A Friend of Friends Friday: Maryland’s 1852 Tax Law

This post is written as part of the weekly “A Friend of Friends Friday” genealogy blogging meme. Visit the GeneaBloggers shared Google Reader list for additional entries from this and other blogs.

On 29 May 1852 the General Assembly of Maryland passed “An Act to provide for the General Valuation and Assessment of Property in this State.” This Act included the following clause:

Sec. 9. And be it enacted, That it shall be the duty of the said assessors, or a majority of them, in their several assessment districts, to make diligent inquiry and inform themselves by all lawful means, of all the property in their respective districts, liable to assessment, and to value the same at the full cash value thereof, and all property owned by residents of this State, and not permanently located elsewhere within the State, shall be assessed to the owner in the county or city where he or she may reside; and they shall specify in their returns, to be made as hereinafter provided, as far as may be practicable … Second, the negro slaves, classifying them according to their sex and ages … and it shall be the duty of the said assessors, also, to specify in said returns the name of each slave, and opposite the name, the age and assessed value [emphasis added].[1]

In other words, the 1852 assessment records for the state of Maryland contain the names and ages of every slaves owned in the state!

The Maryland State Archives in Annapolis holds several of these 1852 returns:

  • CARROLL COUNTYBOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS (Assessment Record) Election Districts 2, 3, 5 through 8, 10; MSA C1634
  • DORCHESTER COUNTY BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS (Assessment Record) Election Districts 1, 2, 4 through 10; MSA C687
  • FREDERICK COUNTYBOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS (Assessment Record, Slaves) Election Districts 1, 2, 4, 5; MSA C2138
  • SOMERSET COUNTYBOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS (Assessment Record) Election Districts 4 through 8, 10, 11; MSA C1735
  • TALBOT COUNTYBOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS (Assessment Record, Slaves) Election Districts 1 through 4; MSA C1836

For those researchers of enslaved families who have identified family groups after 1870, these records–and other tax assessment records that identify slaves by name–can create an important connection into the antebellum world.

The following slaves are assessed to John Barwick’s heirs, living in Chapel District no. 4, in Talbot County, Maryland, in 1852:

  • Males
    • Lewis 3 year[s] old
    • John 7 [years old]
  • Females
    • Alexene 4 year[s]
    • Cornelia 9 year[s]
    • Arramitta 11 [years]
    • Malinda 35 [years] [2]

In Maryland, the Register of Wills and the Orphans’ Court handle matters of probate.  In addition to the commonly used probate records, such as wills, estate inventories, administration accounts, and estate distribution records, the recorded proceedings of the Orphans’ Court often hold details not included in the recorded instruments.  The following records holding possible significance to this case have been located regarding John Barwick’s estate:

  • 2 June 1848, Widow’s renunciation and administration bond:  This initial step in the probate process finds John Barwick’s widow Charlotte refusing her right to administer the estate of her husband, and instead suggesting that one Alexander E. Dudley serve as the administrator.  Dudley proceeds to submit his bond to the Court, holding himself responsible for the administration of John Barwick’s estate.  That Alexander Dudley is designated the administrator  of the estate, rather than the executor of the estate also signifies that John Barwick did not create a last will and testament, dying intestate.[3]
  • 9 August 1848, Estate inventory: The Orphans’ Court appointed Edward H. Nabb and James H. Ridgaway to appraise the value of John Barwick’s estate. The estate inventory that they created lists the following slaves by name, age, and value:
    • 1 Negro Woman Malinda aged 28 yrs & her infant child 400.00
    • 1 Girl Anna Mitten aged 7 yrs old 150.00
    • 1 girl Cornelia 4 yrs old 100.00
    • 1 Boy John 2 yrs old 50.00
    • 1 Boy Bill bound to serve until he is 21 years of age 50.00
  • This list of slaves, four years prior to the 1852 assessment record, contains all of the same slaves, just a few years younger. However, whereas the assessment record named Malinda and Alexene, aged 4 years old, this inventory only names Malinda and her “infant child.” This “infant child” in 1848 can be none other than the four-year-old Alexene in 1852. This serves as confirmation that Malinda is indeed Alexene/Alexina’s mother.[4]
  • 11 August 1848, Orphans’ Court Proceedings: Alexander E. Dudley, as administrator of John Barwick’s estate, applied to the Orphans’ Court for an order to sell all of John Barwick’s personal property, except his slaves. The order was approved and passed. The fact that the slaves were not ordered to be sold with the other property could possibly indicate that these slaves had come into John Barwick’s possession through his marriage to Charlotte.[5]
  • 11 August 1848, Orphans’ Court Proceedings: Alexander E. Dudley, as administrator of John Barwick’s estate, is ordered to publicly give notice to Barwick’s creditors to exhibit their accounts against the estate. Outstanding debts at the time of decease present one of the most common reasons for the sale of slaves and other personal property.[6]
  • 10 February 1852, Estate Distribution: John Barwick’s remaining estate is distributed among his heirs. Under Maryland law, his widow, Charlotte, is entitled to one-third of the estate, called her “dower rights.” The remaining two-thirds are divided equally among John’s children: William T. Barwick, John Barwick, William [sic] Barwick, James Barwick, and Alexander Barwick. The account only notes the distribution of cash amounts, probably the proceeds from the property sales, but does not note distribution of any remaining property such as slaves.[7]
  • 9 July 1852, Orphans’ Court Proceedings: The Orphans’ Court, on application of Charlotte Barwick, as John Barwick’s widow and the guardian of their underage children, appoints Richard Arringdale and Robert H. Jump to value and divide John Barwick’s slaves among his heirs. No record of any valuation or division has yet been located.[8]

