… at least the answer doesn’t change

Frederick County is located in the northern part of the state of Maryland. It was created in 1748 by the Province of Maryland from parts of Prince George’s County and Baltimore County, and its county seat is Frederick.1

Frederick MD


Frederick County is located in the northern part of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The county was formed in 1743 by the splitting of Orange County, and its county seat is Winchester.2

Frederick VA

The two counties don’t share a border, but they are both in the Washington-Baltimore-Arlington Combined Statistical Area of the U.S. Department of Commerce.3 And their two county seats, as the crow flies, are about 45-50 miles apart.

So… why is The Legal Genealogist doing a geography lesson this morning?

Because I didn’t do one for myself before yesterday’s blog post, about quit rents on land in Frederick County, Maryland.4

No sooner had the post hit the servers than one of the leading experts on Virginia research, Barbara Vines Little CG, FNGS, FUGA, FVGS, suggested the land at issue wasn’t in Frederick County, Maryland. It was in Frederick County, Virginia.

She’s right, of course.

Fortunately, the answer doesn’t change: the one shilling sterling payable “annually on Feast Day of Saint Michael the Archangel” is still a quit rent.

Because Virginia land grants had quit rents, too:

This was a kind of land tax that the Crown originally imposed and that was regulated by acts of Parliament. The basic English land laws under which the people of colonial Virginia gained title to their land required the owners to pay to the Crown a quitrent of two shillings for each hundred acres of land. If a landowner failed to pay the quitrent for a specified number of years, the Crown had the right to take back the land and grant it or sell it to another person. The money raised by this tax went into the royal treasury and was used to pay the expenses of the royal government in the colony. … This is the origin of the modern system of land taxes in Virginia.5

There were some differences between the systems of quit rents in Virginia and Maryland. In colonial Virginia, “all land owners … paid to the King an annual quit rent of one shilling for every fifty acres.”6 It was there that the money was paid to the British Crown rather than to the proprietors.7 It was there, at least under Lord Fairfax, that some land grants provided for payment of “one good fat turkey.”8

And it was there, in May 1776, that all quit rents were ordered paid to the Commonwealth and not the Crown.9 In May of 1779, Virginia quit rents were totally abolished:

Be it enacted, That the reservation of royal … quitrents, and all other reservations and conditions in the patents or grants of land from the crown of England or of Great Britain, under the former government, shall be, and are hereby declared null and void; and that all lands thereby respectively granted, shall be held in absolute and unconditional property to all intents and purposes whatsoever, in the same manner with the lands hereafter to be granted by the commonwealth by virtue of this act…10

Just a little geography — correct this time — to go along with the history, of quit rents in this tale of two Fredericks.


  1. Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.com), “Frederick County, Maryland,” rev. 3 Aug 2018.
  2. Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.com), “Frederick County, Virginia,” rev. 4 July 2018.
  3. Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.com), “Baltimore–Washington metropolitan area,” rev. 4 Aug 2018.
  4. Judy G. Russell, “One shilling sterling,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 13 Aug 2018 (https://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : accessed 14 Aug 2018).
  5. Quitrents,” Taxes in Colonial Virginia (VA-NOTES), Library of Virginia (http://www.lva.virginia.gov/ : accessed 14 Aug 2018).
  6. Virginia Quit Rent Rolls, 1704,” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 28 (July 1920): 207-218; PDF version, JSTOR (https://www.jstor.org/ : accessed 14 Aug 2018).
  7. Beverly W. Bond, Jr., “The Quit-Rent System in the American Colonies,” American Historical Review 17 (April 1912): 496-516; PDF version, JSTOR (https://www.jstor.org/ : accessed 14 Aug 2018).
  8. See Marshall v. Conrad, 5 Call 364, 369 (Va. 1805).
  9. §VII, Chapter 5, Laws of May 1776-Interregnum, in William Waller Hening, The Statutes at Large … of Virginia… (Richmond: p.p., 1821), 9:127-128.
  10. §IV, Chapter 13, Laws of May 1779, in Hening, The Statutes at Large … of Virginia… (Richmond: p.p., 1822), 10:64-65.
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