State Courthouse RecordsMaryland Government records cover a broad range of genealogy subject areas that can help you as part of your research, such as land ownership, courts, taxes, and naturalization’s. Given that Maryland court records cover such a wide selection of topics, they could aid you in many different ways. As an example, they could aid you in finding ancestors’ residences, identify occupations, locate financial information, determine citizenship status, or shed light on relationships between individuals. The whole thing relies upon on the type of court records that the ancestors” names show up in. For Definitions of all court terms see the Genealogy Encyclopedia.

Maryland Courthouse records change extensively from county to county in both level of quality and volume. You will find different kinds of court records that are most likely to possess information related for your genealogical research below.


State Court Records

Maryland Court Records

Early proprietary records in Maryland were kept by the Calvert family. Many of them have been recovered over the years, but some are still missing. The earliest royal papers and proprietary records are from 1637 to 1785. They can be found in Calendar of Maryland State Papers No. 1 The Black Books. Many provincial and general court records and indexes spanning the years of 1658 to 1805 are housed at the Maryland State Archives. Records of the chancery court, also known as the equity court, from 1668 to 1851 can also be found there. Maryland Historical Magazine 23 (1928): 101- 54, 197-242, 293-343 contains depositions from the years of 1668 to 1789.

Many other early court records have been indexed and published over the years. One example is 2 volumes of 1637 to 1780s county and provincial records held by the Archives of Maryland. Those records are now available online as were. Certain court records from Caroline, Charles, Somerset, Carroll, and Montgomery counties have also been published.

The counties still hold many of the court records from the 1900s, but the state archives holds most of the earlier court records. Estate records, wills, and related documents are held by the Orphans’ Court clerk’s office. The commissioner’s office holds the road surveys and tax records. However, copies of many of the records just listed can also be found at the Maryland State Archives. See Also Research In Court Records.


State Land Records

Maryland Land Records

Land patents from 1834 and their indexes can be found at the Maryland State Archives. An index of proprietary and private manors is also located in the patent records there. Other useful indexes at the Maryland State Archives relating to land in the state are:

Quitrents (Annual Payments to Lord Baltimore, Similar to Property Taxes), 1749 to 1761 (Incomplete), Rent Rolls (Record of The Payments to Lord Baltimore), 1639 to 1776 (Incomplete), Debt Books (Yearly Compilations by Lord Baltimore’s Agent, Listing Names of Each Land Tract and Amounts Owed), 1735 to 1773, Certificates of Survey, 1705 to Date, Warrants and Assignments, 1634 to 1842

The system whereby proprietors received rent payments for land is outlined in “The Quitrent System in Maryland,” Maryland Historical Magazine 5 (1910): 350-65. Some rent rolls were also published in volumes 19-26 of that journal. The Maryland Historical Society holds the Calvery Papers, which include some rent rolls. Some of those rolls for the following counties have been published: Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Dorchester, Kent, Prince George’s, Somerset, Talbot, Worcester.

People who brought settlers to Maryland Colony were granted land up until 1683. Land patents contain names of many of those immigrants.

Many journals and other publications have published early Maryland land records. Many pieces of property in Maryland can be traced by their tract names, which have often been kept the same throughout the years. An index of those tract names can be found at the Maryland State Archives.

The county circuit court clerk’s office in each county may hold records of bills of sale, deeds, and mortgages. Indexes for many of those records can also be found in those offices. Researchers should note that separate mortgage records may be available for later years. The Maryland State Archives has microfilm rolls of all land records that were taken at the county level. Original indexes and record books may also be found there. Earlier records may be found on microfilm in some courthouses, but many of them are housed at the Maryland State Archives, instead. In 1794, a law was passed that required county deeds to be abstracted and those abstracts to be stored in Annapolis. Most of the records that still exist relate to counties where earlier land records were lost, including Saint Mary’s County and Calvert County.

Provincial and General courts recorded early deeds, as did county courts. Indexes of Provincial and General court records for the years of 1658 to 1815 can be found at the Maryland State Archives.

Many county land records have been abstracted and published. Some of those published records were from each of the following counties: Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Calvert, Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Frederick, Kent, Prince George’s, Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico, Worcester

Most Americans purchased at the very least some land prior to the 20th century, generating personal land records a reference or resource for genealogists. As a result, virtually every researcher, regardless of whether a expert professional or weekend enthusiast, has needed land records to document the existence, association, or movement of an individual or ancestral family. Deeds, legal records for transferring land or property from one individual to another, are the most used of the land records, and can provide a reputable method of keeping track of ancestors when no other record might be discovered. Deeds are usually relatively easy to uncover and often offer you a wealth of details. See Also Guide to U.S. Land Records Research


State Probate Records

Maryland Probate Records

The Prerogative Court took estate records prior to 1777. So, those records are still fairly intact, even though many county records have been lost through the years due to fires and other causes. Available estate records include the following:

Wills, Inventories, Accounts, Balances of Final Distribution, Testamentary Proceedings

The Maryland State Archives has indexes available for those files, which may also include other related documents.

