Genealogist V. L. Skinner, Jr., resumes his transcriptions of 17th-century Maryland probate records with the sixth volume of his series, Abstracts of the Testamentary Proceedings of the Prerogative Court of Maryland. 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 VI covers the years 1686-1689 and 1692-1693 and is based on Libers 13 (Folios 432-519), 14, 14A and 15A. Mr. Skinner has combed through administration, bond, will, inventory, administration account, 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. Volume VI refers to about 8,000 17th-century Marylanders whose existence and activities would otherwise remain buried in some rich but very off-the-beaten-track records.