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The County Courthouses and Records of Maryland -- Part 1: The Courthouses
Volume 545, Page 61   View pdf image (33K)
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CHARLES COUNTY

The Charles County which built the courthouses and created the records described in
this account must be distinguished from an earlier Charles County whose bounds were entirely
different. This earlier county, now referred to as "Old Charles," was created by an order in
Council of October 3, 1650.1 And the date of its erection, November 21, 1650, is mentioned
in the act setting up Calvert County.2 Robert Brooke was made commander of the County,
and it was perhaps for his benefit that the County was laid out. In any case, he was then a
close personal friend of the Proprietor and presumably had benefited largely from his
patronage. On September 28, 1653, "Old Charles" was wiped out, a casualty of the religious
and political feuding of the period,3 and on July 3, 1654, part of it was incorporated into
Calvert County.

A first step was taken in the creation of new Charles County, April 13, 1658, when it
was ordered:

That a Commission be drawne up for the keepeing of a Court, on the North side
of Wicocomaco River & that that part of the Province be erected into a County.4

The commission is found among the records of the Provincial Court and is dated May 10, 1658.
The bounds of the new county were described as follows:

all that tract of Land of this our Province of Maryland Bownded with West
Wicocomoco Ryver, up to the head thereof, & Sowth with Patowmeck ryver from the
mouth of Wicocomoco up as high as any Plantaon under our government is now seated,
And from thence with a right Line drawne from such plantadn as aforesaid to the
head of Wicocomoco Ryver ....

The county was to be named for Lord Baltimore's son and heir apparent, Charles Calvert.5

First Courthouse

Little time was lost by the commissioners who were named by the Governor in actually
beginning to function as a separate government. The court sat for the first time May 25,
1658. It is possible that its first meetings were held at what is now Port Tobacco, and this
is the current belief in Charles County. However, there is no indication in the earliest records
that this was the case. The first two volumes of the court records covering the period 1658-
1666 mention an exact place of meeting only twice: "At A Counties Court Held at Humpherie
Atwikses the 4th of June A° 1658," and "The Court is Adiourned untill the 12th of March A°
1660 & appoynted to bee held at Clement Theobals hows." " Otherwise one must be content
with the unrevealing "At A Court held in Charleses Countie," which is repeated time after
time until 1670, after which the place of meeting is sometimes given as "Portobacco."

According to the plaque erected in the 1954 addition to the present courthouse, the first
Charles County courthouse was built in 1658, and it is described as "One room built of logs,
located on the western shore of Port Tobacco Creek." This writer, unfortunately, has not

1 Arch, of Md., III, 259-60.
2 Ibid., 308.
3 Ibid., 308.

4 Ibid., 341.
5 Ibid., XLI, 87.
6 Ibid., LIII, 4, 111.

61



 

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The County Courthouses and Records of Maryland -- Part 1: The Courthouses
Volume 545, Page 61   View pdf image (33K)
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