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HomeRESEARCH2 - Genealogy Vital Records

Genealogy - Vital Records
Entries in black text are physical resources found in our Research Library.  Hyperlinks (blue/underline) are online resources, some of which are only available to members. 
Online PDF resources are generally searchable by hitting "CTRL-F" and entering the term you would like to search for.

Birth/Baptismal Records

  • Birth Index of St. Mary's, Charles and Calvert Counties from 1898 to 1919 is available. For earlier births, extant church records must serve.
  • Church Records:
    • Research Guide to Church & Parish Resources - Online guide to resources in the Research Center
    • Anglican/Episcopal:
      • 1744-1915 (not complete). Microfilm transcribed on to cards.
      • 1744-1765 only St. Andrews (not complete). Microfilm transcribed on to cards
    • Catholic:
      • 1765-1820 Diaries of Frs. Walton, Bolton, and Mosely, S.J. Orig. in Provincial Archives of the Society of Jesus, Georgetown Univ., Washington, D.C. The Historical Society has the microfilm. Published in History of Jesuit Missions of St. Mary's County, Md., by Edwin Beitzell
      • 1820-1859 Parish registers. Most of these have been transcribed onto cards and are among the collections
    •  Methodist:
      • 1894-1900 Transcribed onto cards in the collection

Family History Files

Research records relating to specific families.  There are 1,135 folders of individual family names contained in 19 file drawers.   View List of Family File Names

Marriage Records

St. Mary's County marriage records began in 1794 and are available and are extant to date.

Death Records

Deaths occurring in Maryland counties were not officially registered before 1898. As with births, extant church records and other sources must be used. Deaths from all known sources up to 1900 are included in the book cited under Marriage Records, above.


Approximately 40,000 obituaries scanned from St. Mary's County newspapers, as well as other sources. Obituaries are alphabetical within each file.  Use CTRL-F to search within the file.  Handwritten and light copies will not show up in a search.  

A thru F     

G thru N     

O thru Z    

Cemetery Records


Probate Records

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 - copies of the original handwritten will indices
    St. Mary's County Will Index 1600's to 1960's (typed)          
  • Wills - abstracted (typed, critical information from the original hand-written documents), and indexed (index of every name contained in every will).  Abstracting done by Linda Reno, Indexing by Joann Humphries, Ashley Hill, and Linda Reno .  
  • 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.

Administration Bonds

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.   


Inventories are lists of the personal property in a deceased person’s estate.  They provide invaluable insight into the lifestyle and standard of living.  Besides listing tangible personal property, they also listed slaves, often including names and ages.

Inventories from 1795-1859 are available on the Research Library computer in PDF [huge – 3.56 GB]

  • Inventories from 1674-1777 can be found online at the Maryland State Archives(Series S531 and SM11)
  • Inventories from 1777 to 1949 can be found on computer or original folio at the Maryland State Archives.


Guardianships were established when a parent died leaving minor children.  A guardian would be appointed to take legal custody of the children.  An account would be established from the deceased person's estate for the benefit of the minor children.  Guardianship records are useful for genealogy in establishing parent/child relationships.  They also provide the identity of the guardian which may be a surviving spouse, a relative, a friend or a neighbor.  They may also establish a date of death for an individual who cannot be located elsewhere.

  • Guardian Account Index 1787-1964 - Provided by the St. Mary's County Registrar of Wills.  Note - the index is arranged into twelve time periods (noted in the right column on each page).  Entries for the minor child's name are alphabetical within each time period.  Use CTRL-F to search the document.  If you wish to view the actual guardianship record, note the book's time period and the page number.  Books can be found on the Family Search website (free account required)
  • Guardian Bonds 1779-1826 - Transcriptions of guardian bond records.  The guardian, the orphaned children, and the bond amount are listed. 

Orphan's Court Proceedings

Orphan's Court Proceedings are valuable records for study as they provide records of the handling of minor children, enslaved persons, and property left by the deceased.  Names of children and enslaved persons are found here that are often found no where else.