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Title: Mother Earth - Land Grants in Virginia 1607-1699
Author: Robinson, Walter Stitt
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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_Mother Earth_--




Associate Professor of History
University of Kansas



Jamestown 350th Anniversary
Historical Booklet, Number 12


The Land and the Indian

Among the motives for English colonization of America in the seventeenth
century, the desire for free land occupied a prominent place. The
availability of land in the New World appealed to all classes and ranks
in Europe, particularly to the small landholder who sought to increase
his landed estate and to the artisans and tenants who longed to enter
the ranks of the freeholder.

The desire for land and the opportunity to provide a home for one's
family, according to Professor C. M. Andrews, "probably influenced the
largest number of those who settled in North America." Land also had its
appeal as the gateway to freedom, contributing substantially to the
shaping of the American character. When analyzing the factors that
helped make this "new man, who acts upon new principles," De Crèvecoeur
in 1782 emphasized the opportunity to "become a free man, invested with
lands, to which every municipal blessing is annexed!"

Formulation of a land policy confronted the officials of all the
colonies in early America. Its importance is reflected in the statement
by C. L. Raper in his study of English colonial government that the
"System and policy concerning land determine to a very considerable
extent the economic, social, and political life of the colonists." The
existence of the American frontier with unoccupied land was a potent
force in America, and Frederick Jackson Turner stated in his famous
essay in 1893 that the "Most significant thing about the American
frontier is, that it lies at the hither edge of free land."

Before analyzing the nature of landholding and the land policy that was
adopted in early Virginia, let us examine first the problem that arose
by virtue of the presence of the Indians in North America.

At the time of the settlement of Jamestown in 1607 the area of
present-day Virginia was occupied by Indians of three linguistic stocks:
Algonquin, Siouan, and Iroquoian. Generally speaking, the Algonquins
which included the Powhatan Confederacy inhabited the Tidewater,
reaching from the Potomac to the James River and extending to the
Eastern Shore. The Siouan tribes, including the Monacans and the
Manahoacs, occupied the Piedmont; while the Iroquoian group, containing
the independent Nottoways and Meherrins, partially surrounded the others
in a rough semicircle reaching from the headwaters of the Chesapeake
through the western mountains and back to the coast in the region south
of the James River.

The presence of these tribes in the areas of proposed colonization
confronted the colonizers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries
with the same problem that has faced imperialists of a later date, the
question of "right and title" to land. The British, like other European
nations, did not recognize the sovereign right of the heathen natives
but claimed a general title to the area by the prevailing doctrine of
right by discovery and later by the generally accepted doctrine of
effective occupation. As stated in the charter to Sir Walter Raleigh in
1584 with essentially the same provision included in the first charter
of Virginia in 1606, the colonizers were authorized to occupy land "not
actually possessed of any Christian Prince, nor inhabited by Christian
People." Over the Indians the British maintained a "limited
sovereignty"; and when acknowledging any claim, they recognized only the
Indian's right of occupation and asserted the "exclusive right" to
extinguish this title which occupancy gave them.

In the first years of the colony not even these tenure rights were
recognized by the British. While a few gifts of land had been made by
the natives and one of these confirmed by the London Company, there was
no admission, either direct or by inference, that the Indians possessed
a superior claim to the land. When such an implication was made in a
land grant to Barkham in 1621, the company reacted with bitter
resentment. Governor Yeardley, striving to maintain peace with the
natives, made the grant conditional upon the consent of the Indian chief
Opechancanough. According to stated practice under the company, the
grant then had to be approved in England by a quarter court of the
company's stockholders. When Barkham's petition was presented for
ratification, the members of the court held the provision concerning the
Indian chief to be "verie dishonorable and prejudiciall" for it
infringed upon the company's title by acknowledging sovereignty in that
"heathen infidell."

Disregard for the aboriginal occupants of Virginia called forth anew the
question of "right and title," a problem subject to discussion in
England even before Jamestown. To allay these attacks, several
proponents of colonial expansion attempted to justify the policy of the
crown and the London Company.

Sir George Peckham in _A true reporte of the late discoveries_ pointed
out as early as 1583, relating to the discoveries of Sir Humphrey
Gilbert, that it was "lawfull and necessary to trade and traficke with
the savages." In a series of subsequent arguments, he then expounded
the right of settlement among the natives and the mutual benefit to
them and to England. This theme was later extended by the author of
_Nova Britannia_, who maintained that the object of the English was to
settle in the Indian's country, "yet not to supplant and roote them
out, but to bring them from their base condition to a farre better" by
teaching them the "arts of civility." The author of _Good Speed to
Virginia_ added that the "Savages have no particular propertie in any
part or parcell of that countrey, but only a generall residencie there,
as wild beasts have in the forests." This last opinion, according to
Philip A. Bruce, prevailed to a great extent and was held by a majority
of the members of the London Company in regard to the appropriations of

In spite of these views entertained by the company, there were several
instances in which the natives were compensated for their territory.
This was done primarily through the initiative of local authorities, for
they were usually better informed concerning Indian affairs. They were
in much closer contact with the natives than the company's Council in
London and realized that the goodwill of the aborigines could be
cultivated by giving only minor considerations for the land occupied by
the English. On other occasions the Indians voluntarily gave up their
land such as the present from Opechancanough in 1617 of a large body of
land at Weyanoke. At still other times land was seized by force. When
any attempt was made to justify the seizure, it was done on the basis of
an indemnity for damage inflicted upon the colony or for violations of
agreements by the natives. By 1622 settlements had been made along the
banks of the lower James River and in Accomac on the Eastern Shore, the
land having been obtained by direct purchase, by gifts from the natives,
or by conquest.

Any attempt to determine the extent of the areas acquired by purchase in
Virginia is hindered by the indefinite nature of the Indian holdings and
by the lack of complete records for the early periods. Thomas Jefferson
thought much of the land had been purchased. Writing to St. George
Tucker in 1798, Jefferson stated:

    At an early part of my life, from 1762 to 1775, I passed much time
    in going through the public records in Virginia, then in the
    secretary's office, and especially those of a very early date of our
    settlement. In these are abundant instances of purchases made by our
    first assemblies of the indi[ans] around them. The opinion I formed
    at the time was that if the records were complete & thoroughly
    searched, it would be found that nearly the whole of the lower
    country was covered by these contracts.

Jefferson overestimated the amount of land that was purchased by
Virginia during the early years. While the records now extant show that
the colony often purchased lands, they likewise indicate that frequently
land was appropriated without compensation. Especially during the years
following the first massacre of 1622, "The Indians were stripped of
their inheritance without the shadow of justice." The greater part of
the Peninsula between the York and James rivers was taken by conquest;
the right of possession was later confirmed by a treaty with Necotowance
in 1646, without, however, any stipulation for compensating the natives
for the land they relinquished.

The treaty of 1646 with the successor of Opechancanough inaugurated the
policy of major historical significance of either setting aside areas
reserved for Indian tribes, or establishing a general boundary line
between white and Indian settlements. Influenced by the desire of
individual settlers to fortify their claims and by the opposition of the
natives to white encroachment, the colony designated definite lands for
the Virginia Indians and began to follow more closely the custom of
purchasing all territory received from the natives. To see that this was
done, the Assembly passed numerous laws, pertaining in most cases only
to the specific tribes of Indians mentioned in each act.

In 1653 the Assembly ordered that the commissioners of York County
remove any persons then seated upon the territory of the Pamunkey or
Chickahominy Indians. At the same time both lands and hunting grounds
were assigned to the red men of Gloucester and Lancaster counties. The
following year the Indian tribes of Northampton County on the Eastern
Shore were granted the right to sell their land to the English provided
a majority of the inhabitants of the Indian town consented and provided
the Governor and Council of the colony ratified the procedure. Soon
other tribes were given the same privilege. So anxious were they to
dispose of their land when allowed to convey a legal title, that it
became necessary for the colony to forbid further land transfers without
the Assembly's stamp of approval. Such a step was taken in order to
prevent the continual necessity of apportioning new lands to keep the
natives satisfied.

By 1658 the Assembly had received from several Indian tribes so many
complaints of being deprived of their land, either by force or fraud,
that measures were again adopted to protect the natives in their rights.
No member of the colony was allowed to occupy lands claimed by the
natives without consent from the Governor and Council or from the
commissioners of the territory where the settlement was intended. To
decrease the chances for cheating the Indians, all sales were to be
consummated at quarter courts where unfair purchases could be prevented.

Efforts to protect the Indians in the possession of their lands were
subject to modification from time to time. The treaty of 1646 designated
the York River as the line to separate the settlements of the English
and the natives. But the colony at that time was on the eve of a great
period of expansion. With an estimated population of 15,000 in 1650, the
colony increased by 1666 to approximately 40,000, and by 1681 to
approximately 80,000. To stem the tide of the advancing English
settlement was apparently an impossibility. Therefore, Governor William
Berkeley and the Council, upon representation from the Burgesses,
consented to the opening of the land north of the York and Rappahannock
rivers after 1649. At the same time the provision making it a felony for
the English to go north of the York was repealed. This turn in policy,
based upon the assumption that some intermingling of the white and red
men was inevitable, led to the effort to provide for an "equitable
division" of land supplemented by attempts to modify the Indian economy
which had previously demanded vast areas of the country.

Endeavoring to provide for this "equitable division" of land, the
Assembly in 1658 forbade further grants of lands to any Englishmen
whatsoever until the Indians had been allotted a proportion of fifty
acres for each bowman. The land for each Indian town was to lie together
and to include all waste and unfenced land for the purpose of hunting.
This provision did not relieve all pressure on Indians' lands, partly
because some of the natives never received their full proportion and
partly because some had been accustomed to even larger areas. But it did
serve as a basis for reservation of land for different tribes.

[Illustration: From a portrait reproduced in J. H. Claiborne, _William
Claiborne of Virginia_.
    Photo by Flournoy, Virginia State Chamber of Commerce.

William Claiborne, Surveyor for Virginia, Secretary of the Colony of

[Illustration: _How to reduce all sorts of grounds into a square for
the better measuring of it._

From John Norden's "Surveior's Dialogue"
Photo by T. L. Williams]

Two years later the Assembly in 1660 took definite steps to relieve the
pressure of English encroachments upon the territory of the Accomac
Indians on the Eastern Shore. Enough land was assigned to the natives of
Accomac to afford ample provisions for subsistence over and above the
supplies that might be obtained through hunting and fishing. To insure a
fair and just distribution of these lands, the Assembly passed over
surveyors of the Eastern Shore and required that the work be done by a
resident of the mainland, who obviously would be less prejudiced against
the aborigines because of personal interest. When once assigned to the
natives, the land could not be alienated.

By 1662 this last provision, forbidding the Accomacs to alienate their
lands, was extended to all Indians in Virginia. The Assembly had
realized that the chief cause of trouble was the encroachment by the
whites upon Indian territory. Efforts, therefore, had been made to
remove this cause of friction by permitting purchases from the natives
provided each sale was publicly announced before a quarter court or the
Assembly. But the plan had not been a complete success. Various members
of the colony had employed all kinds of ingenious devices to persuade
the natives to announce in public their willingness to part with their
land. Dishonest interpreters had rendered "them willing to surrender
when indeed they intended to have received a confirmation of their owne
rights." In view of these evil practices the Assembly declared all
future sales to be null and void.

Twenty-eight years later in 1690 the Governor and Council in accord with
this restriction nullified several purchases made from the Chickahominy
Indians. By order of the Assembly in 1660 this tribe had received lands
in Pamunkey Neck. Since that time several colonists had either purchased
a part of their land or encroached upon their territory without regard
for compensation. In neither case were the white settlers allowed to
remain. All leases, sales, and other exchanges were declared void by the
Governor and Council, and all intruders were ordered to withdraw and
burn the buildings that had been constructed. George Pagitor, being one
of the settlers affected by this order, had obtained about 1,200 acres
in Pamunkey Neck from the natives. He had built a forty-foot tobacco
barn and kept two workers there most of the year. When his purchase was
declared void, he was ordered to return the land to the natives and to
burn the barn that had been constructed. Accompanying this executive
decree was an order to the sheriff of New Kent County authorizing him to
carry out the will of the officials of the colony and to burn the barn
himself, if necessary.

Commissioners were also employed for the supervision of Indian lands.
Upon the recommendation of the committee appointed for Indian affairs,
the Assembly in 1662 authorized the Governor to appoint a commission "to
enquire into and examine the severall claimes made to any part of our
neighboring Indian land, and confirme such persons who have justly
invested themselves, and cause all others to remove." The English with
rights to land within three miles of the natives were to assist in
fencing the Indian corn fields. This was done to prevent harm to the
Indian crops by hogs and cattle of the colony. Commissioners appointed
were to designate the time and number of English to aid in the
construction. Other commissioners were to view annually the boundaries
separating the two people.

