O’Brien Rare Coin Review: The American Colonial Coins of Lord Baltimore (Maryland)


Strictly speaking, the 1st Lord Baltimore wasn’t really Irish, although he was a member of the Irish peerage, had an Irish title and and resided on his Irish estates shortly before travelling to the Americas to set up his first colony in Newfoundland. He died just after acquiring the charter for Maryland.

  • However, the numerous links to Ireland do merit this article’s publication on my website, although these coins were not struck or used in Ireland before being transported to Maryland for circulation there

The 1st Lord Baltimore (George Calvert) is best known as an English politician who achieved domestic political success as a Member of Parliament and later Secretary of State under King James I. It could also be argued that he wasn’t English either because his family originally came from Flanders (a Dutch-speaking area today across the English Channel in modern-day Kingdom of Belgium).

  • The 13 year old George Calvert went up to Trinity College, at Oxford University matriculating in 1593/94, where he studied foreign languages and received a bachelor’s degree in 1597
    • As the oath of allegiance was compulsory after the age of sixteen, Calvert (coming from a Catholic family) would almost certainly have pledged conformity (to Anglicanism) while at Oxford
    • The same pattern of conformity, whether pretended or sincere, continued through Calvert’s early life
    • After Oxford, he moved to London in 1598, where he studied municipal law at Lincoln’s Inn for three years
  • Calvert named his son “Cecilius” (1605-1675) for Sir Robert Cecil, first Earl of Salisbury, (1563-1612). Spymaster to Queen Elizabeth I, whom Calvert had met during an extended trip to Europe between 1601 and 1603, after which he became known as a specialist in foreign affairs
  • As Sir Robert Cecil rose, Calvert rose with him.
    • Calvert’s foreign languages, legal training, and discretion made him an invaluable aide to Cecil
    • Calvert accumulated a number of small offices, honors, and sinecures
    • In August 1605, he attended the King at Oxford, and received an honorary MA degree
      • The Duke of Lennox (Ludovic Stewart) was also conferred alongside Calvert and he is, in Irish numismatic history, best known for his ‘milled’ patent farthings that circulated from 1614-1625
  • In 1606, the king made Calvert “clerk of the Crown” for the Assizes in Connacht & Co Clare, his first royal appointment
    • In 1609, James appointed him a “clerk of the Signet Office”, a post which required the preparation of documents for the royal signature and brought Calvert into close contact with the king
    • In 1610 and 1611, Calvert undertook missions to the continent on behalf of the King, visiting a number of embassies in Paris, Holland, and the Duchy of Cleves, and acting as an ambassador to the French Royal Court during the coronation of King Louis XIII, (1601-1643), in 1610
    • In 1613, the King commissioned Calvert to investigate Roman Catholic grievances in Ireland, along with Sir Humphrey Wynch, Sir Charles Cornwallis and Sir Roger Wilbraham.
      • The commission spent almost four months in Ireland, and its final report, partly drafted by Calvert, concluded that religious conformity should be enforced more strictly in Ireland, Catholic schools be suppressed, and bad priests removed and punished
      • The King resolved not to reconvene the Parliament of Ireland until the Catholics “shall be better disciplined”
      • Also in 1613, Calvert was involved in the inspection of the new plantation in north Co Wexford
    • In 1616, James endowed Calvert with the manor of Danby Wiske in Yorkshire, which brought him into contact with Sir Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford, (1593-1641), who became his closest friend and political ally
    • In 1619, Calvert completed his rise to power when James appointed him as one of the two principal secretaries of state
      • King James rewarded Calvert in 1623 for his loyalty by granting him a 2,300-acre ‘plantation’ estate in Co Longford, in Ireland, where his seat was known as the “Manor of Baltimore”

Plantations in 16th and 17th century Ireland were the confiscation of land by the English crown and the colonisation of this land with settlers from England (particularly the Border Counties) and the Scottish Lowlands. This process began during the reign of Henry VIII and continued under Mary I and Elizabeth I but it was accelerated under James I

