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Province of Maryland

Maryland Colony
Colony of England (1632–1707)
Colony of Great Britain (1707–76)


A map of the Province of Maryland.
Capital St. Mary's City (1632–95)
Annapolis (from 1695)
Languages English, Susquehannock, Nanticoke, Piscataway
Government Constitutional monarchy
Royally Chartered Proprietor
 •  1632–1675 Lord Baltimore, 2nd
 •  1751–1776 Lord Baltimore, 6th
Proprietary Governor
 •  1634–1647 Leonard Calvert
 •  1769–1776 Robert Eden
Legislature Maryland General Assembly
 •  Charter granted 1632
 •  Independence July 4, 1776
Currency Pound sterling
Today part of  Maryland

 Washington, D.C.

The Province of Maryland was an English and later British colony in North America that existed from 1632[1] until 1776, when it joined the other twelve of the Thirteen Colonies in rebellion against Great Britain and became the U.S. state of Maryland. Its first settlement and capital was St. Mary's City, in the southern end of St. Mary's County, which is a peninsula in the Chesapeake Bay and is also bordered by four tidal rivers.

The province began as a proprietary colony of the English Lord Baltimore, who wished to create a haven for English Catholics in the new world at the time of the European wars of religion. Although Maryland was an early pioneer of religious toleration in the English colonies, religious strife among Anglicans, Puritans, Catholics, and Quakers was common in the early years, and Puritan rebels briefly seized control of the province. In 1689, the year following the Glorious Revolution, John Coode led a rebellion that removed Lord Baltimore from power in Maryland. Power in the colony was restored to the Baltimore family in 1715 when Charles Calvert, 5th Baron Baltimore, insisted in public that he was a Protestant.

Despite early competition with the colony of Virginia to its south, and the Dutch colony of New Netherland to its north, the Province of Maryland developed along very similar lines to Virginia. Its early settlements and populations centers tended to cluster around the rivers and other waterways that empty into the Chesapeake Bay and, like Virginia, Maryland's economy quickly became centered on the cultivation of tobacco, for sale in Europe. The need for cheap labor, and later with the mixed farming economy that developed when tobacco prices collapsed, led to a rapid expansion of indentured servitude and, later, forcible immigration and enslavement of Africans.

The Province of Maryland was an active participant in the events leading up to the American Revolution, and echoed events in New England by establishing committees of correspondence and hosting its own tea party similar to the one that took place in Boston (The Boston tea party). By 1776 the old order had been overthrown, as Maryland citizens signed the Declaration of Independence, forcing the end of British colonial rule.


  • Origins in the 17th Century 1
    • Founding charter 1.1
    • Early settlement 1.2
    • Government 1.3
    • Problems with Native Americans 1.4
    • Religious conflict and the English Civil War 1.5
    • The Protestant Revolution of 1689 1.6
    • Plantations and economy 1.7
  • The 18th Century 2
    • The American Revolution 2.1
  • See also for more information 3
  • Notes 4
  • References/Citations 5
  • External links 6

Origins in the 17th Century

Founding charter

Henrietta Maria, the French Princess who gave her name to the young colony of "Maryland"

On June 20, 1632

  • Colonial history of Maryland

External links

  • Andrews, Matthew Page, History of Maryland, Doubleday, New York (1929)


  1. ^ Elson, Henry. "Colonial Maryland". Retrieved 2015-05-11. 
  2. ^ Sparks, Jared (1846). The Library of American Biography: George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore. Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown. pp. 16–. 
  3. ^ Maryland State Manual
  4. ^ Alan Taylor, American Colonies (New York: Viking, 2001), p.136; John Mack Faragher, ed., The Encyclopedia of Colonial and Revolutionary America (New York: Facts on File, 1990), p.254.
  5. ^ Edward Danson, Drawing the Line: How Mason and Dixon Surveyed the Most Famous Border in America (2000)
  6. ^ a b Andrews, p.70
  7. ^ Andrews, p.71
  8. ^ a b Andrews, p.76
  9. ^ a b c Roark, Elisabeth Louise, p.78, Artists of colonial America Retrieved February 22, 2010
  10. ^ John E. Findling, Frank W. Thackeray, Events that Changed America Through the Seventeenth Century, pp. 133-134.
  11. ^ Gloria L. Main, Tobacco Colony: Life in Early Maryland, 1650-1720 (1982).
  12. ^ C. A. Werner, Tobaccoland A Book About Tobacco; Its History, Legends, Literature, Cultivation, Social and Hygienic Influences (1922)
  13. ^ Gregory A. Stiverson, Poverty in a Land of Plenty: Tenancy in Eighteenth-Century Maryland (Johns Hopkins U. Press, 1978)
  14. ^ John Mack Faragher, ed., The Encyclopedia of Colonial and Revolutionary America (New York: Facts on File, 1990), p.257
  15. ^ Bayly Ellen Marks, "Rural Response to Urban Penetration: Baltimore and St. Mary's County, Maryland, 1790-1840," Journal of Historical Geography (1982) 8#2 pp 113-127.
  16. ^ Edwin Danson, Drawing the Line: How Mason and Dixon Surveyed the Most Famous Border in America (2001)
  17. ^ America's Founding Charters: Primary Documents of Colonial and Revolutionary Era Governance, Volume 1 by Jon. L. Wakelyn. 2006. p.109.


