Benedict Swingate Calvert (c.1724 - c.1788) MP

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Birthplace: England, United Kingdom
Death: Died in Mount Airy, Prince George County, MD, USA
Managed by: David W. Scott
Last Updated:

About Benedict Swingate Calvert

George Calvert

Calvert Ancestry:

Mrs. Stuart's father, George Calvert (b. 2 Feb 1768 - d. 28 Jan 1838) was born on his father's extensive estate, "Mount Airy", in what is still a fairly rural part of Prince Georges County. George Calvert, was a son of Benedict Swingate Calvert (1725-1790) and his wife Elizabeth Calvert, who was also his cousin and the daughter of Captain Charles Calvert, Governor of Maryland. The couple married in on April 21, 1748.

Benedict Swingate Calvert (b. ca. 1724 - d. 9 Jan 1788) was born in England, the illegitimate but acknowledged son of Charles Calvert, the fifth Lord Baltimore, (and only Lord Baltimore to visit the colonies) who sent him over from England was a young man of 10 or 12 and provided him with substantial lands and income. Stories vary as to who his mother may have been, with the most likely possibility being the Countess of Walsingham, Melusina de Schulenberg, an illegitimate daughter of King George I and Ermengarde Melusina de Schulenberg, duchess of Kendal.


His father, the fifth Lord Baltimore was reportedly disappointed in his legitimate heir, Frederick Calvert, who became the sixth and last Lord Baltimore and this may have been why he took a particular interest in sponsoring his natural son. Benedict Calvert's landholdings totalled over 4000 acres, most of it prime tobacco land. Despite being illegitimate, Benedict Swingate Calvert's social position was good enough for his daughter Eleanor (b. 1754 - d. 28 Sep 1811) to have married John Parke ("Jackie") Custis, George Washington's stepson. General Washington was a guest at the wedding and tradition says he gave the Calvert family the boxwoods that grace Mt. Airy to this day.. Mt. Airy is presently contained with the Rosaryville State Park.

Benedict and Elizabeth Calvert had ten children1, not all of whom survived to adulthood. Although George was the youngest, much of the Calvert land passed to him. The eldest daughter, Elizabeth Calvert, married a Charles Stuart, who may have been some relation to Dr. Richard Henry Stuart. When Benedict Calvert first came to Annapolis as a boy, he boarded with a Dr. George Steuart in Annapolis who might also have been a relation. So, it is possible there were other Stuart connections through which young Julia might have met Dr. Richard Stuart, as well as his uncle Dr. David Stuart having married her aunt, Eleanor Calvert Custis Stuart.

Through his sister's first marriage to John Parke Custis, George Calvert was uncle to Martha Washington's four grandchildren who, through their marriages and inheritances, built some of the finest historic houses in America. Martha Custis (m. Thomas Peter, first mayor of Georgetown, built Tudor place), Eleanor "Nellie" Custis (m. Lawrence Lewis, built Woodlawn Plantation), and George Washington Parke Custis (m. Maria Fitzhugh, built Arlington House, father of Mrs. Robert E. Lee). The fourth Grandchild, Elizabeth "Betsey" Parke Custis Law, (m. Thomas Law, divorced 1811) was noted in her era for being rather advanced and modern, and a bit of a firebrand. In her letters home to Belgium, Rosalie Stier Calvert frequently bemoans Betsey's behavior, and also describes Nellis Custis Lewis asher favorite niece.

Julia Calvert Stuart was close to her Custis cousins and was a bridesmaid in the 1831 wedding, at Arlington House, of her cousin Mary Anne Randolph Custis to a young army officer, Robert E. Lee. Julia Calvert Stuart was the first cousin of Mrs Lee's father, although she was in Mrs. Lee's age group. Ironically, Julia Calvert Stuart's husband Dr. Richard Stuart was to Robert E. Lee's beloved birthplace. Julia Calvert Stuart's portrait by noted artist Thomas Sully, hangs in the bedchamber at Stratford Hall Plantation where General Lee was born.

-------------------- Benedict Swingate Calvert (ca. 1730-1732 – January 9, 1788) was a Maryland Loyalist during the American Revolution. He was the son of Charles Calvert, 5th Baron Baltimore, the third Proprietor Governor of Maryland (1699–1751), and may have been the grandson of King George I of Great Britain. His mother's identity is not known, though one source suggests Melusina von der Schulenburg, Countess of Walsingham. As he was illegitimate, he was not able to inherit his father's title or estates, which passed instead to his half brother Frederick Calvert, 6th Baron Baltimore (1731–1771). Benedict Calvert spent most of his life as a politician and planter in Maryland, though Frederick, by contrast, never visited the colony. Calvert became wealthy through proprietarial patronage and became an important colonial official, but he would lose his offices and his political power, though not his land and wealth, during the American Revolution.

Calvert was born Benedict Swinket in England in around 1730-32, the illegitimate son of Charles Calvert, 5th Baron Baltimore, proprietary governor of the Province of Maryland. His mother's identity is not clear but H. S. Lee Washington, writing in the New England Historic Genealogical Society Register in July 1950, suggests that she was Melusina von der Schulenburg, Countess of Walsingham. Melusina was the daughter of George I of England and his mistress, Melusine von der Schulenburg, Duchess of Kendal.

