Early Christian Missions in Maryland

Although no historian of Maryland has recorded the efforts of
the early settlers to convert the aboriginal inhabitants of our State
to Christianity, this Society possesses interesting documents of undoubted
authenticity, which prove that at the commencement of
the Colony, and for several years after, the most zealous and successful
exertions were made in this pious enterprise.


The interesting history of the voyage and landing of the first
settlers, and the description of the country and its native inhabitants,
were written in Latin, by one of the Missionaries, who accompanied
the Colonists, in the ship Ark, in 1633-4. This rare
historical document was addressed to the Superior of the Jesuits,
within a month after the arrival of our Pilgrims. The original
was found among the archives of the Society of Jesus, at Rome,
by the late Rev'd. Wm. McSherry, a native of Virginia; who
transcribed it, together with extracts from various annual letters
written by the Missionaries in Maryland in subsequent years to
the Superior of their Society. It is to similar letters the world is
indebted for the interesting work so well known by the title
of Lettres idifiantes et curieuses. Our Society is indebted to
Georgetown College for copies of the documents found in Rome
by Rev'd. Mr. McSherry.

Although the name of the writer of the first tract—the iVarrative
of the Voyage—is not mentioned, I think it will appear,
in the conclusion of these remarks, that Rev'd. Andrew White
was the author. From these MSS. most of the matter for this
essay has been culled; but the biographical sketches, as well
as the contemporaneous history, have been collected from various
reliable sources—which are quoted in the notes.


With the first Colonists of Maryland, came two Jesuit Priests,
Fathers Andrew White and John Altham; and two lay brothers,
or temporal coadjutors, as they are designated, of the same Society,
whose names were John Knowles and Thomas Gervase.
Father White was born in London, about the year 1579. As,
by the laws in force at that period, Catholics were denied the advantage
of education in their own religion in England, he was
educated at the English College at Douay, in Flanders ; at which
place he probably received ordination. He was a secular priest
and returned to England very soon after being qualified for the
ministry ; for, we find his name in a list of forty-seven priests,
who, in 1606, "were, from different prisons, sent into perpetual
banishment."

In the following year, he applied for admission into the Society
of Jesus, performed a novitiate of two years at Louvain, and
again returned to England, where he labored as a Missionary for
a few years. 2 As the penalty was death, to a priest who returned
to England after banishment, his life was constantly in danger in
that country. He was therefore recalled to the Continent, and
sent to Spain as a tutor to English Catholic students, who received
in two or three English Seminaries in that country, an education
to qualify them for the sacred ministry in England. While in
Spain, he filled the professorships of Scripture, Scholastic Theology,
and Hebrew. He afterwards taught Divinity—first at Louvain,
and then at Li^ge, in Belgium. He is described as " a man of
transcendent talents."

Applications having been made by Lord Baltimore, to the Superior
of the Jesuits, for clergymen " to attend the Catholic planters
and settlers, and to convert the native Indiaus " in Maryland,
Oliver says, "the design was approved, and Father Andrew
White was directed to prepare for that mission. Like a giant, he
exulted to run his course; he arrived safely in March, 1634 ; and
his snccessful zeal entitled him to the glorious title of the " Apostle
of Maryland."


Of the early life of Father Altham, we have no particulars.
Some account of his meritorious labors, and of his death in Maryland,
will constitute a portion of this essay. Before the site for
the new Colony had been determined on. Father Altham accompanied
Governor Calvert in his voyage of exploration of the Potomac
River, and visited with him the great Chief of Piscataway,
who is represented as superior to the other chiefs, and is sometimes
styled Emperor. The Governor and his exploring party
first landed on the Virginia side of the river, at Potomac-Town,2
where the natives received them kindly. Here Father Altham explained
to them the doctrines of the Christian Religion, by means
of an interpreter—one of the settlers of Virginia. This fact,
which is explicitly stated in our MS., is thus mentioned in that
very rare book, " A Relation of Maryland," printed in London,
in 1635. The Governor and his party, having landed " at Patowmeck-
town, where, the werowance being a child, Archihau, his
uncle, (who governed him and his country for him) gave all the
company good welcome ; and one of the company, having entered
in a little discourse with him, touching the errors of their religion,
seemed well pleased therewith, and at his going away, desired him
to return againe, saying he should live with him, and his men
should hunt for him, and he would divide all with him." Crossing
the river, the Governor and his party ascended the Potomac,
and landed at Piscataway, where they treated with the Emperor
about settling in his country. After this, they returned to their
companions, at St. Clement's Island, and the site being determined

The virtuous conduct, and gentle dispositions of the Indians, in
the immediate vicinity of St. Mary's, encouraged the Missionaries
to entertain hopes of the conversion of the natives generally to
Christianity. But, in the second year of the colony, obstacles to
their pious design were thrown in the way, which prevented them
from extending their visits beyond the limits of the settlement.

