Monday, October 8, 2018

Hidden History, Part One

Land records, especially from the colonial era, are an overlooked treasure trove for genealogists and historians. Sifting through the records is time-consuming and tedious, but well worth the effort.

While researching my own family history in Maryland's land records, skimming through the thousands of pages available online, I've come across quite a few items of interest which can be found only by viewing each page.

Every book of land records includes an index, but the index refers only to actual land deeds and includes only the names of the primary buyer and seller. During the colonial era, the Maryland land record books included a wide variety of other types of records: the sale of slaves, the marks of stray animals, supersedeas and judgment cases, even the occasional bill of lading. None of those records were included in the index.

Since I was taking the time to skim every page, I decided to keep track of these hidden treasures. I'll be posting them here to aid other researchers in their work.




Bills of Lading

During the 1740s (the earliest period I researched), there were several bills of lading and related transactions recorded in the Prince George's County Land Records.

Bill of Lading recorded for Madam Jane Brooke, 1741
Good Ship Amelia, Master Michael Higgins

Prince George's County, MD, book Y, page 444


Bill of Lading recorded for Madam Jane Brooke, 1741, Transcript:

At the request of Madam Jane Brooke the following Bill of Lading was recorded March the Twenty Second Day Anno Dom. Seventeen hundred and forty one.
Shipped by the Grace of God in good Order and well Condition by Mrs. Jane Brooke in and upon the Good Ship Called the Amelia whereof is Master under God for this Present Voyage Michael Higgins and now riding at Anchor in Patuxant River and by Gods Grace bound for London To Say Three Hogshead of Maryland Leaf Tobacco being marked and numbered as in the Margent [margin] and are to be delivered in the like good order and well Condition at the aforesaid Port of London (the danger of the Seas only Excepted) unto Mr. Samuel Hyde Merchand [merchant] in London or to his Assigns he or they paying Freight for the said Goods Nine Pounds Sterling per Ton and Maryland Duties and Insurance at five Pounds per Hogshead with Primage and Average Accustomed. In Witness whereof the Master or Purser of the said Ship hath affirmed ... two Bills of Landing all of this Tenor and Date the one of which Bills being accomplished the other one to Stand Void, and so God Send the good Ship to her desired Port in Safety. Amen.
Dated in Maryland the 29th July 1741. Inside and Contents unknown to Mich'l Higgins.

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Bill of Lading recorded for Edward Pye, 1741
Ship Harrison anchored on the Potomac River, destined for London
Prince George's County, MD, book Y, page 289

Partial Transcription:

At the request of Edward Pye, the following Bill of Lading was recorded June the Third Day Anno Dom. Seventeen Hundred & forty One.
Shiped by the Grace of God in Good Order & well Condition by Thomas Edelin Junr in and upon the Good Ship Called the Harrison whereof is Master under God for this Present Voyage Thomas Hopson and now riding at Anchor in the Rive Patomack and by Gods Grace bound for London to say One Hogshead of Maryland Tobacco being Marked and Numbered as in the Margent and are to be Delivered in the like good Order and well Condition at the afsd [aforesaid] Port of London (the Danger of the Seas only Excepted) unto Messrs Philpot & Lee, Merts [merchants] or to their Assigns he or they Paying Freight for the said Gods at the rate of Seven Pounds Sterling per Tunn.... And so God send the good Ship to her Desired Port in Safty. Amen Dated in Maryland 29th Nov'r 1739

Bills of Lading recorded for Edward Pye, 1741
Ship Harrison anchored on the Potomac River, destined for London
Prince George's County, MD, land records book Y, page 290


Bills of Lading recorded for Edward Pye, 1741
Ship Harrison anchored on the Potomac River, destined for London
Prince George's County, MD, land records book Y, page 291





Bill of Bottomree

A bottomree is a type of loan specific to maritime commerce. The ship's master borrows money needed for the ship's operations (payroll, supplies, etc.) and uses the ship as collateral. See A Digest of the Laws of England published in 1792 for more specifics on bottomree.

Bill of bottomree recorded for George Scott, 1741
Snow Eunice anchored in the Eastern Branch of the Potomac River

Prince George's County, MD, land records book Y, page 342
Bill of bottomree recorded for George Scott, 1741
Snow Eunice anchored in the Eastern Branch of the Potomac River

Prince George's County, MD, land records book Y, page 343


Bill of bottomree recorded for George Scott, 1741, Transcript:
 
Know all men by these presents That I Henry Folson of Great Brittain Mariner, for this present Voyage master of the Snow Eunice now riding at anchor in the Eastern Branch of Potomack river and by Gods grace bound for London with a load of Tobacco And I George Eglesfield mate of the said Vessell in Consideration of the sum of one hundred pounds Sterling money of Great Britain Advanced and paid by George Scott of Prince Georges County Mercht [merchant] on Account and for the use of the said Snow Eunice being for provisions, mens wages Craft hire and Sundry Necessarys about the said Snow. Now Know ye that we Henry Folson master & George Eglesfield mate have bargained and Sold & do hereby bargain and sell to the said George Scott his heirs or Assigns the said Snow Eunice with all her Appurtenances whatever Untill the said sum of one hundred pounds Ster. is fully paid.
Provided Nevertheless that if a bill of Exchange of this date drawn on Messrs Philpot & Lee Merch'ts In London at Ninety days Sight for one hundred pounds Ster. be duely Accepted and paid then this Bill of bottomree to be void and of none Effect otherwise to Stand and remain in full force and virtue in Law.
In Witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands and Seals this 23d day of July 1741 Years
Henry Folson
Geo Englesfield

Signed Sealed & Delivered
In presence of us
John Beall and 
Jos Beall



Searching the Maryland Land Records

If you'd like to do your own research using the Maryland Land Records, here are some useful links.

MDLANDREC: The online database for the Maryland State Archives collection of land records. Search by county, then by book and page number in the "Jump to a new volume" box. Find out which book you want by using the Maryland State Archives Guide.

Maryland State Archives Guide to Frederick County Land Records: You'll need this guide to know which book you want. There are similar guides for each county.


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