This page is dedicated to those researching ancestors from historic St. Mary's County, Maryland. St. Mary's was founded when Governor Leonard Calvert and about 140 passengers on the Ark and the Dove sailed from Isle of Wight, England on November 22, 1633 and erected a wooden cross on nearby St. Clement's Island, Maryland on March 25, 1634. After a century or more of war, persecution, and intolerence over the conflict between Catholicism and Protestantism in England, St. Mary's was founded on the principle of "Freedom of Conscience" and religious tolerance. Thus, a large number of its early settlers were Catholics, seeking the freedom to worship under the religion of their choice. Freedom of religion was made law in 1644 at St. Mary's City, then the capital of Maryland.

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~Freedom of Conscience~

Right: "Here, for the first time in America, men and women of differing faiths lived in peace and goodwill, practicing freedom of conscience."

Below: The "Freedom of Conscience" statue outside old St. Mary's City.

Below: "In St. Mary's City, in 1634, Father Andrew White of the Society of Jesus, apostle of Maryland and first historian of the colony, offered up the holy sacrifice of the Mass in thanksgiving to God for having led the pilgrims to a land of sanctuary, where they and their descendants might live in civil and religious freedom."

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~St. Mary's City~

Left: Historic St. Mary's City is now a living history museum covering some 800 acres on the riverfront. The original buildings have been reconstructed in skeletal form as pictured here. Also included are a replica of the square-rigger The Dove, some fully reconsructed buildings, archealogical digs, museum and presentation center.

Above: remnants of a form of discipline of bygone days.

Right: Reconstructed 1676 Statehouse, erected in 1934 for the tercentenary.

Ironically, the freedom of religion in St. Mary's County did not last long. Because of their tolerance for religious beliefs, St. Mary's invited the Puritans to settle there to escape the persecution they had endured. The Puritans then overthrew the lawful government, and began to persecute Catholics and Anglicans alike, controlling Maryland from 1654 to 1657. In 1692, England sent a new governor to take control of Maryland, and made the Church of England the official religion of Maryland. The Catholic Calverts converted to Protestants and they regained control in 1715. Catholics were forbid to participate in government, were no longer allowed to worship together, and in 1704 a law was passed calling on Catholic children to rebel against their parents. Any Protestant widow who married a Catholic lost custody of her children, and special taxes were levied on land owned by anyone practicing the Catholic faith.

Many of Maryland's catholic families, half of whom lived in St. Mary's County, began a migration to Kentucky, then later to Missouri. The west side of the Mississippi River was controlled first by the French, then the Spanish, and both governments welcomed Catholicism. Many St. Mary's families settled in Nelson, Marion, and Washington counties in Kentucky, and later in Perry County, Missouri.

The webmaster would like to acknowledge Timothy O'Rourke (1947-1994) for his years of research on St. Mary's families and their history (see book links below.) Also researchers Patricia Bishop Obrist, Don Drury, John Wilkinson, and Robert Dora for their generous sharing of information on St. Mary's genealogy.

If you have additions, corrections, or questions about the information on these pages please email the webmaster.

Above: The bridge to St. Mary's at sunset (from Solomons Island).

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~ Click the blue buttons ~

The Dry Docking Farm of St. Mary's County

St. John Francis Regis Cemetery, Hollywood, St. Mary's County

St. Ignatius Cemetery, St. Inigoes, St. Mary's County

1671 Map of Maryland

St. Mary's County Historical Society

St. Mary's County Genealogical Society

St. Mary's County USGenWeb site

Maryland Tombstone Transcription Project

St. Mary's County Genealogy bulletin board at Genforum.com

Official St. Mary's City website

Official Saint Mary's County website

Leonardtown, St. Mary's County

St. Mary's County online map by ResortMaps

Maryland State Archives

Patricia Bishop Obrist's List of Passengers of the Ark and The Dove

William Johnson's St. Mary's County History and Churches

The Hayden Genealogy Page

Edward Hayden's Hayden Genealogy Page

The Drury Genealogy Page

Don Drury's Genealogy of Southern Maryland Drurys and related families

John Wilkinson's St. Mary's County Wilkinson Family Page

The Catholic Genealogy and Family Research site

The Martha Barnes Foundation for restoration of the Scotland, MD Negro Schoolhouse

Search the GEDCOM file for St. Mary's ancestors

Join the St. Mary's Genealogy email-list through Rootsweb (Digest Mode)

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~Books~

Maryland Catholics on the Frontier $99.95 by Timothy J. O'Rourke - A massive 900 page genealogy treatise on Maryland Catholic families who migrated west.