The commissioners diligently enforced the provisions of these laws which
underwent few changes until the outburst of hostilities in Bacon's
Rebellion. In 1678 the additional expense of the Indian war led the
colony to modify temporarily its former provisions in order to obtain
more revenue from land. All territory recently assigned to the Indians
but then abandoned and any land then occupied that should later be
deserted were to be sold. The proceeds from the sale were to be used in
the public interest to defray the expense of the war.

This regulation applied only to land abandoned by the Indians. The
colony continued to protect the natives in other lands assigned them as
is exemplified in the region south of the James River. In 1665 the
Indian boundary line for the area was designated to run from the
southern branches of the Blackwater River to the Appomattox Indian town,
and from there to Manakin Town located only a few miles above the Fall
Line. By 1674 some of the colonists had crossed this line and were
settling on the territory of the Nottoway Indians. When the encroachment
was called to the attention of the Governor and Council, they ordered
the English to withdraw immediately, and in the next instructions to the
surveyor of the colony they again forbade the location of new grants in
the region designated as Indian land.

The number of the aborigines gradually dwindled in this section as in
other parts of the colony, due mainly to wars, smallpox epidemics,
spirituous liquors, migration, and the abridgement of territory of a
people who lived principally on the "spontaneous productions of nature."
Because of the decrease the Burgesses in 1685 appealed to Governor
Howard for permission to allow grants to some of the land in the area.
The Governor failed to comply with their requests. Later, in 1690, an
order was issued for the immediate removal of several persons who had
obtained illegal patents to land south of the main Blackwater Swamp. All
members of the colony were again forbidden to settle beyond the boundary
line, and any who had already constructed houses were ordered not to
repair them nor to finish any other uncompleted buildings. The sheriffs
and justices of the peace of Charles City, Surry, Isle of Wight, and
Nansemond counties were instructed to be on the alert for violators of
the order.

However, the Indians themselves, residing in the region on the south
side of the Blackwater River and in Pamunkey Neck had requested in 1688
that colonists be allowed to settle across the boundary line in the area
now made vacant by the gradual dying out of their tribes. The basis for
the request seems to have been a desire for relief in their precarious
economic condition and the fear of invasion by hostile Indians, whom
they regarded with more apprehension than they did the English. By 1705,
the colony, influenced by the request from the natives revoked its
former law regarding the Indian boundary, permitting a limited number of
white settlements in Pamunkey Neck and in the region south of the
Blackwater Swamp and Nottoway River.

Thus in the seventeenth century the pendulum moved from a position of
the colony ignoring any Indian rights in the land to a gradual
recognition of the Indian right of occupation. This sweep of the
pendulum brought the establishment of boundary lines between the whites
and the Indians with reservations being designated for certain tribes.
By the end of the century the diminution of the tribes found the
pendulum swinging back to open the area to white settlement which had
once been reserved to the natives, yet still retaining the recognition
of the Indian's right of occupation where tribes survived. With this
survey of the problem of the red man's title to land, let us now turn to
a consideration of the white man's title and how it was obtained in
seventeenth-century Virginia.


The London Company

General boundaries for English settlement were designated in the charter
of 1606 creating the London Company and the Plymouth Company to settle
the area in America known as Virginia. The London Company was authorized
to settle a tract of land 100 miles square in the southern part of the
area extending from the thirty-fourth to the forty-first degrees north
latitude, or from the Cape Fear River in present North Carolina to New
York City. The boundaries for the Plymouth Company were from the
thirty-eighth to the forty-fifth degrees north latitude, or from
approximately the mouth of the Potomac River to a line just north of
present Bangor, Maine. In the overlapping area between the thirty-eighth
and forty-first degrees, which in effect created a neutral zone between
the present location of Washington, D.C., and New York City, provision
was made for a distance of at least 100 miles to separate the sites that
might be selected by the two companies.

As stated in the charter of 1606, "all the lands, tenements, and
hereditaments" were to be held "as of our Manor at East-Greenwich in the
County of Kent, in free and common soccage only, and not in capite." The
"Manor at East-Greenwich" refers to the residence of King James I at the
royal palace of Greenwich and was used as a descriptive term in many
grants to indicate that the land in America was also considered a part
of the demesne of the King. The land was held not "in fee simple" with
absolute ownership, a concept which was not a part of English law at the
time; but it was granted "in free and common soccage" with the holder a
tenant of the King with obligations of fealty and of the payment of a
quitrent. The fixed rent replaced the service, military or personal,
required under feudal law; and the socage tenure in effect did not
subject the land to the rules of escheat or return of the land to the
King if inherited by minors or widows. For Englishmen in America, the
"Instructions for the government of the colonies" in 1606 were explicit
in showing that their legal and tenurial rights were the same as
residents of the mother country by stating that "All the lands,
tenements, and hereditaments ... shal be had and inherited and enjoyed,
according as in the like estates they be had and enjoyed by the lawes
within this realme of England."

Government by the charter of 1606 provided for a strong exercise of
control by the crown over the colonies of both companies. This was
achieved through the establishment of the Council for Virginia that was
appointed by the King, was resident in England, and answered to the King
through the Privy Council for its actions. For local control of each
company, authorization was made for a Council in America with its
initial membership determined by the Council for Virginia and with a
president selected by the local group.

Few details were given either in the charter or "Instructions" of 1606
about distribution of land. Provisions did state that grants of land in
the colony would be made in the name of the King to persons whom the
local Council "nominate and assign"; but no details were given of the
method of land distribution. From the scant records that survive, it is
evident that promises of land were made to individuals who were willing
to hazard the dangers of the new country. From a bill of adventure that
goes back to 1608, the nature of the promise of land is revealed in the
agreement between Henry Dawkes and Richard Atkinson, clerk of the
Virginia Company. Fortunately the bill of adventure of 1608 was recorded
with the patent by Governor John Harvey in 1632 to William Dawkes, son
and heir of Henry Dawkes. The commitments in the bill of adventure were
as follows:

    _Whereas_ Henry Dawkes now bound on the intended voyage to Virginia
    hath paid, in ready money, to Sr. Thomas Smith Kt. treasurer for
    Virginia the some of twelve pounds tenn shillings for his adventure
    in the voyage to Virginia.

    _It is agreed_ that for the same the said Henry Dawkes his heires,
    executors, admrs. and assignes shall have rateably according to his
    adventure his full pte. of all such lands tenemts and hereditamts.
    as shall from time to time bee there planted and inhabited, and of
    all such mines and minneralls of gould, silver, and other mettalls
    or treasures, pearles, pretious stoanes or any kinds of wares or
    merchandize, comodities or pfitts. whatsoever, which shal bee
    obtained or gotten in the said voyage, according to the portion of
    money by him imployed to that use, In as large and ample manner as
    any other adventurer therein shall receave for the like some.

    Written this fowerteenth of July one thousand six hundred and eight.

    Richard Atkinson
    [Clerk of the Virginia Company].

The first two years at Jamestown brought disappointments, but the
adventurers of the London Company found grounds for new hope in the
enlarged and expanded program that was inaugurated in 1609. A new
charter was sought from the King to make possible reforms in
governmental organization both in England and Virginia; and a broader
base for financial support was laid by inviting the public to subscribe
to a joint-stock fund. By the charter of 1609 the new organization was
incorporated as the Treasurer and Company of Adventurers and Planters of
the City of London for the First Colony in Virginia. In England the head
of the reorganized company was designated as treasurer, and the major
change in control was the transfer of authority over the colony from the
crown to the company with the powers of government in the hands of the
treasurer and Council. This Council in England, which continued for some
time to be called the Council for Virginia, had its jurisdiction limited
to the exploits of the London Company; its membership came entirely from
the company; and its members were in effect selected by the leading
promoters of the company. One major governmental change occurred in the
colony by the president and Council being eliminated in favor of a
strong Governor to be advised by a Council. The former provision for
title to an area of land 100 miles square was changed to give title to
"all that space and circuit of land" lying 200 miles north and 200 miles
south of Point Comfort from the sea coast "up into the land, throughout
from sea to sea, west, and northwest" plus islands within 100 miles of
the coast.

Provisions relative to distribution of land were more specific in the
1609 charter and provided that land should be conveyed by majority vote
of the company under its common seal. Consideration in distribution of
land was to be given both to the amount invested by adventurer as well
as "special service, hazard, exploit, or merit of any person."

In the third charter of 1612 no major changes were included relative to
land. Boundaries of the colony were extended from 100 miles to 300
leagues to include the newly discovered Bermuda Islands. And greater
governmental authority was placed in the generality of the company by
providing for quarterly court meetings of the company to handle "matters
and affairs of greater weight and importance" than were resolved by
lesser courts of a smaller portion of the company.

No immediate grants of land to individuals were forthcoming with these
charters. Only promises were made to those who subscribed to the
joint-stock undertaking. The adventurer invested only his money and
remained in England with each unit of investment set at £12 10s. per
share. The term planter was applied to one who went to the colony, and
his personal adventure was equated to one unit of investment at the
same rate as above. Both adventurer and planter were promised a
proportionate share of any dividends distributed, whether in land or in
money. The joint-stock arrangement was originally set to continue seven
years from its inception in 1609, thus making 1616 as the terminal
date. During this period monetary dividends might be declared, and at
the end of the period the land suitable for cultivation was to be
divided with at least 100 acres to be given for each share of stock.
The tract _Nova Britannia_ of 1609, written by Robert Johnson as a part
of the promotional campaign of the London Company, outlined these major
provisions concerning land and included the optimistic prediction that
each share of £12 10s. would be worth 500 acres at least. But an
attempt fourteen years later by Captain Martin to justify a patent
based on this figure of 500 acres per share failed because the promise
was held to be the work of a private individual and not a commitment by
the court of the company.

In the absence of private title to land in the early years of the
Virginia colony, the company relied upon a corporate form of management
with the pooling of community effort to clear the land, construct
buildings, develop agriculture, and engage in trade with the Indians.
This was not an experiment based on a theory of communism for the
joint-stock claims were limited in time. Most of the settlers were more
in a position of contract laborers performing services for the company,
and plans were devised for monetary dividends even before 1616 if the
colony prospered. Inadequate supplies from England, severe weather
conditions, hostility of the Indians, and the lack of willingness for
industrious labor on the part of the early settlers depleted the common
storehouse upon which the colonists were forced to rely, leading to the
exercise of stern and autocratic measures by John Smith and some of his
successors as leaders in the colony. Among the factors that contributed
to the lack of zeal among the settlers was the absence of private
ownership of land.

Prior to the promised distribution of land in 1616, there was granted
private use of land under a tenant-farm policy which most probably was
first inaugurated in 1614 under Sir Thomas Dale, although there is some
uncertainty about the date. Three acres of "cleare ground" were allotted
to men of the old settlement. In effect they became tenants of the
company and were obligated to render only one month's service to the
colony at some period other than the planting and harvesting time and to
contribute annually to the common magazine two barrels and a half of
corn on the ear. This tenant-farm policy worked well and better
conditions resulted with increased production of crops and stock.
According to one account in 1616:

    They sow and reape their corne in sufficient proportion, without
    want or impeachment; their kine multiply already to some hundreds,
    their swine to many thousands, their goates and poultry in great
    numbers, every man hath house and ground to his owne use....

In the same year this policy was extended to include eighty-one farmers
or tenants in the colony's total population of 351.

Despite improvement in the supply of provisions, the company still had
to face the harsh facts that in 1616 there were only 351 persons alive
in the colony, and funds were low in the treasury. There had been only a
limited number of new subscribers; some of the earlier subscribers had
defaulted on their second or third payments; and the use of lotteries
had failed to provide adequate money. This was the year set for the end
of the joint ownership of land with the declaration of land dividends.
But the company could not provide the necessary funds to defray the
administrative costs for the land divisions; and furthermore, many were
of the opinion that not enough land in possession had been cleared of
trees and surveyed. The arbitrary conduct of the Deputy Governor Captain
Samuel Argall, who arrived in Virginia in May, 1617, also contributed to
the delay in carrying out the plan for land distribution.

