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Volume 662, Page 51   View pdf image (33K)
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CHAPTER VI

ALL SORTS OF CLERKS

THE DEVELOPMENT of a corps of clerks to serve this central
governing body resembled the evolution of that body as a whole.
Thus the clerical establishment began very modestly and then
expanded as the need for clerks and registers increased. Moreover,
it expanded by the same processes. Just as many offices were
separated from the secretariat, and a few wholly new ones were
established, so some clerkships were separated from the office of
the Secretary's clerk, and other new ones were inaugurated.

Originally all writing business was done by William Bretton of
St. Mary's City who bore three titles as Clerk of the Secretary's
Office and of the Provincial Court, Clerk of the Council, and
Clerk of Assembly. 1

In or shortly before September, 1647, Bretton lost to Robert
Clarke the clerkship of the Council. In April, 1650, on division
of the Assembly into two houses, his clerkship of that body was
similarly divided between a Clerk of the Upper and a Clerk of
the Lower House. Bretton himself remained Clerk of the Lower
House through March, 1650/1. The Secretary acted as Clerk of
the Upper House until April, 1661, when John Gittings was
appointed. However, from October, 1678, until the organization
of state government a century later the Clerk of the Council was
always Clerk of the Upper House too.

The duties of the Clerk of the Secretary's Office were curtailed
on appointment, soon after April, 1673, of a separate Clerk of
the Prerogative Office (under the Commissary General) and in
May, 1695, of a separate Register in Chancery. 2 A clerkship of
the High Court of Appeals was separated from that of the Council
in July, 1707. New offices grafted onto the system provided a
Register of the Admiralty Court, July, 1694, and two Clerks of

1 Archives, IV, 309 ft passim.

2 Testamentary Proceedings, liber 6, folio 261 (Md. Hall of Records); Chancery
Record, liber 2, folio 295 (Md. Land Office); Archives, XX, 233. The appointees
were Michael Rockford and John Freeman respectively.

51


 

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