Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Virginia Land Laws after 1713 (Part I)

An act was passed that in the future all surveys should be made by a surveyor duly sworn and commissioned. {By William and Mary College} The breath of each tract (survey) taken up should be at least one third its length, except where the courses were interrupted by streams, swamps, or bounds of previous patents. Next, this act stated that the surveyor should note on the plat how much of the tract was plantable and how much was not. For all previous grants [prior to 1713], one third should be accounted plantable, the remainder not. The grantee should be obliged to clear and tend three acres at least, for fifty acres of plantable land, and so proportionately for the whole tract. This was to take into account to reclaim three acres for every fifty acres of swamp, sunken ground or marsh, if any such was found to be in the survey. When three acres for every fifty acres in the tract was improved, the grantee was to put and keep on the land three head of neat cattle for every for every fifty acres of barren land. If the whole tract were barren and unfit for cultivation, the grantee was to erect a dwelling house, twenty feet by sixteen and to put and keep thereon three head of neat cattle for every hundred acres. If the land was fit for neither cultivation nor pasturage, to put and keep thereon one able hand for every hundred acres, to be employed in mining or quarrying stone. Thus, every three acres cleared and tended, or reclaimed should suffice to save from forfeiture forever, fifty acres in any part of the survey.

Wow, you can see that the colony of Virginia wanted the land to be used in the most effect way. This principle, improvements for valid patent became the standard process for land expansion westward for generations to come.

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