About Anne Arundel County

As the most centrally-located county in Maryland and site of the state capital of Annapolis, Anne Arundel County is in many ways the heart of Maryland. Half a million people call the county home.

Over 570,000 residents call Anne Arundel County home due to the area's superior quality of life on the Chesapeake Bay, a rich heritage, and proximity to Baltimore and Washington, D.C. The county boasts diverse communities, numerous attractions, educational and employment opportunities and several amenities.
With over 533 miles of coastline, Anne Arundel County is known for boating, fishing, crabbing, water skiing, sailing and swimming. For nature lovers, there are two State parksfour regional parks, 95 community and neighborhood parks, 119 school recreation parks, two sports complexes, and 34 special use areas, including an ice rink, aquatic centerrecreation center and boat ramps
The County also offers numerous greenways, including the Anne Arundel County Trails that is an extensive network of recreation and transportation trails that include the B&A Trail, BWI Trail, Broadneck Peninsula Trail, and WB&A Trail, enjoyed by hundreds of walkers, runners, bicyclists and equestrians.

The first European settlers arrived in present-day Anne Arundel County in 1649. Seventeen years earlier, King Charles I signed the Charter of Maryland granting the colony to Cecil Calvert, the second Lord Baltimore. Cecil Calvert and his father, George, who died two months prior to the charter, envisioned the colony as both an economic enterprise and a place where fellow Roman Catholic royalists could escape the religious strife that was increasingly prevalent in England. After the death of his father, Cecil Calvert was materially aided in his enterprise by his father-in-law, Thomas Arundell, first Baron Arundell of Wardour. A wealthy and influential Catholic, he was able to fulfill his dream of establishing a colony in North America through his son-in-law. In 1642 the English Civil War broke out between the Roman Catholic royalists supporting Charles I and the Protestant Parliamentarians. Cecil Calvert, whose patronage came exclusively from the monarchy, became understandably concerned about his ability to maintain control over his colony. To solidify his position, he took several steps that would prove pivotal in the history of the Maryland Colony and what would soon become Anne Arundel County.
In 1649, the year Charles I was beheaded, the Maryland General Assembly enacted "An Act Concerning Religion" which legislated some degree of religious protection to all Christians. He also replaced the Catholic Acting Governor Thomas Greene with the Virginia Protestant William Stone with the understanding that Stone would help populate his colony. Stone approached a group of nonconformist Virginia Puritans and offered them land and guaranteed freedoms in Maryland. In December of 1649 the first European settlement in Anne Arundel County was founded by these Puritans on the north shore of the Severn River opposite present-day Annapolis. It was called Providence.
Personal tragedy was also a part of 1649 for Cecil Calvert with the death of his beloved wife of twenty-one years, Anne Arundell. In 1650 the Maryland General Assembly created Anne Arundel County and named it after her. The County seal still in use is a slight variation on the Coat of Arms of the Lords' Baltimore. London Town was the original seat of County government.
From 1650 through 1695, a series of religious, regional and political struggles occurred in Maryland. In March of 1655, the Battle of the Severn was fought at the mouth of the Severn River and on land either at Horn Point (present-day Eastport) or across the river at Hidden Point.
Governor Stone's forces, under Lord Baltimore's orders, sailed up the Chesapeake Bay from St. Mary's City. His goal was to reestablish the authority of the Calverts over Providence, but the Puritans decisively defeated the Governor's forces and gained temporary control of the colony. Oliver Cromwell restored Cecil Calvert's control in 1657, but in 1688 King William III annulled the Calvert Charter and declared Maryland a royal colony. The General Assembly voted in 1694 to move the capital from St. Mary's City to "Anne Arundell Towne." In 1695 the town was renamed "Annapolis" in honor of then Princess Anne (later became Queen Anne,) younger sister of Queen Mary. Annapolis became the economic, social and political center of the colony and the seat of government for Anne Arundel County. It remained the capital and seat of government when statehood was achieved on April 28, 1788.
Providence and other European settlements throughout the Chesapeake colonies relied upon tobacco as their main cash crop. The soils and climate were favorable, but tobacco had several limitations which proved important in the history of the County. It was a very labor intensive crop which forced farmers to rely on slaves and indentured servants. To meet the labor requirements, slavery was sanctioned by law in 1664. As crop rotation was not practiced during this period, the once fertile soils were rapidly depleted affecting the quality and quantity of the harvest. Even the most successful farmers suffered severe financial hardship during the periodic dips in the tobacco market and many marginal farmers were forced to relocate. Nevertheless, the population of the County tripled between 1700 and 1750 from 4,100 to 12,520. During the period immediately following the Revolutionary War, Baltimore