Francis? Sherwood
  b: ~1608 - London, England
  d: MD

Spouse: *****

Child-1: Hugh
          2: Edward - b: ~1635 - England
          3: Francis - b: ~1637 - England
          4: James

Biographical Details:

Of course, in popular imagination the proper name "Sherwood" is immediately associated with Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire and the romantic legend of Robin Hood and his Band of Merry Men.1  Indeed, these stories have been passed down in oral and literary forms for the past eight centuries and in more recent years have provided inspiration for numerous productions of stage and screen.  Accordingly, it has often been assumed uncritically that ancestors of any individual bearing this surname must have originated in Nottinghamshire in England.  As usual, the reality is much more complex and as noted by Mr. Phillip Sherwood in a recent essay, the most concentrated early occurances of the name appear to have been in Yorkshire and Berkshire, rather than Nottinghamshire.2  In any case, as with many modern English surnames, "Sherwood" is a compound consisting of two elements, viz., "sher" and "wood", of which the second is universally agreed to be obviously equivalent to the common simple noun in its specific meaning of "wooded country, woodland".  Concomitantly, although its meaning has remained relatively unchanged for more than a thousand years, the Old English form of the word was "widu" or "wiodu", which later became "wudu" prior to assuming a more modern form.  Naturally, more ancient antecedents can be found in the Germanic branch of Indo-European languages.  In contrast, two different etymologies have been proposed for the first element of the surname, viz., from the Old English word "scír", later "shire", meaning "a province or district under the rule of a governor" or "scir" meaning "bright".  It is not clear which of these two interpretations is more probable, but it is known that there was a prominent individual named Scirwudu living in northern England in the ninth century.  Of course, this was several centuries before any putative exploits of Robin Hood, which are usually assigned to the reign of King Richard I the Lionhearted.

Francis Sherwood was presumably born in England and appears to have already settled in Maryland by 1647 because he is known to have sworn allegiance to the colonial authorities on January 2, 1646 (1647 N. S.).3  Beyond this nothing else is certain.  Various efforts to connect him with localities and ancestors in England seem to be without merit and should be summarily dismissed.  Even so, it seems almost certain that he would have been a Catholic since the Maryland Colony was originally chartered in 1632 to Cecil Calvert, Lord Baltimore, a prominent Catholic nobleman.4  As such, Calvert probably hoped that the colony could provide settlement opportunity for Catholics similar to that provided for Puritans and Anglicans by New England and Virginia.  Of course, colonization patterns of North America cannot be simply reduced in sectarian terms, but there can be no doubt that in the seventeenth century religious sentiment was a powerful social and political force and that divisions between religious denominations, particularly in the case of Protestants and Catholics, was much more sharp and deep than in present day Anglo-American society.  Nevertheless, Calvert consistently promoted religious toleration for all residents of his colony.  Within this context, Puritan settlers from Virginia entered the territory of Maryland and in 1649 founded Providence, later renamed Annapolis.  Protestant settlement appears to have increased rapidly and between 1654 and 1657, i.e., during the Commonwealth and the rule of Oliver Cromwell in England, Calvert's authority was usurped by a Protestant regime.  With the Restoration and accession of Charles II to the throne, the proprietorship of the Calvert family was firmly reestablished although Protestants came to greatly outnumber Catholics in Maryland.  This arrangement persisted until after the overthrow of the Stuarts in 1688 and the reign of William and Mary.  It may be supposed with reasonable confidence  that Francis Sherwood remained in Maryland for the rest of his life, but nothing definite is known regarding the date of his death.  Moreover, subsequent historians have attributed several sons to him, viz., Hugh, Edward, Francis, and James.  However, there is virtually no supporting evidence for such a presumption.  Indeed, several if not all of these later Sherwoods appear to have arrived in indentured status after 1660 and to have been Protestants, which suggests that they were not sons of Francis.  In contrast, family tradition seems quite strong in its affirmation of a parental relationship and it is plausible that as adult Protestants the sons wanted nothing to do with their Catholic father, thus accounting for the lack of any documentary record; however, this is merely speculation.

