View all series for GOVERNOR AND COUNCIL
From 1634 to 1838, the Governor and Council formed the executive
branch of the government. Both the governor and council were
originally commissioned by the proprietor and served at his
pleasure. The governor administered the central government,
appointed civil and military officials, granted land patents, and
collected proprietary rents and revenues. The council advised the
governor and served as other proprietary officers.
Throughout the colonial period, the Governor and Council also
acted in legislative and judicial capacities. Between 1650 and
1675 they comprised the Upper House of the General Assembly.
Thereafter, the council sat alone as the Upper House until 1776.
The governor and council sat as judges of the Provincial Court
from 1634 to 1674 and of the Court of Appeals from 1650 to 1776.
Moreover, the governor usually served as chancellor to the
Chancery Court and, during the royal period (1692-1715), every
governor was commissioned to head an Admiralty Court within the
The Maryland Constitution of 1776 eliminated the legislative and
judicial responsibilities of the Governor and Council. It also
provided for their annual election by the General Assembly. The
governor was limited to no more than three sucessive one-year
The Governor and Council acquired new responsibilities under the
state Constitution. Central among them was the supervision of
elections (Constitution of 1776, art. 42). In 1777, the Governor
and Council validated county sheriff elections (Chapter 19, Acts
of 1777). A later law directed the Governor and Council to
inspect and examine election returns of congressional and
presidential elections (Chapter 61, Acts of 1790, sec. 9).
The council was abolished by constitutional amendment in 1838 and
thereafter the governor, elected by popular vote, exercised sole
executive authority in the state (Chapter 197, Acts of 1836,
ratified 1837). Record keeping duties formerly performed by the
council were assumed by the newly created Secretary of State.