Delmarva Settlers

1685 Somerset County Rent Roll
Somerset County property owners and their patented lands from which rent was due in 1685, transcribed from The Somerset County Land Warrant Book 1670-1682 of Francis Jenckins, Historical Society of Pennsylvania Manuscript #1087, Philadelphia, PA.

Transcribed by John F. Polk, Ph.D., Havre de Grace, Maryland, December 2002

Click here to view the 1685 Somerset County Rent Roll

The Somerset County Warrants Book of Francis Jenckins is actually not a warrants book at all, but primarily a surveyor’s record book. Its principal contents are some 700 metes and bounds descriptions of land tracts surveyed under Francis Jenckins during his tenure as Deputy Surveyor of Somerset County, 1671-1683. In addition, the volume also contains the following items:


Contents : Resources

Resources Index
1670 - 1681 Warrant Book

< < 1685 Rent Roll

Comparative Inventories
Distribution of Wealth
Family Networking
Laws & Legal Info
Colonial Remedies

* 14 Surveys made by James Weedon, Deputy Surveyor of Somerset, in 1670-71
* Store Accounts from Francis Jenckins business in Accomac County, Virginia, 1655-1662
* List of patented properties in Somerset, and rents due the Proprietor, in 1685
* Several items of minor import

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What follows is a list of the Somerset property owners and their patented lands from which rent was due (i.e. Rent Rolls) in 1685, transcribed from the last 12 pages of the Warrants Book. The amount of land rent due from each property is also shown in the original document, but has not been included here. These amounts were written at the far right edge of the pages and in many cases are no longer readable. In general, rent was calculated at the rate of either 1 shilling or 2 shillings per hundred acres per year (these were known as “old rent” and “new rent”). In some cases back rent was also due from earlier years and incorporated into the compiled amount. The rents are not shown in sterling (-s-d) but apparently in lbs/tobacco computed at 1 penny per pound of tobacco, although the actual unit is never stated. The total due from the entire list of properties, plus alienation (transfer) fees from sales which had occurred during the year, plus several miscellaneous fines, was 46,200 pounds of tobacco (land rent - 43,387, fees - 1513, fines - 1100, additional item - 200). The amounts due are subtotaled at the bottom of each page (although in some cases the edge of the page has frayed off and the subtotal can no longer be seen) and then totaled on the final page in a summary calculation for all monies due to the Proprietor.

The summary calculation shows that there were originally 10 pages on which properties and rents due were listed. Since only 9 are present in the volume, one has apparently been lost, and comparing the summary list with the individual page totals shows that it is the first page that is missing. The subtotaled land rent shown for that page is 6448 lbs/tobacco, the largest of the 10 in the original list.

The list is compiled by owner and tract names of the properties owned, with size shown in acres. There are 189 property owners listed on the 9 pages, so we may suppose that the full list would have comprised about 210. It is interesting to compare this list with the Provincial list of 252 Somerset County citizens assessed taxes to pay for the military debt in 1678. (See Archives of Maryland Vol. VII, pp. 87-104.) The two lists are surprisingly uncorrelated. Of the 189 land owners in 1685 only 66 are found in the 1678 tally, with possibly 18 more that can be identified as legatees of persons on the earlier list. This equates to only about a 44% correspondence. The reverse comparison is similar. Only about 96 taxpayers in the 1678 list can be identified with a land owner or possible legatee in the 1685 list, a correspondence of only 38%. Even with an adjustment to account for the lost page of the property owners list the correspondence would only be about 42%.

Click here to view the 1685 Somerset County Rent Roll

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