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 name of 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 is the first volume in Mr. Skinner’s series pertaining to Queen Anne’s County. The information is presented 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. From the Queen Anne’s debt book we also learn that the county had established a free school by 1753; and the towns of Bridgetown, Kings Town, and Ogle Town were established communities there by 1747. The leading landowners in Queen Anne’s County for this period were the Lloyd, Tilghman, and Wright families. A number of county landowners actually lived in other Maryland counties, places in Delaware and New Jersey, or locations abroad.