It was in the early part of the year 1635, that Captain Claiborne
—whose name and exploits are so familiar to the students of the
early history of Maryland—succeeded in exciting the suspicions
of the Indians against the Maryland Colonists generally, and
prejudices against their religion in particular.2 Apprehensive of
hostilities from the Natives, our Colonists confined themselves to
St. Mary's, until the good will of the Indians was restored. A
third Priest arrived from Europe in 1635, at which period the
Missionaries declare in their letters that—
" But little can be said of this Mission, which has been but lately
commenced. On account of the numerous difficulties which have
occurred, the fruits, as yet, are scarcely appreciable, especially
among the savages, with whose language we are, slowly, becoming
acquainted. Five companions are here employed, three priests
and two lay brothers, who joyfully sustain their present labors, in
the hopes of future success."

In the year 1636, there were four priests, and one temporal
coadjutor, on the Maryland Mission. Among our extracts, from
the annual letters, we have none for the year 1637 ; and conse-
quentlv Imve BO account of the arrival of any Missionaries from
1636 to 1638. Tradition says, that a priest, named Thomas
Copley, was one of the first Missionaries in Maryland. Some
old records in the possession of the Jesuits, in this State, mention
his name ; and in an ancient MS. book, at the Novitiate in Frederick,
the following is the first entry :

" Catalogus Patrum Anglorum, &c., Pater White Andreas, primus
Marylandiae Missionarius advenit hue circa 1630, ante Dominum
Baltimori: Sacellum extruxit in White-neck, at non habebat domum.
Ohiit in Anglia, 27th Sept., 1655. Vide Tanner Confess. 800.
pag. 803 et Fasti Soc. in hanc diem.
P. STAEKEY,
P. COPLEY,
P. FEKEET,
P. PULTON."

As the period given in the above catalogue for the arrival of
Father White—"circa 1630"—is not definite, it is evident that
the entry cannot be relied on for precision as to dates. But it is
probably correct in the names of Missionaries serving in Maryland,
in the early years of the Colony. By the State records at
Annapolis, it appears that a gentleman, named Thomas Copley,
arrived in Maryland, and precisely in that year of which we have
no missionaries' letters. In the oldest book in the Land Office, I
find the following entry : " Thomas Copley, Esq., demandeth 4000
acres of land, due by conditions of plantation, for transporting
into the province, himself and twenty able men at his own charge,
to plant and inhabit, in the year 1637." Liber No. 1, folio 25.

It is no objection to his identity with the Missionary of that name,
that the record calls him " Esquire " ; for, it would not have been
safe at that period to have openly recognized a Catholic Priest by
the title of " Reverend," and in the State records, we find a prudent
caution in this respect, to avoid any public, or apparent disregard
of the penal laws then in force in the mother country,
against Catholic priests, and Jesuits in particular. In another
book, in the same office, Mr. Copley's name appears in connection
with the names of Fathers White and Altham. This interesting
record is in Liber 2, fo. 18 and 20, and is stated to be the "proceedings
of the first Assembly held at Saint Mary's, 25th and
26th January, 1637." After recording the names of the members,
the following are part of the proceedings :

" After, were summoned to appear, by virtue of writs to them
directed Mr. Thomas Copley, Esq., of St. Mary's hundred, Mr.
Andrew White, Mr. John Altham, Gent, of the same hundred.
Robert Clerke, gent, appeared and made answer, that they desired
to be excused from giving voices in this Assembly, and was admitted."
In another place, Robert Clerke is designated as " servant
to Mr. Copley." A proof that Mr. Copley was a Jesuit
Priest, and engaged on Missionary duty in Maryland is found
in this original letter, written in LiSge, in 1640, by Robert Gray,
a lay brother of the English province S. J., who was then applying
to the Superior to be sent to Maryland. The portion of the
letter which refers to the subject, is as follows : " Reverend Father;
your reverence gave us to understand the last night, what desires
those first Fathers of ours which was sent in Maryland mission
hath of supplyes. I make bould in all submission to tell you
what promise I made to Father Copley at his going, that after the
death of Father Blount,1 if I lived after him I would come to him
in Maryland, provided I might be admitted."

By the above extracts from the proceedings of the first Assembly,
it would appear, that the three priests, Fathers White, Altham,
and Copley, had been summoned as members of the legislature,
but that they were so unambitious of political power as to decline
taking any part in public affairs. Our MSS. of 1638, mention
the death of a priest, and of a lay brother. The former is described
as a young man, from whom " on account of the excellent qualities
of his mind and heart a great deal was expected." His name
is not given, but I have no doubt he was the priest who arrived
in 1635. John Knowles, the companion of Fathers White and
Altham, was the lay brother.

The King of the Patuxents, whose name was Mackaquomen,
had shewn the most friendly disposition towards the Maryland
Colonists, from their first arrival. And the people, dwelling upon
the Patuxent, have been described by Captain Smith, as more civil
and hospitable than any other Indians seen by him, when he first
visited that river in 1608. It would also appear by his account,
that the Patuxent country was more thickly inhabited than any
other portion of Maryland which he visited. The nations or
tribes of Indians named Acquintanacksuah, Patuxent, and Mattapanient,
dwelt there in Smith's time. Mackaquomen is stated in
our MSS., to have been possessed of great influence and authority
among the savages. It was, therefore, considered of importance
by our Missionaries to attempt the conversion of this prince and
the numerous people on the banks of the Patuxent. With this
view. Father White took his residence there, and employed himself
diligently among the Indians near the mouth of that river.

