Frederick Calvert, 6th, and last, Baron Baltimore,
of Woodcote Park. Lord of Horton Manor 1751 - 1769

Calvert Crest
Calvert Crest


The birth of Frederick Calvert took place on 6 February 1731/2 in Epsom, Surrey, presumably at Woodcote Park, home of his parents Charles Calvert, 5th Lord Baltimore, and Mary (nee Janssen) who had married 20 July 1730. His father was a Gentleman of the Bedchamber in the service of Frederick Louis, Prince of Wales, son of George II, a godfather after whom the child is said to have been named. Two more godparents were the Duke of Richmond and the Princess Royal. The Prince of Wales who favoured Baltimore, as a friend and confidant, consequently chose neighbouring Durdans as a residence from which to go hawking on the Downs, holding the house on a 21-year lease between 1737 and 1747, before, having been hit on the head by a cricket ball, he died from a brain abscess during 1751.

As an adult, Frederick Calvert is encountered claiming the benefit of "classical erudition" gained at Eton College and aspiring to scholarship and wit. However, one commentator sums him up as "Feeble in body, conceited, frivolous, and dissipated, but withal generous and sympathetic, (a person) who gave himself up to a life of pleasure", another simply as "a disreputable and dissolute degenerate".

When his father died, 24 April 1751, Frederick succeeded him to become Proprietary Governor of the Province of Maryland and he inherited great wealth including a substantial holding of stock in the Bank of England. Following Charles Calvert's acquisition of the Belvedere House estate in Kent, as a new family seat during 1643, Woodcote Park had become run down. Improvements to the neglected property were commenced in 1751 with John Vardy commissioned to erect a stone-faced Palladian range across the east front of the existing house. Whilst Dame Elizabeth (Mynne) Evelyn had engaged Antonio Verrio, in 1691, to decorate the Great Stairs and various ceilings as well as Grinling Gibbons to create a new Chapel, by 1753 the new Baron Baltimore had expended a huge amount of money on the interior with results which have been described as "ridiculous" and "tawdry" in a "French" style. On 9 March 1753, Frederick married Diana Egerton, daughter of Scroop Egerton, 1st Duke of Bridgewater, settling on her ladyship a jointure of £2,000 p.a. Unfortunately, discord soon arose between them, a formal separation was arranged during May 1756 as a result of "incompatibility of temper" and no children were produced from this union before Diana died in 1758 - reportedly, having become an invalid from injuries sustained when her carriage was "upset". Another version of the event suggests that Lady Diana was taken out for an airing with her husband but "died from a hurt she received by a fall out of a Phaeton carriage": under the circumstances Frederick had been suspected of foul play but was never charged with any wrongdoing. Earlier, Lord Baltimore had moved on to co-habit with Hester Whalen (or Wheland) from Ireland with whom he had an illegitimate son (Henry Harford, b. 5 April 1758) & a daughter (Mary Frances Harford, b. 28 November 1759). He is also reputed to have sired, around 1765, twins (Sophia & Elizabeth Hales) by Elizabeth Dawson of Lincolnshire and, at Hamburg in 1770, a further daughter (Charlotte Hope) with Elizabeth Hope of Munster, Germany. There is evidence that Calvert supported his offspring born out of wedlock during his lifetime, in particular by sending large sums of money to Peter Prevost who became the Harford children's stepfather, eventually marrying Hester Whalen on 10 September 1784 at Old Church, St. Pancras.

Flag of the State of Maryland
Flag of the State of Maryland
Image Source Wikipedia (Opens in a new window)

