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Court Records of Prince George's County, Maryland 1696-1699.
Volume 202, Preface 41   View pdf image (33K)
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or that they come up to the Port of Annapolis in Aprill the usual time when they
make up their Accounts being otherwise (by the Opinion of the Lawyers) deemed
to be contrary to the Law of England." 71 This order was made in connection with
the fear of disturbances by John Coode et al. Then in December 1696, the sheriffs,
despite their inherent powers, were specifically authorized "in Case of any Riotts
or insurrection" to raise the posse of their respective counties and use their au-
thority to suppress them, acquainting the militia officers therewith. 72

The power wielded by the sheriffs inevitably led to abuses. Despite the prohibi-
tion on taking more than their lawful fees, some sheriffs and sub-sheriffs, as a means
of evasion, resorted to extorting bills, bonds or writings obligatory from inhabitants
without delivering a signed account, as directed by law. To restrain such unlawful
conduct an act was passed in 1696/7 prohibiting any sheriff, sub-sheriff or deputy
commissary from taking any such instrument without endorsing the account on
the back thereof, on penalty of having the instrument voided. 73


By 1692 act of Assembly the governor was authorized to appoint such person or
persons to be coroners as he should judge most able and best qualified for that
office in each county. The commissions to such persons were "as near as may be"
to concurr with the laws and constitutions of England and an oath was to be ad-
ministered to each such appointee according to the form of the oath of a coroner
in England. The form of commission to a coroner merely authorized the holder
"to Do and performe all such Acts and things as to the office of a Coroner belongeth
within our said County You first having taken the Oaths appointed by Act of Par-
liament to be taken instead of the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy as also the
usuall Oath of a Coroner and Test before the Justices of the next County Court
to be held within the County." 74 The coroner in Maryland was not a "principal
officer" of the court, as in England, where the coroner was elected by the suitors of
the county court in open court.

On May 15, 1696 upon representation it was ordered in Council that commis-
sions issue constituting Robert Bradley and Robert Middleton coroners of Prince
Georges County. The Liber records that Robert Middleton was sworn one of the
coroners for Prince Georges County on June 23, 1696. However, there is no indi-
cation that Bradley, one of the justices, was ever commissioned as coroner and in
November, 1696 the only coroner listed for Prince Georges County was Robert
Middleton. However, in December, 1696 it was ordered in Council that John
White be appointed coroner "in the Room and stead of Mr. Daniell Bradley and
that the said Bradleys Name be Razed out of the Comission granted him (being
here presented) and the said Wight's name inserted therein." White "tooke his

71. 20 id. 510-11 (cf. 20 id. 495). Greenfield was permitted by the Council to come to Annapolis
to make up an account with the Commissary. 20 id. 551. See also the modification of the order
during the fleet's stay in the province. 20 id. 572. The question came up again in October 1697
when the sheriffs were accused of neglecting their office to attend the Provincial Court. 23 id, 254.

72. 20 id. 582-83.

73. 38 id. 110; 22 id. 465. Cf. the July, 1699 "Generall agreivance to the good people of this
Province that the Sheriffs doe many times Charge unreasonable Fees for the Service of Citation."
22 id. 406.

74. 13 id. 515; 20 id. 189; Greenwood, op. cit. supra 7. The duties of coroners were largely
governed by the Statute de officio coronatoris of 1276 (4 Ed. I, St. 2); see Kilty, Report on English
Statutes 210. They would also be governed by the common law and 2 Hen. V, St. I, c.8; 3 Hen.
VII, c.l; and 1 and 2 P. & M., c.13, s.5. Alexander, British Statutes 71.


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Court Records of Prince George's County, Maryland 1696-1699.
Volume 202, Preface 41   View pdf image (33K)
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