I. Bill for Establishing a Land Office and Ascertaining the Terms and Manner of Granting Waste and Unappropriated Lands
[8 January 1778]
Whereas there are large Quantities of waste and unappropriated Lands within the territorial Limits of this Commonwealth, the granting of which will encourage the Migration of Foreigners hither, promote Population, increase the annual Revenue, and create a Fund for discharging the Public Debt, Be it enacted by the General Assembly that an Office shall be and is hereby constituted for the purpose of granting Lands within this Commonwealth into which all the Records now in the Secretary’s Office of Patents or Grants for Lands heretofore Issued, with all papers relating thereto,1 shall be removed for their safe keeping and all future Grants of Lands shall Issue from the said Office in manner and form herein after directed.2 A Register of the said Land Office shall be appointed from Time to Time by joint Ballot of both houses of Assembly, who shall give Bond, with sufficient Security to the Governor or first Magistrate of this Commonwealth, in the Penalty of Current Money,3 shall take an Oath for the due and faithful Performance of his Trust,4 shall hold his Office during good Behaviour, be entitled to receive such fees as shall hereafter be allowed by Law and shall have power to appoint a Deputy to assist in executing5 the Business of the said Office.6 If any vacancy shall happen by the Death resignation or removal of a Register during the Recess of the General Assembly, the Governor or first Magistrate of the Commonwealth by and with the advice of the Privy-Council,7 may appoint some other person, giving Bond and Security and taking an Oath8 in like manner, to Act in the said Office, until the end of the next Session of Assembly.9 [And for the Encouragement of Foreigners to settle here, and an Inducement to import Inhabitants from foreign Countries, Be it enacted that the antient custom of importation-rights shall be continued, and10 every person removing from any foreign Country or at his charge importing any Inhabitants not being Slaves11 to settle in this Commonwealth, shall in Consideration thereof, be entitled to fifty Acres of Waste or unappropriated Land, for each person so removed or imported, upon Certificate from the General Court, or any County Court within the Commonwealth, of due Proof thereof, in Open Court, by the Oath of the party, or other satisfactory Evidence, of the name of every person so removed or imported, the County from which he came, the Year of the arrival or Importation, that the person obtaining such Certificate had never before Proved or claimed his right to Land for any of those named therein, and that they have all of them taken the Oath of Fidelity to the Commonwealth.]12 [And for the more equal Distribution of Lands, and to encourage Marriage and Population by making Provision for the Natives of the Country Be it enacted that every Child,13 free-Born14 within this Commonwealth, after the Establishment thereof, shall upon his or her Marriage and Residence for one Year next after such Marriage, within this Commonwealth, be entitled to seventy five Acres of waste or unappropriated Land, upon Certificate, from any Court of Record, of due Proof having been made of such Nativity, Marriage and Residence, and that the party had never before made Proof or obtained Certificate thereof, but the Portion of Land so due to the wife shall, upon such Certificate, be granted to the Husband and his heirs.]15
And whereas a certain Bounty in Lands hath been allowed to the Troops, on Continental Establishment, raised16 by the Laws of this Commonwealth, and to the Troops upon Virginia Establishment, Be it enacted that the Officers and Soldiers of the said Troops, as well as the Officers and Soldiers to whom a Bounty in Lands may or shall be hereafter granted17 by any Law of this Commonwealth, shall be entitled to the Quantity and Portion of18 waste or unappropriated Land allowed19 to them respectively by such Laws; the Commissioned Officers, upon Certificate from the General or Commander in Cheif of the Continental Army, or the Commanding Officer of the Troops on the Virginia Establishment, as the Case is; and the noncommissioned Officers and Soldiers upon Certificate from the Colonel or Commanding Officer of the Regiment or Corps to which they respectively belong, that such Officers or Soldiers have served the time required by Law; distinguishing particularly in what Regiment or Corps such service hath been performed.20 And for creating a sinking Fund, in Aid of the Annual Taxes, to discharge the Public Debt, Be it enacted that it shall be lawful for any Citizen of this21 [or of any other of the United states, to obtain a warrant for surveying waste or unappropriated lands, on paying the consideration of22 for every hundred acres and so in proportion for a greater or smaller quantity, in the following manner; that is to say; if the quantity required exceed four hundred acres, such Consideration money shall be paid into the hands of the Treasurer, who shall thereupon give to such person a certificate of the paiment and of the purpose for which it was made, which, being delivered to the Register of the land office, shall entitle him to a warrant from the said Register as herein after directed: but if the quantity required, does not exceed four hundred acres, such consideration money shall be paid to the clerk of the county court, with whom the Register shall constantly lodge a due number of printed warrants with blanks for the name, quantity and amount of the consideration, which warrants shall be filled up and countersigned by such clerk and issued to the persons paying such consideration money.]23