  • Most people know about the Plantation of Ulster (starting in 1609) and the estates granted to the London Livery Companies but there were other plantations under James I (1619-20) and they covered vast tracts of land and displaced many thousands of families, and deprived them of the livelihoods.
    • In addition to ‘collectively punishing’ those who rebelled against his predecessor, Queen Elizabeth I, James also implemented a ‘legal’ policy of breaking up Irish Catholic estates elsewhere – especially the Gaelic Irish estates.
    • Since most of the ‘Old English’ land-owning families in Ireland had taken their estates by force in the previous four hundred years, very few of them, with the exception of the ‘New English’ planters, had proper legal titles for them. As a result, in order to obtain such titles, they were required to forfeit a quarter of their lands to the Crown.
      • Anyone who resisted, lost everything and this was a major contributory factor of the Great Rebelion of 1641.
      • As a result of this policy, James I also ‘planted; the following counties :-
        • 1610 Wexford – where lands were confiscated from the MacMurrough-Kavanagh clan.
        • 1619-20 Leitrim – James I decided to ‘plant’ Leitrim with loyal English settlers, resulted in the founding of Carrick-on-Shannon and Jamestown. Outside the formal plantation area, towns such as Boyle, Roscommon and Castlebar were also established
        • 1619-20 Longford
        • 1621 Laois – James I established his claims to the whole of Upper Ossory in Co Laois, including the manor of Offerlane. James claimed royal inheritance (from the de Clare family) at an inquisition held at Port Laoise, and instituted a plantation of the area in 1626
        • 1619-20 Offaly – the Gaelic lordships in west Offaly—Ely O’Carroll, Delvin MacCoughlan, Ferceall and Fox’s Country fell outside of the original 16th C plantation. In this scheme, 25% of existing holdings passed into planters’ hands and the remaining 75% were re-granted to native landholders (with conditions).
        • North Tipperary
        • Westmeath
      • James also applied a new ‘urban policy’ to Ireland that had a major economic and political impact
        • Existing Irish boroughs lost their city-state status and were transformed into ordinary municipal towns on the English model: debarred from pursuing an independent trade or foreign policy; obliged to conform to some degree to the established church; and compelled to remit their revenue from tolls and customs to the Crown, thus ending their financial autonomy.
        • Medieval towns such as Tralee, Sligo and Cavan, and ancient episcopal sees like Armagh, Clogher and Tuam, were rejuvenated and their economic role promoted.
        • In 1611 Sir George Carew (1555–1629), the former president of Munster, was sent to Ireland to investigate the main problems facing the government there. Carew’s solution was simple but effective: new boroughs under firm Protestant control should be created to manufacture a Protestant majority in the Irish Parliament — 8 in Munster, 4 in Leinster, 4 in Connacht and 22 in Ulster.
          • Without these new creations Catholics would outnumber Protestants by 85 to 61 in the Commons overall, and by 52 to 28 for the boroughs. On the other hand, the new creations would result in Protestants outnumbering Catholics by 123 to 95.
      • Not all of the early 17th century English Planters were Protestants. A considerable number of English Catholics settled in Ireland between 1603–1641, in part for economic reasons but also to escape persecution in England.
        • In the time of Elizabeth and James I, the Catholics of England suffered a greater degree of persecution than English Catholics in Ireland.
        • In England, Catholics were greatly outnumbered by Protestants and lived under constant fear of betrayal by their fellows.
        • In Ireland they could blend in with the local majority-Catholic population in a way that was not possible in England. English Catholic planters were most common in County Kilkenny, where they may have made up half of all the English and Scottish planters to arrive in this region. The sons and grandsons of these English planters played a major part in the politics of the Confederation of Kilkenny in the 1640s, most notably James Tuchet, 3rd Earl of Castlehaven.
        • James Calvert was one of these ‘New English Catholics’

Failed Politican and Secret Catholic?

The Catholic Calvert household suffered the intrusion of the Elizabethan-era religious laws. From the year of George’s birth onwards, his father, Leonard Calvert was subjected to repeated harassment by the Yorkshire authorities, who in 1580 extracted a promise of conformity from him, compelling his attendance at the Church of England services, i.e. they were forced to convert to Anglicanism. During these times, many Catholics converted in order to improve their economic and.or political career prospects – a trend that was continued in Ireland up until the 18th C – where they are collectively known as the ‘improvenatii’ by some historians.

Calvert lost much of his political power after his support for a failed marriage alliance between Prince Charles (later to become King Charles I) and the Catholic Spanish House of Habsburg royal family.

As the chief parliamentary spokesman for an abandoned policy, Calvert no longer served a useful purpose to the English Royal Court, and by February 1624 his duties had been restricted to placating the Spanish ambassador. The degree of his disfavour was shown when he was reprimanded for supposedly delaying diplomatic letters.

