All of the will records for the colonial period in Maryland were preserved in a central probate office in Annapolisâ€”by whatever name it was called. Following the American Revolution, these wills were sent to the Register of Wills of each Maryland county, to be recorded there and later returned to Annapolis. The central file of colonial wills was calendared, and an all-name index to them was prepared by James Magruder (and ultimately published by Genealogical Publishing Co.). The county sets of colonial wills have also been indexed by the local Register of Wills offices, and in a number of cases those indexes refer to people not found in Magruder’s index because some papers were lost during the transfer of the wills. Of even greater importance, none of the wills for the post-colonial period in Maryland have been worked on at all, with the exception of those for St. Mary’s County, which were printed in alphabetical order in the periodical Chronicles of St. Mary’s.
This work rectifies these shortcomings for the Maryland counties of St. Mary’s and Somerset by providing a complete index to the wills recorded in those counties. The index to St. Mary’s County wills, which is based on the one which appeared in the Chronicles of St. Mary’s between 1961 and 1968, is arranged alphabetically by the name of the testator and gives the date and source of the original will. The Somerset index is arranged chronologically and thereunder alphabetically. Thus, all testators whose surnames begin with A and who died between 1664 and 1667 are grouped together, followed by those whose surnames begin with A and died between 1667 and 1750, and so on. Altogether, about 5,000 wills for St. Mary’s County and 7,500 wills for Somerset County, many of them dated prior to 1800, are indexed.