Founders of Maryland

LeadAdThis past summer, the release of images and data discovered in the burials beneath the Jamestowne Colony’s first parish chancel attracted nationwide interest. These were remarkable for their antiquity, the prominent positions the interred colonists had occupied, and the unique reliquary buried with Captain Gabriel Archer.

A generation after Jamestowne was first settled, a major settlement was made at the northern periphery of the Virginia settlement, along the Chesapeake Bay and inland to the west. In 1990, the lead coffins of St. Mary’s City’s founders, a Calvert husband and wife, were discovered beneath the Jesuit chapel there. While the Jamestowne burials continue to be studied, the seventeenth-century coffins of Chancellor Philip and Anne (Wolseley) Calvert may be visited at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore through this, their last weekend there (the exhibit runs through at least 6 December). The genealogical community, and especially the Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Maryland, worked with the Maryland Historical Society, Historic Saint Mary’s City, and the Smithsonian Institution to make this exhibit possible. The Calverts will finally be reinterred at Saint Mary’s City after the exhibit closes next week.

Philip Calvert

Philip Calvert was the son of George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore, from his second marriage. When Philip first stepped ashore near Saint Mary’s City in 1656, his older half-brother, Governor Leonard Calvert, had been dead several years and his oldest half-brother, Cecilius, 2nd Lord Baltimore, had other obligations in Great Britain. The senior representative of his family in the New World, he dutifully took up the charge of service to his father and brother’s visionary Maryland colony. Leonard Calvert resided at his manor, Pope’s Freehold, in Saint Mary’s County, and died at a later-acquired estate, Saint Peter’s, late in December 1682.

Anne (Wolseley) Calvert

Calvert’s wife Anne Wolseley, daughter of Sir Thomas Wolseley of Staffordshire, accompanied him to Maryland in 1656. The treatment of her body before it was interred has been widely remarked upon: as a Maryland State Archives staffer put it, “ [she was] buried with such tender loving care – arms folded and tied with silk ribbon, rosemary, the herb of remembrance sprinkled lovingly over her body.” She died in about 1680.


Philip and Anne (Wolseley) Calvert left no identified descendants. The presence of the third coffin, belonging to an infant, leaves some question as to whether Philip might have produced a child in his brief marriage to a second wife, Jane Sewall, daughter of Henry and Jane (Lowe) Sewall.

Several of Philip’s half-siblings, children of the 1st Lord Baltimore by his first wife, Anne (Mynne) Calvert, left descendants, including the later Lords Baltimore. While descendants continued to marry British nobles and gentry, many, too, married among the leading Catholic families of Maryland. By the twenty-first century, they can be found among the ancestors of many thousands of Americans with colonial Mid-Atlantic and Southern ancestry.

For more information, see the Smithsonian Institution—National Museum of Natural History’s interactive website on the Saint Mary’s City chapel site where the coffins were recovered.

References at NEHGS:

  • Hester Dorsey Richardson, Side-lights on Maryland History with Sketches of Early Maryland Families (1913; reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1995).
  • George Ely Russell and Donna Valley Russell, eds., The Ark and The Dove Adventurers (Baltimore: GPC, 2005).
  • John Frederick Dorman, comp., Adventurers of Purse and Person: Virginia, 1607-1624/5, 4th ed., Vol. 1 (Baltimore: GPC, 2004).
  • John D. Krugler, English and Catholic: The Lords Baltimore in the Seventeenth Century, The Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004).
  • Edward D. Neill, Terra Mariæ: or Threads of Maryland Colonial History (1867; reprint, Salem, Mass.: Higginson, 1997).
  • Neill, The Founders of Maryland: As Portrayed in Manuscripts, Provincial Records, and Early Documents (1876; reprint, Salem, Mass.: Higginson, 1997).
  • William McSherry, A Relation of the Colony of the Lord Baron of Baltimore in Maryland, near Virginia; A Narrative of the Voyage to Maryland by Father Andrew White; and Sundry Reports from Fathers Andrew White, John Altham, John Brock, and other Jesuit Fathers of the Colony to the Superior General at Rome (Washington, D.C., 1846).

About Christopher Carter Lee

Christopher Carter Lee is a Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society, past member of the Committee on Heraldry of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, and contributor to NEHGS's The Mayflower Descendant and other peer-reviewed journals. He has been part of the teaching staff of Boston University's graduate certificate in Genealogical Research and overseen implementation strategies for lineage and genealogical organizations. As a management and development professional, he has leveraged his expertise for roles with the U.S. Institute of Peace, General Society of Mayflower Descendants, Leyden Preservation Group, and the Center for Education Reform. He serves on several heritage organization and preservation boards and is also co-founder and director of programs that support the homeless and disabled.

6 thoughts on “Founders of Maryland

  1. Hi Chris,
    As a Chesapeake Bay descendant I loved your post and the exciting things that are being discovered with regard to our Maryland heritage. Many kudos to you for bringing new light to this vast heritage that is so often placed on the back burner in favor of our Brahman New Englanders. I look forward to seeing more of your posts and of learning more.

    J. Record

  2. ~ Greetings Chris. I enjoyed reading your excerpts regarding my family. Sir George Calvert, First Lord Baltimore, is/was my maternal 9th Great Grandfather, and son, Leonard Burell Calvert, First Governor of Maryland, is/was my maternal 8th Great Grandfather. The Calvert surname followed through the generations via the males. My great grandmother was born a Calvert, however, upon her marriage, the family name changed, although, we’re very proud of our Calvert heritage and revere our ancestors. I look forward to more of your research. ~

  3. Perhaps I read this too fast and missed it, but is there no plan to do DNA testing to answer the question about just who the infant is? Especially with all the living kin so close at hand.

  4. Christopher,
    I believe some members met you at the Order of Colonial Lords meeting in June.
    We want to get in touch with you but have NO address?

  5. Hi Christopher,
    I was handed a very old document some years ago by my mother, covering the history of one of my ancestors – Samuel Perry Mills, a London Barrister in 1853. It states that his mother was a Calvert, and a direct descendant of Frederick, the last Earl of Baltimore. I would like to understand more about Frederick Calvert and the daughter who’s name does not appear on the document. Is there somewhere that you can direct me to, in order to carry out my research?

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