Documents relating to Ferryland: 1597 to 1726
23 December, 1651; Counsel for Cecil Calvert [Second
Maryland Historical Society, Calvert
Papers, 174. Another copy in British Library, Egerton ms 2395, 310.
Subjects: planters, France, war, finance, house, livestock, fortification.
The Lord Baltimore's Case, concerning the Province of Avalon in Newfoundland, an Island in America.
Sir George Calvert, Knight, late Lord Baltimore, purchased long since (to wit in the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty ) a great part of Newfoundland, which afterwards was also granted to him and his heirs, by a patent from King James [King James I], under the then great seal of England. And the said tract of land was, by the said patent, erected into a province and called Avalon, the bounds and limits whereof are described in the said patent (bearing date the fourth day of April in the one and twentieth year of the reign of King James and in the yeer of our Lord one thousand six hundred twenty and three ) whereby also for his better encouragement to make a plantation there, many privileges and immunities were granted to him and his heirs, amongst which one was to have and enjoy all customes and imposts, which should be payable there for any goods or merchandizes whatsoever, to be laden or unladen within any part of the said Province by foreigners, reserving to the English free liberty of taking and drying of fish there, as formerly they had.
The said late Lord Baltimore did thereupon expend above twenty thousand pounds [£ 20,000] in the transportation of people, cattle, and other necessaries from time to time, for the settling of an English colony there, at a place called Ferryland within the said Province, where he built a fair house [Mansion House] for his own habitation and erected divers other buildings and forts for the accommodation and security of several English families transported thither, unto which place he also adventured his own person twice, and in his last voyage thither, carryed with him his wife and most of his children; at which time (there being then war between England and France) it pleased God to make him an instrument to redeem above twenty sail of English ships there, which had been taken by French men of war, whereof one Monsieur de la Rade had the chief command and also (afterwards), in the same year to take six French ships, which were then fishing upon that coast, and which he sent with a great many French men prisoners into England.
After the said George, Lord Baltimore, had been possessed of the said Province about thirteen yeers, he died, in April one thousand six hundred thirty and two , seized and possessed thereof, and after his death it descended, of right, to his son and heir, Cecil, now Lord Baltimore, who thereupon forthwith sent one Captain William Hill as his deputy thither, to take possession thereof and to manage his interest there for him.
Captain William Hill shortly after repaired thither and, according to his Commission from the said now Lord Baltimore, took (on his behalf) possession of the said plantation and Province and gave account yearly to him of his proceedings and of the profit belonging to him there, and resided about four or five years at the said Lord Baltimore's house [Mansion House] at Ferryland, above mentioned.
Not long before the beginning of the late wars in this nation (to wit, in the year one thousand six hundred thirty and seven ) the late Duke Hamilton [James Hamilton, Marquis and Duke of Hamilton], Earl of Pembroke [Philip Herbert], and Earl of Holland [Henry Rich], by their then power in court with the late King Charles [King Charles I], procured a patent from him of all Newfoundland, to them and Sir David Kirke and their heirs, including therein the said Province of Avalon.
Whereupon in the year one thousand six hundred thirty and eight , Sir David Kirke went to Ferryland aforesaid, in Newfoundland, and by force of arms turned the said Captain Hill out of possession of the Lord Baltimore's chief Mansion House there above mentioned (wherein the said Lord Baltimore had at that time divers things of good value) and took possession also of all the said Province and of divers cattle and horses, belonging to the said Lord Baltimore, upon pretence of the said later patent and upon pretence that he, the said Lord Baltimore, had deserted, forfeited, or surrendered his interest there and received satisfaction for the same, which is altogether untrue, and so hath continued the possession thereof ever since, to the great damage of the said Lord Baltimore, to wit, thirty thousand pound [£ 30,000] at least, as he can make appear.
The now Lord Baltimore did often represent to the late King Charles [King Charles I] the great and high injustice done to him herein and made often and earnest addresses and supplications to him to take it into consideration and to do him right, but he was insensible thereof. And thereby the Lord Baltimore was left destitute of any kind of relief, until now of late, that he understood Sir David Kirke was arrived here. Whereupon, being advised by his counsel that as to all maritime wrongs done unto him there, by the said Sir David Kirke, he hath his legal remedy against him in the Court of Admiralty, he commenced and prosecutes a suit there for that purpose, but as to a satisfaction for all other wrongs done unto him upon the Land [Newfoundland] in the said Province by Sir David Kirke and for the regaining of his possession, as well of the said Mansion House at Ferryland, as of the said Province itself, he can have no relief but from the Parliament or Council of State, it being a business (as he is told by his counsel) not within the cognizance of any other court of justice in England, especially seeing that the said Mansion House and Province is now in the possession of those persons who were employed by the Council of State lately, as commissioners to dispossess Sir David Kirke thereof.
The Lord Baltimore is therefore now an humble suitor to the Parliament and Council of State that they would be pleased to do him right herein, according to justice and equity, and that, in the meantime, nothing may be obtained from that honourable house or Council of State to the prejudice of his interest in the said Province, before he be heard by his counsel concerning the same, by such persons as they shall be pleased to appoint for that purpose.