THE MARYLAND CALENDAR OF WILLS has been compiled in response to an already long existent and steadily increasing need for such a work, a need not only of the students of the history of the period which it covers and of genealogists, nor only for Marylanders now living in the State, but also for that large class of persons, whose ancestors are to be numbered among the men and women who took part in the nation-building as begun on Maryland shores, and whose descendants are now to be found in every State of the Union.
Nor is it believed that the usefulness of the work will be confined within historical and genealogical limits, but that it will carry out yet another object and be of much assistance in tracing titles to properties. To this end all names of properties and their acreage and situation, as far as practicable, and as given in the wills, will be found in the Calendar, and can readily be followed by reference to the index. Whenever a will shows the means, by which a property came into the possession of a testator, whether by purchase, deed of gift, or descent, the facts as stated there will be found given in the Calendar.
It will also be seen that if there is any matter which would serve to indicate whence an emigrant came, or what religious creed he held, such references will be found in these pages. This holds true also, as to any definite point bearing on the history of the period, which can be properly noted. In compiling the work the aim has been to adopt a plan sufficiently simple to make the abstracts clear and to avoid technicalities, while at the same time they are made full enough to include all necessary data. In some instances there may be a degree of ambiguity, but this cannot be avoided, since in these instances the recorded wills are in themselves obscure, and no attempt has been made by the compiler to give an interpretation where the meaning is not obvious. This must be left to the searcher in these matters.
A special point in this connection may be noted, i. e. that the terms father-in-law, mother-in-law, etc., very often mean step-father, step-mother, etc., and often too, those bearing these relationships to a testator will be called father, mother, etc., in this latter case further designating them by their names. It was also apparently the custom to use the term cousins as applying to nieces and nephews as well as to cousins.
Of course no attempt has been made to indicate in the Calendar these instances, that being outside the scheme of the work, but by some little study and comparison of the wills, the true relationship, in most cases, where doubtful is easily established.
The orthography having been preserved, the same name may appear spelled in a variety of ways, a fact already familiar to those persons who have given attention to the early manuscripts.
Nor must it be forgotten that the earliest will records are many times very imperfect documents, extremely meagre in data.
All the abstracts in the Calendar have been taken directly from the wills as recorded in the will-books among the proceedings of the Prerogative Court of the Province (barring two, which have been found elsewhere, and will again be referred to). These will-books are now in the vault connected with the office of Register of Wills of Anne Arundel County. The sequence of events by which this particular office came to be the repository for the wills of the whole province of Maryland forms an interesting little chapter of history which cannot be gone into here.*
The two wills referred to, as not being recorded in Annapolis, are those of John Lloyd and Cuthbert Fenwick. The abstracts of these will be found on the last page. I am indebted to Mr. Philip J. Buckler, register of wills of St. Mary's county, for the abstract of the former. That of the will of the latter is taken from Liber S, which is in the vault at the rooms of the Maryland Historical Society.
It may be well to remind the reader that at the time of making these wills the Gregorian Calendar had not been adopted. Unless this is borne in mind many of the wills would appear to have been probated before they were drawn.
In the arrangement of the Calendar of Wills that of the will-books themselves has been adopted, in so far as they follow each other chronologically.
The index is designed with the view of showing all names of persons and places found in the text and all references to them.
The abstracts are made in the third person, as is obvious. In a few cases, however, it has appeared well to introduce a pronoun in the first person, which will be found indicated by quotation marks, the phraseology in the entire work having been adopted with the object of attaining the results that would convey the import with strictest accuracy, even at the risk of some loss of uniformity.
Each volume of this work is complete in itself in matter and index.
With the hope that the Calendar will fulfill its mission by aiding and encouraging research, and at the same time will bring into more general notice the invaluable records of Maryland's early settlers, and through stimulating a greater interest in them it will bring about a keener and more vigorous attention to the preservation of these records, this first volume is respectfully submitted.
*Since writing the above introduction to the first edition of this work, in 1901, these records have been removed, by legislative act, to the land office at Annapolis.
JANE BALDWIN COTTON,
Boston, Mass., 1904.
Editors: There are several instances in this volume where Ms. Baldwin has added the relationship in parentheses after "son in law," etc. So far, it appears that she has done so only when the will itself proves the relationship. For example, see the will of Jane Fenwick (Page 14) who names her sons-in-law, Cuthbert and Ignatius Fenwick, and notes that they are under age. Ms. Baldwin adds stepson in parentheses after son-in-law, apparently based on the logical premise that both were underage. That they were stepsons is also confirmed by the will of her late husband, Cuthbert Fenwick (See next).
Editors: The wills of John Lloyd and Cuthbert Fenwick are on Page 219 of the first edition of Volume I.
Editors: For more about the Gregorian and Julian Calendars, see Combs &c.'s Glossary of Words and Phrases: C.
Editors: The index to Volume I has not yet been published here, but search engines will be available shortly.