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Court Records of Prince George's County, Maryland 1696-1699.
Volume 202, Preface 7   View pdf image (33K)
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INTRODUCTION

Publication of the legal records of the American colonies, for the most part, has
been lacking in any systematic approach. In many cases the motivating factor has
been local pride, the adventitious possession of manuscripts or the personal in-
clinations of scholars. Frequently the hierarchial nature of the colonial judicial
establishment has been lost to view. The present publication, we believe, has
greater logic in its favor.

In 1933 the Executive Council of the American Historical Association, acting
through its Committee on the Littleton-Griswold Fund, published the first of its
projected series of American Legal Records. The inaugural volume consisted of
Proceedings of the Maryland Court of Appeals, 1695-1729, edited by the late
Carroll T. Bond, Chief Judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals, writh the collabora-
tion of Richard B. Morris, then Assistant Professor of History in the College of the
City of New York. This volume supplemented the program, then in progress, of the
Maryland Historical Society, acting as an agency of the State, of publishing some
of the seventeenth century records of the Provincial Court, the Court of Chancery
and county and manorial courts.

Some years later, Dr. Morris L. Radoff, Archivist at the Hall of Records, An-
napolis, Maryland, suggested to the Committee the desirability of obtaining a
cross-section of the provincial judicial system by publishing some of the Maryland
county court records, in the custody of the Hall of Records Commission, for the
period covered by the printed proceedings of the Court of Appeals. To this end
Dr. Radoff urged publication of Liber A of the Prince Georges County Court
Records, covering the period from 1696 (the date of the establishment of the
county) to 1699. This choice was dictated to some extent by necessity (all the
colonial court records of St. Marys and Calvert Counties have been destroyed by
fire; those of Anne Arundel before 1703) and by clerical proclivities (the records of
some of the counties on the Eastern Shore are less inclusive and the entries to some
extent less informative). However, Liber A not only contained entries as representa-
tive as those of other counties, such as Charles County, but also illustrated the me-
chanics of the establishment of a judicial system in a newly-created county. The
choice was also based on the assumption that the Maryland Historical Society
would ultimately publish the Provincial Court records for the 1696-99 period and
on the announced policy of the Society to cease publishing further county court
records.

After some discussion the Committee agreed to undertake to publish the records
contained in Liber A with appropriate introductions; the Hall of Records Com-
mission on its part agreed to make a substantial contribution towards publication
costs, to transcribe the text of Liber A and to be responsible for an index of proper
names. In accordance with this arrangement the text of Liber A was transcribed
(and to some extent modernized) by Gust Skordas, presently Assistant Archivist of
the Hall of Records, and the late Roger Thomas, Senior Archivist. The original
intention was to have both an historical and a legal introduction to the records.
However, this gave rise to a number of editorial difficulties which threatened to
halt publication. The present editors finally decided to pool their efforts and to
cover the historical and legal aspects in one introduction, a decision which was

 

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Court Records of Prince George's County, Maryland 1696-1699.
Volume 202, Preface 7   View pdf image (33K)
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