Maryland Government records cover a broad range of genealogy subject areas that can help you as part of your research, such as land ownership, courts, taxes, and naturalization’s. Given that Maryland court records cover such a wide selection of topics, they could aid you in many different ways. As an example, they could aid you in finding ancestors’ residences, identify occupations, locate financial information, determine citizenship status, or shed light on relationships between individuals. The whole thing relies upon on the type of court records that the ancestors” names show up in. For Definitions of all court terms see the Genealogy Encyclopedia.
Maryland Courthouse records change extensively from county to county in both level of quality and volume. You will find different kinds of court records that are most likely to possess information related for your genealogical research below.
Maryland Court Records
Early proprietary records in Maryland were kept by the Calvert family. Many of them have been recovered over the years, but some are still missing. The earliest royal papers and proprietary records are from 1637 to 1785. They can be found in Calendar of Maryland State Papers No. 1 The Black Books. Many provincial and general court records and indexes spanning the years of 1658 to 1805 are housed at the Maryland State Archives. Records of the chancery court, also known as the equity court, from 1668 to 1851 can also be found there. Maryland Historical Magazine 23 (1928): 101- 54, 197-242, 293-343 contains depositions from the years of 1668 to 1789.
Many other early court records have been indexed and published over the years. One example is 2 volumes of 1637 to 1780s county and provincial records held by the Archives of Maryland. Those records are now available online as were. Certain court records from Caroline, Charles, Somerset, Carroll, and Montgomery counties have also been published.
The counties still hold many of the court records from the 1900s, but the state archives holds most of the earlier court records. Estate records, wills, and related documents are held by the Orphans’ Court clerk’s office. The commissioner’s office holds the road surveys and tax records. However, copies of many of the records just listed can also be found at the Maryland State Archives. See Also Research In Court Records.
Maryland Land Records
Land patents from 1834 and their indexes can be found at the Maryland State Archives. An index of proprietary and private manors is also located in the patent records there. Other useful indexes at the Maryland State Archives relating to land in the state are:
Quitrents (Annual Payments to Lord Baltimore, Similar to Property Taxes), 1749 to 1761 (Incomplete), Rent Rolls (Record of The Payments to Lord Baltimore), 1639 to 1776 (Incomplete), Debt Books (Yearly Compilations by Lord Baltimore’s Agent, Listing Names of Each Land Tract and Amounts Owed), 1735 to 1773, Certificates of Survey, 1705 to Date, Warrants and Assignments, 1634 to 1842
The system whereby proprietors received rent payments for land is outlined in “The Quitrent System in Maryland,” Maryland Historical Magazine 5 (1910): 350-65. Some rent rolls were also published in volumes 19-26 of that journal. The Maryland Historical Society holds the Calvery Papers, which include some rent rolls. Some of those rolls for the following counties have been published: Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Dorchester, Kent, Prince George’s, Somerset, Talbot, Worcester.
People who brought settlers to Maryland Colony were granted land up until 1683. Land patents contain names of many of those immigrants.
Many journals and other publications have published early Maryland land records. Many pieces of property in Maryland can be traced by their tract names, which have often been kept the same throughout the years. An index of those tract names can be found at the Maryland State Archives.
The county circuit court clerk’s office in each county may hold records of bills of sale, deeds, and mortgages. Indexes for many of those records can also be found in those offices. Researchers should note that separate mortgage records may be available for later years. The Maryland State Archives has microfilm rolls of all land records that were taken at the county level. Original indexes and record books may also be found there. Earlier records may be found on microfilm in some courthouses, but many of them are housed at the Maryland State Archives, instead. In 1794, a law was passed that required county deeds to be abstracted and those abstracts to be stored in Annapolis. Most of the records that still exist relate to counties where earlier land records were lost, including Saint Mary’s County and Calvert County.
Provincial and General courts recorded early deeds, as did county courts. Indexes of Provincial and General court records for the years of 1658 to 1815 can be found at the Maryland State Archives.
Many county land records have been abstracted and published. Some of those published records were from each of the following counties: Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Calvert, Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Frederick, Kent, Prince George’s, Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico, Worcester
Most Americans purchased at the very least some land prior to the 20th century, generating personal land records a reference or resource for genealogists. As a result, virtually every researcher, regardless of whether a expert professional or weekend enthusiast, has needed land records to document the existence, association, or movement of an individual or ancestral family. Deeds, legal records for transferring land or property from one individual to another, are the most used of the land records, and can provide a reputable method of keeping track of ancestors when no other record might be discovered. Deeds are usually relatively easy to uncover and often offer you a wealth of details. See Also Guide to U.S. Land Records Research