Faith at Folly Quarter
A descendent of the Lords Baltimore, Carroll was a confident adventurer. He tirelessly worked for the birth of a new nation free from foreign interference in religious and civil affairs. Representing the colony of Maryland, he was able to confirm his convictions in 1776 by signing the Declaration of Independence.
It was into this tense atmosphere that Charles Calvert, governor of the colony and third Lord Baltimore, invited his stepson, Charles Carroll of Kings County, Ireland, to come to Annapolis to serve as his Attorney General in 1688. But life was hardly peaceful in the New World. One year later, a Protestant rebellion overthrew the Catholic government in Maryland.
Although his stepfather refused to renounce his Catholic faith in order to keep the title and jurisdiction of proprietor and governor, the strict laws against Catholics in the colony relaxed to such an extent that in 1700 the Proprietary granted Charles Carroll Sr. 10,000 acres “of the finest farmland in Maryland,” in what is presently Howard County. In 1717, Carroll began the construction of Doughoregan Manor, a modest country estate which was to become the ancestral home of the family. Two years earlier the proprietorship of Maryland was restored to the Calvert family when the son of Charles (and stepbrother to Carroll), Benedict Leonard, fourth Lord Baltimore, renounced his Catholic Faith.
This cousin of Charles Carroll was named the first bishop of the United States in 1789. A genius for organization and a personal friend to the first Presidents of the young nation, Archbishop Carroll set a precedent for cordial relations between the Church
and State. He was a promoter of culture and the founder of several colleges for men and women.
Through the next several decades religious and political tensions continued to flare. The establishment of the Church of England as the official church of the colony was followed by arbitrary unjust and unChristian laws against Roman Catholics. In order to offer his son a classical education in a healthy Catholic environment, Charles Carroll II (of Annapolis) sent his eldest, Charles Carroll III, then twelve years of age, to study abroad at some of the finest schools on the continent.
His close friend, companion and fellow student was his first cousin, John Carroll, who was eventually ordained a Jesuit priest and in 1789 became the first bishop of the United States. Among other accomplishments, Bishop Carroll founded Georgetown University, Mount Saint Mary’s College in Emmitsburg and the American founding of the Daughters of Charity in collaboration with Elizabeth Ann Seton.
In 1765, upon the completion of his studies, Charles Carroll III returned to his native Maryland where he was given a house by his father in Frederick, which he named Carrollton. Carroll III, always the cool adventurer, together with his cousin Daniel, soon immersed themselves in the danger of the fomenting discontent of their fellow Marylanders with the Crown. In 1773, since he could not hold political office, Carroll expressed his opinions of the Royal Governor and the British Parliament in a series of articles in the Maryland Gazette which he signed anonymously as “First Citizen.” He clearly made his point known and a wide body of people came to recognize Carroll’s style and held him in high esteem for his courage.
With a tactful and diplomatic personality, as well as an unlimited purse (Carroll was known to be the wealthiest man in the colony), “Charley” was able to move smoothly between Catholic and Protestant circles and be fully accepted by both. By this time Carroll had inherited Doughoregan Manor. It was customary for the wealthier and respected Catholic gentry to provide a haven for local Catholics to worship undisturbed. Carroll was now brazen enough and respected enough to have a chapel built attached to his home expressly for the purpose of the celebration of Mass. On occasion Mass is still celebrated in the Doughoregan chapel.