_In A Briefe Declaration of the present state of things in Virginia_,
adventurers were told that "this course of sending a Governor with
commissioners and a survayor, with men, ships, and sundry provisions"
would be expensive, and plans were announced for only a preliminary or
"first divident" of fifty acres with the expressed hope that a later
division would bring at least 200 acres for every share. But even for
the preliminary division, more money was needed and shareholders were
asked to subscribe another £12 10s. to help pay for the administrative
cost. For each additional subscription of £12 10s., a fifty-acre grant
would be made. Here we have provisions for obtaining land by "treasury
right," a method remaining in effect only until dissolution of the
company in 1624 and not reappearing until 1699. Planters in the colony
were also to receive a fifty-acre grant for their personal adventure.
Even new adventurers were invited to buy shares at £12 10s. and were
promised fifty-acre grants with the same privileges of the old
adventurers. But the response was poor. Most of the grants that were
made were either irregular in form or contained unreasonable provisions
dictated by the exigency of the situation, thereby being later
repudiated by the company.

The financial embarrassment of the company and the need for further
colonization led to grants of land in return for service to the company
by officials or for promoting the transportation of colonists. For the
services of Sir Thomas Dale to the colony, the Council for Virginia
awarded him the value of 700 pounds sterling to be received in land
distribution; to Sir Thomas Smith for his noteworthy efforts as
treasurer or chief official of the company, 2,000 acres; and to Captain
Daniel Tucker for his aiding the colony with his pinnace and for his
service as vice-admiral, fifteen shares of land. Similar rewards could
be made under the company to ministers, physicians, and other government

As a further stimulus to expand the population of the colony and to
enhance agricultural production, the company beginning in 1617
encouraged private or voluntary associations, organized on a joint-stock
basis, to establish settlements in the area of the company's patent.
These "societies of adventurers" were to send to Virginia at their own
expense, tenants, servants, and supplies; and the associates were given
certain governmental powers over the settlement that approached the
position of an independent colony. They were authorized "till a form of
government is here settled over them" to issue orders and ordinances
provided they were not contrary to the laws of England. In relation to
the four original boroughs of James City, Charles City, Henrico, and
Kecoughtan (later Elizabeth City), the hundreds or particular
plantations in government were "co-ordinate and not subordinate"; and
some of them sent representatives to the first Assembly held in 1619
under Governor Yeardley.

The amount of land in these sub-patents depended upon the number of
shares of stock of the associates, and in effect the grants served as
dividends to the shareholders. One hundred acres were granted for each
share with the first division of land, and the promise was made for an
equal amount upon a second division of land provided the first was
"sufficiently peopled." There was to be some choice in location by the
associates, although certain restrictions were imposed. No grant was to
be located within five miles of the four original boroughs, and the
plantation should be ten miles from other settlements unless on opposite
sides of an important river. These provisions were designed to provide
for expansion and at the same time avoid conflict among plantations, yet
they tended to disperse the colony and complicate efforts to maintain
adequate protection from the imminent threat of hostile natives.

The term hundred was applied to some, but not all, of these particular
plantations. The origin of this designation has sometimes been explained
as a derivation from the English administrative system, but this seems
valid only as it pertains to the name. There was no attempt to establish
a system based on English counties and hundreds, rather the Virginia
hundreds were closer to the feudal manor with a degree of economic and
political independence. In the light of these conditions, Professor
Wesley Frank Craven suggested the possibility that the term might have
been a "colloquial designation" applied to plantations with no definite
name and related to the units of 100 acres included in the grants or by
the requirement to seat 100 settlers on the land.

There were three general types of particular plantations. The first of
these represented the voluntary pooling of land and resources by several
adventurers of the company, since few had adequate land or financial
support to go it alone. The company granted a patent to contiguous areas
of land according to the number of shares of stock possessed by the
group. Examples of this type include the Society of Smith's Hundred and
Martin's Hundred. Smith's Hundred, later called Southampton Hundred, was
organized in 1617 and included among its adventurers Sir Thomas Smith,
Sir Edwin Sandys, and the Earl of Southampton. The grant included 80,000
acres and was located on the north side of the James River in the area
between "Tanks Weyanoke" and the Chickahominy River. The society was
administered by a treasurer and committees selected by a meeting of the
adventurers. The associates settled at least 300 colonists within their
boundaries and reported in 1635 the expenditure of £6,000 on the
settlement. Martin's Hundred, organized in 1618, was named for Richard
Martin and should be distinguished from (John) Martin's Brandon
organized the previous year. The Society of Martin's Hundred held patent
to 80,000 acres and dispatched over 250 colonists, but only a part of
the tract was ever occupied.

The second type of particular plantation involved an adventurer who
combined with persons outside the company to obtain a grant. The title
usually resided in the original adventurer, and the nature of government
and special privileges was similar to grants of the first kind discussed
above. The grant made to Captain Samuel Argall was of this type. So was
the grant of John Martin's Brandon in 1617, a plantation of 7,000 acres
situated seven miles upstream from Jamestown.

The third type of grant involved new adventurers whose major purpose in
buying stock in the company was to organize a particular plantation.
Illustrative of this category was the plantation of Christopher Lawne,
who transported 100 settlers in 1619 to Warrosquoik and established
Lawne's Hundred. During the following year the hundred was dissolved and
thereafter called Isle of Wight Plantation.

Beginning with the election of Sir Edwin Sandys as treasurer in 1619 and
including the next four years, there were forty-four grants made for
particular plantations; and the company declared six others to have been
made prior to this time under Sir Thomas Smith. All of the projected
plantations, however, were never located; and few were settled to the
extent planned by the company. Historical records are scarce for these
projects and this paucity of material has left much of the story
incomplete. It is certain that the following additional plantations were
actually established in Virginia: Archer's Hope on the James River,
Bargrave's Settlement, Bennett's Welcome, Society of Truelove's
Plantation, Persey's or Flowerdieu Hundred, and Berkeley Town or
Hundred. For the last of these, Berkeley Hundred, there is an extensive
set of records in the Smyth of Nibley Papers that gives considerable
insight into the organization and activities of the adventurers under
the leadership of Richard Berkeley, George Thorpe, William Throckmorton,
and John Smyth of Nibley.

Resembling its larger prototype, the London Company, the Berkeley
Hundred group had a governor and council. The adventurers were granted
100 acres of land for each share of stock with the promise of an equal
amount when the first grant was settled; likewise they were promised
fifty acres without quitrent for every person transported at their
expense who remained for three years or died within this period. For
promoting both a church and school, the adventurers were also granted
1,500 acres. With these grants and with exemptions from both the
company's trade rules and from taxation except by consent, the leaders
of Berkeley Hundred inaugurated a vigorous campaign to provide the
necessary provisions and personnel, including farmers, artisans,
overseers, a minister, and a doctor. Over ninety people were dispatched
to the colony in 1619 and 1620 at a cost of approximately £2,000. This
settlement, however, did not thrive. Many of the settlers died of
disease and eleven were killed in the Indian massacre of 1622. By 1636
the adventurers had abandoned their plans to continue the settlement and
sold their interests to London merchants.

In addition to the stimulus to migration by the three foregoing types
of grants for particular plantations, the company took steps in 1618
toward reorganization of its administration. Sir Thomas Smith was still
in control of the company as treasurer and contributed to the reforms,
but the major contribution came from Sir Edwin Sandys who succeeded to
the position of treasurer in the spring of the following year. Rules
and by-laws were restated in the "Orders and Constitutions," which were
largely prepared in 1618 although not formally adopted until June,
1619. One additional document of 1618 was very significant because it
outlined a uniform land policy. Identified by the term "the greate
charter," it is listed in the _Records_ of the London Company as
"Instructions to Governor Yeardly" under the date November 18, 1618.

This "charter" outlined plans for distribution of the land dividend and
contained provisions for the headright system which became a basic
feature of the colony's land policy. One hundred acres were promised as
a first dividend to all adventurers for each paid-up share of stock at
£12 10s., another 100 acres as a second dividend when the first had been
settled ("sufficiently peopled"). "Ancient planters," that is, those who
had come to the colony prior to the departure of Sir Thomas Dale in
1616, were to receive similar grants if they had come to the colony at
their own expense. These foregoing grants were to be free of quitrent.
"Ancient planters" who came to the colony at the company's expense would
receive the same amount of land after a seven-year term of service but
would be required to pay a quitrent of two shillings for every 100

For settlers arriving after the departure of Dale in 1616 or those
migrating during the seven-year period following Midsummer Day of 1618,
separate regulations applied. If transported at company expense, the
colonist was to serve as a half-share tenant for seven years with no
promise of a land grant; if at his own expense, he was to receive as a
headright fifty acres on the first dividend and the same amount on the
second dividend. This provision for the fifty-acre headright was set up
for the seven-year period prior to Midsummer Day of 1625, but it
continued beyond this date as the essential key to Virginia's land
policy of the seventeenth century.

Out of the number of people who purchased a share in the company and
thereby received a bill of adventure, Alexander Brown in his _Genesis
of the United States_ estimated that about one-third came to Virginia
and took up their land claim; approximately one-third sent over agents,
or in some cases heirs, to benefit by the grants; and the remaining
one-third disposed of their shares to others who occupied the lands.

Provisions for special lands were also stated in "the greate charter."
At each of the four focal points of settlement--James City, Charles
City, Henrico, and Kecoughtan, 3,000 acres were to be set aside as the
company's land. Half-share tenants were to cultivate the lands and half
of the company's profits was to be used to support several of the
colonial officials. For the Governor, a special plot known as the
Governor's land was to be designated at Jamestown, and half of the
proceeds of the tenants was to go to the Governor. For local government,
additional provisions were made for support by setting aside 1,500 acres
as "burroughs land" at the four points of settlement listed above.

Support of cultural activities, as well as governmental, was also
provided by land. Glebe lands were authorized at each borough, including
100 acres for the minister with a supplement from church members to pay
a total of £200 per annum. For the promotion of education, "the greate
charter" set aside 10,000 acres at Henrico as an endowment for a
"university and college." The primary aim of the college in 1618 was to
serve as an Indian mission, although the training of English students
was probably a part of the plan. Tenants were dispatched to Virginia to
work at Henrico as "tenants at halves," one-half of the proceeds of
their labor to go to the tenant, the other half to be used for the
building of the college and for support of its tutors and students. One
hundred and fifty tenants were sent over for the college land; and to
improve the returns from this enterprise, Sir Edwin Sandys engaged that
"worthy religious gentleman" George Thorpe as deputy to supervise the
investment in the college land. Patrick Copland, projector of the first
English free school in North America, was designated president-elect of
the Indian college; and Richard Downes, a scholar in England, came to
Virginia in 1619 with plans to work in the proposed college. All of
these hopeful plans were suddenly blasted by the eruption of the Indian
massacre of 1622. For all practical purposes the project was ended,
although some efforts were made after 1622 by the company to have the
remaining tenants cultivate the land and to hold the bricklayers to the
obligations of their contract.

The trace of these grants, including the company land, the Governor's
land, and the "burroughs land" fades out in the absence of complete
records for this period of the colony. Use of the glebe land as partial
support for the minister was continued in later years, although details
of the disposition of these early plots are missing. And the
appropriation of lands for support of education and other public
purposes was a recognized concept in later American history.

The issuing of patents in fee simple to land promised under the general
land dividend did not reach the extent planned by the company until the
arrival of Governor George Yeardley in 1619. There seems to be adequate
evidence to prove, as Bruce contended, that a few grants had been made
prior to this time, even prior to 1617; but no record has been preserved
in the Virginia Land Office. However, even if such grants were
authorized, it is unlikely that the proper surveys were made for many of

As early as 1616 there were references by the company to send to
Virginia a surveyor who could lay out the lands to be distributed to the
adventurers. It is probable that a surveyor accompanied Captain Samuel
Argall to the colony in 1617, but the first name on record in this
position seems to be that of Richard Norwood who had previously engaged
in surveying in the Somer Isles. There is little to indicate that much
was done by Norwood. In 1621 William Claiborne accompanied Governor
Francis Wyatt to Virginia, and the arrival of these two men actuated the
granting of many tracts.

One of these grants by Governor Wyatt is the earliest extant form of the
headright franchise. Dated January 26, 1621/22, it conveyed to Thomas
Hothersall 200 acres of land at Blunt Point located in later Warwick
County. The grant read as follows:

    _By the Governr and Capt: Generll: of Virginia_

    _To all to whome these prsents shall come_ greeting in our Lord God

    _Know Yee_ that I sr Francis Wyatt Kt, Governr and Capt: Generall
    of Virginia, by vertue of the great charter of orders and lawes
    concluded on and dated at London in a generall quarter court the
    eighteenth day of November one thousand six hundred and eighteene
    by the treasurer Counseil and company of adventurers for the first
    southerne colony of Virginia, according to the authority graunted
    them from his Matie under his great seale, the said charter being
    directed to the Governr and Counseil of State here resident, and by
    the rules of justice, equity & reason, doe wth the approbation and
    consent of the same Counseil who are joyned in commission with mee,
    give and graunt unto Mr. Thomas Hothersall of Paspehay gent., and
    to his heires and assignes for ever, for his first generll:
    devident, to bee augumented and doubled by the said company to him
    and his said heires and assignes when hee or they shall once
    sufficiently have planted and peopled the same.

