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Volume 662, Page 103   View pdf image (33K)
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CONCLUSION 103

entailed much tramping about in wild country and, with some
exceptions, brought in but small returns. Other offices were
however less exacting. The Deputy Secretary exercised merely
a general supervision over the chief provincial record office, as did
the Land Office Judges over the Land Office. The (land) Sur-
veyorships General and the customs Surveyorships were admittedly
sinecures. All other Customs Offices and Naval Offices and the
county clerkships could be, and often were, executed by deputy.

Only the shrievalty and the farmer's office entailed much
financial risk. The sheriff, as a collector, normally gave many
planters credit, paying their obligations and charging interest on
the amount. A farmer paid the entire sum of the county quit-
rents, minus his discount, expecting then to collect enough to
realize a profit. Both officers gambled on their prospect of getting
money from a tight fisted people. Officers paid in tobacco fees
always gave credit till the tobacco was ready and so lost a bit
each year through insolvencies and the hazards of collection.
When there was no fee law (1726-47 and 1770-77) these hazards
were of course augmented.

The shrievalty was the only place of profit held for a fixed and
limited term, Surveyor General John Langford (1642-48) and
Principal Secretary Thomas Beake (1714-1732/3) had appoint-
ments for life; but all other officials were appointed during
pleasure. However, Customs and Naval Officers and county clerks
(after about 1694) enjoyed in practice a life tenure. All higher
provincial and proprietary officers, except the Governor, normally
held office for years and, if removed from one place, were given
another of like value. Moreover the longer an incumbent retained
his place the more secure became his tenure, for Baltimore feared
resentments above all else.

Least secure was the Governor. Although he might count on
his salary and perquisites, his position itself was so ticklish that
he could scarcely hope to retain it long. Indeed, between the
proprietor and the delegates, he rode the horns of a dilemma.
Should he too firmly maintain prerogative, he would arouse the
Lower House against himself, throw politics into disorder, and
so obtain his own dismissal, as did Thomas Bladen. Should he
yield to the delegates, he might violate his instructions and so just
as effectually forfeit his job. Governor Ogle, in spite of the bitter


 

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