Oaths of Fidelity or Oaths of Allegiance, 1775-1778, MS 3088

Finding Aid for Oaths of Fidelity or Oaths of Allegiance, Maryland Historical Society

Collection summary

Title: Oaths of Allegiance and Oaths of Fidelity Collection

Call number: MS3088

Inclusive dates: 1775-1778

Abstract: The Oath of Fidelity was instituted by Laws of Maryland 1777, Chapter 20, An Act for the Better Security of Government. Every free male 18 years and older was required to subscribe to an oath renouncing the King of England and to pledge allegiance to the revolutionary government of Maryland. Those already engaged in military service were assumed to be loyal. Quakers, Mennonites, and Dunkards were permitted to affirm. There were several penalties associated with failure to obey the instructions of the ACT. Magistrates neglecting to keep books and transmit them to the Governor were to be fined 500 pounds. Persons expected to take the oath who did not do so were required, for the rest of their lives, to pay triple the ordinary tax on real and personal property. They were forbidden to exercise and practice the trade of merchandise or to practice the law, physic or surgery, or the art of an apothecary, or to preach or teach the gospel, or to teach in public or private schools, or to hold or exercise within this state, any office of profit or trust, civil or military, or to vote at any election of electors or senators, or of delegates to the house of delegates. Oaths were to be administered by the magistrates of each county before March 1, 1778. One list of those who subscribed to the oath was to be kept at the county court and another sent to the governor and Council in Annapolis. The lists from various sources have been consolidated into this collection. This collection consists of documents containing lists of those residents of the respective counties of the State of Maryland who subscribed to the oath before a magistrate and oaths submitted to the Governor and Council. See below for a detailed inventory of the contents of this Collection.

Administrative summary

Repository:H. Furlong Baldwin Library

Maryland Historical Society

201 W. Monument Street

Baltimore, MD 21201



Access restrictions: Access to the collection is unrestricted

Use restrictions: Permission to publish transcriptions, quotations, or citations must be received in writing from the Special Collections Librarian.

Processing note: Collection consolidated and finding aid created in 2011.


Scope and content

This collection contains Oaths of Allegiance and Fidelity documents signed by the residents of the respective counties or copied and submitted by the magistrates who witnessed them. Contents are filed by county and then alphabetically by the magistrate who witnessed the oath. Folders contain all lists of the specific magistrate. There are also copies of the lists of oaths which were submitted to the Governor and Council. Many of the originals of these lists are in the Maryland StateArchives. Oaths have been consolidated from a variety of sources including MS1146, MS 1814, MS 1675, vertical file, and individual private collections.

See also for additional information:

Oath of Fidelity Index in the Main Reading Room which contains a card catalogue of the names of individuals who took the Oath of Allegiance and the county and magistrate who administered the oath. This index does not contain names for St. Mary’s, Washington, or Worcester Counties.

G5031 Kerr, Mrs. Samuel Chase. The Mrs. Samuel Chase Kerr Collection, 1778. This file includes a typed copy of ‘Chronicles of St. Mary’s – Monthly Bulletin of the St. Mary’s County Historical Society, July 1956 which lists names of Subscriber’s to the Oath of Allegiance – 1778, St. Mary’s County, Maryland including 14 officials who administered the oath. A copy of this Bulletin was made and added to MS3088.

G5059 Dr. Thomas E. Sears Collection Box 1. An alphabetical list of the names of such persons as took & subscribed the Oath or Affirmation of Fidelity on or before the 1st of March 1778 in Talbot County. Also List of such persons as took & subscribed the Oath or Affirmation of Fidelity after 1st March, but at the first county Court thereafter. Md. Historical Society Library (In vault) Portfolio No. 11 No. 15 (handwritten in small bound book)

MF185.C29 Carothers, Bettie Stirling. Volumes 1 & 2. 9000 Men who signed the Oath of Allegiance and Fidelity to Maryland during the Revolution.

MF185.H69 Hodges, Margaret Roberts. Unpublished Revolutionary records of Maryland [microfilm]. Vol 1. Original commissions 1775-1762. Lists of States Militias by county. Vol 2. The Arc & Dove. Lists of militia of Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Calvert, Charles, Kent, St. Mary’s Counties. Lists of substituted soldiers by county. Vol 3. Oaths of Allegiance Frederick, Harford, Montgomery, Washington Counties. Vol 4. Soldiers on half pay, families of distressed soldiers. Officers bounty lands. Vol 5. Montgomery County militia; Charles County oaths of allegiance. Vol 6. Oaths of allegiance Calvert, Baltimore, Talbot, Dorchester, St. Mary’s Counties.

