Maryland Register of Wills Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Maryland, Register of Wills Records, 1629-1999 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Maryland, United States
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Flag of Maryland
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Location of Maryland
Record Description
Record Type Wills
Collection years 1629-1999
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites


What is in the Collection?

This collection is comprised of digital images from court records at the Register of Wills in Maryland. The collection includes records from 1629 to 1999. The records are arranged by county and then by date. The included dates and exact offices vary by county. Many of the volumes have an index at the back of the volume. Additional details will be added as they become available.

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.


To Browse this Collection

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

Image Visibility

Whenever possible, FamilySearch makes images available for all users. However, rights to view images on our website are granted by the record custodians. Images in this collection are available for viewing if you are a registered FamilySearch user. You can register for a free FamilySearch account here.

For additional information about image restrictions, please see the Restrictions for Viewing Images in FamilySearch Historical Record Collections page.

What Can these Records Tell Me?

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

Collection Content

Sample Images

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

How Do I Search the Collection?

You can search the index or view the images or both. To begin your search, it is helpful to know:

  • The name of the individual
  • The date or location of the event

View the Images

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page.

  1. Select Name of County
  2. Select Volume Title and Year

How Do I Analyze the Results?

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images.


For more tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

What Do I Do Next?

  • Use a Probate record to identify adoptions, guardians, heirs and relatives.
  • Use a will to approximate a death date, then find a death certificate.
  • Use the information in the probate record to substitute for civil birth and death records for earlier years.
  • Use the information to find other church and vital records such as birth, baptism, marriage, and death records. Also search for immigration, military, land and probate records.
  • Use the information to find additional family members in censuses.
  • Repeat this process with additional family members found, to find more generations of the family.
  • Church Records often were kept years before government records were required and are a good source for finding ancestors before 1900.

I Can’t Find Who I’m Looking for, What Now?

  • Try viewing the original record. Indexes and transcriptions may not include all the data found in the original records. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • If your ancestor does not have a common name, collect entries for every person who has the same surname. This list can help you identify possible relatives that can be verified by records.
  • If you cannot locate your ancestor in the locality in which you believe they lived, then try searching records of a nearby locality in an area search.
  • Try variant spellings of your ancestor’s name.
  • Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names. Try searching for these names as well.
  • Search the indexes and records of Maryland, United States Genealogy.
  • Search in the FamilySearch Library Catalog

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.

Citing this Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.

Collection Citation:

"Maryland, Register of Wills Records, 1629-1999." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2017. Citing Prerogative Court. Hall of Records, Annapolis.

Image Citation:

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


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How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.