Baltimore County Hundreds & Boundaries


When researching Baltimore county before ca 1820, you will encounter two terms referring to an area of land. One of the terms is Hundreds and the other is parishes Hundreds as a political subdivision date back to the Roman occupation of Britian. Their are several variations of the orginial meaning of the term. The most commonly accepted is that is was an area that contained 100 families. Another variation is that it was an area that was large enough to raise an army of 100 men. From the late 1600s to early 1800s in Maryland the term was applied as a political subdivision of the county primarily for tax purposes and judicial affairs. The latter being that there was a constable appointed for each hundred and a justice of the peace for each hundred. The 1790 and 1810 Federal census for Baltimore county are at least partially broken down by hundreds. The equivalent term today for a hundred is an election district within the county. Although Maryland was founded by Catholics (the family of Lord Baltimore), its religion was dominated by Puritans in the 1650s and then later the Church of England. In June of 1692 the General Assembly passed an act that essentially established the Church of England as the "state church", required the establishement of parish boundaries and also required each parish to establish a register of births, marriages, and deaths within the province.

When Baltimore county was first settled, there were no roads, except a few indian paths; thus, travel was mostly by water, and you will find persons styled in terms of where they lived. For example in early deeds, people are styled as: William Boulton of Bush River, Richard Ball of Patapsco, John Lee planter of Bush River. The early Hundreds were thus often named for rivers. When Baltimore county was fist formed, its boundaries ran from the ridge dividing the watershed of the Magothy and Patapsco Rivers around to the Sassafras River. Thus it included todays Cecil county, and Harford county, parts of Carroll, Anne Arundel, and Howard counties. Also since the early boundaries were not fixed it probably also extended into Delaware and Pennsylvania. Cecil County was formed in 1674 at which point the northern eastern boundary of Baltimore county became the Susquehanna River. A formal boundary between Baltimore and Anne Arundel county was initially laid out in 1698.

By 1698 is appears there were three hundreds in Baltimore county, the Patapsco Hundred (which ran from the south side of the Patapsco River to the north) the Gunpowder Hundred, and the Spesutia Hundred. The original county seat was at Spesutia Island off the Bush River. Apparently there was a town of Baltimore in this location in 1683. In 1707 the General Assembly directed that a twon be erected on 50 acres called "Taylors Choice" and that the county courthouse be erected there. This land was off the Gunpowder river. However in November 1712 an act of the Assembly directled that the courthouse be erected in the town of Joppa.

There were three parishes established in Baltimore County in the 1690s. These were St Pauls, St Johns, and St Georges. The parish boundaries roughly corresponded to the boundaries of the three hundreds:
St Paul's Parish was the Patapsco Hundred
St John's Parish was the Gunpowder Hundred
and St George's Parish was the Sesputia Hundred

In 1727 the Boundary between Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties was changed so that all land on the south side of the Patapsco river was to be in Anne Arundel county.

As the county's population grew, new hundreds were created. Also because of the distances to the churches, "chapels of ease" were built. These later became their own parish. St Thomas Parish was created in 1742 and the chaple was built near Garrison Forest as part of St Paul's Parish for the western part of the county, and St James was created at Monkton in 1750 as a chapel of ease for St John's Parish. St James was recognized as an independent parish in 1777.

From the 1737 Tax lists: the Hundreds and Parishes for Baltimore county were:
HundredParish
Patapsco Lower HundredSt Paul's
Patapsco Upper Hundred
Soldiers Delight Hundred
Back River Lower Hundred
Back River Upper Hundred
Middle River HundredSt John's
Gunpowder Lower Hundred
Gunpowder Upper Hundred
Lower Spesutia HundredSt George's
Upper Spesutia Hundred
Deer Creek Hundred

By 1776 the following Hundreds existed:
HundredParish
West Hundred - of Baltimore TownSt Paul's
East Hundred-of Baltimore Town
Patapsco Lower Hundred
Patapsco Upper Hundred
Midlesex Hundred
Back River Hundred
Back River Lower Hundred
Back River Upper HundredSt Thomas' Parish
Soldiers Delight Hundred
Delaware Hundred
Pipe Creek Hundred
Middle River Lower HundredSt John's Parish
MIddle River Upper Hundred
Gunpowder Lower Hundred
Gunpowder Upper Hundred
North Upper Hundred
North Lower Hundred
Spesutia Lower HundredSt George's Parish
Spesutia Upper Hundred
Susquehanna Hundred
Deer Creek Hundred

>P> On 2 March 1774, Harford county was created out of Baltimore county. with the Little Gunpowder river serving as the dividing line between the two counties.

In the Federal Tax assessment of 1798 Baltimore County was divided into the following hundreds:

The other major boundary changes occured in 1837 with the formation of Carroll county from the western part of Baltimore county and the eastern part of Frederick county and in 1851 with the formation of Baltimore City as an entity separate from the county and in 1836. The county also lost land through annexations by Baltimore City, particularly in the early 1900s.


Return to the Baltimore county USGenWeb homepage