  • Rather than continue in politics, he resigned all of his political offices in 1625 except for his position on the Privy Council and declared his Catholicism publicly – a dangerous move in those days.
    • When King James I (and VI of Scotland) died in March 1625, his successor King Charles I maintained Calvert’s barony but not his previous place on the Privy Council.
    • Calvert then turned his attention to his Irish estates and his overseas investments.
      • He was briefly recalled to court and renewed his rights over the silk-import duties, which had lapsed with the death of James I and secured Charles’ blessing for his venture in the “New Found Land”.
  • Calvert bowed to the inevitable. On the pretext of ill health, he began negotiations for the sale of his position, finally resigning the secretariat in February 1625. In keeping with conventional practises of the day, he sold his position to his successor for the then massive sum of £60,000
  • He was also created Baron Baltimore in the Irish peerage upon his resignation
    • Baltimore Manor was the name of the estate in Co. Longford (granted to and owned by the Calvert family) and it is thought that the name Baltimore is an Anglicization of the Irish Baile an Tí Mhóir, which means “town of the big house.”
      • Unusually, for an estate of this size, we still don’t know where Baltimore, Co. Longford is !
      • According to James Lyttleton, Calvert was granted two estates in the Plantation of Co Longford
        • the manor of Elfeet, near Lansborough on the shores of Lough Ree
        • the manor of Baltimore, near Drumlish in the north of the county
      • Pope goes on to say that “instead of taking up residence on his Co Longford estates, Calvert chose to settle in north Co Wexford, an area of the county with which he was already familiar through his preparatory work for James I’s Irish plantations
  • A second clue has, more recently, emerged …
  • In 2009, archaeologists made a trip to a dig in Clohamon, near Bunclody, Co Wexford
    • the owners claim “this was always called the castle field”
    • the archaeologists discovered the base of an old fortified tower, along with old pottery and iron hardware
    • The 24-acre site has been affected over the years by quarrying, which may have erased some of the historic material that was present
  • James Lyttleton and his colleagues from Memorial University have linked their finds to George Calvert
    • Clohamon remained in the hands of the Calvert family until the mid-18th century
    • Their ownership even survived a visit by the forces of Oliver Cromwell
    • However, the castle and the manor house had long since disappeared from view
      • More study will be needed if this site is to be recognised as Calvert’s Baltimore Manor

Part of the reason for the political downfall of Calvert was his Catholicism, or at least his tolerance of it at a time when tolerance was in vogue. but the connection between Calvert’s resignation and his conversion to Roman Catholicism was a complex one.

  • George Cottington, a former employee of Calvert, suggested in 1628 that Calvert’s conversion had been in progress a long time before it was made public.
  • George Abbot, (1562-1633), the reigning Archbishop of Canterbury, (and ecclesiastical head of the independent Church of England), reported that political opposition to Calvert, combined with his loss of office, had “made him discontented and, as the saying is,“Desperatio facit monachum”, so hee apparently did turne papist, which hee now professeth, this being the third time that he hath bene to blame that way [sic]”.
  • Godfrey Goodman, the Bishop of Gloucester, later claimed Calvert had been a secret Catholic all along (“infinitely addicted to the Catholic faith”), which explained his support for lenient policies towards Catholics and for the Spanish match.
    • However, no one had questioned Calvert’s conformity at the time, and if he had indeed been secretly Catholic, he had hidden it well.
    • It seems more likely Calvert converted in late 1624
      • At the time, Simon Stock, a Discalced Carmelite priest reported to the Congregation Propaganda Fide in Rome on November 15 that he had converted two Privy Councillors to Catholicism, one of whom historians are certain was Calvert
      • Calvert, who had probably met Simon Stock at the Spanish embassy in London, later worked with the priest on a plan for a Catholic mission in his new first Newfoundland colony

After resigning the Royal secretariat of state in 1625, the new Baron Baltimore made clear his intention to visit the colony: “I intend shortly,” he wrote in March, “God willing, a journey for Newfoundland to visit a plantation which I began there some few years since.”

  • His plans were disrupted by the death of King James I, and by the crackdown on Catholics with which King Charles I began his reign in order to appease his opponents. The new King required all privy councillors to take the oaths of supremacy and allegiance; and since Baltimore, as a Catholic, had to refuse, he was obliged to step down from that cherished office.
  • Given the new religious and political climate, and perhaps also to escape a serious outbreak of plague in England, Baltimore moved to his estates in Ireland

Adventurer & Coloniser

Calvert had long maintained an interest in the exploration and settlement of the New World, beginning with his investment of twenty-five pounds in the second Virginia Company in 1609, and a few months later a more substantial sum in the East India Company, which he increased in 1614.