When Talbot County assessed its citizens’ property in 1852, the slaves had still not been distributed. Therefore, they were still legally owned by the deceased John Barwick’s estate. By the 1860 federal census, the slaves were enumerated (without names provided) in Schedule 2, the enumeration of the enslaved population, or “slave schedule,” owned by the now remarried Charlotte Frampton, John Barwick’s widow.[9]

Slavery was abolished with the passage of a new Maryland state consitution on 1 October 1864. In 1870, the former slave Melinda Newman and her minor children live with her husband John Newman, in Easton, Talbot County.[10] By 1880 the family had moved to Baltimore city.[11]

SOURCES:

[1] Laws Made and Passed by the General Assembly of the State of Maryland, At a Session begun and held at Annapolis, on Wednesday, the 7th day of January, 1852, and ended on Monday, the 31st of May, 1852 (Annapolis, Md: B. H. Richardson & Cloud’s, 1852), “An Act to provide for the General Valuation and Assessment of Property in this State,” Chap. 337; digital images, Maryland State Archives, Archives of Maryland Online (http://aomol.net : accessed Jun 2011), Vol. 615, pages 392–408.

[2] Talbot County Board of County Commissioners, Assessment Record, 1852, Chapel District no. 4, page 3; MSA C1836-6, MdHR 12,842; Maryland State Archives, Annapolis.

[3] Talbot County, Maryland, Register of Wills, Administration Bonds JJH 1, pages 170-171, Barwick estate (1848); MSA C1821-15, MdHR 11,229-1; Maryland State Archives, Annapolis.

[4] Talbot County Register of Wills, Inventories JHH 1, pages 597-601, Barwick estate (1848); MSA C1872-45, MdHR 11,261-1; Maryland State Archives, Annapolis.

[5] Talbot County Register of Wills, Orphans Court Proceedings, 1846-1851, page 198, Barwick estate (1848); MSA C1897-14, MdHR 11,328; Maryland State Archives, Annapolis.

[6] Talbot County Register of Wills, Orphans Court Proceedings, 1846-1851, page 225, Barwick estate (1848); MSA C1897-14, MdHR 11,328; Maryland State Archives, Annapolis.

[7] Talbot County Register of Wills, Distributions JP E, pages 133-134, Barwick estate (1852); MSA C1860-8, MdHR 11,290-1; Maryland State Archives, Annapolis.

[8] Talbot County Register of Wills, Orphans Court Proceedings, 1852-1855, page 45, Barwick (1852); MSA C1897-15; Maryland State Archives, Annapolis.

[9] 1860 U. S. Census, Talbot County, Maryland, slave schedule, Easton District, pg. 22, column 1, lines 16-25, Charlotte Frompton’s slaves; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 2009); citing NARA microfilm publication  M653, roll not cited, but known to be roll 485. For Charlotte Barwick’s marriage to Thomas Frampton, 30 September 1857, see Talbot County Circuit Court, Marriage Licenses Book 1, Frampton to Barwick (1857); Maryland State Archives microfilm no. CR 10016-1.

[10] 1870 U. S. Census, Talbot Co., Maryland, population schedule, Town of Easton, Easton post office, page 30, dwelling 177, family 210, John Human household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 2009); NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 595.

[11] 1880 U. S. Census, Baltimore City, Maryland, population schedule, part 3rd Precinct 14th Ward, enumeration district 125, page 25, dwelling 188, family 225, John Newman household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 2009); citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 502.

If you would like to cite this post: Michael Hait, “A Friend of Friends Friday: Maryland’s 1852 Tax Law,” Planting the Seeds: Genealogy as a Profession blog, posted 21 Oct 2011 (http://michaelhait.wordpress.com : accessed [access date]).

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Inez Terry on July 17, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    Michael-
    Just saw this a few days ago. I am so grateful for all your hard work. Thanks again.

    Reply

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