GLENDAY-L ArchivesArchiver > GLENDAY > 1999-06 > 0930498795
From: Susan Chambless <>
Subject: from the Rootsweb Newsletter
Date: Sun, 27 Jun 1999 10:53:15 -0500
VIRGINIANS AND THEIR LAND
by Barbara Vines Little <>
[Barbara Vines Little, M.Ed (University of Virginia), has
published three volumes of Virginia court records and edited
others for publication. She is past-president of the Virginia
Genealogical Society <http://www.vgs.org/>, editor of the
quarterly MAGAZINE OF VIRGINIA GENEALOGY, and editor of the bi-
monthly "Virginia Genealogical Society Newsletter," in Vol. XXV,
No. 2 (April 1999) of which "Virginians and Their Land" first
appeared. It is reprinted here with the author's permission.]
Virginia's early land records are one of the few surviving
colonial record groups. They are also one of the most
misunderstood. While there are a number of sources of information
on the land grant system, the best overall source of information
is a small book reviewed in the last issue of this newsletter ,
VIRGINIA LAND GRANTS: A STUDY IN CONVEYANCING IN RELATION TO
COLONIAL POLITICS by Fairfax Harrison. First printed in 1925,
Harrison intended the book to be a comparison of Virginia's
two land grant systems -- the Northern Neck Proprietary and the
Royal patents. However, it is also a history of the systems, and
in developing the history of the evolvement of the two systems.
Harrison provides the reader with the information needed to
understand the conditions under which individuals (our ancestors)
obtained land grants and discusses the additional information
that can be gleaned from the records.
Harrison begins with a history of land granting under the
Virginia Company and then speaks to one of the more common
misunderstandings of the land grant system -- the researcher who
identifies an ancestor as having been "given" a grant of land by
King George. Grants were issued for "charter importation rights,"
treasury rights or military service. Harrison notes that
importation rights were used primarily in the seventeenth century
and treasury rights in the eighteenth, but that all three
continued to the end of the colonial period. Many researchers are
unaware that importation rights were still used in the eighteenth
century, yet a survey of the patents abstracted in volume six of
CAVALIERS AND PIONEERS shows a number of entries for importation
rights. The history of each of the rights is treated in detail so
that the reader can follow the evolvement of each and hopefully
will learn to look for the information that defines the type of
right under which the grant was obtained.
Not only should the researcher pay attention to the type of right
used to obtain land, but to where the land was located. Was it in
an area that was already well populated, one that was just
developing or an area that was on the frontier and free of taxes
for the next seven years? Other questions should look at the size
of the grant in relation to others in the area, the counties of
residence of adjacent landowners and whether the grants were
primarily by land speculators or people moving into the area for
settlement. Politics played an important roll in the land grant
system and the researcher needs to be aware of this. In no other
single place can one get a better introduction to the politics of
the land grant system than in Harrison's VIRGINIA LAND GRANTS.
Although Fairfax Harrison has the most comprehensive explanation
of the land grant system, there are a number of other sources of
information. The 18-page introduction to Daphne Gentry's VIRGINIA
LAND OFFICE INVENTORY, revised and enlarged by John S. Salmon and
republished by the Library [of Virginia] in 1981, but currently
out-of-print, provides an overview of the Virginia land grant
system and includes information on the major land grants issued
to Beverley and Borden and later grants to the Greenbrier and
Loyal land companies. The land office inventory itself provides
useful information on the paperwork generated by the system.
The introductions to the first three volumes of CAVALIERS AND
PIONEERS (abstracted by Nell Marion Nugent) each provide
additional information. The introductions to the remaining four
volumes of the colonial patent abstracts (Dennis Hudgins, editor)
provide additional information. These were written by Daphne
Gentry, Robert Young Clay, and John Hemphill II, all of whom have
studied the subject in depth. The abstracts themselves provide
additional information in regard to the system and the politics
Further information on settlement patterns can be gleaned by
studying county and regional patent maps created for various
counties throughout Virginia. Among those available are Fairfax,
Loudoun, Orange, Westmoreland, Greensville, Goochland. Two of the
previous are Northern Neck Proprietary counties. The two major
record groups of the papers of the Northern Neck Proprietary
have been abstracted and published. The Northern Neck survey and
warrants (which do not survive for the colonial patents -- they
were burned annually) were abstracted by Peggy Shomo Joyner and
published in a five-volume series. The grants were abstracted by
Gertrude E. Gray in four volumes. . .
In addition to these references, students of the land grant
system need to look at the various bounty warrant compilations,
the lodged and caveated surveys abstracted in the MAGAZINE OF
VIRGINIA GENEALOGY as well as the abstracts of the preemption
warrants. A familiarity with the various aspects of the land
grant system in Virginia provides the student of colonial history
with the information necessary to understand the driving forces
behind settlement patterns in Virginia and will in many cases
help the researcher find the origins of his frontier ancestors.
