Ark and Dove

The Story of the Ark & Dove…


The Ark and Dove were the two ships that began the Maryland Colony. The Ark was a 400 ton capacity cargo ship hired by Cecil Calvert to transport about 140 colonists and their equipment and supplies to Maryland. The Dove was a much smaller 40 ton capacity cargo ship purchased by Cecil Calvert and the investors in the Colony so that the colonists would have their own ship to use once the Ark had sailed for England.


The two ships set sail from the Isle of Wight on 22 November 1633. Three days later on 25 March a storm arises in the Channel and the Dove is seen flying distress lanterns at her masthead before she disappears into the storm. Those aboard the Ark assume she has sunk in the storm. It is not until a month and a half later that they discover otherwise when the Dove arrives at Barbados and rejoins the Ark.


The two ships arrive at Old Point Comfort on 24 February 1634 after a voyage of three months (of which a total of 66 days are spent at sea). After spending a week at Old Point Comfort, they depart on 3 March and sail up the Chesapeake to the Potomac River where they land on St. Clements Island. They spend the rest of March exploring and negotiating with the Indians for a place to settle. On 25 March, Father Andrew White holds a Mass of Thanksgiving to celebrate the purchase of 30 square miles of land on the East Bank of the St. Mary’s River and on 27 March the colonists depart St. Clements and occupy the land they have purchased, naming their settlement ‘St. Mary’s’.


At the end of May, the Ark returns to England, leaving the Dove behind to provide transportation for goods to be traded up and down the Atlantic seacoast. In the fall of 1634 the Dove is sent north to Boston to trade corn for salt cod and other commodities. In August of 1635 the Dove is sent back to England with furs and timber to trade and is never seen again, probably lost at sea.


Dig Deeper into the Ark and Dove and a chronology of the voyage.