Sketch of Sir George Calvert, first Baron and Lord Baltimore, (1579-1632), c. 1620

Sketch of Sir George Calvert, first Baron and Lord Baltimore, (1579-1632), c. 1620

  • In 1620, Calvert purchased a tract of land in Newfoundland from Sir William Vaughan, (1575-1641), a Welsh writer and colonial investor, who had earlier failed to establish a colony on the large sub-Arctic island off the eastern coast of North America.
  • He named the area of the peninsula as Avalon, after the legendary spot where Christianity was supposedly introduced to Roman Britain in ancient times.
    • The plantation lay on what is now called the Avalon Peninsula and included the fishing station at “Ferryland”.
  • Calvert took an interest in the British colonisation of the Americas, at first for commercial reasons and later to create a refuge for English Catholics.
    • He became the proprietor of Avalon, the first sustained English settlement on the southeastern peninsula on the island of Newfoundland (off the eastern coast of modern Canada).
    • Discouraged by its cold and sometimes inhospitable climate and the sufferings of the settlers, Sir George Calvert looked for a more suitable spot further south and sought a new royal charter to settle the region, which would become the state of Maryland.

In late September or October 1629, Baltimore arrived in Jamestown, where the Virginians, who suspected him of designs on some of their territory and vehemently opposed Catholicism, gave him a cool welcome. They gave him the oaths of supremacy and allegiance, which he refused to take, so they ordered him to leave.

  • After no more than a few weeks in the colony, Baltimore left for England to pursue the new charter, leaving his wife and servants behind
  • In early 1630, he procured a ship to fetch them, but it foundered off the Irish coast, and his wife was drowned
    • Lord Baltimore spent the last two years of his life constantly lobbying for his new charter
      • The Virginians, led by William Claiborne, who sailed to England to make the case, campaigned aggressively against separate colonising of the Chesapeake, claiming they possessed the rights to that area
        • Baltimore was short of capital, having exhausted his fortune
        • In the summer of 1630, his household was infected by the plague, which he survived
      • In 1632. The king first granted him a location south of Jamestown, but Baltimore asked the king to reconsider in response to opposition from other investors interested in settling the new land of Carolina into a sugar plantation
      • Baltimore eventually compromised by accepting re-drawn boundaries to the north of the Potomac River, on either side of the Chesapeake Bay
        • The charter was about to pass when the fifty-two-year-old Baltimore died in his lodgings at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, on 15 April 1632
        • Five weeks later, on 20 June 1632, the charter for Maryland passed the seals

Sir George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore, died five weeks before the new Charter was sealed, leaving the settlement of the Maryland colony to his son Cecil, 2nd Baron Baltimore (1605-1675).

Retrospective painting of Cecil Calvert, 2nd Lord Baltimore, by Florence MacKubin in 1910

Retrospective painting of Cecil Calvert, 2nd Lord Baltimore, by Florence MacKubin in 1910

At the time of his birth, his father was under pressure for conformity, and all ten children were baptised as Christians in the Anglican (Protestant) tradition. Before he died, George Calvert converted back to Catholocism and his male children seemed to have quickly followed him. As an English Roman Catholic, he continued the legacy of his father by promoting religious tolerance in the colony. Maryland thus became a haven for Catholics in the New World, particularly important at a time of religious persecution in England.

  • On June 20, 1632, Cecil, 2nd Baron Baltimore executed the charter for the colony of Maryland that his father had negotiated.
    • Calvert received a Charter from Charles I of England for the new colony of Maryland, to be named for the Queen Consort Henrietta Maria (wife of King Charles).
    • The original grant would have included the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay as far south as the Potomac River and the entirety of the eastern shore (future “Delmarva” peninsula).
      • When the Crown realised that settlers from Virginia had already crossed the Bay to begin settling the southern tip of their eastern shore, the grant was revised to include the eastern shore only as far south as a line drawn east from the mouth of the Potomac River (including the future State of Delaware).
      • Once that alteration was made, the final charter was confirmed on 20 June 1632.
        • This charter would be heavily contested by Calvert’s heirs and the Penn family in the Penn–Calvert Boundary Dispute.
1635 Map of Nova Terrae-Mariae tabula, Jerome Hawley and John Lewger (Huntingfield Collection, Maryland State Archives. MSA SC 1399-1-526).jpg

1635 map of Nova Terrae-Mariae tabula, Jerome Hawley and John Lewger (Huntingfield Collection, Maryland State Archives. MSA SC 1399-1-526)

