Maryland Calendar of Wills
by Rhoda Fone and Carole Hammett
Almost all of Maryland's Testamentary Proceedings (Wills, Administrations, Probates, Inventories, etc.) were handled at the provincial (state) level from its inception until the onset of the Revolutionary War. Jane Baldwin (Cotton) completed her abstraction of the first volume of Maryland Prerogative Court will abstracts in 1904. Over the next twenty-four years, seven more volumes were compiled and published, the last in 1928, covering the period 1635 to 1743 (These wills also included a small number of wills recorded in the Land Office at Annapolis, as well as county records).
Despite the brevity of the abstracts, Ms. Baldwin (and later her associate Ms. Roberta Bolling Henry) included all basic historical and genealogical information as well as names of land tracts, and their history (to the extent included in the record). Although the abstracts have been found to be highly accurate, there are errors, and it is recommended that researchers order their own copies rather than rely on abstracts. Copies of the original wills (all of which have also been microfilmed) are all available from the Maryland State Archives.
When ordering copies of wills (or searching microfilm), you will need only the Liber and Folio Numbers,* which are the last two sets of numbers in each will abstract. Also note that because Ms. Baldwin published each of the eight volumes as covering a range of years, she revised the order of extractions from that of the original wills (Maryland Prerogative Court Libers 1-22 and part of Liber 23, plus a small number of wills from other sources). As a result, folios from the same liber may be found in more than one volume, and completely out of order numerically (See below for more detail).
*Liber and folio are old-style (Latin) terms for books and pages, with the old words having remained in use in Maryland. Early Maryland records include other old-style terms and phrases, and more about these and the various laws governing the province during this time period can be found at Combs &c.'s Glossary of Words and Phrases and Maryland Testamentary Acts
In editing these volumes, no changes have been made to the original content except (1) words enclosed in [brackets], and (2) all notes prefaced by Editors. These "editorial notes" (annotations) are from a number of sources, all of which are cited fully with the exception of several heavily-used references which have been abbreviated as indicated below.
At this time publication of Volume I and the first 28 pages of Volume II is complete, but further editing in the form of added annotations is still underway. Volunteers who have access to the Maryland Calendar of Wills and would like to assist in providing text files for the remaining Volumes should email Webmaster for more information.
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Arrangement of Libers and Folios in the
Maryland Calendar of Wills, Vols. I-VIII:
Volume I (1685-1702) contains wills from Libers 1,2, 4, 5, 9 and 10, but only Liber 1 has been published in full in this volume.
Volume II (1685-1702) contains further entries from Libers 2 and 5, as well as from 6, 7 and 11.
Volume III (1703-1713) contains the remainder of Liber 11, all of Libers 12 and 3 and part of Liber 13.
Volume IV (1713-1720) contains the remainder of Liber 13, and all of Libers 14 and 15.
Volume V (1720-1726) contains Libers 16, 17 and 18
Vol. VI (1726-1732) contains Libers 19 and part of 20.
Volume VII (1732-1738) contains the remainder of Liber 20, all of Liber 21, and part of Liber 22.
Volume VIII (1738-1743) contains the remainder of Liber 22, and Liber 23, Folios 1-597.
Selected Published Source References Used in the Annotation of
The Maryland Calendar of Wills, Vols. I-VIII:
Combs &c. of Maryland, a series of published research reports, including records, families, historical materials, tax lists, etc., published by Combs-Coombs, &c., a nonprofit public benefit corporation hosted by USGenNet.
History of the United States of America, Maryland by Henry William Elson, The MacMillan Company, New York, 1904. Chapter IV pp. 75-83, by Kathy Leigh, Colonial America Topic, American History Network, hosted by USGenNet
The Early Settlers of Maryland, an Index to Names of Immigrants Compiled from Records of Land Patents, 1633-1680, in the Hall of Records, Annapolis, Maryland, edited, with an introduction, by Gust Skordas, then-Assistant Archivist, Maryland State Archives, and published by Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, Maryland, 1968, hereinafter Skordas; and its companion volume, A Supplement to Early Colonial Settlers of Maryland by Carson Gibb, published 1997 by the Maryland State Archives (this latter source is a database containing about 8,600 entries that consist of corrections and additions to Skordas).
Abstracts of the Administration Accounts of the Prerogative Court of Maryland, 1674-1678 and 1699-1703 (Libers 1-5), compiled by V. L. Skinner, Jr., Brookline, Maryland, 1992.
Abstracts of Inventories and Accounts of the Prerogative Court of Maryland, 1679-1686 (Libers 6, 7a, 7b, 8), compiled by V. L. Skinner, Jr., Brookline, Maryland, 1992, one of a series covering the years 1685-1777.
Maryland Marriage References by Robert Barnes, electronic edition by the Maryland State Archives
Maryland State Archives
Archives of Maryland, electronic edition, Maryland State Archives