Dorchester County Map and Seal

Dorchester County

Honorable Doris K. Lewis
Courthouse
206 High Street
Cambridge, Maryland 21613
(410) 228-4181
(888) 242-6257
Fax (410) 228-4988

 

Register of Wills

The Register of Wills is responsible for appointing personal representatives to administer decedents’ estates and for overseeing the proper and timely administration of these proceedings. We also perform the following duties: assist and advise the public in the preparation of all required forms; maintain and preserve the permanent record of all proceedings; serve as the Clerk to the Orphans’ Court; track estates and refer delinquent matters to the Court; determine and collect inheritance taxes and probate fees/court costs; audit accounts of personal representatives and guardians; mail various notices and court orders to interested persons; and, verify compliance with court orders. As a service we provide safekeeping for wills of living persons who reside in Dorchester County.

The Importance of Wills and Estate Planning

  • Appointment of trusted fiduciaries (personal representatives, trustees and guardians)
  • Achieve maximum savings of administrative costs and death taxes
  • Dispose of your estate according to your wishes
  • Avoid possible family disputes


Dorchester County Quick Facts

Dorchester County is the largest land/water mass county in Maryland. Located on the Eastern Shore, it is known as the Heart of Chesapeake Country because of its geographical location and the heartlike shape of the county. Water nearly surrounds the county with the Chesapeake Bay on the west, the Choptank River on the north and the Nanticoke River on the east. Dorchester's 1700 miles of shoreline with major bays, countless rivers, creeks, marshlands, woodlands and thousands of acres of fertile farmland offers the watermen, trappers and farmers an abundance of natural resources for their livelihood. The area offers natural beauty with quaint picturesque waterfront towns, fishing and agricultural villages along with opportunities for business growth.

Dorchester was named for the Earl of Dorset, a family friend of the Calvert's (the founding family of the Maryland Colony). Cambridge, the county seat, was incorporated in 1794. Dorchester County operates under the Charter Home Rule form of government and the affairs of the county are managed by five County Council members.

Native Americans were the first settlers of this land which became home to English settlers. In 1608, John Smith referenced being welcomed by Native Americans along the shoreline. The Algonquin Nation was the primary group in this area; they lived in hogans (traditional homes) along the shoreline and were peaceful in nature. Dorchester County heritage is preserved by the descendents of those who welcomed the English in the 1600's. The Native American culture is preserved by an annual festival and restoration of historical landmarks.

Throughout history renowned individuals have called Dorchester County home. Six Governors of Maryland were born and lived in Dorchester, namely, John Henry, Charles Goldsborough, Thomas Holiday Hicks, Henry Lloyd, Phillips Lee Goldsborough and Emerson C. Harrington. Gov. Thomas King Carroll, born in Somerset County, moved to Dorchester and is buried in Old Trinity Church Cemetery. Gov. Thomas Holiday Hicks was Dorchester County Register of Wills and later served as Governor of Maryland.

Others notables include:

  • Patty Cannon, a ruthless slave trader.
  • Harriet Tubman, known as "Moses of her People", helped slaves find freedom through the Underground Railroad during the Civil War.
  • Annie Oakley, a famed sharpshooter.
  • John Barth, famous American novelist and short story writer was born and raised in Dorchester County and still lives in Maryland. Mr. Barth is recognized in the academic world as one of the greatest authors in twentieth century American literature. During his literary career he has been the winner of the National Book Award and received the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Fiction.

Dorchester has embraced its past and takes pride in preserving and sharing its rich culture. Many historic sites, natural areas and places of interest are afforded visitors to the county such as:

  • Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is a vital haven for waterfowl situated on nearly 28,000 acres where you can see threatened and endangered species such as bald eagles, delmarva fox squirrel, a variety of ducks, geese, tundra swans, hawks, osprey, great blue herons, egrets, muskrats and a large variety of songbirds.
  • Old Trinity Church, circa 1675, is the oldest Episcopal Church in continued use in the United States. The Old Trinity cemetery is historically famous with graves of many Revolutionary War veterans and many famous citizens such as Anna Ella Carroll, the silent member of President Abraham Lincoln's cabinet.
  • Spocott Windmill, located in the Neck District of Dorchester County, is the only fully operating English style post windmill used for grinding grain in Maryland.
  • Becky Phipp's Cannon is located as you enter the village of Taylors Island. During the war of 1812, an ice jam allowed the Taylors Island Militia to seize the British warship Dauntless from which they took 19 prisoners and this cannon. The cannon's nickname derived from the British ship's Lt. Phipps and the cook "Becky". The cannon was later restored, mounted and marked by the Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.)
  • Richardson Maritime Museum, named for the renowned boatbuilder Captain Jim Richardson, is home to a wealth of Chesapeake Bay wooden boat memorabilia, artifacts and history. Dorchester County's rich maritime history can be observed at the museum, the home of many model skipjacks, workboats and other ships. The Boatworks, a major center for wooden boatbuilding and restoration with a mission of "Putting History On The Water" is open to the public along with the museum.
  • The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Horn Point Laboratory is home to more than 125 researchers striving to improve our scientific understanding of Maryland, the region and the world. Scientists working at Horn Point Aquaculture Restoration and Ecology Lab are discovering how diseases are harming the rockfish and native oysters, two of the Chesapeake Bay's cultural icons.

For A Historical List Of Dorchester County Registers Of Wills (MD State Archives Link) Click Here

Office Information

Business Hours: 8:30 am - 4:30 pm
Monday through Friday

NOTICE TO PERSONS ENTERING THE DORCHESTER COUNTY COURTHOUSE
No cell phones, cameras, or recording devices are allowed in the Courthouse. Please leave them in your vehicle or at home.

*PLEASE NOTE*
Our Mailing Address Is:
Register of Wills, Dorchester County
P O Box 263
Cambridge, MD 21613

Register of Wills Links