Worcester County, Maryland Genealogy

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The county is named after Mary Arundell, the wife of Sir John Somerset. Her sister married Cecilius Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore.[1]

The 300 or fewer American Indians of Worcester county for the most part avoided fighting and preferred living next to their new British neighbors. They left the county by 1748 eventually ending up in Ontario.[2]

The earliest white settlers of Worcester County were mostly religious dissenters voting with their feet by moving north from Accomack County, Virginia starting in the late 1630s. All social classes from gentlemen to freed indentured servants settled in the area. There is no evidence that transported convicts ever settled in Worcester as in other parts of Maryland and Virginia. The settlers were first attracted by furs, and by slowly expanding small farms in the forests. The ancestors of early Worcester settlers were almost all British.[3]

Before long Virginia authorities were giving land grants in the area over objections from Maryland. Virginia granted 27,800 acres of land to settlers in Worcester from 1645-1666, more than Maryland had granted. After many disputes the Maryland was forced to recognize most of these Virginia grants. Lord Baltimore’s official Maryland proprietary land grants started in Worcester in 1651. Many of his grants were large 3,000 and 4,000 acre grants.[2]

Maryland continued to dispute her border with Pennsylvania as well until the drawing of the Mason-Dixon Line in 1767. Old Worcester County was created about 1669 absorbing now extinct Durham County, and for awhile in 1672 claimed nearly all of the state of Delaware. But by 1685 the British Board of Trade and Foreign Plantations ruled old Worcester County, Maryland dissolved by degree, but the decree was not fully accepted until 1738. However, in 1742 a new Worcester was Country reconstituted out of the eastern part of Somerset County.[4]

In 1684 Maryland’s proprietary land grant system was replaced with a land-for-fee system which attracted large numbers of new settlers. For awhile tobacco was important both as a crop and as currency, but Worcester’s sandy soil could not grow the best quality. By 1700 indentured servitude began to decline and lifetime slavery became more prominent.[5]

By 1662 Quaker and Presbyterian “dissenters” leaving Episcopalian Virginia, together with some of their Episcopalian neighbors, and a few Huguenots were among the first settlers in Worcester County. Baptist ministers, including Francis Makemie, arrived in 1735. In 1766 Methodist circuit riders began to appear including William Barnes and Lorenzo Dow. In 1878 the first Catholic church, and in 1903 the first Jewish synagogue were built.[6]

Parent County

Boundary Changes

  • Wicomico County was set off 17 August 1867 from Somerset and Worcester counties.[7]

Record Loss



Populated Places

  • Pocomoke City
  • Berlin
  • Ocean City
  • Snow Hill
Census Districts
  • Girdletree
  • Newark
  • Ocean Pines
  • Stockton
  • West Ocean City
  • Whaleyville
  • Bishopville
  • Boxiron
  • Cedartown
  • Germantown
  • Goodwill
  • Klej Grange
  • Nassawango Hills
  • Poplartown
  • Public Landing
  • Showell

Neighboring Counties

Somerset | Wicomico | Sussex County, Delaware | Accomack County, Virginia



Some cemetery transcriptions on interment.net:  http://www.interment.net/us/md/worcester.htm


Federal Census reports available 1790-1930 including slave and veterans schedules.


Maryland State Archives' Guide to Maryland Religious Institutions identifies all churches known to have existed in Worcester County, Maryland. It covers all denominations and includes record descriptions. The following records, taken from its collection, have been digitized and made available to view for free online:


For information about the Worcester County, Maryland Courthouse and its records, click here.

Family Histories

It is anticipated that this bibliography will eventually identify all known family histories published about residents of this county. Use this list to:

  • Locate publications about direct ancestors
  • Find the most updated accounts of an ancestor's family
  • Identify publications, to quote Elizabeth Shown Mills, about an ancestor's "FAN Club" [Friends, Associates, and Neighbors]


  • Barnes, Robert W., F. Edward Wright, Vernon L. Skinner and Henry C. Peden. Colonial Families of the Eastern Shore of Maryland. 23 vols. Westminster, Md.: Family Line, 1996-2003; Lewes, Del.: Delmarva Roots and Colonial Roots, 2007. FHL US/CAN Book 975.21 D2b v. 1 ff. [Worcester County families appear in Vols. 8-10, 12, 15, 17-18, 20, and 22.]




The New Early Settlers of Maryland database is a great place to start searching for immigrants who had arrived in the colony by the 1680s. The database "comprises 34,326 entries from Gust Skordas' Early Settlers of Maryland and Carson Gibb's Supplement to the Early Settlers of Maryland." Available online, courtesy: Maryland State Archives.

Other Worcester County immigration resources include:


Through a Joint eGovernment Service of the Maryland Judiciary and the Maryland State Archives, free images and indexes of the complete series of Worcester County Deed Books (1742-present) have been uploaded to their website: MDLandRec.Net: A Digital Image Retrieval System for Land Records in Maryland. (Requires free registration.)

Local Histories



Revolutionary War
  • A Census of Pensioners for Revolutionary or Military Services: With their Names, Ages, and Places of Residence, as Returned by the Marshalls of the Several Judicial Districts, Under the Act for Taking the Sixth Census]. 1841. Digital version at Google Books et. al. 1967 reprint: FHL Collection 973 X2pc 1840. [See Maryland, Worcester County on page 128.]



For information about the Worcester County, Maryland Register of Wills and its records, click here.


Vital Records


Societies and Libraries


Web Sites


  1. ["List of Counties in Maryland," Wikipedia.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Reginald V. Truitt, and Millard G. Les Callette, Worcester County Maryland’s Arcadia (Snow Hill, Md.: Worcester County Historical Society, 1977), 3-5. [FHL book 975.221 H2t; fiche 6087644]
  3. Reginald V. Truitt, and Millard G. Les Callette, Worcester County Maryland’s Arcadia (Snow Hill, Md.: Worcester County Historical Society, 1977), 23-24, 33. [FHL book 975.221 H2t; fiche 6087644]
  4. Reginald V. Truitt, and Millard G. Les Callette, Worcester County Maryland’s Arcadia (Snow Hill, Md.: Worcester County Historical Society, 1977), 39, 43, 46, 48. 51-52. [FHL book 975.221 H2t; fiche 6087644]
  5. Reginald V. Truitt, and Millard G. Les Callette, Worcester County Maryland’s Arcadia (Snow Hill, Md.: Worcester County Historical Society, 1977), 24-26. [FHL book 975.221 H2t; fiche 6087644]
  6. Reginald V. Truitt, and Millard G. Les Callette, Worcester County Maryland’s Arcadia (Snow Hill, Md.: Worcester County Historical Society, 1977), 375-412. [FHL book 975.221 H2t; fiche 6087644]
  7. 7.0 7.1 Handybook for Genealogists, 9th ed. (Logan, Utah: Everton Pub., 1999), 183. [FHL book 973 D27e 1999]