See also for more information

Maryland also gave up some territory to create the new District of Columbia after the American Revolution.

Up to the time of the American Revolution, Province of Maryland was one of two colonies that remained an English proprietary colony, Pennsylvania being the other.[17] Maryland declared independence from Britain in 1776, with Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, and Charles Carroll of Carrollton signing the Declaration of Independence for the colony. In the 1776-77 debates over the Articles of Confederation, Maryland delegates led the party that insisted that states with western land claims cede them to the Confederation government, and in 1781, Maryland became the last state to ratify the Articles of Confederation. It accepted the United States Constitution more readily, ratifying it on April 28, 1788.

The American Revolution

Maryland lost some of its original territory to Pennsylvania in the 1760s when King Charles II granted the Penn family, owners of Pennsylvania, a tract that overlapped the Calvert family's Maryland grant. To settle the feud between the two powerful families, surveyors Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon surveyed a new boundary known as the Mason–Dixon line.[16]

In the late colonial period, the southern and eastern portions of the Province continued in their tobacco economy, but as the American Revolution approached, northern and central Maryland increasingly became centers of wheat production. This helped drive the expansion of interior farming towns like Frederick and Maryland's major port city of Baltimore.[15]

Like its larger neighbor, Virginia, Maryland developed into a plantation colony by the 18th century. In 1700 there were about 25,000 people and by 1750 that had grown more than 5 times to 130,000. By 1755, about 40% of Maryland's population was black.[14] Maryland planters also made extensive use of indentured servants and penal labor. An extensive system of rivers facilitated the movement of produce from inland plantations and farms to the Atlantic coast for export. Baltimore, on Chesapeake Bay, was the second-most important port in the 18th-century South, after Charleston, South Carolina.

The 18th Century

Outside the plantations, much land was operated by independent farmers who rented from the proprietors, or owned it outright. They emphasized subsistence farming to grow food for their large families. Many of the Irish and Scottish immigrants specialized in rye-whiskey making, which they sold to obtain cash.[13]

In the 17th century, most Marylanders lived in rough conditions on small farms. While they raised a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, and livestock, the main cash crop was tobacco, which soon dominated the provinces economy. Tobacco was used as money, and the colonial legislature was obliged to pass a law requiring tobacco planters to raise a certain amount of corn as well, in order to ensure that the colonists would not go hungry. By 1730 there were public tobacco warehouses every fourteen miles. Bonded at £1,000 sterling, each inspector received from £25 to £60 as annual salary. Four hogsheads of 950 pounds were considered a ton for London shipment. Ships from English ports did not need port cities; they called at the wharves of warehouses or plantations along the rivers for tobacco and the next year returned with goods the planters had ordered from the shops of London.[11][12]

Tobacco was the main export crop in the colonial era; it involved a great deal of hand labor, usually done by slaves as shown here in an 1670 painting from Virginia

Plantations and economy

In 1672, Lord Baltimore declared Maryland included the settlement of Whorekills on the west shore of the Delaware Bay, an area under the jurisdiction of the Province of New York (as the British had renamed New Netherland after taking possession in 1664). A force was dispatched which attacked and captured this settlement. New York could not immediately respond because New York was soon recaptured by the Dutch. Maryland feared the Dutch would use their Iroquois allies to recapture the settlement. This settlement was restored to the Province of New York when New York was recaptured from the Dutch in November, 1674.

After this "Protestant Revolution" in Maryland, Darnall was forced, like many other Catholics, to maintain a secret chapel in his home in order to celebrate the Roman Catholic Mass. In 1704, an Act was passed "to prevent the growth of Popery in this Province", preventing Catholics from holding political office.[9] Full religious toleration would not be restored in Maryland until the American Revolution, when Darnall's great-grandson Charles Carroll of Carrollton, arguably the wealthiest Catholic in Maryland, signed the American Declaration of Independence.

In 1689, Maryland Puritans, by now a substantial majority in the colony, revolted against the proprietary government, in part because of the apparent preferment of Catholics like Colonel Henry Darnall to official positions of power. Led by Colonel John Coode, an army of 700 Puritans defeated a proprietarial army led by Colonel Darnall.[9] Darnall later wrote: "Wee being in this condition and no hope left of quieting the people thus enraged, to prevent effusion of blood, capitulated and surrendered." The victorious Coode and his Puritans set up a new government that outlawed Catholicism, and Darnall was deprived of all his official roles.[9] Coode's government was, however, unpopular; and both William III and Coode himself wished to install a Crown-appointed governor. This was Lionel Copley who governed Maryland until his death in 1694 and was replaced by Francis Nicholson.[10]

Col. Henry Darnall, Deputy Governor of Maryland and a Roman Catholic.

