Maryland Counties and Historical Facts

Maryland County records vary widely from county to county in both quality and quantity. Some have been carefully preserved while others have been much abused and neglected. Some Maryland records have simply disappeared.

For genealogists doing research in Maryland there is no effective replace for an on-site search of county courthouse records.

Map of Maryland Counties
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Map of Maryland Counties

Maryland County Records

Maryland is made up of 23 counties and the City of Baltimore, which is not located in any specific county.

Records relating to estates and land transfers can be found in county courthouses. Copies can also be found at the Maryland State Archives, in most cases.

The Maryland State Archives also holds copies of vital records. Their files are constantly being added to and updated.

See also a list of links to county and county seat government run websites.

List of Maryland Extinct Counties

Maryland has counties that no longer exist because they were discontinued, renamed or merged with another county.

A lot of these counties were established and disbanded within the 19th century; county borders have changed very little since 1900.

These are important for genealogy research purposes. Pay attention where the courthouse records went to if the county was eliminated or joined with some other county.

See the History of Maryland Counties for more details.

List of Maryland Counties with Burned Courthouses

Maryland burned county courthouse
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The damage to courthouses greatly has a bearing on genealogists in every way.

Not only are these historic structures torn from our lifetimes, so are the records they housed: marriage, wills, probate, land records, and others.

Once destroyed they’re lost forever. Although they have been placed on mircofilm, computers and film burn too.

However, not all records were damaged or lost in some counties.

  • Allegany County Courthouse – A courthouse fire in 1893 destroyed marriage records for 1791-1847 and naturalizations for 1892-1893.
  • Anne Arundel County Courthouse – The courthouse was destroyed by fire in 1704, with the loss of all but three court record volumes. Deeds before 1699 were lost, but there are five volumes of re-recorded deeds.
  • Calvert County Courthouse – Most records were destroyed when the courthouse burned in 1882, but some deeds dating back to 1840 were re-recorded. Abstracts of deeds sent to Annapolis beginning in 1784 and provincial court deeds/land office records also make up for some of the destroyed records.
  • Carroll County Courthouse – Most early papers of the county court have been lost.
  • Cecil County Courthouse – Many early court records have disappeared.
  • Dorchester County Courthouse – There are gaps in the court records. Some were probably lost in a fire in 1852.
  • Frederick County Courthouse – There were two major fires, but no major loss of records.
  • Harford County Courthouse – Some records were destroyed in a fire in 1858.
  • Howard County Courthouse – The county was formed in 1838 as Howard District of Anne Arundel Co., but did not gain full county status until 1850.
  • Kent County Courthouse – A courthouse fire in 1720 destroyed some records.
  • Montgomery County Courthouse – A southern section of the county was set off in 1788 to form the District of Columbia.
  • Saint Marys County Courthouse – The courthouse was destroyed by fire in 1831. Some deeds were re-recorded back to 1781, and abstracts of deeds sent to Annapolis beginning in 1784 also make up for some of the records that were destroyed.
  • Somerset County Courthouse – The courthouse burned in 1831, but the records were saved.
  • Talbot County Courthouse – Many court records have been lost.
  • Washington County Courthouse – Some records were lost in a courthouse fire in 1871.

List of Maryland Counties

CountyDate FormedParent CountyCounty Seat
Anne Arundel1650St. Mary's CountyAnnapolis
Allegany1789Washington CountyCumberland
Baltimore1659Formed from unorganized territoryTowson
Baltimore City1851Founded in 1729. Detached in 1851 from Baltimore CountyBaltimore City
Calvert1654Formed as Patuxent County from unorganized territory. Renamed Calvert County in 1658Prince Frederick
Cecil1674Baltimore and Kent CountiesElkton
Charles1837Baltimore and Frederick CountiesLaPlata
Caroline1773Dorchester and Queen Anne's CountiesDenton
Carroll1658From unorganized territoryWestminster
Dorchester1668From unorganized territoryCambridge
Frederick1748Prince George's CountyFrederick
Garrett1872Allegany CountyOakland
Harford1773Baltimore CountyBel Air
Howard1851Anne Arundel and Baltimore CountiesEllicott City
Kent1642From unorganized territoryChestertown
Montgomery1776Frederick CountyRockville
Prince George's1696Calvert and Charles CountiesUpper Marlboro
Queen Anne's1706Talbot CountyCentreville
St. Mary1637From unorganized territory. Was named Potomac County between 1654 and 1658.Leonardtown
Somerset1666From unorganized territory.Princess Anne
Talbot1662Kent CountyEaston
Washington1776Frederick CountyHagerstown
Wicomico1867Somerset and Worcester CountiesSalisbury
Worcester 1742Somerset CountySnow Hill
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