City with its superior port facilities became the economic center of the new state. Concurrently, the northern portion of the County began to develop an economy which was not based entirely on agriculture. Iron ore was mined starting in the eighteenth century. The raw ore was smelted in Glen Burnie at the Curtis Creek Mining, Furnace and Manufacturing Company and at Elkridge Landing (then part of the County). In 1840 the Annapolis & Elkridge Railroad was completed linking northern Anne Arundel County to the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. This railroad and the ones that soon followed were crucial in the development of the area as a regional transportation center. The reliance on tobacco as the major cash crop was lessening throughout the County during the nineteenth century, but it took the socioeconomic changes brought on by the Civil War to finally force local farmers to diversify.
Both Annapolis and Baltimore were occupied by the Union Army during the Civil War to safeguard any attempt by Maryland to secede; pro-southern sentiments ran high throughout the State. Camp Parole was established near Annapolis as a prisoner exchange post for soldiers waiting to be exchanged or paroled. Some of those who succumbed to disease or injury were buried in the military cemetery on the corner of present-day West Street and Taylor Avenue.
Maryland's Fourth Constitution adopted on November 1, 1864 freed the remaining slaves throughout the State. As this labor source disappeared, farmers in the southern portion of the county increasingly shifted to crops such as corn, wheat, hay, and fruit though tobacco was, and is, still grown. Seafood and associated industries such as shucking houses also became significant factors in the economy of that area. Farmers in the northern portion of the County discovered that the prevalent sandy soils were ideal for truck farming. Eastern European families living in Baltimore were transported to the farms to harvest the fruits and vegetables. Initially, Baltimore was the primary market, but over time Anne Arundel County peas, beans, strawberries and cantaloupes became famous throughout the eastern seaboard. Canning and fertilizer plants were opened in northern Anne Arundel County in support of the truck farming.
In the late 1880's, recreation became a major business throughout the County with the opening of numerous summer resorts including Bay Ridge, "The Queen Resort of the Chesapeake." Readily available rail and steamboat access from Baltimore brought clientele to Bay Ridge and other smaller resorts developed on creeks in the northern portion of the County. The resort areas developed in Shady Side and Mayo in the south though popular were relatively small as there was no rail access from Baltimore and the Washington lines ran only to North Beach in the extreme southeast corner of the County. Additionally, paved roads were the exception, not the rule until the twentieth century. In 1893, Major Charles R. Douglass, the son of abolitionist Frederick Douglass, established Highland Beach as an exclusive resort for African Americans. Many prominent African Americans, including Booker T. Washington, Paul Laurence Dunbar and Mary Church Terrell, either visited or owned homes in the community.
The increased industrialization in the County during World War II and the national movement towards suburban living that followed caused significant changes to occur in Anne Arundel County. Major employers such as National Plastics Corporation (now Nevamar) and Westinghouse relocated to the County. The Naval Academy, established in 1845 on the site of Fort Severn, continued to be a major employer. Fort George Meade was established during World War I to train troops for battle in France, but was greatly expanded during World War II. The influx of army personnel and the associated commercial enterprises transformed Odenton from a small rail stop to "Boom Town." Harundale Mall, one of the first enclosed shopping malls in the nation, was opened in 1958, reflecting the change in emphasis from Baltimore to more local commercial centers. Friendship International Airport (Baltimore-Washington International Airport), dedicated in 1950 by President Harry S. Truman, was considered the most advanced facility in the United States. In 1957 it was the East Coast terminus of the record-breaking transcontinental flight by the first Boeing 707 jetliner. The population soared especially in the northern portion of the County as residential, commercial and industrial development continued at a record pace. The population of the County tripled in the decades between 1940 and 1960 from 68,375 to 206,634 with approximately 70% of the population living north of the South River. Charter government was formed in 1964. In 1968 the first Comprehensive Zoning plan was adopted in an attempt to direct and limit the phenomenal growth the County was experiencing. Anne Arundel County continues to attract business and new residents because of its central location between Baltimore and Washington, its superior transportation networks, and the natural beauty and recreational opportunities its 533 miles of shoreline offer. The population of Anne Arundel County is projected to grow throughout the twenty-first century from 485,800 in 2000 to 563,000 in 2030. Sources: Ms. Donna Ware, Dr. Al Luckenback, Mr. Alexander Speer (Anne Arundel County Office of Planning and Zoning), The Maryland State Archives, U.S. Census Bureau, Baltimore Washington International Airport

