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Court Records of Prince George's County, Maryland 1696-1699.
Volume 202, Preface 21   View pdf image (33K)
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commission of oyer and terminer might also issue to try breaches of the Acts of
Trade or homicides, including those involving Indian offenders.16

Several acts conferred limited summary civil jurisdiction upon two justices of
the peace, either exclusive or concurrent with the county court.17 In addition, two
justices, among others, were authorized to take the acknowledgments of deeds
necessary to convey real property or any interest therein.18 Single justices of the
peace, as noted, had exclusive and final jurisdiction over small debts. They were
also authorized to bind over to the Provincial Court or county court certain of-
fenders (those spreading false reports, trading with servants or refusing to bear
arms during a foreign invasion); to take custody of runaway servants; to issue
certificates of delivery to inhabitants of other colonies returning runaway servants
or freemen; to make awards for damage by horses or cattle to enclosed cornfields;
to commit and punish persons refusing to take the oaths appointed by Parliament;
to appoint persons to determine whether tobacco tendered should be regarded as
discharge of a debt; and to administer oaths to those viewing orphan's estates.19
They had concurrent jurisdiction with the head officer of any town, city or borough
to impose fines of 2 shillings sterling (later 5 shillings) for profane swearing 6?
cursing in their presence. 20 They also had concurrent jurisdiction with the head
officer of any county, city or town corporate to impose fines of 100 pounds of
tobacco for certain violations of the Sabbath. 21

In certain counties in which no specific persons were assigned to hear and de-
termine personal differences between the Indians and the English inhabitants,
such power was lodged in any justice of the peace. However, by virtue of a June
1697 act Colonel John Addison and William Hatton, a justice of the Provincial
Court, were authorized to hear and determine all such personal differences that
might happen or arise between "the Nations of Ackocick Nanjemoy Pomunky and
Piscattoway and those that Inhabit within Charles and Prince Georges County
and the English inhabitants thereunto adjacent", provided that such differences
were only private and of no great moment or consequence, not tending to national
concern. If either party desired to appeal to the Governor and Council or refused
to perform any sentence given by the statutory appointees, the latter were to
"transmitt the partys over" to the Governor and Council and to report thereon. 22

The Court of Chancery consisted of a Chancellor or Keeper of the Great Seal
assisted by several commissioners appointed for the keeping of the Great Seal (or
Broad Seal). In 1699 in accordance with a clause in his commission Governor

16. In January, 1696/7 Robert Goldsborough, one of his Majesty's councillors at law and one
of the ablest lawyers in the province, was of the opinion that a special Commission of oyer and
terminer could not be granted to try a breach of the Acts of Trade, having "read and perused
the Statute of Westminster the Second, and my Lord Cokes comments thereon." However,
Solicitor General Dent was of the opinion that the commission could issue under the "Constant
practice and Constitution of this Province Consonant to the Laws of England." Attorney General
Plater was of the opinion it "does well lye in this Case the same being Agreeable to Severall
Commissions of this nature heretofore Granted upon such Occasions and alwaies allowed Legall."
20 MA 591-92- For the earlier practice see 19 id. 147, 156 (murder of master by servant), 385-86
(murder by Indians); 13 id. 320 (breach of Acts of Trade), 337-38 (murder by master of vessel); 22
id. 300-301, 386-87 (murders in Anne Arundel and St. Marys Counties).

17. 38 id. 106; 13 id. 484; 22 id. 504.

18. 13 id. 473; 22 id. 544.

19. 13 id. 439, 451; 22 id. 546; 13 id. 554; 22 id. 562; 13 id. 472; 22 id. 540; 13 id. 515; 38 id. 22; 13
id. 498.

20. 38 id. 82, 119; 22 id. 523.

21. 13 id. 426. Such jurisdiction was omitted from the 1696 act. 19 id. 426.

22. 38 id. 104-05.


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Court Records of Prince George's County, Maryland 1696-1699.
Volume 202, Preface 21   View pdf image (33K)
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