Sheriff's Office History

The Office of the Sheriff for St. Mary's County Maryland was established to serve and protect the citizens of the Mother County of Maryland. We are the oldest Sheriff's Office in Maryland and one of the oldest in the nation.

There is some debate as to when the first sheriff in America took office. In 1634, Virginia's first eight counties were established, as was the case with St. Mary's County. It is likely that these counties appointed a sheriff at that time, but no records exist to document this.

The St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office can trace its history to Sheriff James Baldridge in 1637. Many accounts agree that this is the first documented evidence of a sheriff in the United States. We have continually served the citizens of St. Mary's County during the past five centuries.

At the time of our beginnings, the Office of the Sheriff for St. Mary's County was an appointive one. The Maryland Constitution of 1776 changed the Office of the Sheriff to an elective one. The sheriff was then authorized to appoint an under-sheriff, much like today's deputy.

The St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office uniform and marked police vehicles were developed in 1966. At that time, the Sheriff's Office progressed from a part-time, on-call service to a full-time, full-service law enforcement agency. The uniform shoulder patch worn by Sheriff's Office personnel emphasizes the St. Mary's County seal. St. Mary's is the sole county in Maryland to have a complete Achievement of Arms as its seal. Maryland is the only state in the nation to have a true heraldic representation as its flag.