Coode's Rebellion — the Protestant Revolution in Maryland


Coode’s Rebellion took place in the Province of Maryland, starting in 1689. It led to the establishment of a Protestant government and placed the colony under the control of the Crown until 1715.

Cecil Calvert, Lord Baltimore, Portrait, Soest

Cecil Calvert, Lord Baltimore. Image Source: Digital Maryland.

Coode’s Rebellion Facts

  • Also Known As — Coode’s Rebellion is also known as the Maryland Protestant Revolution.
  • Dates — Coode’s Rebellion started in 1689 and ended in 1692.
  • Location — Province of Maryland, British Colonies in North America.
  • Interesting Fact — Coode’s Rebellion was the third of four rebellions that took place in the English Colonies during the 17th Century.
  • Interesting Fact — Coode’s Rebellion is named after the leader of the Puritan faction, John Coode.

Coode’s Rebellion Significance

Coode’s Rebellion was an important event in the history of the Province of Maryland and Colonial America. It led to the establishment of a Protestant government in Maryland, which had been founded as a haven for Catholics by the proprietor, Lord Cecil Calvert. Following the rebellion, Maryland was under the control of the Crown until 1715. It was the third of four rebellions that took place in the English Colonies in North America during the 17th Century.

Coode’s Rebellion History

Coode’s Rebellion was a Protestant uprising in Maryland that was caused by the ascent of William of Orange to the English throne during the Glorious Revolution. The rebellion led to the ouster of Maryland’s proprietors — owners and rulers — the Calvert Family, until 1715.

John Coode

The rebellion was led by John Coode, who was born in Cornwall, England, in 1648. After studying at Oxford University and becoming an Anglican priest, Coode moved to Maryland in 1672. He settled in Charles County with his wife and gained a reputation for opposing the rule of the Calverts

Coode and Fendall Challenge the Calverts

In 1681, the Calverts started to notice Coode and his colleague, former governor Josiah Fendall, as threats to their authority when they openly criticized how the proprietors ran Maryland’s government. 

Charles Calvert met with Coode and Fendall and pointed out the similarities between their actions and the events of Bacon’s Rebellion (1676–1677), the first 17th-century rebellion in the English Colonies. 

While the 1681 confrontation between Coode, Fendall, and the colonial government had a limited impact, it marked the beginning of a noticeable division among Maryland’s leaders.

The Calverts — who were Catholics — owned and controlled a significant amount of land in Maryland. They also used their influence to appoint governors and fill important government positions with other Catholics. 

However, the growing Protestant population of Maryland held influence in the General Assembly and looked to reduce the power of the Calverts and Catholics, in general.

Glorious Revolution

In 1689, the Glorious Revolution took place in England, resulting in the ascension of William and Mary — both Protestants — to the throne.

William and Mary, Coronation
King William III and Queen Mary II.

Coode’s Rebellion Begins

When the news reached Maryland, anti-Catholic groups in Charles County gathered together. Under Coode’s leadership, they formed the Protestant Association and called for restrictions on Catholic officeholders and the removal of the Calverts. 

Coode warned the Protestants were in danger and the Calverts were going to incite their Native American Indian allies to carry out raids on the Protestants. Coode argued the Protestants needed to raise a militia as soon as possible, even though his accusations against the Calverts were likely unfounded.

Declaration of the Reasons and Motives

In the latter part of July 1689, Coode and fellow Association leaders prepared a declaration that listed their grievances against the Calvert government and pledged loyalty to the new English monarchs. However, the declaration also made it clear they intended to establish a Protestant-led government in Maryland.

The full title of the declaration was, “The Declaration of the reasons and motives for the present appearing in arms of Their Majesties Protestant subjects in the Province of Maryland.”

Associators Take Control of St. Mary’s City

Coode and the Associators gathered their forces and marched to St. Mary’s City, the capital of Maryland. During the march, they added reinforcements and arrived at the city on July 27, 1689, around 700 strong. 

The city was defended by William Digges and a small pro-Calvert force. However, the 80-100 men Digges had at his command refused to engage the Associators, forcing Digges to surrender the city.

A few days later, around 160 pro-Calvert militiamen surrendered to the Associators, signaling the end of the nonviolent takeover of Maryland. Despite the takeover, the Protestants allowed the Catholics and Calvert supporters to return to their homes and guaranteed their rights as Maryland citizens.

Protestant Government in Mayland

With hostilities concluded, Coode and the Associators turned their attention to establishing a new government under Protestant control. One of the first things they did was remove all Catholics and Calvert supporters from political office and military leadership.

Associators’ Convention

The Associators also wanted to gain approval from the Crown for their new government. To do that, they called a convention, known as the Associators’ Convention, which included delegates from all but one of Maryland’s colonies. Among the convention’s accomplishments were:

  • The convention devised a plan of government that included the establishment of government offices at the county level. 
  • The convention also requested guidance from the Crown regarding the governance of Maryland.

In late 1689, Lord Calvert offered a proposal to appoint Protestants to government positions in Maryland. This led to the Crown issuing instructions to the Associators in February 1690, telling them to retain their governance of the colony. 

In May 1990, Lionel Copley was appointed Governor of Maryland by the Crown. He traveled to Maryland, arriving in 1692. From then until 1715, Maryland was under the control of the Crown. By then, the leaders of the Calvert family joined the Church of England. The Crown responded by returning control of Maryland to the original proprietors.

London officials appointed Lionel Copley as the acting governor of Maryland in May 1690. When Copley arrived in 1692, it marked the commencement of a period of royal administration over the colony, which persisted until 1715. In that year, the Calvert family regained direct control over the colony after embracing Anglicanism.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations, including APA Style, Chicago Style, and MLA Style.

  • Article Title Coode's Rebellion — the Protestant Revolution in Maryland
  • Date 1689–1692
  • Author
  • Keywords Coode's Rebellion, John Coode, Josiah Fendall, Glorious Revolution, Protestant Association
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date May 22, 2024
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update November 7, 2023