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5. Papers of the Maryland Mission, 1638 - 1958


Scope and Contents

This subseries consists of correspondence and other documents created during or pertaining to the Jesuits’ initial mission in colonial Maryland (1634-1773). Materials include correspondence of the mission’s Superiors; mission rules and agreements, including some compiled retrospectively; the applications of prospective missionaries; missionary letters and reports; obituaries and eulogies; legal and documents related to colonial Maryland; narrative histories; and spiritual writings. Materials pertaining to slavery can also be found in this series.

Please note that these papers related to the Maryland Mission are not comprehensive, in part because most of the mission’s priests worked in relative isolation and thus maintained their own records. Noteworthy items include a nineteenth-century transcript and translation of Andrew White, S.J.’s 1638 “Narrative of a Voyage to Maryland” of 1638 (Box 169, Folder 11); Memoranda Book compiled by George Thorold, S.J., Peter Attwood, S.J., George Hunter, S.J. that includes a list of enslaved children at Newtown, Port Tobacco, 1755-1777 (Box 168, Folder 13); Memoranda Book by James Walton, S.J. that includes the baptisms, marriages, and burials of white and enslaved people at Newtown, Frederick, and St. Inigoes, 1765-1799 (Box 169, Folder 2); Sacramental Register created by Joseph Mosley, S.J., and John Bolton, S.J. documenting baptisms, marriages, burials, and confessions at St. Joseph’s Church in Talbot County and Newtown, 1760-1802 (Box 170, Folder 1); and Memoranda Book by Arnold Livers, S.J. that includes a list of enslaved people at St. Inigoes from approximately 1760 (Box 169, Folder 1).

Researchers interested in the financial records of the Maryland Mission should consult Series 2 - Records of the Procurator, and Series 3 - Records of the Corporation of Roman Catholic Clergymen (especially Subseries 3.3 - Jesuit Wills).

For more information, see Background on the Maryland Mission and Superiors of the Maryland Mission.

Materials on Slavery

Some folders in this series contain references to slavery, slaveholding, and enslaved individuals. Relevant folders are noted in the finding aid.


Series 1 is organized into a single series.

Materials are arranged alphabetically by subject. Materials in this series are from the original MPA placed on deposit at Georgetown in the 1970s as well as the MPA Addenda.


The Maryland Mission began in 1634 with the arrival of Andrew White, S.J., transported from England on the Ark and the Dove ships, at St. Inigoes in present-day St. Mary’s County, Maryland. Cecil Calvert - the Second Lord Baltimore and the proprietor of the colony of Maryland - had recruited White to minister to members of the displaced Catholic gentry who had migrated to Maryland seeking refuge during the English Revolution. White and other missionaries (including Thomas Copley, S.J.) also attempted to evangelize among Native Americans in the area. These missionaries acquired large tracts of land to establish tobacco plantations and export crops; by 1641, they owned 2,000 acres of land in and around St. Inigoes and had begun to establish a mission at Chapel Point, St. Thomas Manor.

Maryland, however, did not remain a refuge from anti-Catholic animus for long. In 1645, Puritans William Claiborne and Richard Ingle shut down the Jesuit missions and expelled their missionaries. With only 200 Catholics remaining, Calvert sought a compromise that enabled Catholics and Protestants to live peacefully and allow the colony to develop. The result was the 1649 Act Concerning Religion, passed by the Maryland Assembly, which accorded civil rights to both Catholics and Protestants.

The Glorious Revolution of 1688 prompted Protestants to rebel against the proprietary government. In 1692, when the English government established Maryland as a royal colony, anti-Catholic measures intensified: penal laws barred Catholics from the right to hold office, practice law, and worship publicly, and Catholic ecclesiastical institutions - including the Jesuit missions - were barred from owning real estate.

The penal laws of Maryland forced missionaries to protect their property by creating trusts with sympathetic members of the gentry. Nevertheless, the Jesuits expanded their property holdings by continuing to establish tobacco plantations in Maryland, and by relying heavily on the labor of enslaved people to do so. These plantations included Newtown (Charles County, established in 1668), Bohemia (Cecil County, established in 1704), White Marsh (Prince George’s County, established in 1741), and St. Joseph’s Church (Talbot County, established in 1765). Enslaved laborers cleared the lands, raised crops, and tended livestock. The Jesuits also gained revenue by renting out substantial portions of their landholdings, most notably Cedar Point Neck at St. Thomas Manor, to small-scale farmers.

After the 1740s, the Jesuits began to minister to German and Irish immigrants who settled lands north and west of the Southern Maryland plantations. This led to the foundation of missions at Conewago (Adams County, Pennsylvania in 1741), Goshenhoppen (Berks County, Pennsylvania in 1741) Philadelphia (in 1747), Frederick (Frederick County, Maryland in 1765), and Deer Creek (Harford County, Maryland in 1773).

