Welcome back to the A to Z of discoveries, this week we explore B is for… Baltimore, Lord Baltimore. And dig back to the roots of Kiplin Hall, and its far-reaching connections around the globe.
In March 1625 James I rewarded George Calvert for his services as Secretary of State by creating the position Baron of Baltimore in County Longford, Ireland. Making him the First Lord Baltimore. George owned lands in County Longford, and in 1619 purchased land at Kiplin in North Yorkshire, England, where he was born.
He’d been born a Roman Catholic but was educated by a protestant teacher as required by the King at that time. As a young man and adult, he worked in the court of James I. Calvert’s first wife, Anne, bore him eleven children. Sadly, she died in childbirth in 1622.
Kiplin Hall was built for George Calvert, Lord Baltimore, in the early 1620’s as a hunting lodge. The fashionable building served as a status symbol of his career and importance. Built in red brick rather than local stone the building was an expensive undertaking, expressing his wealth to all. Viewed from above the unusual placements of the towers in the middle of the walls, rather than the four corners, creates a cross shape. Having proclaimed himself a Catholic in 1625 some suggest this layout was making a statement about his faith too.
Calvert made a number of attempts to create colonies overseas. First in Newfoundland, now part of Canada. But he found the climate too harsh. He also tried to settle in Virginia but found an unwelcoming reception as a Catholic. In 1632 after years of negotiations with Charles I he secured permission to seek lands north of Virgina, to be called Terra Mariae, or Maryland, in honour of Queen Henrietta Maria. George Calvert, First Lord Baltimore died in April of that year so his son Cecil Calvert became 2nd Lord Baltimore, the first proprietor of Maryland. Cecil appointed his brother, Leonard, the first Governor of Maryland.
The first 150 settlers left England in 1633, some from the Kiplin area of Yorkshire, on two ships, the Ark and the Dove. Some individuals living in Maryland today can trace their ancestry back to passengers on these ships. They are members of an exclusive club, called the Society of the Ark and the Dove. The Baltimore name is embedded in Maryland today as the name of its largest city and the area known as Baltimore County. There is also a region known as Calvert County. The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in Maryland features a working replica of the vessel the Dove. There are a number of resources online if anyone would like know more about this museum.
Kiplin maintains strong links with Maryland today. The University of Maryland have a study centre at Kiplin, where students visit the UK as part of their education. Members of the Ark and Dove Society have also visited Kiplin in recent years, exploring their heritage.
You can hear more about the Calverts from Kiplin’s long-serving, and now retired curator, Dawn Webster in a short film on the Kiplin Hall YouTube page titled – A Kiplin Treasury – Calvert (Filmed in 2019). More recently the current Director of Kiplin Hall and Gardens, James Etherington, was interviewed by US-based heritage podcast PreserveCast about Kiplin’s links to Maryland. You can hear the interview online HERE.
There were 6 Barons Baltimore in total, Charles, the 5th Lord Baltimore sold Kiplin Hall to his stepfather, Christopher Crowe in 1722. Charlotte Lee wife of the 4th Baron Baltimore, and mother of Charles, remarried following the death of her first husband Benedict Leonard Calvert. Charlotte married Christopher Crowe and Kiplin Hall remained under Crowe family ownership until 1868. More information on the Kiplin Family Trees can be found HERE.
In the past many institutions, like Kiplin Hall and Gardens, have venerated our founders and the families who lived here. Looking back fondly on their deeds and achievements. We will continue to celebrate their achievement, but we know their lives are likely to be far more complex and their actions, whilst deemed normal at the time, will not always be in line with our current standards today. These complex stories are not yet fully known to us and require more research to understand and present in a sensitive and nuanced way. This is something we intend to tackle in the future when we are able to allocate resources to ensure this work can be carried out fully and transparently.
Join us next time as we explore what C is for…