The Prerogative Court was the focal point for probate in colonial Maryland. A judge and various clerks staffed the court. All matters of probate went directly to the Prerogative Court, which was located in Annapolis, Maryland’s colonial capital. Eventually, administration of probate was delegated to the several county courts; however, many documents related to probate continued to be filed at the Prerogative Court and not in the corresponding county. It should be noted that the Prerogative Court was also the colony’s court for equity cases–resolution of disputes over the settlement and distribution of an estate. (Beginning in 1674, inventories and accounts were recorded in a separate series.)
Volume IX consists of abstracts of the records for the period 1700 to 1703. Mr. Skinner has combed through administration, bond, will, inventory, administration accounts, and final balance entries to produce this collection. The abstracts are arranged chronologically by court session. For the most part, the transcriptions state the names of the principals (testators, heirs, witnesses, administrators, and so forth) as well as details of bequests, names of slaves, appraisers, and more. Beginning with the previous volume in this series, it is interesting to note, the Prerogative Court no longer assigned appraisers for the assessment of individuals’ property. In all, this volume refers to roughly 7,500 residents of the Province of Maryland at the outset of the 18th century.