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Land Office and Prerogative Court Records of Colonial Maryland
Volume 415, Page 81   View pdf image (33K)
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OF COLONIAL MARYLAND 81

The probate court of Maryland for the greater part of the colonial
period was called the Prerogative Court. Many of the features of
the court, notably the terminology, were borrowed from the English
Prerogative Court. Unlike the English court which was ecclesias-
tical, the Maryland court remained a civil court throughout its
existence, although there were several attempts to put it under the
control of the Bishop of London. The attempt which came closest
to succeeding was made soon after Maryland became a royal colony.
At that time, a strong effort was being made to establish the Church
of England in the Colony. The attitude of the colonists in the
matter of the probate office and toward religion in general was
expressed by the members of the Upper House of the Assembly
when they unanimously agreed, on October 18, 1694, "That a
Suffragan Bishop or Comissary Deputed by & invested with such
Eccliasticall Authority & power by the Bight Reverend Father in
God The Rt Honoble the Lord Bishop of London as to his wisdom
shall seem most Expedient for the Better setling & Regulateing all
matters Relateing to Churches and Churchmen which are or shall
be Establisht by God Almightys providence & his paternall care in
this province will be most convenient & Necessary, But wee doe
further represent unto the said Burgesses of Assembly That the
Comissary's office in the Nature of it & by the Just & Honest profits
& advantages accruing unto it is a most sutable Employment and
a Valuable Encouragement for such Suffragan Bishop or Comissary
so to be Deputed by his Lsp: without any charge to be laid upon
this province.

"First because that Office being Judiciall & of great importance
& Trust in this province in quieting & secureing to the Right owners
all Estates of persons Dying Testate or Intestate & for preserveing
the fortunes of all the Orphans of Maryland cannot well be Exe-
cuted but by a person of Integrity and Capacity resideing among
us. And Secondly that being a Judiciall office of an Ecclesiasticall
nature it ought to be performed by a person Qualifyed by his knowl-
edge in the Civill Law and may also properly appertain to the
same person if he shall have taken any degrees in the Study of
Divinity."1

1 Arch. Md., XIX. 92


 

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Land Office and Prerogative Court Records of Colonial Maryland
Volume 415, Page 81   View pdf image (33K)
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