1723 Annamessex Hundred Project Introduction

What is the 1723 Annamessex Hundred Project?

The Tax Lists of Somerset County were done in order of visitation (who was living next to whom). The collector, constable or sheriff, of the tithes (taxes) went from door to door. This type of list can be used to glean clues as to who was related to whom. Annamessex Hundred was down near the Accomack, Virginia line and it was easy to travel to and from there by water. There are 116 names listed in the 1723 Tax List.

What is the Purpose of the Project?

What is Area Genealogy?

"Area Genealogy" is a phrase coined by Gail M. Walczyk circa 2004. Early in her search for her family's roots she realized that to know her family she had to know the land on which they lived and the people with whom they socialized and did business. She started doing what she now terms "Area Genealogy," the study of the family relationships of the inhabitants living in a certain section. It was extremely helpful when she tackled the families on most of the islands in the Bay. By locating where a person lived she was able to understand certain family relationships. She found that by looking at neighboring households she was able to see whose daughter had married whose son and why so-and-so was appointed guardian to someone. It all seemed to matter in some way.

Several years ago she came across some little known and little used records of "Processions." Processions were a type of boundary survey in England and the United States, especially in Virginia and Kentucky. On the Eastern Shore of Virginia every four years the Vestrymen of the Church would meet and order that a processioning be taken. The job of the processioners was to decide upon property boundaries and to mark and describe them in the processioner's book. All landowners in a community would ride or walk along the boundaries of their property from marked trees to marked trees and from creek to creek. They would make sure the boundary markers were still there, note the ones missing and create new ones. On the Eastern Shore, when there was a dispute in the boundaries, the processioning of the disputed land would be stopped. A jury would be empanelled in court, and accompanied by a surveyor and the sheriff would go and view the lines and decide on the boundaries. This English custom was a means of avoiding disputes arising from poor surveys or loss of boundary markers such as trees and was also used to tithe the freeholders or owners of the land.

At first glance these records looked like just lists of names. With further study one sees that they were done by precincts and walked from plantation to plantation, creating an every-four-year census of landowners and their neighbors. The boundary lines were actually walked and the procession was witnessed by the landowners of the district. Occasionally a son, relative, tenant or overseer would witness the procession instead of the actual landowner. By following the names through the ensuing years, sales of land, deaths of landowners, and names of creeks and roads no longer used can be seen. Doing Area Genealogy generates clues to parents, grandparents, other family relationships and social dealings.

By following Gail's lead with Accomack and Northampton County Processions Returns in Virginia, it is believed that similar studies can be done using the Tax Lists of Maryland. Annamessex Hundred was chosen to start the study because of its location next to Accomack County and because some of the inhabitants are known to have come from or gone to the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

More Specifically, What are the Tax Lists?

J. Elliott Russo, Ph.D., in his Somerset County Tax Lists: Introduction, states:

"The Somerset tax lists are the surviving record of the poll tax levied on free males over the age of fifteen and slaves of both sexes over fifteen. During the colonial period officials for each Maryland county collected taxes to cover the costs of provincial government and the established church as well as the various county expenses (e.g., maintenance of indigent residents, payment of jurymen, and per diem expenses for justices). For most counties just scattered lists have survived; only for Somerset County is a series of annual lists extant."

"At the fall court session justices calculated expenses for the past year. Division of this figure by the total number of taxables present in the county determined the amount of tax due for each taxable person. The head of every household was responsible for his own levy and for the taxes due for his dependents. As each constable made the rounds of his hundred [geographic subdivision of the county] he kept a list, organized by household, of the people who were taxed. Because the courts fined household heads if they did not inform the constable of every dependent, these lists presumably provide an accurate record of the taxable population for each year."

What is Needed?

Fully cited material that is applicable to the 1723 Annamessex Hundred Project. Scanned images or copies of Deeds, Surveys, Wills, Inventories, Court Records, Reports, etc. are all needed to help with the Project. Material that is not cited will not be used.

How You can Help?

Inputs for the Project are welcome. Simply email me, Tom Dunaway, with whatever you would like to contribute. Scanned images or copies do not need to be transcribed prior to sending. Please remember, material that is not cited will not be used and I do retain the right to use or not use material as deemed necessary.

Copyright by
Tom Dunaway & Gail M. Walczyk