The Ark (English ship)

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For information about other uses of the word Ark, see Ark.


Maryland Tri Cen 1934 Issue-3c.jpg
Ark and Dove, shown here in a 1934 postage stamp.
Career (England)  England
Name: Ark
Owner: Hired by Cecilius Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore
Launched: c1630
General characteristics
Tons burthen: 400
Length: Approximately 132 feet on deck
Beam: 32 feet
Draft: 14-15 feet
Depth of hold: 14 feet
Propulsion: Sail
Sail plan: Three masted, Spritsail& spritsail topsail, fore course, fore topsail & fore topgallant, main course, main topsail and main topgallant, Lateen mizzen with square topsail.
Complement: Approximately 40 men
Armament: Unknown but probably capable of mounting 20-25 cannon.
A modern reconstruction of a small trading ship, the Maryland Dove at St. Mary's City is approximately the same size as her namesake the Dove which accompanied the Ark.

Ark was a 400 ton English merchant ship hired by Cecil Calvert (2nd Baron Baltimore)to bring roughly 140 colonists and their equipment and supplies to the new colony of Maryland. After a stay of about 3 weeks on St. Clement's Island in the Potomac River, the settlers occupied an Indian village they had purchased on the St. George's (later the St. Mary's) River about 12 miles from Point Lookout where the Potomac River enters the Chesapeake Bay. The new settlement was named St. Mary's City. In the early summer of 1634, the Ark returned to England. The pinnace Dove which had been purchased by Cecil Calvert and the investors in the colony remained for the settler's use.

Maryland colony[edit]

The Maryland expedition consisted of two ships: the Ark of 400 tons burthen which carried the colonists and their supplies and equipment, and the pinnace Dove of 40 tons burthen, which was purchased by Lord Baltimore and his investors to serve the colony once it was established. After several delays, the two ships sailed from the Isle of Wight on 22 November 1633. Three days later on 25 November, a storm in the English Channel separated the Ark from the Dove. When the Dove disappeared from view, she was flying distress lanterns, and those aboard the Ark assumed she had sunk in the storm. A second more violent storm hit the Ark on 29 November and lasted 3 days, finally subsiding on 1 December. In the midst of the storm the mainsail was split in half and the crew was forced to tie down the tiller and whipstaff so the ship 'lay-a-hull', keeping her bow to the wind and waves as she drifted. This was the last bad weather the Ark encountered on the voyage.

On 25 December, wine was passed out to celebrate Christmas. The following day, 30 colonists fell ill with a fever brought on by excessive drinking and 12 died, including two of the Catholic colonists. These were the only losses suffered on the voyage.

On 3 January 1633/34, The Ark arrived at Barbados in the West Indies after a voyage of 42 days from England. About two weeks later, the Dove arrived. As it developed, the Dove had been able to reach the shelter of Plymouth harbor where she rode out the storm.

On 24 January 1633/34, the ships departed Barbados. An earlier departure was intended, but was delayed because Richard Orchard, master of the Dove had departed inland to collect some debts and could not be found on the intended sailing date.

After making a few other stops in the Caribbean, on 24 February 1633/34, the ships arrived at Point Comfort (now called Old Point Comfort) at the mouths of the James, Nansemond, and Elizabeth Rivers, in Virginia. This ended their ocean voyage which had lasted slightly over 3 months, of which 66 days were actually spent at sea.

After a week's stay, the ships departed on 3 March and sailed up the Bay to the Potomac River and thence up the Potomac to an island which they named St. Clement's located about 21 miles upriver from the mouth of the Potomac. Although too small for the intended settlement, St. Clement's provided a relatively secure base from which Leonard Calvert, governor of Maryland and younger brother of Cecil, could explore the area and negotiate the purchase of land for the new colony. On 25 March, Father Andrew White, a Jesuit missionary who had accompanied the expedition said a Mass of Thanksgiving. This has been traditionally taken as the end of the voyage although in fact the voyage had actually ended on 24 February when the Ark and Dove arrived at Old Point Comfort. More likely explanations are that: 1) 25 March is the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a major Catholic feast day. 2) Until 1752 when England finally adopted the Gregorian Calendar. 25 March was the start of the civil new year[2](hence the practice of writing dates from 1 January to 25 March as 1633/34). 3) To celebrate the purchase of 30 square miles on the right bank of what would become the St. Mary's River.

On 27 March 1634 the ships depart St. Clement's Island for the Indian village purchased by Leonard Calvert where they began the establishment of the colony. [3]


Among the passengers on board Ark and Dove were Leonard Calvert (1606–1647) and Thomas Greene; the first two governors of the Province of Maryland.[4] Leonard Calvert was the second son of George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore, the first proprietor of the Province of Maryland. His elder brother Cecil, who inherited the colony and the title, appointed Leonard governor in his absence.[5]

In August 1635, Dove sailed for England carrying timber and beaver pelts, but she never arrived home and was presumed lost in a storm.

The modern replica of Maryland Dove was built on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay in 1975, using 17th-century tools and methods.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ ship characteristics derived from plans drawn using 17th century techniques.
  2. ^ Old Style and New Style dates
  3. ^ The chronology given here is derived from Father Andrew White's account of the voyage using Barbara Lawatsch-Boomgaarden's translation White, Father Andrew, , Lawatsch-Boomgaarden Barbara, trans. Voyage to Maryland, Wauconda, Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, 1995.
  4. ^ "Leonard Calvert MSA SC 3520-198". Maryland State Archives. 2003-03-07. 
  5. ^ Sparks, Jared (1846). The Library of American Biography: George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore. Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown. pp. 16–. 
  6. ^ The Dove at Retrieved August 4, 2010


External links[edit]