Alternative History
Commonwealth of Maryland
Timeline: Cromwell the Great
OTL equivalent: Maryland
Colony's motto
Fatti maschii, parole femine
(Latin: manly deeds, womanly words)
Location of Maryland (in red)
Commonwealth colony[1] of the Commonwealth
CapitalSt. Mary's City (1632-1695), Annapolis (1695 to date)
Largest Baltimore
Other cities St. Mary's City, Pakstown and Susquehanna
Official languages English
Other languages Susquehannock language (part of the Iroquoian language family)
Ethnic groups  European (English, Scots, Welsh and Irish) and Native Americans
Religion No official religion (freedom of religion)
Other religions: Roman Catholic, Church of England, Independent Congregationalists, Quakers, Other Protestants, Native American religions and Animism
Demonym Marylander
Government Proprietary colony 1632-1660, chartered self-ruled colony 1660 to date of the Commonwealth of England
 -  Lord Protector Charlotte Hastings-Rawle Duchess of Kent
 -  Governor[2] Celeste McCracken
Legislature House of Delegates
Colony of the Commonwealth
 -  First Charter and first settlers 1632 / 1634 
 -  130,017 km2 
50,200 sq mi 
Currency Maryland Pound, Pound sterling, Spanish silver dollars and Wampum beads
Time zone Atlantic Time (or Boston Time) -> GMT-5
Membership international or regional organizations Atlantic Compact

... no person or persons ... professing to believe in Jesus Christ, shall from henceforth be any ways troubled, molested or discountenanced for or in respect of his or her religion nor in the free exercise thereof within this Province ...
(Maryland Toleration Act, 1649)

The Commonwealth of Maryland[3] is a Commonwealth colony in North America.

Maryland borders to the north with the Dutch colony of New Netherland, occupying the Chesapeake Peninsula, and several Indian territories and to the south with Virginia.


Maryland was named for the devoutly Catholic Henrietta Maria, Consort of King Charles I of England. After the downfall of the House of Stuart and the establishment of the Commonwealth it retained its name.

Maryland soon became one of the few predominantly Catholic regions among the English colonies in North America. Maryland was also one of the key destinations where the government sent tens of thousands of English convicts punished by sentences of transportation.

The Maryland Toleration Act, issued in 1649, was one of the first laws that explicitly defined tolerance of varieties of Christianity. However, the Act was a major source of sectarian violence between Catholics and Protestants in the 1650s, being several times repealed and reenacted.

In 1650, the Puritans revolted against the proprietary government. They set up a new government prohibiting both Catholicism and Anglicanism. In March 1655, the 2nd Lord Baltimore sent an army under Governor William Stone to put down this revolt. Near Annapolis, his Roman Catholic army was decisively defeated by a Puritan army in the Battle of the Severn. The Puritan revolt lasted until 1658, when the Calvert family regained control and re-enacted the Toleration Act. The Puritan revolutionary government persecuted Maryland Catholics during its reign. Mobs burned down all the original Catholic churches of southern Maryland.

In March of 1660, a bloodless rebellion, called Fendall's Rebellion, against Lord Baltimore headed by the Governor Fendall and the Assembly established a Commonwealth system for Maryland and abolished the powers of the Lord Proprietor. In 1662 by an Act of Parliament the titles were officially abolished and Lord Baltimore compensated.

After Fendall's Rebellion, Maryland's colonial government (Governor and Council) was under the direction of the Junto. This Junto was integrated by leaders of the rebellion and had the support of small planters, artisans and merchants. It later included most of the farmers of the Northern Expansion. Leading members of it were Josias Fendall, Nathaniel Bacon, John Coode and William Claiborne[4].

However, by the mid 1700s, the Susquehanna Clique gained influence in the House of Delegates, due to the low property classification for voting, expressing the local interests of the farmers and merchants and Quakers of the Northern Expansion. Notable leaders of the clique were the Penn brothers (John and Thomas) and Samuel Carpenter.

Maryland's territorial expansion started in 1661 due to a legal void in the new Charter in stating the limits of the colony. The 'Northern Expansion, as it was known, referred to the lands allocated to the west of Delaware River (or South River, de facto frontier with Dutch New Netherland) and to the north of the Potomac River (limit with Virginia), limited to the Appalachians. In 1665 the House of Delegates approved a series of acts that revived the headright system (40 acres) as an incentive to occupy the new lands, being quite successful in its action. However, the already established Indians attacked and raided the new settlers. So the colonial militia, called to protect the new lands and man the forts, was enlarged, all county companies unified under a common command, and its organization made more permanent with a professional corps of officers recruited from outside Maryland.

