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(Baltimore Town Commissioners)

Series Description

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.

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DateSeries NameFilm ReelsDescriptionLinkMSA Citation
  Details1729-1747Baltimore Town Commissioners and Jones Town Record BookBCA 5025

The record book, arranged chronologically, contains the minutes of the Baltimore Town Commissioners from December 1st 1729 to September 26th 1747. The minutes describe meetings, surveys, along with the sale and transfer of lots. This volume also contains the minutes of the Jones Town Commissioners for the period October 28th 1732 to November 9th 1741. Jones Town was established in 1732 and absorbed into Baltimore in 1745. The information contained in the Jones Town minutes are similar to that of the Baltimore Town Commissioners record book. This volume was transcribed and published by Wilbur Coyle as the First Records of Baltimore Town and Jones Town 1729-1797 (Baltimore: Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, 1905). To preserve the original book, researchers are asked to consult the published volume.

  Details1732-1752Baltimore Town Commissioners and Jones Town Commissioners Record BookBCA 5025

This volume contains the minutes of the Baltimore Town Commissioners from January 23rd 1735 to March 9th 1752. It describes meetings, surveys, as well as the sale and transfer of lots. The entries for the period January 23rd 1735 to September 26th 1747 are copies from an earlier record book (RG. 1, S. 1). The record book also includes the minutes of the Jones Town Commissioners from October 28th 1732 to November 19th 1741. These entries are copies of an earlier record book (RG. 1, S. 1).

The original minutes in this volume are included in Wilbur Coyle's book First Records of Baltimore Town and Jones Town 1729-1797. They can be found on pages 5-17, 20-25, and 29-32. Therefore, researchers are requested to consult the published volume.

  Details1746-1788Baltimore Town Commissioners and Record Book and LedgerBCA 5025

This volume of minutes for the Baltimore Town Commissioners covers the period March 8th 1745 to May 30th 1754. It also describes meetings, surveys, and the sale and transfer of lots. The ledger entries for the years 1747 to 1752 concern the sale of lots. The ledger entries for the years 1785 to 1788 provide the salary of clerks, constables and watchmen. It also includes administrative costs and income received from the rent of market stalls.

This volume is included in Wilbur F. Coyle's book the First Records of Baltimore Town and Jones Town 1729-1797 on pages 18-36. Therefore, researchers are requested to use the published volume.

  Details1782-1786Baltimore Town Commissioners LedgerBCA 5025

The ledger entries for the years 1782 to 1786 cover the cost of tools, supplies, and laborers for construction and repair of roads. The book also includes administrative costs such as the salary of clerks and the treasurer. This volume has an index.

  Details1786-1797Baltimore Town Commissioners Ledger 

The Ledger entries include the cost of street paving and construction, special taxes and license feeds, expenses of commissioners' meetings, and treasurer's records. The original volume is in the Manuscript Division of the Maryland Historical Society (MS 103). The ebook linked here is derived from the security microfilm, BCA 1642. The blank book into which these entries were made was purchased from Baltimore booksellers Townsend and Patton on July 25, 1787. See the transcription of the purchase entry in Wilbur Coyle, Records of the City of Baltimore (Special Commissioners) 1782 to 1797, 1909, p. 39, and their label in this volume at image 5.

  Details1796-1797Cord Wood Inspector's Record BookBCA 5025

This record book covers the brief period from March 1st 1796 to January 1797. The book provides information on laborers working under the supervision of the Cord Wood Inspectors. It includes their time worked, notations on work habits, and amount of work they accomplished.

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