He had succeeded in the conversion of only six of these people,
when Governor Calvert discovering some indications of hostile or
unfriendly feeling, on the part of Mackaquomen towards the colonists,
recalled Father White to Saint Mary's, lest his life or liberty
should be endangered among the savages^ in case of war.
The annual letter of 1638, after deploring the death of the
priest, and a lay brother already mentioned, by the " prevailing
1 Collections, p. 144.
disease of the Colony "—with which disease all the priests had
been attacked—says: " The Governor of the Colony will not allow
us to remain among the Savages; not only on account of the prevalent
sickness, but also because of the hostility of the Indians "
—who were thought to have formed a compact against the settlers
—" nevertheless, we hope that in a short time one of us may succeed
in getting a footing among the Savages." Friendly relations
having been re-established in the beginning of 1639,1 the Missionaries
immediately improved the favorable circumstance by dispersing
themselves among the Indians, in such places as seemed to be
most favorable for the general diffusion of Christianity. The annual
letter of 1639, says: "Four priests and one co-adjutor are
employed in this Mission. Settled in places widely distant, they
thus hope to acquire a knowledge of each neighboring idiom, and
consequently to spread more widely the holy truths of the gospel."

The names of these priests were John Brock, who was superior
of the mission, Andrew White, John Altham, and Philip Fisher.
Of their characters and the scenes of their pious labors, the following
brief sketch may not be without interest to the curious inquirer
into our early history.

Father John Brock, (whose real name appears to have been
Morgan)2 took the station previously occupied by Father White,
near the mouth of the Patuxent river, upon land which had been
given to the Missionaries by the Indians. The station was called
Mattapany, and as the land was afterwards relinquished to Lord
Baltimore, I think it is the same on which he built his mansion
near the mouth of the Patuxent,3 the ruins of which are still to

' It often became a prudent precaution for tlie English Jesuits to assume a different
name to evade the penal laws against Jesuit priests. Another reason for assuming
a different name is thus given by a modern English writer : '' From the time when
the Catholic father was made liable to a fine of forty shillings per day, if he employed
any but a Protestant tutor or schoolmaster to instruct his child, or of one
hundred pounds if for the sake of Catholic education, he sent his child beyond
the sea, it had grown into a custom for the young man, on his admission into a
foreign Seminary, to assume a feigned name, that he might not, by the retention
of his real name, bear testimony to the legal delinquency of his parent."
301dmixon, Vol.1, p. 337.
be seen. Mattapany was the store-house of the mission, from
which supplies were furnished to the other Missionary stations.

And during a scarcity in the year 1640, in consequence of a
drought in the preceding year, the Missionaries distributed bread to
the Indians.

Father Altham was stationed on Kent Island, which was then
considered a place of great importance for commerce with the
various tribes, who had been accustomed to resort thither, before
the arrrival of the Maryland Colony, in consequence of Claiborne
having made it a place of trade, as early as 1631. In his petition
to Charles I. in 1637-8, he stated that by means of his settlement
on this Island, and Palmer's Island, at the mouth of the Susquehanna,
he " was in great hopes to draw thither the trade in beavers
and furs which the French then wholly enjoyed in the grand
lake of Canada."1 In 1638 it had a population of one hundred
and twenty, and sent two delegates to the Assembly. The Isle of
Kent, as it was then called, was thus an admirable station for a
Missionary, on account of its opportunities for intercourse with
the Indians of various tribes who visited it, and for the facilities
it afforded for making excursions to their villages, which were
generally on the banks of the rivers emptying into the Chesapeake
Bay.

Father Philip Fisher, who arrived in Maryland probably two
or three years later than Fathers White and Altham, had charge
of the mission at St. Mary's City in 1639 ; further notice of him
will occur hereafter.

The King of Piscataway, whose name was Chitomacon, had
been represented to be a chief of great power, who exercised authority
over several of the neighboring chieftains. His capital,
which was called Kittamaqundi, was probably at or near the present
village of Piscataway, about fifteen miles south of our City of
Washington. As soon after his recall from Patuxent as he could
be permitted to leave Saint Mary's, Father White determined to
visit Kittamaqundi, for the purpose of preaching the gospel to the
Piscataway and neighboring Indians, and arrived there in June,
'Bozman, II., p. 70.


1639. He was cordially received by the king, and entertained by
him, with great hospitality. Father White explained to the king
and his family, as well as many of his tribe, the truths of the
Christian religion; and his instructions were received in the most
grateful manner. He succeeded in persuading the Indians to
dress with more modesty than they had used to do; and induced
the king to content himself with one wife. The example and instructions
of Father White, produced in this interesting savage the
most favorable sentiments towards the Christian religion. In
reply to the governor, who explained to him the advantages the
Indians might derive from trade with the English—he said, "he
considered that but slight gain in comparison with the treasure received
from the Fathers, in the knowledge of the true God : which
knowledge," said he, "is now, and always shall be the chief object
of my wishes." At a general meeting of his own tribe, and in
the presence of several chiefs, and some Englishmen, he avowed his
determination, and that of his family, to abjure their superstitions
and to pay homage to Christ; declaring there was no true God but
that of the Christians, nor any other name by which the immortal
soul could be saved from ruin. Chitomacon accompanied Father

White in a visit to St. Mary's, where his conduct was exceedingly
edifying. And he there solicited baptism; but Father White preferred
to postpone the sacred rite until his return among his own
people, when his family and such others as were prepared, might
unite with him. The day appointed was 5th July, 1640. and
great preparations were made for the occasion. Many respectable
people from St. Mary's together with the Governor's Secretary,
and Father Altham from Kent Island, assembled at Piscataway.

