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Court Records of Prince George's County, Maryland 1696-1699.
Volume 202, Preface 22   View pdf image (33K)
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Blakiston assumed the role of Chancellor, but as a concession to custom admin-
istered the office with the assistance of two Council members. 23 Acts of 1697 and
1699 provided that the Court of Chancery was not to hear, try, determine or give
relief in any cause wherein the original debt or damage did not exceed 1200 pounds
of tobacco or £5, but that the judgment of the County Courts was to be final. These
acts are somewhat ambiguous but apparently they were intended to prohibit inter-
vention by Chancery in certain causes pending or tried in the county courts. 24

Several acts relating to the appellate judicial structure of the Province provided
that "all and every person or persons whatsoever [that] shall conceive him or them-
selves relievable in Equity before a Court of Chancery from any Judgment given
or obteyned against him in the Provinciall Court or County Court aforesaid shall
Exhibitt his Bill and proceed in such Court of Chancery before any appeale be
entred or prosecuted before the Governor and Councill." This language seem-
ingly contemplates an appeal to the Governor and Council directly from the
county courts (although for a portion of the period the minimum specified would
exclude actions commenced in the county courts), but we have seen no resort to
such an appellate course. 25 In any event, the several acts do appear to contemplate
application to the Chancery Court for relief against a judgment of a county court,
with an appeal to the Court of Appeals from the decree of the Chancery Court

The Commissary General, commissioned by the governor, had jurisdiction over
the probate of wills, even where title to land was concerned, and the granting of
administration. He was directed to hold court at least once every two months,
proceeding according to the laws of England, except as otherwise limited by act
of Assembly. He also appointed in each county some "able and Sufficient" free-
holder of good repute as Deputy Commissary to take probate of wills and grant
administration in case of intestacy. From the sentence of the Commissary General
an appeal lay to the governor who usually appointed a Court of Delegates to hear
and determine the appeal, subject to further proceedings before a commission of

Courts of vice-admiralty were established by gubernatorial commission in 1695,
one sitting on the Eastern Shore and the other on the Western. It seems likely that
jurisdiction was largely confined to informations and actions arising under the
Acts of Trade.27 In a March 1698/9 case an appeal from one of the vice-admiralty
courts in such an action was sought to the High Court of Admiralty in England.
However, it was determined that under the governor's commission an appeal
should be taken to the Governor and Council and thence to the King in Council.28

23. 20 id. 137, 232-33, 364-65; 22 id. 310-11, 318-19, 322-24, 401-04. In case of a bill of
review the governor would have the advice and assistance of a full quorum of the Council, not
less than five in number. From thence an appeal would lie to the King in Council in accordance
with the royal instructions. See also Chancery Record, Liber P.C., 1671-1712 (Land Office,
Annapolis) where the commissioners are referred to as "assistant justices" and generally Pleasants,
op. cit. supra, 61 MA 1-liv.

24. 38 id. 100; 22 id. 500. Cf. PMCA xvi.

25. 38 MA 8; 22 id. 471-72.

26. 13 id. 430; 22 id. 533; 38 id. 41; 20 id. 162, 311, 314-19, 358, 396-97, 408-11. See also
MacQueen, The Commissary in Maryland, 25 MHM 190, 194-96, 201-05 (1930).

27. 20 MA 161, 225, 238-39, 478-84; 23 id. 274, 281-82, 369, 389-90, 392; 25 id. 12.

28. 25 id. 57-58. Cf. 25 id. 17 where an appeal directly to the King in Council from a vice-
admiralty court sentence was contemplated and 20 id. 480 where Nicholson's commission to
Nicholas Greenberry as judge of the vice-admiralty court on the Western shore reserved an
appeal to the High Court of Admiralty. Attorney General Trevor, in a September 28, 1699
opinion sustained the right of appeal to the High Court of Admiralty from a Maryland vice-
admiralty court. CSP, Col., 1699, No. 797. As to the confusion as to the proper appellate body
in the case of appeals from the vice-admiralty courts see Smith, op. cit. supra, 177-93.


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Court Records of Prince George's County, Maryland 1696-1699.
Volume 202, Preface 22   View pdf image (33K)
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