The Protestant Revolution of 1689

In 1654, after the Third English Civil War (1649–1651), Parliamentary (Puritan) forces assumed control of Maryland and Governor William Stone went into exile in the Colony of Virginia. Stone returned the following spring at the head of a Cavalier (Roman Catholic) force and marched on Annapolis. At this time there were about 4,500 colonists in Maryland. In what is known as the Battle of the Severn (March 25, 1655), Stone was defeated and taken prisoner. Stone was replaced as Governor by Josias Fendall (ca. 1628-1687).

In 1649 Maryland passed the Maryland Toleration Act, also known as the Act Concerning Religion, a law mandating religious tolerance for trinitarian Christians. Passed on September 21, 1649 by the assembly of the Maryland Colony, it was the first law requiring religious tolerance in the English North American colonies. The Calvert family, who had founded Maryland partly as a refuge for English Catholics, sought enactment of the law to protect Catholic settlers and those of other religions that did not conform to the dominant Anglicanism of England and her colonies.

From 1644 to 1646, the so-called "Plundering Time" was a period of civil unrest caused by the tensions of the English Civil War (1641–1651). Governor Leonard Calvert led colonial defenses against Parliamentary privateers such as Captain Richard Ingle and William Claiborne.

The Maryland Toleration Act, passed in 1649.

Religious conflict and the English Civil War

In 1642, the colony Maryland declared war on the Susquehannock Indian nation. The Susquehannock (with the help of the colony of New Sweden) defeated Maryland in 1644. The Susquehannocks remained in an intermittent state of war with Maryland until a peace treaty was concluded in 1652.[8] Records from this era are poor and accounts of these early conflicts are incomplete.[8]

Problems with Native Americans

In some ways the General Assembly was an improvement upon the institutions of the mother country. In 1639, noting that Parliament had not been summoned in England for a decade, the free men of Maryland passed an act to the effect that "assemblies were to be called once in every three years at the least", ensuring that their voices would be regularly heard.[6]

In addition, the Lord Proprietor could summon any delegates whom he was pleased to select.[7]

"from henceforth and for ever everyone being of the council of the Province and any other gentleman of able judgement summoned by writ (and the Lord of every Manor within this Province after Manors be erected) shall and may have his voice, seat, and place in every General Assembly...together with two or more able and sufficient men for the hundred as the said freedmen or the major part of them...shall think good".

However, as elsewhere in English North America, English political institutions were re-created in the colonies, and the Maryland General Assembly fulfilled much the same function as the House of Commons of England.[6] An act was passed providing that:

Maryland's foundational charter created a state ruled by the Palatine lord, Lord Baltimore. As ruler, Lord Baltimore directly owned all of the land granted in the charter. He possessed absolute authority over his domain. Settlers were required to swear allegiance to him rather than to the King of England. The charter created an aristocracy of lords of the manor, who bought 6,000 acres (24 km²) from Baltimore and held greater legal and social privileges than the common settlers.


The Ark and the Dove landed at St. Clement's Island on March 25, 1634. The new settlers were led by Lord Baltimore's younger brother Leonard Calvert, whom Baltimore had delegated to serve as governor of the new colony. The 150 or so surviving immigrants purchased land from the Yaocomico Indians and founded St. Mary's City.

The Calvert family recruited Catholic aristocrats and Protestant settlers for Maryland, luring them with generous land grants and a policy of religious toleration. Of the 200 or so initial settlers who traveled to Maryland on the ships Ark and Dove, the majority were Protestant. In fact, Protestants remained in the majority throughout the history of colonial Maryland.

In Maryland, Baltimore sought to create a haven for English Catholics and to demonstrate that Catholics and Protestants could live together peacefully, even issuing the Act Concerning Religion in matters of religion. Cecil Calvert was himself a convert to Catholicism, a considerable political setback for a nobleman in 17th century England, where Roman Catholics could easily be considered enemies of the crown and potential traitors to their country. Like other aristocratic proprietors, he also hoped to turn a profit on the new colony.

Catholic church at St Mary's City
1975 reconstruction of Maryland Dove at St. Mary's City

Early settlement

Colonial Maryland was considerably larger than the present-day state of Maryland. The original charter granted the Calverts an imprecisely defined territory north of Virginia and south of the 40th parallel, comprising perhaps as much as 12 million acres (49,000 km²).[4] In the 1760s Maryland lost the northernmost slice of its original territory to Pennsylvania. For 80 years the powerful Penn and Calvert families had feuded over overlapping Royal grants. Surveyors Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon mapped the Maryland-Pennsylvania border in 1767, setting out the Mason–Dixon line.[5]

The new colony was named after the devoutly Catholic Henrietta Maria, the Queen Consort.[3] The Lords Baltimore were the only Catholics in the history of the British Empire (or indeed members of the Irish House of Lords) to have been granted a proprietary colony.

Whatever the reason for granting the colony specifically to Baltimore, however, the King had practical reasons to create a colony north of the Potomac in 1632. The colony of New Netherland begun by England's great imperial rival in this era, the United Provinces specifically claimed the Delaware River valley and was vague about its border with Virginia. Charles rejected all the Dutch claims on the Atlantic seaboard, but was anxious to bolster English claims by formally occupying the territory.


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