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John Altham

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John Altham (1589 – November 5, 1640), also known as John Gravenor,[1] was a British Jesuit missionary who came to North America to preach to the Native Americans.


He was born in Warwickshire, England, in 1589. In November 1633, he and fellow Jesuit Andrew White set sail with Governor Leonard Calvert and arrived in the Chesapeake Bay area in March 1634. Upon landing, he obtained a hut from its Indian owner, which he fitted up for religious service, and it was afterward known as "the first chapel in Maryland." He performed his missionary work among the Indians around Kent Island from 1634[2] till his death from yellow fever, in nearby St. Mary's, Maryland, in 1640.[3]


  1. ^ Shea, John Gilmary (1886). A History of the Catholic Church Within the Limits of the United States: From the First Attempted Colonization to the Present Time. Vol. 1. New York. p. 40. OCLC 499428003. Archived from the original on 6 January 2019. Retrieved 6 January 2019 – via Google Books.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  2. ^ Curran, Robert Emmett. Papist Devils: Catholics in British America, CUA Press, 2014, p. 48ISBN 9780813225838
  3. ^ Bowden, Henry Warner (1993). Dictionary of American religious biography (2nd ed.). Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. p. 17. ISBN 0-313-27825-3.
  • Who Was Who in America, Historical Edition 1607-1896. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who, 1967.