In the late 1670s the Northern Expansion also included the west of the Appalachians, in direct collision with the territories occupied or claimed by the Dutch and Iroquois (New Netherland-Iroquois Condominium). The Northern Expansion attracted a new wave of migration from the Commonwealth, especially of Quakers.

Maryland also had legal battles (that sometimes lead to brief armed skirmishes) with Virginia over conflicting claims of the North Branch of the Potomac river.

The Appeal of 1748 and the posterior emergency rule of the Colonial Commissioners led to the enactment of a new Charter for Maryland. The expansion of suffrage, particularly of small farmers and shopkeepers along with artisans and sharecroppers enabled the ascendancy of the Susquehanna Clique.


Commonwealth Ensign. Flown by British and Marylander merchant and fishing ships. Previous official flag of Maryland.

The Governor's Standard.

Flag of the Maryland Provincial Regiment and the Naval Militia (1757). Official flag of Maryland.

Maryland's foundational charter created a state ruled by Lord Baltimore. As ruler, Lord Baltimore directly owned all of the land granted in the charter. He possessed absolute authority over his domain. Settlers were required to swear allegiance to him rather than to the King of England. The charter created an aristocracy of lords of the manor, who bought 6,000 acres (24 sq km) from Baltimore and held greater legal and social privileges than the common settlers. In addition, the Lord Proprietor could summon any delegates whom he was pleased to select.

However, as elsewhere in English North America, colonial political institutions were re-created during and after the British Civil Wars and the Maryland General Assembly came to fulfill much the same functions as the House of Commons of the Commonwealth (1636-1651).

In some ways the General Assembly was an improvement upon the institutions of the mother country. In 1639, noting that Parliament had not been summoned in England for a decade, the freemen of Maryland passed an act to the effect that "assemblies were to be called once in every three years at the least", ensuring that their voices would be regularly heard. The General Assembly had an upper house consisting of the governor and council and a lower house of elected delegates from each of the four counties (St. Mary’s, Kent, Calvert, and Anne Arundel) between 1650-1654 and 1656-1660.

In March of 1660, Fendall's Rebellion, against Lord Baltimore headed by the Governor and the Assembly established the Commonwealth of Maryland. A new charter established a commonwealth system of government and abolished the Upper House. Supreme power would be vested in a House of Delegates that elected the Governor and its Council. Over the Council the Governor was to preside; but the House, retaining its Speaker, had the power to adjourn and dissolve it or call for new elections to the House of Delegates. The Governor, besides being the high executive officer of Maryland is also the commander-in-chief of the colonial militia. The Governor is assisted by the Governing Council. The Charter established the Court of Appeals as the supreme judiciary of Maryland.

The new charter, as approved by the Protector-in-Council in 1661, did not enclose the limits of the colony, so the previous 40th parallel north limit was not respected and allowed further settlement to the north.

The new charter also lowered voting rights giving to almost all freemen and labourers of Maryland (i.e., small farmers, artisans, merchants and some categories of servants) political participation in local government and elections of and to the House of Delegates.

Marylander, along with Virginians, aristocrats and oligarchs have received most of the peerages (Peer of the Commonwealth) of North America. The two unique ranks were specifically created for these two colonies by Lord Protector James Scott in 1671. These are landgrave (m)/ landgravines (f) (equivalent to Earl), and cassique (m)/ cassica (f) (equivalent to Viscount). Peerage was given in recognition of State or military services or land owing or merchant grandees on advice of the Governor of Maryland.

In the 18th century ongoing tensions with Indian Tribes, the Dutch, Virginia, internal strife between Protestants and Catholics and the Ohio Bubble led to direct brief interventions at numerous times of Maryland by the nomination of Colonial Commissioners by the Commonwealth Council of State with mandates lasting less than a year with instructions to suspend the Governor, nominate a Provisional Council and command the Colonial Militia and British Army and Navy.

The Charter of 1749 resolved several issues being notable for its religious freedom, curtail of nepotism and expansion of suffrage.