St. Mary's County Historical Society - Has a number of excellent St. Mary's resource books available for sale. Click here for an online list and ordering information.

~ The following books are available directly from Amazon.com ~

Catholic Families of Southern Maryland: Records of Catholic Residents of St. Mary's County in the Eighteenth Century $20.00 - by Timothy J. O'Rourke

Archaeological Investigations at Susquehanna : A 19th Century Farm Complex Aboard Patuxent River Naval Air Station, St. Mary's County, Maryland $15.00 - by Julia A. King

Index to the Wills of St. Mary's County, Maryland 1662-1960 & Somerset County, 1664-1955 - by Joan Hume

Lost Towns of Tidewater Maryland $29.56 - by Donald G. Shomette

ADC St. Mary's County, Maryland $10.95 - by ADC, the map people

Colonial Chesapeake Society $24.95 - Papers from the two conferences held in 1984 in honor of Maryland's 350th Anniversary. Essays encompass broad issues of early American history.

Maryland Loyalists in the American Revolution $26.95 - In 1777, four hundred men from the Eastern Shore of Maryland raised a red-coated regiment, pledging their loyalty to king and mother country. Yet for more than two hundred years, their story remained untold. Maryland Loyalists in the American Revolution describes for the first time the lives of these officers and soldiers, examining their beliefs - and the heavy price they paid to uphold them. During the years of tumult and upheaval, great numbers of loyalists lost their homes, their livelihood, and their lives. When war came to an end, many surviving loyalists were banished to Nova Scotia. As they fled, a tragic shipwreck dealt the final blow. Rare and previously unpublished documents portray these forgotten loyalists, bringing to light their struggles and hardships.

Chesapeake Bay in the Civil War $23.96 - To those with "second homes" on Virginia's Eastern Shore, it is a real eye-opener--and long overdue.

The Chesapeake Dead : Tombstones, Epitaphs, Histories, Reflections, and Oddments of the Region $19.96 - History with a light touch, it never bores the reader!

Maryland : A Middle Temperament, 1634-1980 $20.76 - A comprehensive history of the state illustrating the peculiar ironies and contradictions, that give a special character to "America's oldest border state." Readable, extensively illustrated. This is a great survey book for anyone interested in learning about Maryland's history. It touches on all the major themes in the great state's history and how they related to the national landscape.

Medicine in Maryland : The Practice and the Profession, 1799-1999 $39.95 - A comprehensive history of medicine in the state of Maryland, telling the story of the people and institutions who helped shape not only the nation's health professions but also the quality of lives Americans led. Among topics covered are the development of the Medical Hall in Harford County, the evolution of the teaching hospital that became the University of Maryland, and the origins of the scientific tradition established at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, Medical School, and School of Public Health. Also discusses gender, racial, class, and religious diversity and divisions.

Too Afraid to Cry : Maryland Civilians in the Antietam Campaign $19.95 - The battle at Antietam Creek, the bloodiest day in American history, left more than 23,000 men dead, wounded, or missing. Facing the aftermath were the children, women, and men living in the village of Sharpsburg and on surrounding farms. In Too Afraid to Cry, the author recounts the dramatic experiences of these Maryland citizens, stories that have never been told, and also examines the complex political web holding together Unionists and Secessionists, many of whom lived under the same roofs in this divided countryside.

History of Missouri : Embracing an Historical Account of the Counties of Ste. Genevieve, St. Francois, Perry, Cape Girardeau, Bollinger, Madison, New Madrid, Pemiscot, Dunklin, Scott, Mississippi, Stoddard, Butler, Wayne and Iron $52.20 - over 1,200 pages, a massive reprint of the original 1888 historical and genealogical history of these historic counties. Numerous engravings of early pioneers of the area, along with family histories. Fully indexed, a must-have for researchers of families who settled in the Mississippi valley. Many of the families of Perry County in particular migrated from St. Mary's County, Maryland

Click here for a selection of books on American history and genealogy. Please be patient while the graphics load.

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The STEVENSON page

The GIDEON Family Page

The DRURY Family Page

The McCAULEY Family Page

The GIDLEY Family Page

The POLLOCK Family Page

The LagacÚ Family Page

The Ste. Genevieve, Missouri Page

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To correspond with other St. Mary's County researchers, please sign the St. Mary's guestbook below. Be sure to name your early ancestors so others sharing common ancestors can find you. Caron, Drury, Gidley, Gideon, McCauley, LagacÚ, Stevenson, Pollock, and Ste. Genevieve County guestbooks are on those family pages.

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