And whereas some of the united American States may not have within their respective Territories waste and unappropriated Lands sufficient to pay the Troops raised within the same, upon Continental Establishment, the Bounty of Lands Promised them by the American Congress, for which the Public Faith is pledged, and it may hereafter become Necessary for this Commonwealth to furnish a Proportion of such Lands for that purpose, on the general Account and Charge of the said united States, Be it therefore enacted that for any waste or unappropriated Lands, so to be furnished by this Commonwealth, no greater Price or Consideration than the Sum of three pounds Current Money, or ten Dollars per hundred Acres, shall be charged taken or Demanded.24
And be it enacted that upon application of any person or persons25 having Title to waste or unappropriated Lands either by Importation-Rights, Native-Rights, Military-rights or the larger Treasury rights,26 and lodging in the Land Office a proper Certificate thereof, the Register of the said Office shall Grant to such person or persons a printed27 Warrant specifying the Quantity of Land, and the Rights upon which it is due, authorizing any Surveyor28 to lay off and Survey the same; and shall regularly enter and Record in the Books of his Office all such Certificates, and the Warrants Issued thereupon;29 with the names of the persons mentioned in any Importation-Certificates. A Surveyor shall be appointed in every County, to be30 examined and Certified able by the Professors of William and Mary College and if of good Character commissioned by the Governor with a reservation in such commission to the said Professors, for the use of the college, of one sixth part of the legal fees which shall be received by such surveyor.31 He shall hold his Office during good Behaviour, shall reside within his County, and before he shall be capable of entering upon the execution of his Office shall, before the Court of the same County, take an Oath, and give Bond with two sufficient sureties, to the Governor and his Successors,32 in the Sum of five hundred pounds for the faithful execution of his Office and shall also take the Oath of fidelity to the Commonwealth. Residence out of the County, or absence therefrom for a longer time than one Month, unless by unavoidable necessity, shall vacate his said Office.33 So many deputy surveyors, as by the said chief surveyor shall be certified necessary to do the Business of the County, shall be in like manner examined, Commissioned and Qualified for their Office, who shall be entitled to the whole fees allowed by Law for whatsoever services they shall perform accounting nevertheless for one sixth part thereof to the professors of the college of William and Mary as before directed and one other sixth part to their principal;34 and if any Deputy Surveyor, or any other on his behalf and with his privity,35 shall pay, or Agree to pay, any greater part of the Profits of his Office, sum of Money in gross, or other valuable Consideration to his principal for his recommendation or interest in procuring the Deputation, such Deputy and Principal shall be thereby rendered for ever incapable of serving in such office. No principal Surveyor shall be answerable for any misfeasance in office, by his Deputy. It shall not be necessary for the present chief, or deputy Surveyors of the several Counties, duly examined, commissioned and Qualified according to the Laws heretofore in force, to be again examined,36 Commissioned or Qualified under the directions of this Act.37
Every person having Importation Rights, Native Rights, military Rights or Treasury rights,38 and being desireous of locating the same on any particular waste and unappropriated Land, shall lodge them with39 the Chief Surveyor of the County wherein the said Lands, or the greater part of them lie40 directing the location thereof so specially and precisely as that others may be enabled with certainty to locate other warrants on the adjacent residuum, which location shall41 be entered by the surveyor in a book to be kept for that purpose.42 And if on such application at his office, the surveyor shall refuse to enter such location under pretence of a prior Entry for the same lands made by some other person, he shall have a right to demand of the said Surveyor a view of the Original of such prior entry in his Book, and also an attested Copy of it, paying such Surveyor for the same two shillings and six pence.43 But it shall not be lawful for any Surveyor to admit the location of any warrant on lands within the limits of the Cherokee Indians, nor on any islands in the Ohio river or lands on the North-west side of the said river; nor on any lands Westward of the meridian of the mouth of the Cumberland river.44
Any chief Surveyor having a warrant for lands45 and desiring to locate the same on Lands within his own County, shall enter such location46 before the Clerk of the County, who shall return the same to the next Court, there to be Recorded; and the said Surveyor shall proceed to have the Survey made within as short a Time as may be,47 by some one of his Deputies, or if he hath no Deputy, then by any Surveyor or deputy surveyor of an adjacent County.48
Every chief surveyor, shall proceed with all practicable dispatch,49 to Survey all Lands entered for in his Office, and shall50 either give to the party concerned personal notice of the Time at which he will attend to make such Survey, or shall publish such notice by affixing an advertisement thereof on the door of the Court-house of the County, on two several Court days if the party reside within the said county: and if he reside out of the county, then such publication shall be twice made in the gazette, the expence of which shall be paid by the Treasurer to the printer, to be repaid as hereafter directed:51 which time so appointed shall be at least four52 months after personal notice given or after the second advertisement so published: and, if the Surveyor shall accordingly attend and the party, or some one for him, shall fail to appear at the time with proper Chain carriers and a person to mark53 the lines if necessary, his Entry shall become void,54 and where the chief Surveyor doth not mean to Survey himself he shall immediately after the Entry made direct a Deputy Surveyor to perform the Duty who shall proceed as is before directed in the case of the chief Surveyor.
