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Volume 662, Page 18   View pdf image (33K)
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18 HIS LORDSHIP'S PATRONAGE

accounting, and allowed tobacco planters to discharge a part of
their fees in money. The latter act, which continued these rates,
was renewed for but one year, in 1769, and was allowed to
expire on October 22, 1770.

This unfortunate loss of so valuable a law arose from a new
disagreement over fees. Delegates now complained, not against
the table in general, but against certain " abuses " in the fee
system, some legal and some extra-legal. A new act for inspection
alone, together with one for payment of the clergy, was passed
in December, 1773. But the fee controversy, enlivened by Gover-
nor Eden's proclamation of 1770, by vigorous resolutions in the
Lower House, and by a stirring newspaper correspondence, per-
sisted, to become one of those issues which destroyed His Lord-
ship's government.

Thus the fees of officers in Maryland, early established at high
figures, remained high throughout colonial times. Indeed the
only effective reduction was that of 1719; for the act of 1725/6
was disallowed, and that of 1747 did not actually reduce the
sterling values. Moreover, this law of 1719 retrenched the fees
of only four offices. Those of all others went virtually unchanged
from the beginning to the end.

The level of fees was thus a constant factor among those
variables which affected the revenues of office. Relatively con-
stant also, though interrupted by war, was the increase of popu-
lation and commerce. The price of tobacco and the effectiveness
of collection, however, varied greatly, though both were improved
by the Inspection Law of 1747. Although some developments
favored and some impaired the interests of the office holder, their
net effect was a gradual increase of office incomes throughout the
colonial period, a progress interrupted but temporarily by the
reductions of 1719, by the loss of fee acts in 1726 and 1770, and
by the four intercolonial wars, of which the opening years of the
fourth and last were most severe.




 

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