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The County Courthouses and Records of Maryland -- Part 1: The Courthouses
Volume 545, Page 7   View pdf image (33K)
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The early history of several Maryland counties is still obscure. They are invariably
among the first counties, and they are also alike in that they all suffered the loss of records.
Anne Arundel County is a prototype. It was established in 1650 and immediately became a
battlefield between the Puritan settlers and the Proprietary's men from St. Mary's, a state
of affairs which was not conducive to the holding of courts and the making of records. A half
century later, all such records as had been created were destroyed by fire. Some effort has
already been made to locate the various county seats from scattered evidence, but a closer
examination of the same material has dispelled some—but not all—of the mystery hereto-
fore accepted as impenetrable, and new material not heretofore accessible has helped as well.

The legal origin of the county is found in Chapter 7 of the Acts of the General Assembly
of 1650, April term, as follows:

An Act for the erecting of Providence into a County by the name of Annarundell

Be it Enacted by the Lord Propry by and with the assent & approbacon of the
Upper and Lower House of this Assembly That that part of the Province of Maryland
on the west side of the Bay of Chessopeack over against the Isle of Kent formerly
called by the name of Providence by the Inhabitants there resideing and inhabiting this
yeare shall from henceforth bee erected into a Shire or County by the name of Anna-
rundell County, And by that name hereafter to bee ever called.1

County government was initiated by an order of Governor Stone of July 30, 1650, appoint-
ing the following Commissioners: James Homewood, Thomas Meares, Thomas Marsh, George
Puddington, Matthew Hawkins, James Merryman and Henry Catlyn. Among other things,
they were ordered to "appoint Courts to be kept within and for the Sd County......."2

Court at Annapolis

No doubt a court was "appointed" and the names of its members recorded in the first
volume of the Judgment Record which was lost in the fire of 1704. That the place chosen
was Annapolis we learn, however, from a deposition of 1658, found in the archives of the
Provincial Court. The clerk records that the deponent "Saith That beinge At a Court at
Sciverne some time aboute ffower or five yeares since......." 3 In December of the previous year
the same court clerk entered the notation "Whereas by former Judgment at Severne......." 4

Some sort of crisis occurred in the year 1658 for on July 12 of that year the Council
toke into debate the settlement of the Court for the County of Ann arundell & the
defects in the former Commission. And Ordered That William Burges Thomas Meares
Robert Burle Thomas Todde Roger Crosse Thomas Howell Richard Wells, Richard
Ewen John Brewer Anthony Salway & Richard Woolman Gent should be comrs for
the said County & that they should by the Sherriffe be summoned to appeare on the
22th Instant at the house of Mr Edward Lloyd to take the oath of Commissioners &
Justices of the Peace; and that the 23th Instant should be the first court day.5

1 Archives of Maryland, 67 Vols., Baltimore, Maryland His-
torical Society, 1883 — , I, 292. This work is hereafter referred
to as Arch, of Md.
The same Act is numbered "8" in Thomas
Bacon, Laws of Maryland At Large, Annapolis, 1765.


2 Ibid., III, 257-58.
3 Ibid., XLI, 113.
4 Ibid., 5.
5 Ibid., III, 348.


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The County Courthouses and Records of Maryland -- Part 1: The Courthouses
Volume 545, Page 7   View pdf image (33K)
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