    Two hundred acres of land scituate and being at Blunt Point,
    confining on the east the land of Cornelius May, on the south upon
    the great river, on the north upon the maine land and on the west
    runing towards a small creek one hundred rod (at sixteene foote and
    a half the rod);

    Fifty acres whereof is his owne psonall right and fifty acres is
    the psonall right of Frances Hothersall his wife, the other hundred
    acres in consideration of his transportacon of twoe of his children
    out of England at his owne cost & charges, Viz: Richard Hothersall
    and Mary Hothersall,

    _To Have and to Hold_ the said twoe hundred acres of land with all
    and singular the apptennces, and with his due share of all mines &
    minneralls therein conteyned, and wth all rights and privileges of
    hunting, hawking and fowling and others within the prcincts and
    upon the borders of the said land, To the only pper use benifitt
    and behoofe of the said Thomas Hothersall, his heires and assignes
    for ever,

    In as large and ample manner to all intents and purposes as is
    specified in the said great charter or by consequences may justly
    bee collected out of the same, or out of his Ma'ties letters
    patents whereon it is grounded.

    _Yeilding and paying_ to the treasurer and company and to their
    successors for ever, yearely at the feast of St. Michael the
    Archangell [September 29], for every fifty acres, the fee rent of
    one shilling.

    _In witness whereof_ I have to these presents sett my hand and
    the great seale of the colony, given at James Citty the six and
    twentieth day of January one thousand six hundred twenty one [o.s.]
    and in the yeares of the raigne, of our Soveraigne Lord, James by
    the Grace of God King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland,
    Defender of the faith &c., Vizt: of England, France and Ireland the
    nineteenth and of Scotland the five and fiftieth, and in the
    fifteenth yeare of this plantacon.

Claiborne supervised most of the surveys included on the list of patents
that was drawn up by Governor Wyatt in 1625. Out of 184 patents that
were issued to individual planters, over seventy-five per cent included
only 200 acres or less with the most frequent grant being the 100-acre
grant to the "ancient planter." For the remaining individual grants,
approximately one-sixth were between 201 and 600 acres; four were
between 601 and 1,000 acres; and four exceeded 1,000 acres.

In an analysis of the status of the Virginia population with regard to
landholding at the time of the dissolution of the company in 1624,
Professor Manning C. Voorhis concluded that only about one-seventh of
the 1,240 population obtained land from the company. This would leave
the remainder of the settlers as indentured servants or tenant farmers
who worked out their maintenance or transportation either for the
company or for private individuals who financed their trip to America.
The tenant farmers constituted the larger group. In the chapter that
follows, some attention will be given to the status of these immigrants
and the extent to which they were able to become independent landowners
in the colony.


Virginia as a Royal Colony

The Nature and Size of Land Grants

A variety of reasons led the King to dissolve the London Company and to
assume royal control over the first experiment in colonization under an
incorporated company. Failure of the colony to thrive economically, the
poor financial condition of the company, political differences between
Sir Edwin Sandys and the King, internal dissensions between the Sandys
faction and the Smith-Warwick group, the extremely high death rate in
the colony, and the impact of the Indian massacre of 1622--all
contributed in varying degrees of importance to the dissolution. The
company rejected efforts of the crown to substitute a new charter drawn
up in 1623 providing for the King to resume control of the colony by
establishing a royal Council in England and a Governor and Council in
Virginia. Consequently the Privy Council obtained a writ of _quo
warranto_ which terminated with a decision by the court of King's Bench
in May, 1624, annulling the charter of the company.

With the advent of royal control there was a significant continuity in
practice in the colony, and the political framework was little changed.
The Governor and Council were then appointed by the King, but the House
of Burgesses continued without major revision. In order to assure
continued respect for public authority, a royal commission was
dispatched to Governor Wyatt and an eleven-man Council empowering them
to act "as fully and ampley as anie Governor and Councell resident there
at anie tyme within the space of five yeares now last past." A similar
commission was issued to Sir George Yeardley in 1626, and for the next
sixteen years royal instructions to the Governors reflected a striking

A similar continuity was evident in economic affairs as revealed in land
policy. The London Company as a corporate body in charge of the colony
terminated in 1624 after eighteen years, and the following year after
the death of King James I the colony of Virginia by proclamation was
made a part of the royal demesne. The landholder in Virginia became then
in effect a freehold tenant of the King. The rights and property of the
company were taken over by the crown, but recognition was made of the
private property right of the planter and of individual claims of those
who had invested in the company. Even land rights to planters and
adventurers that had not been taken up were recognized, but few
proceeded to effect settlement or to exercise the right of taking up 100
acres per share of stock.

The land rights of the private joint-stock associations also continued
to be recognized, but there was less enthusiasm on the part of
individual adventurers to promote the projects started some years
earlier. This development was indicative of the major change in the
economic life of the colony that resulted in the decline, if not
disappearance, of absentee ownership. As previously noted, Berkeley
Hundred had suffered the loss of many of its settlers in the massacre of
1622; and upon expiration of term of service of the few remaining
servants, only the land and a few cattle were left in the settlement. By
1636 the adventurers had sold their claims to London merchants. In the
case of Martin's Hundred located about seven miles from Jamestown, the
massacre doomed the active settlement and only the title to the land
continued. Eventually the title to this hundred was withdrawn to permit
natural expansion of the colony, and the associates or adventurers were
awarded claims to land allotments commensurate with the number of shares
held in the joint stock.

The tracts known as company land were maintained for a while under royal
control. The role of the public estate, however, never assumed great
significance, yet there is evidence of the continued practice during the
seventeenth century of endowing an office such as Governor or secretary
with the proceeds of a land grant.

Theoretically tenants and contract laborers who were still alive at the
time of the dissolution of the company were to continue their labor
either on the public land or on private associations. In practice,
however, it is likely that lax enforcement of the contracts resulted in
a substantial diminution of the obligations of many workers. The
scarcity of records for this period makes it impossible to trace all of
this group, but there is enough evidence to indicate that some continued
to serve out their term of labor. The General Court in 1627 expressed
concern about the approaching expiration of leases and indentures of
persons for whom there were no provisions for lands; and action was
taken to permit them to lease land for a period of ten to twenty-one
years in return for which they were to render a stipulated amount of
tobacco or corn for each acre, usually one pound of tobacco per acre.
This lenient provision notwithstanding, only about sixty persons availed
themselves of the opportunity, the remainder presumably either squatting
on frontier land, working as laborers, or eventually obtaining title to
land by purchase from an original patentee.

With the dissolution of the company the issuing of land patents
continued in the hands of the Governor and Council. The King and Privy
Council assumed power over land distribution but apparently left the
issuing of patents as it had been before. Up until January, 1625,
Governor Wyatt issued patents in the name of the company. At that time
news reached Virginia that the writ of _quo warranto_ of June, 1624,
had dissolved the company and that King James I upon assumption of
control of the colony had issued on August 26, 1624, the first
commission of a royal Governor to Wyatt. But the commission made no
reference to land grants, and Governor Wyatt issued none after January,

Charles I succeeded to the throne following the death of James I on
March 27, 1625. His proclamation stating policy relative to Virginia
professed protection of the interests of private planters and
adventurers but made no direct reference to land grants. Governor
Yeardley replaced Wyatt by a commission of March 14, 1625/26 and arrived
in Virginia in May, 1626. There is no record extant to show that
Yeardley received direct instructions to start issuing grants; but it is
certain that he did begin in February, 1626/27, interpreting his
instructions and commission as authorizing the action.

Land patents during this period were to be issued on four main
conditions: (1) as a dividend in return for investment in the founding
of the colony; (2) as a reward for special service to the colony; (3) as
a stimulus to fortify the frontier by using land to induce settlement;
and (4) as a method of encouraging immigration by the headright.

The first of these was simply an assurance by the King that the former
stockholders in the company still had the right to take up land at the
rate of 100 acres for each share of stock owned. As late as 1642 this
privilege was still being confirmed in instructions to the Governor; but
the stockholders appeared to be little interested at this time in coming
to Virginia, for very few took up their claim and apparently the shares
bearing the holder's name could not be transferred after the
dissolution. The plan for the distribution of the first dividend in 1619
also provided for a second allotment. As late as 1632 patents still
included authorization for a second dividend when the first had been
cultivated. But no second allotment was ever made. There are, however,
examples to indicate that claims for the first dividend were upheld
after the company was dissolved. In 1628 Thomas Graies obtained a patent
as a dividend for his subscription of twenty-five pounds sterling; in
1636 Captain John Hobson was issued a patent covering a bill of
adventure that went back to 1621; and on another occasion the land
dividend due a deceased father was awarded to his son.

The next condition of awarding patents for meritorious service to the
colony was of long standing. Used to award ministers, political
officials, physicians, sea captains, and various other individuals under
the company, the practice continued under royal control after 1624.
Governor Wyatt in 1638 was instructed to issue land patents for
meritorious service according to provisions previously adopted for such
cases. And a few years later Charles II awarded lands in Virginia to
servants or others who aided him, although it is not certain whether
these individuals were ever able to take up the claim bestowed upon

The third condition for a patent was practically a corollary to the
second, for it involved rendering service to the colony by settling and
fortifying the frontier. One example during this period may be found in
securing the Peninsula. Following the massacre of 1622 Governor Wyatt
and his Council wrote to the Earl of Southampton about a plan for
"winning the forest" by running a pale between Martin's Hundred on the
James River and Cheskiack on the York. Again in 1624 the suggestion was
made to the royal commissioners who were sent over by the King to
determine the most suitable places for fortification. To effect the
construction of this palisade, the General Assembly in 1633 offered land
as an inducement to settle between Queen's Creek and Archer's Hope
Creek, promising fifty acres and a period of tax exemption to freemen
who would occupy the area of Middle Plantation, later Williamsburg. In
February, 1633, the order was issued for a fortieth part of the men in
the "compasse of the forest" between the two previously mentioned creeks
and Chesapeake Bay to meet at Dr. John Pott's plantation at the head of
Archer's Hope Creek for the purpose of erecting houses to secure the
neck of land known as the Peninsula. With this encouragement by the
Assembly, a palisade six miles in length was completed, running from
Queen's Creek to Archer's Hope Creek and passing through Middle
Plantation. Houses were constructed at convenient distances, and a
sufficient number of men were assigned to patrol the line of defense
during times of imminent danger. By setting off a little less than
300,000 acres of land, this palisade provided defense for the new
plantations between the York and James rivers and served as a
restraining barrier for the cattle of the colony.

Granting of land was again used on a large scale for the establishment
of forts after the Indian massacre of 1644. By order of the Assembly in
1645 blockhouses or forts were established at strategic points: Fort
Charles at the falls of the James River, Fort Royal at Pamunkey, Fort
James on the ridge of Chickahominy on the north side of the James, and
in the next year Fort Henry at the falls of the Appomattox River. The
maintenance of these forts involved considerable expense, more than the
officials of the colony wished to drain from the public treasury.
Therefore, they decided to grant the forts with adjoining lands to
individuals who would accept the responsibility of their upkeep as well
as the maintenance of an adequate force for defense. Fort Henry, located
at present-day Petersburg, was granted to Captain Abraham Wood with 600
acres of land plus all houses, edifices, boats, and ammunition belonging
to the fort. Wood was required to maintain and keep ten persons
continuously at the fort for three years. During this time he was
exempted from all public taxes for himself and the ten persons. Upon
similar terms Lieutenant Thomas Rolfe, son of Pocahontas and John Rolfe,
received Fort James and 400 acres of land; Captain Roger Marshall, Fort
Royal and 600 acres. Since there was no arable land adjoining Fort
Charles at present-day Richmond, other inducements were made for its
maintenance. These forts served as the first line of defense against
possible attacks by the natives. Being the center of the varied
activities of the frontier, they also were the starting point for
expeditions against the Indians and became the center of trade for the
outlying regions.

The fourth condition for granting of land--the headright--was by far the
most important and became the principal basis for title to land in the
seventeenth century. Its origin goes back to "the greate charter" of
1618 in which the following provision was included:

    That for all persons ... which during the next seven years after
    Midsummer Day 1618 shall go into Virginia with intent there to
    inhabite If they continue there three years or dye after they are
    shiped there shall be a grant made of fifty acres for every person
    upon a first division and as many more upon a second division (the
    first being peopled) which grants to be made respectively to such
    persons and their heirs at whose charges the said persons going to
    inhabite in Virginia shall be transported with reservation of twelve
    pence yearly rent for every fifty acres to be answered to the said
    treasurer and company and their successors for ever after the first
    seven years of every such grant.

