Land Patent - A Grant of Land

Land Patents were the method used by the British in Virginia and Maryland to entice Britons to settle the colonies. Acreage was given for each person transported into these colonies, yourself, your spouse, your children, relatives and indentured servants.

Prior to the patent a survey was conducted to map out the land and ensure it was not already included in someone else’s patent. When granted the patent included the date of the patent, the owner’s name, the metes and bounds, and the acreage. Some surveys were never patented and some surveys patented many years after the original survey.

After England obtained control of Delaware in the 1660s, Delaware also granted land patents. In Maryland and Delaware the patented land was often assigned a name, such as “Scotland”, “Huckleberry Ally”, “Gray’s Adventure”, “Burton’s Delight”.

Patents could be assigned, devised or sold. Patents in intestate estates descended to the next legal heir. If there was no legal heir, the patent was considered “escheat” and could be sold or repatented. Additionally, a part or parcel of the original patent could be sold and given a new or different name, such as “Cole’s Quarter” or “Fowler’s Venture”.

Since land patents were a grant for the right to use the land, rents were paid to England and based on the acreage. Rent rolls recorded the property, the acreage, the location of the land, who possessed the tract at the time of the rent roll, and the amount of rent.

Land patents could be resurveyed. Sometimes the resurveys combined several tracts into one and resulted in a new name, the old names disappearing from use. Some resurveys added additional vacant land. Other resurveys remeasured the acreage.

As years passed from the date of the original patents, residents of the area sometimes used a familiar name and the original name disappeared from subsequent land records. For example in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, “Cole’s Point” became known as “Hackett’s Point”.

After the Revolutionary War, land patents were issued by the Federal Government. The US Government awarded land patents to Revolutionary War soldiers for their service. Land patents could also be purchased from the government. Several acts by the US government in later years expanded the awarding of land patents for military service, and included service in the War of 1812, and then widows of soldiers who served the country.

Land Patent genealogy research