Source Notes and Citations:
1. Patrick Hanks (ed.), Oxford Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, periodically updated.
     "1. English: habitational name from a place in Nottinghamshire, around which once stood the famous Sherwood Forest.  The place is so called from Old English scir 'shire' or scir 'bright' + wudu 'wood'.
     2. Americanized form of some Jewish name. "
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2. "Authorities on the origins of surnames such as Reaney and Cottle are divided on the meaning and origin of the name.  I tend to support Reaney's view that it probably derives from the Old English 'wood belonging to a shire', and was thus probably first given to persons living in a wood by any shire boundary.  It may therefore have sprung up simultaneously in several different parts of England in much the same way as other topographical surnames such as Wood and Hill.  It is also a place name in Nottinghamshire and in Devon, although Cottle gives the latter as derived from 'bright wood' from the OE word 'scir' meaning 'bright'.  The Literary Digest (Dec. 29, 1928) states that Sherwood is an English name signifying 'belonging to Sherwood, Nottingham.'  In the fourteenth century the spelling was Sherwode, Shyrwode: in the thirteenth, Scher(e)wode, Scirewode: in A.D. 958 Scirwudu.  (The first element is rather Old English 'scir', bright, light-coloured, than OE 'scir', district, shire).  In the Calendarium Inquisitorium Ad Quod Damnum (temp. Edward II. to Henry VII.) 1325-26, Will'us de Sherwode is mentioned.  Certainly there was prominent Saxon named 'Scirwudu' living in the North of England at the time of King Alfred who may have given his name to some families in that region.
     Despite the legends of Robin Hood which have made Sherwood Forest famous, the greatest concentration of the surname in early times was not in Nottinghamshire, but in Yorkshire and Berkshire.  I have studied the distribution in the IGI and the indexes of Births, Marriages & Deaths from 1837 in England, Wales & Scotland, and the largest clusters are in the N. Riding of Yorks, followed by Berkshire, Worcestershire, London, Notts and Kent in that order.  The largest concentration in the 1881 census was in Berkshire."  (Phillip J. Sherwood, "Origins and Distribution of the surname Sherwood",, 2001.)
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3. Andrew Sherwood, Daniel Sherwood and His Paternal Ancestors, Ryder Printing Co., Portland, OR, 1929: pg. 72.
     "The earliest Sherwood in Maryland appears to have been Francis Sherwood, who took the 'Oath of Fidelity' to the government of the Province on 2 of Jany., 1646, together with Mr. Lewger, Mr. Gerrard, Mr. Green, John Jasbo, William Eltonhead, William Hungerford, and others.  These men seem to have been Catholics of prominence.--Annapolis, Md., Land Office, Vol. 1, p. 205."
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4. "George Calvert was a member of a family that dates back to 1366 in Yorkshire, England.  George was born in 1580, in England, at Kipling, in the chapelry of Bolton.  His father was Leonard Calvert, a country gentleman, and his mother, Grace Crossland.  These two families' coat-of-arms, the Calverts and Crosslands, are used in the design of the Maryland State flag.
     At the young age of fourteen, in 1594, George entered Trinity College, Oxford.  It was here that he became proficient in Latin, and earned a bachelor's degree in 1597, and an honorary degree of Master of Arts in 1604.  In this year on November 22, he married Anne Mynne in St. Peter's, Cornhill, London.  Anne was the daughter of George Mynne and Elizabeth Wroth, of Hertingfordbury, Hertfordshire, England.  Together George and Anne had eleven children."
     "In the summer of 1597, upon earning his degree, he traveled throughout the continent, and in doing so, learned the French, Spanish and Italian languages.  In 1606, Calvert became the primary secretary to Sir Robert Cecil.  Cecil, was the secretary of state and controller of the policy of King James I, (Ruled 1603-1625) and served in this capacity until his death in 1612.  Through Sir Robert's influence, Calvert advanced quickly and soon earned the confidence of the king.
     Over the years Calvert held many important positions.  In 1606, he was made the clerk of the crown of assize and peace in County Clare, Ireland.  In 1609, he was made a member of Parliament for Bossiney, in Cornwall; was sent on a special mission for the king to France in 1610; and assisted the king in a theological dispute with Vorstius, a Dutch theologian.
