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Court Records of Prince George's County, Maryland 1696-1699.
Volume 202, Preface 40   View pdf image (33K)
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of the same. In a few instances sheriffs were ordered to publish royal proclamations
from England, such as a proclamation against "Prophaneness and Immorality."63

As to some orders of the Governor and Council the sole duty of the sheriff was
to make publication or give notice or serve. 64 Others imposed upon the sheriffs
the duty of collecting information. Upon several occasions they were to obtain
from the constables in their respective bailiwicks the list of taxables and to take
care to produce a list of the supernumerary tithables before the justices at the June
County Court and make oath to the same, so that due credit might be given the
counties and parishes where such tithables lived; the lists so proven were to be
returned to the Council. 65 In February 1696/7 the sheriffs were used to obtain
expressions of opinion as to when the Maryland fleet should sail. In May 1697
they were to ascertain the number of ships built or building and the number of
ships and seamen in each county. 66 In August 1697 they were directed to compile
and return an account of "what Romish Priests and Lay Brothers are Resident
within their respective Counties and what Churches Chappells or other places of
worship they have" and the same information with respect to "Quakers and other
Dissenters from the Church of England." 67 In fact, the sheriff was so occupied in
delivering "packetts and Expresses" that in November 1698 in the House of Dele-
gates there was proposed an allowance of 1,000 pounds of tobacco per annum to
the sheriff to "defray the charge of packetts and Expresses that shall come to their
hands to be Expedited," in lieu of any other allowances. 68

In general the several sheriffs constituted the executive arm of the Governor
and Council. For instance, in February 1696/7, the sheriff of Prince Georges County
was ordered to take into custody any seamen interfering with the transfer of to-
bacco from one ship to another sailing with the fleet. In September 1697 the sheriffs
were ordered to make "diligent Search and pursuit... by way of hue and Cry" after
some deserters from the West India squadron and "to Seize and apprehend them
or any other wandring Seamen and Saylors." In several cases persons were ordered
brought before the Council for contempt in not furnishing a horse or boat pursuant
to warrant of impressment. 69 A sheriff might be ordered by the Governor and
Council to bring persons informed against as having correspondence with enemy
aliens or notorious offenders before a magistrate or justice to be examined and, if
found to offend, to be bound over to the Provincial Court, together with the wit-
nesses. 70

Only the sheriff could raise the posse comitatus in his county and, under the laws
of England, a sheriff might depart his county only once a year to make up his ac-
count at the Exchequer. However, as noted by the crown law officers, in Maryland
"by the constant practice ... they have Ordinaryly used to depart and goe out of
their Counties, and We have not known any Evill thereby." However, the Council
in October 1696 ordered that in the future "no Sheriffe depart or leave his County
(during his Shrivalty) unless particularly sent for by his Excellency the Governor

63. 20 id. 339; 23 id. 444. See also the threat that sheriffs not making proper returns would be
removed from office. 20 id. 472.

64. 23 id. 3, 4-5, 381.

65. 20 id. 445; 23 id. 109-10. The sheriffs of several counties failing to make returns were
to be summoned to appear at the next Provincial Court to be proceeded against by the crown
law officers for contempt. 20 id. 487-88.

66. 23 id. 30-31, 104-05.

67. 23 id. 206. See also the inquiry in St. Marys and Charles Counties as to how many persons
had been brought over to the Roman Catholic persuasion in the last year. 23 id. 470.

68. 22 id. 229, 231.

69. 23 id. 72-73, 215, 466-67.

70. 23 id. 304.


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Court Records of Prince George's County, Maryland 1696-1699.
Volume 202, Preface 40   View pdf image (33K)
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