American Recusants

Chronologically, Catholicism first reached these shores at the hands of the French and Spanish; in terms of numbers, the vast majority of Catholic Americans owe their ancestry to French, Irish, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Lithuanian, Croatian, Slovenian, Slovakian, Hungarian, Dutch – and latterly Latin American, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean, Indian, and African – immigrants. But there is another variety, intimately tied to the Patrimony, which I had the pleasure of encountering first hand this week, courtesy of Ark and Dove Ventures. Numerically unimportant in comparison to the rest, it is of key historic importance as the milieu wherein arose – for good and ill – our first Bishop in these United States, John Carroll, and from whence arose our very first convents of religious sisters, such as the Visitation Convent in Georgetown, the Carmelites of Port Tobacco, the Sisters of Loretto, and even Mother Seton’s Sisters of Charity (although their foundress was a convert from Anglicanism). So too with Georgetown University. This is the English Catholicism of Maryland, which owes its start (for all that there were crypto-Catholics at Jamestown), to the 1634 arrival of the Ark and Dove at Lord Baltimore’s behest in the Old Line State.

To this day, colonial-era Catholic parishes exist at Newtowne, Chapel Point, Newport, Waldorf, Pomfret, Leonardtown, Medley’s Neck, Bushwood, Morganza, Hollywood, Warwick, and Cordova; the Faith even spilled over into Anglican Virginia. Other congregations could be found in Delaware – the other Penn family colony. The private chapel at Doughoregan Manor, last remaining estate of the Carroll family is a witness to this time when the leading Catholic families of Maryland played roles similar to that of the Recusant nobility and gentry in England, funding churches and preserving the Faith. Meanwhile, the English Jesuits looked after the settlers’ spiritual needs.

When the Wars of the Three Kingdoms fell upon the English colonies, they reacted in different ways. Predictably, New England rejoiced at Cromwell’s victory, and happily swore allegiance to the new regime. Royalist Virginia – called “the Old Dominion” ever since – declared for Charles II, while Lord Baltimore attempted unsuccessfully to convince Cromwell to leave his colony alone. In 1652, a fleet arrived from England to subdue the two colonies – which finally succeeded with the Battle of the Severn; arguably the last battle of the wars, and fought in Maryland. Nevertheless, oppression caused many Cavaliers to emigrate to Virginia and establish plantations; so began the “First Families of Virginia,” who have played such an enormous role in the history of State and Nation since then. The Ark and Dove Society comprises the similar folk in Maryland. Cromwell’s hand lay heavily also over the Royalist English West Indies; there he shipped numerous Scots and Irish as slaves, who became the progenitors of the “Redlegs” of Barbados and elsewhere, and the first settlers of the Irish-influenced island of Montserrat.

Although the Lords Baltimore regained Maryland at the Restoration, news of the so-called “Glorious Revolution” precipitated a copycat revolution in Maryland, and local Protestants seized control: in England William and Mary made Maryland into a Royal colony, and established therein the Church of England; 25 years would pass until the then Lord Baltimore apostasised to regain his land – which was duly granted him. In that time the penal laws were gradually applied, and only Queen Anne’s direct intervention prevented the holders of the Faith from being outlaws entirely. She gave her name to Maryland’s capital (and to Queen Anne’s County in Maryland – as well as to a plant, an architectural style, and Blackbeard’s pirate ship,  none of which she can have had any connexion with), and her husband, Prince George of Denmark, his name to  counties in Maryland and Virginia.

As the 18th century wore on, conditions for Catholics in Maryland slowly worsened. The result was that in the mid-1770s, many Catholics there began to settle in central Kentucky, on what was then the frontier – a movement that would go on after the Revolution. This region of English-speaking Catholicism, including such centres as Bardstown, Holy Cross, St. Mary, and others came to be known as the “Holy Land.” After independence, Catholic Marylanders would send out a few other colonies, including Locust Grove, Georgia. While the latter was not a tremendous success, it did survive; one of its most noted descendants was Catholic novelist Flannery O’Connor.

As noted, a scion of this English-American Catholicism, firmly rooted in the Recusant tradition, was John Carroll. He had been excommunicated by Bishop Briand of Quebec for his wartime efforts to seduce the French-Canadians from their allegiance to George III. Carroll thus, when nominated by Pius VI to be first bishop in the newly independent nation, was forced to go to England to be consecrated, just as the first Episcopalian prelate Samuel Seabury had done six years ealier. As a result, St. Mary’s Chapel at Lulworth Castle in Dorset, seat then and now of the Recusant Weld family and the locale where the ceremony took place, is the cradle of the Catholic Episcopate in these United States (and should be a pilgrimage site in England for Catholic Americans of all liturgical rites as a result). Ironically, George III and his Queen, Charlotte, had stayed there with the Welds the year before.

