Did you know that St. Mary’s City, Maryland was founded in 1634 by colonists from England? In 1630, George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore wanted to create a new colony where people of all faiths could tolerantly live with freedom and safety. In 1633, George Calvert’s younger son, Leonard, led the first settlers to Maryland. They purchased the site for their new settlement near the St. Mary River from the Yaocomico Native Americans. St. Mary’s City was the first settlement in Maryland and served as the capital until 1694. Currently, St. Mary’s City contains a reconstruction of the original colonial city, a fully-working replica of the ship The Dove, museums, and archeological sites.
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George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore was Roman Catholic during a time when there was religious persecution of the Catholic Church in England.
While George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore started the process to acquire a grant from the King, he did not live to see the establishment of a colony in the new world. His son, Cecil, 2nd Lord Baltimore, continued to work to gain the colonial grant; his younger son Leonard led the settlers to Maryland.
Tayac Kittamaquund, chief of the Piscataway Indian Nation, sold the land to the Leonard Calvert. He wanted to develop a relationship with the English newcomers as allies and trading partners.
St. Mary’s City was the capital of the Maryland colony until 1694, when the capital was moved to Annapolis.
After Maryland’s capital was changed to Annapolis, St. Mary’s City was eventually abandoned. The town center was eventually converted to agricultural land. In 1969, St. Mary’s City was declared a National Landmark. In the 1980’s archeological work started in earnest.
St. Mary’s City is sometimes considered the birthplace of religious freedom in America.
The Dove was one of the ships that brought colonists from England to Maryland.