Lords Proprietors (1633-1662 post abolished)
  • Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore, 1633–1662
Proprietary Governors (named by the Lord Proprietor)
  • ...
  • Lieutenant-General Josias Fendall (July 1656- March 1660))
Governors (elected by the House of Delegates)
  • Lieutenant-General Josias Fendall (March 1660-1667)
  • William Claiborne (1667-1676)
  • Lieutenant-General Josias Fendall (1676-1682)
  • Colonel John Coode (1682-1683)
  • Nehemiah Blakiston (1683-1685)
  • Colonel John Coode (1685-1691)
  • William Claiborne (1691-1691)
  • John Coode (1691-1693)
  • Colonial Commissioners (1693-1694)
  • Colonel Nathaniel Blakiston (1694-1699)
  • Sir John Clairbone (1699-1705)
  • Sir Henry Coode (1705-1707)
  • Colonial Commissioners (1707)
  • Sir Francis Nicholson (1707-1711)
  • Sir Benedict Jenkins (1711-1721)
  • Sir Henry Bacon (1721-1722)
  • Colonial Commissioners (1722)
  • Samuel Carpenter (1722-1729)
  • Sir Henry Bacon (1729-1730)
  • Colonial Commissioners (1730)
  • Sir Joseph Jenkins (1730-1736)
  • Sir Arthur Clairbone (1736-1740)
  • Colonial Commissioners (1740)
  • Colonel Henry Gordon (1740-1744)
  • Colonial Commissioners (1744)
  • Colonel Henry Gordon (1740-1749)
  • Colonial Commissioners (1749)
  • Sir Thomas Penn (1749-1755, Friends of the People)
  • Sir George Callowhill (1755-1760 , Friends of the People)
  • Sir Thomas Penn (1760-1765, Friends of the People)
  • Sir Lewis Dinwiddie (1765-1770, Friends of the People)
  • Sir Beverley Jenkins (1770-1775, Commonwealth Party)
  • Sir John Penn (1775-1788[5], Friends of the People)
  • Joseph Matt (1788-1789, Friends of the People) provisional Governor named by the General Assembly
  • Sir Simon Simon Snyder (1789-1794, Commonwealth and Country Party)

Administrative Division

Maryland is divided into counties and parishes. The county commissioners, named by the Governor, administer the counties and name half of the members of the parish vestries being the other half elected.


The Maryland Toleration Act of 1649, repealed 1654-1658, grants freedom of conscience to all Christians who believed in the Trinity. Settlers who blasphemed by denying either the Trinity or the divinity of Jesus Christ could be punished by execution or the seizure of their lands. That meant that Jews, Unitarians and other dissenters from Trinitarian Christianity are practicing their religions at risk to their lives. The Act was supplemented by laws for Sunday observance against blasphemy, drunkenness and limiting the use of religious slurs and insults.

The Act promoted by the Lord Proprietor Cecil Calvert, who founded Maryland partly as a refuge for English Catholics, sought to protect Catholic settlers and those of other religions that did not conform to the dominant Anglicism of England and the colonies. It was also induced the migration and settlement of dissenting Protestants coming from Virginia, that had an established church (the Church of England). However, the Act has not stopped conflicts between the mainly Catholic planters and the Protestant freeman and labourers.

Quakers escaping the religious persecution of New England settled in large numbers in Maryland and most later became colonists in the Northern Expansion from the 1670s to the 1680s.

Agriculture and Trade

Maryland's economy is marked by a heavy reliance on the tobacco crop. Maryland suffered through economic depression, and instituted a series of regulatory reforms to try to curb the impact of fluctuations in tobacco prices on the colony’s economy. Corn regulations mandated that farmers grow two acres of corn, outlawed “the export of grain in times of scarcity,” and prohibited hoarding of corn. To limit further decline in prices, the colonial assembly ordered the destruction of low-quality tobacco in 1640. In hopes of moving the economy away from tobacco, the colonial assembly subsidized the production of hemp and flax. The assembly also sought unsuccessfully to develop port towns to serve as centers of trade. However this changes with the Northern Expansion. The Susquehanna River allowed depth inland shipping to the Chesapeake Bay and the establishment of Pakstown[6] a major inland river port, Susquehanna Port[7], Baltimore, and Annapolis[8]

The Northern Expansion into upper Maryland expanded the possibility of land holdings in a twofold. Previously it was exhausted in lower Maryland with the tobacco plantations and had slowed migration and provoked political tensions. The weather and soil of the Northern Expansion allowed the growth and greater outputs and profits of grains, fruits, and vegetables. This attracted a new wave of settlers and landowners and improved the agricultural output and profits over the previous main crop, tobacco. Although the latter still makes great gains to its owners and large income from customs duties. The new land also benefited from the shipping along the Susquehanna River.

Slavery, an already common institution in lower Maryland, was extended to the Northern Expansion to supplement the chronic shortage of laborers in the fields. By 1740 approximately 30% of the population was of black slaves.

  1. Property Colony 1632-1660
  2. Proprietary Governor 1632-1660, Governor 1660 to date
  3. Former Province of Maryland until 1661.
  4. Originating the socially and politically influential Claiborne family of Maryland
  5. Died in office
  6. OTL Paxtang and Harrisburg in Pennsylvania
  7. OTL Havre de Grace, Maryland
  8. Originally Anne Arundel's Towne, shorten to Anne's Towne and later officially named Annapolis