The persons employed to carry the Chain on any Survey shall be sworn by the Surveyor, whether principal or Deputy, to measure justly and exactly to the best of their ability, and to deliver a true Account thereof to such Surveyor; and shall be paid for their trouble by the party for whom the Survey is made. The surveyor at the time of making the Survey shall see the same bounded plainly by marked Trees, except where a Water course or antient marked line shall be the Boundary; and shall make the breadth of such55 Survey at least one third of it’s length in every part, unless where such breadth shall be restrained on both sides by mountains unfit for cultivation,56 by Watercourses, or the Bounds of Lands before appropriated. Within three days after making57 the Survey, and before he proceeds to make another,58 he shall deliver to the said party or person so attending a fair and true plat of such Survey, with a Certificate of the Quantity contained, the hundred59 wherein it lies, the course of the several Boundaries natural and artificial, antient and new, expressing the proper name of such natural Boundaries where they have any, and the name of every person whose former line is made a Boundary and also the nature of the warrant on which such survey was made, and shall at the same time redeliver the said warrant to the party.60 The said Plats and Certificates shall be examined and tried by the said principal surveyor whether truly made and legally proportioned as to length and breadth and shall be61 entered within two62 months after the survey is made, in a Book well bound, to be provided by the Court of his County, at the County charge; and he shall moreover, in the month of July in every Year, return to the professors of William and Mary college and also63 to the64 office of his County Court, a true list of all surveys made by him or his deputies65 in the preceeding twelve months,66 there to be Recorded. Any Surveyor, whether principal or Deputy, failing in any of the duties aforesaid, shall be liable to be Indicted before the Judges of the General Court, and punished by fine or67 by deprivation of his office and incapacity to take it again,68 and shall moreover be liable to any party injured for all Damages he may sustain by such failure. Every County Court shall69 have authority at any time to appoint two or more capable persons to examine the Books of Entries and surveys in possession of their chief surveyor and to report in what condition and order the same are kept, and, on his Death or removal,70 to take the same into their own possession and deliver them to the succeeding chief Surveyor.71 Every person for whom any waste or unappropriated Lands shall be so located and laid off, shall, within twelve months after the survey made, repay to the treasurer the expence of publishing in the gazette notice of surveying the said lands, where such publication shall have been made either for his notification or that of any other who had before entered for the same lands, (which fact the surveyor shall duly note in his certificate for the information of the Register) and shall also return the plat and certificate of the said survey into the land office, together with the warrant on which the lands were surveyed, and may demand of the Register a receipt for the same. And, on failing to make such return or if the breadth of his plat be not one third of it’s length as before directed, it shall be lawful for any other person to enter a Caveat in the said Land office against the Issuing of any Grant to him, expressing therein for what cause the Grant should not Issue; or if any person shall obtain a Survey of Lands to which another hath by Law a better right, the person having such better right may in like manner enter a Caveat to prevent his obtaining a Grant till the Title can be determined, such Caveat also expressing the nature of the right on which the plaintif therein claims the said Land. The person entering any caveat shall take from the Register a certified Copy thereof, which72 he shall deliver, on the same day on which he entered his Caveat in the said office, to the Clerk of the General Court; or such entry shall become void. The said Clerk, on receiving the same, shall enter it in a Book, and thereupon Issue a Summons reciting the causes for which such Caveat is entered, and requiring the Defendant to appear on the seventh day of the succeeding Court and defend his right; and on such Process being returned ‘executed,’ the Court shall Proceed to determine the right of the cause in a summary way, without pleadings in Writing, impannelling and swearing a Jury for the finding of such facts as are material to the cause, and are not agreed by the parties: and shall thereupon give Judgment on which no Appeal or Writ of Error shall be allowed. A Copy of such Judgment, if in favour of the Defendant, being delivered into the Land Office, shall vacate the said Caveat; and, if not delivered within one month,73 a new Caveat may, for that cause be entered against the Grant: And, if the said Judgment be in favour of the Plaintif, upon delivering the same into the Land Office, together with a Plat and Certificate of the Survey,74 and the rights on which it is claimed, he shall be entitled to a Grant thereof; but, on failing to make such return75 within six Months after Judgment so rendered, it shall be lawful for any other person to enter a Caveat for that cause against issuing the Grant: upon which subsequent Caveats, such proceedings shall be had as are before directed in the case of an Original caveat, and in any76 Caveat where Judgment is given for the Defendant, the Court, if they think it reasonable,77 may also adjudge to him his Costs.
The clerk of every county court shall, before his said court, give bond, paiable to the Governor and his successors in such sum as the court in their discretion shall direct, with two sureties to be approved by them, for the faithful discharge of the office of issuing land-warrants and shall half-yearly, to wit, in the months of January and July pay into the hands of the Treasurer all monies by him received for such warrants, deducting for his trouble per centum therefrom, and shall take from the said Treasurer a certificate thereof which he shall deliver to the Register, together with a true account on oath of the monies so received, of all warrants issued by him, specifying the name of the party and quantity of land in each, and of all blank warrants still remaining on hand: producing moreover to the said Register such warrants as shall have been taken back from the purchasers in exchange for others and a certificate from the court of the said county, signed by the presiding magistrate by order of the court, that so many blank warrants as are stated in the said account were by the said clerk produced to the court, examined and counted.78
The Register shall, before the meeting of every session of assembly; return to the Speaker of the house of delegates all Treasury certificates delivered to him since his last account rendered, together with [all?] of the same, and the names of the persons from whom they were received, and also an account of all reimbursements to the public for printed notifications which shall have been certified to him, to be laid before the said house of delegates and by them referred to the Committee which shall be appointed for settling the Treasurers accounts.
Due returns of the several articles herein before required being made into the Land Office, the Register, within not less than one, nor more than three Months,79 shall make out a Grant by way of Deed Poll to the party having right in the following form. ‘A. B. Esqr. Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, To all to whom these presents shall come Greeting. Know ye that in Consideration of [ white Inhabitants imported to settle in this Commonwealth by C. D. or in consideration that C. D. is a native of this Commonwealth, hath married and resided therein for one Year next after such marriage or in consideration that E. D. is a native of this Commonwealth, hath intermarried with C. D. and resided therein for one Year next after such intermarriage; or in Consideration that C. D. and E. his Wife are natives of this Commonwealth, have intermarried and resided therein for one Year next after such intermarriage or, in consideration of]80 military service performed by C. D. to this commonwealth, or in Consideration of military service performed by C. D. to the united States of America, or in consideration of the Sum of paid by C. D. into the Treasury of this Commonwealth, there is granted by the said Commonwealth unto the said C. D. a certain Tract or parcel of Land containing Acres lying in the County of and hundred of &c.81 with it’s appurtenances: To have and to hold the said Tract or parcel of Land, with it’s appurtenances to the said C. D. and his heirs;82 to be holden of the said Commonwealth by fealty in free and common soccage. In Witness whereof the said A. B. Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia hath hereunto caused the seal of the said Commonwealth to be affixed at on the day of in the Year of our Lord and of the Commonwealth A B.’