He spent much time travelling through Europe and to Asia (but never visited his palatinate of Maryland): allegedly he went to Constantinople with a view to obtaining "intelligence concerning the regulation, laws and customs of the seraglio, with all the ceremonies and methods of treating the sultanas", intending to set up similar establishments in London. His book, A Tour to the East in 1763 & 1764 with remarks on the City of Constantinople and the Turks, was noted by James Boswell in a letter dated 22 September 1767: " Baltimore has had a very good opportunity to know something of eastern manners. He is a man of singular independence and whim. He lived ['scarce a year', according to Calvert's own account] at Constantinople, wore the dress of the Country, kept his seraglio of the finest women and, in short, enjoyed the existence of a Turk." Elsewhere, Boswell reported that Baltimore "...lived luxuriously and inflamed his blood, then he became melancholy and timorous, and was constantly taking medicines...he is living a strange, wild, life, useless to his country, except when raised to a delirium, and must soon destroy his constitution" - in an allusion to what has been interpreted as the use of opium. As was "jocosely" observed by Lord Orford, the book itself "deserved no more to be published than (Calvert's) bills on the road for post-horses". Another critic remarked that the work abounded with quotations from the Roman classics, "many of which his lordship has anglicised in an unmelodious way". Robert Southey mentioned that Frederick Calvert also published Gaudia poetica Latina, Anglica, et Gallica lingua composita, in 1770, a slim volume printed for private circulation and presents - the title page decorated with a baron's coronet and initials "F.B.". This book was inscribed with a prediction of the esteem and admiration that awaited Carolus Linnaeus (the Swedish writer Carol von Linne, professor of botany at Uppsala) with whom Baltimore had previously corresponded in Latin from January 1669. The exchange of compliments reads as mutual adulation although Calvert little deserved the flattery.

Between 1759 & 1763, Frederick Calvert had a handsome property built, on a corner of Guildford Street, to be named Baltimore House. This has been described as "a quaintly constructed solitary mansion standing on the outskirts of London amid rural scenery" but became part of the later Russell Square development. Baron Baltimore was reputed to "have caused part of his house to be taken down and rebuilt in the form of a Turkish Harem", in 1766, probably at this address. To the property, on 15 December 1767, a young milliner was decoyed and subsequent events led to Lord Baltimore's arraignment & trial on a capital charge of abduction and rape , in relation to Sarah Woodcock, heard at Kingston Assizes [as a "commoner", his barony only being Irish], 27 March 1768. A detailed report of the proceedings may be found in The Newgate Calendar at http://www.exclassics.com/newgate/ng441.htm from which a reader may form his or her opinion as to whether justice was served. Although Lord Baltimore was acquitted his trial polarised sentiment with the gentry on one side and common folk taking the other. Unsurprisingly, salacious pamphlets were circulated, including Memoirs of the Seraglio of the Bashaw of Merryland by a discarded Sultana by "Sophia Watson", before widespread public condemnation impelled Calvert to depart the country. He had earlier attempted to dispose of "Woodcote Manor and Park" with its furnishings, about June 1764, but is known to have remained in possession and able to lease it to Lawrence Monck for 1 year from 11 August 1768. Thereafter the sale of this property seems to have been agreed for disposal with Horton Manor, transactions completed in the following year, 9 Geo, III (1769). Baltimore House in town was leased from 1770 to Harry Powlett (otherwise Paulet), 6th Duke of Bolton, before being renamed Bolton House. Having divested himself of his homes in England, Calvert proposed to "keep constantly moving that...he might not know where he should be buried".

An idea of including here more anecdotes about Frederick Calvert's bizarre behaviour has been rejected because one cannot be sure of the authenticity of many such tales: some appear to be distortions or pure fantasy based on tracts published after his trial for alleged rape. Suffice to write that John Gray, in a letter to Dr Tobias Smollett from Genoa, dated 23 March 1771, and Sir Harold Mann, British envoy in Florence, both mention Lord Baltimore's presence in Italy with a personal "seraglio of Italians, Greeks, Blacks etc." - much later, his entourage was claimed to comprise a physician and a bevy of eight ladies superintended by two Negro eunuchs. Calvert's relatively short, but event-filled, life came to an end, following a fever, on 4(or 14) September 1771. His body was brought back to London, to lie in state at the Great Room of Exeter Exchange on the Strand before being conveyed in a hearse for burial in the family vault at the old St. Martin's, "with much funeral pomp, the cavalcade extending from the church to the eastern extremity of Epsom".

By his Will, written in English & Italian and naming Peter Prevost one of the Executors, probated 5 March 1772, Lord Baltimore left all his estates, including the palatinate of Maryland, to his natural son, Henry Harford (aged 13), but this was challenged by Louisa, Calvert's elder legitimate daughter, in a suit not resolved by the Court of Kings Bench in 1775. Hostilities then arose in the American War of Independence to delay an out-of-court settlement until 1780. Louisa Calvert, who married John Browning (formerly, from 1740/1-1751, her father's Principal Secretary for Maryland, based at Epsom, England,) during 1762, had been declared deranged whilst their son (Charles b. 1765) was still an infant resulting in her becoming a ward of Chancery. The settlement, ratified by a private Act of the British Parliament, 21 George III, c35 - 1781 and approved by the monarch, provided for her and her husband to receive £22,000 and for Sir Robert Eden and his wife, Caroline, (the younger Calvert sister) another £17,500. [Incidentally, the last-named were the great great grandparents of Sir Anthony Eden / 1st Earl of Avon.] The twists and turns of those, and later, proceedings are well beyond the scope of this small piece but details may be found in Professor Garrett Power's review of Calvert versus Caroll "The Quit -rent Controversy between Maryland's Founding Families" [US Supreme Court- 1826, Cassell v. Caroll, 24 U.S. 134 (1 Wheaton)] at http://digitalcommons.law.umaryland.edu/fac_pubs/44/.

