Charles Calvert, 3rd Baron Baltimore

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Charles Calvert

Birthdate: (77)
Birthplace: Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
Death: February 21, 1715 (77)
London, Middlesex, England, United Kingdom
Place of Burial: Camden Borough, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
Immediate Family:

Son of Cecilius Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore and Anne Calvert
Husband of Henrietta Calvert; Mary Calvert; Jane Calvert and Margaret Eliot
Father of Charles Calvert, 14th Proprietary Governor of Maryland; Mary Calvert; Cecil Calvert; Clare Sommerset; Ann Paston and 1 other
Brother of Georgiana Calvert; John Calvert; Mary Calvert; George Calvert; Frances Calvert and 4 others

Occupation: 3rd baron Baltimore
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Charles Calvert, 3rd Baron Baltimore

Third Lord Baltimore

Gov. of MD 1661,_3rd_Baron_Baltimore

Charles Calvert, 3rd Baron Baltimore, 2nd Proprietor Governor of Maryland (August 27, 1637 – February 21, 1715) was the second Proprietary Governor of the Province of Maryland, inheriting the colony in 1675 upon the death of his father, Cecilius Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore. He had been his father's Deputy Governor since 1661 when he arrived in the colony at the age of 24. However, Charles left Maryland for England in 1684 and would never return. The events following the Glorious Revolution in England in 1688 would cost Calvert his title to Maryland; in 1689 the royal charter to the colony was withdrawn, leading to direct rule by the British Crown. Calvert married four times, outliving three wives, and died in England in 1715 at the age of 78, his family fortunes much diminished. With his death he passed his title, and his claim to Maryland, to his son Benedict Leonard Calvert, 4th Baron Baltimore (1679–1715), who outlived him by just two months. It would fall to Charles' grandson, Charles Calvert, 5th Baron Baltimore to see the family proprietorship in Maryland restored by the king.

Charles was born in England on August 27, 1637, and witnessed the religious conflicts of the English Civil War. His father Cecilius Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore (1605–1675) was the first Proprietor Governor of Maryland, and 9th Proprietor Governor of Newfoundland. His mother was Anne Arundell, daughter of the 1st Baron Arundell of Wardour. Anne and Cecil were married in 1627 or 1628, and had nine children. However, only two of Charles' siblings survived to adulthood, and Anne herself died in 1649 when the young Charles was just 12 years old..

Political background

The Calvert family were Roman Catholics and had founded Maryland as a Catholic colony of Great Britain. Cecil Calvert had received the proprietorship that was intended for his father, George Calvert, the 1st Lord Baltimore, who died in 1632, shortly before it was granted. Cecil established his colony in Maryland from his home in England, and as a Roman Catholic continued the legacy of his father by promoting religious tolerance in the colony. He governed Maryland for forty-two years, though he never visited his colony in person.

In 1649 Maryland passed the Maryland Toleration Act, also known as the Act Concerning Religion, a law mandating religious tolerance for trinitarian Christians. Passed on September 21, 1649 by the assembly of the Maryland colony, it was the first law requiring religious tolerance in the British North American colonies. The Calvert family sought enactment of the law to protect Catholic settlers and those of other religions that did not conform to the dominant Anglicanism of Britain and her colonies.

Arrival in Maryland

Charles Calvert sailed to Maryland in 1661 as a young man of 24, becoming the first member of the Calvert family to take personal charge of the colony. He was appointed deputy governor by his father and, when Cecil Calvert died in 1675, Charles inherited Maryland, becoming governor in his own right. Some time before 1666, he was married to Mary Darnall, daughter of Ralph Darnall, and the first of Calvert's four wives. The Darnall family were wealthy Maryland planters, and also Roman Catholics. Tragically, Mary did not live long; she died in childbirth sometime before 1667. Charles was not slow to find a new bride. in 1667 he was married a second time, to Jane Lowe (1664-1693/94), the widow of Colonel Henry Sewall of St. Mary's County, Maryland. In late 1667 or early 1668 they had a son, Cecil Calvert.

Economic problems

Calvert's life as governor was aggravated by growing economic problems. From the 1660s onwards, the price of tobacco, the staple crop of Maryland and its chief source of export income, began a long slide, causing economic hardship especially among the poor. In 1666 neighbouring Virginia proposed a "stint" on tobacco growing, a one year moratorium that would lower supply and so drive up prices. Calvert initially agreed to this plan but came to realize that the burden of the stint would fall chiefly upon his poorest subjects, who comprised "the generality of the province". Eventually he vetoed the bill, much to the disgust of the Virginians,[6] though in the end Nature provided a stint of her own in the form of a hurricane which devastated the 1667 tobacco crop.

