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

County Date Formed Parent County County Seat
Anne Arundel 1650 St. Mary's County Annapolis
Allegany 1789 Washington County Cumberland
Baltimore 1659 Formed from unorganized territory Towson
Baltimore City 1851 Founded in 1729. Detached in 1851 from Baltimore County Baltimore City
Calvert 1654 Formed as Patuxent County from unorganized territory. Renamed Calvert County in 1658 Prince Frederick
Cecil 1674 Baltimore and Kent Counties Elkton
Charles 1837 Baltimore and Frederick Counties LaPlata
Caroline 1773 Dorchester and Queen Anne's Counties Denton
Carroll 1658 From unorganized territory Westminster
Dorchester 1668 From unorganized territory Cambridge
Frederick 1748 Prince George's County Frederick
Garrett 1872 Allegany County Oakland
Harford 1773 Baltimore County Bel Air
Howard 1851 Anne Arundel and Baltimore Counties Ellicott City
Kent 1642 From unorganized territory Chestertown
Montgomery 1776 Frederick County Rockville
Prince George's 1696 Calvert and Charles Counties Upper Marlboro
Queen Anne's 1706 Talbot County Centreville
St. Mary 1637 From unorganized territory. Was named Potomac County between 1654 and 1658. Leonardtown
Somerset 1666 From unorganized territory. Princess Anne
Talbot 1662 Kent County Easton
Washington 1776 Frederick County Hagerstown
Wicomico 1867 Somerset and Worcester Counties Salisbury
Worcester 1742 Somerset County Snow Hill
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