Upon which Grant the said Register shall endorse that the party hath title to the same, whereupon it shall be signed by the Governor, Sealed with the Seal of the Commonwealth and then entered of Record at full length in83 Books to be provided and kept for that purpose by the Register84 at the Public expence and being so entered85 shall be certified to have been registered and then be delivered86 to the party or his Order. A copy of such Record duly attested by the said Register shall be legal evidence of such Grant in all cases.87 So much of all former Acts of Assembly as88 direct the mode of proceeding in any case provided for by this Act are hereby repealed.
MS (DLC); 14 pages in clerk’s hand, but with numerous corrections and additions in TJ’s hand, as indicated in notes below. The title of the Bill, in clerk’s hand, is at top of first page, but crossed out; it is, however, endorsed on Bill in TJ’s hand: “A Bill for establishing a land office, and ascertaining the terms & manner of granting waste & unappropriated lands.” Text of the Act as finally adopted is in Hening, description begins William W. Hening, The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia description ends x, 50–65. There are many evidences in the MS that the clerk who transcribed it employed a MS written by TJ; for occasionally the initial word of a sentence is written with a lower-case letter and TJ’s characteristic “it’s” for the possessive pronoun occurs in several instances.
1. Following added in Act (by George Mason?): “and all certificates of surveys of lands now in the said office, and not patented.”
2. Act reads: “herein after mentioned.”
3. Act reads: “fifty thousand pounds current money.”
4. Act omits requirement concerning oath, no doubt because TJ had already drawn a general Bill requiring oaths of office of all civil officers before any could qualify; this was passed at the May 1779 session (Hening, description begins William W. Hening, The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia description ends x, 22–3).
5. MS originally read: “to appoint as many Deputies as shall be [warranted?] in”; TJ altered this to read: “a Deputy to assist in executing”; and, by amendment, the Act was changed to read: “a deputy and clerks to assist‥‥”
6. Act reads: “… said office, but shall nevertheless reside there himself,” “there” referring to the location of the office. This was a point on which TJ had strong convictions (see his letter to Patrick Henry, 27 Mch. 1779) and he may have altered the MS to read as it does in the Act.
7. Act omits “Privy.”
8. Act omits reference to oath.
9. Act contains the following sentence at this point: “All copies of the records and other papers of the said office, or of the records and papers hereby directed to be removed from the secretary’s office and lodged therein, duly attested by such register, shall be as good evidence as the originals would be.” This addition also bears the mark of George Mason’s hand, since he was greatly interested in unsettled claims; see note 1, above.
10. The words “the antient custom … continued, and” are interlined in TJ’s hand.
11. MS originally read: “import white inhabitants to settle.” TJ first changed this to read: “importing free Inhabitants to settle”; and then altered this to read as in the text.
12. Despite the fact that the legislature allowed the preamble to stand as TJ had written it, including as one of its purposes that of encouraging “the migration of foreigners hither,” this entire proviso (i.e., the part enclosed in square brackets, which are supplied) was deleted by amendment. TJ’s desire to continue the policy of head-rights is quite in accord with the principles set forth in his proposed Constitution for Virginia in 1776 and in his correspondence in 1776 with Edmund Pendleton concerning land policy.
13. The words “not being in Slavery which shall become […]” are deleted in MS.
14. The word “free-” is in TJ’s hand.
15. This remarkably interesting proviso (here enclosed in square brackets, supplied) for the encouragement of marriage and population was deleted by amendment.
16. Act reads: “by the ordinances of convention or the laws‥‥”
17. Act reads: “allowed.”
18. The words “and Portion of” are not in Act.
19. Act reads “engaged.”
20. At this point the Act has the following: “… hath been performed, or death happened; and upon making proof before any court of record within this commonwealth by the persons own oath, or other satisfactory evidence of the truth and authenticity of the said certificate, and that the party had never before proved or claimed his right to land for the service therein mentioned, which proof the clerk of the court before whom it shall be made, is hereby empowered and required to endorse and certify upon the original certificate, making an entry or minute thereof in his order book and recording the same; and every county court shall annually, in the month of October, send to the register’s office, a list of all certificates granted by their respective county courts upon any of the before mentioned rights, there to be recorded.”
21. The MS contains at this point a slip on which the passage in square brackets (supplied) is written in TJ’s hand; this slip is pasted over the following that TJ had deleted from the MS (the words italicized outside angle brackets were interlined in TJ’s hand): “Commonwealth or of any of the United States to sue for and obtain a Grant of any waste and unappropriated Lands upon paying to the <Receiver General> Treasurer the Sum of for every hundred Acres, and so in proportion for a greater or less Quantity, the said Lands having been Previously entered for and surveyed in the manner hereafter directed, and the said <Receiver General> Treasurer shall, and he is hereby impowered and required, upon such Payment to give the Person making the same a Certificate under his hand and Seal of the Sum received, and the Quantity of Land thereupon due to such person and his heirs, making a regular Entry and Record thereof in the Books of his office. Provided nevertheless that no Lands in the Cherokee Country, or on the Northwest side of the Ohio River, nor any of the Islands in the said River nor to the Westward of the meridian of the mouth of Cumberland river shall be Surveyed Patented or granted without the further Order of the General Assembly.
“And be it further enacted that the said Receiver-General shall and he is hereby required half yearly to wit in the months of April and October in every Year, to pay into the Public Treasury all the Money which he hath received the preceeding half Year for Land Certificates by him Issued as aforesaid, after deducting Commissions, at the Rate of two percentum for his Trouble; for which Money the Treasurer for the Time being shall be accountable to the Commonwealth.”
