Probate records include wills, estate inventories, accounts and other documents. From 1634 to 1777, records were kept at the provincial (colonial) level and at the county level. After 1777, records were kept at the county level. The Maryland State Archives Probate Guide is a helpful aid.
The first step in finding a will is to locate the deceased’s name in the St. Mary’s County Will Index (below). It will show the date of will’s recording, and the liber (book) and folio (page) where that will can be found. Will books were named by the initials of the Register of Wills. Shown is a list of the St. Mary’s County Will Books.
After finding the liber and folio, you will need to locate a copy of that liber (book). They can be found at the St. Mary’s County Courthouse, or on microfilm at the Maryland State Archives (visit the MSA Probate Guide Page below) or in our Research Library. Wills prior to 1778 are online at the Maryland State Archives. A few Will Books are available online in PDF below.
- St. Mary's County Will Index 1658-1947
- Liber JTMR No 1 (pages 200-473; index at end) (1867-1880) (475 MB)
- Liber JBA No 1 (pages 1-339; index at end) (1877-1896) [375 MB]
- Liber PHD (pages 1-497; index at end) (1896-1916) [428 MB]
- Other probate records from 1634-1788 are at the State Archives in Annapolis, some of which we have in transcribed hard copy
- Wills dated 1658 to date are available for research at the Courthouse in Leonardtown Md. and to 1960, on microfilm in our collection.
These were posted by the administrators of wills during the probate process. They provide an invaluable look into family members and relatives of the deceased.
Balances of Final Distributions
Balances of Final Distributions, or Balance Books as they were sometimes called, record the final distribution to each heir or representative, of the personal estate of deceased persons. They do not dispose of real estate. They are of particular value in intestate estates since, in the absence of a will, the names of those entitled by law to a share of the estate are nowhere else recorded.