Sunday, March 22, 2015

Yet Another Charles Carroll

The Carroll family of Maryland is recognized because Charles Carroll of Carrollton was the only Catholic and the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence. His family used descriptions to distinguish between the different generations of Charles Carrolls: Charles Carroll the Settler, Charles Carroll of Annapolis, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, and Charles Carroll of Homewood.

The Charles Carroll born today, March 22, in 1723 called himself Charles Carroll, Barrister. He was a distant Anglican cousin of the great Maryland Carrolls. His father--you guessed it--Charles Carroll, a surgeon had left Ireland in 1715 and renounced Catholicism to become an Anglican. As the website for Mount Clare Museum House notes:

At that time Maryland was a Protestant colony and Roman Catholics were not allowed to hold public office or have public worship services. Dr. Carroll wanted to be able to own land and participate in political activities. He settled in Annapolis where he practiced medicine and engaged in land speculation. In 1722, Dr. Carroll married Dorothy Blake of Talbot County on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. On Sunday, March 22, 1723, their first son, Charles, was born. Dr. and Mrs. Carroll had two other children, John Henry and Mary Clare.

Dr. Charles Carroll was also ambitious for his son:

Dr. Carroll wished Charles be educated abroad, so at the age of 10, Charles, with his father, left Annapolis for England. The voyage was difficult, forcing them ashore in Portugal. Because the trip was so traumatic for young "Charlie", Dr. Carroll left him with the Reverend Edward Jones at English House in West Lisbon, Portugal, where he stayed until he was 16. He then went to England to attend Eton and later entered the University of Cambridge. After 12 years of study abroad, Charles returned to Annapolis in 1746. He enjoyed the sophisticated social life of Annapolis, at the same time applying himself to learning the management of the farms and mills on the Patapsco. Dr. Carroll felt Charles should have further education in order to advance in the world, so at the age of 28, Charles set sail for England where he studied law at the Inns of Court and resided in the Middle Temple in London.

Charles, now a Barrister-at-Law, returned home three months before his father's death in 1755, well prepared to assume the duties commensurate with his large inheritance. At the age of 32 he was one of the wealthiest members of the Maryland aristocracy. He was elected to fill his father's seat as the Delegate from Anne Arundel County to the Lower House of the Assembly. As there were four Carrolls of the same name living in Annapolis at that time, Charles designated himself in 1766 as "Charles Carroll, Barrister".
(my emphasis)

Charles Carroll, Barrister died 60 years and one day old on March 23, 1783. As Ronald Hoffman, author of Princes of Ireland, Planters of Maryland: A Carroll Saga, 1500-1782, notes, Charles Carroll, Barrister's father's choice to convert was one that the other Charles Carrolls, from the Settler, through of Annapolis, to of Carrollton and of Homewood, refused to make, even though the Settler had come to Maryland in 1688 hoping to take advantage of the religious tolerance of Catholic Maryland. Bad timing, since the Glorious Revolution of 1688 wiped out that tolerance and religious freedom. Fortunately, Maryland officials never really enforced the penal laws against Catholics in Maryland with any regularity. Charles Carroll of Carrollton studied for many years on the Continent and in England in an effort to prepare him for life in Anglican Maryland, as Hoffman notes in this paper for the American Antiquarian Society.

Charles Carroll, Barrister and his Catholic cousins did cooperate in the revolutionary cause--but it's Charles Carroll of Carrollton we remember.


  1. Would you mind doing some stats on lifetimes (how old when dead, if living to adult + how many died as babies, children or teens = two separate subjects, I would say)?

    If you read French, here are some I did:

    Φιλολoγικά/Philologica : La Lettre A d'une Encyclopédie (last of ten, don't miss previous posts).

    Otherwise, at least here are some fewer ones as a third in the series which starts here:

    Φιλολoγικά/Philologica : "in a time when most people died at an average age of 35"

    1. Maybe I will; maybe I won't--depends on how long I have to live! HA!

  2. At that time Maryland was a Protestant colony and Roman Catholics were not allowed to hold public office or have public worship services.

    How did that come about? It was founded by the Catholic Lord Baltimore!