Because of the widespread nature of the Maryland mission, Jesuit missionaries often found their work isolating. In the 1690s, there were never more than seven Jesuits evangelizing in Southern Maryland at one time. They ministered not just to the gentry but also to poor white and enslaved peoples. As the Jesuits added new missions in central Maryland and Pennsylvania, their numbers increased to approximately fifteen, a group which included German-speaking priests who could minister to German Catholic immigrants. Missionaries reported to the Vicar Apostolic in London and maintained strong ties to their fellow students from European novitiates, most notably those at the College of Bruges and College of Liége, the British novitiates located in Belgium.

Folder Descriptions

**Please note: the finding aid contains Scope and Contents notes for each folder. This folder-level description has been imported from an older finding aid. Researchers may encounter outdated or potentially offensive terminology and occasional inaccuracies. If you would like to notify Special Collections of any issues that need correcting, please contact us.**

Conditions Governing Access

Most materials dated 1900 and later have not been digitized. Materials dating 1900-1939 are available for research use at the Booth Family Center for Special Collections. All materials dated 1940 and later are restricted.

Related Materials

The following manuscript collections held at Booth Family Center for Special Collections have materials directly related to the Maryland Mission: the American Catholic Sermon Collection (GTM 840320), which consists of sermons by members of the Maryland Mission; the Joseph Mosley, S.J., Papers (GTM-GAMMS23); and Peter Attwood, S.J.’s manuscript “Liberty and Property,” part of the John Gilmary Shea Papers (GTM-GAMMS269).

In addition, there are several published reprint compilations of documents created by the missionaries in Maryland, some of which are included in the Maryland Province Archives. These reprints contain documents found at the Archivum Romanum Societatis Jesu (ARSI), Stonyhurst College Archives, and Archives of the Jesuits in Britain.

Browne, William Hand, et. al., eds. Archives of Maryland. 72 vols. Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1883-1872. See especially, I: 196-198, 339-56; 3:102-108, 116-117, 126, 130-134, 144-150, 161-163, 320-334

Curran, Robert Emmett, ed. Intestine Enemies : Catholics in Protestant America, 1605-1791 : a Documentary History. Washington, D.C: The Catholic University of America Press, 2017.

Hall, Clayton, ed. Narratives of Early Maryland, 1633-1684. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1946.

Hughes, Thomas A., S.J., ed. History of the Society of Jesus in North America, Colonial and Federal, vol. 1, part 1: Documents London: Longmans, Green, and Company, 1908; reprint, Hants, England: Gregg International Publishers, 1970.

“Papers Relating to the Early History of the Early Maryland Mission” Woodstock Letters 9-11:

- “Applications for the Maryland Mission. 1640” 9: 2 (1879): 73-94

- “Narrative of the Establishment of the Catholic Religion in Maryland and Pennsylvania. By Archbishop John Carroll;” “Brief Account of the Settlement of Maryland, with Notice of St. Inigoes. By Benedict J. Fenwick, Bishop of Boston,” 9:3 (1879): 157-180.

- “The Penal Laws,” 10:1 (1880): 3-28.

- “The Suppression and Restoration of the Society,” 10:2 (1880): 89-120.

- “The Annual Letters -- 1634-1773” 10:3 (1880): 209-224.

- “The Annual Letters -- 1634-1773” 11:1 (1881): 3-24.

- “The Annual Letters” 11:2 (1881): 117-140.


  • 1638 - 1958

Conditions Governing Access

The Maryland Province Archives is on deposit at Georgetown University and is the property of the USA East Province of the Society of Jesus. As stewards of the Archives, the Georgetown University Library’s Booth Family Center for Special Collections is responsible for managing access to the material based on policies set forth by the USA East Province. Researchers may view these materials in the Reading Room of the Booth Family Center for Special Collections. General policies for using Special Collections can be found here.

Access to the Archives is governed by the USA East Province and is subject to all Library and Special Collections policies and procedures in addition to the specific guidelines below. These guidelines are a summary of access policies; the Archives may include materials that fall outside the scope of these general guidelines. For information on access to specific materials, please contact the Special Collections staff.


1. All Archives materials dated or bearing solely on events occurring before January 1, 1940, shall be open for review unless otherwise restricted, subject to Library policies and procedures.

2. All unpublished Archives materials dated or bearing solely on events occurring on or after January 1, 1940, shall be open for review upon request subject to a decision by the Provincial or someone designated by the Provincial.

3. Researchers may quote from the materials.

4. Researchers may take their own photographs of the material for scholarly and research purposes. Allowing photographs is not an authorization to publish or to deposit the material in another library or archive.

5. Written permission from the USA East Province is required for the publication of substantive portions of any material or publication-quality reproductions of any material.

6. Material not yet processed is not available to researchers; permission will not be granted to access any unprocessed material.

7. Audiovisual, microfilm and other material in the Archives, the original of which is held in another archive, may be consulted and transcribed only. Written permission from the archive holding the original material is required for any duplication, reproduction, or publication of that material.

8. Use the Permission Request Form to request permission (i) to access any restricted processed material or (ii) to publish reproductions or quote substantive portions of the material. Send the completed form by email to the Booth Family Center for Special Collections (


From the Collection: 308 boxes (212 regular boxes, 25 oversized boxes, 58 restricted regular boxes, 13 restricted oversized boxes, plus 14 card catalog drawers )

Language of Materials

From the Collection: Multiple languages


Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057