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Land Office and Prerogative Court Records of Colonial Maryland
Volume 415, Page 39   View pdf image (33K)
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is explained by the fact that it is a photocopy, recently made, of
original rent rolls in the possession of the Maryland Historical
Society. Owing partly to the private aspect of rent rolls and debt
books and partly to the custom of making duplicate copies of them,
a considerable number of these are to be found in private collections,
particularly the Calvert Papers.

As for the rest of the series, the year 1734 seems to mark a definite
point. All entries previous to 1734 are noted in Eastern Shore rent
rolls as being in the "Old Rent Roll" and subsequent additional
rent rolls are regularly entered each year thereafter. All the entries
in the "Old Rent Roll" appear to have been copied at one time, i. e.,
there is no complete rent roll for an earlier date such as the 1659
one in Liber O. There were other original rent rolls previous to 1734,
because some are extant in private collections. The fact that they,
like the original of Liber O, do not exist in such form in the Rent
Roll series in the Land Office today is not too difficult to explain. It
has already been noted that during the controversy over land records
while Maryland was a royal colony it was decided that whereas
patents, warrants, certificates, etc. were a matter of public concern
and therefore to be kept by the royal government and open to the
public, rent rolls were the private business of the Proprietor. As
such then, rent rolls were kept by the Proprietor's agent and did
not become public records in the sense that patents, etc. recorded at
that time did. A second fact to be taken into account is that
between 1717 and 1733 a law provided for payment of a tobacco
tax on every hogshead of tobacco shipped out of the province to take
the place of payment of quit rents. It is not strange that during,
this period, as Mereness points out, the rent rolls fell into confusion,
by disuse. 61 A third consideration, and a most likely one it seems to
me, is that the rent rolls as the Land Office has them (with the ex-
ception of Liber O) were compiled in 1733 and thereafter, but were
based on earlier rent rolls then in existence. The year 1733 marked
the end of the system of paying tobacco tax in lieu of quit rents and
with the re-establishment of the quit rent system the proprietor
took steps to improve the rent collection system. What more logical
than the compiling of fresh new rent rolls to resume the system with,
especially if recent ones had been incomplete and ill-kept?

61 Mereness, p. 65.


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Land Office and Prerogative Court Records of Colonial Maryland
Volume 415, Page 39   View pdf image (33K)
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