22. Act reads “forty pounds.”
23. This concludes the insertion in TJ’s hand written on the slip pasted on the MS. The Act contains no such limitation as TJ’s Bill proposed; it provided that “any person may acquire title to so much waste and unappropriated land as he or she shall desire to purchase,” certificate therefor being obtained from the public auditors on a receipt from the treasurer that the person applying had paid in a stated amount of money and was entitled to a proportionate amount of land at the rate stipulated. The decentralized system of obtaining warrants proposed by TJ would have been an advantage to the small purchaser; the limitation of acreage was intended to have the same effect.
24. This paragraph was eliminated by amendment. Here TJ seems to have had in view the use of the western lands to promote the solidarity of the union and to induce small states with limited boundaries, such as Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey, to ratify the Articles of Confederation. A similar proposal is in the form of a resolution passed by the House of Delegates on 18 Dec. 1778, a resolution that Abernethy (Western Lands, p. 223) apparently attributes to the influence of R. H. Lee. But what Lee proposed was a general cession of land north of the Ohio; what the resolution proposed was essentially what was already in TJ’s Bill—a Bill that had failed to reach its second reading only two weeks earlier. The resolution of 18 Dec. 1778 was passed at the same time as the resolutions authorizing the Virginia delegates in Congress to ratify the Articles of Confederation, and it seems plausible to suppose that TJ, seeing that his Bill could not pass at that session, lifted from it the section that related to the national problem. If so, that section was altered, for the resolution reads as follows:
“The more effectually to enable Congress to comply with the promise of a bounty in lands to the officers and soldiers of the army, on continental establishment:
“Resolved, That this Commonwealth will, in conjunction with such other of the United States, as have unappropriated back lands, furnish out of its territory, between the rivers of Ohio and Mississippi, in such proportion as shall hereafter be adjusted and settled by Congress, its proper quota or proportion of such lands, without any purchase money, to the troops on continental establishment of such of the United States, as already have acceded, or shall within such time, given or indefinite, as to Congress shall seem best, accede to the confederation of the United States, and who have not within their own respective territory, unappropriated lands for that purpose; and that a copy of this resolve, be forthwith transmitted to the Virginia delegates, to be by them communicated to Congress” (JHD description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia (cited by session and date of publication) description ends , Oct. 1778, 1827 edn., p. 124–5; copy of resolutions is in DLC: PCC, 71, i). Nothing came of this proposal.
25. The words “their heirs or assigns” are added in Act.
26. The words “by Importation-Rights, Native-Rights” were deleted by amendment in accordance with earlier deletions (see notes 12 and 15, above). The words “or the larger Treasury rights” are interlined in TJ’s hand; Act reads: “or treasury rights.”
27. The word “printed” is interlined in TJ’s hand; the Act reads: “printed warrant under his hand and the seal of his office.”
28. Act reads: “duly qualified according to law.”
29. The words “with the names of the persons mentioned in any Importation Certificate” were deleted by amendment. The Act has the additional clauses at this point: “which warrants shall be always good and valid until executed by actual survey, or exchanged in the manner herein after directed; provided that no warrant on treasury rights, other than preemption warrants, to be obtained by virtue of this act, shall be granted or issued before the fifteenth day of October next; nor shall the surveyor of any county admit the entry or location of any warrant on treasury rights, except preemption warrants, in his books, before the first day of May next. Any person holding a land warrant upon any of the before mentioned rights, may have the same executed in one or more surveys, and in such case, or where the lands on which any warrant is located shall be insufficient to satisfy such warrant, the party may have the said warrant exchanged by the register of the land office for others of the same amount in the whole, but divided as best may answer the purposes of the party, or entitle him to so much land elsewhere as will make good the deficiency.”
30. Act reads: “nominated, examined, and certified able by the president and professors.”
31. The words “with a reservation … by such surveyor” are interlined in the hand of TJ. The Act adds, after the word “surveyor,” the following: “for the yearly payment of which, he shall give bond with sufficient security to the president and masters of the said college.”
32. Act reads: “in such sum as he, with advice of his council, shall have directed for the faithful execution of his office” and omits requirement respecting oath of fidelity.
33. This sentence was deleted by amendment.
34. The words “accounting nevertheless … sixth part to their principal” are interlined in TJ’s hand. The provisions in the Act concerning deputy surveyors vary from the MS, as follows: “All deputy surveyors shall be nominated by their principals, who shall be answerable for them, examined and certified able by the president and masters of the said college, and if of good character, commissioned by the governour, and shall thereupon be entitled to one half of all fees received for services performed by them respectively, after deducting the proportion thereof due to the college. If any principal surveyor shall fail to nominate a sufficient number of deputies to perform the services of his office in due time, the court of the county shall direct what number he shall nominate, and in case of failure, shall nominate for him.”
35. The words “and with his privity” are interlined in TJ’s hand, as is the word “greater” in the same sentence.
36. The word “examined” is omitted in the Act.
37. Act reads: “… this act, nor in cases now depending before any court within this commonwealth.”
38. Act reads: “Every person having a land warrant founded on any of the before mentioned rights, and being desirous‥‥” TJ deleted the following from the MS: “or meaning to procure Treasury Rights by Payment of the Consideration in money before mentioned” and then interlined “or Treasury rights.”
