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Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, October 1773 to April 1774
Volume 64, Preface 23   View pdf image (33K)
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Introduction. xxiii

Three comprehensive poor laws were passed at the instance of the counties
concerned; they were for Talbot, St. Mary's and Baltimore Counties. Anne
Arundel County had set up a poor house and work house, but had failed to
provide funds ready to care for the poor when they were first received
(Archives, LXIII, 303-304). Now they asked for and got permission to levy
ten pounds of tobacco per poll to further the original purpose of the act
(pp. 208-209). For the other three counties the system was the same: there
was hardly an essential difference in the laws. Five self-perpetuating trustees
were chosen (pp. 220, 261, 381) and in each case it happened that at least one
of the five was a member of the Upper or Lower House. They were to buy
land in the county, not more than 100 acres and put up and equip buildings
for an alms house and a work house. The poor were to be received on the
direction of any trustee; the rogues, vagrants, vagabonds and beggars were to
be committed by a justice of the peace. Every person received must, on penalty
of twenty lashes and up to three weeks hard labor, wear on his or her right
sleeve a badge. The badge, in red or blue cloth, bore the letter P., for "poor,"
and the first letter of the name of the county. How long this provision for
badges remained in the law is not now known, but in the next general county
poor laws, passed in 1785, it is retained word for word (Acts of 1785, e. 15,
p. 17; e. 57, sec. 17). No liquor was to be given away or sold on alms house
land. Disorderly persons could be committed to the workhouse by a county
magistrate, upon complaint, and if the disorderliness persisted, the guilty could
receive up to thirty-nine lashes.

Several school laws were passed during this period, and some of them are
still important. In theory there was a school in each country since 1723, but
most of them were so entirely worthless that they were only the hundred acres
of land that the act of 1723 (Archives, XXXIV, 740-746) decreed each school
should have. Governor Sharpe, who was much interested in education, said in
1763, that there was not in all of Maryland "even one good Grammar school."
(Archives, XIV, 115.) In 1772 some agitation arose in Southern Maryland
for one school to be built in St. Mary's County to serve St. Mary's, Prince
George's, Charles and Calvert Counties (Maryland Gazette, July 30, Novem-
ber 5, 1772), and in the sessions of June and November 1773 a petition was
presented from "sundry Inhabitants of Saint Marys Calvert Charles and
Prince Georges Counties for the Erection of a School at the Cool Springs"
(p. 42; vol. LXIII, 319). By the time the petition got down to the Lower
House, more detail had been added. The schools in those counties, with their
lands, were to be sold and that money, with the arrears due the schools, could
endow one large school at Cool Springs (pp. 85, 108, 133, 307, 336). Calvert
County later dropped out of the plan. The petition was granted April 12,
1774, and a committee composed of all the Prince George's and St. Mary's
delegates and one each from Charles and Anne Arundel Counties reported
"An Act to unite the Free Schools of St. Mary's Charles and Prince Georges
Counties" (p. 344). The act (pp. 377-379) provided for the Charlotte Hall
that is still in existence. The school started with the proceeds of the sale of
the school lands and with the considerable sums raised by subscription, and it


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Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, October 1773 to April 1774
Volume 64, Preface 23   View pdf image (33K)
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