In the early days of the United States, Catholicism in the former thirteen North American colonies was organized under the hierarchy of the Apostolic Vicar of London, a kind of Papal emissary in the days before full Catholic emancipation in England.
In 1790, John Carroll became the first Bishop of North America, charged with setting up the Catholic hierarchy there. He was elevated to Archbishop in 1808. Carroll is also credited with founding Georgetown University, the oldest Catholic university in North America.
The Lulworth Connection
Before taking up his position, Carroll was consecrated Bishop in the Weld family's private Catholic chapel, The Chapel of St. Mary, on the Lulworth estate. Later, he commissioned Benjamin Latrobe, architect of the United States Capitol, to design America's first Catholic cathedral, the Basilica of National Shrine of the Assumption in Baltimore, MD. Some of design elements of that Cathedral can be directly linked to the Chapel of St. Mary at Lulworth Castle.