  • The charter consisted of 23 sections, but the most important conferred on Lord Baltimore and his heirs, besides the right of absolute ownership in the soil, certain powers, ecclesiastical as well as civil, resembling those possessed by the nobility of the Middle Ages, i.e. they assumed full ownership and rights resembling a medieval king
  • The title of “absolute ownership” and “ecclesiastical as well as civil” would become very important the 2nd Lord Baltimore was defending a charge of “illegal export of silver” and “illegal coining” in 1659 and 1662, respectively.
Leonard Calvert (1606-June 9, 1647), oil on canvas

Leonard Calvert, 1st Governor of Maryland (1606-June 9, 1647), oil on canvas

George Calvert’s second son, Leonard Calvert, (1606-1647), became the first colonial governor of the Province of Maryland.

  • Historians have long recognized Sir George Calvert as the founder of Maryland
  • His eldest son, Sir Cecil, 2nd Baron Baltimore inherited the new colony, although he never set foot on it
    • Sir Cecil ruled in abstentia but retained full ownership and responsibility for his subjects
  • Upon the day of his father’s death (April 15, 1632), Cecil Calvert appointed his brother (Leonard Calvert) as governor of the Colony of Maryland in his absence
    • Having a family member ‘in situ‘ when a colony was first settled as extremely advantageous
    • Supporters in England of the Virginia colony opposed the Charter, as they had little interest in having a competing colony to the north. Rather than going to the colony himself, Baltimore stayed behind in England to deal with the political threat and sent his next younger brother Leonard in his stead.

The first expedition (1634) comprised two ships (formerly owned by Baltimore’s father George), the “Ark” and “Dove.” They departed from Gravesend in Kent with 128 settlers on board. They were chased and forced to return by the British Royal Navy so that the settlers would take an oath of allegiance to the King as required by law. They then sailed in October 1632 for the Isle of Wight to pick up more settlers. There, two Jesuit priests (including Father Andrew White) and nearly 200 more settlers boarded before the ships set out across the Atlantic Ocean.

1st Crisis

Lord Baltimore sent detailed instructions for the governance of the colony. He directed his brother to seek information about those who had tried to thwart the colony and he also emphasised the importance of religious toleration among the colonists, who numbered nearly equally Catholic and Protestant.

2nd Crisis

The enterprise took place in the context of serious unrest in England. In 1629, King Charles I had dissolved Parliament and governed for the next eleven years without consultation from any representative body.

  • William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury and his ‘Star Chamber’ campaigned against both Puritans and Catholics
  • As a result, the Puritans and Separatists began to emigrate to New England in Plymouth Colony and Massachusetts Bay Colony. Catholics began to see Maryland as a possible English-speaking place of refuge
  • Lord Baltimore, a Catholic, struggled to maintain possession of Maryland during the English Civil War by trying to convince Parliament of his loyalty; he appointed a Protestant,William Stone, as his governor. It’s accepted he did this exclusively to maintain possession of the colony during the civil war, as his loyalties were with King Charles

3rd Crisis

In 1649, Maryland passed the Maryland Toleration Act, also known as the “Act Concerning Religion”, mandating religious tolerance for Trinitarian Christians only (those who profess faith in the “Holy Trinity” – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, excluding Nontrinitarian faiths). Passed on 21 September 1649, by the General Assembly of the Maryland colony, it was the first law establishing religious tolerance in the British North American colonies. The Calvert family sought enactment of the law to protect Catholic settlers and Nonconformist Protestants who did not conform to the established state Church of England.

  • Tolerance, in an age of intolerance, did not go down well back in England
  • It made enemies on all sides, since none of the religious leaders (Catholic, Anglican, or non-conforming Protestants) accepted tolerance as a way forward in Europe

The American Colonial Coins of 2nd Lord Baltimore

Cecil Calvert, or 2nd Lord Baltimore, was born in Kent (8 August 1605) and, when his mother Anne Mynne (or Mayne) died in 1622, his father and his children openly converted to Catholicism. The family moved to Ireland in 1625 but when Cecil married Anne Arundell, daughter of the 1st Baron Arundell of Wardour, in 1627 or 1628, it is likely he was by then living in London.

  • They had nine children.
  • Of the nine, only three, including Charles Calvert, 3rd Baron Baltimore, survived to adulthood.

In 1628 Cecil accompanied his father, along with most of his siblings and his stepmother, to the new colony of Newfoundland. The colony failed due to disease, extreme cold and attacks by the French and the family returned to England. His step-mother was drowned on the return trip and this may have hastened his father’s death. Cecil Calvert inherited his father’s colony of Maryland in 1632.