The following extracts from a letter written by Father Brock—
(lately mentioned as the superior of the Mission of Maryland, who
resided at Mattapany on the Patuxent)—appeared in the Catholic
Spectator, published in London in 1824. As this letter is entirely
to our purpose, and corroborates the statements in our MSS.,
I have copied all that I find in the publication.
1" Since my last letter, written in the course of the preceding
1 Extract of a letter written by Father John Brock, S. J., the Superior in Maryland,
and dated May 3rd, 1641.
year, it has pleased Divine goodness to open the way to the conversion
of many, I trust, thousands of souls, by calling to the
Orthodox Faith, the Emperor or Great King of Pascataway : for
he has many kings subject to his power. He was baptised on
5th July, 1640. His former name, Chitomacon, was changed into
Charles, on the occasion: and his Queen was baptized at the same
time by the name of Mary ; with an infant at the breast, who was
christened Ann. The King's principal councillor, Mosorcoques,
was baptized at the same time, by the name of John; and his infant
son was christened Robert. The ceremonies were performed
in the presence of the Governor's Secretary, and of Father Altham,
and of many others of the English Colony, by Father Andrew
White, at Pascataway in a chapel made in the Indian fashion, of
the bark of trees, and erected expressly for this occasion. Very
many would have followed the Emperor's example, and been admitted
to the sacred Font, if Fathers White and Altham had not
been attacked by sudden illness and necessitated, for the recovery
of their health, to leave the country for St. Mary's town, in the
English Colony. There Father Altham departed this life on the
5th November; his companion, by frequent relapses, was, for some
time, prevented from resuming his Missionary labors; but finding
himself somewhat convalescent, he returned with me last February,
to cultivate the vineyard. Soon after his arrival in the country,
he suffered another relapse, and has not yet recovered his strength.

Considering his age and infirmities, I fear he must soon sink under
his accumulated labors. He has engaged the affections of the natives,
and possesses a superior knowledge of their language : several
are now instructed to receive baptism, and many of the better
sort show themselves well disposed towards the Christian Faith.

A few months ago the King of Pascataway sent his daughter, the
heiress of his dominions, to St. Mary's town, to be educated
amongst the English, and prepared for baptism."
Father Brock then enlarges on the difficulties and privations
which the Missionaries had to suffer in their Apostolical career,
but expresses the most unbounded confidence in the protection of
a kind Providence. He adds, in the sequel : " In whatever manner
it shall please the Divine Majesty to dispose of us, may his
will be accomplished. For my part, I would rather, laboring in
the conversion of these Indians, expire on the bare ground, deprived
of all human succor, and perishing with hunger, than once think
of abandoning this holy work of God from the fear of want; God
grant that I may render him some service : the rest I leave to his
Providence. The King of Pascatoway has lately died most
piously. God, we trust, will raise up other seed in his place, by
means of the neighboring King, Anacoston, who has invited me
and is determined to be a Christian. Several others, in various
places, profess the same desire. We have great hopes of a plentiful
harvest of souls, if laborers are not wanting, that know the
language and enjoy good health."

" Within five weeks after this magnanimous sentence, viz.: 5th
June, 1641, Father Brock sunk under the accumulation of fatigues
and privations, and passed to immortality." 1
The Missionaries in Maryland wrote to their brethren in
Europe favorable accounts of their prospects in 1639—40.

Referring to their invitation from Anacoston and Mosorcoques,
our Missionaries write, in the latter year, as follows :
u From which we may safely conclude, that a harvest is placed
within our reach, the labor of which will be richly repaid with
fruit. The greatest fear is, that we shall not have laborers enough
to collect so abundant a crop. There are also other neighboring
towns, which, doubtless, were the word of God preached to them,
would willingly, and with joy, embrace the light of the Gospel;
but lest we might seem to desert our little flock too soon, we are
obliged to desist from extending our labors to others. Let not
those who may be sent to our assistance, fear that they will be
destitute of the necessary supports of life. For he who clothes
the lily of the valley, and feeds the birds of the air, will not suffer
those engaged in extending his heavenly kingdom to want the
necessary supplies."

That their appeals excited the sympathies of their European
brethren, will appear by the following extracts of letters from the
Superior of the Society :
•Oliver, p. 60.