Under these provisions of "the greate charter," it is evident that not
only was the headright grant of fifty acres per person open to
shareholders who brought settlers to the colony, but also to anyone who
had migrated to the colony at his own expense or who had financed the
expedition of other persons. Individuals paying their own transportation
were entitled to fifty acres for themselves and for every member of the
family, providing they fulfilled the residence requirement of three

Governors under the company issued patents based on the headright until
dissolution by the crown in 1624. Beyond that time the status of the
headright was uncertain. The "charter" of 1618 had specified a term for
this right for seven years ending on Midsummer Day of 1625. After this
term expired, royal governors continued to honor headright claims based
on immigration, although no direct authorization for such action had
come from the crown. Therefore, the issuance of these claims after 1625
was based primarily on custom, brief as it was, until more direct
instructions were issued to Governor John Harvey in 1634 following the
proprietary grant of Maryland in 1632.

The Maryland grant enhanced the concern of the Virginia inhabitants
about their title to land, and correspondence conducted by Governor
Harvey finally brought forth a statement from the Privy Council.
Apprehension over Maryland led to assurance of the headright for
Virginia as the Privy Council issued the following dispatch of July 22,
1634, to the Governor:

    We have thought fit to certify you that his Majesty of his royal
    favor, and for the better encouragement of the planters there doth
    let you knowe that it is not intended that the interestes which men
    had settled when you were a corporation should be impeached; that
    for the present they may enjoy their estates and trades with the
    same freedom and privileges as they did before the recalling of
    their patents: To which purpose also in pursuance of his Majesty's
    gracious intention, wee doe hereby authorize you to dispose of such
    proportions of lands to all those planters beeing freemen as you had
    power to doe before the yeare 1625.

With this explicit royal endorsement of land patent principles followed
under the company and confirmation of the headright, Governor Harvey
modified the wording in the patents and adopted the following form
illustrated in a grant of 2,500 acres to Captain Hugh Bullocke:

    _To all to whome these prsents. shall come_, I Sr. John Harvey Kt.
    Governr. and Capt. Generll. of Virginia send greeting in our Lord
    God Everlasting.

    _Whereas_ by letters pattents bearing date the twoe and twentieth
    of July one thousand six hundred thirtie fower from the Rt. Honble.
    the Lords of his Majties. most Honoble. Privie Councell their
    lordshipps did authorize the Governr. and Councell of Virginia to
    dispose of such pportions of land to all planters being freemen as
    they had power to doe before the yeare 1625, whene according to
    divers orders & constitutions in that case provided and appointed
    all devidents of lands any waies due or belonging to any
    adventurers or planters of what condicon soever were to bee laid
    out and assigned unto them according to the severall condicons in
    the same menconed.

    _Now Know Yee_ therefore that I the said Sr. John Harvey doe, with
    the consent of the Councell of State give and graunt unto Capt.
    Hugh Bullocke and to his heires and assignes for ever by these

    Twoe thousand five hundred and fiftie acres of land, scituate, lying
    & being from the runn that falleth downe by the eastern side of a
    peece of land knowne by the name of the Woodyard and soe from that
    runn along the side of the Pocoson (or great Otter pond soe called)
    northwest and about the head of the said Otter pond back southeast
    leaveing the Otter pond in the middle.

    _To have and to Hold_ the said twoe thousand five hundred and
    fiftie acres of land with his due share of all mines and minneralls
    therein conteyned and with all rights and priviledges of hunting,
    hawking, fishing and fowling, wth in the prcincts of the same to
    the sole and pper use benifitt and behoofe of him the said Capt.
    Bullocke his heires and assignes for ever.

    In as large and ample manner to all intents and purposes as is
    expressed in the said orders and constitutions, or by consequence
    may bee justly collected out of the same or out of his Majties.
    letters pattents whereon they are grounded.

    _Yielding and paying_ for every fiftie acres of land herein by
    these presents given and graunted yearely at the feast of St.
    Michaell the Archangell [September 29], the fee rent of one
    shilling to his Majties. use.

    _Provided always_ that [if] the said Capt. Hugh Bullock, his heires
    or assignes shall not plant or seate or cause to bee planted on the
    said twoe thousand five hundred & fiftie acres of land wth in the
    time and terms of three yeares now next ensuing the date hereof,
    that then it shall and may bee lawfull for any adventurer or
    planter to make choice and seate upon the same.

    _Given_ at James Citty under my hand and sealed with the seale of
    the colony the twelfth day of March one thousand six hundred
    thirtie fower [o.s.] & in the tenth year of our Soveraigne Lord
    King Charles &c.

Use of the headright had been adopted by the company as an expedient to
increase population of the colony and to encourage immigration without
further expenditure from the company treasury. The practice continued
with the fifty acres of land granted to the persons who financed the
transportation of the immigrant, but the grant itself was not valuable
enough to compensate for the expense involved. Therefore, with
increasing frequency the system of indentured servitude was used whereby
the immigrant agreed to an indenture or contract to work a certain
number of years as additional payment for his transportation. This
system, in general, proved advantageous to both the master and the
servant, to the colony by providing additional immigrants, and to
England by serving as a vent for surplus population.

Indentured servants were not slaves but were servants during the
specified period of the contract. While the laws of the time did make a
distinction in the severity of the penal code as applied to servants and
to freemen, still indentured servitude did not have the stigma of
bondage or slavery; and many servants upon completion of their term of
service rose to positions of social and political prominence in the
history of the colony. In 1676 the Lords of Trade and Plantations
expressed concern over the use of the word "servitude" because of the
implications of slavery, and they preferred "to use the word service,
since those servants are only apprentices for years."

At the expiration of the term of service, the servants usually received
equipment and supplies necessary to start them as freemen. They
received grain enough for one year, clothes, and in some cases a gun
and a supply of tools. As to receipt of land, the policy varied from
one colony to another, and at times there was uncertainty within one
colony about obligations to freedmen. In Virginia the indentured
servant did not usually receive land at the end of service unless he
had insisted, as John Hammond in _Leah and Rachel_ had advised, that a
specific provision be included in the contract to include the award of
fifty acres as "freedom's dues." There are some cases in which the
provision for land was included as illustrated in one of the earliest
indentures known to exist for Virginia. This indenture of September 7,
1619, was made between Robert Coopy of North Nibley in Gloucestershire
with the associates of Berkeley Hundred. Coopy agreed to work three
years in Virginia and submit to the government of the hundred in return
for which the owners were to transport him to Virginia and "There to
maintayne him with convenient diet and apparell meet for such a
servant, and in the end of the said terme to make him a free man of the
said cuntry theirby to enjoy all the liberties, freedomes, and
priviledges of a freeman there, and to grant to the said Robert thirty
acres of land within their territory or hundred of Barkley...."

The confusion over the question whether the indentured servant was
entitled to fifty acres of land upon expiration of his service extended
to the mother country. There was a widespread belief in England that
such was the case, and there were indefinite statements in commissions
and instructions to the Governors that left the matter in doubt. In
practice in Virginia, however, it is certain that the fifty acres under
the headright claim went to the person transporting indentured servants,
not to the servants themselves. Only where the contract specifically
stated that the servant was to receive fifty acres was he assured of
this grant.

Under the company there had been definite provisions that the fifty
acres went to the persons transporting servants, not to the servants
themselves. After its dissolution, Governors were instructed to follow
the rules of the "late company," and this continued until there was a
variation in Sir Francis Wyatt's commission of 1639 authorizing the
Governor and the Council to issue grants to adventurers and planters
"According to the orders of the late company ... and likewise 50 acres
of land to every person transported thither ... until otherwise
determined by His Majesty." Did "to every person" mean that the servant
was entitled to land? Such was the case across the Potomac in Maryland
where the servant could claim fifty acres from his employer or master
until 1646; after 1646 and until 1683 the proprietor provided land for
the servant. If such were intended, it was not followed and the
intentions were far from clear in the later commission to Sir William
Berkeley in 1642. In addition to assigning land for "adventurers of
money" and "transportation of people," the commission authorized the
Governor and Council to grant "fifty acres for every person transported
thither since Midsummer 1625, and ... continue the same course to all
persons transported thither until it shall otherwise be determined by
His Majesty." The loose use of the terminology "to" and "for" recurred
in subsequent years and again reflected the lack of precision in this
matter as well as the seeming misapprehension in England that the
servant was entitled to a fifty-acre grant. Under the articles of the
treaty of 1651 between Virginia and the commissioners of the
Commonwealth, the reversion to the term "for every person" was made and
the policy of no land to servants was implicit in the sixth article of
the agreement: "That the priviledge of haveing fiftie acres of land for
every person transported in the collony shall continue as formerly

Even though servants were not granted land by the colony at the
expiration of their service, a substantial number soon became
landowners. The exact proportion of servants that became landholders
after 1624 cannot be determined in the absence of a complete census.
However, an examination of the land patents and the list of headrights
makes possible some estimate of the percentage of landholders that had
once been indentured servants. The conclusions cannot be final and are
subject to limitations. Identification presents a problem because of the
frequency of the same name as Smith or Davis and because of the omission
of middle names. The problem is further complicated by the fact that
headrights were often transferred by sale. A person entitled to a
headright claim on the frontier may not have wished to settle there;
rather he may have preferred to sell his headright claim and purchase
land in an established county. As a result of the sale of his headright
claim, his name may have appeared in the headright list as the basis for
the claim for someone else even though he had not been an indentured
servant. Therefore, all persons so listed under the headright claim
cannot be considered indentured servants.

Fully aware of the limitations just suggested and equally conscious
that estimates in the absence of more complete records cannot be final,
Professor Thomas J. Wertenbaker in his _Planters of Colonial Virginia_
summarized his analysis of patents and concluded that both before 1635
and in the following two or three decades, thirty to forty per cent of
the landholders of Virginia came to the colony as indentured servants.

Professor Wertenbaker also indicated general agreement with conclusions
drawn by William G. Stanard about the proportion of immigrants that
were indentured servants. From an analysis of the patent rolls from
1623 to July 14, 1637, printed in the April, 1901, issue of the
_Virginia Magazine of History and Biography_, Stanard estimated that
seventy-five per cent of immigrants from 1623 to 1637 were imported
under term of the indenture. Out of 2,675 names on the rolls, 336
entered as freemen at their own cost and an additional 245 persons were
believed for the most part to be of the same status although there was
some uncertainty about this group. Transportation expenses were paid by
others for 2,094. From these numbers, the conclusion was reached that
675 persons on the patent rolls were freemen, including women and
children; the remaining 2,000 were servants and slaves, the latter in
very small number at this time. Thus the analysis roughly confirms the
conclusion that three-fourths of the immigrants during this period were
indentured servants.

Use of the headright system for distribution of land had a close
correlation with expanding population, for it was hoped that the
increase of population would keep pace with the acquisition of private
title in the soil. As the seventeenth century progressed, there were
many abuses and evasions of the system; and by the end of the period its
significance declined in favor of acquisition of title by purchase, or
the "treasury right." To understand the various deviations from the
system, it will be helpful to review the steps by which title to land by
headright was obtained.

The first step involved the proving of the headright by the claimant
appearing before either a county court or the Governor and Council and
stating under oath that he had imported a certain number of persons
whose names were listed. The clerk of the court issued a certificate
which was validated in the secretary's office. Authorization for the
headright was then passed on to a commissioned surveyor who ran off
fifty acres for each person imported and located the grant in the area
selected by the claimant as long as the land had not already been
patented and had not been barred for white settlement in order to
maintain peace with the Indians. Upon completion of the survey and of
marking the boundaries, a copy of the record along with the headright
certificate was presented to the secretary's office where a patent was
prepared and a notation made of those imported. The final step was the
signing of the patent by the Governor in the presence of, and with the
approval of, the Council.

One deviation from the spirit of the law of the headright involved
claims based upon the person being imported into the colony more than
once. For example, John Chew in 1637 received 700 acres, using his own
transportation in 1622 and 1623 as the basis for the claim to 100 acres
in the grant. Carrying this practice to a greater extreme, Sarah Law
received a grant for 300 acres of land based upon the fact that she had
imported John Good, probably a sailor, six times.

On a larger scale, ship masters submitted lists for headright claims
which in actuality contained the roster of both the sailors of the ship
and the passengers. In neither case should the right have been
acknowledged, for the sailors were under agreement to continue service
at sea and the passengers had paid their own transportation to the
colony. But the lax administration of the system usually permitted
approval of such applications, and the ship master therefore found
himself with headright certificates which he could sell to others for
whatever price he could wangle. This practice was sometimes repeated by
the same unscrupulous ship master who was aided in the irregular
procedure by the failure of the clerks of the secretary's office to make
careful checks of lists submitted, and also by the fact that he could
present his lists to a different county court when importing the same
sailors for the third or fourth time.

