Skip to Main Content

Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: Don Cook, 2002
St. Clement's Island Historic District
Inventory No.: SM-123
Date Listed: 4/10/1972
Location: Coltons Point, , Saint Marys County
Category: Site
Period/Date of Construction: 1634; 1934
Description: St. Clement's Island, located in the Potomac River south of Colton Point, is the site of the landing of the first English settlers in Maryland. In 1634, when Father Andrew White wrote about the island, it covered 400 acres; today it is a tenth that size. A cross erected at the south end of the Island in 1934 commemorates the 1634 landing. Significance: St. Clement's Island has continuing international, national, state, and local significance as the site where the declaration of religious freedom and democratic worship was first made in America. St. Clement's thereby has continuous and personal meaning for each citizen of and visitor to the United States. On March 25, 1634 English Catholic immigrants first landed on Maryland soil at St. Clement's Island. They had come to settle the proprietary colony of Cecil Calvert, second Lord Baltimore. Once ashore, Leonard Calvert (1606-1647), a brother of Lord Baltimore, read Lord Baltimore's Instructions: the first formal pronouncement granting freedom of religion among the settlers. The settlers erected a wooden cross on the island and the first Roman Catholic mass in English America was said by Father Andrew White. Before the 1634 landing, the island had been inhabited by Indians, who peaceably vacated the area when the settlers arrived. In 1963 one Indian burial site containing prehistoric artifacts was uncovered. St. Clement's Manor, including the Island, was the first Manor granted by Lord Baltimore and its lord, Thomas Gerard (Gerrard), played a significant role in 17th century Maryland history. The island is strategically located to have helped provide for the defense of the Potomac River, and Washington, D. C., the nation's capital, during the respective eras covering the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War, and World Wars I and II.


Return to the National Register Search page