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John Hanson Briscoe papers

Identifier: MSS-025

Scope and Contents

The Judge John Hanson Briscoe papers contain speeches given by Judge Briscoe; publications; correspondence; one article; and one list. The materials are dated from circa 1974 to 1983.

One significant area of the collection is the Maryland General Assembly.

Significant topics in this collection include the state of Maryland’s budget, economic policies, and overall economy; property taxes; and legislative process.


  • circa 1974 -- 1983

Language of Materials note

Materials entirely in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open without restriction.

Biographical History

Judge John Hanson Briscoe (1934-2014) was a Maryland politician and lawyer known for serving as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates (1962-1979); Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates (1973-1979); and Circuit Court judge of St. Mary's County (1986-2002).

Born on April 10, 1934 in Leonardtown, Maryland, to John Henry Thomas Briscoe, an attorney, and Hilda Maddox Briscoe, a former nurse, Briscoe graduated from St. Mary's Academy in 1952; received his AB from Mount St. Mary's University in 1956; and LLB from the University of Baltimore in 1960. He passed his Maryland Bar examination in 1960 and practiced law in St. Mary's County for several years.

Briscoe was voted into the Maryland House of Delegates in 1962; he later served as Speaker of the House from 1973 until 1979. During his tenure, Briscoe was a member or chair of numerous committees, including the Chesapeake Bay and Tributaries committee; Environmental Matters committee, Legislative Policy committee; the Natural Resources committee; and the Ways and Means committee. In addition to supporting civil rights, environmental, property tax, and abortion legislation, Briscoe was also involved in the preservation or establishment of numerous parks (e.g. Point Lookout).

Briscoe retired from the Maryland House of Delegates in 1979. After several years of practicing law in Lexington Park, Maryland, and serving as a registered lobbyist in Annapolis, Maryland, Briscoe was appointed as St. Mary's Circuit Court judge in 1986. He held that position until his retirement in 2002.

In addition to his professional positions, Briscoe was the president of several organizations, including Historic Sotterley Plantation and Historic St. Mary's Commission. He was also a member of the Board of Directors for the Maryland Center for Civic Education; the Advisory Board of the Chesapeake Bay Field Lab; and the Board of Review for the Department of Natural Resources. Briscoe was also a member of several organizations, including the Maryland State Bar Association; St. Mary's County Bar Association; and the Maryland Heritage Commission.

Briscoe was married twice, first to Sylvia Weiss and--after their divorce--to Bonnie Sue Brandt in circa 1985. He had five children.

Briscoe passed away in Hollywood, Maryland, on January 1, 2014.


“Briscoe,” St. Mary’s County Library, accessed September 12, 2018,

Frederick N. Rasmussen, “Judge John Hanson Briscoe, House Speaker,” The Baltimore Sun, January 6, 2014,

“John Hanson Briscoe (1934-2014),”, accessed September 12, 2018,

Megan McDonough, “John Hanson Briscoe, Former Speaker of the Maryland House and Circuit Court Judge, Dies,” Washington Post, January 6, 2014,

“Newsletter,” Maryland Civic Education, accessed September 12, 2018,

Samuel Baldwin, “The John Hanson Briscoe Historical Project,” Baldwin, Briscoe, and Steinmetz, accessed September 12, 2018,


4 Linear Feet (4 boxes (1 oversize))


Judge John Hanson Briscoe was a Maryland politician and lawyer who served in the Maryland House of Delegates (1962-1979) and as the Circuit Court judge of St. Mary's County (1986-2002); his papers include speeches that he gave between circa 1974 and 1983.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

First set of papers (speech files), donated by the family of Judge Briscoe, August, 2018.


Further accruals from Sam Baldwin are expected.

Separated Materials note

Two folders of material about Sotterley Plantation were separated from this collection and added to MSS049, "Historic Sotterley papers," as MSS049's "Subject Files" series.

Processing Information

Steven Gentry, Archives Technician, Fall 2018.

Finding aid prepared by Steven Gentry, Archives Technician
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the St. Mary's College of Maryland Archives Repository

Calvert Hall
St. Mary's College of Maryland
47645 College Dr.
St. Mary's City MD 20686-3001 United States