Like the ship master, the sailor engaged in falsifying the record by
swearing that he had imported himself and sometimes others at his own
expense. Patents were obtained on the basis of the headright. Philip A.
Bruce concluded that the land obtained in Virginia by mariners was "very
extensive." To substantiate this general statement, he referred to
powers of attorney found in the county court records, authorizing an
agent in Virginia to handle the estates of the mariner. In the records
of Rappahannock County for 1668 is an example of the practice, in which
Thomas Sheppard of Plymouth, England, designated William Moseley to
handle his interest in 150 headrights which he claimed for importing 150
people to Virginia. It was likely in this case that duplicate claims
were issued, either to the individual if he paid his own transportation
or to some master if the immigrant became an indentured servant. In some
instances, as many as three or four claims were made for one
importation: one for the ship master, one for the merchant who acted as
middle-man in purchasing the service of the immigrant, one for the
planter who eventually purchased the indentured servant, and less often
one for a second planter who may have joined with the first in obtaining
the services of the imported person.

As abuse of the system increased, headright lists sometimes included
fictitious names or in some cases names copied from old record books.
The final stage in irregular procedure was reached when the clerks in
the office of the secretary of the colony sold the headright claim to
persons who would simply pay from one to five shillings. The exact date
at which this practice began has not been determined, but it was
prevalent sometime before 1692. Francis Nicholson reported to the Board
of Trade that while serving as Governor of Virginia from 1690 to 1692,
he had "heard" that the sale of rights by the clerks in the secretary's
office was "common practice." Another report to the Board in 1697
described the clerks as being "a constant mint of those rights."

The combined variations in the operation of the headright system
resulted in the distortion, if not destruction, of its original
concepts. The system continued to bring immigrants into the colony which
had been a very important purpose when inaugurated. But the abuses threw
out of balance the relation between patented land and the number of
people in the colony; and furthermore through perversion of the system,
speculation in land was not prevented and there resulted large areas of
wholly uncultivated and uninhabited lands to which title had been
granted. The headright was also originally intended to apply to
inhabitants of the British Isles, but by the middle of the seventeenth
century the names of persons imported from Africa appeared occasionally
as the basis for headright, and by the last decade of the century they
were frequently found.

The distortion of the headright system was done with considerable public
approval and in some ways reflected the evolution of economic
development that seemed to demand a more convenient and less expensive
method for obtaining title to large areas of unoccupied land. As the
population of the colony increased and as the labor supply became more
plentiful, there was a rather widespread demand to be able to obtain
additional land, particularly adjacent undeveloped tracts, without
having to import an additional person for every fifty acres. Partly
through this demand, impetus was given to the custom, which was not at
first sanctioned by law, to permit the granting of patents by simply
paying a fee in the secretary's office.

While the headright system was designed to maintain some proportion
between the population of the colony and the amount of land patented, it
was also designed to stimulate the migration of immigrants to the
colony. Therefore, under the system it was possible for individuals who
would engage in transporting or financing the transportation of
immigrants to obtain large areas of land. This trend was started under
the company; and in the four years prior to 1623, forty-four patents of
5,000 acres each were awarded to persons who were to transport at least
100 immigrants to the colony. In 1621, for example, 5,000 acres were
granted to Arthur Swain and Nathaniel Basse and a similar grant to
Rowland Truelove and "divers other patentees" each grant to be based on
the transportation of 100 persons; 15,000 acres were to go to Sir George
Yeardley for engaging to transport 300 persons.

For the years following the dissolution of the company, valuable
information of the nature and size of land grants can be found in the
"Virginia Land Patents" which fortunately have survived the usual
hazards of fire and carelessness. The two following tables (Tables I
and II) have been compiled from the analysis of the land patents by
Philip A. Bruce and summarized in his _Economic History of Virginia_
(volume I, pages 528-532).


    Year or years Average grant for  Largest grant for
                     the period        the period

    1626-1632      100-300 acres      1,000 acres
    1634               719 acres      5,350 acres
    1635               380 acres      2,000 acres
    1636               351 acres      2,000 acres
    1637               445 acres      5,350 acres
    1638               423 acres      3,000 acres
    1640               405 acres      1,300 acres
    1641               343 acres        872 acres
    1642               559 acres      3,000 acres
    1643               595 acres      4,000 acres
    1644               370 acres        670 acres
    1645               333 acres      1,090 acres
    1646               360 acres      1,200 acres
    1647               361 acres        650 acres
    1648               412 acres      1,800 acres
    1649               522 acres      3,500 acres
    1650               677 acres      5,350 acres


    Period of years   Average grant for  Number of largest grants
                         the period          for the period

    1650-1655           591 acres      1,000- 2,000 acres ( 92)
                                       2,000- 5,000 acres ( 41)
                                       5,000-10,000 acres (  3)
    1655-1666           671 acres      1,000- 2,000 acres (252)
                                       2,000- 5,000 acres (147)
                                       5,000-10,000 acres ( 20)
    1666-1679           890 acres      1,000- 2,000 acres (220)
                                       2,000- 5,000 acres (154)
                                       5,000-10,000 acres ( 25)
                                      10,000-20,000 acres ( 12)
    1679-1689           607 acres      1,000- 2,000 acres (143)
                                       2,000- 5,000 acres ( 66)
                                       5,000-10,000 acres ( 17)
                                      10,000-20,000 acres (  2)
    1689-1695           601 acres      1,000- 2,000 acres ( 63)
                                       2,000- 5,000 acres ( 23)
                                       5,000-10,000 acres (  7)
    1695-1700           688 acres      1,000- 2,000 acres ( 14)
                                       2,000- 5,000 acres ( 13)
                                       5,000-10,000 acres (  7)
                                             13,400 acres (  1)

    [Note: In compiling this table, two changes have been made to
    correct what seems clearly to be errors in Bruce's description.
    Forty-one grants were listed for 2,000-5,000 acres from 1650-1655
    rather than forty-one grants of 1,000-5,000 acres as noted by Bruce.
    The date 1685 listed in Bruce has been changed to 1689 to give the
    proper time period of 1689-1695.]

For the period from 1634 to 1650 included in Table I, there were
occasional grants of 5,000 acres, but the average size of the patents
for the period was not over 446 acres. It was possible, of course, for
one individual to build up a large landed estate by putting together
several smaller grants; and this was done by a limited number of persons
during the seventeenth century in Virginia as will be discussed later.
There was also the possibility that grants of considerable size in the
original patent might be broken up and distributed to others in smaller
amounts. In any case, the second half of the century as reflected in the
land patents saw a moderate increase in the size and number of large
grants as the population increased, and the average size for the land
patent of this period was 674 acres, an increase of 228 acres over the
period prior to 1650.

While the second half of the century witnessed this increase, much of it
came during the third quarter of the period. Near the end of the century
there was a definite trend to break up some of the larger patents into
smaller landholdings by sales to servants completing their indenture, by
distribution of land to children, or by sale because of an inadequate
labor supply either of slaves, indentured servants, tenant farmers, or
wage earners.

The existence of the small farm and the small farmer as a major part of
the socio-economic system of Virginia at the end of the seventeenth
century has been well established. Professor Wertenbaker suggested that
"a full 90 per cent of the freeholders" at the time the rent roll was
compiled in 1704/05 included the "sturdy, independent class of small
farmers." Through examination of land patents, land transfers, tax
rolls, and a sampling of other county records, he found substantial
evidence to corroborate the suggested trend of the breakup of a number
of large patents and their distribution to small freeholders.
Illustrative of this development was the land known as Button's Ridge in
Essex County. Originally including 3,650 acres, the tract was patented
to Thomas Button in 1666. The estate then passed first to the brother of
Button and later was sold to John Baker. Baker divided the large tract
and sold small amounts to the following people: 200 acres to Captain
William Moseley, 600 to John Garnet, 200 to Robert Foster, 200 to
William Smither, 200 to William Howlett, 300 to Anthony Samuell, and 200
to William Williams.

Professor Susie M. Ames in _Studies of the Virginia Eastern Shore in
the Seventeenth Century_ found evidence of the same trend by which
original land grants increased in size by the middle of the century and
reached its peak in the third quarter of the century. Near the end of
the period many of the larger tracts were being divided by wills
distributing them among children or by sales in smaller units. Much of
the land obtained by the first two generations on the Eastern Shore was
broken up into small holdings by the third. As stated by Professor
Ames, "It is the subtraction and division of acres, with only
occasionally any marked addition, that seems to be the chief
development in land tenure during the last quarter of the seventeenth

Even with the trend of dividing some of the large estates on the Eastern
Shore, a small per cent of the population held a considerable part of
the land. In 1703/04 the average size of landholding in Northampton
County was 389 acres, in Accomack 520 acres. When analyzed by use of the
list of tithables, Northampton County had twenty-one persons, only three
per cent of the tithables, holding thirty-nine per cent of the land;
Accomack County had a total of forty-six persons, only four per cent of
the tithables, holding forty-three per cent of the land.

Considering all of Virginia of the seventeenth century, one cannot say
that it was primarily a land of large plantations, of cavaliers, and of
noble manors which have been romanticized by some writers. Yet there was
a significant number of prominent planters who took an active part in
the social and political life of the colony and exerted an influence
disproportionate to their ratio of the population. Professor Wertenbaker
listed the following men among the prominent planters of the first half
of seventeenth-century Virginia--George Menefie, Richard Bennett, and
Richard Kinsman; for the second half of the century, a more extensive
list--Nathaniel Bacon, Sr., Thomas Ballard, Robert Beverley, Giles
Brent, Joseph Bridger, William Byrd I, John Carter, John Custis I,
Dudley Digges, William Fitzhugh, Lewis Burwell, Philip Ludwell I,
William Moseley, Daniel Parke, Ralph Wormeley, Benjamin Harrison, Edward
Hill, Edmund Jennings, and Matthew Page. Members of this group
accumulated large landholdings, mostly by original patent through the
headright system or by private purchase from holders of original
patents. For example, William Byrd I had obtained 26,231 acres of land
at the time of his death; and William Fitzhugh acquired during his
lifetime 96,000 acres of land and left at the time of his death in 1701
a little over 54,000 acres in family "seats" to five sons.

The land system and its administration that permitted the accumulation
of a few of these substantial plantations came under detailed discussion
by crown officials near the end of the seventeenth century. Before
examining this analysis of Virginia land policy, it will be helpful to
survey in the following chapter the major laws and the officials
responsible for their administration.


Royal Administration of Land Policy

Attempts at Reform

The issuing of land patents and the administration of laws concerning
land involved a variety of officials during the seventeenth century.
Under the company the authority to convey title to land rested after
1609 with the treasurer, the Council in London, and the association of
adventurers in England. The Governor and Council in the colony were
authorized as ministerial agents of the company to make grants, but
final approval was to be made at sessions of the quarter court of the
company in England. This last step, as previously noted, was seldom
completed. After dissolution of the company, the process of issuing
patents was simplified. Most grants were made under the headright claim
and followed the steps outlined in chapter three, involving the county
court, the secretary of the colony, the Governor and Council, and the
commissioned surveyors.

The office of surveyor existed under the company and William Claiborne,
who came to the colony in 1621, was the first to fill the position
effectively. As surveyor, Claiborne received the annual wage of thirty
pounds sterling which was to be paid either in tobacco or some other
comparable commodity with a good price on the English market. Surveyor
Claiborne also had the use of a house constructed by the company as well
as receiving the necessary equipment and books needed for his work.

Following the dissolution of the company in 1624, the office of
surveyor-general was established with a royal appointee who was charged
with the responsibility of maintaining the survey records and issuing
commissions to the surveyors of the colony. Some difficulty was
encountered in securing qualified and reliable men. This led during the
interregnum to a law in March, 1654/55, calling for the dismissal of
unqualified surveyors and placing the power of appointment in the hands
of the county court. After the restoration of Charles II to the throne,
the appointment of surveyors returned to the system of commissions from
the surveyor-general.