The decades and centuries have passed; but the English-American Catholic tradition in Maryland, Delaware, and Kentucky has continued with its own distinct flavour in the Archdioceses of Washington, Baltimore, and Louisville, and the Diocese of Wilmington. Moreover, the evangelising efforts of the early Jesuits in Maryland continue to bear fruit in the Indian and black communities of that state whose descendants trace their lively faith to them.  Out of the way corners though they may be located in, Ordinariate members who visit these sites will find themselves in the presence of long-sundered co-inheritors of the Patrimony.

About Charles A. Coulombe

I am a Catholic Historical speaker and author.
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6 Responses to American Recusants

  1. Pingback: FRIDAY EDITION – Big Pulpit

  2. Jacob says:

    You might be interested to know that eventually the descendants of these Catholics reached the area of Perryville, Missouri. When the US made the Louisiana purchase, this area became the responsibility of the United States. An Italian Vincentian, later consecrated as bishop Rosati, wanted to start a seminary for this western region. In 1818, the Catholics of Perryville, with offers of land and collaboration, convinced him and his confrere, Felix de Andreis, to open the seminary in their area; this seminary would then go on to provide clergy for the vast new diocese .

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  3. Pam says:

    Another historical event of interest in this regard was the ‘Mattingly Miracle’ in Washington, D.C. in 1824, a healing from terminal breast cancer of the young widowed sister of Mayor Carbery of Washington. Much information is available online about it. The prayers and Masses and subsequent healing all occurred within the milieu of the Jesuits of Baltimore and Georgetown/Washington and parishes they served, and historical records of these are said to be held at the Visitation Convent. The Mattingly and Carbery families were both from colonial-era St. Mary’s County, MD; in the decades just after the Revolutionary War Catholics from Maryland arrived in Washington D.C. to pursue education and professions, for example, as doctors, teachers and politicians in the new nation. The Miracle when publicized stirred up a great deal of public controversy extending to ‘pamphlet wars’, and in fact divided the Jesuits there with some wanting to recognize God’s action and others more keen to downplay any supernatural aspect, to avoid theological conflict in their Protestant/Deist-dominated surroundings in the capital of the young nation.

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  4. Viola M. Rose says:

    Did you forget Florida, or New Mexico, Texas, Arizona and California? The Spaniards were here long before?

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    • Rev22:17 says:

      The Spanish built missions starting in the sixteenth century, but they belonged to dioceses located outside of the present United States. Here are the particulars for those states.

      Florida
      >> 08 September 1565: First mass celebrated by Spanish settlers who landed at present site of St. Augustine; settlers subsequently began construction of a mission church on the site — the beginnings of the first Catholic parish in the United States
      >> 25 April 1793: Diocese of Louisiana and the Two Floridas (St. Louis of New Orleans) Erected, with Territory Taken from the Diocese of San Cristobal de la Habana (Havana, Cuba)
      >> 1793: First Catholic parish began construction of a new church, which is the present cathedral of the Diocese of St. Augustine
      >> 29 August 1825: Apostolic Vicariate of Alabama and the Floridas Erected, with Territory Taken from the Diocese of Louisiana and the Two Floridas (Later Renamed Diocese of New Orleans and, Still Later, Elevated to an Archdiocese)
      >> 15 May 1829: Apostolic Vicariate of Alabama and the Floridas Elevated to a Diocese and Retitled Diocese of Mobile
      >> 03 July 1850: Diocese of Savanah Erected, with Territory Taken from Diocese of Mobile and Diocese of Charleston (“Archdiocese of Baltimore” Below)
      >> 09 July 1857: Apostolic Vicariate of Florida Erected, with Territory Taken from Diocese of Savanah, with Church of First Parish in United States as Principal Church; Territory Encompassed all of Florida east of the Apalachicola River
      >> 11 March 1870: Apostolic Vicariate of Florida Elevated to a Diocese and Retitled Diocese of St. Augustine, with Church of First Parish in United States as Cathedral Church
      >> 25 May 1958: Diocese of Miami Erected, with Territory Taken from Diocese of St. Augustine
      >> 02 March 1968: Diocese of Orlando and Diocese of St. Petersburg Erected, Each with Territory Taken from Diocese of St. Petersburg and Diocese of Miami; Diocese of Miami Elevated to Archdiocese of Miami
      >> 01 October 1975: Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee Erected with Territory Taken from Diocese of Mobile and Diocese of St. Petersburg
      >> 16 June 1984: Diocese of Palm Beach Erected with Territory Taken from Archdiocese of Miami and Diocese of Orlando; Diocese of Venice Erected with Territory Taken from Archdiocese of Miami, Diocese of Orlando, and Diocese of St. Petersburg

      Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona
      >> 16th Century: First Spanish Missions Established in Present State of Texas
      >> 1839: Apostolic Prefecture of Texas Erected, with Territory Taken from Diocese of Linares o Nueva León (Mexico)
      >> 10 July 1841: Apostolic Prefecture of Texas Elevated to Apostolic Vicariate of Texas
      >> 04 May 1847: Apostolic Vicariate of Texas Elevated to a Diocese and Retitled Diocese of Galveston
      >> 23 July 1850: Diocese of Santa Fe Erected; Prior Status of Territory Unknown
      >> 1868 (Date(s) Unknown): Apostolic Vicariate of Arizona and Apostolic Vicariate of Colorado and Utah Erected
      >> 28 August 1874: Diocese of San Antonio and Apostolic Vicariate of Brownsville Erected, Each with Territory Taken from Diocese of Galveston
      >> 12 February 1875: Diocese of Santa Fe Elevated to Archdiocese of Santa Fe
      >> 15 July 1890: Diocese of Dallas Erected with Territory Taken from Diocese of Galveston
      >> 08 May 1891: Apostolic Vicariate of Arizona Elevated to Diocese of Tucson
      >> 23 March 1912: Apostolic Vicariate of Brownsville Elevated and See Transferred to Diocese of Corpus Christi
      >> 03 March 1914: Diocese of El Paso Erected with Territory Taken from Diocese of San Antonio, Diocese of Dallas, and Diocese of Tucson
      >> 03 August 1926: Diocese of Amarillo Erected with Territory Taken from Diocese of San Antonio and Diocese of Dallas; Diocese of San Antonio Elevated to Archdiocese of San Antonio
      >> 16 December 1939: Diocese of Gallup Erected with Territory Taken from Archdiocese of Santa Fe and Diocese of Tucson
      >> 15 November 1947: Diocese of Austin Erected with Territory Taken from Diocese of Dallas, Diocese of Galveston, and Archdiocese of San Antonio
      >> 20 October 1953: Diocese of Dallas Retitled Diocese of Dallas-Fort Worth
      >> 25 July 1959: Diocese of Galveston Retitled Diocese of Galveston-Houston
      >> 16 October 1961: Diocese of San Angelo Erected with Territory from Diocese of Amarillo, Diocese of Austin, Diocese of Dallas-Fort Worth, and Diocese of El Paso
      >> 10 July 1965: Diocese of Brownsville Erected with Territory from Diocese of Corpus Christi
      >> 25 June 1966: Diocese of Beaumont Erected with Territory from Diocese of Galveston-Houston
      >> 28 June 1969: Diocese of Phoenix Erected with Territory from Diocese of Tucson
      >> 09 August 1969: Diocese of Fort Worth Erected with Territory from Diocese of Dallas-Fort Worth; Diocese of Dallas-Fort Worth Retitled to Diocese of Dallas
      >> 13 April 1982: Diocese of Victoria in Texas Erected with Territory from Diocese of Corpus Christi, Diocese of Galveston-Houston, and Archdiocese of San Antonio
      >> 17 August 1982: Diocese of Las Cruces Erected with Territory from Diocese of El Paso and Archdiocese of Santa Fe
      >> 25 March 1983: Diocese of Lubbock Erected with Territory from Diocese of Amarillo and Diocese of San Angelo
      >> 12 December 1986: Diocese of Tyler Erected with Territory from Diocese of Beaumont, Diocese of Dallas, and Diocese of Galveston-Houston
      >> 03 July 2000: Diocese of Laredo Erected with Territory from Diocese of Corpus Christi and Diocese of San Antonio
      >> 29 December 2004: Diocese of Galveston-Houston Elevated to Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston

      California, Nevada, and Utah
      >> 16th and 17th Centuries: Spanish Missions Established along California Coast
      >> 27 April 1840: Diocese of Two Californias Erected with Territory from Diocese of Sonoma (Mexico)
      >> 20 November 1849: Diocese of Two Californias Retitled to Diocese of Monterrey
      >> 29 July 1853: Archdiocese of San Francisco Erected with Territory from Diocese of Monterrey
      >> 07 July 1859: Diocese of Monterrey Retitled to Diocese of Monterrey-Los Angeles
      >> 27 September 1860: Apostolic Vicariate of Marysville Erected with Territory from Archdiocese of San Francisco
      >> 22 March 1868: Apostolic Vicariate of Marysville Elevated to Diocese of Grass Valley
      >> 28 May 1886: Diocese of Sacramento Erected with Territory from Diocese of Grass Valley and Archdiocese of San Francisco; Diocese of Grass Valley Canonically Suppressed
      >> 1887 (Date Unknown): Apostolic Vicariate of Utah Erected with Territory from Archdiocese of San Francisco
      >> 27 January 1881: Apostolic Vicariate of Utah Elevated to Diocese of Salt Lake
      >> 01 June 1922: Diocese of Monterrey-Fresno Erected with Territory from Diocese of Monterrey-Los Angeles; Diocese of Monterrey-Los Angeles Retitled to Diocese of Los Angeles-San Diego
      >> 27 March 1931: Diocese of Reno Erected with Territory from Diocese of Sacramento and Diocese of Salt Lake
      >> 11 July 1936: Diocese of San Diego Erected with Territory from Diocese of Los Angeles-San Diego; Diocese of Los Angeles-San Diego Elevated and Retitled to Archdiocese of Los Angeles
      >> 31 March 1951: Title of Diocese of Salt Lake Changed to Diocese of Salt Lake City
      >> 13 January 1962: Diocese of Oakland and Diocese of Santa Rosa in California Erected, Each with Territory from Archdiocese of San Francisco; Diocese of Stockton Erected with Territory from Diocese of Sacramento and Archdiocese of San Francisco
      >> 15 September 1966: Additional Territory Transferred from Diocese of Sacramento to Diocese of Stockton
      >> 06 October 1967: Diocese of Fresno Erected with Territory from Diocese of Monterrey-Fresno; Diocese of Monterrey-Fresno Retitled to Diocese of Monterrey in California
      >> 24 March 1976: Diocese of Orange in California Erected with Territory from Archdiocese of Los Angeles
      >> 13 October 1976: Title of Diocese of Reno Changed to Diocese of Reno-Las Vegas
      >> 14 July 1978: Diocese of San Bernardino Erected with Territory from Diocese of San Diego
      >> 27 January 1981: Diocese of San Jose in California Erected with Territory from Archdiocese of San Francisco
      >> 21 March 1995: Diocese of Las Vegas Erected with Territory from Diocese of Reno-Las Vegas; Diocese of Reno-Las Vegas Retitled to Diocese of Reno

      Hawai’i
      >> 24 October 1825: Apostolic Prefecture of Sandwich Islands Erected; Prior Status of Territory Unknown
      >> 03 August 1844: Apostolic Prefecture of Sandwich Islands Elevated to Apostolic Vicariate of the Sandwich Islands
      >> 09 May 1848: Apostolic Vicariate of Sandwich Islands Retitled as Apostolic Vicariate of Hawai’ian Islands
      >> 25 January 1941: Apostolic Vicariate of Hawai’ian Islands Elevated to Diocese of Honolulu

      Archdiocese of Baltimore (Partial)
      >> 26 November 1784: Apostolic Prefecture of the United States of America Erected; Prior Status of Territory Unclear
      >> 06 November 1789: Apostolic Prefecture of the United States of America Elevated to Diocese of Baltimore
      >> 08 April 1808: Diocese of Boston (encompassing Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont), Diocese of Bardstown, Diocese of New York (encompassing New York and northern New Jersey), and Diocese of Philadelphia (encompassing Delaware, Pennsylvania, and southern New Jersey) Erected, Each with Territory from Diocese of Baltimore; Diocese of Baltimore Elevated to Archdiocese of Baltimore
      >> 11 July 1820: Diocese of Charleston (encompassing Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina) and Diocese of Richmond (encompassing Virginia and West Virginia) Erected with Territory from the Archdiocese of Baltimore
      >> 15 August 1858: Territory (Alexandria) Transferred from Archdiocese of Baltimore to Diocese of Richmond
      >> 03 March 1868: Diocese of Wilmington Erected, with Territory from Archdiocese of Baltimore and Diocese of Philadelphia
      >> 22 July 1939: Archdiocese of Baltimore Retitled to Archdiocese of Baltimore-Washington
      >> 15 November 1947: Archdiocese of Washington Erected; Archdiocese of Baltimore-Washington Retitled to Archdiocese of Baltimore

      So the bottom line here is that the Archdiocese of Baltimore actually is the oldest Catholic diocese, or equivalent jurisdiction, in the United States. North of the border, only the Archdiocese of Quebec, which was erected as the Apostolic Vicariate of New France on 11 April 1658 and subsequently elevated to Diocese of Quebec on 01 October 1674 and to Archdiocese of Quebec on 12 January 1819, is older than the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The Apostolic Vicariate of the Isles Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, erected as the Apostolic Prefecture in 1763 (date unknown) and elevated to the Apostolic Prefecture of the Isles Saint-Pierre et Miquelon on 16 November 1970, also was older than the Archdiocese of Baltimore, but it no longer exists because Pope Francis suppressed it earlier this month (01 March 2018).

      Norm.

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  5. Charles A. Coulombe says:

    Being of French Canadian descent and living in Los Angeles, I am very much aware of their role in our history. You may wish to reread the first paragraph. But our actual hierarchy of to-day owes its origins to Maryland’s English Catholicism.

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