Probate records were recorded by the Orphans’ Court in each county from 1777 onward. Courthouse will indexes have been published for each of these counties:

Allegany, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Calvert, Cecil, Charles, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Howard, Kent, Prince George’s, Saint Mary’s, Somerset, Washington

There are also several published county will abstracts available. They exist for the following counties: Anne Arundel, Caroline, Dorchester, Frederick, Harford, Kent, Montgomery, Prince George’s, Queen Anne’s, Saint Mary’s, Somerset, Talbot, Washington, Wicomico, Washington

Annie Walker Burn compiled the Baltimore County records, which are in 20 volumes and span the years of 1783 to 1845. However, they may not be entirely accurate. So, researchers should check the them against the originals. Wills from 1666 to 1760 for Baltimore County were published by Leslie and Neil Keddie (Salisbury, Md.: Family Tree Bookshop, 2002). Many journals also feature will abstracts. One of them is Western Maryland Genealogy, which published will abstracts from Frederick County. Another publication, the Carrollonian (1984), published an index for records from Carroll County. Guardianship bonds, inventories, distributions, and administrations for various counties have also been published in various places over the years.

Some original books of records and wills can still be found in possession of the counties. However, the Maryland State Archives now holds most of them, as well as microfilmed copies of them. Some counties also have microfilmed records available. See Also Guide to U.S. Probate Records Research

Further Reading

  • Index of Maryland Colonial Wills, 1634–1777, 3 vols. (1933; reprint in one vol. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1986)
  • The Maryland Calendar of Wills, 8 vols. (1904–28; reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1968) – wills through 1777
  • Abstracts of Maryland Wills (Books 24–38, 1744–73), 15 parts (Annapolis, Md.: the author, 1938–45)
  • Maryland Colonial Abstracts: Wills, Accounts and Inventories, 1772–1777, 5 vols. (1934–39; reprint in one vol., Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1968)
  • Index to Inventories of Estates, 1718–1777 (Annapolis, Md.: Hall of Records Commission, 1947)
  • Abstracts of the Inventories of the Prerogative Court of Maryland (1718–77), 17 vols. (1981–88)
  • Abstracts of the Inventories and Accounts of the Prerogative Court of Maryland, 1685–1718, 11 vols. (1992–97)
  • Abstracts of the Administration Accounts of the Prerogative Court of Maryland (1718–77) (1995– 99)
  • Abstracts of the Balance Books of the Prerogative Court of Maryland (1755–77), 3 vols. (1995–97)
  • Maryland Balance Book (Madison, Md.: Dorchester Roots, 1993).


State Tax Records

Maryland Tax Records

The 1783 Maryland tax assessment and its index are housed at the Maryland State Archives. It is a good substitute for records that aren’t found in the censuses of 1776 and 1778. The index of the 1783 list includes two sections. One is organized according to the names of the land tracts, while the other is organized by the property owners’ names. Both are also available to researchers online.

The proprietary papers, which date back to the 1630s, hold Maryland’s oldest tax records. Certain publications have published some of those records over the years. St. Anne’s Parish, which was located in Anne Arundel County, has a tax list at the Maryland State Archives for the years of 1764 to 1766. The Maryland State Archives also holds the following direct tax records from:

Anne Arundel County (Indexed), Baltimore County and City, Caroline County, Charles County, Harford County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Saint Mary’s County, Somerset County, Talbot County

Carroll, Baltimore, and Somerset counties also have separate volumes of published U.S. Direct Tax lists from 1798 available. See Also Guide to U.S. Tax Records Research

Further Reading

  • Abstracts of Chancery Court Records of Maryland, 1669–1782 (Westminster, Md.: Family Line Publications, 1996)
  • This Was the Life: Excerpts from the Judgment Records of Frederick County, Maryland, 1748–1765 (1979; reprint, Baltimore: Clearfield Co., 2002)
  • The County Courthouses and Records of Maryland, Part II: The Records (Annapolis, Md.: The Hall of Records Commission, 1963) – guide to the county court records in the counties and the Maryland State Archives
  • 1783 Tax List of Maryland, Part I (Lutherville, Md.: the compiler, 1977) covers counties of Calvert, Cecil, Harford, and Talbot.
  • Baltimore County, Maryland Tax Lists, 1699–1706 (Washington, D.C.: Raymond B. Clark, Jr., 1964)
  • A Name Index to the Baltimore City Tax Records, 1798–1808, of the Baltimore City Archives (Baltimore: Baltimore City Archives and Records Management Office, 1981)


State Immigration Records

Maryland Immigration & Naturalization Records

The Maryland Historical Society and the National Archives—Mid-Atlantic Region hold Port of Baltimore immigration ships’ passenger lists for the years of 1891 to 1948 and indexes for those lists. Records from earlier years are located in Washington, D.C. The Baltimore City Archives also holds an index for the years of 1820 to 1909.

