Below is the transcript of what today we would call a suit to quiet title. The suit was brought by Ann Boyd, the widow of one Dr John Boyd, who devised his real and personal property to his wife in his will dated 19 January 1790. The subject of this suit is a parcel of land called Darley Hall that had been owned by Jonathan Plowman but conveyed to Dr Boyd by Robert Ballard, who was acting as administrator of the estate of his father-in-law Jonathan Plowman, Robert having married Jonathan’s daughter, Rebecca Plowman.
Dr Boyd failed to record the deed, so in order to perfect her title in the property, Ann Boyd had to initiate this suit. Since Robert Ballard died in 1793, Ann Boyd needs to compel Robert Ballard’s heirs to acknowledge and relinquish any interest they have in the property, and have the Chancery Court decree that title is in fact vested in her.
While the outcome of the suit does not concern us (she was successful), what is important to us here is that it names all of the surviving children of Robert Ballard and Rebecca Plowman, who are all infants (i.e., under the age of 21) in 1798: John Ballard, Robert Ballard, William Ballard, Henry Ballard and Edward Ballard.
Curiously, the answer filed by the Ballards names only sons John, William, Henry and Edward, omitting Robert. Was the inclusion of the name Robert earlier an error? The suit was initiated 24 January 1798, and the Ballard’s answer was not recorded until 23 March 1799 — he could have died in the meantime. We’ve found no evidence of Robert (or John, for that matter) after 1799.
Chancery Court (Chancery Record) Ann Boyd vs. John Thomas Holland, John Ballard & others, 1798, Vol 40, page 623 [SE37-48]
FEBRUARY TERM 1799
Be it remembered that heretofore on the 24th day of January 1798 came Anne Boyd by Samuel Johnston Esq. her solicitor into the State of Maryland Court of Chancery and exhibited therein her petition against John Thomas Boyd and John Ballard, Robert Ballard, William Ballard, Henry Ballard and Edward Ballard in the words following.
To the Honorable Alexander Contee Hanson Esquire Chancellor of Maryland.
The petition of Ann Boyd of Baltimore Town in Baltimore Town widow of Doctor John Boyd of the same place physician humbly sheweth that a certain John Thomas Holland of Baltimore County and Robert Ballard of the same place administrator of the goods chattels rights and credits of Jonathan Plowman late of Baltimore County deceased unadministered by Rebecca Plowman in her lifetime the executrix of the said Jonathan Plowman with his will annexed by their certain Indentured tripartite bearing date the twelfth day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty five for the consideration therein mentioned did grant bargain sell alien[ate] release and confirm unto the said John Boyd in his lifetime his heirs and assigns forever all that part of a tract of land called Darley Hill distinguished on the plat thereof by the number sixty nine contained within the metes bounds courses and distances following, that is to say beginning for the same at the end of forty perches from the intersection of two roads leading through the said tract of land called Darley Hall three perches wide each being the most south westerly corner of the said lot and running thence with and bounding on one of the said roads north forty degrees east twelve perches thence running with and bounding on the south sixty seven degrees and a half east three hundred and forty perches out line of the whole of the said tract of land thirty-three perches thence south forty degrees west twenty-one perches thence north fifty degrees west thirty-two perches to the place of beginning which indenture was on the day of the date thereof duly acknowledged as by the said Indenture hereunto annexed which your petitioner prays may be deemed and taken as a part of this her petition more fully appears.
That the said John Boyd being seized and possessed of the said part of the tract of land aforesaid departed this life about the beginning of February in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety but had neglected to have the said Indenture recorded according to law. What the sad John Boyd before his death duly made and published his last will and testament in writing bearing date the nineteenth day of January in the year last aforesaid and thereby devised and bequeathed to your petitioner after the payment of his debts and the legacies therein mentioned the one equal half part or moiety of all his real and personal estate forever and also the use of the other moiety thereof for life with power to dispose of such part of said other moiety as shall be sufficient if necessary for her comfortable support and maintenance during life and lay out the same for that purpose as by the said last will and testament duly proved according to law a true copy whereof herewith exhibited more fully appears. That the said Robert Ballard departed this life sometimes in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety three intestate leaving John Ballard, Robert Ballard, William Ballard, Henry Ballard and Edward Ballard his children and heirs at law who are all minors under the age of twenty-one years.