" To Father Andw. White, Maryland.
" 15th OCTOBER, 1639.
" The zeal of your reverence for the conversion of souls as
expressed in your reverence's letter, has afforded me infinite
delight. I anticipate with great interest, receiving the history
of the Mission erected by your reverence, and I doubt not that
it will be of service in stimulating the spirits of many to similar
exertions."
" To Father Jno. Brock, Superior in Maryland.
" 15th SEPTEMBER, 1640.
" I have received the communication of your reverence, bearing
date the second of May ; and I cannot convey to you, an adequate
idea of the pleasure which I derived from it. My mind is
so completely taken up with that Mission of yours, that there is
nothing which I desire more earnestly than to receive news of its
progress as frequently as possible ; and I put so much confidence
in the diligence of your reverence, that I hope the news will always
be good. The hints of your reverence concerning the establishment
of four stations, your information with regard to the
kindness of the Prince of the Aborigines, his inclination towards
baptism, and your hope of a plentiful harvest, have been subjects
of no ordinary rejoicing. The hope of establishing a college,
which you hold forth, I embrace with pleasure; and shall not delay
my sanction to the plan, when it shall have reached maturity."
In a historical memoir of the first establishment of the Catholic
religion in the United States written by the late Abp. Carroll,
about 1790-1, he remarks :

"About the year 1640, some design appears to have been
formed for carrying the gospel amongst the native Indians. For
I find by some papers in my possession, that in this year, the
Provincial of the English Jesuits, wrote a letter of exhortation to
the young Jesuits at Li6ge, inviting them to offer their services for
this perilous and laborious undertaking. In consequence of this
invitation, upwards of twenty solicited with the most fervorous
language to be sent; but I do not find that anything farther was
done in the business, which 1 doubt not, was owing to the jealousy
the neighboring Protestants of Virginia had now conceived,
at the superior credit which the Catholics enjoyed amongst the Indians.
Add to this, that in the same year, 1640, the troubles
began in England, which ended in the dethronement and beheading
of Charles I., in 1648 ; the virulence of the prevailing party in
England against Catholics, and their jealousy of every enterprise
for the increase of true religion, made it necessary to forbear from
any further communication with the Indians; for as the spirit of
the times was, it would have been said, certainly, that the Indians
would be brought down by the priests and papists to murder all
the Protestant inhabitants."

I have now before me the original letters of twenty-three Jesuits
of the English province, soliciting to be sent upon the Maryland
Mission, in terms of the most edifying self-devotion. They are
all dated in July and August, 1640, and most of them are written
from Li6ge, where the English Jesuits had an establishment. A
short extract from one of these letters will show the zeal with
which the provincial Father Edward Knott, encouraged this Mission,
as well as the ardor of his subjects to be employed here.
" Reverende in Christo Pater.
" Pax Christi—I had no sooner heard the relation of the happy
success of our Mission in Maryland, and the great hopes of converting
souls to their Lord and Creator, but I was surprized with
no small joy and comfort, which, nevertheless, was but little,
compared with that which I received, when I read those sweet
and no less comfortable lines with which your Reverence invited
not any one in particular, but all in general, to employ their lives
and labors in the undertaking of so glorious an enterprize of converting
souls to God by means of that Mission. And to tell you
the truth, my joy was so great, that no thought nor word for a
long while could come from me which resounded not Mariland.

The cause of my joy was the hopes I conceived of being so happy
as to be one of those who would consecrate themselves to so noble
an employment, iVec vana spes as I hope; since I doubt not it
is the will of Almighty God, for having commended the matter
unto Him, for some days, I still found the same desire I had in
the first hour. If your Reverence desireth to know yet farther the
joy which was caused in me by this happy niews, I cannot express
it better, than by saying that it hath binne like an ocean able
to drowne all other sorrows and crosses which by reason of
troublesome times might have no small part in me."
As the letter is long, I will omit all that follows, except the
conclusion.

" I would willingly demaund your Reverence his councell in
one thing, and it is by what meanes I may gett my portion of those
temporall goods which by right are due unto me. I would be
willing to give all to the furthering of our mission. The surest
way weare to procure some friends to speak to my father. Peradventure
my step-mother who is my Lord Montigue his Aunt will
be able to effect it. I leave all to your Reverence his disposing.
LAWRENCE WORSLY."

"The 26 of July 1640."
One of the successful candidates for the Maryland Mission, at
that time, was Rev'd Roger Rigbie. The following is his letter
of application:

" Reverende in Christo Pater.
Pax Christi—I had thought to have petitioned for a favour at
your Reverence's last being here; but your sudden and indeed to
me unknown departure prevented me. Howsoever, I hope it was
not without God Almighties particular providence, that I might
more maturely deliberate of so waightie a matter, before I proposed
it. My request is only to entreate the happines to be made partaker
of that happie Mission of Mariland. 'Tis true, I conceive
this Mission not only happie and glorious ; but withall hard and
humble, in regard of the raw state things as yet are in; yet the
love of Jesus neyther feares labour nor low imployment. Your
Reverence's letter inkindled in my mind a great desire of this
voyage, renewed former good purposes to that effect, and made me
in fine resolve upon it. This resolution hath bin verie much
strengthened this tyme of Holy Exercises, both in prayer, Holy
Masse, and other occasions, which I have taken to deliberate of
this point. I confesse the deliberation hath bin long, and the resolntion,