The National Archives—Mid-Atlantic Region, which is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has records of naturalizations granted by circuit and district courts in Maryland on file. An index covering the years of 1797 to 1951 is also available there. Unfortunately, fires destroyed some of the early petitions for naturalization. However, an index to existing records is available at the Maryland Historical Society, as well as the Baltimore City Archives. Index/abstract cards for the years of 1797 to 1906 can be found at the Maryland State Archives. Also housed there are indexes for the years of 1925 to 1951 and a specific index of soldiers who applied for naturalization from 1918 to 1923.

County courthouses have some naturalization records on file. So does the Maryland State Archives. The governor and council, court, or legislature granted citizenship between 1634 and 1776. The Maryland State Archives also has an index of those records. Maryland Historical Magazine, vols. 26 and 27 (1931–32) published abstracts of Maryland Commission Book 82, which featured some naturalization records from 1733.

An index of naturalizations from the years of 1781 to 1906 can be found at the Maryland State Archives. Those naturalizations were granted by county courts, as well as general courts. Naturalizations of Baltimore County for the years of 1872 to 1902 and Baltimore City for the years of 1793 to 1933 are kept separately. Records for Washington County from years before 1880 and records from Frederick County for the years of 1785 to 1850 have been published, along with some records from other counties.

Naturalization is the procedure of awarding citizenship to foreign-born residents. Naturalization papers are an essential source of information and facts with regards to an immigrant’s place of origin, his / her foreign and Americanized names, residence, and also date of arrival.

Immigrants in to the United States haven’t ever been required to make an application for citizenship. Individuals that applied, many just didn’t complete the prerequisites for citizenship. Information that an immigrant finalized citizenship requirements can be located in censuses, court minutes, homestead records, passports, voting registers, and military papers. Even when an immigrant ancestor failed to complete the process and become a citizen, he / she could have filed a declaration. These kind of declarations may be incredibly useful.

Various sorts of records were created through the naturalization process, consisting of declarations of intention, petitions for naturalization, oaths of allegiance and certificates of naturalization and citizenship. Each and every document can give information and facts about a individual, such as age, residence, country or city of origin, ethnic background, the date and port of arrival, the name of the ship, names of wife or husband and children along with their birth dates and locations, and old residences or current address. See Also Guide to U.S. Immigration Records Research

Further Reading

  • Passenger Arrivals at the Port of Baltimore, 1820–1834 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1982)
  • To Maryland from Overseas (1982; reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2002) – lists some Jacobite rebels who were sold into service in Maryland.
  • The King’s Passengers to Maryland and Virginia (Westminster, Md.: Family Line Publications, 1997)
  • Colonial Maryland Naturalizations (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1975) – records of naturalizations (1660–1775)
  • Maryland Naturalization Abstracts (Westminster, Md.: Family Line Publications, 1995–96) – covering Baltimore County and City (1784–1851), the County Court of Maryland (1779– 1851), and the U.S. Circuit Court for Maryland (1790–1851).


State Government Records

Maryland County & City Government Links

Maryland contains 24 counties and county-equivalents. Each county is the local level of government within its borders with the exception of Baltimore (which is an independent city). The links in the table below link to county and city government offices and is limited to government-maintained websites. If you know of a Maryland county that has an official government web site but is not linked, or if the link is in error, please contact us so we may edit our database. Maryland State Government is located in Annapolis.

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Allegany County Cumberland Harford County Bel Air
Anne Arundel County Annapolis Howard County Ellicott City
Baltimore County Towson Kent County Chestertown
Baltimore City Independent City Montgomery County Rockville
Calvert County Prince Frederick Prince George’s County Upper Marlboro
Caroline County Denton Queen Anne’s County Centreville
Carroll County Westminster Somerset County Princess Anne
Cecil County Elkton St. Mary’s County Leonardtown
Charles County La Plata Talbot County Easton
Dorchester County Cambridge Washington County Hagerstown
Frederick County Frederick Wicomico County Salisbury
Garrett County Oakland Worcester County Snow Hill