This document constitutes the response of Cecil Calvert (1605–1675), second Lord Baltimore, to charges that he was not maintaining and defending the Protestant religion in his colony.
Cecil Calvert's father, George, first Lord Baltimore, was granted a patent to the Chesapeake Bay region in 1632. The Calverts were Catholics, and Maryland was established partly as a refuge for Catholics persecuted in England. After the death of George, his son Cecil assumed proprietorship of the colony in England, while George Calvert's other son, Leonard, ruled as governor in America. The conflicts raging in England between King and Parliament had their manifestations in the American colonies, including struggles between Protestant Virginia and predominately Catholic Maryland over contested lands, such as Kent Island in the Chesapeake. In 1648–49, in order to ease tensions, Cecil Calvert encouraged Protestant settlements in Providence, Maryland. The present document grows out of the continuing tensions between Protestants and Catholics in the Chesapeake region.
The accusations against the Calverts were brought before the Committee of the Council of State by Captain Richard Ingle, a Protestant Parlimentarian, pirate, and rebel. Since his arrival in Maryland in 1642, Ingle had been a thorn in the side of the Calverts and the Maryland colonial authorities, and he contributed greatly to the instability in that colony in the 1640s. Ingle was several times accused of treason or piracy, was instrumental in the capture of Kent Island from Maryland in 1645, ransacked the homes of many of the wealthiest Marylanders, and captured St. Thomas' Fort. In 1646 he seized the government at St. Mary's, and forced Leonard Calvert into exile. In all, "there is no doubt that his presence in the early days of Maryland ultimately resulted in a period of turmoil in the colony that lasted nearly two years (ANB). That turmoil reached England when Ingle brought an action against the Calverts in 1646, seeking to disallow their legal title to Maryland. He argued that the Calverts were bound by their royal patent to maintain the Protestant religion in Maryland, that they had not done so, that Protestant estates in Maryland had been seized, and that Ingle personally had been persecuted. Given the religious zeal of the English Commonwealth and the turmoil caused by the Civil Wars (including Charles II's beheading just one month before this was written), this put Lord Baltimore's assets in a perilous situation.
Ingle's complaint was heard by the Council of State on 25 February 1649, and the present document constitutes Cecil Calvert's pre-hearing response to Ingle's charges. Calvert states that at the time King Charles I granted the proprietorship of Maryland to his family, it was well known that they were "Rescuants," or Catholics. He claims that the royal charter "obliged him to mayntayne no particular profession in religion" and points out that his Deputy and Secretary in Maryland are known to be Protestants. He also states that in Maryland "there is a law published there for the freedom of religion to allsuch as profess to believe in Jesus Christ," referring no doubt to the "Act Concerning Religion" that soon would be passed by the Maryland colonial assembly in April 1649 and would constitute the first law guaranteeing religious freedom to those professing any Christian faith in the British colonies. Lord Baltimore goes on to assert that Ingle had behaved "in a felonious and pryraticall way, about four years tyme (without any authority or warrant for soo doing) plundered his plantation and most barbarously used many of the inhabitants there." Lord Baltimore maintains that he is prepared to call witnesses currently in England, and to bring over witnesses from the colonies, who could attest to Ingle's actions and to the religious freedom practiced in Maryland. He concludes by appealing to the Council for a continued toleration of his rights as a Catholic Rescusant: "Hee humbly desires, and hopes, that his Religion shall not now bee esteemed, a sufficient cause to deprive him of his Inheritance in those parts: either in ye Law, or Government of his Colony there. For the government, was ye chiefest encouragement hee had to adventure a greate parte of his fortune thither: There being not Laws att ye tyme of his Grant, to prohibite any Recusant, from having ye command of his owne in so desert a place of the world."
In 1651, two years after the hearing, Ingle's claims and petitions were found to be "unprovided to prove his charges" (ANB) and the case was dismissed. Calvert though, still fearing a possible loss of his territory, published in 1653, "The Lord Baltimore's Case, concerning the Province of Maryland, adjoining Virginia in America."
The present document was acquired by Thomas Brian McKelvin Fairfax, 13th Lord Fairfax of Cameron, in 1937. The Fairfaxes had vast interests in colonial Virginia, which were often at odds with the Calvert family. The manuscript is accompanied by an album assembled for Lord Fairfax, which includes engraved portraits of the Calvert family, a transcription of the document, and other related material.
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