Lord Baltimore and His Eight-Woman Harem

I heard of this story from @HistoryWeird on Twitter. Their post is here. The original source was a letter from Count Maximilien von Lemberg, December 2nd, 1770.

"Frederick Calvert, the 6th Baron Baltimore (1731-71) was one of the 18th century’s most notorious womanisers and libertines. When his father died in 1751, Calvert inherited his titles and the family’s most lucrative asset: the colony of Maryland."

WHY DOES NO ONE EVER DIE AND LEAVE ME MARYLAND? Is there anything good in Maryland? I don't know. Still want it.

Also, lest there is any confusion, "Baltimore" was a peerage in County Cork, Ireland, long before it was the capital of Maryland. In fact, the first baron received his Irish peerage precisely because he was a colonizer. So he also got a chunk of this "New World", named it after the Virgin Mary (at least this is assumed by some scholars), the capital of which eventually becoming named after his family's title. Just wanted to explain, so people didn't think there was some extinct Maryland aristocracy or anything.

So, several generations later, Frederick Calvert, the  6th Baron, inherits. "While Frederick Calvert would never land a foot in America, rents and taxes from Maryland funded his decadent existence in Europe. Calvert married after his 22nd birthday but despised his wife and separated from her almost immediately. Five years later she died after falling from a fast-moving carriage; Calvert was also in the vehicle and many believed he had pushed her, though nothing was ever proven."

This reads like a bad Victorian play. How has no one written Gothic literature about this guy? It'd be called something like The Rich are Different: A Tale of DISMAY.

"His wife’s premature death kick-started Calvert’s life of self-indulgence. He travelled around Europe and lived for more than a year in the Ottoman Empire, where he surrounded himself with a private harem staffed by local women. Back in London in the 1760s Calvert continued his sexual antics, taking several mistresses and fathering a host of illegitimate children. In 1768 Calvert was accused of kidnapping, falsely imprisoning and raping Sarah Woodcock, a noted beauty who ran a London hat shop."

Holy CRAP, this IS like Gothic Victorian literature. When the Vicomte de Valmont looks like a good guy in comparison, you know you're a jerk.

"He was acquitted after claiming that Woodcock had consented to the whole affair, though few outside the pro-Calvert jury believed it. After the trial one of Calvert’s former mistresses further embarrassed him by writing a tell-all book, suggesting that he was sexually inadequate." The title of this book was Memoirs of the Seraglio of the Bashaw of Merryland, by a Discarded Sultana. This woman sounds amazing.

"Eager to escape the scandal, Calvert assembled another harem and embarked on another grand tour of Europe. According to an Austrian noble who encountered him:

"'…My Lord [Baltimore] was travelling with eight women, a physician and two negroes, which he called his corregidores… With the aid of his physician he conducted odd experiments on his houris [harem]: he fed the plump ones only acid foods and the thin ones milk and broth. He arrived at Vienna… when the chief of police requested him to declare which of the eight ladies was his wife, he replied that he was an Englishman, and that when he was called upon to give an account of his sexual arrangements, if he could not settle the matter with his fists, it was his practice to set out instantly on his travels again.'

"Calvert contracted an illness and died in Italy in 1771, by which time his travelling harem had doubled in size. His body was returned to England for an extravagant funeral, though few genuinely grieved his loss."

Who were these women, and where did he get them? What was the result (or intention, for that matter) of his experiment? THESE ARE THE QUESTIONS.

He didn't have any legitimate children, so the barony went extinct with his death, which was probably for the best because he had already run through most of the family's money and had had to sell his major estate in Surrey (I'm not sure what happened to the estate in Ireland; it was probably entailed, so he couldn't have blown through that money or sold it, even if he had wanted to, and was probably reclaimed as Crown property after he died). He didn't really support his illegitimate children well, but he did try to make good by leaving Maryland to his eldest illegitimate son. Maryland accepted him as their new lord proprietor, but Calvert's family was no happy about it, so they tried to get legal proceedings going.

The American Revolution came right in the middle of this, turning Maryland into a moot point. The British government reimbursed the illegitimate son for the loss of his estates in the amount of £100,000, so I hope he was able to tell his Calvert relatives to SUCK IT.

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2 Responses to Lord Baltimore and His Eight-Woman Harem

  1. hibiscusrose says:

    In my somewhat naughty youth, I happened upon a copy of the complete “The Pearl” (I’m sure you know what that is!), and it seems there was a tale of a man who collected beauties and attendants for his own little harem. Not Lord Baltimore here, but perhaps based on him? Kinder, though.


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