The Maryland Colony was founded by George Calvert, the First Baron of Baltimore, when he sailed from Newfoundland to Virginia in 1629. Calvert travelled up the Chesapeake Bay and settled in the area now known as Saint Mary’s City. Calvert applied to Charles I for a charter in 1630 but died in April 1632 before receiving it. On June 20, 1632, Charles I granted a charter for the colony to Cecil Calvert, the Second Baron of Baltimore. Charles I declared that the colony would be called Maryland, named for the Queen Consort Henrietta Maria.

In 1727, King George II named Charles Calvert the Fifth Baron of Baltimore. Charles then appointed himself Maryland’s governor in 1732, succeeding his brother, Benedict Calvert. When Charles took office, the colonial treasury was in need of funding. Charles used his political connections in London, he was granted permission to authorize and fund the first emission of bills of credit in the Maryland colony.

Calvert arranged for the printing of notes in England to replace low quality tobacco leaves that were circulating as ad hoc currency. The notes were issued in denominations based on the British pound sterling of 20 shillings: 1/- (one shilling), 1/6 (one shilling 6 pence), 2/6, 5/-, 10/-, 15/-, and 20/-. The first issue consisted of £90,000 in bills of credit that were issued as legal tender for most debts except for fees due to a minister or an officer. Each taxpayer was to be given 30/- in notes in return for burning 150 pounds of tobacco currency. History does not record why colonists were paid to burn tobacco. The notes were to be redeemed in 1748 with profits through Calvert’s investments in Bank of England stock that was purchased from the proceeds of a tax on tobacco exports. The notes were engraved in England and the paper was watermarked “Maryland.” When issued, the notes were hand dated with two signers.

Following that first issue, the Maryland Assembly voted to issue smaller emissions for specific purposes. For example, £5,000 was authorized in 1740 to help support a British expedition to the Spanish West Indies. This emission used the stock of unused notes from the 1733 issue but was signed with the current date. In 1749, the Maryland Assembly issued £60,000 in new notes, printed in England using the same plates as the 1733 emission except that the words “New Bill” were added below the denomination.

During the French and Indian War, the British government expected the affected colonies to contribute men and money. Royal Governor Horatio Sharpe asked the legislature to loan £2,000 to the war effort, to be used as rewards for enemy scalps. This emission used the same notes that were backed by a tax on carriage and wagon wheels, import duties on wine and rum, import duties on slaves, and license fees for peddlers. A further emission of £40,000 was authorized to pay for soldiers and the building of defenses to protect Maryland colonists. To support the loan, the Assembly added taxes to bachelors, billiard tables, legal documents, land, and also import taxes on horses, pitch, tar, and turpentine. An emission of £650 was authorized to help the British government pay gifts to allied native nations who fought in the war and a £3,000 loan to Virginia to help their reparations for the war.

In my new quest to find an example of every emission of Maryland Colonial currency, I was able to purchase an unused 1733 1 shilling 6 pence note from Heritage Auctions (pictured above, reverse is blank). The note is graded Choice About New 58PPQ by PCGS Currency. This beautiful note survived the 1733 and 1740 emissions and were saved by souvenir hunters when the Maryland Assembly began authorizing Jonas Green of Annapolis to print notes for later emissions. I am really having fun searching for Maryland Colonial notes.

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