Religion and Politics

By the time Charles Calvert became governor, the population of the province had gradually shifted due to Puritan immigration, becoming in time overwhelmingly Protestant. Political political power however tended to remain concentrated in the hands of the largely Roman Catholic elite. In spite of this demographic shift away from Catholicism, Calvert attempted to preserve Maryland's Catholic identity. From 1669 to 1689, of 27 men who sat on the Governor's Council, just 8 were Protestant. Most councillors were Catholics, and many were related by blood or marriage to the Calverts, enjoying political patronage and often lucrative offices such as commands in the militia or sinecures in the Land Office.

Much conflict between Calvert and his subjects turned on the question of how far English law should be applied in Maryland, and to what degree the proprietary government might exercise its own prerogative outside of the law. Delegates to the assembly wished to establish the "full force and power" of the law but Calvert, ever protective of his prerogative, insisted that only he and his councillors might decide where and when English law should apply. Such uncertainty could and did permit the charge of arbitrary government.

Calvert acted in various ways to restrain the influence of the Protestant majority. In 1670 he restricted suffrage to men who owned 50 acres or more, or held property worth more than 40 pounds. He also restricted election to Maryland's House of Delegates to those who owned at least 1,000 acres (4 km²) of land.[citation needed] In 1676 he directed the voters to return half as many delegates to the assembly, two instead of four. Measures like these might make the assembly easier easier to manage, but they tended to strain relations between Calvert and his subjects.


One of Calvert's earliest decisions, regarding the position of Africans imported into Maryland, would have long-term and baleful consequences. Although the first Africans had been brought to Maryland in 1642, when 13 slaves arrived at St. Mary's City, the first English settlement in the Province, their legal status was initially unclear and colonial courts tended to rule that a slave who accepted Christian baptism should be freed. In order to protect the rights of their owners, laws began to be passed to clarify the legal position. In 1663 the Assembly ruled that slaves should be slaves for life, and that the children of slaves should also be enslaved for life, thus perpetuating the institution of slavery for the next 200 years, until its eradication during the Civil War. However, the impact of such harsh laws would not be felt for some time, as large scale importation of Africans would not begin until the 1690s.

Religious conflicts

In 1675 the elder Lord Baltimore died, and Charles Calvert, now 38 years old, returned to London in order to be elevated to his barony. His political enemies now took the opportunity of his absence to launch a scathing attack on the proprietorial government, publishing a pamphlet in 1676 titled A Complaint from Heaven with a Hue and Crye...out of Maryland and Virginia, listing numerous grievances, and in particular complaining of the lack of an established church. Neither was the Church of England happy with Maryland's experiment in religious tolerance. The Anglican minister John Yeo wrote scathingly to the Archbishop of Canterbury, complaining that Maryland was "in a deplorable condition" and had become "a sodom of uncleanliness and a pesthouse of iniquity".[6] This was taken sufficiently seriously in London that the Privy Council directed Calvert to respond to the complaints made against him.

Calvert's response to these challenges was defiant. He hanged two of the would-be rebels, and moved to re-assert Maryland's religious diversity. His written response illustrates the difficulties facing his administration; Calvert wrote that Maryland settlers were "Presbyterians, Independents, Anabaptists, and Quakers, those of the Church of England as well as the Romish being the would be a most difficult task to draw such persons to consent unto a Law which shall compel them to maintaine ministers of a contrary perswasion to themselves".


In 1679 Charles and Jane celebrated a second son, Benedict. But two years later, in 1681, Lord Baltimore once again faced rebellion, led by a former governor of the province Josias Fendall (1657–60) and John Coode (Coode would later lead the successful rebellion of 1689). Fendall was tried, convicted, fined forty thousand pounds of tobacco and exiled, but his co-conspirator Coode successfully escaped retribution.

By this time the political fabric of the province was starting to tear. The governor of Virginia reported that "Maryland is now in torment...and in great danger of falling in pieces". Relations between the governing council and the assembly grew increasingly poor. Underlying much of the rancour was the continued slide in the price of tobacco, which by the 1680s had fallen 50% in 30 years. In 1681 Baltimore also faced personal tragedy; his eldest son and heir, Cecil, died, leaving his second son Benedict as the heir presumptive to the Calvert inheritance.

During his term he also engaged in an expansion of public services building court houses, jails, roads and highways as well as modernizing Maryland's military defences.

Border conflict with Pennsylvania

Adding to his difficulties, Calvert found himself embroiled in a serious conflict over land boundaries with William Penn, engaging in a dispute over the border between Maryland and Pennsylvania. In 1681 King Charles II had granted Penn a substantial but rather vague proprietorship to the north of Maryland. Penn however began building his capital city south of the 40th Parallel, in Maryland territory. Penn and Calvert met twice to negotiate a settlement, but were unable to reach agreement.

