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Volume 662, Page 39   View pdf image (33K)
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STILL WITHIN the central governing body were the rather impor-
tant offices of Commissary General and Attorney General and
a number of places—other than clerkships—which were not


It was only in 1693, at the beginning of the royal period, that
this officer, often called the Judge of Probate, emerged an inde-
pendent member of the government. However, as early as January
24, 1637/8, Secretary Lewger had been appointed " Commissioner
in Causes Testamentary, " and in March of the following year the
Assembly confirmed his power to prove wills and grant letters
of administration. 1 On April 24, 1673, this post was taken from
the Secretary and united with the Chancellorship, which had been
earlier taken from the chief executive. 2 Soon thereafter a
separate clerk was appointed to maintain the records of the Pre-
rogative Office. At the collapse of proprietary government, August
1, 1689, the combined offices of Chancellor and Judge of Probate
fell into abeyance.

William and Mary, by their commission of June 27, 1691, now
appointed Colonel Lionel Copley Governor, Chancellor, and Com-
missary General; and he in turn bestowed the two latter offices,
in October, 1692, on Colonel Nehemiah Blakiston. 3 Copley's
successor, President Sir Edmund Andros, divided these places and,
by a commission of October 3, 1693, made Kenelm Cheseldyne
the first separate Commissary General. 4 Until January, 1756, the
post was frequently held by two or more joint incumbents. The
last Judge of Probate, Colonel William Fitzhugh, was appointed
September 23, 1773. The Constitution of 1776 made no provision

1 Archives, III, 60.

2 Ibid., XV, 24. The office of Commissary had previously been transferred from
the Secretary to the Governor by an act of August, 1641, but it had reverted to
the Secretary on expiration of this law in March, 1641/2.

3 Ibid., VIII, 263, 371, 451; Testamentary Proceedings, liber 14a, folio 5 (Hall
of Records).

4 Archives, XX, 5, 30.



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Volume 662, Page 39   View pdf image (33K)
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