39. In MS TJ deleted the words “apply to” and interlined “lodge them with.”
40. In MS TJ interlined the words “directing the location … enter such location” after deleting the following: “who shall thereupon enter the same in a Book to be kept for that purpose in the name of the person applying by such particular description as that the same may be known thereby so specially and precisely that others may make Entries for [interlined by TJ: locate warrants on] the adjacent residuum. When any person shall apply [interlined by TJ: at the office of any surveyor with a warrant for] to have an Entry made with any Surveyor for the survey of waste or unappropriated lands [interlined by TJ: desiring to locate the same] and shall be refused [interlined by TJ: to have his location entered].” The Act reads at this point: “… of them lie, who shall give a receipt for the same if required. The party shall direct the location‥‥”
41. Act at this point has the following additional words: “bear date the day on which it shall be made.”
42. Act at this point has the following additional words: “in which there shall be left no blank leaves or spaces” between the entries. The Act also provides that if several persons should apply with warrants at the same time, they should be ranked according to priority of dates of warrants; if all bore the same date, priority should be established by lot. For persons living outside the county, the surveyor should, at time of making entries, settle a date for the survey and give notice in writing.
43. The words “paying such Surveyor … and six pence” were deleted by amendment.
44. The following was deleted in MS at this point: “Any Surveyor, when so required, at his own office, refusing to produce such original Entry, or to give an attested Copy thereof, or to enter such Land, for the party applying when no other hath a preferable Claim, or refusing to Survey himself for any person upon reasonable notice any Lands before entered, or to direct a Deputy surveyor to make such survey, and any deputy surveyor, on receiving such direction, refusing within a reasonable time to make such Survey, shall forfeit to the party requiring the same the full value of such Lands.” In place of this deleted passage TJ interlined in the MS the words “But it shall not be … Cumberland river.” This in turn was altered by amendment to read, as the Act does: “But it shall not be lawful for any surveyor to admit an entry for any land without a warrant from the register of the land office, except in the particular case of certificates from the commissioners of the county for tracts of land, not exceeding four hundred acres allowed in consideration of settlements, according to an act of assembly, entitled ‘An act for adjusting and settling the titles of claimants to unpatented lands, under the present and former government, previous to the establishment of the commonwealth’s land office.’ No entry or location of land shall be admitted within the county and limits of the Cherokee Indians, or on the north west side of the Ohio river, or on the lands reserved by act of assembly for any particular nation or tribe of Indians, or on the lands granted by law to Richard Henderson and company, or in that tract of country reserved by resolution of the general assembly for the benefit of the troops serving in the present war, and bounded by the Green river and a south east course from the head thereof to the Cumberland mountains, with the said mountains to the Carolina line, with the Carolina line to the Cherokee or Tenesee river, with the said river to the Ohio river, and with the Ohio to the said Green river, until the farther order of the general assembly.” The grant to Richard Henderson and Company is described in Hening, description begins William W. Hening, The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia description ends ix, 571 (passed at the Oct. 1778 session), and the resolution respecting the reservation of lands for officers and soldiers was passed on the last day of the same session, 19 Dec. 1778 (JHD description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia (cited by session and date of publication) description ends , Oct. 1778, p. 125–8; Hening, description begins William W. Hening, The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia description ends x, 55). Only the first of five resolutions offered was adopted, the remainder being tabled; the Senate agreed to it the same day.
45. The words “having a warrant for lands and” and “locate the same on” are interlined in TJ’s hand. The words “for himself” are crossed out in MS.
46. The words “make such Entry” are crossed out in MS and “enter such location” interlined in TJ’s hand.
47. Act reads: “as soon as may be, and within six months at farthest.”
48. The following is added in Act: “or his entry shall be void, and the land liable to the entry of any other person.”
49. The following is crossed out in MS: “either by himself, or by such Deputy as he shall direct.”
50. The following is added in Act: “if the party live within his county.”
51. The words “if the party … repaid as hereafter directed” are interlined in TJ’s hand. This interlined passage is not in Act.
52. MS originally read “one” and was altered to “four”; Act reads “one.”
53. The words “mark” and “if necessary” are interlined in TJ’s hand.
54. The following is added at this point in the Act: “the land thereafter subject to the entry of any other person, and the surveyor shall return him the warrant, which may, notwithstanding, be located anew upon any other waste or unappropriated lands, or again upon the same lands where it hath not, in the mean time, been entered for by another person.”
55. Act reads “each,” probably a misreading.
56. The words “by mountains unfit for cultivation” are interlined in TJ’s hand.
57. The words “Immediately on the close of” are struck out and “within three days after making” interlined in TJ’s hand.
58. The words “and separates from the party or person attending him” are deleted in MS. The Act altered the time limit for supplying a plat to “as soon as it can conveniently be done, and within three months at farthest after making the survey” and, of course, eliminated the qualifying clause “before he proceeds to make another.”
59. Act adds: “where hundreds are established in the county wherein it lies.”
60. The words “also the nature … to the party” are interlined in TJ’s hand as a substitution for the following, deleted in MS: “whether the said survey is made in pursuance of an Original Entry in his office, or by Virtue of a Warrant and Rights, in which case such Warrant and rights shall be recited.” Act also adds the following at this point: “The said surveyor may, nevertheless, detain the said certificates and warrants until the payment of his fees.”
61. The words “be examined … and shall be” are interlined in TJ’s hand.
62. Act reads: “three.”
63. The words “to the professors … and also” are interlined in TJ’s hand.
64. Act adds: “clerk’s.”
65. The words “or his deputies” are interlined in TJ’s hand.
66. The following was added to Act at this point: “with the names of the persons for whom they were respectively made, and the quantities contained in each, there to be recorded by such clerk; and no person after the first day of May next, shall hold the offices of clerk of a county court and surveyor of a county, nor shall a deputy in either office act as deputy or chief in the other.”
67. The words “by fine or” are interlined by TJ; Act reads “indicted in the general court, and punished by amercement or deprivation‥‥”
68. The words “or by fine and imprisonment” are deleted in MS. Act reads at this point: “… take it again, at the discretion of a jury.”
