Friday, January 7, 2011

Virginia Land Laws after 1713 (Part II)

The failure to seat and plant the lands granted according to prescribed conditions, or to pay the quit-rent reserved, was declared to be a forfeiture both of the grant and the rights on which it was founded. In case of a petition for lapsed land, the patentee was required to appear and make sufficient proof that he had sufficiently seated and planted the land.

Surveyors for the frontier counties were required to reside in their respective counties, in order to be acquainted with the territory and avoid conflicting entries and mistakes in the surveys.

Certain steps were necessary in order to secure a title, or patent, to a tract of vacant land, and unless those necessary steps were taken, the claimant would eventually find himself dispossessed of his holdings. These steps were as follows:

1) A definite tract needed to be selected.

2) Some marks showing the intended boundaries needed to be established, either in designating natural objects such as springs, forks of streams, points of hills, cliffs, piles of stones; or the setting up of stakes, marking trees or planting stones.

3) Some improvement needed to be made to show signs of occupation.

4) A report of intention needed to be made to the county surveyor, and assurances that he understood the intention and made an entry of the same in his entry book needed to be fixed.

5) The entry and quit-rent fees had to be paid by someone (back taxes), either by the prospective owners or by the settlement promoter.

6) The surveyor needed to make a survey of the land and record the survey with a plat.

7) The surveyors report needed to be filed with the secretary for the colony.

8) The report needed to lie two years to see whether a conflicting claim would be filed.

9) The petition for the grant needed to be considered by the Governor and Council in executive session and an order made for the patent to be issued.

10) The patent itself was a grant from the King for the certain tract or parcel of land described in the survey written on parchment by the secretary and signed by the then acting Governor of the Colony.

11) The complete description in duplicate was then recorded in a patent book and the parchment delivered to the person named in the grant.

Every tract of land whether large or small had its patent, which in the Colony of Virginia was a grant from the King. While the King personally had no hand in the ordinary procedure, these original papers were important documents. In case of an inclusive survey, the patents to the smaller individual tracts were supposed to be surrendered for the larger one.

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