Calvert, Cecil, second Baron Baltimore 1606-1675, colonial promoter, was baptized 2 March 1606, the son of George Calvert, first Baron Baltimore [qv.], and his wife Anne, daughter of George Mynne of Hertingfordbury. George Calvert (a protégé of Sir Robert Cecil, qv., after whom he named his eldest son) was a member of the privy council and principal secretary of state. He resigned his office but was retained on the council when he announced his reversion to Roman Catholicism. Cecil matriculated at Trinity College, Oxford, on 16 July 1621 but did not proceed to a degree. A year before his father avowed his change in faith, Cecil had journeyed to Rome and made his own profession of Catholicism. In 1628 Cecil married Anne (died 1649), the Catholic daughter of Thomas Arundell (first Baron Arundell of Wardour, qv.), and became firmly identified with the Catholic faction. They had at least two sons, the elder of whom died in infancy.
Calvert shared his fathers interest in the new world and was actively involved in his effort to establish a colony. When the charter to Maryland sought by George Calvert passed the Great Seal on 20 June 1632 Cecil Calvert was named the grantee, since his father had died earlier in the year. The charter granted Calvert palatinate powers over a domain of almost seven million acres from what had once belonged to Virginia. Disputes with that Chesapeake neighbour would trouble the new Lord Baltimore for the remainder of his life. He was himself forced to remain in England to defend his interests and never settled in his colony; he appointed first his brother Leonard [qv.] and then his second son Charles to the post of governor. Although concerned like his father to offer relief to Catholics, he was primarily motivated by the desire for profit that characterized most colonial promoters. The manuscript Account of the Colony of the Lord Baron of Baltimore, written by the Revd Andrew White and edited by Calvert (1633), enthused about the natural blessings of the region. Calvert favoured large investors who would bring indentured servants with them and granted large manors to these planters.
Vulnerable to the attacks of his enemies because of his religion, he publicly said little of the role of Catholics in the colony and urged them not to put themselves forward prominently. He worked to prevent the Jesuits from acquiring land and influence, though he supported their spiritual ministry to the Catholic settlers. In 1648 and 1649 he encouraged disgruntled Virginia Puritans to settle in Maryland. Through his instruction he was partly responsible for the 1649 Act Concerning Religion which was the earliest legislation in the English-speaking world that explicitly guaranteed toleration to all Christians. Though he sought to remain neutral during the English civil war, commissioners empowered by Parliament took control of the colony in 1652 and continued to administer Maryland until Oliver Cromwell restored Calverts proprietary rights in 1657.
Calverts last years as proprietor were troubled by growing divisions in Maryland. He responded with policies that restricted the franchise and gave the governor power to manipulate the composition of the lower legislative house. These in turn prompted greater resistance, and eventually a successful uprising against the proprietary in 1689, fourteen years after the death of Cecil Calvert, which had occurred 30 November 1675 in London. He was buried at St Giles-in-the-Fields, Middlesex. He was succeeded in the barony by his second son, Charles (born 1637).
William Hand Browne, George Calvert and Cecilius Calvert, 1890
David B. Quinn (ed.), Early Maryland in a Wider World, 1982
David W. Jordon, Foundations of Representative Government in Maryland, 1632-1715, 1987.
Contributor: Francis J. Bremer