The so-called Lord Baltimore coinage of Maryland occupies an important position in the very early coinage of North America’s Colonial era.

  • The Sommer Islands or Bermuda Hogge money of 1616 was the first struck by an English colony in the New World
  • The Massachusetts Bay Colony’s New England and Pine Tree, Oak Tree, and Willow Tree coinages were the first Colonial issues struck in what would later become the United States
    • The later Tree issues are all dated 1652 (save for the Oak Tree twopence dated 1662)
    • These coins were struck during the period 1653-1682 and are thus roughly contemporaneous with the Lord Baltimore coinage, thought to have been produced sometime from 1659 to 1661

The Maryland groat (fourpence), sixpence, and shilling were contemporaneous with the silver coinage in the nearby Massachusetts colony, but are much scarcer, since the Maryland pieces were struck only for a comparatively short period of time.

Most controversially, at the time, they did not display the portrait of any king, since Charles I had been beheaded in 1649 and Charles II would not ascend to the throne until 1660, i.e. they were first produced during the Interregnum (or gap in the monarchy) and during the Commonwealth period – a failed republican experiment in England.

On October 16, 1659, Cecil Calvert sent a letter to his brother Philip Calvert in Maryland along with samples of a new “Maryland money” that he intended to circulate in the colony. Shortly after this letter arrived, the governor of the colony, Josias Fendall, led an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow Calvert. This immediate threat pushed the coinage issue into the background. By November 1660 the rebellion was crushed and Philip Calvert assumed the governorship.

  • He soon took up the coinage legislation which the Maryland Assembly initially resisted, but on April 17, 1661, an act was passed that authorized the establishment of a mint to strike coins.
    • The following year, an act was passed that required every taxable person in Maryland to exchange 60 pounds of tobacco for 10 shillings of the new coins.
    • Although the Maryland Assembly’s act of 1661 authorized a mint in the colony, it is believed that all of the Lord Baltimore Maryland coinage was struck in England, most likely at the Royal Mint

The Lord Baltimore coinage denominations included the denarium (penny) copper patterns, along with silver groats (four pence), sixpence, and shillings (twelve pence), struck at London’s Tower Mint (or by employees thereof at its facilities) at the behest of Lord Baltimore for shipment to and use in Maryland.

  • The obverse of the coins depicted the bust of Lord Calvert, with the legend + CAECILIVS : DNS: TERRAE – MARIAE : & CT . on the shilling (with the final T left off the smaller sized denominations).
  • In this phrase the DNS stands for DOMINUS ; thus the legend reads, “Cecil, Lord of Maryland etc.”
  • The reverse of the silver denominations displayed the family shield with a palatine coronet above and the denomination in roman numerals to either side of the shield (either X II, V I or I V) and the legend CRESCITE : ET : MVLTIPLICAMINI . (Increase and be multiplied).
  • Prior to the introduction of these coins, weights of tobacco, musket balls and gunpowder were used as ‘bartering’ currency but sharp fluctuations in their relative values made the introduction of coinage a necessity.

Lord Baltimore, despite the plenipotentiary rights and powers conferred upon him by the royal charter, was neither specifically granted nor enjoined from the right to coin money, but in any case an action was taken against him by Richard Pight, Clerk of the Irons of the Tower Mint, and he was summoned to appear before the Privy Council. The objections were mainly of two kinds.

  • First, the silver coinage was being exported from England during the interregnum of Oliver Cromwell (a period from 1649 to 1660 when there was no monarch and England was nearly insolvent).
  • Second, the silver coinage failed to comply with the English standard, an impossibility which would have made the coins overweight in Maryland (where all commodities, save tobacco, were scarce) and subject to melting.

No disciplinary action appears to have been taken by the Privy Council, however. Calvert overcame numerous objections both in England and in Maryland to his coinage, and by 1662 a mandatory exchange of tobacco for coinage finally propelled the silver Lord Baltimore pieces into circulation.