A concise article about Frederick Calvert, listing some other sources, may also be read in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography via the Surrey Library website.

Something extra which might be of general interest is Calvert's joint responsibility for the creation of the USA's famous "Mason-Dixon line" that forms part of the borders of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and West Virginia. His father, Charles, 5th Baron Baltimore, had entered an agreement as to boundaries with sons of William Penn, during 1732, but then disputed its interpretation and refused to implement the arrangements. Hostilities arose between the settlers and military forces were mobilised over 1736/7 before agents acting for King George II brokered a cease-fire in May 1738. Negotiations subsequently dragged on until 1760 when Frederick Calvert was directed by his monarch to accept the terms of the 1732 treaty. Lord Baltimore & members of the Penn family proceeded to commission two English astronomers, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, to survey the boundaries so determined: they carried out the work between 1763 & 1767. Markers were imported from England, a pillar lettered "M" on the Maryland side and "P" on the Pennsylvania side to be set up at intervals of 1 mile with every fifth a "Crownstone" engraved with the two families' coats of arms. After Pennsylvania abolished slavery in 1781, the "line" became a division between free and slave states, figuratively separating the North from Dixie. A definitive map once held by Maryland Historical Society had been annotated "...If Lord Frederick, who signed the deed of 1760, had come over to Maryland and lived with his tenants instead of running about the Continent of Europe, and threading the labyrinth of the Grecian Archipelago having pictures drawn of the females of the different islands, it would have been better for him and his province and he would have escaped the censure of Sterne, who, in his Sentimental Journey, has given him the name of Mundungus to the world in an unfavourable light." The literary allusion is to a character in the work published by Laurence Sterne, author of Tristram Shandy, in 1768. There are other candidates for the true identity of his fellow Grand-tourist but the following passage certainly fits Baltimore; the timing is right and the nickname, referring to the reek of the lowest type of Maryland tobacco, stuck to him in America. Mundungus, with an immense fortune, made the whole tour; going on from Rome to Naples,- from Naples to Venice,- from Venice to Vienna,- to Dresden, to Berlin, without one generous connection or pleasurable anecdote to tell of; but he had travelled straight on looking neither to his right hand nor his left, lest Love or Pity should seduce him out of his road.

As a further postscript, the Hon. Louisa Browning, widow of John Browning Esq. (Will proved 1792 in National Archives at PROB 11/1218) and sister of Frederick Calvert, survived until 15 November 1821when, in her 88th year, she passed away, intestate - not having recovered her sanity, in Horton Lodge, "near Epsom", before burial with her ancestors in a vault at St Martin's. Her home had been built, circa 1778, on part of Horton Manor land bequeathed by her father, Charles, 5th Lord Baltimore, following his death in 1751 and was inherited by her son, Charles Browning. It eventually became part of West Park Hospital to be called Hollywood Lodge. Seriously damaged by fire in 2005, the shell still stands at the time of writing [in May 2008] on the corner of Horton Lane and Christchurch Road, forlornly awaiting re-development.

Brian Bouchard © 2008
Member of Leatherhead and District Local History Society


You may also be interested in Sir Frederick Morton Eden (1766-1809)


 Art
 Family History
 Health
 Map
 Nature
 People
 Places
 Society
 Sources
 Technology
 Trade
 Transport
 War Memorials

 Contact
 Sitemap
 What's New
 Home

Email:


Donate to The History Centre
Rev. Boucher
Rev. Boucher
Rev. Parkhurst
Rev. Parkhurst
Sir Fredrick Eden
Sir Fredrick Eden
Mynne G
George Mynne
Darcy E
Edward Darcy
Kingswood Warren
Kingswood Warren
Pitt Place, Epsom
Pitt Place