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Court Records of Prince George's County, Maryland 1696-1699.
Volume 202, Preface 42   View pdf image (33K)
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oath of Coroner for this County" on March 23, 1696/7. On September 26, 1699
William Hutchison took the oath of coroner. 75

Little reference is made to the functions of the coroner in the Liber. The only
fees for coroners provided in the statutory schedule of fees were for viewing the
body of a person murdered, slain or otherwise dead of misadventure; for arresting
or summoning any sheriff sued or prosecuted in any court and for taking security
for his appearance; and for the arresting, summoning or attaching any other per-
son in a case in which the sheriff was plaintiff. 76 A few allowances for holding in-
quisitions appear in the county levies in the Liber and process was served by the
coroner in a few causes. 77 That the perquisites of office were small appears from
the low payment, 100 pounds of tobacco per annum, imposed upon holders of
the office for the public use. 78


By virtue of a statutory provision the justices were directed to nominate and
appoint some inhabitant within each hundred or precinct who was to execute all
precepts and warrants directed to him and who "shall in all things have the like
power within the said hundred and precinct as any Constable hath or ought to
have in a hundred or precinct in England by the Law or Custome of England." 79
Accordingly at the April 23, 1696 sitting the justices divided the county into hun-
dreds and appointed constables for Mattapony, Mount Calvert, Collington, Pa-
tuxent, Piscattoway and New Scotland hundreds. At the November 1696 sitting
new constables were chosen for the ensuing year for each hundred and warrants
issued accordingly. At the November 1697 and November 1698 courts constables
were again nominated and appointed for each hundred for the ensuing year. 80
The distinction between high constables and petty constables, the designations used
in certain laws (presumably derived from English practice), is not apparent from
the Liber.

The most important function of the constable, as revealed in the Liber, was the
presentment to the grand jury of offenses committed within his hundred. A con-
stable who failed to appear, after being called three times in open court, to give
in his presentments might be fined, unless good cause were shown. 81 The office of
constable was not regarded as an office of profit, within the meaning of the 1695
act referred to above, nor was there any statutory schedule of fees for constables.

Further insight into the function of the constable is afforded by the oath ap-
pointed by statute to be taken by constables which read as follows:

[Y]ou shall swear you will well and truly serve Our Soveraign Lord and Lady the
King and Queen in the Office of a Constable, you shall see and Cause that their Majesties
Peace be well and duly kept according to your Power, you shall arrest all such persons as
in your presence shall comitt or make any Ryote Affray or other breach of their Majesties
Peace, you shall do your best Endeavour upon Complaint to you made to apprehend all
Felons Barretters Ryotters or persons riotously assembled And if any such Offenders shall

75. 20 MA 425, 546, 586; Infra 7, 168, 547.

76. 13 MA 511, 22 id. 577.

77. Infra 279, 487.

78. 38 MA 50.

79. 13 id. 515. The act contained a proviso that it was not to be extended to prejudice the
right of any lords of the manor appointing constables within their respective manors. A dis-
senter might execute the office by a deputy approved by the justices. For five manors in Prince
Georges County see Owings, Private Manors: An Edited List, 33 MHM 307, 322, 329, 331 (1938).

80. Infra 5, 64, 282, 395.

81. Infra 64.


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Court Records of Prince George's County, Maryland 1696-1699.
Volume 202, Preface 42   View pdf image (33K)
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