Whatever the truth of this, it seems likely that Calvert's mother was a person of some consequence. According to a letter of Benedict's daughter-in-law Rosalie Stier Calvert dated 10 June 1814, his mother had been a woman "of the highest rank in England".

In 1742, aged about twelve years, the young Benedict was sent to the Calverts' proprietary colony of Maryland, which in the mid 18th century was still a sparsely settled, largely rural society. In 1730 the population of Annapolis was just 776. According to the letters of Rosalie Stier Calvert, Benedict was personally escorted to Annapolis on a frigate commanded by Admiral Edward Vernon and once there he was placed in the care of Dr George Steuart (1700–1784), an Edinburgh-trained physician and a political ally of the ruling Calvert family. Steuart provided the boy with a tutor, the Italian Onorio Razzolini, and Benedict grew up at Steuart's house on Francis St in Annapolis, a short distance from the home of his second cousin, Elizabeth Calvert (1731–1788). Elizabeth was the daughter of Maryland Governor Captain Charles Calvert and his wife Rebecca Gerard, both of whom died young, leaving Elizabeth a wealthy heiress.

St Ann's Church, Annapolis, where Calvert was married in 1748.


Elizabeth Calvert, wife of Benedict Swingate Calvert. The couple married in 1748. Through his family connections Calvert was able to benefit from considerable proprietarial patronage, at least until the American Revolution in 1776 ended proprietarial rule in Maryland. In 1745, aged around 15 years, he was appointed by his father the Patuxent district customs collector and naval officer.

Benedict Calvert would never return to England; nor would he meet his father again. Some time before his death in 1751, Lord Baltimore wrote to his son, offering advice on marriage:

"Pray do not think of Marrying until you hear from me having some things to Propose for you, much for your advantage, and believe me I will never force Your Inclination, Only Propose what I think will make you most Happy, Afterwards Leave it to Your own Determination."

On April 21, 1748 Benedict and his cousin Elizabeth were married in St Ann's Church by the Reverend John Gordon. The couple, aged 18 and 17 years respectively, moved into a house at State Circle, Annapolis.

The marriage was announced in the Maryland Gazette on April 27, 1748:

"Last Thursday the Honourable Benedict Calvert, Esq., Collector of His Majesty's customs for Patuxent District, etc., was married to Miss Elizabeth Calvert, only surviving Daughter of the late Honourable Charles Calvert, Esq., deceased, former Governor of this province."


In 1751 Calvert's father Charles Calvert, 5th Baron Baltimore died, leaving his illegitimate son the 10,000 acre estate of Anne Arundel Manor in Anne Arundel County. Unfortunately, Lord Baltimore's legitimate son and heir, Frederick Calvert, 6th Baron Baltimore, successfully challenged the will and invalidated Benedict's bequest, apparently worth £288 per annum.

Despite the loss of his father's bequest, Calvert's career progressed steadily. In 1755 he became a Judge of the Land Office, sitting alongside his former guardian Dr. George H. Steuart. He was also an Annapolis councilman.

In 1769 his half-sister Caroline Calvert married Robert Eden, who in the same year succeeded Governor Horatio Sharpe as Governor of Maryland. Eden and Calvert shared a love of horse racing and Benedict Swingate Calvert would soon find himself appointed to the Governor's Council.

Mount Airy PlantationIn 1751: Calvert inherited a 4,000-acre (16 km2) plantation known as Mount Airy, originally a hunting lodge for his great-grandfather Charles Calvert, 3rd Baron Baltimore, near Upper Marlboro in Prince George's County, Maryland, where he grew tobacco. Mount Airy was most likely a gift from his father, Lord Baltimore, who had ensured that Calvert would be provided with lands and revenues. Calvert began construction on the house at Mount Airy in 1751, expanding it considerably, to create the house which still survives today. Building continued in spite of a fire, rumored to be arson, in 1752.

By the 1770s Benedict Swingate Calvert controlled a large and profitable estate of around 4,000 acres (16 km2), with upwards of 150 slaves. He was also an enthusiastic horse breeder, training thoroughbreds and running them in competitions in Maryland and Virginia .

According to the writer Abbe Robin, who travelled through Maryland during the Revolutionary War, men of Calvert's class and status enjoyed considerable wealth and prosperity:

"[Maryland houses] are large and spacious habitations, widely separated, composed of a number of buildings and surrounded by plantations extending farther than the eye can reach, cultivated...by unhappy black men whom European avarice brings hither...Their furniture is of the most costly wood, and rarest marbles, enriched by skilful and artistic work. Their elegant and light carriages are drawn by finely bred horses, and driven by richly apparelled slaves."


In 1774, Calvert's daughter Eleanor Calvert (1758–1811), married John Parke Custis, son of Martha Washington and the stepson of George Washington. Washington himself did not approve of the match owing to the couple's youth, but eventually gave his consent, and was present at the wedding celebrations, which took place at Mount Airy.


