The Province of Maryland was established as an English Colony in 1632, and began as a proprietary colony of the British Lords Baltimore, who wished to create a haven for English Catholics in the new world. Charles I, King of England granted the charter for Maryland, a proprietary colony of about twelve million acres (49,000 km²), to Cæcilius Calvert (Cecil), 2nd Baron Baltimore in the Peerage of Ireland, on June 20, 1632. Calvert, the 2nd Lord Baltimore led the first expedition that consisted of two ships that had formerly belonged to Baltimore's father, the Ark and the Dove, which crossed the Atlantic and founded the first settlement at St. Mary's in 1634 on land purchased from the native Yaocomico Indians.
Despite early competition with the colony of Virginia to its south, the Province of Maryland developed along very similar lines to Virginia. Its early settlements and populations centers tended to cluster around the rivers and other waterways that empty into the Chesapeake Bay. Like Virginia, Maryland's economy quickly became centered around the farming of tobacco for sale in Europe. The need for cheap labor to help with the growth of tobacco, and later with the mixed farming economy that developed when tobacco prices collapsed, led to a rapid expansion of indentured servitude and, later, forcible immigration and enslavement of Africans.
Colonial Maryland was larger than the present-day state of Maryland. The original charter granted the Calverts an imprecisely defined territory north of Virginia and south of the 40th parallel, comprising perhaps as much as 12 million acres (49,000 km²). Maryland lost some of its putative original territory to Pennsylvania in the 1760s when, after Charles II granted that colony a tract that overlapped the Maryland grant, the Mason-Dixon Line was drawn to resolve the boundary dispute between the two colonies. Maryland also ceded some territory to create the new District of Columbia after the American Revolution.
Colonial Maryland was a southern colony. Lord Baltimore (the younger) was a convert to Catholicism. This was a severe stigma for a nobleman in 17th century England, where Roman Catholics were considered enemies of the crown and traitors to their country. In Maryland, Baltimore sought to create a haven for British Catholics and to demonstrate that Catholics and Protestants could live together harmoniously, even issuing the Act Concerning Religion in matters of religion. Like other aristocratic proprietors, he also hoped to turn a profit on the new colony.
Maryland was comprised of seven original counties:
In the 17th century, most Marylanders lived in rough conditions on small family farms. While they raised a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, and livestock, the cash crop was tobacco, which soon came to dominate the provincial economy. Tobacco was sometimes used as money, and the colonial legislature was obliged to pass a law requiring tobacco planters to raise a certain amount of corn as well, in order to ensure that the colonists would not go hungry. Like its larger neighbor, Virginia, Maryland developed into a plantation colony by the 18th century. In 1700 there were about 25,000 people and by 1750 that had grown more than 5 times to 130,000.
Maryland declared independence from Britain in 1776, with Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, and Charles Carroll of Carrollton signing the Declaration of Independence for the colony. In the 1776-77 debates over the Articles of Confederation, Maryland delegates led the party that insisted that states with western land claims cede them to the Confederation government, and in 1781, Maryland became the last state to ratify the Articles of Confederation. It accepted the United States Constitution more readily, ratifying it on April 28, 1788.
Sources: Wikipedia.com: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colonial_Maryland
List of Early Colonial Maryland Settlers
The following persons were among the prominent first families that immigrated to Colonial Maryland in the 1600's-early 1700's: