Timeline of the Office of Anne Arundel County Clerk

Maryland State Archives, MSA SC 5294

Important General Maryland/Anne Arundel County Events Year Events Specifically Related to the Clerk's Office

Image of Cecil Calvert by Florence MacKubin

Maryland Charter granted to Cecilius Calvert, 2nd Lord Baltimore 

from Annapolis Complex Collection

Office of Court Clerk established, to record proceedings of the court, record deeds, and preserve court records 1644  
  1649 Annapolis, once called Providence, settled by Puritans fleeing religious persecution in Virginia
  1650 Anne Arundel County established; named after Lady Anne Arundel, wife of Cecilius Calvert, 2nd Lord Baltimore, founder of Maryland; Andrew Skinner recorded as First Clerk for Anne Arundel County Court
Battle of Severn:  Puritans from Virginia defeated Governor William Stone's forces 1655  
  1658 First evidence of Anne Arundel County Court meeting at "Severne," another early name for Annapolis
Slavery sanctioned by law; slaves to serve for life
  1676 All Clerks appointed and removed by Provincial Secretary
First courthouse established at "The Ridge," small area of the South River, near Butlers; used until 1683 when it "fell down" 

             Image in Radoff, The County Courthouses and Records of Maryland
    Maryland Revolution in which Protestant Associators 
            overthrew proprietary officers; until July 1690
1689 Court convened in Londontown; met there until 1694/1695
William and Mary declare Maryland a royal colony, not
a proprietary province as had previously been established
1692 Payment of one-tenth the Clerk's gross revenues to the Provincial 
 Secretary established
Capital of colony moved from St. Mary's City to Anne 
Arundel Town; Name change:  Anne Arundel Town to 
Annapolis declared county seat of Anne Arundel County; General Assembly passed act to allow Anne Arundel Court to meet in the State House in Annapolis; Court probably met at Richard Hill's home until State House completed 


Anne Arundel Court began meeting in the first State House


Image in Radoff. County Courthouses and Records of Maryland, Part One
Floorplan in Radoff, Buildings of the State of Maryland at Annapolis.

                                   State House destroyed by fire 1704 All county records ruined in fire, except the most recent court land 
records up to that point 

Anne Arundel County Court began use of the second State House; Court 
held in large assembly room on ground floor, while the Clerk's office was located in a loft room upstairs 
Possible Courtoom Layout
Image in Radoff, Buildings of the State of Maryland at Annapolis.

                               City of Annapolis incorporated 1708  
           Proprietary rights restored to Benedict Leonard 
           Calvert, 4th Lord Baltimore
                                    Maryland Gazette established 1727  
                                                Baltimore Town established 1729  
  1734 John Brice II appointed Clerk; Served 31 years as Clerk
            Last Native American land claims relinquished 
            by treaty 
       Tobacco inspection law to ensure a quality product 1747  
         Stamp Act enacted and met with great opposition 1765  
           Merchants establish a policy of non-importation
           of British goods
1769 Second State House torn down to make room for a new one; Anne Arundel Clerk and other Anne Arundel County agencies moved to small building near this site
       Burning of Peggy Stewart in Annapolis harbor 1774  
     Maryland Rifle Companies head off to join 
        Washington's army in Boston, Massachusetts
Declaration of Independence signed in Philadelphia by four Marylanders; Maryland Convention declared independence from Great Britain (July 6); Maryland's Constitutional Convention (August - November) 1776 Clerks to be appointed by Anne Arundel County justices
Nicholas Harwood appointed Clerk; he served 33 years as Clerk; Marriage licenses obtained from the Clerk required for all marriages
[Color photograph of Maryland State House]

Construction on third State House in Annapolis completed; still in use today

       State House Dome, Annapolis, Maryland (Annapolis Illustrations Collection, MSA SC4314-1-1, Maryland State Archives).

   Maryland troops, led by Baron deKalb, fought at the Battle of Camden in South Carolina; de Kalb died in battle 1780  
          Maryland ratified the Articles of Confederation 1781  
Maryland divided into 5 judicial districts; Anne Arundel County part of the third district along with Baltimore and Howard Counties 1790 Clerks appointed by judges of the county courts for terms of good behavior
                 Import of slaves forbidden; voluntary slave
                 manumission permitted
  1800 Election returns required to be filed with county clerks
Property qualifications removed for voting in local and
state elections, thus all adult white males could vote
  1810 William Saunders Green appointed Clerk; served 35 years as Clerk
Bombardment of Fort McHenry during War of 1812; inspired Francis Scott Key to write the "Star Spangled Banner"

        Image from  Annapolis Complex Collection 

  1817 Clerks authorized to issue licenses without the presence of a judge and granted full responsibility for granting licenses and collecting required fees
  1820 Maryland General Assembly decided to remove 
  1821 General Assembly authorized the construction of a county-owned courthouse

Courthouse on Church Circle in Annapolis completed; 
total construction costs:  $12,000 
Ridgely, David.  Annals of Annapolis.  Baltimore:  Cushing and Brother, 1841.

