The Provincial Land Office of Maryland was responsible for distributing land from 1634 to 1777 on behalf of the Lord Proprietor. The Lord Proprietor’s rent rolls and debt books–the means by which the Lord Proprietor kept track of the rents due him–both commence in 1715 (though some are no longer extant). The surviving rent rolls consist of entries for each tract of land patented, the name of the person for whom the land was originally surveyed, the present owner, acreage, and rent. Alienations, or subsequent sales and leases of the piece of land, are also included. The debt books’ great value is that they enable the researcher to track land ownership over various years in cases of intestate estates, land inherited by women, and land that is not specified in a will.
This volume pertaining to Kent County debt books presents the contents of the debt books in tabular form: liber and folio citation, with any pertinent date; name of the person paying the taxes; and name of the tract of land and amount of acreage. A number of interesting facts emerge from the Kent County debt books, including that the county had erected a free school by 1735 and that the towns of Chestertown and Georgetown were established communities in the county by 1738. A number of Kent County landowners actually lived in other Maryland counties, as well as places in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, England, and Barbados.