Calverts & Gerrards


"I have sent a hopeful Colony to Maryland with a fair and probable Expectation of good Success"
     --January 1634, Cecilius Calvert, Maryland founder
George Calvert's dream of founding a Catholic enclave in the English colonies became a reality in 1634 with the landing of 128 Catholic settlers on Saint Clement's Island in Maryland.  Calvert had been the principal secretary to King James I of England, but he left the government after he declared his conversion to Roman Catholicism.  Later he persuaded new King Charles I, to give him a  proprietary colony that would be dedicated to religious freedom.  Calvert was awarded the title of Lord Baltimore, but he died before he was able to sign the deed to the colony.

In 1633, his son, Maryland Governor Cecilius Calvert,  commissioned two ships for the voyage.  He and Charles I issued a grant to Sir Thomas Gerard (Gerrard is the American spelling)  for an expedition to the Maryland colony. 

The grant, to Sir Thomas Gerard, Gentleman: "To have, wherever he may choose, on the north side of the Potomac River, a Manor (called) St. Clement's."  For Gerard, that was a tidy piece of land--16,400 acres including the islands of St. Clement's, St. Katherine's, and St. Margaret's.  Essentially, Sir Thomas was bankrolling a share of the expedition which was planned for 1634.

The Gerards of England --probable ancestors

The Gerards of Lancashire, England were a Catholic family of considerable standing in Britain which could be traced back to the General Survey of the Kingdom in 1078.  This had been a clan of Barons and Knights of the English court, Lord Barons of Byrne, and descendants of King Edward II.  The Gerards had been in charge of the court jewels, crowns and scepters of the British royalty at one time but presumably, religious-political conditions were changing for the family. 

Sir Thomas had been suffering some political problems.  He'd been trying to gain the release of Mary, Queen of Scots from the Tower--London's prison.  Sir Thomas' brother John was a Jesuit priest and was himself tortured in the Tower during one of England's religious upheavals.  Fr. John later founded a college at Liege, France.  So this Catholic family had become caught up in the Protestant-Catholic power struggles of Tudor England.  The remarkable grant led to the expedition and several Gerards traveled to the Maryland Colony.--including two of Sir Thomas' sons who arrived to claim Gerard lands, build their fortunes and leave their marks on Maryland forever. There is documentation linking the Gerards to the Maddox lineage.

Below: Painting of St. Clement's Landing.  Maryland Historical Society-Baltimore


Richard Gerrard
and his sister are recorded as making the expeditionary trip.  They are believed to have been children, siblings or cousins of Sir Thomas.

At left, Replica of the "Dove" at port in St. Mary's County.

The "Gentleman Adventurer" Gerrard returned to England to serve his king after the trip aboard the ships "Ark" and "Dove."

Gerrard was in the company of others who helped financed the expedition--Thomas Cornwallis (ancestor of Lord Cornwallis who was defeated by General Washington), Edward and Frederick Winter, Jerome Hawly, and John Sanders. 

The sailing adventure took place in 1634 and the ships landed at St. Clement's Island just offshore of St Mary's county.  Two Jesuit priests who accompanied the colonists erected a large cross and celebrated the first Catholic mass in this part of the world. 

Cecil Calvert remained in England to fight anti-papist feelings against the new colony and he appointed his brother Leonard to govern in his stead.

More on Proprietary Colonies and Manors...

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