The amount for surveyors' fees was designated by the legislature at
various times. Ten pounds of tobacco for every 100 acres was specified
in 1624; in 1642 and again in 1646 the fee limit was raised to twenty
pounds of tobacco for measuring 100 acres of land with an additional
allowance of twelve pounds of tobacco for each day that the task
required the surveyor to be away from his home. If his transportation
could be only by water, the person employing him was required to assume
the expense of travel both to and from the location of the survey. In
1661/62 the allowance for each day away from home was increased to
thirty pounds of tobacco; and by the same law the surveyor was
authorized the same limit of twenty pounds of tobacco for running off
100 acres if the total was greater than 500, otherwise he was to receive
a minimum of 100 pounds of tobacco. Efforts to obtain capable, honest,
and conscientious appointees continued to be a problem. The need for
better surveyors and the decline of the tobacco prices led the Assembly
to double the previous fees. In 1666 forty pounds of tobacco was
stipulated for surveying 100 acres if the total was for 1,000 acres. If
less than 1,000, the allowance was 400 pounds of tobacco.

Commissioned surveyors were not at liberty to refuse reasonable requests
for surveys to be made, except in cases involving sickness or some other
impediment recognized as legal. The law of 1666 provided that anyone
violating this requirement was subject to a fine of 4,000 pounds of
tobacco; for charging excessive fees, the fine was 200 pounds of tobacco
that could be recovered in the Virginia courts.

Gabriel Hawley, Robert Evelyn, Thomas Loving, Edmund Scarborough, and
Alexander Culpeper served as surveyor-general with the last named having
Philip Ludwell as his deputy. Upon the chartering of the College of
William and Mary surveyors were appointed by the institution, and the
appointees were required to contribute to the trustees of the college
one-sixth of the fees of the office. The trustees were permitted to
delegate the appointments. Consequently in 1692 they designated Miles
Cary as surveyor-general, who was instructed to make the selection of
surveyors with the aid of a committee named by the trustees.

In addition to the fees of the surveyor, there were other charges that
were made from time to time in obtaining a patent in Virginia. Under the
company without a legal guide for the fees to be charged, the secretary
of the colony apparently demanded at times as much as twenty pounds of
tobacco or three pounds sterling when issuing a title for the individual
dividends of fifty or 100 acres. Leaders of the company considered this
fee unreasonable and took steps to prevent its collection.

Following the dissolution of the company, the Assembly set the fees of
the secretary regarding land patents along with other authorized
charges. In 1632 the secretary collected thirty pounds of tobacco for
issuing a patent plus two pounds for each sheet required to record the
document. In 1633 the fee for patents by the secretary was designated as
fifteen shillings which could be collected either in tobacco or corn
according to current price. Ten years later in 1643 the fee for a patent
was again listed in terms of tobacco at fifty pounds with six pounds
allowed for each recorded sheet. In lieu of four pounds of tobacco, the
secretary was authorized to receive money at the rate of twelve pence
for every four pounds of tobacco. At the March session of the
legislature in 1657/58, the secretary's fees were further raised to
eighty pounds of tobacco for issuing and recording a patent; thirty
pounds was set as the fee for supplying a copy of the patent later; and
fifteen pounds of tobacco was authorized for providing a certificate for
land. These same fees of 1657/58 were repeated by law in 1661/62.

The stamp of the seal of the colony was required during much of the
seventeenth century as the final step of approval for a patent, and
during most of the time no fee was charged for this. However, under the
governorship of Lord Howard which began in April, 1684, a charge of 200
pounds of tobacco was ordered for use of the seal for patents as well as
all public documents such as commissions and proclamations. The proceeds
from this fee were used by the Governor and were estimated by William
Fitzhugh to equal 100,000 pounds of tobacco each year. However, such
strong opposition was raised to the charge that it was dropped after

In addition to controversies over fees, there were many problems that
arose in seventeenth-century Virginia over surveys and the
identification of boundaries. Surveyors usually took the edge of a
stream, either a river or creek, as the base line of the survey and then
ran the boundaries for a specified distance along a line at right angle
to the base. Terminal points were laid out and witnessed by neighboring
owners with some distinguishing mark as a large stone or a tree with
three or four chops. In 1679 a question was called to the attention of
the Assembly as to the extent of the owner's rights along the water's
edge. The case arose over the complaint of Robert Liny that part of his
patent along the river had been cleared for fishing but the exercise of
his fishing rights had been hampered by trespassing individuals who
dragged their seines upon the river's edge, claiming that "The water was
the kings majesties ... and therefore equally free to all his majesties
subjects to fish in and hale their sceanes on shore...." In answer to
this complaint, the Assembly declared that the rights of the patent
holder extended into the stream as far as the low water mark, and any
person fishing or seining without permission within these bounds was
guilty of trespass.

More frequently problems arose as a result of defective surveys either
in the first line along the edge of the stream or in a second and third
line of patents that were laid out when all land along the streams had
been occupied. Some of the surveys were inaccurate because of the lack
of graduation on the compass; others were distorted by careless
surveyors selecting convenient terminal points such as a tree, a road,
or another stream and ignoring the accurate measurement of the line. As
early as 1623/24, the Assembly ordered that individual land dividends be
surveyed and the bounds recorded; and in case serious disputes arose
over conflicting boundaries, appeal could be made to the Governor and
Council. In an effort to prevent the holder of patents from having to
pay for more than one survey of the same grant, the Assembly in 1642/43
stated that surveys made by commissioned surveyors were considered valid
and bestowed full right of ownership without the necessity and expense
of new surveys. Such a provision did not, however, resolve the problem
that arose over errors made by commissioned surveyors, errors that may
have led a person in good faith to construct buildings on a plot that
was later determined to be a part of the patent of his neighbor. Several
cases having arisen over this situation, the Assembly in 1642/43 and
again in 1657/58 and 1661/62 provided that when one person had
unknowingly erected constructions on another person's land, the original
owner as shown by survey was to have the right to purchase the
improvements at a price fixed by a twelve-man jury. If the amount proved
too great for the original owner, then the person seating the land by
mistake was to have the option of purchasing the land at a price set by
the jury for its value before seating occurred. Beginning with the
1657/58 statement of the law, no consideration was to be given if
construction had been made after legal warning had been given to desist.

Other legislation was designed to minimize the number of cases of this
type that would arise. One provision made in 1646 required the person
claiming to be the original owner of the land to file suit against his
encroaching neighbor within five years for removal; otherwise possession
of the land for five years without contest would prevent recovery by the
original claimant. The law exempted orphans from the above provision and
permitted them a five-year period after coming of age. A later enactment
in 1657/58 repeated the provision on orphans and added to the exemption
married women and persons of unsound mind. A second provision designed
to prevent quarrels among neighbors required a person holding patent to
land adjacent to a proposed grant to show the boundaries of his property
within twelve months; otherwise the latest grant as surveyed would be
valid and would take precedence over the old patent.

But these various laws did not prevent "contentious suites" from arising
because of defective surveys when the lines were first run or because
the restriction against resurveys did not resolve the boundary disputes.
Conflicts continued if the surveyor had been negligent in marking
clearly the boundaries, or if lines had become indistinct by the chops
in trees filling out, by piles of stones being scattered, or by trees
being removed. To prevent "the inconvenience of clandestine surveigh,"
the Assembly in 1661/62 enacted the law of processioning. By this
provision the members of each community were to "goe in procession" once
every four years to examine and renew, if necessary, the boundary lines.
Boundaries acknowledged by the procession as correct were conclusive and
prohibited later claims to change them. If controversy arose over the
line, the two surveyors accompanying the party were to run the line
anew, disputes were to be equitably settled, and the line so laid out to
be final. For administration of processioning, the county court was to
order the vestry to divide each parish into as many precincts as
necessary, and the time set in 1661/62 for processioning was between
Easter and Whitsunday (seventh Sunday or fiftieth day after Easter). The
time was changed in 1691 to the months from September to March as a more
convenient period. To assure enforcement of the law, provisions for
penalties were included--1,200 pounds of tobacco for any vestry not
ordering the processioning and 350 pounds of tobacco for individuals who
failed to participate without good reason.

Still other problems concerning land patents related to two important
conditions stipulated for perfection of the title to land--the first,
"seating and planting," and the second, the collection of a quitrent.
With the exception of some of the early grants, the patents of
seventeenth-century Virginia required "seating and planting" of the
tract within three years. As shown in the form used by Governor William
Berkeley during the 1660's, if the patentee "His heirs or assignes doe
not seate or plant or cause to be planted or seated on the sayd land
within three years next ensueing, then it shall be lawful for any
adventurer or planter to make choyse or seate thereupon." The time limit
was extended as the exigency demanded. Because of losses from the Indian
massacre of 1644, of the shortage of corn, and of the need for
additional servants, the Assembly ruled that persons affected by the
massacre were permitted three additional years to comply with the
requirement for "seating and planting." Following the Indian
disturbances of Bacon's Rebellion, the time period for plantations that
were attacked was extended to seven years from the date the Assembly
passed the act in 1676/77.

Generally speaking, however, the requirement for "seating and planting"
was not carried out effectively, and there was little forfeiture because
of noncompliance. In 1657/58 the Assembly recognized the right for
patents to be issued on order of the Governor and Council for land
"deserted for want of planting within the time of three yeeres." But
even if such forfeiture did occur, the original patent holder was
authorized to take up additional land elsewhere in the colony without
complying with the headright requirement. And it was not until 1666 that
the Assembly gave a definition for "seating and planting" in the
declaration that "Building an house and keeping a stock one whole yeare
upon the land shall be accounted seating; and that cleering, tending and
planting an acre of ground shall be accounted planting." Either one or
the other fulfilled the condition for the patent, and throughout the
seventeenth century there was no relation between the size of the tract
and the amount of improvement required. The minimum performance
satisfied the law. Therefore, either the building of a small cabin,
putting a few cattle or a few hogs on the tract for a year, or planting
as little as an acre of ground--any one of the three protected the

For most of the patents issued, this requirement presented little
problem because the owner was interested in settling and improving his
holdings. Violation of the provision was most likely to come in the case
of land speculators who had taken up large tracts or in the case of
landholders who were interested in acquiring adjacent tracts for the
purpose of grazing or for forest supply. In the case of the latter,
there was some question whether the requirement applied to adjacent
tracts; but the Assembly in 1692 declared that tracts added to an
original patent must be seated and planted as the law provided for other

To a considerable extent there was the same attitude toward the
requirement for "seating and planting" as has been noted previously for
obtaining patent by headright. Light regard for the spirit of the law
and at times the letter of the law came in part as a result of the
unlimited expanse of land that tempted the established settler as well
as the newcomer. Evasion of the law cast no stigma upon the offender,
and some who were aware of their neighbor's dereliction winked at the
action, thinking perhaps that they too might sometime engage in the same
practice. Furthermore, the necessity of the provision for "seating and
planting" which was well founded for the early years of the colony
decreased in significance as the population and occupied areas of
Virginia increased.

The second condition for perfection of title to land--payment of a
quitrent--likewise had a checkered career in the seventeenth century.
Under the company there is some question whether quitrents were due. It
is clear that "the greate charter" of 1618 in order to encourage
immigration exempted for seven years settlers who were taking up land by
headright. For planters settled before 1616 at the expense of the
company, it seems that they would have been free of paying the quitrent
only for a seven-year period which would have required compliance before
dissolution of the company. Settlers who arrived in Virginia after
Dale's departure in 1616 and before 1618 would most probably have been
subject to the quitrent under the company since they were exempt for
only seven years. Whatever the case, there were rents to be collected
before 1624 as shown by the duties of George Sandys, younger brother of
Sir Edwin Sandys and first appointee to the office of treasurer in
Virginia. Sandys was instructed to collect some £1,000 owed the company
either as rent or as dues.

When Virginia became a royal colony in 1624, the quitrents were then
payable at the rate of one shilling for every fifty acres patented. For
1631 the estimate was made by the Assembly that the quitrents would
bring in as much as 2,000 pounds sterling, if paid. But little effort
was being made to collect the rent and it was not until 1636 that Jerome
Hawley was appointed treasurer. His arrival in the colony the following
year initiated plans for collection. Proceeds from this source of
revenue were to be used for the treasurer's salary; any surplus amount
was to be used at the discretion of the Assembly. In order to determine
who owed the rent, instructions were issued to landholders in Virginia
to show their land titles to the treasurer in order that he could
compute the rents that were due. But little action was taken and it
seems certain that not enough was collected to pay the salary of the
treasurer. In 1639 additional provisions were stipulated by the Assembly
to tighten the quitrent collection by requiring landholders upon summon
by warrant to reveal their title and the size of their estates to
commissioners of the county courts. Following the precedent of "the
greate charter" of 1618, no rents were to be paid until the expiration
of seven years. This provision continued in effect under Charles I and
during the interregnum, but the time limit was retracted in the
instructions to Governor William Berkeley under Charles II. The
retraction was confirmed under James II, the major reason being that it
encouraged individuals to take up larger areas of land than they were
able to cultivate.