I fear will come late both for others speedier petitions, and
the tyme of the yeare : neverthelesse not alwaies first come, first
sped, sometymes novissimi become primi; and being neare at hand,
I confide, I may bee readie in due tyme for that voyage the next
opportunitie. Besydes, though others farr better deserving, and
more able to found that new spiritual plantation, will have alreadie
presented themselves, yet I should be glad to ioyne my meanest
endeavours with theire best; and the little experience I have had,
gives me good hopes, that my health and strength will be able to
break through occurrent difficulties, and accompanie others in their
greatest labours. I feare I have hindered your more serious
thoughts too long, wherefore in a word, I leave the matter wholly
to your prudent charitie, desiring you would freely dispose of me,
as you iudge best. If you bee alreadie furnished with workmen,
it may bee you will want the next spring to provide for a new
harvest, then you know where to find one. Thus with my dutiful
respects, and best wishes I humbly craue part of your Holy
Sacrifices, and rest this 31, of July 1640.
your Reverence's humble seruant in Christ,
ROGER RIGBIE."

This Father was stationed at Patuxent, in 1642. He was born
in London in 1608, and was about 33 years of age when he arrived
in Maryland. Our MSS. say that he was so successful in
acquiring the Indian language, as to have been able to compose a
short catechism in it. He was confined to his bed, by severe indisposition
for three months, and is stated to have died in Virginia,
in 1646.1

Father White continued to reside at Piscataway, until 1642,
occasionally visiting Saint Mary's. Returning from one of these
visits in the winter, he was detained by the ice, nearly opposite
Potomac town, in Virginia—the place visited by the Governor and
Father Altham, in their first exploring voyage. By walking over
1 Oliver, p. 180.
the ice, Father White reached the town, where he remained several
weeks, preaching and instructing the natives. The annual
letter of 1642, says: "During a detention of nine weeks at Potomac
town, his spiritual gain in souls fully compensated for the
delay. For, during that time, there was an accession to the church,
of the chief of the town, with the principal inhabitants. Also a
chief of another tribe, with many of his followers ; a third, with
his wife, son and one of his people; and a fourth chieftain, with a
companion of high rank among his own people. By these examples,
his whole tribe was prepared to embrace the faith, as soon as
we could find time to impart to them the necessary instructions."

Soon after this period, the young Queen of Piscataway, as
Chitomacon's daughter was called, was baptized at St. Mary's,
where she had been educated ; and she then understood the English
language pretty well.

The Missionaries were very successful in another quarter, of
great importance. This was the Indian town of Potopaco—the
site of Port Tobacco, the capital of Charles county. Nearly all
the native inhabitants of this place embraced Christianity, to the
number of 130, including the young Queen, and the wife and two
children of the former principal chief. This fertile district, embraced
by the great bend of the Potomac river, being favorably
situated for intercourse with the neighboring Indians, who were
very numerous, the Missionaries determined on establishing a
residence there. This they were more inclined to do, because of
interruptions at Piscataway, from the Susquehannock Indians. In
consequence of hostilities from the Nanticokes, the Wicomeses,
and the Susquehannocks, these tribes were declared to be enemies
to the province, and great apprehensions were felt by the Colonists.
In 1642, "a march against the Indians" was ordered, and a fort
erected at Piscataway. It is worthy of observation, that our MSS.
state that the Susquehannocks, about whose history there is so
much obscurity, had taken up their residence upon the banks of
the Potomac, near Piscataway.1 This fierce and truculent tribe,

'They were still there in 1675, as appears by a letter written in 1705, formerly
in the possession of Mr. JeSerson, and now in the Library of Congress—entitled
who are described as very hostile to the Christians, had made an
attack upon one of the settlements, murdered the men, and carried
off the property they found there. As the Colony was feeble in
numbers, and some internal dissensions amongst the English settlers
prevented the prosecution of vigorous measures against the
Indians, it was deemed most prudent to withdraw Father White
from Piscataway. The Missionaries in 1642 made many excursions
up the Patuxent river.

They thought these excursions best suited to the then disturbed
state of the country. Among their converts, were the young
Queen of Patuxent-town, and her mother. In their letter of this
year, they thus describe their excursions:—

" We sail in an open boat—the Father, an interpreter, and servant.
In a calm or adverse wind, two row and the third steers
the boat. We carry a basket of bread, cheese, butter, dried roasting
ears of corn, beans and some meal, and a chest containing the
sacerdotal vestments, the slab or altar for mass, the wine used in
the holy sacrifice, and blessed baptismal water. In another chest
we carry knives, hoes, little bells, fishing hooks, needles, thread,
and other trifles, for presents to the Indians. We take two mats:
a small one to shelter us from the sun, and a larger one to protect
us from the rain. The servant carries implements for hunting,
and cooking utensils. We endeavor to reach some Indian village
or English plantation at night-fall. If we do not succeed, then
the Father secures our boat to the bank, collects wood and makes
a fire, while the other two go out to hunt; and, after cooking our
game, we take some refreshment, and then lie down to sleep round
the fire. When threatened with rain, we erect a tent, covering it
with our large mat. Thanks be to GOD, we enjoy our scanty fare
and hard beds as much as if we were accommodated with the
luxuries of Europe; while the consolation we find in the promises

" The beginning, progress and conclusion of Bacon's rebellion in Virginia, in the
year 1675 and 1676." The writer of this letter says, " The Susquehannocks were
newly driven from their habitations at the head of Chesepiack Bay, by the Cinela
Indians, down to the head of Potomac, where they sought protection under the
Pascataway Indians, who had a fort near the head of that river, and also were our
friends,"
of GOD, to those who labor faithfully in his service, and the
watchful care he seems to have of us, gives us strength to bear up
against difficulties, so much so, that it is surprising that we are
able to accomplish what we do."