That the said John Boyd having neglected in his life time to record the said Indenture in due time the same cannot be now done without the degree of this honorable court.
May it therefore please your honor to grant your petitioner the states writ of subpoena directed tot he said John Thomas Holland, John Ballard, Robert Ballard, William Ballard, Henry Ballard and Edward Ballard to appear in this court to a certain day and under a certain penalty thereto to be mentioned to answer the premises and that this honorable court may order and decree that the said Indenture may be recorded according to law and that your petitioner may have such other and further relief in the premises as to this honorable court shall seem moot and your petitioner will ever pray.
Saml. Johnston, Solicitor for Petitioner
And at the same term came the commissioners named in the commission and made return thereof and of their proceedings in the premises as follows.
To the Honorable the Chancellor of the State of Maryland
We whose names are hereunto subscribed to derby certify that by virtue of the within commission we have called before us the within named John Ballard, William Ballard, Henry Ballard and Edward Ballard and have assigned and appointed Edward Johnson to be their guardian by whom they may answer and defend the within suit, and we hav also taken the answer of the said Edward Johnson as their guardian sworn on the Holy Evangely of Almighty God to the truth thereof as by the within commission we are commanded. Sam’l. Moale, John Roberts.
The joint and several answer of John Ballard, William Ballard, Henry Ballard and Edward Ballard all infants under the age of twenty one years the children and heirs at law of Robert Ballard, late of Baltimore County deceased by Edward Johnson their guardian specially appointed by virtue of a commission hereunto annexed to the petition of Ann Boyd of the same county, widow.
These defendants by their said guardian Edward Johnson for answer to the petition of the said Ann Boyd to so much thereof as they are advised is necessary or material for them to answer unto they severally and not the one for the other, answering say they admit that the said John Thomas Holland and the sad Robert Ballard, the father of these defendants in his life time did make and executed the Indenture tripartite in the said Ann Boyd’s petition mentioned to the said John Boyd in his lifetime his heirs and assigns forever for all that part of a tract of land called Darley Hall as particularly mentioned and described in the said Indenture to which these defendants crave leave in refer for greater certainty.
These defendants further answering admit that the said Indenture was duly acknowledged by the said John Thomas Holland and Robert Ballard according to law, and also admit that the said John Boyd died seized of the said land about the time in the said petition of the said Ann Boyd mentioned and that the said deed or Indenture aforesaid had not been recorded according to law but for greater certainty thereof these defendants crave leave to refer to the said Indenture.
These defendants further answering say they are strangers to the last will and testament of the said John Boyd or in what manner he disposed of his estate thereby, otherwise than by the said petition but cares leave for the certainty thereof to refer themselves to the said last will and testament or a copy thereof as exhibited by the petitioner.
And these defendants further answering say they have no objection to the said Indenture being recorded and admit that the same should be done in such manner as this honorable court shall decree the same to be done, and therefore these defendants pray here to be dismissed with their reasonable costs and charges. — Edward Johnson, Guardian of John, Henry & Edward Ballard [inadvertently omitting William, whose name is recited in the paragraph following].
Baltimore County, to wit. On the 23rd day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety-nine before the subscribers two of the commissioners named in the commission whereunto annexed personally appeared Edward Johnson the guardian appointed by us for the within named John Ballard, William Ballard, Henry Ballard and Edward Ballard all minors under the age of twenty-one years and made oath that he verily believes that the facts stated in the above answer are true. Sworn before Saml. Moale, John Roberts