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Volume 662, Page 40   View pdf image (33K)
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40 HIS LORDSHIP'S PATRONAGE

for his office, and an act of April, in the following year, expressly
abolished it.

The fees of the Commissary were first established by ah act of
March, 1638/9, and were then confirmed by the Governor's
proclamation of August 2, 1642. 5 Early in the royal period these
and other charges were embodied in the general fee act of June,
1692. Under the restored proprietary another fee law, that of
June, 1719, reduced them about twenty-five percent; and the
Inspection Act of 1747 again brought them down, to about three-
fourths to four-fifths of their former value in tobacco.

At the inception of royal government a law of June, 1692, had
met a long felt need by providing a Deputy Commissary in each
county. This officer was to be appointed by his principal, but after
1743 such appointment required the Governor's approval. 6 Nor-
mally the deputy could grant letters of administration on all
estates, but if a dispute arose, only his principal could decide
between the parties. An act of July, 1699, further empowered
him to pass accounts of those estates whose value was not above
£ 50 sterling, and the Inspection Law of 1747 raised this sum to
£ 150 currency, or about £ 75 sterling. If the value were more, he
usually obtained from the Commissary a special commission for
passing the account. On " pauper estates" the deputy could
charge but a third of his normal fee, and his principal, after July,
1699, received no fee at all. The deputies commonly held office
for life through nominally at the Commissary's pleasure. In 1760
Governor Sharpe supposed three of them might be getting £ 50
sterling a year and the others from £ 10 to £ 30. 7 Under the
Constitution of 1776 the Deputy Commissaries were succeeded by
Registers of Wills, nominated by the two houses of Assembly,
jointly, and appointed by the Governor.

At the establishment of deputies it had been the sense of
Governor and Upper House that, as these officers were appointed

5 A more complete table of somewhat higher charges, admitted by the Governor
June 26, 1673, was confirmed by an act of June, 1676, and was supplemented by
additional fees, again admitted by the Governor, Oct. 21, 1678 (Ibid.. I, 57, 163;
XV, 27, 204; II 532).

6 Instructions to Gov. Thomas Bladen, Dec. 28, 1743 (Ibid., XLII, 659).

7 Horatio Sharpe to Cecilius Calvert, July 7, 1760 (Ibid., IX, 427). Sharpe
probably understated the values of these places when on Dec. 21, 1761, he
reported to the Board of Trade that they were worth £ 10 to £ 20 sterling a year
and again when on July 25, 1768, writing to Secretary Hugh Hamersley, he
valued them at £ 20 to £ 30 (Ibid., XXXII, 27; XIV, 518).


 

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