69. Act adds: “once in every year, and oftener if they see cause, appoint two or more‥‥”
70. Act adds: “shall have power.”
71. At this point TJ attached a slip on which was written in his own hand the following paragraph for insertion in the Bill: “Any person holding a land-warrant may have the same executed in one or more surveys; and in such case, or where the lands, on which any warrant is located, shall not be sufficient to satisfy such warrant, the party shall be entitled to have the said warrant exchanged at the office from which it issued for others, of the same amount in the whole, but divided as best may answer the purposes of the party, and entitle him to so much land elsewhere as will make good the deficiency.”
72. Act reads: “within three days thereafter, he shall‥‥” The words “on the same day on which he entered his caveat in the said office” are, of course, not in the Act.
73. Act reads: “three months.”
74. Act adds the following: “and also producing a legal certificate of new rights on his own account.”
75. Act adds the following: “and produce such certificates.”
76. MS was altered by TJ from “all Caveats” to “any Caveat.”
77. Act has the following additional matter at this point: “award him his costs, and may compel the plaintiff in any caveat, if they think fit, to give security for costs, or on failure thereof, may dismiss his suit; and in case the plaintiff in any such caveat shall recover, the court may, if they think it reasonable, award costs against the defendant; provided that where any lands surveyed upon a land warrant as aforesaid, shall, in consequence of any judgment upon a caveat, be granted to any other person than the party claiming under such warrant, such party shall be entitled to a new warrant from the register for the quantity of land so granted to another, reciting the original warrant and rights, and the particular cause of granting the new warrant. And to prevent confusion and mistakes in the application, exchange, or renewal of warrants, the register of the land office is hereby directed and required to leave a sufficient margin in the record books of his office, and whenever any warrant shall be exchanged, renewed, or finally carried into execution by a grant, to note the same in the margin opposite to such warrant, with folio references to the grant, or other mode of application; and also to note in the margin opposite to each grant, the warrant or warrants and survey on which such grant is founded, with proper folio references to the books in which the same are recorded. All persons, as well foreigners as others, shall have right to assign or transfer warrants or certificates of survey for lands, and any foreigner purchasing warrants for lands, may locate and have the same surveyed, and after returning a certificate of survey to the land office, shall be allowed the term of eighteen months, either to become a citizen, or to transfer his right in such certificate of survey to some citizen of this, or any other of the United States of America. When any grant shall have been finally completed, the register shall cause the plat and certificate of survey on which such grant is founded, to be exactly entered and recorded in well bound books, to be provided for that purpose at the publick charge.”
78. The preceding paragraph and that following were written by TJ on a slip attached to the bottom of p. 12. They are not in the Act, since TJ’s decentralized system of issuing warrants through county clerks was not adopted.
79. Act reads “not less than six, nor more than nine months.”
80. The parts enclosed in square brackets (supplied) are not in Act, having been deleted because of the deletions noted above (notes 12 and 15).
81. Act adds: “(describing the particular bounds of the land and the date of the survey upon which the grant issues).”
82. Act reads: “… and his heirs for ever,” omitting the passage “to be holden of the said Commonwealth by fealty in free and common soccage.”
83. Act reads: “good well bound books.”
84. Act omits the words “by the register” and adds, after the word “expence,” the words “and kept by the register.”
85. The word “entered” is interlined in TJ’s hand.
86. Act adds at this point the words “together with the original certificate of survey.”
87. This sentence is not included in the Act, but the following sections are in the Act but not in MS: “Where a grant shall be made to the heir or assignee of a person claiming under any of the before mentioned rights, the material circumstances of the title shall be recited in such grant: And for preventing hasty and surreptitious grants and avoiding controversies and expensive law suits, Be it enacted, That no surveyor shall at any time within twelve months after the survey made, issue or deliver any certificate, copy or plat of land by him surveyed, except only to the person or persons for whom the same was surveyed; or to his, her, or their order, unless a caveat shall have been entered against a grant to the person claiming under such survey, to be proved by an authentick certificate of such caveat from the clerk of the general court produced to the surveyor; and if any surveyor shall presume to issue any certificate, copy, or plat as aforesaid, to any other than the person or persons entitled thereto, every surveyor so offending shall forfeit and pay to the party injured, his or her legal representatives or assigns, fifty pounds current money for every hundred acres of land contained in the survey, whereof a certificate, copy, or plat shall be so issued, or shall be liable to the action of the party injured at the common law for his or her damages at the election of the party. Any person possessing high lands, to which any swamp, marshes, or sunken grounds are contiguous, shall have the preemption of such swamps, marshes, or sunken grounds for one year, from and after the passing of this act, and if such person shall not obtain a grant for such swamps, marshes, or sunken grounds within the said year, then any other person may enter on and obtain a grant for the same in the like manner as is directed in the case of other unappropriated lands. But nothing herein contained shall be construed or extend to give liberty to any person to survey, take up, or obtain a grant for any swamps, marshes, or sunken grounds lying contiguous to the high lands of any feme covert, infant under the age of twenty one years, person not being compos mentis, or person out of the commonwealth, according to the regulations of an act entitled ‘An act declaring who shall be deemed citizens of this commonwealth,’ but all such persons shall be allowed one year after the removal of their several disabilities for the preemption of such lands.
