Maryland developed from a tract of country belonging to the original grant of Virginia. George Calvert, the First Lord Baltimore, was looking for land with a similar climate to that of England on which to establish his new colony. He had founded a colony on the Island of Newfoundland in 1627, but due to extreme bitter cold in the winter, the colony was abandoned and the colonists returned to England on the ships, the Ark and the Dove. He then put his sights on obtaining land in Virginia, parts of which had already been colonized. In 1632, King Charles I of England granted what is present-day Maryland and Delaware to George Calvert. George wrote the Charter of Maryland, but died that same year. His son, Cecelius Calvert, the Second Lord Baltimore, along with his brother, Leonard Calvert, were determined to complete their father's mission and establish a colony in which those in England who suffered from religious persecution could live in a land where freedom and tolerance would reign. That land would become Maryland.
Maryland did not receive the name that was initially planned for it. When George Calvert wrote the Charter, he left the space for the name blank, thinking that King Charles would like to write in the name, "Crescentia," the land of Increase of Plenty, when he signed it. Following George's death, Cecelius presented the Charter to the King who was surprised that the name of the colony had not been entered. The King decided that the new colony should be named after the Queen, "Terra Maria", which is Latin for "Mary Land." (Pogue 1968, 32)
In order to get the best applicants for the new colony, Cecelius Calvert "advertised" the new world. He did a tremendous sales job on the new territory, basing his remarks only from reports he had received from explorers such as Captain John Smith, who had not seen the land all the way up the Potomac River himself.
Cecelius' salesmanship proved effective as he recruited near twenty "Gentlemen" as well as shipbuilders, carpenters, wainwrights, brick makers, farmers, and their wives. There were people from all classes of Englishmen, both Catholics and Protestants (Anglicans). Some of those aboard were indentured servants who gave up their freedom in exchange for their paid passage to Maryland which would then be repaid through work in the new colony. It has been reported that at least two persons of African descent were among the initial passengers as well.
To avoid the risk of starvation which had plagued the colonies of Jamestown and Plymouth, Cecelius spent one year carefully preparing for the journey. He planned the departure from England in winter so that the colonists would arrive in Maryland in the spring when planting season began. An abundance of food was stored on the ship which included items such as wine, beer, flour, cheeses, dried fish, and an abundance of vegetable seed. He also required each man and woman to take along enough clothing for one year, as well as additional supplies.
Initially, the population in Maryland increased from the first 140 settlers who arrived on the Ark and Dove to an approximate 600 inhabitants by 1640. A period characterized by severe depression and political turmoil caused a reduction in the population to only about 200 by 1645. In the late 1640's, the recovery began with a rapid growth in population throughout the remainder of the colonial period.
Mortality rates in transit and upon arrival in Maryland were often high. Colonists were faced with an initial period of "seasoning" that some did not survive. Diseases such as malaria, smallpox, diphtheria, yellow fever, and influenza were prevalent.
Life expectancy was short. Males who reached 20 years old could expect to die in their early 40's. Less than 30 percent of males survived to celebrate their 15th birthday.
The price of tobacco influenced immigration patterns. When prices were high, merchants actively recruited additional servants from England. When production overflowed the market and brought prices down, immigration slowed.
There was a surplus of men which limited the possibility of marriage. Men outnumbered women six to one in the 1630's and three to one in the 1690's.
Marriages were later in life. Most women who came to Maryland were indentured servants and generally in their early twenties. Indentured servants were not permitted to marry until they completed their contract, which was typically four or more years.
Families were small. Women rarely had more than four children. Nearly 30 percent of the children born in Maryland died by one year old and nearly half before reaching age 20.
