Discovery Your Family History

Tracing Your Maryland Ancestors

If you are searching for your Maryland heritage as part of your LDS family search, being knowledgeable about these colonial records is very important. The following information about these records will assist you as a genealogist, when you start looking for your colonial ancestors. When the first settlers landed on the Maryland colony in 1634, this colony became one of the first English settlements in the United States. Several aspects of the Maryland colony during this early period in history distinguished it from any other colony. The land that comprised of the Maryland colony was granted to George Calvert, Lord Baltimore by King Charles the First in 1629, which meant that no one actually owned the land, but had to pay rent on it each year. This was true, although people were allowed to buy and sell land as they wished. After the revolutionary war, annual rents were replaced by property taxes that were paid by land owners.

 Plantation Acts

 Lord Baltimore passed plantation acts into law throughout the Maryland colony, to encourage people to settle on the land. These plantation laws provided so many acres of land per each settler. These acts were known as head rights, which were land rights for every person who settled in the colony. Head rights were not only common in Maryland, but in other colonies as well. If a settler paid passage for another passenger on a ship bound for the new world, that person was entitled to the rights of the land that was set aside for the extra passenger. For example, if a person owned indentured servants, he would receive land for them. A married man with children would receive the land allotted for his wife, children, and any other family members who settled with him. To receive the land, the settlers would have to follow a three step application process. First, the potential land owner would submit an application for a land warrant from the provincial land office, the allotted acreage would be surveyed, and claimed, and finally the potential land owner would apply for a patent on the land.

 This patent, once approved, would give the settler and his family, or indentured servants full ownership rights to his land. If you are looking for information about these land patents for your LDS family search, you may want to look for information about the land ownership process, called patent records at the Maryland state department, located in Annapolis. These patent records have also been recorded onto microfilm, and have been made available for you to view at the Family history library, located in Salt Lake City Utah. These records include, warrant applications, land survey information, and land patents. These records include settler information that was included in the applications for land warrants and patents. This information often included passenger lists for the ships that sailed to America during that time period. These lists contain the name of the ship, the captain’s name, the names of each passenger, and the date the ship arrived in the United States. You may also be able to find the port that the ship departed from listed in some cases.

 Head Rights

 Head rights were discontinued in Maryland in 1680, so the land patent records were no longer kept after this time, because they were unnecessary. Land warrants and patents were applied for and granted by the land office, although the application process was similar to the one during the year’s land patents were in existence. However, if you have ancestors who settled in Maryland during the 1630s, you may be able to find more information about these people through land patent records, than you thought possible for your LDS family search. During the patent process, the plots of land surveyed and allotted to the eligible settlers were given a specific name.

 Land Names

The land names are still used today, unless the land has been re surveyed. The probate and tax records only have the deeds to the parcels of land that was patented by the settlers as they applied and were approved for them by the land names themselves, and not by the descriptions of the land boundaries. The only reason a land’s name was changed, was due to the fact that it was re surveyed and issued a new patent. Land was often re surveyed if someone wanted to ad land that was unclaimed nearby to his land, or to combine earlier parcels of land to other parcels to make a completely new parcel that was patented by a new owner. In so saying, if you had an ancestor who owned land prior to 1786 may have received the land after his father died, if the original owner had no will that is, as the land was controlled by primogeniture. However, after Primogeniture was discontinued, if the land owner didn’t have a will, once he was deceased, his relatives received his land. If you know the name of the land your ancestor’s owned in Maryland, it makes your LDS family search much easier, because of the fact that once you have the name of the land, you can then find records such as deeds, probate records, and tax lists.

 King William the 3rd, declared the Church of England, also known as the Protestant Episcopal Church, as the state church of the British Empire. This included the American colonies where British settlers lived. In 1695, however, Maryland legislature required that all births, marriages, and deaths be recorded by the parish vestry clerks. The records are found in the registries of each individual parish. However, the law didn’t require that the records specify what religion the perish members were affiliated with. Most of these parish registers have been transcribed; some were even recorded onto microfilm. Some of these original records have been preserved at the Maryland State department, or the Maryland Historical society. Those that have been microfilmed may be available through the Family History Library in Salt Lake City Utah. There are some records, however, that were in such poor shape, that they are no longer being circulated to the general public. Although local protestant churches were no longer required to record vital records for their members after 1776, if your ancestor lived in Maryland during the eighteenth century, these parish registers would be a great place to begin your research for information about them.

 Estate inventories are considered to be the most undervalued of all probate records, because many people refuse to read about items like clothing, furniture, and any other personal possessions. However, estate inventory records can provide you with more information than you realize. If you study lists of a land owner’s possessions, you can find a wealth of information, such as tools leading to the type of work a person might have done, crops giving you information about the size of the farm, and an evaluation of the entire estate gives you some idea of your ancestor’s wealth, or lack thereof. If you can identify your ancestors through the signatures on the estate inventory lists, then you may be able to find more links to your family history. Understanding the above mentioned resources will help you find your colonial ancestors as part of your LDS family search.

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