MF185.W25 Ward, Anna D. Maryland Oath of Fidelity, 1778. Compiled 1967. List of Magistrates by County who returned lists of Oaths of Allegiance. In Main Reading Room with Oath of Fidelity Index Card File. (See above)

MF187.C4.C4S. Ash, Mollie Howard. Cecil County Maryland Signers of the Oath of Allegiance / sworn by county justices March 2nd 1778; copied and published, Elkton, MD: Cecil Whig, 1940.

MF187.P9.H6. Hienton, Louise Joyner & Brown, Helen White. 1778 Oaths of Fidelity, Prince George’s County, Maryland.

MS1586 Oaths of Fidelity, 2 boxes. Special Collections. Contains original copies or Photostats of the Oaths of Fidelity and Allegiance. Many of these individual magistrate’s lists were Photostats of original documents which are in the Maryland State Archives. Many of them have been transferred from MS1586 to MS3088. For Anne Arundel County, Oaths of Fidelity are included with other official documents and therefore have been retained in MS1586.

PAM 4622 Buckey Mrs WG. A list of militia & oaths of allegiance. June, 1775 Kent Co., MD & vicinity. Militia lists and oaths of allegiance from Quaker Neck, Chestertown, Kent Lower Langford, Worton and Eastern Neck. Names on this list were all enlisted in the Continental Army.

PAM 3721 List of Signers in Charles County of Oath of Allegiance to Maryland in 1778. Compliments of Charles R. Morehead, El Paso, Texas. March Court, 1778. List of persons in Charles County, Maryland who have taken the oath which is listed in the pamphlet before the following different magistrates and returned by them to Charles County Court: the Worshipful Walter Hanson, Worshipful Walter Hanson Jenifer, Worshipful Wm. Harrison, Worshipful Joseph Anderson, the Worshipful John Dent, The Worshipful Richard Barnes, The Worshipful Daniel Jenifer, The Worshipful Geo. Dent, The Worshipful Warren Dent, The Worshipful John Lancaster, The Worshipful John Parnham, The Worshipful John Dent, The Worshipful Robert Young, The Worshipful Walter Hanson. True copy taken from the original lists test J. Givinn, Clk. Charles Co., Liber X, No. 3. 1775 to 1778-fols, 641 to 651, Annapolis Land Office Md.

PAM 10,060 The Oath of Fidelity in Dorchester County by Albert Levin Richardson. From Maryland Original Research Society—Bulletin #3, Baltimore, Maryland—May, 1913. List of Magistrates in Dorchester County before whom the citizens of that county subscribed the Oath of Fidelity to the State of Maryland in 1778: James Murray, Thomas F. Eccleston, Benjamin Keene, Henry Lake, James Shaw, William Ennalls, and Robert Harrison and a list of ‘most of the names of the men’ who subscribed to the oath.

PAM 10,433 Buckey Mrs William G. Kent Co. MD list of militia and oaths of allegiance. June, 1775.

PAM 10,514 Washington County, Maryland Records: Oaths of Allegiance, 1778 and Balance Books on Estates (Distributions), 1778-1801. Compiled & Edited by Raymond B. Clark, Jr. October, 1989. Introduction and list of magistrates before whom the oath was taken: The Worshipful Sam Hugh, The Worshipful Chris. Cruso, The Worshipful Richard David, The Worshipful Joseph Chaplin, The Worshipful John Cellar, The Worshipful Andrew Bruce, The Worshipful Daniel Barrits, The Worshipful John Barn, The Worshipful William Yates, The Worshipful Henry Schnebely, The Worshipful Andrew Rentch, The Worshipful Joseph Sprigg

PAM 10,730 American Star, April 7, 1911. Newspaper article which explains that all those who signed the oath of allegiance were not necessarily loyal to the Revolutionary Cause, but that there were a number of insurgents, especially in Somerset and Worcester Counties still loyal to the king.

PAM 12,310 Persons taking the oath of fidelity in Talbot County 1778. Typed copy from Maryland Original Research Society – Bulletin #3, Baltimore, Maryland – May, 1913. Albert Levin Richardson.

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