The Baltimore Town Commissioners was created in 1729 as part of the legislative act for "erecting" Baltimore Town. The body consisted of seven commissioners, appointed for life, empowered to buy land, survey and sell lots, and settle disputes about property boundaries.
The commission was the sole vestige of town government until the early 1780s. In 1745 when Jones Town merged with Baltimore, the commissioners were given the authority to procure a three pound annual assessment from residents. In 1784 they were empowered to erect street lamps and have them lighted, to appoint constables and watchmen, to levy a tax on property, and to appoint a treasurer. Between 1784 and 1793 the commissioners were authorized justices of the peace. Occasionally special duties were assigned to them by the Maryland Legislature, including construction of market houses, maintenance of streets, and other special assessments and taxes.
By the early 1780s the commissioners shared their light administrative responsibilities with a Board of Special Commissioners and a Board of Port Wardens. The state government formed the latter two bodies in 1782 and 1783 respectively. They made up the remainder of the town's self government until its incorporation in 1796. The Special Commissioners were largely responsible for the construction and maintenance of streets and bridges. The Board of Port Wardens regulated the construction of wharves, surveyed the harbor, and supervised the collection of a duty on all vessels entering and leaving the port. Despite the three boards, essential government functions remained in Annapolis with the state government. During the mid 1780's Baltimoreans began urging for the incorporation of the town to insure better regulation. The legislature passed an act in 1796 and the following year the Baltimore Town Commissioners ceased to function. The new government consisted of a mayor and city council with commissions and departments absorbing the duties of the defunct Baltimore Town Commissioners.
For background information, consult Jacob H. Hollander, The Financial History of Baltimore (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1899) and Dennis Rankin Clark, "Baltimore, 1729-1829: The Genesis of a Community" (Ph.D., Catholic University of America, 1976).
For additional records of this agency see RG. 2.