Sir Robert Eden, Calvert's brother-in-law, and the last colonial Governor of Maryland. As a member of the Maryland political establishment, Calvert was a Loyalist, and he soon found himself on the losing side of the Revolutionary War, the consequences of which would effectively end his political career. The Annapolis Convention of 1774 to 1776 would see the old Maryland elite overthrown, and Calvert, Eden and Steuart would all lose their political power. On May 13, 1777 he was forced to resign his position as Judge of the Land Office, and, as the conflict grew, Calvert became fearful of his family's safety, writing in late 1777 that his family "has been made so uneasy by these frequent outrages" that he wished to "remove my family and property where I can get protection".

Calvert did not leave Maryland, nor did he involve himself in the fighting, even though many other Maryland Loyalists went on to form a Maryland Loyalists Battalion. On occasion Calvert supplied the Continental Army with food and provisions.

In spite of the war, on June 15, 1780 Calvert's daughter Elizabeth was married to Charles Steuart, son of Calvert's benefactor George H. Steuart, at Mount Airy.

After the war's end, Calvert had to pay triple taxes as did other Loyalists, but he was never forced to sign the loyalty oath and his lands and property remained unconfiscated.

Curiously, Calvert's Loyalism does appear to have affected his cordial relations with the leader of the Revolution, George Washington. In 1783, after the war was over, Washington stayed with the Calverts at their Mount Airy plantation, shortly after resigning his commission in Annapolis On December 23. Because Calvert was a known Loyalist, the visit drew much criticism from Washington's political enemies.

Family life

Rebecca Calvert (born December 25, 1749) Charles Calvert (1756–1777), who was sent to be educated in England at Eton College and died young and unmarried.[34] Eleanor Calvert (1757/1758-1811), who on February 3, 1774 married John Parke Custis (1754–1781), son of Daniel Parke Custis and Martha Washington and the stepson of George Washington. Washington himself did not approve of the match owing to the couple's youth. Eleanor and John were the parents of George Washington Parke Custis and Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis. She later remarried in 1783 David Stuart. Elizabeth Calvert (1760–1814), who on June 15, 1780 married the physician Charles Steuart (1750–1798/1822), third son of Calvert's former guardian George H. Steuart. Philip Calvert, died young Leonard Calvert, died young Cecilius Calvert, died young John Calvert (died aft. 1788) William Calvert (died aft. 1788) Robert Calvert, died young Ariana Calvert (died aft. 1788) Edward Henry Calvert (November 7, 1766 - July 12, 1846), who inherited Calvert's plantation at Mount Airy and married on March 1, 1796 Elizabeth Biscoe (1780–1857) George Calvert (Mount Airy, February 2, 1768 – January 28, 1838), who married on June 11, 1799 Rosalie Eugenia Stier (1778–1821), the daughter of a wealthy Belgian aristocrat, Baron Henri Joseph Stier (1743–1821) and his wife Marie Louise Peeters. They lived at the Riversdale plantation, designated a National Historic Landmark in 1997.

Calvert is buried beneath the chancel of the church of St Thomas in Croom, Prince George's County, Maryland.Benedict Swingate Calvert died at Mount Airy on January 9, 1788. He was buried beneath the chancel of the church of St Thomas in Croom, Prince George's County, Maryland, a church which Calvert had helped to found and maintain.

Calvert's descendants continued to live at the Mount Airy plantation house until the early 20th century. In 1973, it was acquired by the State of Maryland and became Rosaryville State Park.

-------------------- Birth: Jan. 27, 1722 Death: Jan. 9, 1788 Prince George's County Maryland, USA

Politician and planter. Born in England, he was the illegitimate son of Charles Calvert, 5th Baron Baltimore and Melusina von der Schulenburg. He was a Maryland Loyalist during the American Revolution, judge of the Land Office, and member of the Governor's Council, but lost political favor and position by being on the loosing side of the Revolution. His daughter, Eleanor, married John Parke Custis, son of Martha Washington and stepson of George Washington. Shortly after resigning his commission in Annapolis, Washington stayed with the Calverts at their Mount Airy Mansion. Because Calvert was a Loyalist, the visit drew much criticism from Washington's enemies. Nevertheless, the families maintained close ties and contact. Calvert remained on his Mount Airy plantation and was a successful planter until his death.

Buried in a vault under the Chancel rail along with his wife, Elizabeth who also died in 1798. Also in same vault is their daughter Eleanor Calvert Custis Stuart.

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Benedict Swingate Calvert's Timeline

1724
1724
England, United Kingdom
1748
April 21, 1748
Age 24
Annapolis, Anne Arundel County, Province of Maryland, (Present USA)
1749
December 15, 1749
Age 25
1754
1754
Age 30
Upper Marlboro, Prince George, MD
1756
October 3, 1756
Age 32
Pr Geo's Co., Md
1760
1760
Age 36
1766
November 7, 1766
Age 42
Md
1768
February 2, 1768
Age 44
Mt. Airy, Prince Georges Co., Maryland
1788
1788
Age 64
1788
Age 64