Princes of Ireland, Planters of Maryland

A Carroll Saga, 1500-1782
Ronald Hoffman
Paperback price: $42.50
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Publisher: Omohundro Institute and University of North Carolina Press
Imprint: OIEAHC
Cloth/Hardcover Publication Date: 04/2000
Pages: 460
Cloth ISBN: 9780807825563
Paperback ISBN: 9780807853474
Paperback Publication Date: 04/2002


Charles Carroll of Carrollton is most often remembered as the sole Roman Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence. In this monumental study of the Carrolls in Ireland and America, that act vindicates a family’s determination to triumph without compromising lineage and faith.
Ronald Hoffman peels back layer after layer of Carroll family history, from dispossession in Ireland to prosperity and prominence in America. Driven to emigrate by England’s devastating anti-Catholic policies, the first Carroll brought to Maryland an iron determination to reconstitute his family and fortune. He found instead an increasingly militant Protestant society that ultimately disenfranchised Catholics and threatened their wealth and property. Confronting religious antagonisms like those that had destroyed their Irish ancestors, this Carroll and his descendants founded a fortune–and a dynasty that risked everything by allying with the American Revolutionary cause.

Meeting each crisis with a tenacious will to survive and prevail, the Carrolls earned an esteemed place in the new nation. Hoffman balances private lives against their contentious public role in American history. The journey from Irish rebels to American revolutionaries shaped and shattered the Carrolls–and then remade them into one of the first families of the Republic.

About The Author

Ronald Hoffman is director of the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture in Williamsburg, Virginia, and professor of history at the College of William and Mary.


Library of Virginia Literary Award for Non-Fiction, Library of Virginia (2001)

Frank L. and Harriet C. Owsley Award, Southern Historical Association (2001)

The Maryland Historical Society Book Prize(2002)


“[The authors] present a compelling account not just of Charles the Signer but of the entire Carroll family. . . . Hoffman and Mason transform a family narrative whose moment of glory was a sectarian vignette in 1776 into fully realized scenes within a wider drama of religious strife, colonization, revolution, as well as tense relations across generations and between the sexes.”–Journal of Southern History

“Hoffman offers a magnificently researched and engrossing book that places a family firmly within the context of its time. It is a story of patriotism, capitalism and religious discrimination. . . . The high price of religious animosity and the daring choice of a family to risk fortune and prominence to support the cause of American independence make this a gripping read.”–Library of Virginia Literary Awards Committee

“A contribution both to early modern Irish history and to the history of colonial Maryland. Princes of Ireland, Planters of Maryland is a study of the survival and revival of a family that by all the odds ought to have gone to the wall at several points in its history. . . . It is an engrossing tale, expertly told.”–Journal of American History

“Ronald Hoffman breathes passion and interest into this [story]. . . . An outstanding contribution . . . that deserves a wide readership.”–Georgia Historical Quarterly

“[A] complex and fascinating book. . . . I applaud the striking degree of interplay between editing and interpretative analysis in this project. . . . Hoffman does a splendid job of presenting Charles Carroll of Annapolis and of differentiating father from son. He draws very effectively on the family correspondence to tell a lively human interest story.”–Richard S. Dunn, William and Mary Quarterly

“What Hoffman has done, adding significantly to the many previous Carroll studies, is investigate the family’s background–the chaotic Ireland of Tudor and Stuart times. . . . This is a complicated narrative, but Ronald Hoffman tells it surely and well.”–Baltimore Sun

“This book will be widely read by professional historians. The Carroll family saga is full of powerful, often tragic figures that Hoffman and Mason describe with flair and grace. Theirs is the rare book that will appeal to both professional historians and to those whose interest in early American history is more casual.”–American Historical Review

“[A] magnificently researched and engrossing book.”–Times Literary Supplement

Princes of Ireland, Planters of Maryland tells a powerful and compelling story. . . . It will take its place among the very best of the intergenerational family histories of colonial and Revolutionary America.”–John Murrin, Princeton University

“Ronald Hoffman’s extraordinary book is far more than a family biography. It not only frames three generations of Carrolls within the larger struggles of the Anglo-Irish-American world, but it reveals the human dimensions of Catholic/Protestant conflict on two continents. . . . That the Carrolls seized their opportunities and eventually converted from outsiders into insiders during the Revolutionary era is a tribute to them; that Ron Hoffman has told this transatlantic story with such skill is a tribute to him.”–Elaine Forman Crane, Fordham University

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