The Prerogative Court was the focal point for probate in colonial Maryland. All matters of probate went directly to the Prerogative Court, which was located in Annapolis, Maryland’s colonial capital. The Prerogative Court was also the colony’s court for equity cases–resolution of disputes over the settlement and distribution of an estate.
Compiler Vernon Skinner has just completed the twentieth volume in a series of books based upon this important source for Maryland genealogists, entitled Abstracts of the Testamentary Proceedings of the Prerogative Court of Maryland. In compiling the series, Mr. Skinner has worked primarily from microfilm copies of the Prerogative Court records; however, he has also traveled to the Maryland State Archives to work directly with the original manuscripts in order to resolve problems associated with 18th-century handwriting or limitations of the microfilming process.
The series is arranged, volume by volume, chronologically by court session. Volume XX consists of abstracts for the period 1734-36, as found in the balance of Liber 29 and the first 207 pages of Liber 30 of the records. In all, the latest book in this remarkable series refers to an additional 7,500 inhabitants of the Province of Maryland in the years just prior to 1730. 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.
Following is a representative abstract from Volume XX:
“2 December 1735. Moses Rawlings & John Diskin administrators of Robert Lewett (PG) vs. George Buchanan & his wife Margaret & John Levett. Sheriff (PG) to summon defendants to show cause why they conceal effects of dec’d.”