By the time Charles Carroll of Carrollton signed the Declaration of Independence, Doughoregan Manor had already been in his family for three generations. In the 200 years since then, there has always been a Carroll living in the huge Howard County estate with the obscure Gaelic name.

So for those who knew, the name Doughoregan (pronounced DOE-reegan) and the names of the Carrolls were inextricably intertwined. That made it all the more galling to the family when two real estate speculators bought up 285 acres of nearby land, divided it into five-acre lots, and christened the embryonic development "Doughoregan Manor West."

For Phillip Carroll, the 53-year-old attorney who traces his descent directly back to the first Charles Carroll, a Catholic who fled religious persecution in Ireland and came to Maryland, "this came as a complete bombshell," explained Carroll's friend and attorney George Constable.

It was a bombshell that would not go unanswered Carroll decided. First, he went to the Maryland Secretary of State's office, and registered the name "Doughoregan" as a trademark.

Then he went to the Howard County Circuit Court and filed suit against James W. Dickey, claiming that the Alabama-born industrialist and real estate invester had "misappropriated" the name Doughoregan and thereby "usurped the good name and reputation" of the Carrolls. The suit asks for money damages and an injunction prohibiting Dickey from using that name.

In addition, the suit claims, Dickey's use of the name Doughoregan for his development "will generate inquiries regarding Carroll involvement and intentions as to development in the area, although their personal endeavors have been to preserve the historic character of Doughoregan Manor and to prevent its development."

This confusion - the association of his family's name with subdivisions and development - is perhaps the bitterest byproduct of all for Phillip Carroll. In years past, he has often been a foe of the new developments that have sprung up among the undulating Howard County countryside.

Most recently, for instance, he voiced opposition to the Great America theme park that the Marriott Corp. proposed building in the eastern section of the county.

"By using the name identified in the public mind with the Carroll family, (with its) tradition and reputation," Dickey and his partner and codefendant Carroll said in his suit, George Coury "imply Carroll backing, participation and involvement in (their) developemt of this portion of Howard County."

"The only thing I'm doing is perpetuating the name Doughoregan with a great deal of grace and dignity," Dickey said recently. "The name doesn't benefit (the Carrolls). I'm not sure it benfits anybody right now. It's just in limbo over there."

Dickey maintains that his 285 acres "are a part of the original Doughoregan Manor grant," the 10,000 acres that the first Charles Carroll acquired in 1702.

That is an assertion that the Carrolls contest. While their attorney, George Constable, agrees that the Dickey land was once a part of Doughoregan Manor Estate, he claims that it was acquired some time after the original grant.

Dickey points out that he has a deed dated 1878 in which one James Lee Carroll deeded a parcel of land, including Dickey's holdings, to his sister Mary Acosta. Years later, her daughter Raphaela sold it to a family named Mercer. It was from their heirs that Dickey bought the land in 1973.

Dickey said that a title search has indicated "that this was part of the old Doughoregan Manor grant. I therefore considered it legal, proper and respectful" to call the planned development Doughoregan Manor West.

Dickey has since filed his own application for use of the Doughoregan name as a trademark, but his application has been filed with the federal rather than the state government. The court suit challenging the use of Doughoregan was subsequently transferred to U.S. District Court in Baltimore on the motion of Dickey's attorney.

Thus far, a trial date has not been set in the case, and Dickey has not made any legal moves to answer the Carrolls' request to the court for an injunction prohibiting Dickey's use of the name "Doughoregan."

That hasn't stopped Dickey from going ahead with his plans. A grand opening of his property was set for this weekend, and in the one old house that stands on his property, lavish brochures proclaiming the history and virtues of "Doughoregan Manor West" are stacked a foot high.

The brochures proclaim that "Doughoregan Manor West offers leisure living in Historic Howard County. Each estate is large enough to have a pool and a tennis court and room to spare for boarding one's own horse at home."

Dickey and his partner, George Coury, are offering the undeveloped 5-acre lots, without water, sewer or electrical service, for about $50,000 each, Dickey said.