second son of Sir George Calvert. He had 11 brothers and sisters, many of whom did not live long or prominent lives as some of their siblings did. He was born and lived as a religious Catholic man, and was both literate and well educated in his childhood. His father was granted the title Baron of Baltimore by Englandís King James I, in February of 1625. In 1629, Leonard Calvert was sent to Newfoundland as a vessel captain, to protect the colony of Avalon from French piracy. He showed bravery and loyalty in the face of French oppression, by fighting against the ill treatment of Avalonís people. Soon Calvert would be granted an even greater task.
His oldest brother and the second Lord Baltimore, Cecilius Calvert, inherited their fatherís title upon his death in 1632. He became proprietor of the newly chartered Roman Catholic colony, Maryland, in North America. Cecilius called on his brother for aid, and in 1633, Leonard Calvert was sent to Maryland with 300 other settlers. Sailing on the Ark and the Dove, Calvert and his crew left the harbor of Cowes, England on November 22, 1633. They arrived in what is now St. Maryís City around the 25th of March in 1634. The site was currently inhabited by a group of Indians, who were friendly to the crew and willingly sold the land to Leonard Calvert. Calvert now claimed "solemn possession of the Country for our Saviour and for our Sovereign Lord the King of England." Approximately one month later, the seat of government was established in St. Maryís City, and, on instructions received from his brother Cecilius, Leonard then addressed himself first governor of the colony of Maryland. He was further commanded to appoint two full-time commissioners to aid him in the tasks of keeping peace with the Protestant members of the colony, and maintaining good relations with Virginia. On April 15, 1637, Leonard Calvert was granted many broad powers in the colony of Maryland with the issue of his first commission as governor.. First, he was appointed the full Commander-in-Chief of the colonyís armed land and sea forces. Secondly, upon being made Chief Magistrate, Calvert was called to call, adjourn, and dissolve the legislative assembly. Finally, Calvert was made the Chancellor and Chief Justice, with full authority to hear and determine all criminal and civil cases not involving life, member, freehold or grant pardons.
Governor Calvert especially focused on regulation of trade as one of his main priorities. In the summer of 1664, Calvert sent the Dove to Boston with a cargo of corn to trade primarily for fish. The first Assembly of Freemen was organized in 1635. After two years of failed attempts to pass either their own laws, or those suggested by Cecilius the proprietor, Leonard Calvert decided that he would govern during this period according to the laws of England, and if necessary, by martial law. Once approved by Cecilius, this became the first step towards popular government in Maryland. In 1638, Governor Calvert seized the trading post on Kent Island. It had been previously made clear to Calvert that this post was established and claimed by prominent Virginia trader William Claiborne. Angered by this action, Claiborne joined with Richard Ingle in 1644 and led a successful rebellion of the Protestant population in Maryland. Governor Calvert was forced to flee to Virginia, and so Claiborne took control of the colony of Maryland. Fortunately, Calvertís forces joined him in a fight to regain control, and in 1646, thatís exactly what happened, and the colony was again under Calvertís control.
Leonard Calvert had married Anne Brent, the daughter of Richard Brent and Elizabeth Reed. With Anne, Calvert fathered two children: a son, William, who was born in 1643; and a daughter, Anne, born in 1645. Calvertís wife died soon after giving birth to her daughter, leaving Calvert alone as a single father, and governor of a prosperous colony. He handled the task quite well until his death on June 9, 1647. Days before dying, Calvert had named his wifeís sister, Margaret Brent, the executrix of his estate.
Although many say that Calvert did not lead with true leadership, he was still a man of great integrity and power. Throughout acts that were somewhat forceful, Leonard Calvert spearheaded the development of one of the most prominent and respected Middle Colonies. As Marylandís first governor, he was a hard working man, with a strong sense of ethics, and he faithfully executed his duty under the commands of his brother Cecilius. His actions as governor, and his strong moral convictions, make the man, Leonard Calvert, one of Marylandís most revered colonial figures.
Maryland State Archives
The History of Catholic America
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