  • Although this charter did not state that Calvert had coinage rights in Maryland, his son ‘assumed’ the right because the Virginia charter of 1606 included provision for coinage. This provision had been meditated in 1645, i.e. they had the right to mint copper 2d, 3d, 6d and 9d coins (but, as it turned out, they chose not to do so)
  • Calvert may have assumed he had coining rights because the Bishop of Durham had produced coins, and his father’s original charter was comparable to that of a medieval bishophic.
  • He also cited the case whereby the Colony of Massachusetts, which had no rights of coinage, had set up their own mint in Boston in 1662, “in a time of license, when there was no king in England but the government was out of course”
    • This mint was allowed to continue (until 1682)
    • This mint produced silver coinage at a rate of 80s per troy ounce, instead of 62s
    • Their weights, he added, “barely exceeded three-quarters those of the King’s legal coin”
    • In addition, their costs were high: the Boston mintmaster (John Hull) was allowed 6s profit per pound, in comparison to 1s 2d back home (in England)

The charges concluded that “an unknown mint in London, perhaps the Tower, produced a limited number of coins for Cecil Calvert to aid Maryland commerce”

  • The ‘Clerke of the Irons’ in the Tower, who was also holder of a Puritan Commonwealth commission against false coiners, obtained a warrant for Calvert’s arrest and seized his tools and remaining coins.

It has been concluded in the past in numismatic circles that among the foremost objections to the Lord Baltimore coinage on the part of the English authorities was

  • the depiction of Cecil Calvert, 2nd Lord Baltimore, in regal pose on the obverse
  • the use of the abbreviation “DNS” for Dominus or “Lord,” a monetary usurpation of the rights of the English monarchs to strike coinage.

At the time the Lord Baltimore coinage was struck at the Tower Mint, apparently sometime between May and October 1659 (and perhaps on more than one occasion), there was effectively no head of government in England.

The silver content of the Lord Baltimore coins was more problematic than the image that they bore, as the coins were struck of sterling silver but contained less net silver than their English counterparts — the infrequently struck English fourpence were of lower fineness but higher silver content.

  • Such a high silver content for the Lord Baltimore coins would have been impossible in Maryland, where silver was at an appreciable premium compared to its price in England at the time, and in fact virtually every commodity besides tobacco was scarce.

Lord Calvert was actually arrested in October, 1659, in London, for the illegal export of silver from England to his Maryland colony. Though no official records exist of his adjudication, it is presumed that an arrangement was made for him to keep the coins in question and transport them home, where the silver pieces circulated extensively.

  • We do not know how Calvert got out of this sticky situation, but he lived until 1675.
  • Calvert might have escaped lasting punishment but no more coins were struck for his colony.

The state of Maryland is one of only two among the “original 13” that was controlled directly by the same family at the time of its foundation and the beginning of the American Revolution. (Pennsylvania is the other.) Both families have Irish connections.

  • After the Glorious Revolution the 3rd Baron Baltimore lost his proprietorship because he had supported the Catholic James II, i.e. the losing side in the Williamite Wars.
  • The 4th Baron Baltimore petitioned for his claim to be restored, but in another near-miss he died before receiving royal assent and the 5th Baron Baltimore took up the proprietorship instead.
  • It then passed to the 6th (and last) Baron Baltimore and finally to Henry Harford.
    • Harford was the 6th Baron Baltimore’s only son, but by a mistress; due to his illegitimacy, Harford was eligible to inherit the proprietorship but not his father’s title.
    • Henry Harford was still in his teens when the American Revolution broke out, depriving him of the proprietorship once and for all.

Lord Baltimore’s Denarium (Pattern Penny)

1659 Maryland, Lord Baltimore's Denarium (Penny) 2

1659 Maryland, Lord Baltimore’s Denarium (Penny)

The extremely rare Lord Baltimore Maryland Penny, or Denarium, is known by only eight or so examples. There is some speculation that these pieces were patterns, but other evidence, including wear on some specimens and one piece recovered by a metal detector, indicates that they might have actually circulated for some considerable time.

However, a 1671 account of Maryland commerce mentions only “groats, sixpences, and shillings … which his Lordship at his own expense caused to be coined” along with barter and English and other foreign coins as the principal means of exchange. This would suggest that the denarium or penny coins struck in copper were strictly a pattern issue.

  • Obverse: a bust of Cecil Calvert, Lord Baltimore, facing left with long, well-groomed hair, the Latin legend CAECILIUS DNS TERRAE MARIAE &C around, meaning “Cecil Lord of Mary’s Land.”

The legend reinforces that the coinage was a proclamation of Lord Baltimore’s sovereignty as well as an apparent commercial necessity.

  • Reverse: A ducal coronet appears in the center with two pennons flying, the legend DENARIUM TERRAE-MARIAE (“denarius of Mary’s land”) encircling the periphery.

The reverse design is substantially different from the Maryland silver coins.

Throughout these descriptions, the modern letter U is used, rather than the archaic V that appears in its place on these coins.


