Carroll, a revolutionary

Legacy: An important Maryland family has deep roots in the county

150 Years of Howard History

September 19, 2000|By Nicoline Smits | Nicoline Smits,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Carroll family, which had a prominent role in the American Revolution, is part of Howard County history as well.

In his 1975 book, "Charles Carroll of Carrollton: The Making of a Revolutionary Gentleman," Thomas O'Brien Hanley traces the history of the Carroll family in the Colonies to 1688.

The best known member of the family is Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the only Roman Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence.

The name Carroll is an Anglicized version of O'Carroll, a prominent family in County Offaly in the Irish Republic, according to Paddy Heaney of the County Offaly Historical Society.

Charles Carroll the settler arrived in Maryland as an agent of Lord Baltimore, the proprietor of Maryland. In 1702, the settler was given the original land grant in what is now Howard County, and his son began building "Doughoregan Manor," a stately home in western Howard that is still in family hands.

In Joetta Cramm's "A Pictorial History of Howard County," the manor is shown as a formal, two-story brick house with a pillared porch. The original house is in the center, according to Cramm, and wings that were added later jut out on either side. The right wing connects the private chapel, where the signer is buried, to the house.

The Carroll family made many lasting contributions to the area, but its members are perhaps best known for their political involvement.

During the Colonial period, Catholics could not hold public office, but the Carrolls nevertheless were interested in politics.

In 1776, Charles Carroll of Carrollton accompanied Benjamin Franklin on a mission to Canada to gain support for the Revolution. Later that year, he was one of four Marylanders to sign the Declaration of Independence at the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia.

Another politically active Carroll, John Lee Carroll, was a grandson of the signer who lived at Doughoregan Manor most of his.

According to "The Governors of Maryland 1777-1970" by Frank F. White Jr., John Lee Carroll ran for the Maryland General Assembly in 1854 but was defeated. He was elected a state senator from Howard County in 1867 and re-elected in 1871. He was narrowly elected governor of Maryland in 1875.

Nicoline Smits is a free-lance writer who lives in Ellicott City.

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