Thomas’ history of Maryland focuses upon a number of aspects of Maryland’s colonial history which, at the time of the book’s original publication in 1900, had received scant attention. Thus, in the first chapter the author concentrates on Saint Clement’s, Maryland, the precise place of the first landing in St. Mary’s County. In fact, a third of the book is devoted to Maryland’s first capital, St. Mary’s City, and its surrounding county. Here the genealogist with 17th-century Maryland ancestry can benefit from a discussion of the laying out of the city, the founding of the Catholic Church in Maryland, the Calverts and their descendants, Governor Calvert’s manors, early civil divisions, and more. In addition, the author has included an oversized topographical map of St. Mary’s City showing the location of principal lots and homes.
Other topics covered in this informative book are as follows: land tenure of colonial Maryland, including the methods of obtaining and transferring land, remnants of feudal tenure, deeds of conveyance, and land tenure’s influence in shaping colonial institutions and the habits of people; Maryland’s judiciary system, with coverage of the evolution of the local court system, the provincial court, appeals to King and Council, and so on; and the character of Maryland’s Episcopalian religious establishment, with coverage of the parishes, taxes, bureaucracy, and various individual churches. Still another chapter is devoted entirely to the origin of the Maryland State Seal.
While there is little here in the way of genealogical source records–save for a list of Montgomery County marriages for 1796–Thomas’ charming Chronicles is chock-full of references to early settlers and settlements that will inform and educate the Maryland genealogist and historian alike.
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