CALVERT, Hon. Benedict Leonard (1679-1715), of Woodcote Park, Epsom, Surr.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



29 June 1714 - 1715

Family and Education

b. 21 Mar. 1679, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Charles Calvert, 3rd Baron Baltimore [I], by Jane, da. of Vincent Lowe of Denby, Derbys., wid. of Henry Sewall, of Mattapary, Maryland.  educ. G. Inn 1690; travelled abroad (France).  m. 2 Jan. 1699, Lady Charlotte Lee (separated 1705), da. of Edward Henry, 1st Earl of Lichfield, 4s. 2da.; 2 illegit. ch. by one Groves.  suc. fa. as 4th Baron Baltimore [I] 26 Feb. 1715.1

Offices Held

Gov. Maryland 1684–9; ranger, Woodstock park 1699–1705.2

Freeman, Harwich 1714.3


The Calverts, barons Baltimore, a Roman Catholic family, were founders and hereditary proprietors of Maryland, where they resided in St. Mary’s county. The Member himself was made governor of Maryland at the age of five, a customary appointment for the eldest son of the proprietor. A deputy having then been appointed, Calvert returned to England with his father the following year. However, Lord Baltimore lost his rights in Maryland at the Revolution, and with them went the governorship. As a cavalry officer in Lord Salisbury’s regiment Baltimore was outlawed by the new regime, even though he had not been in arms for James II. But afterwards he succeeded in having the outlawry reversed.4

Calvert’s name was entered at Gray’s Inn in 1690, but as a Catholic he probably did not attend. Instead, he spent some years at St. Germain. He secured on 26 Jan. 1698 a licence to return from France, under the Act of 1697. The following year he married a daughter of Lord Lichfield, on which occasion his father settled £1,000 a year on him, and Lord Lichfield gave him the rangership of his own park at Woodstock. Lichfield was displeased, however, when Lady Charlotte turned ‘papist’ in October 1699 after the birth of her first son, despite his ‘utmost care to have her well grounded in the Protestant religion’. The couple separated in 1705, in which year Calvert received an unexpected windfall when the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†), who had been granted Woodstock by Queen Anne, had the rangership purchased for him for £6,450 by the Treasury. Calvert’s father, who still received rents from the planters in Maryland, though with a diminished income as his house there had been plundered and his accounts and papers destroyed, was still allowing him £600 a year and paying for the education of his six children in Catholic schools abroad. In February 1711 Calvert sought a divorce from his wife in the Lords on the grounds of her ‘open adultery’, having obtained ‘a sentence of divorce in the Arches Court of Canterbury without any proof of recrimination’. However, the bill did not succeed.5

In the autumn of 1713 Calvert began to ingratiate himself with Lord Oxford (Robert Harley*), sending him presents of venison, pheasants and partridges, reminding him that his family had had an income of 2s. per hodd of tobacco exported from Maryland until the Revolution, and informing him of his ‘inclinations . . . to embrace the Protestant religion, which I have become hitherto deterred from by the apprehensions that my father would withdraw my subsistence’. Despite the efforts of his father, Calvert was received into the Church of England by the bishop of Hereford at the end of the year, which finally provoked Calvert’s father into severing his allowance. Calvert stood at a contested by-election at Harwich in 1714, on the recommendation of its recorder, Lord Bolingbroke (Henry St. John II*). Despite being defeated, Calvert was seated on petition on 29 June, though Hanoverian Tories and some Country Tories would not vote for him. He was not included in any division lists for this Parliament, and was an inactive Member. He had placed his children in Protestant schools in the charge of Protestant tutors, under the care and advice of Oxford, and had obtained a pension of £300 a year from the Queen, as well as the appointment of Captain John Hart as governor of Maryland, who was to pay him a further £500 a year out of the profits of the office. He had also received an estimated £1,500 in arrears of customs duties from Maryland. On the Hanoverian succession he obtained the continuation of his pension from George I, and after his father’s death in February 1715 he petitioned for the restoration of his rights as proprietor of Maryland, but did not live to enjoy them as he died on 16 Apr. 1715. His son, the 5th Lord, sat for St. Germans and for Surrey under George II. His grandson, the 6th and last baron, pursued a career of profligacy and extravagance, being tried for rape at Kingston, selling what remained of the English estates to a Soho upholsterer and dying in Naples in 1771.6

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. Manning and Bray, Surr. i. 613; Boyer, Anne Annals, viii. 394.
  • 2. Biog. Dict. of Maryland Legislature, i. 187; ii. 724; Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1702–7, pp. 318–19; Cal. Treas. Bks. xix. 511.
  • 3. Harwich bor. recs. 98/5, f. 138.
  • 4. C. C. Hall, The Lords Baltimore and the Maryland Palatinate, 118; Cal. Treas. Bks. xiv. 25; Luttrell, Brief Relation, ii. 140, 249; CSP Dom. 1689–90, pp. 522–3; 1690–1, p. 376; 1691–2, p. 111.
  • 5. HMC Buccleuch, ii. 91; HMC Lords, n.s. ix. 98; Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1702–7, pp. 318–19; Verney Letters, i. 41; Cal. Treas. Bks. xix. 511; CSP Col. 1706–8, pp. 676–7; Archives of Maryland, xxv. 271.
  • 6. Add. 70215, Ld. Baltimore to Calvert, 7 Aug., 14 Oct. 1713, Calvert to Oxford, 17 Sept., 20 Oct., 30 Dec. 1713, 6, 11 Jan., 19 Feb., 5 Mar. 1714; Top. and Gen. iii. 508; HMC Portland, v. 378; D. Szechi, Jacobitism and Tory Pol. 154, 159; Archives of Maryland, 271–2; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxviii. 117, 187; Biog. Dict. of Maryland Legislature, 187.