Newsletter of
The Maryland State Archives
by D. Frank Potter and Raymond H. Ringgold 

In the first national census conducted in Maryland, Kent County stands out from the other counties because of annotations after many names of the heads of households. The authors have attempted to identify these often with cryptic notations. 

Enumerators of the first census received very limited instructions, leaving them much latitude in devising forms and formats. Thus, the arrangement of the census data varies from county to county in Maryland. Some are arranged by geographical districts, called hundreds, and then sometimes alphabetical by surnames. Others are alphabetized without regard to district. For Kent County, the districts are not identified and some names are grouped in alphabetical order. 

The State Archives has a microfilm copy of the original 1790 Census for Maryland and a published transcript. Because of variations, both versions were used for interpretation of the annotations. The original contains several sequences of duplicated names. The transcript is not arranged in the same order as the original, and the accuracy of some transcriptions is questionable. 

The annotations in the transcript generally appear in parenthesis; however, on the microfilm they do not. On the original, the enumerator listed the given names first. In the transcript, surnames are first. For example: 

Charles Miller SP became Miller, Charles (S.P.). The enumerator wrote middle initials or names in the traditional format, e.g. William B. Tilden or Daniel Toes Massey. This indicates that the annotations are not parts of individual names.

An analysis shows that most annotations were designed to clarify ambiguities: (1) a father and son with the same name, (2) multiple persons with the same name, or (3) a female head of family who could be confused with another of the same name who was a member of a family with a male head of family. 

The following discussion and analysis of the abbreviations and annotations involves a certain amount of speculation. They appear to be a mixture of conventional, relational, occupational, directional, and geographical indicators. Descriptors include: 

  • Senior noted as snr and only used once 
  • Junior noted often, but inconsistently, as       Junr, Jr, or Ju 
  • Negro denoted variously as neg, negro,       negr, neo, or nego 
  • co may mean Colored 
  • Ret is added once. Could it mean Retired? 

Examples of relationship identifiers include: John Willson (S. of G.), Henry Knock (of W.), and Richard Moffett (of G.). Occupation identifiers were used in a few cases, such as Doct for doctor and over for overseer. The one case of Over P remains a question. 

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Page 2
The Archivists' Bulldog
1790 CENSUS (continued from Page 1)

The study indicates from obvious clues, as noted below, that most annotations were probably geographical. To identify as many of the 1790 locations as possible, a copy of the 1795 map of Kent County was obtained from the County Historical Society. The map shows seven towns: Rock Hall, Chester Landing, Bridge Town, New Market (now Chesterville), George Town, Sassafras Town, and Swan Town and two communities: Cross Roads which refers to Downs Crossroads near
Georgetown (now Galena) and Masseys Crossroads. The document notes two churches: St. James and Shrewsbury Church. Geographic areas include Eastern Neck, Eastern Neck Island, and Quaker Neck. Waterways include Chester River, Sassafras River, Langsfords Bay, Swan Creek, Farlo Creek, Chum Creek, and Still Pond Creek. Ferry locations are identified by the names of the operators. 

Other records at the State Archives were used to help identify annotations, specifically: Kent County Court (Land Records) in series C1068 and (Minutes) in series C1086, General Assembly, House of Delegates (Assessment Record) 1783 in series S1161, and Land Office  (Patent Record) in series S11. 

The following annotations appear in the 1790 census for Kent County, and each includes an interpretation and analysis: 

  •      B - Bridge Town, now Millington.
Excluded were Betterton, a name not appearing until the mid 1800s as a replacement for Crews Landing, and Butlertown, also of 19th century origin. 
  •      B.L. - Browns Landing or Becks 
Landing are possible. Two of the three surnames names followed by B.L. were Becks. Thus, Becks Landing is the more likely choice.
  •      B.S. - Bay Side, a term appearing in tax records, patents, and land records and designating the middle western shore of the county along the Chesapeake Bay. There was a Blacks Station, but it was used later in reference to a railroad station. 
  •      C. - This annotation is obscure and was used inconsistently by the census taker. It could be another abbreviation for Chester Town, once known as Chester. More likely, it stands for Chapple Hundred. 
  •      Cct. - Perhaps Center County.The more recent community of Cliffs City does not fit the 1790 geographical profile. 
  •      C.R. - Cross Roads was a major location and is considered an alternate designation for Downs Crossroads, now Galena.
  •    C.T. - Chester Town, at that time generally spelled as two words. Also known as Chester Landing, New Town Chester, Newtown, and Town of Chester. 
  •    D. - Very likely, one of several designations for Downs or Downs Crossroads, now Galena. 
  •   Ect. - Eastern Neck. The enumerator possibly saw this as East or Eastern county where it is located. 
  •   Ect. I - Eastern Neck Island, the only significant island that is part of the county. The two names associated with this venue in the census are Joseph Wickes and Benjamin Hynson, both prominent landowners on the island. 
  • FAR - Same as Farlo.

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The Archivists' Bulldog 
Page 3
1790 CENSUS (continued from Page 2)
  •      Farlo - Farlo(w) is the name of a creek, patent, and community. The name has been corrupted to present day Fairlee. 
  •      Forest - Probably a reference to a tract name. James Ringgold, a Forest designee, owned Forest of Dean in 1785. 
  •      G.T. - George Town, then spelled with two words, and usually appearing as George Town on the Sassafras in numerous land records. 
  •      H.C. - This one is elusive. A later Harmony Crossroads was found, but a firm connection cannot be made. The term may denote Head of Chester. 
  •      Hop: - Very likely another tract name designation. The name here, William Pearce, is associated with Hopewell Unity in the records. 
  •      H.S. - Unidentified 
  •      L.B. - Very likely London Bridge. This was a very large land tract and apparently lent its name to Bridge Town. Another possibility is Langfords Bay.
  •      M. - Most likely Masseys or Massys Crossroads, one of the towns on the 1795 map. 
  •      N. - This could simply stand for North, or possibly New Town, a village on Quaker Neck. 
  •      O.T. - Probably Old Town, strangely the name given to New Town after New Town Chester was adopted for Chester Town.
  •      P. - Unidentified. Possibly a tract called Paper Tree. 
  •      Pet. - Unidentified 
  •      Qet. - Quaker Neck. The enumerator possibly considered it as Quaker east, which it is. The names associated with Qet annotations are predominantly land  owners in Quaker Neck. 
  •      R.H. - Rock Hall. 
  •      S. - Very likely Sassafras Town. 
  •      S.C. - Shrewsbury Church, a major and early geographical locale. 
  •    St. J. - St. James, another important locale. 
  •    S.M. - Not known for sure. Perhaps an estate such as Stradsford Manor. 
  •      S.P. - St. Paul's Church, a prominent landmark since the 1600's.
  •      S.W. - Unknown, unless it designates South West 
  •      U.C.  - Thought to be Urieville Chapel, or Church. 
  •      W. -  Worton area, a variation of Wort. 
  •      Wort. - Worton. 
  •      + Roads - Of the numerous Cross Roads in Kent County then and now, the most prominent has been Downs Cross Roads, now Galena, and this is probably the one meant. 

Anyone who sees a need to amend or supplement this analysis should contact the editor of the Bulldog


    (Minutes and Meeting File) 1968-1999 
    [MSA T3557] 

    (Civil Docket, Index) 1971 [MSA T3502] 

    (Civil Docket, Index) 1971-1987 [MSA
    (Criminal Docket, Index) 1971 [MSA