Maryland Land Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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|This article describes a collection of historical records scheduled to become available at FamilySearch.org.|
Collection Time Period
These records cover the years 1733 to 1968.
This collection may include any of the following types of records:
- General transactions (purchases or sales)
The key genealogical facts found in most land records are:
- Names of interested individuals such as grantor (seller), grantee (buyer), and witnesses
- Legal description and location of land
- Amount of money exchanged
How to Use the Record
Begin your search by finding your ancestors in the index. Name indexes make it possible to access a specific record quickly. Remember that these indexes may contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned. In addition some entries in earlier years may have been missed.
When searching the index it is helpful to do the following:
- Check an index for the family name (surname) and then the given name. Indexes enable you to access land records quickly by searching for the names of owners. Realize that some entries in earlier years may have been missed. Indexes may also contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings or misinterpretations.
- Make a list of the volumes and page numbers for each deed you wish to check.
- For each deed, search the noted volume and page number.
Use the locator information found in the index (such as page, entry, or certificate number) to locate your ancestors in the records. Some on-line indexes, such as indexes to FamilySearch Historical Records, will take you directly to an image. Compare the information in the record to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct person. You may need to compare the information of more than one person to make this determination.
When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. Make a photocopy of the deed, or extract the genealogical information needed. 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 the residence and names of the parents to locate church and census records.
- Occupations listed can lead you to employment records or other types of records such as military records.
- Search for the land transactions of a couple and their children. The parents may have sold or given property to a son or daughter. Such transactions confirm relationships that might not be found in other records.
- Search for records of people in the county who shared a surname. These may have been the couple’s parents, uncles, or other relatives. Your ancestor may have been an heir who sold inherited land that had belonged to parents or grandparents.
- To find later generations, search the land records a few years before and after a person’s death. Your ancestor may have sold or given land to his or her heirs before death, or the heirs may have sold the land after the individual died. For daughters, the names of their husbands are often provided. For sons, the given names of their wives may be included. Heirs may have sold their interest in the land to another heir even though the record may not indicate this. Continue this process for identifying each succeeding generation.
- When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
Keep in mind:
- Some counties were subdivided or the boundaries may have changed. Consider searching neighboring counties as well since that courthouse may have been more convenient for the person.
- One deed does not usually give sufficient information about a couple and their children. A careful study of all deeds for the person or the family will yield a richer return of information.
- For each parcel of land owned, you should obtain two documents: (1) the deed that documents when ownership transferred to the individual or the family and (2) the deed that documents when ownership was transferred to someone else.
- Witnesses and neighbors, even those with a different surname, may have been relatives, in-laws, or even a widowed mother who has remarried. You may want to check the records of these witnesses and neighbors, especially if they are frequently found in your ancestor’s land records.
- The information in the records is usually reliable, but depends upon the reliability of the informant.
- Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after the late 1900.
- There is some variation in the information given from one record to another.
If you are unable to find the ancestors you are looking for, try the following:
- 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 for the “parent” county to find the original purchase of a parcel of land. You may also need to search a neighboring county since that courthouse may have been more convenient for the person to record the deed.
- Check the land records of the people mentioned in your ancestor’s deeds to see if a different residence was ever mentioned for them.
- Make a list of all residences mentioned in the records within a year or two of when your ancestors came to the county—regardless of surname. Then search the records of places that seem likely or that occur frequently.
- Create a database for other people with the same surname who lived in the county. Doing this may help you identify which individuals were related. If your ancestor’s records do not contain the information you need, a county database might give you a more complete picture.
- Search other areas of the index. For example, if the land was sold for taxes, the entry may be in the grantor index under “S” for “sheriff,” under “T” for “tax collector” or “treasurer,” under the names of those officials, or even under the county name. County histories or other records may give the names of these county officials.
All Maryland land was first owned by the Calvert family proprietors who obtained it from the Crown. During the Revolutionary War, Maryland offered land grant lots as a bounty to entice recruits to fill Maryland's enlistment quotas. After land was transferred to private ownership, deeds and mortgages were filed with the county clerk.
Why this Record Was Created
These records were created to follow the transfer of ownership and rights to individual tracks of land. They were instrumental in the formation of both local and state governments in Maryland.
The records are generally reliable.
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Contributions to This Article
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Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
When you copy information from a record, you should also list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. 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.
A suggested format for citing FamilySearch Historical Collections, including how to cite individual archives is found in the following link: How to Cite FamilySearch Collections
Examples of Source Citations for a Record in This Collection
- United States. Bureau of the Census. 12th census, 1900, digital images, From FamilySearch Internet (www.familysearch.org: September 29, 2006), Arizona Territory, Maricopa, Township 1, East Gila, Salt River Base and Meridian; sheet 9B, line 71
- Mexico, Distrito Federal, Catholic Church Records, 1886-1933, digital images, from FamilySearch Internet (www.familysearch.org: April 22, 2010), Baptism of Adolfo Fernandez Jimenez, 1 Feb. 1910, San Pedro Apóstol, Cuahimalpa, Distrito Federal, Mexico, film number 0227023
Sources of Information for This Collection
Maryland. Land Records. Various county clerks throughout Maryland.