On June 20, 1632, King Charles I of England granted Cecilius Calvert, Second Baron Baltimore, proprietorship and vice-regal powers for a new colony named Maryland. By mid-summer 1633, Baltimore had chartered a full-rigged ship, the Ark of London (a.k.a. Ark of Maryland) of about 350 tons to carry the first 130 to 150 settlers and supplies to the new colony. (Tons refers to tons burden, a measure of space available for cargo unless said to be weight). He also acquired a small vessel, the Dove "of the burthen of ffortie tons," to accompany the Ark as its pinnace (a tender and scout) and to carry some baggage and supplies.
In mid-October 1633 after fitting out at Blackwall, the Ark and the Dove dropped down the Thames to anchor off Gravesend where they were to take on stores and passengers. Soon after that, John Coke, the Secretary of State, sent an urgent dispatch to Admiral John Pennington: "The Ark of London, Richard Lowe, master, carrying men for Lord Baltimore to his new plantation sailed from Gravesend contrary to orders" and those aboard had "not taken the oath of allegiance to the Crown" as they were required to do by a warrant from Whitehall dated July 31. The Ark was intercepted and taken back under guard to Tilbury Hope across from Gravesend. The oath was administered by October 29 and the ships received permission to leave England on October 30, "Provided there be no other person or persons aboard the said shippe or pinnace but such as have or shall have taken the oath of allegiance as aforesaid." The ships then made their way to Cowes on the Isle of Wight where they awaited favorable weather. They received final instructions from Lord Baltimore on September 15.
On Saturday, November 22, 1633, the Ark and the Dove finally sailed for Maryland, heading west along the south coast of England with fair weather and following winds. On Monday morning the twenth-fourth, she passed the western capes of England. Then on evening of November 25, Father Andrew White, a passenger, wrote, "the wind changed.so violent, and tempestuous as the Draggon [a 600-ton English ship] was forced back to ffamouth [Falmouth] not able to keep the sea..Our master was a very sufficient seaman, and shipp as strong as could be made of oake and iron, 400 tonne kingbuilt; makinge fair weather in great storms. Now the master had his choise, whether he would return England as the Draggon did, or saile so close up to the winde, as if he should not hold it he must necessarily fall upon the Irish shore,.of these two, out of a certaine hardinesse and desire to trie the goodnesse of his shipp, in which he had never been at sea afore, he resolved to keep the sea, with great danger, wanting sea room."
The Dove was unable to keep at sea in this storm and ran northeast to the Scilly Isles, 30 miles north of the north coast of Cornwall. She was not to be seen again by the Ark until January at Barbados. Then on November 29 the Ark, now alone, encountered very violent weather, "before we could take in our maine Course [sail] wch we only carried, a furious.winde suddainely came, and split it from top to toae.and then the helme being bound up, and the ship left without saile or government floated at hull like a dish.[then] by little and little still more.we were with milder weather freed from all those horrours." With better weather the Ark turned southward and sailed past the coast of Spain to the Canary Islands where she turned west southwest for the West Indies.
On January 3, 1634, the Ark entered the fortified English port of Bridgetown, Barbados, after a fast passage of forty-three days from Cowes that covered 3,500 to 4,000 nautical miles. By mid-January she was ready to leave when the Dove unexpectedly arrived in company with the Dragon. The Ark and Dove departed northward on January 24, stopping at St. Christophers (now St. Kitts) for ten days and at Point Comfort at the mouth of the James River for eight or nine days. Then they sailed up the Chesapeake Bay to the Potomac River where they reached their first landing place in Maryland on March 24, 1634. By March 27, Governor Leonard Calvert and his advisors had selected a site for their town. They named it St Mary's.
Thanks to William W. Lowe