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Land Office and Prerogative Court Records of Colonial Maryland
Volume 415, Page 13   View pdf image (33K)
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Whatever the idealistic aims of the founders of Maryland, the
problem of making the enterprise pay was a most considerable factor
that could not be ignored. Lacking the gold of Mexico or the spices
of the Indies, the Lords Baltimore had to make use of the land itself
as a source of wealth. The proprietary system, under which Mary-
land was governed, gave ownership of the soil and complete juris-
diction over it to the Lord Proprietor himself, just as in a medieval
fief. Land "bought" was never owned; it was held in fief, or more
accurately, in common socage, from the Lord Proprietor. The more
of Ms land that the Lord Proprietor could grant or lease to new
settlers the more income he would naturally have from. it. Hence
the constant campaign to induce people to "come out" to Maryland
and take up land.

The basis upon which land was granted was laid down in certain
proposals published by the Lord Proprietor, called Conditions of
Plantation. Under the first Conditions of Plantation, for example,
2000 acres of land were to be granted to every adventurer taking
five men into the new province in the year 1633. All along, too, the
Lord Proprietor made special grants, with or without conditions,,
according to his fancy, to friends and favorites. As things got
started, grants were reduced—on the basis of new and successive
Conditions of Plantation—and in 1683 title to land was divorced
from the condition of importation of new settlers and put on a cash
basis—known as purchase or caution money. The amount of the
caution money was at first set at 200 pounds of tobacco for every
hundred acres. The price was steadily raised, however, until at the
time of the overthrow of the proprietary government in 1776 it was.
five pounds sterling per. hundred acres. 1

Besides caution money payments the Lord Proprietor had three
other chief types of land revenue: alienation fines, manor rents and
quit rents. An alienation fine was the fee required to be paid to the
Lord Proprietor whenever land granted to a tenant was transferred
or conveyed to another person, the amount of the fine usually being
equivalent to a year's rent. Quit rents and manor rents differ only
in that the former represent the yearly rent paid on freeholds, or
private land whereas the latter refer to the yearly rent paid on tene-

1 Clarence P. Gould, The Land System in Maryland, 1720-1765. Baltimore
1913, p. 15.


 

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Land Office and Prerogative Court Records of Colonial Maryland
Volume 415, Page 13   View pdf image (33K)
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