     In 1613, Calvert was appointed a clerk of the Privy Council where he also served on a commission to look into religious grievances in Ireland.  In 1617, George Calvert was knighted, and two years later, the king, in direct opposition to the desires of the Duke of Buckingham, appointed him the principal secretary of state.  In this position, he would serve as a companion to Sir Robert Naunton.  By virtue of this position, he was automatically made a member of the Privy Council.  In his position as principal secretary of state, he steadfastly discharged vital diplomatic functions.  He was a zealous defender in Parliament of the unpopular policies of King James I, especially the negotiations for an alliance with Catholic Spain.  In 1624, when these negotiations failed, Calvert lost his seat in Parliament; a position he had held for Yorkshire since 1621.  Upon losing his Parliament seat, he was then returned to Parliament without delay as one of the members for the University of Oxford.  Upon his return to Parliament, one of the issues facing him was a measure for the persecution of Catholics.  Being a Catholic, and having announced his conversion to that faith, he resigned his secretaryship.  In February 1625, King James I retained him as a member of the Privy Council and created him Baron of Baltimore, First Lord Baltimore, in the Kingdom of Ireland.
     Calvert always had an interest in the colonization of America.  This became apparent by his membership in the Virginia Company from 1606 to 1620 and through his admission as one of the council of the New England Company in 1622.  In 1620, King James I granted Calvert an increased duty on silk that enabled him to purchase part of the peninsula of Avalon, in the southeastern section of Newfoundland.  Two years later he received a grant from the King for the entire country of Newfoundland.  In March 1623, a re-grant was issued, restricting his territory to the original peninsula of Avalon.  On April 7, 1623, by virtue of a royal charter, was erected into the province of Avalon, the powers of whose lord were regal in kind and inferior only in degree to those of a king.  Meanwhile, a small colony had been established there in Ferryland in 1620.  Although some buildings were erected, and some planting was done, the colony did not flourish.
     In the summer of 1627, Calvert made a short visit to the colony.  He returned in 1628 with his second wife, Joanne, whom he married sometime after 1622, and some of his children from his first wife, except his son Cecilius.  During the summer of 1628, the colony was attacked by three French ships, whereby several engagements ensued.  Because of this, Lord Baltimore appealed to the King for protection."
     "George Calvert disliked the cold, harsh winters. ... In 1632, King Charles I granted the Lord Baltimore the territory extending southward from the James River to the Roanoke River and west to the mountains, as the province of Carolina.  However, members of the Virginia Company, resentful of this, opposed such a grant.  The King, responding to this opposition, substituted the land.  This new territory was between the fortieth degree of north latitude and the Potomac River extending west from the Atlantic Ocean to the longitude of the first source of the river, as the province of Maryland.  King Charles I, who ruled from 1625 to 1649, was married to Queen Henrietta Marie, for whom Maryland was named.
     On April 13, 1632, George Calvert, first Lord Baltimore died, before the charter had passed the great seal, or was issued.  This charter, which was copied from that of Avalon, had the date of June 20, 1632, and thus was issued to George's son, Cecilius.
     George Calvert, was very diligent and a most trustworthy public servant, who maintained an earnest intent for the welfare of England.  With the charter of Maryland, he laid the foundation for one of the most successful governments in the American colonies.  George Calvert was buried April 15, 1632, at St. Dunstan's Church, England."
     "Cecil or Cecilius Calvert, succeeded to the title of second Lord Baltimore upon his father, George's death.  Cecil Calvert married the Catholic Anne Arundell, the daughter of Thomas Arundell in 1629.  Anne Arundel County, Maryland is so named after Lady Anne Arundell.  Cecil and Anne had two children, one son, and one daughter.
     Cecil Calvert was raised a Catholic and attended Trinity College, Oxford, England.  Upon his father's death, Cecil inherited the title, the Irish estates, and about twelve million acres of land, in what would become Maryland.  He served as the first designer and Lord Proprietor of the Maryland colony from 1632 to 1675.
     Although he never visited America, he proficiently preserved his charter rights from adversaries over the course of several decades.  He established Maryland on a sturdy and wealthy footing, to the depletion of his personal fortune.  Additionally, he consistently promoted religious toleration for all Christians living in his colony."
     "On June 30, 1632, the charter of Maryland had been confirmed and published.  So, on July 12, 1632, the King directed the Governor of Virginia to assist Lord Baltimore who planned to transport many people to Maryland.  In October 1633, the Ark and the Dove departed London, England for Maryland, but were recalled to Gravesend on October 19, because the passengers had not been given the 'Oath.'  About two weeks later in late October, the two ships again departed, stopping at Cowes on the Isle of Wright for roughly a month."
