The State of Maryland is 380 years old today.
On March 25, 1634 two small ships, The Ark and The Dove, carrying 140 English settlers landed on St. Clement’s Island in the Potomac River. They’d left Cowes on the English Isle of Wight four months earlier with a charter from King Charles I to settle a new colony in North America (the third English colony in North America.)
It was a rough journey. Three days out of port they hit a severe storm and the two ships were separated. The Ark, the larger ship assumed the Dove was lost and …
continued its journey, following the European coast south to the Fortunate (now Canary) Islands. From the Canaries, the Ark sailed due west across the Atlantic, touching land at the island of Barbadoes in the West Indies on January 3, 1633/4. There, the ship’s weary travelers stayed three weeks replenishing provisions, and there the Dove reappeared, having weathered the Atlantic voyage alone. At other Caribbean isles they also landed, and then sailed north. They reached Virginia on February 27th, gathered more supplies, and navigated Chesapeake Bay north to the mouth of the Potomac by March 3rd. [maryland.gov]
After negotiating with the Native American Conoy tribe the settlers finally landed on Blackistone Island (they renamed it St. Clement’s Island.) Father Andrew White, a Jesuit priest, said Mass, and the group celebrated a day of thanksgiving. Leonard Calvert, younger brother of Lord Baltimore who had received the Charter from the King, and first governor of the colony erected a large cross.
Two days later, on March 27, 1634 the sailed about six miles up the river and established their first permanent settlement on a buff overlooking the St. Mary’s River. The location had been a Yaocomico village, but the Indians “were more than willing to turn their home over to the Englishmen.” [Maryland.gov “Maryland: At the Beginning”] When half the Yaocomicos left the English took over their bark huts as temporary dwellings. A “pallizado” (fort) was constructed and the colonist sowed the fields the Indians had already cleared. The countryside and river proved bountiful with game and fish. Relations between the Yaocomicos and the settlers was amicable and fair.
the natives supplied the English with corn and fish and were ready to teach them how to make corn bread and hominy, show them what herbs and roots could be used for medicine and dyes and cooperate in other ways. The English, for their part, paid the Indians for their land and supplies and the leaders wrote of the natives with respect. [Ibid]
St. Mary’s City became the capitol of the new colony, and the first Maryland legislative assembly took place the following winter (1634-35). A Court House and Jesuit Church were erected.
Maryland Day was created in 1903 to commemorate the landing on St. Clement’s Island. It became a legal holiday in 1916 in the state.
More facts about Maryland:
- Nickname: Old Line State
- Flower: Black-eyed Susan
- Tree: White Oak
- Bird: Baltimore Oriole
- Sport: Jousting
- Fish: Rockfish
- Dog: Chesapeake Bay Retriever
- Boat: Skipjack
- Population: 5,828,289 (as of 2011) [Info from Maryland.gov]
Largest City: Baltimore
Capital: Annapolis — Maryland’s capital moved up the Chesapeake Bay in 1694.
[All images were taken by me, unless otherwise noted]