The Prerogative Court was the focal point for probate in colonial Maryland, and it was also the colony’s court for equity cases–resolution of disputes over the settlement and distribution of an estate. The following documents were filed in this court: administration bond, will, inventory, administration accounts, and final balances. With respect to [sometimes lengthy] equity cases, depositions were taken and recorded in the minutes of the court.
Over the course of its colonial existence, the Prerogative Court processed over 15,000 wills, nearly 30,000 inventories, and almost 25,000 accounts–all of them captured in Mr. Skinner’s remarkable series of transcriptions, Besides these findings, the introduction to Volume XLII describes the history of the Prerogative Court, its methods for processing estates, changes in its schedule and duties, and suggestions for further reading.
This series, begun in 2004, is arranged, with a few exceptions, chronologically by court session. (There is a gap in the records from July 13, 1689, to June 1692, owing to the Glorious Revolution, and another, unexplained gap from November 1, 1765, to May 23, 1766.) Volume XLII, the conclusion to this prodigious series, refers to nearly 5,000 colonial inhabitants of the Province of Maryland. As with the previous books, for the most part, the transcriptions state the names of the principals (testators, heirs, guardians, witnesses, and so forth), details of bequests, names of slaves, appraisers, and more.