ANNAPOLIS -- A new portrait of the most famous woman in Anne Arundel County history was unveiled last week at a ceremony at the Anne Arundel County government headquarters in the Arundel Center here.
"Who on earth is Anne Arundel?" citizens might ask as they write out a property tax check to her. Now Anne Arundell, painted on silk by Arundel High student Lin Nguyen, 17, will smile down on them when they go into the Arundel Center to pay.
Who was Anne Arundel? "Beats me," said Ralph Stevens, a longtime county resident questioned as he walked out of the Arundel Center. "I think that was the name of the wife of a governor, or something."
"I live in Anne Arundel, but I don't know who she was," said Bryan Hagen of Millersville, leaving the Arundel Center after a meeting of the Anne Arundel Board of Environmental Systems Examiners, of which he is a member.
"I don't know too much about her," agreed fellow member Bill Smith of Severna Park. "I live in Anne Arundel too, but I don't know. It's pretty bad: I've lived here 30-some years . . . . I don't know that it ever came up in school. We always had history, but of other nations and states."
"She didn't do very much," said Maryland Historical Society librarian Francis O'Neill. "They only named it after her because she was married to the right person." That was Cecilius Calvert, the second lord Baltimore who founded the colony of Maryland. Anne Arundell (nobody seems to know when the last L was dropped) married him in 1628 at the ripe age of 13. Cecil, as he was known, created Anne Arundel County in her honor after she died in 1649 at 34.
According to occasionally conflicting histories pulled together by O'Neill, Irene Newhouse of the Anne Arundel County Historical Society and Dorothy Callahan of Historic Annapolis Inc., King Charles I gave Maryland to Cecil in 1633. He had offered parts of Newfoundland to Cecil's father George, but George visited Newfoundland in 1629 and asked the king for something warmer.
Virginia was already taken, so Charles offered him Maryland. Unfortunately, George Calvert died while the papers were being drawn up, so the whole business was handed over to young Cecil instead.
The Calverts ruled Maryland for five generations and left behind a lot of county names. Cecil County was named for Cecil, of course, who can be seen on the back side of Maryland's state seal, charging on a horse while wearing full armor and waving a sword over his head. The seal modestly describes him as "Absolute Lord of Maryland."
Cecil named Somerset County for his sister Mary Somerset and Talbot County for his sister Grace Talbot. Anne and Cecil's son Charles, the only son who didn't die before reaching the age of consent, became the third Lord Baltimore when Cecil died in 1675. He left his name to Charles County.
Frederick County is named for Frederick Calvert, the sixth and last Lord Baltimore. Frederick's illegitimate son and only heir, Henry Harford, never got the title and never got Maryland either. But Harford County was named for him regardless. Baltimore and Baltimore County, of course, took their names from the family title while Calvert County took its name from the Calvert family name.
Other Washington area counties escaped the Calvert influence: Howard and Montgomery counties were named for Revolutionary War generals while Prince George's was named for Prince George of Denmark, husband of Queen Anne of England.
Annapolis was named not for Anne Arundell but for Queen Anne, who ruled Britain from 1702 to 1714.
The Arundells were Roman Catholics and, during Anne Arundell's marriage ceremony, the Baltimores converted to Catholicism.
Not surprisingly, many of Maryland's original settlers were Roman Catholics, who named the first capital St. Mary's for the Virgin Mary. Although Anne and Cecil never visited Maryland or any other part of America, they apparently spent much of their fortune in their efforts to settle the place as a haven for Catholics. Indeed, Anne's father wrote in his diary that "he kept the diet on the table" of his daughter and son-in-law, because they had so little money left for themselves.
Still, you can't take it with you, and the best you can hope for is to be remembered kindly. And you can't ask for a kinder epitaph than the one written on Anne Arundell's tombstone in England:
"Anne Arundell, Most beautiful and best wife of Cecil Calvert, Baron of Baltimore and Proprietor of Maryland, Whatever is shining in the gems, beautiful in the flowers of Phoenicia, charming in the graces (How super-eminently great in Heaven)."