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The County Courthouses and Records of Maryland -- Part 1: The Courthouses
Volume 545, Page 63   View pdf image (33K)
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been able to find documentation for this assertion. The court proceedings speak of a court-
house for the first time at a court held January 5, 1663:

The Commissioners have given order to the Sheriffe to procure a paer of Stocks
Pillarie Whiping post and ducking stoole to bee finished betwixt this and the next
Court appoynted to bee held the 3d of february the ducking Stoole to bee sett up at
Mr Popes Creeke and the stocks Pillary and Whiping post heare at the Court hows.7

The whereabouts of this "Court hows" has eluded the writer, but most likely it was an inn
or a private residence.

Courthouse at Moore's Lodge

The first try at building a courthouse may have occurred in 1672, for in the levy approved
by the court on November 13 of that year we find this item: "To Henry Moore for to build a
Crt house ..... 10000 lb tobacco." 8 Nothing further is heard of this arrangement with Moore.
In any case, he could not have accomplished much before his death which occurred sometime
before May 9 of 1673 when his will was proved.9 Then, following the passage of Chapter 16
of the Acts of 1674 (May Session), entitled "An Act for Errecting a Court house and prison
in every County within this Province," 10 the commissioners of Charles County entered into
an agreement with John Allen to provide a courthouse and a prison and to be situated on a
tract of land called "Moore's Lodge."11 For a consideration of 20,000 pounds of tobacco,
Allen contracted to have both the prison, a simple building, and the courthouse, which was of
the cross style, ready for use by May 1675. The text of his agreement follows:

Mr John Allen acknowledges this ensueing Deed of Sale for a Court house & prison
with an acre of Land belonging thereunto being a parcell of a tract of Land scituate &
being in Charles County Called Moores Lodge to Mr Henry Adames & Mr Thomas
Matthewes On the behalfe of the Right Honorable the Lord Proprietr for the publicke
use of the Inhabitants of Charles County for a Court house for his Ldps Justices to
hold Court in, & a prison house to secure prisoners in when thereunto Comitted

To all Christian People to whom these presents shall come Greetinge I John Allen
of Charles County in the Province of Maryland Gentleman, For & in Consideracon of
twenty thousand pounds of good sound Merchantable tobacco raised in the sd County
by a publicke levy & to me in hand paid, the receipt whereof I doe hereby acknowledge
& therewith to be Fully paid, Contented & satisfied, have granted, bargained & sold,
& by these presents doe grant bargaine & sell unto the Right Honoble Caecilius absolute
Lord & proprietary of Maryland & Avalon Lord Baron of Baltemore &c: his heires &
Successors for ever, One acre of Land being parcell of a tract of Land scituate in
Charles County aforesd Called Moores Lodge distant from the head of Portobacco
about foure miles, & one dwelling house scituate upon the sd acre of Land, twenty &
five foot in Length & twenty & two foot in breadth, with a porch tenne foot long & eight
foot wide thereunto Adjoyneing with a roome over the first roome & another over the
sd porch, & a shead behinde in breadth twelve foot & a halfe or thereabouts, divided
with a partition into two roomes, with two bricke Chimneyes (that is to say) the one
to be built in the Lower roome of the sd house, & the other upon th" same foundation
in the upper roome thereof, with all necessary & Convenient doores, locks, keyes, bolts,
latches, hinges, stairecases, staires, windowes, window frames, Casements & glasse
to be well glazed & put up in the sd frames throughout the sd house above & below, &
all the roomes to be well plankt on the floores, the lower roome to be well wainscotted,

7 Ibid., LIII, 432.
8 Ibid.. LX, 431.
9 Wills, I, r,25-26, 550.
10 Arch, of Md., II, 413-14.
11 Unfortunately, it has been impossible to locate this site
more precisely. Moore's Lodge was patented to Henry Moore in
1661 (Patents 4, 575. Ms., Land Office). It was described as
lying on the north side of the Potomac River on the north
branch of the "Sakaio Swamp." It was conveyed to John
Allen in 1670 (Charles County Land Records K No. 1, 38, Ms.)
and then from Allen to the Lord Proprietary in 1674 (Charles
County Land Records F No. 1, 36-37, Ms.). In this last deed

it was described as lying "about four miles from the head of
Portobacco Creek." We also know that it was not on navigable
waters because in the Act of Assembly providing for the trans-
fer of the county seat to Chandler Town it states, "The Place
where the Court-house now stands, is so remote from any
Landing, that the Charge of bringing materials . ..." (Ch. 11,
Acts of 1727)
. The writer hazards the guess that Moore's Lodge
and the courthouse of 1674 were located on a branch flowing
into Zekiah Swamp somewhere near Newtown. Margaret Brown
Klapthor and Paul Dennis Brown believe the location might
have been on Clarke's Run in the vicinity of a farm called
"Johnsontown" near the Charles County Fair Grounds (The
History of Charles County, Maryland, La Plata, 1958, p. 20).

63


 

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The County Courthouses and Records of Maryland -- Part 1: The Courthouses
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