The First Lord Baltimore's Letter to the King
One of the most remarkable documents in all the history of Maryland is the letter written by the first Lord Baltimore from Newfoundland, George Calvert, to King Charles I, requesting the grant of "a precinct of land" in Virginia, where he might make a settlement. The ultimate result of this appeal was the Charter of Maryland. A copy of this letter, which appears to be a contemporary draft, probably made by of Calvert's company, the last page of which is reproduced below, was purchased in London in 1929 by Dr. Hugh H. Young, along with some thirty-nine other important papers which had belonged to the second and third Lords.
These documents had been turned over to their solicitor by the Calverts for use in connection with the litigation concerning the Pennsylvania boundary. They were acquired by Dr. Young when offered for sale by descendants of the solicitor. In 1943, he generously presented the whole collection to the library.
It will be recalled that George, Lord Baltimore, had established a colony in Newfoundland as early as 1621, but was too busy with affairs of state to go out to it till after his retirement from the secretaryship. Following a short visit in 1627 to Avalon, as the colony was called, he returned next year with most of his family and spent a hard winter there. On August 19, 1629, he writes to the King from Ferryland, in Avalon, as follows:
From the midst of October to the midst of May there is a sad face of winter upon all this land, both sea and land so frozen for the greatest part of the time as they are not penetrable no plant or vegetable thing appearing out of the earth until it be about the beginning of May, nor fish in the sea besides the air so intollerable cold as it is hardly to be endured. By means whereof, and of much salt, meat, my house has been hospital all this winter, of 100 persons 50 sick at a time, myself being one and nine of ten or them died. Hereupon I have had strong temptations to leave all proceeding in plantations, and being much decayed in my strength to retire myself to my former quiet; but my inclination carrying me naturally to these kind of works, and not knowing how better to employ the poor reminder of my days than with other good subjects to further the best I may the enlarging your Majesty's empire in this part of the world I am determined to commit this place to fishermen that are better able to encounter storms and hard weather, and to remove myself with some 40 persons to your Majesty's dominion of Virginia, where if your Majesty will please to grant me a precinct of land with such privileges as the King your father my gracious master was pleased to grant me here, I shall endeavour to the utmost of my power to deserve it and pray for your Majesty's long and happy reign as
your Majesty's most humble &
faithful subject and servant.
Ferryland 19, August 1629