In 2016 the County Council approved a new design of the official County Seal (Fig. 1) proposed by County Executive Steve Schuh. The main elements of the seal come from a portrait of Charles Calvert (Fig. 2), son of Anne Arundel and Cecil Calvert, standing next to his coronet. The other major influence on the design is the oldest wax seal known to exist from a court document dating back to 1762 (Fig. 3). 

Features of Charles Arundel's coronet include the ermine band and gold band. A tassel design was created to mimic his coronet as well, which was often depicted in period drawings as a pineapple, cross, leaf or seashell. Historic records were unclear as to whether the red and white Crossland family arms (the maternal side
 of the Calvert family) were to be displayed as rounded (as in the Maryland flag) or Fleur de lis. The Fleur de lis was chosen because it differentiates the Anne Arundel Seal from the State Flag, and also because heraldry experts stated that coats of arms of a son (Cecil Calvert) should be different from that of the father (George Calvert).
The seals used by Maryland's counties today may be divided into two broad categories: heraldic and pictorial. The pictorial seals generally contain naturalistic representations of the flora and fauna of the county. Heraldic seals display straight and curved lines, crosses and stylized animals, that follow strict rules as to the number, position, and coloring of the charges on the shield.
Of the heraldic seals used by Maryland counties, some (Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Caroline, Charles, Queen Anne's, St. Mary's, and Worcester) reflect some version of the Calvert family arms. The present Anne Arundel County seal shows a variation on the Calvert and Crossland arms. This variation is in keeping with the heraldic philosophy that no two individuals (or institutions) should bear exactly the same arms. In its history of almost 350 years, the county has had at least four different seals.
In April 1950, Thomas S. Christian prepared a report on the Anne Arundel County seal. The drawing by Earl Duckwall that accompanied the report showed the traditional Calvert arms of six horizontal stripes, alternately gold and black, with a diagonal stripe of opposite colors quartering the Crossland arms of four quarters, silver and red, on which was superimposed a cross of opposite colors, with the arms of the cross ending in little buttons . The "buttons" on the crosses bottony were drawn rather large, and filled much of the space.
There was no motto, but under the shield were two brackets, each with a rose and a thorn. A county seal was adopted in 1968. Article 1-104 of the County Code stated that the seal of the county was to be the seal described in the report of Mr. Christian except that surrounding the heraldry, should be the words "Anne Arundel County, Maryland." When the seal was reproduced in color the standard gold and black of the Calvert arms, and the standard red and silver of the Crossland Arms were to be used. The roses in the brackets under the shield were to be red, and the circle (coronet) at the top of the shield and the brackets and thorn beneath the shield were to be gold. The background color was to be optional. When the seal is currently displayed the brackets under the seal still carry the rose and the thorn, and the colors are the same (Gold and black and silver and red.) However, the cross in the Crossland arms has become a cross floretty (its four arms ending in fleurs-de-lis). Just as younger sons sometimes made a slight difference in their paternal arms, so the Anne Arundel County seal depicts a slightly differenced version of the Calvert arms.


Wax Seal from 1762
Credit: Maryland State Archives
Lady Anne Arundell

Lady Anne Arundel was born in 1615.  She was an English noblewoman and the daughter of Thomas Arundel, who was from a long line of Arundels in Cornwall, England.  Thomas was a wealthy and influential Catholic and the first Baron of Wardour.  

In 1628, Lady Anne Arundel married Cecil Calvert at the tender age of thirteen.  Cecil was the 2nd Baron of Baltimore and the founder of the colony of Maryland.  Although they had nine children, only three survived to adulthood.  Lady Anne Arundel died in 1649, at the age of 34.

In 1650, the Maryland General Assembly officially created Anne Arundel County. The County seal still in use is the Coat of Arms of the Lords’ Baltimore.  London Town was the original seat of County government.

Ann Arrundell County Historical Society

Anne Arundel Genealogical Society