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2. Records of the Procurator, 1633-1968

 Series

Scope and Contents

Series 2, the Records of the Procurator, includes financial and legal documents related to the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus, and covers the years 1633-1968. The Procurator - effectively the treasurer of the province - had oversight of finances, and the records in this series reveal the emergence of a tobacco-centered economy in the mid-Atlantic region in the seventeenth century, its diversification beginning in the late eighteenth century, and the decline of agriculture in Maryland after the Civil War. As such, this series documents the ownership and sale of enslaved people, the later reliance on sharecropping tenants, and the use of enslaved labor on Jesuit-owned plantations, including St. Inigoes (St. Mary’s County), Newtown (St. Mary’s County), St. Clement’s Manor (St. Mary’s County); St. Thomas Manor (Charles County), Bohemia (Cecil County), St. Joseph’s Church (Talbot County); and White Marsh (Prince George’s County). The series also documents the Province’s investment in commercial agriculture in Pennsylvania, including at Jesuit farms in Conewago (Adams County) and Goshenhoppen (Berks County). Some materials also reflect activity outside of the broad Maryland region, as the Procurator influenced the development of missions in New York (1814-1818); Missouri (1823-1833); Worcester, Massachusetts (1843-1921); Boston (1847-1921); New York (1879-1943); Jamaica (1893-1928); and the Philippines (1928-1943).

Within Series 2, the Subject Files subseries contains materials collected or created by Joseph Zwingé, S.J., who served as Provincial Procurator between 1903 and 1920, and by his successors. The Subject Files subseries contains many of the key legal and financial documents related to the Maryland Province’s sale of 272 enslaved individuals in 1838. Other materials in Series 2 include correspondence; receipts, expense journals, and ledgers tracking investments and general accounts; special account books; monthly and annual financial statements; and estate account books.

Materials on Slavery

Some folders in this series contain references to slavery, slaveholding, and enslaved individuals. Some folders in this series contain documents addressing the Province's 1838 sale of 272 enslaved individuals. Relevant folders are noted in the finding aid.

Arrangement

Series 2 is arranged into the following subseries:

  • 2.1 Subject Files, 1633-1968
  • 2.2 Correspondence, 1833-1967
  • 2.3 Monthly and Annual Statements, 1802-1939
  • 2.4 General and Special Accounts, 1793-1963
  • 2.5 Estate Accounts, 1734-1926

Background

The Constitutions of the Society of Jesus distinguished sharply between the spiritual roles of the Provincials and Rectors and the temporal roles of the Procurators. The Superior General of the Society of Jesus in Rome appointed each Provincial Procurator, sometimes for more than ten years, to work closely with the Provincial to help establish the financial footing of each mission. Ultimately, Provincial Procurators were accountable to the Procurator General in Rome, managing and reporting on the financial status of each Province’s houses, schools, and estates.

The Procurator for the Province of Maryland, however, had a distinctive role, as he also served as Agent of the Corporation of Roman Catholic Clergymen (CRCC). While the CRCC’s trustees retained the power to acquire and retain properties for the Province of Maryland, and to initiate lawsuits, the Agent oversaw the management of estates and church properties. He reported on the profitability of enslaved workers, executed and enforced the terms of tenant contracts, appraised the buildings and lands on estates, and authorized improvements to these properties. The Provincial Procurator also managed stocks, bonds, and other capital investments. Because of this additional function as Agent of the CRCC, the Provincial Procurator was the principal point of contact for tenants, contractors, and bankers, and worked with state and local authorities to help recover debts and protect properties from trespassers. Provincial Procurators also served as record keepers. They retained deeds documenting real estate acquisitions, contracts between themselves and tenants and other vendors, the receipts and invoices created during routine transactions, and account books documenting the expenses and receipts of the estates and capital investments. They also collected financial reports from the houses, schools, and estates, and retained letters written to Provincials, trustees of the CRCC, estate managers, procurators of houses and schools, and local authorities.

After the formation of the Maryland-New York Province in 1879, record keeping practices changed. This reflected a greater emphasis being placed on capital market investments, and less reliance upon the estates of Southern Maryland and Pennsylvania. Late-nineteenth century accountants closely tracked profits and losses, and began creating monthly and annual statements to track assets and balances. At the same time, the Province began to formalize economic arrangements with other Provinces, billing each other for tuition and other expenses for visitors within each Province. In 1913, the Jesuit Curia standardized reporting procedures among all Provinces, a measure that further rationalized reporting procedures from the Province.

Joseph Zwingé, S.J., Procurator of the Maryland-New York Province from 1903 and 1921, implemented these new procedures, and worked with the CRCC to reconsider the Province’s investment strategy. As part of this undertaking, Father Zwingé examined the financial history of the Province in detail. In doing so, he rearranged the records of the Procurator by subject: seventeenth- and eighteenth-century deeds to the estates and other properties, correspondence, legal documents, maps and land surveys, invoices and receipts, and his own historical notes. These records are now housed in Series 2.1, Procurator Subject Files. Zwingé also studied the financial statements of the estates and retrospectively compiled monthly and annual statements for the period between 1802 and 1893. Zwingé’s research led to a series of articles on the history of the estates in The Woodstock Letters, in which he addressed the topic of slavery, enslaved communities, and the 1838 sale of 272 individuals.

Folder Descriptions

**Please note: the finding aid contains Scope and Contents notes for each folder. This folder-level description has been imported from an older finding aid. Researchers may encounter outdated or potentially offensive terminology and occasional inaccuracies. If you would like to notify Special Collections of any issues that need correcting, please contact us.**

Conditions Governing Access

Most materials dated 1900 and later have not been digitized. Materials dating 1900-1939 are available for research use at the Booth Family Center for Special Collections. All materials dated 1940 and later are restricted.

Dates

  • 1633-1968

Provincial Procurators

The following individuals served as Procurators of the Province:

  1. Francis Neale (1809-1818)
  2. John McElroy (1819-August 1820)
  3. Adam Marshall (August 22, 1820-September 26, 1824)
  4. Francis Dzierozynski (September 27, 1824-November 1833)
  5. Francis Vespre (January 1834-November 7, 1846)
  6. Ignatius Combs (November 8, 1846-September 11, 1850) (Assisted by Charles C. Lancaster from 1848 on)
  7. Jacob Curley (September 12, 1850-July 30, 1860) (Assisted by Charles C. Lancaster)
  8. Charles C. Lancaster (1860-April 2, 1883) (Assisted “off and on until death” by Charles Heichmer until June 29, 1876 and Thomas H. Hayes from September 11, 1877)
  9. Thomas H. Hayes (April 6, 1883-September 4, 1888)
  10. Chas H. Heichemer (September 4, 1888-October 23, 1893)
  11. John A. Chester (1893-November 13, 1903)
  12. Joseph Zwingé (1903-July 18, 1921)
  13. James McGivney (July 18, 1921-April 14, 1934)
  14. Francis A. Breen (July 31, 1934-August 11, 1939)
  15. Charles A. Kleinmeyer (August 11, 1939)

Extent

From the Collection: 292 boxes

Language of Materials

From the Collection: Multiple languages