And the AE in CAECILIUS, MARIAE, and TERRAE is uniformly engraved on the coins in its ligature form, i.e. the A and E are connected

Another interesting fact is the presence of Latin legends, as opposed to English, on the Lord Baltimore coins; the Lord Baltimore coins were struck towards the end of the Interregnum or Commonwealth period (1649-1660) when there was no British monarch, a period during which British coinage bore English legends. The Spink standard reference notes that “the coins struck during the Commonwealth have inscriptions in English instead of Latin which was considered to savour too much of popery.”

Lord Baltimore’s Groat

1659 Maryland, Lord Baltimore's Groat (Fourpence), Large Bust

1659 Maryland, Lord Baltimore’s Groat (Fourpence), Large Bust

Two varieties of Lord Baltimore Maryland Groat (fourpence) are known: a unique Small Bust variant and the Large Bust variety (shown above). Examples are known in a wide range of grades, which suggests that these coins saw circulation over an extended period in Maryland and, perhaps, elsewhere in the 13 ‘New England’ colonies.

  • In England, although the first groat or fourpence coins issued under Edward I should have contained four pennyweights, or 96 grains, of sterling silver, they actually contained 90 grains of sterling, and later issues became progressively lighter-weight.
  • By the Restoration of King Charles II in 1660, the English groats or fourpence were struck of less than sterling silver and infrequently coined, to a standard of about 30 grains.
    • The Lord Baltimore groats averaged about 22.8 grains of sterling silver but show wide variability. Their much lighter weight than comparable English coins was one of the main objections put forth by the Tower Mint authorities that Cecil Calvert had to overcome.
    • A direct weight-to-weight comparison of the Lord Baltimore coinage versus its English equivalents of the 17th century is meaningless, since the Maryland economy of the time was largely barter- and tobacco-based. Silver was scarce, and any silver coins that conformed to the English standard would have been immediately relegated to the melting pot – as per Gresham’s Law

The coin illustrated above is a Hodder 1-A fourpence die type.

  • Obverse: Large Bust
    • A hyphen connects TERRAE and MARIAE. T is noticeably shorter and lower at the top than E in TERRAE.
    • A stop shows after MARIAE and before &C, and the right top of the ampersand shows a short right-angle dogleg.
    • The two R’s in TERRAE are centered beneath the forward bust tip at the bottom
    • The I in MARIAE lacks the right-bottom serif.
  • Reverse:
    • Many of the I’s lack the bottom-right serif or else it is weak (although they were clearly each hand-engraved rather than stamped from letter punches).
    • The orb is misshaped at the bottom, filling the area left of the central point in the crown.
    • The last I in MULTIPLICAMINI is much lower than the adjacent N.

Lord Baltimore’s Sixpence

1659 Maryland, Lord Baltimore's Shilling, Large Bust (2)

1659 Maryland, Lord Baltimore’s Sixpence, Large Bust

In November 13-14, 2002, a hoard of 19 sixpence was sold by the auction firm Morton & Eden, Ltd. in London, England.  The coins had been discovered in an English country house in a small, cylindrical, silver counter box.  The hoard contained a single example of the extremely rare MVLTILICAMINI (Lot 785, “Small Bust, Dies 2-D) variant that sold for the equivalent of $50,432.00 to Stack’s. 

The coin illustrated above is a Hodder 2-C sixpence die pair – less than 65 examples are known of this die pairing

  • Obverse:
  • Reverse:

Lord Baltimore’s Shilling

1659 Maryland, Lord Baltimore's Shilling, Large Bust (1)

1659 Maryland, Lord Baltimore’s Shilling, Large Bust

There are two known varieties of Lord Baltimore Maryland shillings :-

  • The Hodder 1-A/Whitman-1080 features a large head and is the more common variety.
    • These coins are quite rare, so the “more common variety” might be considered an oxymoron in this instance
  • The Hodder 2-B/Whitman-1090 is identified by the small bust
    • It is known by only two examples in silver and around five examples in copper.

The coin illustrated above is a Hodder 1-A shilling die type

  • Obverse:
    • Large Bust, MARIAE with colon (:) after; &CT follows, unlike the usually seen &C
    • Weakly struck on the central obverse but all the device outlines are present
  • Reverse:
    • The shield point is between M and U in MULTIPLICAMINI, much closer to M.
    • Clash marks that appear as incuse dentils under the II of the denomination appear to be from another coin but they seem to be in the die, and are, according to , seen on every example of this die pairing

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