 Image in Radoff. County Courthouses and Records of Maryland, Part One

               Jewish enfranchisement; removal of religious requirement for civil offices 1826  
       Charter issued for Baltimore and Ohio Railroad 1827  
                  Law began requiring popular election of
                  governors and state senators
                       Frederick Douglas escaped slavery 1838 County Clerks appointed by governor for seven-year term
               U.S. Naval Academy founded in Annapolis  1845  
Harriet Tubman
Harriet Tubman escaped slavery
Image:  TUBMAN, HARRIET. Photograph by H. B. Lindsley, 1880.  LC-USZ62-7816
New Constitution for Maryland; County Commissioners system of county government established for all Maryland counties
1851 Clerk popularly elected to a six-year term
  U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney writes the opinion of the Dred Scott case 1857  
              Federal troops occupied Annapolis (April) 1861  
                           Battle of Antietam (September 17) 1862  
  1865 Sprigg Harwood, MSA SC 3520-1541

Election between Sprigg Harwood and George Gambrill for Anne Arundel County Court Clerk contested; Gambrill declared winner; Harwood was elected to the office in 1867 and served until 1895

              Fourth State Constitution adopted by voters 1867  
  1871 Trials of Mrs. Wharton, accused of poisoning and murder; incidents occurred in Baltimore, but the trials were removed to the Anne Arundel County Court
  1887 William N. Woodward became Deputy Clerk; he later served as Clerk from 1918 to 1925; 38 years total of service working for and as the Clerk
         Maryland began use of secret ballot in elections  1890  
  1892 Courthouse remodeled
  1895 George Wells, MSA SC 3520-1933

Election between Washington G. Tucker and Dr. George Wellsfor Clerk contested; Wells declared winner; he served until 1918

  1896 William Martin Brady, MSA SC 3520-13112

William Martin Brady became Deputy Clerk, beginning 37 years of service in the the Clerk's Office; he served as Clerk from 1925-27, and again in 1933, although he was never elected to the position

        Wave of campaign and election reform enacted,
        including primary elections
      Babe Ruth pitched for international league Orioles 1914  
  1917 Murder trial of John Snowden removed from Anne Arundel County Court to Baltimore City Court; found guilt and hanged; pardoned by Governor Parris Glendening in 2001
                               First election in which women can vote  1920  
  1925 Parts of the Courthouse made fireproof
Amendment established four-year terms of office  1926 Clerks elected to four-year term; vacancies filled by Circuit Court judges, with appointees holding office until the next regular election
Hall of Records opened, Annapolis
Murray v. Pearson, et al. case concerning integration of the University of Maryland Law School; Murray represented by Thurgood Marshall
  1940 Once-missing minutes of March 1867 court session found in basement of Anne Arundel County Courthouse by WPA workers
Maryland's 29th Division at Omaha Beach for D-Day 1944  
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge

Chesapeake Bay Bridge opened

Marion E. Warren Photograph, 1953
MSA SC 1890-02-20B


Major additions made to Courthouse; these additions dwarfed the original building in size and cost; total costs of these renovations:  $110,000 as compared to the the initial construction of the Courthouse which totaled $12,000

Image in Radoff. County Courthouses and Records of Maryland, Part One

Clerk John H. Hopkins III retired, noting the changes in the office that occurred including a great increase in the number of cases filed and the number of people working for the Clerk to tackle this increased work load 
         Voting machines first used for elections in Maryland 1956  
  1962 Elleanor Owings appointed to serve as Acting Clerk after the death of George T. Cromwell while he was still in office; she was the first woman to serve in this position
   Anne Arundel County residents voted to adopt a home
   rule charter system of government
Marjorie Holt became the first woman elected to the position of Clerk; she served until 1972 and in that year, won election to the United States Congress
State Equal Rights Amendment adopted; Maryland ratified the federal ERA;
First election in which 18 was the minimum voting age
  2000 Renovation and expansion of Courthouse completed


Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Clerks HTML Page. http://www.mdsa.net/msa/speccol/sc5200/sc5294/html/sc5294.html

Bradford, James.  Anne Arundel County, 1649-1977.  Annapolis:  Anne Arundel County and Annapolis Bicentennial Committee, 1977.

Maryland Historical Records Survey, Division of Community Service Programs, Work Projects Administration.  Inventory of the County and Town, Anne Arundel County (Annapolis).  Baltimore:  Maryland Historical Records Survey, 1941.

Maryland Manual Online.  Historical Chronology. http://www.mdsa.net/msa/mdmanual/01glance/html/chron18.html

Melville, Pat.  "History of the Clerk's Office."

Radoff, Morris.  Count Courthouses and Records of Maryland, Part One:  The Courthouses.  Annapolis:  Hall of Records, 1960.

Radoff, Morris.  Count Courthouses and Records of Maryland, Part Two:  The Records.  Annapolis:  Hall of Records, 1963.

Radoff, Morris.  Buildings of the State of Maryland at Annapolis.  Annapolis:  Hall of Records Commission, 1954.

Ridgely, David.  Annals of Annapolis.  Baltimore:  Cushing and Brother, 1841.

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