The History of Calvert’s Royal County Seat


Who was Prince Frederick, and why does he have a town named after him?

Originally called Williams’ Old Field, the town of Prince Frederick got its current name in 1728. It’s believed that the town was named for Frederick, one of King George II’s sons. At the time, Frederick was Prince of Wales.

The county seat moved to Prince Frederick is 1725, and the first courthouse there was completed in 1732. The courthouse has burned and been rebuilt many times; the fifth courthouse was built in 1916. During the War of 1812, the British burned the town and its courthouse while battling the Chesapeake Bay Flotilla, which was seeking refuge from British ships in St. Leonard’s Creek. The big British boats could not make it up the creek, but they sent troops out to plunder and burn the surrounding area, including Prince Frederick.

Today, Prince Frederick is county seat of Calvert County, and the retail and commercial hub of the county. Calvert Memorial Hospital is here, and the College of Southern Maryland’s Prince Frederick campus opened in 2000.

Famous Names and Historic Figures

These well-known or historic figures have called Prince Frederick home:

Tom Clancy: Best-selling author Tom Clancy operated an insurance business in Prince Frederick before his books such as The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, and Clear & Present Danger became hits. Clancy owned a home in the area until his death in 2013.

Louis L. Goldstein: You see Goldstein’s name every time you cross the Gov. Thomas Johnson Memorial Bridge from Calvert County into St. Mary’s County. His quote, “God Bless Y’all Real Good” is on the sign near the base of the bridge. Goldstein served as Maryland’s comptroller from 1959 to 1998. He was born in Prince Frederick.

Arthur Storer: Storer was the first colonial astronomer, arriving in Prince Frederick from England in 1678. The planetarium at Calvert High School is named for Storer.

Roger Brooke Taney: President Andrew Jackson appointed Taney first as Attorney General and then as Secretary of Treasury. Later, Taney served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He wrote the majority opinion in the Dred Scott case.

(Image via Calvert County.)