The Prerogative Court was the focal point for probate in colonial Maryland. Initially all matters of probate went directly to the Prerogative Court, which was located in Maryland’s colonial capital, Annapolis. As the Province became more populous, all documents were still to be filed with the Prerogative Court; however, administration of probate was delegated to the various county courts. The Prerogative Court was also the colony’s court for equity cases–resolution of disputes over the settlement and distribution of an estate. During 1761-1762 the court was meeting every two months.
Volume XXXII of Abstracts of the Testamentary Proceedings of the Prerogative Court of Maryland, compiled by Vernon Skinner, is derived from this important source for Maryland genealogists. In compiling the series, Mr. Skinner has worked primarily from microfilm copies of the Prerogative Court records; however, when necessary to resolve problems of paleography, he has consulted the original manuscripts, located at the Maryland State Archives in Annapolis.
The series is arranged, with a few exceptions, chronologically by court session. Volume XXXII consists of testamentary abstracts for the balance of 1762, all of 1763, and part of 1764. In all, the latest book in this distinguished series refers to nearly 7,000 colonial inhabitants of the Province of Maryland. For the most part, the transcriptions state the names of the principals (testators, heirs, guardians, witnesses, administrators, and so forth), as well as details of bequests, names of slaves, appraisers, and more.
Here is a sample entry from August 3, 1763:
Deputy Commissary (PG) exhibited will of Thomas Swann (PG), indicating that the witnesses refuse to take the oath. Summons to following witnesses to testify: Richard Estep, John Ramsay Leach, Thomas Taylor. Also summons to Edward Swann executor of Thomas Swann to show cause why said will should not be proved.
Vernon L. Skinner, Jr.
2011, paper, 288 pp.