Gentry, Daphne S. comp., rev. by John S. Salmon. VIRGINIA LAND
OFFICE INVENTORY, Third Edition. Richmond, Va.: Virginia State
Library and Archives, 1988.
Harrison, Fairfax. VIRGINIA LAND GRANTS: A SURVEY OF CONVEYANCING
IN RELATION TO COLONIAL POLITICS. 1925; reprint, Westminster, Md:
Willow Bend Books, 1998.
Vernon, Robert. "How Land Was Granted in Colonial Virginia,"
CENTRAL VIRGINIA HERITAGE. vol. 12 (winter 1994) pp.1-11.
Contains a list of extant county survey books.
Hughes, Sarah F. SURVEYORS AND STATESMEN: LAND MEASURING IN
COLONIAL VIRGINIA, Richmond, Va.: Virginia Surveyors Foundation
and Virginia Association of Surveyors, 1979.
Robinson, W. Stitt, Jr. MOTHER EARTH: LAND GRANTS IN VIRGINIA,
1607-1699 Williamsburg, Va.: n.p., 1957.
COMMONWEALTH LAND RECORDS
Bushman, Katherine G. "Minutes of the Commission Appointed to
Settle Claims to Unpatented Lands on the Western Waters of
Virginia, January-April 1780." AUGUSTA HISTORICAL BULLETIN.
Nugent, Nell Marion. CAVALIERS AND PIONEERS, 1623-1732. 3 vols.
1934-79; reprint, Richmond, Va.: Virginia State Library and
Hudgins, Dennis. CAVALIERS AND PIONEERS: ABSTRACTS OF VIRGINIA
LAND PATENTS AND GRANTS, 1732-1776. 4 vols. Richmond, Va.:
Virginia Genealogical Society, 1994-9.
"Inquisitions on Escheated Land," VIRGINIA GENEALOGIST. 19(1975):
128-136, 179-184, 255-260; 20(1976):21-28, 109-116, 169-176,
MacDonald, Edgar. "Defective Surveys 1761-1799" MAGAZINE OF
VIRGINIA GENEALOGY. 30(1992):318-323.
MacDonald, Edgar. "Copies of Grants Not Called For," MAGAZINE OF
VIRGINIA GENEALOGY. 30(1992):131-136.
Slatten, Richard. "Lodged Land Surveys: A Series," MAGAZINE OF
VIRGINIA GENEALOGY. 26(1988):179-194, 273-283; 27(1989):44-51,
114-119, 206-215, 282-289; 28(1990):37-47.
Slatten, Richard and Edgar MacDonald. "Caveated Land Surveys"
MAGAZINE OF VIRGINIA GENEALOGY, 28(1990):159-164, 281-6;
Slatten, Richard. "Caveated Surveys Settled in the General Court,
1782-1788." MAGAZINE OF VIRGINIA GENEALOGY. 28(1990):17-26.
Slatten, Richard. "Interpreting Headrights in Colonial-Virginia
Patents: Uses and Abuses," NATIONAL GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY
NORTHERN NECK LAND RECORDS
Nugent, Nell Marion. SUPPLEMENT, NORTHERN NECK GRANTS, NO. 1,
1690-1692. Richmond, Va.: Virginia State Library and Archives,
Joyner, Peggy Shomo. ABSTRACTS OF VIRGINIA'S NORTHERN NECK
WARRANTS & SURVEYS. 5 vols. U.S.A.:, n.p. 1985-95.
Gray, Gertrude Entz. VIRGINIA NORTHERN NECK LAND GRANTS
1694-1862. 4 vols. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company,
PERMISSION TO REPRINT articles from MISSING LINKS is granted
unless specifically stated otherwise, PROVIDED: (1) the reprint is used
for non-commercial, educational purposes; and (2) a copy of this notice
appears at the end of the article:
Written by <author's name, e-mail address, and URL, if given>.
Previously published by Julia M. Case and Myra Vanderpool Gormley, CG,
Missing Links: RootsWeb's Genealogy Journal, Vol. 4, No. 26, 23 June
1999. Please visit the MISSING LINKS Web page at
Susan D. Chambless
listowner for the CHAMBLESS, GAUSS, GLENDAY,
BORDEN, DURFEE, BORDEN & SANDERSON
surname lists, now at RootsWeb -
http://www.rootsweb.com - please join us!
Check it out:
I'm posting a lot of old family letters & papers centered around
the Charles Henry Gauss family of St. Charles, MO.
Surnames are: Gauss, Johns, Fawcett, Glenday, Durfee, Lindsay,
plus, of course, the people they knew.