Our extracts from the Missionaries' letters, mention the arrival
of two more assistants from England, in 1642, and are then interrupted
until 1654. We have seen, that up to the former date, the
Gospel had been preached to the Indians with success, not only at
the Capital of the Province, but at Kent Island, in the Chesapeake
Bay, at Piscataway and at Port Tobacco, on the Maryland side of
the Potomac, and at Potowmeck-town, on the Virginia side of
that river; at Mattapany, and Patuxent-town, on the Patuxent
River; besides, in many other places, which were visited by the
Missionaries, in their aquatic excursions. By the interruption of
our annual reports, we are left to trace out these Missions and their
founders from other sources.

It was in the beginning of 1644, that Ingle's, or Claiborne and
Ingle's rebellion occurred ; and, in 1645, they succeeded in driving
the Governor and many of his adherents out of the province.
The Governor took refuge in Virginia, and was not restored to his
province and authority until August, 1646. The fate of the Missionaries
is thus stated in our MSS. "A body of soldiers, or
rather lawless brigands, who arrived in 1645, laid waste, destroyed,
and fired the whole Colony. Having driven the Governor into
exile, they carried off the priests, and reduced them to a miserable
slavery." The MSS. in the State Library, at Annapolis, known
as the Eidout papers, say " they burnt the records. This rebellion
was not suppressed for more than two years. The loyal inhabitants
were plundered, and many of them banished by this band of
ruffians. The rebels increased fast, and very few could be persuaded
to make resistance against them." Mr. McMahon says,

"One of the results of Claiborne and Ingle's rebellion, as it is
called, was the destruction or loss of the greater part of the records
of the province; and those which remain to us, neither show us in
what manner this rebellion was fomented, and accomplished its
triumph, nor give us any insight into the conduct and administration
of the confederates, whilst they held the rule of the province.

From Claiborne's known character as an adherent to the Parliament,
and the fact of Ingle's previous flight from the province as
a proclaimed traitor to the King, it seems probable that the insurrection
was carried on under the name and for the support of the
Parliament cause. The records of that day inform us only, that
it commenced in the year 1644 ; that early in the year 1645, the
rebels were triumphant, and succeeded in driving the Governor,
Leonard Calvert, from the Province to Virginia; and that the
government of the Proprietary was not restored until August,
1646. If the representations made by that government, after its
restoration, be correct, the administration of these confederates,
during their ascendancy, was one of misrule, rapacity, and general
distress to the Province; and this seems quite probable, from the
fact of their early expulsion from it, notwithstanding the triumphs
of the Parliament party in England. Their dominion is now
remembered only because it is identified with the loss of the
greater part of the records of the Province before that period." 1
From the biographical department of Dodd's History, we gather
the following particulars of Father White:

" He was sent over prisoner into England, together with two
other Missionaries of the same order, who endured very great
hardships in London, during their confinement. At last he was
sent into banishment, earnestly requesting of his superiors that
he might have the liberty, once more, to visit Maryland. But it
could not be obtained. However, he returned back into England,
and after about ten years, died September 29, 1655, near 80
years of age. He was endowed with all the qualifications of an
Apostolic Missioner, humility, patience, and zeal. His works are,
1st: A Grammar of the Indian Language. 2d. A Dictionary of
the same language. 3d. A Catechism in the same language. 4th.
A History of Maryland."2 Oliver adds a fifth to these works of
Father White's, a History of his Voyage to Maryland. As it
appears, there were but two priests among the first settlers who
1 History of Maryland, p. 202.
2Dodd's Eng. Church History, Vol.'3, Bk. II, Art. VI., p. 313, Dodd refers to
Diary of Douay Coll, Nat. Southwell Bibl., Script. Societ. Jesu., p. 60.
arrived in Maryland, in the ship Ark, and pinnace Dove; and as
the author of our MS. account of the voyage, (copied by Rev.
Mr. McSherry, from the original in Rome,) states that he (the
author) remained at St. Clement's Island, while Father Altham
went with Gov. Calvert, to explore the Potomac, I think there
can be no doubt that Father White was the author of our narrative.
Mr. McSherry informed me that he had also found in Rome,
iu connection with this document, a MS. Catechism of the Indian
language. What an invaluable acquisition to the learned, who
have been engaged of late years, in researches in the history and
languages of the American Indians, would be the Grammar and
Dictionary of Father White. Mr. Gallatin, in his elaborate and
scientific "Synopsis of the Indian Tribes," remarks: "We have
no remnant, whatever, of the language of the Susquehannocks."
The Dictionary of the Abnaquis language, composed by the celebrated
Father Rale, (or Rasle,) a Jesuit Missionary in Maine for
many years, has been esteemed one of the most valuable contributions
to the collections on the subject of Indian philology. The
original MS. is carefully preserved in the Library of Harvard
College.1 Dr. C. Francis, in his life of Father Rale, remarks:

