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Court Records of Prince George's County, Maryland 1696-1699.
Volume 202, Preface 23   View pdf image (33K)
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Prince Georges County Court apparently held its first sessions at the Anglican
church (St. Paul's Parish) in Charles Town. Earlier the Governor and Council had
recommended to the House of Burgesses "for a Law to be made that the Church
at Mount Calvert be fitted to serve as well for a Court house as a Church." However,
the matter was settled by an order of the House on October 18,1695. 1 The Novem-
ber 1696 session found the court moving to David Small's storehouse since the
church was too open to hold court in cold weather. (The levy set forth in the Liber
at the November 1697 court reveals that the court had held sessions at the store-
houses of both David Small and Thomas Holliday.) It was not until June 1698 that
the justices sat in the "new court house." 2 A description of this court-house appears
in the contract for its construction entered into on June 24, 1697 between the court,
per Thomas Holliday, and Robert Brothers, carpenter. The court-house appar-
ently was located on a three acre tract of land which had been ordered cleared of
trees. The cage, stocks, pillory and whipping post were erected and in use long
before the court-house was completed. 3

Court Days

The 1692 act of Assembly which appointed court days in each county referred
only to the several counties then in existence. It thus appears that there was no
statutory regulation of court days in Prince Georges County until passage of an-
other act with substantially the same title in March 1697/8. However, the text of
this later act has not been found so that it remains uncertain which days were ap-
pointed by the Assembly as court days for Prince Georges County. 4

From the Liber it appears that county courts were normally held in Prince
Georges County the fourth Tuesday of January, March, June (for the Orphans),
August, September and November. Usually these sessions lasted from two to four
days. A few courts were held which did not conform to the pattern, some of which
were termed "Special Courts." In only a few instances did the court have to adjourn
for lack of a quorum or some undisclosed reason, as in September 1699. At the Janu-
ary 1698/9 session the court having accomplished little, apparently by reason of the
"vehement Couldness of the weather", adjourned until the third Tuesday in Feb-
ruary. 5

The problems of a lack of quorum and of inability to finish the court's business
on the statutorily appointed day were presumably solved by reference to the above
1692 act appointing court days which, in order to take care of the difficulty of
obtaining a quorum in the winter, authorized any two or three commissioners, one
of whom was "of the quorum," meeting at the time provided by law, to adjourn the
court for such short time as seemed meet and further provided that no suit should
abate for want of a full court but should continue until the next court held accord-
ing to such adjournment. The commissioners, meeting on the day prescribed by
statute, were also empowered to adjourn the court from day to day until such time
as the business returnable or triable in the court was finished. Substantially the
same provisions were probably carried over into the 1697/8 act referred to above.

1. Infra 6, 8; 20 MA 284; 19 id. 233-34.

2. Infra 59, 279, 346.

3. Infra 53, 208-09 (cf. 615), 248-49, 417. See also Radoff, The County Courthouses and
Records of Maryland: Part I: The Courthouses 117-18 (1960). As to an addition see infra 541.

4. 13 MA 528; 38 id. 111.

5. Infra 168, 245, 375, 434, 435. The civil actions heard at the adjourned October 1699 couit
were given dates in the respective entries as if heard in September 1699 at the regularly
appointed court.


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Court Records of Prince George's County, Maryland 1696-1699.
Volume 202, Preface 23   View pdf image (33K)
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