“And whereas, through the ignorance, negligence, or fraud of surveyors, it may happen that divers persons now do or may hereafter hold within the bounds expressed in their patents or grants, greater quantities of land than are therein mentioned; for quieting such possessions, preventing controversies, and doing equal justice to the commonwealth and its citizens, Be it enacted, That it shall not be lawful for any person to enter for, survey, or take up, any parcel of land held as surplus in any patent or grant, except during the life time of the patentee or grantee, and before any transference, conveyance, or other alienation shall have been made of the lands contained in such patent or grant, and until the party intending to enter and take up the same, shall have given one full years notice to such patentee or grantee of such his intentions, and in case such patentee or grantee shall not within the year, obtain rights and sue forth a patent for the surplus land by him held, it shall be lawful for the person who gave notice as aforesaid, upon producing a certificate from the clerk of due proof of such notice before the court of the county wherein such patentee or grantee resides, to demand from the register of the land office, a warrant to the surveyor of the county wherein such lands lie, to resurvey at the proper charge of the person obtaining such warrant, the whole tract within the bounds of the patent or grant, and upon such persons returning into the land office a plat and certificate of such resurvey, together with the warrant on which it is founded, and obtaining and producing new rights for all the surplus land found within the said bounds, he may sue forth and obtain a new grant for such surplus, which shall be granted to him in the same manner as waste or unappropriated lands; but the former patentee or grantee may assign such surplus land in any part of his tract as he shall think fit in one entire piece, the breadth of which shall be at least one third of the length; and in such new grant there shall be a recital of the original patent or grant, the resurvey of which the surplus was ascertained and of other material circumstances.
“Provided always, That if upon notice given as aforesaid, the original patentee or grantee shall within the year resurvey his tract, and it be thereupon found that he hath no more than the quantity of land expressed in his patent or grant, with the allowance herein after mentioned, the party giving such notice shall be liable to pay all charges of such resurvey, for which he shall give sufficient security to the said patentee or grantee at the time of the notice, otherwise such notice shall be void and of no effect; and moreover for his unjust vexation, shall also be liable to an action upon the case at the suit of the party grieved, and that in all such new surveys, the patentee or grantee shall have an allowance at the rate of five acres in every hundred, for the variation of instruments.
“And be it enacted, That where any person shall find any mistake or uncertainty in the courses or description of the bounds of his land, and desires to rectify the same, or shall hold two or more tracts of land adjoining to each other, and is desirous to include them in one grant, he may in either case, having previously advertised his intentions and the time of application, at the door of the courthouse on two several court days, and also having given notice to the owners of the adjoining lands, present a petition to the court of the county wherein such lands lie, reciting the nature and truth of the case, and such court may, and is hereby empowered to order the surveyor of their county to resurvey such lands at the charge of the party, according to his directions and the original or authentick title papers, taking care not to intrude upon the possessions of any other person, and to return a fair plat and certificate of such resurvey into the said court, to be examined and compared with the title papers; and if such court shall certify that in their opinion such resurvey is just and reasonable, the party may return the same, together with his material title papers in the land office, and demand the register’s receipt for them; and in case any caveat shall be entered against his obtaining a new grant upon such resurvey, the same proceedings shall be had therein as is directed in the case of other caveats, and the general court upon hearing the same, may either prohibit such new grant, or vacate the caveat as to them shall seem just; but if no caveat shall be entered within six months after such return, or if a caveat shall be entered and vacated as aforesaid, the party upon producing new rights for whatever surplus land appears to be within the bounds, more than the before mentioned allowance of five acres for every hundred, may sue out and obtain a new grant for such lands thereupon, in which shall be recited the dates and other material circumstances of the former title, and the title papers shall be delivered by the register to the new owner. The judges of the general court shall once in every year and oftener if they see cause, appoint two or more capable persons to examine the record books and papers in the land office, and report in what condition and order they are kept, who shall compare all warrants of survey returned to the said office executed, with the list of those issued therefrom, and cancel all such as shall appear to have been properly executed or exchanged, an account of which shall be kept by the register, charging therein those issued, and giving credit for those cancelled as aforesaid. The treasurer for the time being shall annually enter into bond with sufficient security to the governour in the sum of one hundred thousand pounds, for the just and faithful accounting for according to law, all money which shall come to his hands by virtue of this act. And that the proprietors of lands within this commonwealth may no longer be subject to any servile, feudal, or precarious tenure, and to prevent the danger to a free state from perpetual revenue; Be it enacted, That the reservation of royal mines of quitrents, and all other reservations and conditions in the patents or grants of land from the crown of England or of Great Britain, under the former government, shall be, and are hereby declared null and void; and that all lands thereby respectively granted, shall be held in absolute and unconditional property to all intents and purposes whatsoever, in the same manner with the lands hereafter to be granted by the commonwealth by virtue of this act; and no petition for lapsed land shall be admitted or received for or on account of any failure or forfeiture whatsoever, alledged to have been made or incurred after the twenty ninth day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy five. And be it farther enacted, That he or she be adjudged a felon and not have the benefit of clergy, who shall steal, or by other means take from the possession or custody of another, any warrant from the register of the land office of this commonwealth, to authorize a survey of waste and unappropriated lands; or who shall alter, erase, or aid or assist in the alteration or erasement of any such warrant; or forge or counterfeit, or aid, abet, or assist in forging or counterfeiting any written or printed paper, purporting to be such warrant; or who shall transfer to the use of another, or for his or her own use, present or cause to be presented to the register for the exchange thereof, or to a surveyor for the execution thereof, any such warrant or paper purporting to be such warrant, knowing the same so transferred or presented for the exchange or the execution thereof to be stolen, or by other means taken from the possession or custody of another, or altered or erased, or forged or counterfeited; and he or she shall be adjudged a felon and not have the benefit of clergy, who shall falsely make or counterfeit, or aid, abet, or assist, in safely keeping or counterfeiting any instrument stamping an impression in the figure and likeness of the seal officially used by the register of the land office, or who shall have in his or her possession or custody such instrument, and shall wilfully conceal the same, knowing it to be falsely made or counterfeited.”
88. Act adds at this point: “concern or relate to the entering, taking up, or seating lands or.”