Kinsearching June 17, 2012




Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     Over the years, V. L. Skinner, Jr. has made a name for himself with his genealogical extracts of legal records pertaining to the Old Line State. He recently completed another volume in his latest series: ABSTRACTS OF THE TESTAMENTARY PROCEEDINGS OF THE PREROGATIVE COURT OF MARYLAND, VOLUME XXXVII: 1770-1771, LIBERS 43 (PP. 464–END), 44 (PP. 1-202).

     During the colonial era, the Prerogative Court was the focal point for probate proceedings in Maryland. All probate matters went directly to the court, which was located in the provincial capital of Annapolis. As the colony’s population grew, administration of probate was delegated to the various county courts although the data related to probate were still required to be filed at the Prerogative Court. (Since administrators were sometimes lax in abiding by these rules, however, researchers may find some material only at the county level while other information may only be at the Prerogative Court.) Documents filed in the court include administration bonds, wills, inventories, administration accounts, final balances, and summonses. The testamentary proceedings concern the administrative bond and the court docket.

     In addition, the Prerogative Court was the colonial court for equity cases, which dealt with the resolution of disputes over the settlement and distribution of estates. Any depositions concerning a case were recorded in the minutes. Researchers should be aware that some cases dragged on for several years.

     Following the format set in his previous volumes, Skinner arranges material in chronological order by court session. Details may differ from entry to entry, but the data generally supply the names of the principal individuals involved (testators, heirs, guardians, witnesses, and administrators, for example). Additional facts may include a person’s age or the names of slaves. Often, the name of a spouse, parent, or other relative may appear. A few recurring surnames in the records are BAKER, BEALL, BOND, BROOKE, BURGESS, DASHIEL, DORSEY, EMORY, GOLDSBOROUGH, GRIFFITH, HALL, HAMMOND, HAWKINS, HOWARD, KELLEY, KING, MADDOX, MAGRUDER, MORRIS, PHILLIPS, PLUMMER, RINGGOLD, SEDGWICK, STEVENS, THOMAS, TODD, WELLS, WELSH, WHEELER, and WRIGHT.

     Experienced genealogists are aware that evidence of the existence of many residents of a particular region and their activities may be available only in court documents. As a result, individuals seeking information about ancestors in the Old Line State will want to see if there is any material about their forebears in ABSTRACTS OF THE TESTAMENTARY PROCEEDINGS OF THE PREROGATIVE COURT OF MARYLAND, VOLUME XXXVII: 1770-1771, LIBERS 43 (PP. 464–END), 44 (PP. 1-202). Needless to say, many family researchers eagerly await the publication of Skinner’s next volume in the series.

     The soft-cover work has 293 pages, a concise introduction, a list of abbreviations used in the book, a full name index, and a separate index to equity cases. To the book's price of $32.50, buyers should add the charges for postage and handling. For U. S. postal mail, the cost is $5.50 for one book and $2.50 for each additional copy; for FedEx ground service, the cost is $7.50 for one copy and $2.50 for each additional book. VOLUME XXXVII (item order 9524) may be purchased by check, money order, MasterCard, or Visa from Clearfield Company, 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, Maryland 21211-1953. For phone orders, call toll free 1-800-296-6687; fax 1-410-752-8492; website

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