Departure for England

In 1684, Charles Calvert travelled to England, both to defend himself in the dispute with Penn as well as to answer charges that he favoured Catholics in the colony. He would never return to Maryland.

Calvert left the province in the care of his nephew George Talbot, whom he made acting governor, placing him at the head of the Governor's Council. Unfortunately Talbot proved to be a poor choice, stabbing to death a Royal customs official on board his ship in the Patuxent River, and thereby ensuring that his uncle suffered immediate difficulties on his return to London. Calvert's replacement for Talbot was another Roman Catholic, William Joseph, who would also prove controversial. In November 1688 Joseph set about offending local opinion by lecturing his Maryland subjects on morality, adultery and the divine right of kings, lambasting the colony as "a land full of adulterers".

Glorious Revolution in England

In England, events now began to move decisively against the Calverts and their political interest. In 1688 the country underwent what would later become known as the Glorious Revolution, during which the Catholic King James II of England was deposed and the Protestant monarchs King William and Mary II of England were installed on the throne. This triumph of the Protestant faction would cause Calvert considerable political difficulties. Sensibly, Calvert moved quickly to support the new regime, sending a messenger to Maryland to proclaim the new King and Queen. Unfortunately for Lord Baltimore, the messenger died during the journey, and a second envoy (if one was ever sent - Calvert would later claim that it was) never arrived.

Protestant Revolution in Maryland

Meanwhile, Maryland Puritans, by now a substantial majority in the colony, feeding on rumors from England and fearing Popish plots, began to organize rebellion against the proprietary government. Governor Joseph did not improve the situation by refusing to convene the assembly and, ominously, recalling weapons from storage, ostensibly for repair. Protestants, angry at the apparent lack of official support for the new King and Queen, and resentful of the preferment of Catholics like deputy governor Colonel Henry Darnall to official positions of power, began to arm themselves. In the summer of 1789 an army of 700 Puritans led by Colonel John Coode, and calling themselves the Protestant Associators, defeated a proprietorial army led by Colonel Darnall. Darnall, heavily outnumbered, later wrote: "Wee being in this condition and no hope left of quieting the people thus enraged, to prevent effusion of blood, capitulated and surrendered."

After this "Protestant Revolution" in Maryland, The victorious Coode and his Puritan allies set up a new government that outlawed Catholicism; Catholics would thereafter be forced to maintain secret chapels in their home in order to celebrate the Roman Catholic Mass. In 1704 an Act was passed "to prevent the growth of Popery in this Province", preventing Catholics from holding political office. Full religious toleration would not be restored in Maryland until the American Revolution, when Darnall's great-grandson Charles Carroll of Carrollton, arguably the wealthiest Catholic in Maryland, signed the American Declaration of Independence.

John Coode would remain in power until the new royal governor, Nehemiah Blakiston was appointed on July 27, 1691. Charles Calvert himself would never return to Maryland, and, worse, his family's royal charter to the colony was withdrawn in 1689. Henceforth Maryland would be administered directly by the British monarchy.

Later life

Calvert's political difficulties did not end with the loss of Maryland. In 1694 he was named in connection with the Titus Oates plot, though he successfully evaded arrest. In 1696 he was made brigadier general, and then in 1704 rose to the rank of major-general. 

Calvert's second wife Jane died in around 1693, and Calvert married a third time, to Mary Bankes, some time between 1701 and 1710. His fourth and final marriage was to Margaret Charleton, daughter of Thomas Charleton, in 1712.

Calvert's residence in England was his family's estate at Woodcote Park in Surrey. In around 1712, Woodcote was described by Celia Fiennes:

"Lord Baltimores in Woodcut Green encompassed with a wall at the entrance, a breast wall with pallisadoes, large courts one within the other, and a back way to the stables where there is a pretty horse pond; the house is old but low, though large run over much ground; as I drove by the side saw broad chimneys on the end and at due distance on the side on both ends the sides of a court which terminated in a building on which there is a lead with railes and barristers."

Relations with his son Benedict

Charles never abandoned his commitment to the Catholic faith, despite the adverse political consequences. But his eldest son Benedict Calvert, 4th Baron Baltimore (1679–1715), was less dogmatic. Benedict correctly calculated that the chief impediment to the restoration of his family's title to Maryland was the question of religion. Accordingly, he converted to Anglicanism, deciding to "embrace the protestant religion", and gambling that this move would win back his family's lost fortune in the New World. Such a bold move would however come at a high price. Lord Baltimore, furious at his son's apostacy, withdrew his annual allowance of £450 and ended his support for his grandchildren's education and maintenance. However, Charles Calvert died in 1715, passing his title, and his claim to Maryland, to his son Benedict. He is. buried in St Pancras.