When King Charles I granted the Charter of Maryland to Cecil Calvert on June 20, 1632, he gave him ownership of all land within certain boundaries. Article XVIII of The Charter gave Lord Baltimore full authority to "assign, Alien, grante, demise, or enfeoff" any parcels [of the Province} to any persons willing to purchase the same. Down to the time of the Revolutionary War, all land grants in Maryland came from the Lords Baltimore, and after the death of Frederick, the 6th Lord Baltimore, from his son, Henry Harford, the Proprietor. It was the custom to date legal documents by the Regnal Year of the British Monarch, and this phraseology gave rise to the unfounded myth that Marylanders had "land grants from the King." Between 1634 and 1680, the Calverts encouraged settlers by promising to grant each settler so many acres (usually 50 acres) for himself and for each other person he or she brought into the Province. In 1680 this "head right" system was abolished, but Charles Calvert, 3rd Lord Baltimore, created the Land Office
Since all land in Maryland had been given by the King to Lord Baltimore, an individual who wanted a grant of land would have to apply to Lord Baltimore, or to Lord Baltimore's Land Office. Until 1680, the records might read that whereas "John Doe" was due so many acres of land, because he had brought himself, and/or family and or servants into the Province, an order (Warrant) was issued to the county surveyor to lay out so many acres of land. and to create a document known as a Certificate of Survey.
Step 1: Obtain a Warrant.
Step 2: Having the Land Surveyed.
They give the actual dimensions, or metes and bounds of the survey, and are usually accompanied by a scale drawing of the survey. Boundary trees and rocks, and bodies of water, may be indicated. Entries give tract name, name of person for whom land was surveyed or who was filing the petition, and number of certificate or petition. Arranged by county and then by tract for certificates and individuals for petitions.
Step 3: Patenting the Land.
Patents are documents granting ownership rights to some previously unpatented property. It has the nature of a deed and contains a description of the property and conditions of tenure. It sometimes happened that a man might apply for a warrant and have the land surveyed, and the would die before the land was patented. The warrant and certificate of survey might be in the name of "Richard Roe," and the patent might be in the name of John, Joseph, Mary, and Elizabeth Roe, children of Richard Roe, deceased. The patent records contain patents, certificates of survey, and some warrants of survey. Early entries also include probate records and records pertaining to indentured servants.
The patent records thus document the arrival in Maryland of nearly 80 percent of the settlers estimated to have entered the colony prior to 1684. Claims for surveying or patenting land frequently recount inheritances or assignments that provide further genealogical information. "
In theory, all land in the state has been patented. However, because of survey errors or land simply not being included in an original patent, some land may be legally vacant. Land is not vacant simply because it is no longer on the property tax assessment rolls or because it does not have a current deed reference. For land to be vacant for the purposes of applying for a land patent, it must meet the legal definition of vacant land, viz., "land for which a patent never has been issued."
A vacancy is found by a title search back through deeds, probate records, equity court cases, surveys and patent records to the earliest surveys and patents in the area in which the alleged vacancy is located. If land is found that is not included in a patent, it may meet the legal definition of vacant land.
From these records, lists of settlers have been made since early in the nineteenth century. But only in 1968 was one published. This was Gust Skordas's The Early Settlers of Maryland, immediately a cornerstone of genealogy. In 1997 A Supplement corrected and enlarged The Early Settlers. Now The New Early Settlers of Maryland, a complete revision, replaces Skordas's work.
In 1975 Russell Menard wrote that the "best estimate" of immigration to Maryland between 1634 and 1681 is 32,000 (Economy and Society in Early Colonial Maryland, 1975, pp. 175-6). The New Early Settlers has about 34,000 entries, which, allowing for duplications, is close to Menard's estimate.
Four points need to be made about the records.
First, having rights to land, the reward for transporting oneself or others, was not the same as possessing it. Between proving these rights and possessing the land were three steps, represented by three papers: a warrant for a survey; a surveyor's certificate of his survey; and a patent to the land surveyed. As each of these steps cost money, many settlers who were hard-pressed to pay for things they needed immediately, such as tools and live-stock, assigned - that is, sold - their rights. In the records of these transactions - probates (proofs) and assignments of rights, demands of warrants, certificates of survey, and patents - are the names of the settlers.
Second, the probates and most assignments are of rights for transporting people. The names of people transported are in the records primarily as a means of identifying the rights. Indeed, rights often are said to be "called" or "titled" by people's names.
Some names denoted people as well as rights. Among them are those of people who themselves were assigned along with rights. Other names that continued to denote people are those of people who completed terms of service or were issued warrants or certificates or granted patents. Tracing these names is tracing the settlers themselves.
But those are the exceptions. The names of most settlers immediately became names of rights and lived in the records independent of the settlers. Tracing names as rights go from person to person or are used for acquiring land is tracing rights only. Indeed, as many settlers died soon after arriving, some of the names circulating must have been of the dead.