Talbot County, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, was established in 1762 from portions of Kent County. This is the first volume on Talbot County in the ongoing series Abstracts of the Debt Books of the Provincial Land Office of Maryland, by Vernon L. Skinner.
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 the debt books, the means by which the Lord Proprietor kept track of the rents due him, 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.
The information in this series 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. Several interesting facts have emerged from the Talbot debt books entries: The county had a Free School established by 1744, and its town of Oxford, Maryland, was an established community between 1666 and 1668, with several lots occupied. The leading landowners in Talbot County for this period were Samuel Chamberlain, Samuel Dickinson, the Goldsborough family, and the Lloyd family. Some county landowners were cited in the debt books as residing elsewhere in Maryland, as well in Kent County, Delaware; Carolina; Jersey; Long Island; New England; North Carolina; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; Virginia; and Liverpool and London, England.
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