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Maryland Deed History

Maryland was one of the original 13 colonies that revolted against British rule. In 1781, Maryland became the 7th state admitted to the Union after ratifying the new constitution. Before Maryland was one of the 13 colonies, it was the Province of Maryland from 1632-1776, which began as a proprietary colony of Lord Baltimore of England.

There are 24 counties and county equivalents in Maryland. The oldest county, St. Mary’s, was officially created in 1637. The office of the county clerk was not established until 1644. The first person to serve as a county clerk in St. Mary’s was John Lewger, whose official title was Secretary of St. Mary’s. There are no land records in St. Mary’s County prior to 1831 because of a fire that resulted in a loss of records.

When the Province of Maryland was formed, all the land that had been granted by the charter was owned by Lord Baltimore. Maryland used a system called the head right system to encourage new settlers to come to the area. Under this system, settlers could be granted 50 acres of land if they could afford the transportation cost to the colony, as well as the cost of indentured servants or laborers to help work the land. The first settlers arrived on St. Clements Island in southern Maryland in 1654 and shortly thereafter established the first town in the state, St. Mary’s.