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Early Maryland land records are available at the Maryland State Archives with copies and indexes to many of them available in other libraries and archives. A joint Government service of the Maryland Judiciary and the Maryland State Archives provides a digital image retrieval system (MDLandRec.net - requires free registration) to Maryland land records. This includes digital scans of Maryland county deed indexes and deed books, an index to land patents (land transferred from the government to individuals), and digital scans of survey certificates. This site allows you to conduct the majority of your Maryland deed research online.
All Maryland land was first owned by the Calvert family proprietors who obtained it from the Crown. From 1633 to 1683 they issued headrights, or land grants, in return for immigrants transporting themselves and others to Maryland. In 1680 the headright system under Charles Calvert, the third Lord Baltimore, and the Land Office was created. The names of individuals receiving land through the headright system and later through cash sales have been published. The Maryland State Archives has digitized books by Skordas and Gibb, and Ancestry ($) has digitized Coldham's five volume set:
- Skordas, Gust. Early Settlers of Maryland: An Index to Names of Immigrants Compiled from Records of Land Patents, 1633-1680. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1968. FHL Book 975.2 W2s. This source lists the settler's name, immigration date, and the source of the information. Free online index, courtesy: Maryland State Archives.
- Gibb, Carson. A Supplement to "The Early Settlers of Maryland" comprising 8,680 entries Correcting Omissions and Errors in Gust Skordas, The Early Settlers of Maryland. Annapolis, Md.: Maryland State Archives, 1997. FHL Book 975.2 W2s supp.. Free online index, courtesy: Maryland State Archives.
- Coldham, Peter Wilson. Settlers of Maryland. [1679- 1783]. 5 vols. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1995-1996. FHL Book 975.2 R28c; digital version at Ancestry ($). This series is a continuation of the work started by Gust Skordas. It may include county, name of tract, acreage, date, and references. In the late 1600s, the headright system was replaced by cash sales of proprietary lands. The series covers 1679 to 1783.
The 1759 Maryland land tax return reveals the proportions of land, county-by-county, owned by Catholics in contrast to land owned by Protestants. The highest percentages of Catholic landholdings were in Charles, Prince George's, and St. Mary's counties. The lowest percentages of Catholic landholdings were in Calvert, Cecil, Somerset, Talbot, and Worcester counties. Most land in those counties was owned by Protestants.
During the Revolutionary War, Maryland offered land grant lots as a bounty to entice recruits to fill Maryland's enlistment quotas. These lots, located "Westward of Fort Cumberland" in present day Allegany and Garrett counties, are described in indexed land records and maps available at the Maryland State Archives. Those men receiving this land are mentioned in two publications, both of which are indexed:
- Meyer, Mary K. Westward of Fort Cumberland Military Lots Set Off for Maryland's Revolutionary Soldiers: With an Appended List of Revolutionary Soldiers Granted Pensions by the State of Maryland. Finksburg, Md.: Pipe Creek Publication, Inc., 1993. FHL Book 975.2 M2me.
- Scharf, John T. History of Western Maryland: Being a History of Frederick, Montgomery, Carroll, Washington, Allegany, and Garrett Counties from the Earliest Period to the Present Day . . . Philadelphia, Pa.: L.H. Everts, 1882. Digital versions: Vol. 2; Vol. 2, pt. 1; FHL Films 962679-80; 1968 reprint:FHL Book 975.2 H2s 1968, fiche 6046813.
Long prepared an index:
- Long, Helen R. Index to Scharf’s History of Western Maryland: Volumes I and II. Westminster, Md.: Clearfield Co. & Family Lines Publications, 1995. FHL Book 975.2 H2s index. This indexes John T. Scharf's book above.
Land Office Records
The Maryland State Archives has the original land office records, dating from 1634 to the present, and other early records that were once filed in each county. The land office records include land patents, surveys, grants, warrants, and proprietary rent rolls and debt books. A list of the land office records is in the inventory compiled by Morris Radoff, mentioned in Maryland Archives and Libraries. The Maryland State Archives also has a card index arranged by grantee, by later owners, and by county and tract name, see: MDLandRec.net. These records have also been microfilmed by FamilySearch (1636-1852): FHL Films 13063-13141.
A guide is available to help you locate and use early Maryland land records:
- Hartsook, Elizabeth, and Gust Skordas. Land Office and Prerogative Court Records of Colonial Maryland. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1968. Family History Library book 975.2 B4ma No. 4 1968,FHL Collection, also Family History Library microfiche 6117897, FHL Collection.
The Maryland Historical Society has rent receipts, quitrent rolls (1633 to 1765), and debt books (1750) purchased from the Calvert family. The Family History Library has a microfilm copy of these records: FHL Films 1685853-860.
- Provincial Court Judgments, 1679 to 1778. FHL Films 12941-12968.
County Land Records
After land was transferred to private ownership, deeds and mortgages were filed with the county clerk. See MDLandRec.net for digital scans of Maryland county deed indexes and deed books. Many deeds and mortgages were also recorded with the Provincial Court and General Courts from 1637 to 1805.
The Maryland State Archives has the original county land records and microfilm copies of many of these records to the present.
You can also obtain copies by writing to the county clerk at the appropriate county courthouse. See Maryland Land Records and Deeds Directory for the addresses, phone numbers, etc. of the Recorder of Deeds for each county and the city of Baltimore.
Baltimore City, Maryland deeds since 1851 have been filed with the clerk of the Baltimore City Supreme Court.
FamilySearch has microfilmed many of these records.
National Register of Historic Places
- Inventory of Historic Properties - access full nomination files of places listed in Maryland on the National Register of Historic Places. Files include the name of site, location, approximate date, public or private ownership, if occupied, if open to the public, description of physical appearance and condition, and photographs. Site maintained by the Maryland State Archives.
- ↑ "An Account of the Number of Acres of Land in each County, in the Province of Maryland; distinguishing what Number of Acres are held by Protestants, and what Number of Acres are held by Papists, in each County, as it was returned by the Several Collectors of the Land Tax on Sept. 29, 1759," The Gentleman's Magazine, Vol. 35 (1765):15.