" One can scarcely look at this important manuscript, with its
dingy and venerable leaves, without associations of deep interest
with those labors, and that life in the wilderness, of which it is now
the only memorial. Students of the Indian dialects have most
justly considered it a precious contribution to the materials of
philological science."2 Not less interesting, and even more
precious would be the dictionary and grammar, composed by
Father White, under similar circumstances to those of Father
Rale. Possibly these memorials of our ancient native tribes, may
yet be found in the archives of the Jesuits at Rome, or in the
collections of the English province of the same Society at Stonyhurst
College, in England.
1 After having attracted the attention and commendation of the learned, both in
Europe and America, the Dictionary was printed in 1833, in the 1st Vol., new
series, of the memoirs of the American Academy.
'Sparks's American Biography, Vol. 17, new series VII.
Oliver, who differs from Dodd as to the date of Father White's
death, furnishes, also, some further particulars of the latter part
of his life, in these words : " After ten years of accumulated labors
and services to the colony. Father White was seized by some of
the English invaders from Virginia, the avowed enemies of civil
and religious liberty, and carried off a prisoner to London. At
length he was sentenced to banishment. Thirsting for the salvation
of his dear Marylanders, he sought every opportunity of
returning secretly to that Mission; but every attempt proving
ineffectual, he was content to devote his remaining energies to the
advantage of his native country. In his old age, even to the end,
he continued his custom of fasting on bread and water twice a week.
Whilst a prisoner, he was reminded by his keeper to moderate his
austerities, and to reserve his strength for his appearance at
Tyburn. ' You must know/ replied Father White, ' that my
fasting gives me strength to bear any kind of sufferings for the
love of Jesus Christ.' This truly great and good man died
peaceably in London, not 27th Sept'r., 1656, (as Southwell relates,
p. 60, Biblioth.,) but 27th December, 1656, O. S., or 6th Jan'y.,
1657, N". S. From the comparison of various documents, I believe
he was in his 78th year, at the time of his death. He was the
author of a Grammar, Dictionary and Catechism in the Indian
language, and of his voyage, with a history of Maryland." 1
It is probable that Father Fisher was one of the Missioners
sent to England, a prisoner with Father White. It is certain
that he returned to his labors here, as will appear by the subjoined
letter, addressed by him to Father Vincent Caraffa, the general of
the Society of Jesus, at Rome. In the interesting narrative of
Father Jogues, the celebrated Jesuit Missionary to the Mohawks,
he states that when in New York, in 1643, he heard the confession
of an Irish Catholic from Virginia, who informed him " there had
been members of his Society in Virginia, but one of them accompanying
a party of Indians into their wilds, in his endeavors to
convert them, was attacked and killed, by another party of Indians
1 Collections, pp. 221 and 222.
hostile to the first."' This martyr to his zeal, must have been
one of the Missionaries from Maryland.


Believing the letters of the various applicants for employment
on the Mission of Maryland—to which I have referred in the
course of these remarks—would form an appropriate portion of our
collections, 1 have procured fair and literal copies to be made by
an obliging young friend, which are appended to this essay. The
originals, now before the society, belong to Georgetown College ;
and to the obliging gentlemen of that Institution, I am indebted
for the use of them, as well as the memoir written by Abp.
Carroll, and several of the books which I have quoted.
With the following letter, which I find in Oliver's collection,
pp. 91 and 92, I shall conclude this imperfect sketch.

" Our very Reverend Father in Christ.
" At length my companion aud myself reached Virginia, in the
month of January, after a tolerable journey of seven weeks. There
I left my companion, and availed myself of the opportunity of
proceeding to Maryland, where I arrived in the course of February.
By the singular providence of God, I found my flock collected
together, after they had been scattered for three long years;
and they were really in more flourishing circumstances than those
who had oppressed and plundered them : with what joy they
received me and with what delight I met them it would be
impossible to describe, but they received me as an Angel of God.
I have now been with them a fortnight, and am preparing for the
painful separation : for the Indians summon me to their aid, and
they have been ill-treated by the enemy, since I was torn from
them. I hardly know what to do, but I cannot attend to all. God
grant that I may do his will for the greater glory of his name.
Truly, flowers appear in our land : may they attain to fruit. A
road by land, through the forest, has just been opened from Maryland
to Virginia; this will make it but a two days journey, and
both countries can now be united in one Mission. After Easter,
'Belation de ce qui s'est pass^, &c., en 1643, published at Paris in 1645. The
same statement is in Creuxius' Hist., Canadensis—in the Baltimore Library.

I shall wait on the Governor of Virginia1 on momentary business ;
may it terminate to the praise and glory of God. My companion,
I hope, still lies concealed, but I trust, will soon commence his
labor under favorable auspices. Next year I will expect two or
three other colleagues, with the permission of your paternity, to
whose prayers and sacrifices I earnestly commend this Mission,
myself and all mine. Dated from Maryland, this 1st March, in
the year of the Lord, 1648. I remain &c., your most unworthy
servant and son in Christ.
PHILIP FISHER."