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Maryland County records can vary vastly from county to county in either quality and also quantity. Some have been very carefully preserved while others have been significantly mistreated and overlooked. A certain amount of Maryland records have purely disappeared. For genealogists carrying out research in Maryland you will find no effective substitute to have an on-site search of county court house records.
Maryland is divided into 24 counties and county-equivalents. Each county serves as the local level of government within its borders with the exception of Baltimore (which is an independent city) . Many of the counties in Maryland were named for relatives of the Barons Baltimore who were the proprietors of the Maryland colony from its founding in 1634 through 1771.
The City of Baltimore generally possesses the same powers and responsibilities as the counties within the state. It is an entity nearly surrounded by but separate from the County of Baltimore, which has its county seat in Towson
Maryland has twenty-three counties and the city of Baltimore, which is not under county jurisdiction. At the courthouses are recorded transfers of land, estates, and other records. In the county pages linked below is the name of the county with the mailing address of the county circuit court clerk, where deeds, mortgages, vital records, divorces, naturalizations, and other matters are recorded. While some records are available in the counties, most original and/or microfilm copies of land, estate, vital, and court records have been transferred to the Maryland State Archives. As new county records are created they will continue to be filmed and sent to the state archives.
|County||Date Formed||Parent County||County Seat|
|Anne Arundel||1789||Washington County.||Cumberland|
|Allegany||1650||St. Mary's County.||Annapolis|
|Baltimore||1659||Formed from unorganized territory||Towson|
|Baltimore City||1851||Founded in 1729. Detached in 1851 from Baltimore County||Baltimore City|
|Calvert||1654||Formed as Patuxent County from unorganized territory. Renamed Calvert County in 1658||Prince Frederick|
|Cecil||1773||Dorchester and Queen Anne's Counties||Denton|
|Charles||1837||Baltimore and Frederick Counties||Westminster|
|Caroline||1672||Baltimore and Kent Counties||Elkton|
|Carroll||1658||From unorganized territory||La Plata|
|Dorchester||1668||From unorganized territory||Cambridge|
|Frederick||1748||Prince George's County||Frederick|
|Harford||1773||Baltimore County||Bel Air|
|Howard||1851||Anne Arundel and Baltimore Counties||Ellicott City|
|Kent||1642||From unorganized territory||Chestertown|
|Prince George's||1696||Calvert and Charles Counties||Upper Marlboro|
|Queen Anne's||1706||Talbot County||Centreville|
|St. Mary||1637||From unorganized territory. Was named Potomac County between 1654 and 1658.||Leonardtown|
|Somerset||1666||From unorganized territory.||Princess Anne|
|Wicomico||1867||Somerset and Worcester Counties||Salisbury|
|Worcester||1742||Somerset County||Snow Hill|
Maryland seems to have counties that no longer are in existence. They were created by the state, provincial, or territorial authorities. A lot of these counties were created and disbanded within the 19th century; county borders have modified little since 1900 in the vast most of states. These counties need to be checked out when you are performing family history and genealogy research. Pay close attention where the courthouse records went to if the county was eliminated or merged with a different county.
The destruction to Maryland courthouses tremendously has a effect on family historians in every way. Not only are these kinds of historic structures torn from each of our lifetimes, so are the files they stored: marriage, wills, probate, land records, and others. Once destroyed they are destroyed permanently. Although they have been put on mircofilm, computers and film burn as well. The most tragic aspect of this is the reason that virtually all of our courthouses are destroyed from arsonist. However, you cannot assume all records were destroyed. A number of Maryland counties have endured a loss of records due to courthouse fires, floods, and theft.