     "On November 22, 1633, Leonard Calvert set out ... from Cowes Isle, England, on a voyage to Maryland to set up a colony.  The Ark, the larger of the two ships had a weight capacity of roughly 350 to 400 tons, while the Dove, being a much smaller ship, had a capacity of only about 50 tons.  Historians say that approximately 140 people founded the first Maryland colony, although this number may be between 99 and 140."
     "The leaders of this expedition were: Leonard Calvert, lieutenant-governor, who traveled on the Ark, who was representing his brother, Cecil Calvert, the second Lord Baltimore. With Leonard was George Calvert, the youngest brother of Leonard and Cecil; Thomas Cornwallis, Esq., and Commissioner; and Jerome Hawley, another Commissioner.
     The crew of the Ark, of which there were about forty persons, included Captain Richard Lowe, as Master; John Bowlter, as Purser; and Richard Edwards, a Chirurgeon.  The crew of the Dove included: Captain Wintour, its commander; Richard Orchard, its master; Samuel Lawson, the first mate; John Games, its gunner; Richard Kenton, the boatswain; and crew members John Curke, and Nicholas Perrie."
     "In early March 1634, the Ark and Dove reached the Chesapeake Bay, bound for the Potomac River to Maryland.  The Ark and Dove arrived at Maryland on March 3, 1634.  On March 25, they came ashore to celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation, that today we celebrate as Maryland Day."
     "On March 20, 1628, George Calvert and his second wife, Joanne, had one son, Philip.  He would go on to marry Anne Wolseley ... .  Together, Philip and Anne arrived in Maryland in 1657.  They were sent by Cecil Calvert, Second Lord Baltimore to oversee the reestablishment of Lord Baltimore's government which the radical Protestants, with the support of Virginia, had taken over in 1654."
     "Charles Calvert was born August 27, 1637, and was the only son of Cecilius Calvert, second Lord Baltimore, and his wife, Anne Arundell, daughter of Lord Arundell of Wardour.  Charles had only one sibling, a sister.
     Charles was commissioned governor of Maryland on September 14, 1661, and served as such until the death of his father, November 30, 1675.  Upon his father's death he succeeded to the proprietorship of the province, and the third Lord Baltimore.
     Being a Catholic, his position as governor and as proprietor came with many problems, as Protestants in the colony outnumbered the Catholics ten to one.  Additionally, the ranks of the dissatisfied were increased with recruits from those who had come to the colony as convicts or as indentured servants.  His problems continued with the Susquehanna Indians, who were hostile.
     Because of a boundary dispute with William Penn, Calvert was required to travel to England where his troubles continued in the Protestant Revolution of 1688, as well as the antagonistic attitude of King William III toward proprietary charters.  King William III ascended to the throne jointly with his wife, Queen Mary II in 1688, upon the death of King James II.  Although executive power was given to William, they served together from 1689 to 1694.  Upon Mary's death in 1694, William III ruled alone until his death in 1702.  William III was succeeded by Queen Anne, who ruled from 1702 to 1714.  Although Charles was industrious in coping with these many difficulties, he did so with a bad temper, especially toward any opposition.  In 1670, following a heated experience with the Assembly in 1669, votes in the Assembly were restricted to those freemen who had at least fifty acres of land, or who had an estate worth at least forty pounds sterling.  Meanwhile, the practice began of summoning to the Assembly only one-half of the delegates who had been elected.  Calvert was accused of abusing his privilege of appointing sheriffs to control elections.  In 1672, Charles caused the election of Thomas Notley, a strong supporter of Calvert, as speaker.  When delegates to the Assembly did not see issues Calvert's way, he would summon them to his chamber, where he prevailed upon them to yield.  Calvert had a habit of vetoing acts in the Assembly years after they had been passed.
     Charles Calvert was married four times.  His second wife, Jane, was the daughter of Vincent Lowe and the widow of Henry Sewall.  Charles and Jane had several children, one of which was Benedict Leonard Calvert, the fourth Lord Baltimore.  Charles' children were intent on making government a family affair.  This attitude was successful for a short time, but passed to incompetent guardians soon after Charles' departure from England in 1684, when Charles went to defend his charter and territory from attacks by William Penn.  Calvert's charter and territory were overthrown in 1689 by a Protestant association led by the irreverent John Coode.  In 1692 a royal government was established."  (John T. Marck, "The Founding of Maryland",, 2005.)
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Additional Citations:

5. John Simpson (chief ed.), Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, continuously updated.  (Available electronically at

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