Maryland, Register of Wills Books (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.

Contents

Record Description

This collection is comprised of digital images from court records at the Register of Wills in Maryland. The collection includes records from 1629 to 2010. The records are arranged by county and then by date. The included dates and exact offices vary by county. Additional details will be added as they become available.

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Maryland, Register of Wills Books, 1629-1999.

Coverage Table

The Coverage Table shows the places and time periods covered in the records for this collection. Most of the records in the collection are from the time periods listed in the table; however, the collection may have a few records from before or after the time period.

County Years Covered in Index
Allegany 1790-1852
Anne Arundel 1777-1884
Baltimore 1664-1863
Caroline 1838-1940
Carroll 1837-1852
Cecil 1851-1940
Charles 1629-1947
Dorchester 1852-1939
Frederick 1737-1896
Garrett not available
Harford 1774-1948
Howard 1840-1873
Kent 1664-1948
Montgomery 1777-1851
Prince George's 1796-1940
Queen Anne's 1833-1940
Somerset 1664-1948
St. Mary's 1658-1946
Talbot 1668-1900
Washington 1777-1852
Wicomico 1868-1940
Worcester 1665-1853
Baltimore City not available

Record Content

Probate records include petitions, inventories, wills, guardianships, accounts, decrees, and other court documents. Information found in this collection may include:

  • Name of the testator or deceased
  • Names of heirs, such as a spouse, children, relatives, and friends
  • Name of the executor, administrator, or guardian
  • Names of witnesses
  • Residence of the testator
  • Dates the documents were written and recorded

How to Use the Records

To begin your search you will need to know:

  • The place of residence
  • The approximate death or probate date
  • The name of the deceased

Search the Collection

To search the collection:
⇒Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒Select the "Name of County" category
⇒Select the "Volume Title and Year" category
which takes you to the images

Look at each image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination. Keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life.

Using the Information

When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family. For example:

  • Use probate records to identify heirs and relatives.
  • Use the document (such as the will) or the recording dates to approximate a death date.
  • Use the information in the probate record to substitute for civil birth and death records since the probates exist for an earlier time period.
  • Use the birth date or age along with the residence or place of birth of the deceased to locate census, church, and land records.
  • Use the occupations listed to find other types of records such as employment or military records.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • You may be able to use the probate record to learn about land transactions, adoptions or guardianship of any minor children and dependents.
  • Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname as the deceased; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
  • Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives who may have died in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify.
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
  • Wills are more likely to be found in rural communities than in larger cities and industrial areas.
  • The information in the records is usually reliable, but depends upon the reliability of the deceased or the testator.
  • Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after 1900.
  • There is also some variation in the information given from one record to another record.

Unable to Find Your Ancestor?

  • Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
  • Check for a different index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.

For a summary of this, information see the wiki article United States, How to Use the Records Summary (FamilySearch Historical Records).

Additional Information About these Records

Each county began keeping probate records from the time the county was created. Orphan’s Court was the name of the probate court at the county level. Probate records were generally recorded in the county where the person lived. Estates were probated for approximately 25 percent of the heads of households in the United States before 1900, whether or not the individual left a will. Wills were more likely to have been found in rural communities than in larger cities and industrial areas. 

Probate records were used to legally dispose of a person’s estate after his or her death. If the deceased had made a will, the probate process transferred the following from the deceased to an executor or executrix: the legal responsibility for payment of taxes, care and custody of dependent family members, liquidation of debts, and transfer of property title to heirs. If there was no will, the transfer went to an administrator or administratrix. A guardian or conservator was appointed if the deceased had heirs younger than 21 or if the heirs were incompetent due to disability or disease.

The death date, residence, and other facts that were current at the time of the probate proceedings are reliable, but realize that there is still a chance of misinformation. The records may omit the names of deceased family members or those who had previously received an inheritance. In some cases, the spouse mentioned in the will was not the parent of the children mentioned. Also, some wills do not name family members.

Other Searches

Known Issues with This Collection

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See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

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Contributions to This Article

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. Guidelines are available to help you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide. If you would like to get more involved join the WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Citations for this Collection

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information; that is, cite your sources. This will help people find the record again and evaluate the reliability of the source. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records. Citations are available for the collection as a whole and each record or image individually.

Collection citation:

"Maryland, Register of Wills Books, 1629-1983." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2013. Citing Prerogative Court. Hall of Records, Annapolis.

Image citation:

The citation for an image is available on each image in this collection by clicking Show Citation at the bottom left of the image screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Maryland, Register of Wills Books, 1629-1999.

 

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  • This page was last modified on 30 September 2014, at 03:07.
  • This page has been accessed 13,322 times.