Charles Calvert may also have had an illegitimate son, Captain Charles Calvert, who in 1720 would become Governor of Maryland. Captain Calvert's daughter Elizabeth went on to marry Benedict Swingate Calvert, who was himself the illegitimate son of Charles Calvert, 5th Baron Baltimore.


Upon his father's death, Charles' son Benedict Calvert, 4th Baron Baltimore petitioned King George I for the restoration of his family's proprietorial title to Maryland. Unfortunately, before the king could rule on the petition, Benedict died, just two months after his father, passing on his title in turn to his son Charles. On May 15 1715 Charles Calvert, 5th Baron Baltimore soon found himself, aged just sixteen, in the fortunate position of having had his family's proprietorial title to Maryland restored by the king. In 1721 he sailed to Maryland and assumed personal control of the colony, which would remain under the control of the Calvert family until 1776. In a final irony however, the younger Charles Calvert would have to convert to Anglicanism in order to win back his family's province. The Calvert family's dream of a haven in the Americas for Roman Catholics was at an end, and it would take an American Revolution and the overthrow of the Calvert proprietary government to restore religious tolerance to Maryland.

Charles County, Maryland, was named after him.

BORN: on September 29, 1699, in England; eldest son. IMMIGRATED: in December 1732. RESIDED: in England; in Maryland from December 1732 until July 1733 when he returned to England.

FAMILY BACKGROUND. FATHER: Benedict Leonard Calvert, 4th Lord Baltimore (1679—1715). STEPFATHER: Christopher Crewe. MOTHER: Lady Charlotte Lee (7—1721). BROTHERS: Benedict Leonard Calvert (1700—1732); Edward Henry Calvert (1701—1730); and Cecilius Calvert (1702—1765). SISTERS: Charlotte Calvert (17O2—l744); Jane Calvert (1703—?); Barbara Calvert (1704—died young); and Anne Calvert. ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: His parents were divorced in 1705.

MARRIED in 1730 Mary Janssen (?—1748), daughter of Sir Theodore Janssen (ca. 1658—1748), who immigrated from France to England in 1680, was naturalized in 1685, and became a baronet in 1714, and wife Williamsa (?—1731); granddaughter of Sir Robert Henley, M.P. Her brothers included Abraham Janssen (?—1765); Henry Janssen (?—1766); Stephen Theodore Janssen (?—1777), lord mayor of London; and William Janssen (?—ca. 1740/41), principal secretary of Maryland from February 1732/33 until death. Her sisters included Barbara Janssen, who married Thomas Bladen (1698—1780).

CHILDREN. SONS: Frederick Calvert, 6th Lord Baltimore (1731/32— 1771); Charles Calvert (1737—died young). NATURAL SON: Benedict Calvert (ca. 1724-1788). DAUGHTERS:Frances Dorothy Calvert (1734-1736); Louisa Calvert, who married John Browning (?—1792); and Caroline Calvert, who married Robert Eden (1741—1784).

PRIVATE CAREER. EDUCATION; literate. RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION; Catholic, converted to Anglican. SOCIAL STATUS AND ACTIVITIES: fellow of the Royal Society. ADDITIONAL COMMENTS; Thomas Carlyle (1795—1881) described Calvert "as something of a fool, to judge by the face of him in portraits, and by some of his doings in the world,” but a modern historian credits him as being “a careful and fairly successful administrator.” OCCUPATIONAL PROFILE; proprietor of Maryland, 1715—1751.

PUBLIC CAREER. PROVINCIAL OFFICES; governor, 1732— 1733; chancellor, 1732—1733. OUT OF COLONY SERVICE; cofferer to H.R.H. Frederick, Prince of Wales; lord of the Admiralty, 1741; M.P., Surrey, England.

WEALTH DURING LIFETIME. As proprietor Calvert’s private income included duties enacted by the provincial legislature for his benefit, such as a 14 pence sterling per ton duty on shipping, plus up to £10,000 sterling per year in land revenues. Calvert owned all unpatented land in Maryland. He personally owned twenty-one manors in various locations in the colony, plus reserves around each manor to prevent encroachment by patentees. Manor and reserved lands totaled at least 103,000 acres. By 1751 manor lands amounted to ca. 111,500 acres.

WEALTH AT DEATH. DIED; on April 24, 1751; size of estate unknown.

Source: Edward C. Papenfuse, et al., A Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature, 1635-1789. Vol. I, A-H. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979.

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Charles Calvert, 3rd Baron Baltimore's Timeline

August 27, 1637
Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
Age 29
Age 30
Age 32
Prince George's County, Province of Maryland
Age 35
Prince Georges,Maryland
March 21, 1679
Age 41
Pebworth, Worcestershire, United Kingdom
Age 50