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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) 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.
Maryland Land Records
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 are found in:
- Skordas, Gust. Early Settlers of Maryland: An Index to Names of Immigrants Compiled from Records of Land Patents, 1633-1680. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1968. (Family History Library book 975.2 W2s.) This source lists the settler's name, immigration date, and the source of the information.
- A supplement to Skordas "Early Settlers of Maryland" is: A supplement to "The Early Settlers of Maryland" comprising 8,680 entries correcting omissions and errors in Gust Skordas, The Early Settlers of Maryland, compiled by Carson Gibb. Annapolis, [Maryland]: Maryland State Archives, 1997 (Family History Library book 975.2 W2s supp.)
- Coldham, Peter Wilson. Settlers of Maryland. [1679- 1783]. Five Volumes. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1995-1996. (Family History Library book 975.2 R28c.) 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.
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, Maryland: Pipe Creek Publication, Inc., 1993. (Family History Library 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 . . . 1882. Reprint, Baltimore, Maryland: Regional Publishing Company, 1968. (Family History Library book 975.2 H2s 1968; fiche 6046813; 1882 ed. on Family History Library films 962679-80.) This work is indexed by the following work:
Long, Helen R. Index to Scharf’s History of Western Maryland: Volumes I and II. Westminster, Md.: Clearfield Co. & Family Lines Publications, 1995. (Family History Library book 975.2 H2s index)
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.
- MDLandRec.net has an index to land patents and digital scans of survey certificates.
A guide to help you locate and use the early land records is:
- 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, also Family History Library microfiche 6117897).
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 (Family History Library films 1685853-860).
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. Baltimore City, Maryland deeds since 1851 have been filed with the clerk of the Baltimore City Supreme Court. 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 county courthouse.
Records at the Family History Library
The Family History Library has copies of most of the pre-1850 patents, warrants, and deeds. From the Maryland State Archives, for example, the library has 266 microfilms of Baltimore City deeds for the years 1653 to 1849 (Family History Library films 013323-588). The library also has the following statewide collections from the Maryland State Archives:
Patents Series: Of the Maryland Land Office. Land patents, certificates, and warrants, 1636 to 1852. (Family History Library films 013063-141.) See also the Calvert Papers, mentioned in Maryland Genealogy. (Family History Library films 1685853-4)Provincial court judgments, 1679 to 1778. (Family History Library films 012941-68)