World History Blog Logo

Maryland Colonies Facts

United States [1632–1778]

By Saul Mcleod, Last Updated: May 23, 2022

Maryland was one of the most prosperous English colonies with an eventful history. This article will take a detailed look at the Maryland colony. Here is everything you need to know about it.

The original Maryland colony was named the Province of Maryland, and it was one of the first proprietary colonies. It was a place of refuge for Roman Catholics who were seeking religious liberty in the new world. And it was named Maryland after the queen consort of King Charles I, Henrietta Maria.

There are a lot more facts to uncover about Maryland’s history. So, without further ado, let’s begin!

Founding Fathers of the Maryland Colony

George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore, was a successful politician in New England. His career was on the rise, but it met its downfall when he announced that he was a Catholic. 

During the 1600s, Great Britain only believed in the teachings of the Anglican church. Catholics were seen as inferior and discriminated against. At first, George Calvert was secretary of state, but he was stripped of this title in 1625 when he declared he was a Catholic.

He dreamed of forming a haven in the new world where Catholicism could be freely practiced. He requested King Charles I to grant him a royal charter for the Province of Maryland. But, he died in April of 1632, before it was formally granted. 

So, the royal charter was then granted to his son, Cecilius Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore, in June of 1632. He became the first Catholic ever to be bestowed a proprietary colony.

Geography and Climate

The Maryland Colony covered a much larger area than the present Maryland state. It was located along the Atlantic coast of North America. Marshes were found along the eastern shore, and fertile land could be found along the western shore. 

The first settlers aboard British ships landed on St. Clement’s Island and founded St. Mary’s City. It was built along the Chesapeake Bay. The bay provided plenty of seafood, such as oysters, clams, and various types of fish. 

The settlers of Maryland enjoyed hot and humid summers and mildly cold winters. The region still maintained a subtropical climate. 

Inter - Colonial Relations

In 1632, the King of England granted a charter to the Calvert family to establish a colony. The first settlers claimed that Kent Island was included in the land granted to them by Charles I. 

William Claiborne, a major political figure in Virginia, claimed that Kent Island was the property of Virginia. This confusion about the charter led to a dispute between these colonies. 

Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon resolved this border conflict by forming the Mason-Dixon line. It was a demarcation line that separated four US states. Maryland ceded land in 1791 to form the District of Columbia. 

Native American Relations

When the settlers arrived at the colony's site, it was already inhabited by Native Americans. The natives had heard of the colonists and were eager to learn about their technology. In return, they agreed to sell their land to the colonists. 

The Indians taught the settlers a lot about survival, such as hunting, traveling through waterways, medicine and healing practices, and farming. But the Britishers exploited the natives by purchasing land at low prices and making large profits.

Religious Conflicts

Many Catholic families and priests migrated to Maryland aboard the Ark and the Dove to escape religious persecution. The Catholics wanted to exist in peace, but religious conflict erupted soon after the new colony was founded. 

Cecil Calvert appointed his brother, Leonard Calvert, as the colony's governor, and only other Roman Catholics formed the government. This did not sit right with the Puritans. This led to violence and revolts.

Lord Baltimore then appointed Governor William Stone, a protestant hoping to resolve this conflict between his colonists. And in 1649, he enacted the Act of Toleration, also known as the Maryland Toleration Act, encouraging religious tolerance for all Christian faiths. 

As the protestant settlers grew in population, they revolted more, and eventually, the puritans seized control of the colony, stripping Lord Baltimore of his proprietary rights. 


Like in all southern colonies, agriculture played an important role in the British colony of Maryland. Wheat and corn are important cash crops in the economy. But the main crop farmed was tobacco. The majority of exports depended on its production. 

Due to economic problems, the price of tobacco decreased. So, to maximize profits, plantation owners had to rely on coerced labor, such as indentured servants and enslaved people. 

Colonial Economy

Tobacco was the major cash crop. A variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains were also responsible for the economic situation. Along with agriculture, shipbuilding and ironwork were the other major industries in Maryland. 

As the demand for slaves increased, the slave trade became much more deep-rooted than before. 

The Chesapeake Bay produced more seafood than any other body of water, which made fishing an important source of livelihood in the colony. The colonists also bought fur from the native Americans and profited by exporting furs to Europe. 

Major Wars Maryland Fought

Maryland actively participated in the events of the American Revolutionary War. No major battles were fought in Maryland, but it contributed through its servitude in the war. 

It had an excellent reputation for supplying quality weapons to the continental army and men with exceptional fighting skills. This earned Maryland high praise from George Washington himself!

Maryland colony signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and became a US state on April 28th, 1788. The people who signed this historical document were Samuel Chase, William Paca, Charles Carroll, and Thomas Stone.

Here are the answers to the questions asked most frequently about the Maryland colony:

Why Was Maryland a Good Colony?

The British colonists came to America for two main reasons: religious freedom and earning money. They were able to gain both. Maryland was the first colony to promote religious toleration. And its economy prospered owing to the tobacco trade.

What Are 3 Interesting Facts About Maryland?

Three interesting Maryland colony facts are:

  • The U.S. national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner," was written by a Marylander named Francis Scott Key. It was inspired by the battle at Fort McHenry in the War of 1812. 

  • It was the first colony to enact a law on religious tolerance in the new world. 

  • The first long-distance telegram was delivered in Baltimore, ushering in a new era in technology.


This is a wrap on the facts and history of the Maryland colony. The Maryland colony witnessed many religious conflicts and fought in wars, but it remained a prosperous region. It also played an integral part in shaping the United States Constitution after the Revolutionary War.

Cite this Article (Chicago Style)

Mcleod, S. "Maryland Colonies Facts." World History Blog, May 23, 2022.

About the Author

Saul Mcleod is a qualified psychology teacher with over 17 years' experience of working in further and higher education. He has recently worked as a psychology teaching assistant for The University of Manchester, Division of Neuroscience & Experimental Psychology

He previously worked for Wigan and Leigh College, where he was a psychology lecturer for ten years, primarily teaching A-level psychology and sociology.