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 the "Dove", shown here in a 1934 U.S. commemorative postage stamp
 EnglandKingdom of England
Name: Ark
Owner: Hired by Cecilius Calvert, second Baron or Lord Baltimore, (1605-1675)
Launched: c. 1630
General characteristics
Tons burthen: 400
Length: Approximately 132 feet on deck[1]
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 seamen
Armament: Unknown, but probably capable of mounting 20-25 cannon.
A modern reconstruction and replica of a small 17th Century English trading ship, the "Maryland Dove" at St. Mary's City, Maryland is approximately the same size as her namesake, the c. 1630 "Dove" which accompanied "The Ark" on the historic trans-oceanic voyage in late 1633 and early 1634.

"Ark" was a 400-ton English merchant ship hired by Cecilius Calvert (2nd Baron or Lord Baltimore), (1605-1675), to bring roughly 140 English colonists and their equipment and supplies to the new colony and Province of Maryland, one of the Original Thirteen Colonies of British North America on the Atlantic Ocean eastern seaboard. On the historic trans-oceanic voyage from England in late 1633 and early 1634, Ark was accompanied by the smaller pinnace Dove. The two ships briefly stopped in Jamestowne, up the James River also off the mouth of the estuary, Chesapeake Bay in the large harbor of Hampton Roads in the previously established colony (1607) and Province of Virginia, to re-supply and consult with the authorities there. Then the Calvert colonists sailed northward up the large expanse of the Bay, landed on St. Clement's Island (also known as Blakistone Island) on the north shore of the Potomac River, across from Virginia's northern border on March 25, 1634, (thereafter celebrated annually in the colony and free State as "Maryland Day"), planting a large cross, claiming the land in the name of the King of England, (Charles I) and holding their first communal mass (worship service) of the Roman Catholic Church led by the accompanying Jesuit (Society of Jesus) chaplain, Father Andrew White, (1579-1656). After a brief three-week stay on the island, the new Marylanders occupied a nearby Piscataway Indian village they had purchased on the St. George's (later the St. Mary's River) River, several miles southeast from St. Clement's and about 12 miles northwest from Point Lookout where the Potomac River enters the Chesapeake Bay which almost cuts Maryland in half with its incredibly long shoreline of bays, inlets, creeks and rivers. The new English settlement was named "St. Mary's City" in honor of The Virgin, which later became the provincial capital, and later is located also as the county seat/courthouse in the first county to be "erected" (established), St. Mary's County. In the early summer of 1634, the "Ark" returned to England. The accompanying pinnace "Dove" which had been also purchased by Cecilius Calvert and the gentry investors in the new colony remained for the settlers' use in and around the Bay and coasts of Maryland.

Maryland colony[edit]

The Maryland expedition consisted of two ships: Ark of 400 tons burthen which carried the English colonists and their supplies and equipment, and the smaller 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 (between England and Ireland) on the 22nd November 1633. Three days later on the 25th November, a storm in the English Channel separated Ark from Dove. When Dove disappeared from view, she was flying distress lanterns, and those aboard Ark assumed she had sunk in the storm. A second more violent storm hit Ark on 29 November and lasted three 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 Ark encountered on the trans-Atlantic voyage.

On the 25th 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 Roman Catholic colonists. These were the only losses suffered on the voyage.

On 3 January 1633/34, Ark arrived at the island of Barbados in the West Indies after a voyage of 42 days from England. About two weeks later, Dove arrived. As it later developed, Dove had been able to reach the shelter of Plymouth harbour 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 (captain) 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 Sea, 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, forming the great harbor of Hampton Roads in Virginia. This ended their ocean voyage which had lasted slightly over three 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 Chesapeake Bay to the Potomac River and thence up the Potomac passing Point Lookout to an island on the northern shore across from the border of Virginia which according to the Royal Grant of 1632 lay on the southern shore, which they named "St. Clement's" (also known later as Blakistone Island), 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, (1606-1647), new first Governor of Maryland and younger brother of Cecilius, could explore the area and negotiate the purchase of land for the new colony. On 25 March, (Festival Day of the Annunciation to Mary), Father Andrew White, (1579-1656), a Jesuit (Society of Jesus) 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 earlier on the 24th February, when "The Ark" and "The Dove" arrived at Old Point Comfort (off-shore from the later 19th Century major American fortification Fortress Monroe) entering the North American continental waters. More likely explanations are that: 1) - 25 March is the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a major Roman Catholic feast/festival day in the liturgical calendar. 2) - Until 1752, when England finally adopted the Gregorian Calendar (adopted earlier by Pope Gregory the Great, as opposed to the older, now inaccurate Julian Calendar dating from the Caesars of the Roman Empire). 25 March was the start of the civil new year[2](hence the practice of writing dates from the 1st January to 25 March as 1633/34). 3) - To celebrate the purchase of 30 square miles on the right bank (north shore) on the Potomac of what would become the St. Mary's River. March 25 has since also been annually celebrated throughout the Colony and later Free State as "Maryland Day", anniversary of its founding.

On 27 March 1634 the ships departed St. Clement's Island for the nearby Piscataway 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, (1610-1651), of Bobbing, Kent; 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 reconstruction of the 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 diary account of the voyage using the 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]