Father Andrew White

Father Andrew White, S.J. [Society of Jesus]

(1579 – December 1656)


Born in London, White entered a Spanish seminary, studied in Douai, France, and was ordained a priest in 1605. He risked a cruel death during a period of renewed Catholic persecution by becoming a missionary to Protestant England. In 1606, he was captured and banished from England following the Gunpowder Plot, and joined the Society of Jesus the next year. By the late 1620s or early 1630s, he was advising George and later Cecil Calvert about colonization of America, and on November 22, 1633, he accompanied the first colonists to Maryland as the superior of the Jesuit mission. He celebrated the first Catholic Mass in English America on March 25, 1634, and for the next decade labored to convert Indians and colonists alike. He wrote one of the most valuable and famous accounts of early Maryland and composed a grammar, dictionary, and catechism in the local Algonquian dialect. When Richard Ingle invaded Maryland in 1645, Father White, then 66, was transported back to England in chains and remained in Newgate prison until January 1648. Although he pleaded to return to Maryland, he never did, and died in England in 1656.