Collection of quitrents, however, continued to lag and around 1646 no
more than 500 pounds sterling was being collected. The treasurer
appealed to the Assembly which acknowledged that "There is and hath been
great neglect in the payment of the quitt rent." Consequently the
Assembly in 1647 authorized the treasurer to levy a distress upon the
property of delinquent taxpayers. The delinquent was permitted, if
providing security, to retain his goods under replevin and to have a
hearing before either a county court or the Governor and Council for
final disposition of the case. Such a measure, however, was not
effective against land not seated and planted, for the land itself was
not to be seized; and a similar handicap prevailed against absentee
owners as far as action by the treasurer was concerned.

Assistance in collection of quitrents was provided by the sheriff who
was designated as the recipient of payments for each county with the fee
of ten per cent of the collections being allowed him. Using the patent
rolls of his office, both past and current, as a guide, the sheriff
collected the rent and turned it over to the auditor of the colony. The
rent was received either in coin or in tobacco as the law provided from
time to time. In 1661, for example, persons unable to pay in coin were
permitted by law to pay in tobacco at the rate of two pence per pound.
But there was considerable controversy over the nature of the payment,
and King James II ordered the repeal of the earlier act because of the
poor quality of tobacco being submitted. After the overthrow of the King
in 1688/89, the collection of quitrents continued for the most part in
tobacco at the rate of one penny per pound.

In 1671 the privilege of collecting and using the quitrents was granted
to Colonel Henry Norwood, who had supported faithfully the King and the
royal cause during the civil war. Two years later the quitrents were
given to Lords Arlington and Culpeper, including collections that might
be made of rents in arrears. Protests from Virginia of these grants
forced the revocation of the special gifts in 1684, although Culpeper
retained the right to the quitrents in the Northern Neck.

Collection of quitrents at various times was farmed out to members of
the Council and to the Governor, with the Councilor concerned usually
taking the counties near his own residence. In 1665, for example,
Governor William Berkeley assumed the collection in James City and Surry
counties; Colonel Miles Cary, in Warwick and Elizabeth City counties;
Nathaniel Bacon, Sr., for York County, the Isle of Wight, and the
southern part of New Kent; and similar designations for other members of
the Council. In 1699, however, the Council ordered William Byrd, auditor
of the colony, to sell the quitrents of each county to any individual at
the price of one penny per pound of tobacco and on the condition that
the usual payment would be made to the sheriff for receiving the rent.

While some improvement was made in the last half of the seventeenth
century in the collection of quitrents, the sum was never very great;
and according to one report in 1696 no land had been taken over by the
colony because of failure to pay the rent. As to the amount being
collected near the end of the century, the figure was not impressive.
For the period of six years between 1684 and 1690, the estimate has been
made that receipts totalled £4,375 13s. 9d. or a little over £700 as an
average for each year during this period. The figure was little changed
near the end of the century, for it was reported in 1697 that the amount
collected from quitrents did not total more than £800.

These weaknesses and abuses of the Virginia land system underwent a
detailed analysis near the end of the seventeenth century by the newly
created agency--the Lords Commissioners of Trade and Plantations which
was commonly known as the Board of Trade. During the first year of its
organization in 1696 the Board received a report from Edward Randolph,
sent from England to be surveyor-general of customs in America. Randolph
pondered the question as to why the colony of Virginia was not more
densely populated with all of the migration that had occurred. He
attributed little importance to the imputation of "the unhealthiness of
the place" and to the assertion that tobacco sales yielded little return
in England after all fees were paid. In an incisive statement he
concluded that

    ... the chief and only reason is that the inhabitants have been and
    still are discouraged and hindered from planting tobacco in that
    colony; and servants are not so willing to go there as formerly
    because the members of Council and others who make an interest in
    the government have from time to time procured grants of very large
    tracts of land, so that for many years there has been no waste land
    to be taken up by those who bring with them servants, or by servants
    who have served their time. But the land has been taken up and
    engrossed beforehand, whereby such people are forced to hire and pay
    rent for lands or to go to the utmost bounds of the colony for land
    exposed to danger....

Randolph then reviewed the steps by which a land patent was obtained and
analyzed the conditions which a person was supposed to fulfill in order
to obtain the land title in fee simple. The first of these was the
requirement for the annual quitrent of one shilling for fifty acres; but
according to Randolph, the colonists "never pay a penny of quit-rent to
the King for it, by which in strictness of law their land is forfeited."
The second requirement was for seating the land within three years to
prevent it from being relinquished as deserted land. The following
description was given of this condition:

    By seating land is meant that they build a house upon and keep a
    good stock of hogs and cattle, and servants to take care of them and
    to improve and plant the land. But instead thereof, they cut down a
    few trees and make thereof a hut, covering it with the bark, and
    turn two or three hogs into the woods by it. Or else they are to
    clear one acre of that land and plant and tend it for one year. But
    they fell twenty or thirty trees and put a little Indian corn into
    the ground among them as they lie and sometimes make a beginning to
    serve it, but take no care of their crop, nor make any further use
    of the land.

The third condition pertained to the keeping of "four able men well
armed" on land that was situated on the frontier of the colony. Again
Randolph reported that

    ... this law is never observed. These grants are procured upon such
    easy terms and very often upon false certificates of rights. Many
    hold twenty or thirty thousand acres of land apiece, very largely
    surveyed, without paying one penny of quit-rent for it. In many
    patents there is double the quantity of land expressed in the
    patent, whereby some hundred thousand acres of land are taken up but
    not planted, which drives away the inhabitants and servants brought
    up only to planting to seek their fortunes in Carolina and other
    places, which depopulates the country and prevents the making of
    many thousand hogsheads of tobacco, to the great diminution of the

Three proposals were submitted to the Board of Trade by Randolph to
correct the evils of the land system: first, order a survey in every
Virginia county of the lands in question; second, demand full payment of
all quitrents in arrears and use legal compulsion to collect them; and
third, limit grants to 500 acres for one man and have them issued on
"more certain terms." Such requirements would produce threefold
advantages to the crown and the colony. They would either bring in
additional revenue by collection of the quitrent; or if payment were not
made, approximately 100,000 acres of land would revert to the King and
could be granted to new settlers. Limitation of grants to 500 acres
would increase the number of planters, make settlements more compact,
and produce more tobacco. And finally, both trade and the customs
collection on tobacco would be enhanced.

Before concluding his report, Randolph acknowledged both the awareness
of the problem and the efforts of correction initiated by Francis
Nicholson while Lieutenant-Governor of Virginia from 1690 to 1692.
Nicholson was

    ... very sensible of the damage and injustice done to the crown by
    their using and conniving at such unwarrantable practices in
    granting away the King's lands, and was resolved to reform them by
    suing some of the claimers for arrears of quit-rents; but finding
    that the Council and many of the Burgesses, among others, were
    concerned, and being uncertain of his continuing in the government,
    he ordered to begin with Laurence Smyth, who was seised of many
    thousand acres of land in different counties, and for one particular
    tract of land was indebted £80 for arrears of quit-rents, which sum
    after the cause was ripe for judgment, was compounded for less than
    one half.

Before the year was out, the Board of Trade sought more information on
this problem and directed a series of searching questions in October,
1696, to Randolph who had then returned to England. Both the questions
and the answers are recorded in the _Calendar of State Papers, Colonial
Series, America and West Indies_, 1696-1697 (pages 172, 188-89). Out of
the ten questions asked, the following seem most significant in
revealing Randolph's evaluation of the Virginia land system.

    What proportion of land in Virginia already taken up is now
    cultivated as near as you can judge?

    There is in Virginia, at a moderate computation, about 500,000 acres
    granted by patents, of which not above 40,000 acres are cultivated
    and improved; besides many thousand acres of waste land high up in
    the country.

    Why have not the prosecutions, neglected in Colonel Nicholson's
    time, been continued since?

    Colonel Nicholson was the first Governor of Virginia who directed
    prosecutions for arrears of quit-rents, beginning with Colonel
    Laurence Smith. The case was ready for trial but the Governor came
    to England, and the case was afterwards compounded for a small

    Have any parcels of land been seized for the King's use, for want of
    planting or failure to pay quit-rents?

    Small parcels of land are granted away every court for not being
    planted or seated according to law, but no land has at any time been
    seized to the King's use for not paying of quit-rents.

    Are negro servants included in the persons who, if imported, make
    "rights" to grant of land. [?]

    Negro servants give a right to land to those who import them, who
    thereupon take up land, contrary to the true intention of seating
    the country; but the practice being general, to the advantage of
    certain persons, no notice is taken of it.

    Have you ever known of false certificates of rights, and how have
    the parties guilty thereof been punished?

    I have heard of many false certificates of rights; the practice is
    common but little regarded, being of no prejudice to any private

    If your methods be followed, in what county should a beginning be

    ... if my proposals were adopted, I answer that the members of
    Council have large tracts of land in most of the counties, for which
    they are in great arrears of quit-rent. It is advisable to make a
    beginning with some of them and to empower a person uninterested in
    the county to demand the arrears due to the King. These will amount
    to a considerable sum and will increase the King's revenue in
    Virginia yearly. If the patentees refuse to pay the arrears, some
    hundred thousand acres of land will revert to the crown, to be more
    carefully disposed of in future.

The Board of Trade continued the search for additional opinions about
the land system in Virginia. Questions were asked individually of Henry
Hartwell, a Councilor of Virginia, and Edward Chilton, Attorney-General
in Virginia from 1691 to 1694. Then Hartwell and Chilton collaborated
with James Blair, Councilor and Commissary of the Anglican Church in
Virginia, in preparing a report that was received by the Board in
October, 1697, under the title _An Account of the Present State &
Government of Virginia_. The three authors of the report were English
or Scottish born and represented essentially the same point of view of
royal appointees who became residents of the colony and who favored an
extensive use of royal authority. All three had married into Virginia
families and had had numerous occasions for observation. The report
reflected a greater concern for royal revenue than for the internal
development of the colony, and it definitely displayed the bias of the
three men, particularly Blair, against Governor Andros.

Their comments on the land system confirmed some of the conditions as
set forth by Randolph's report. Stating that the country was "ill
peopled" despite the headright system, they explained that "The first
great abuse of this design arose from the ignorance and knavery of
surveyors, who often gave out drafts of surveys without even coming on
the land. They gave their descripton [sic] by some natural bounds and
were sure to allow large measure, that so the persons for whom they
surveyed should enjoy much larger tracts than they paid quit-rents
for." The issuing of certificates for rights by the courts and
secretary's office had been abused, especially the latter "which was
and still is a constant mint of those rights, where they may be
purchased at from one shilling to five shillings _per_ right." And in
another criticism of the land system, the authors concluded that the
"Fundamental error of letting the King's land run away to lie waste,
together with another of not seating in townships, is the cause that
Virginia to-day is so ill peopled."

The Board of Trade considered reforms to correct the existing evils of
the land system. Questions about these evils were posed to Sir Edmund
Andros, Governor of Virginia from 1692 to 1698; but his answers were
either evasive or otherwise unsatisfactory. Francis Nicholson was then
returned to the colony as Governor in 1698 with instructions for a "new
method of granting land in Virginia." To prevent land from being
patented without being cultivated, to encourage trade, and to increase
royal revenue, land title was not to be obtained "by merely importing or
buying of servants"; rather anyone who would seat and plant vacant lands
was to receive 100 acres for himself and the same amount for each
laborer that was brought in or for whom arrangements were made for
importation within three years. The annual quitrent was to be two
shillings for 100 acres provided the full number of laborers were
brought in within the three-year period; if, however, full compliance
had not been made, ten shillings was to be paid annually for each 100
acres for which there was no worker or the size of the grant was to be
reduced proportionally. On the other hand, if the number of laborers,
including members of the family, was increased beyond the original
number proposed, the owner was entitled to an additional 100 acres for
each extra worker.

Governor Nicholson was instructed to "consider and advise with the
Council and Assembly" about putting these proposals into effect and
about overcoming any difficulties that might exist because of the
current laws of the colony. But instructions to the royal Governor was
one thing; putting these instructions into effect was quite another.
Neither the Council nor the Burgesses were willing to grapple directly
with land reform and no action was taken by the two bodies to implement
the recommendations of the Board of Trade. Governor Nicholson on his own
ordered that no more headrights be issued for the importation of
Negroes. As to the sale of headrights by the secretary's office which
Nicholson found to be still prevalent, the practice was not eliminated
completely. As a substitute measure which arose over the problem of land
taken up in Pamunkey Neck and on the south side of Blackwater Swamp, the
Governor and Council in 1699 authorized the acquisition of land by
"treasury right," stating that title to fifty acres of land would be
granted for the payment of five shillings sterling to the auditor. Thus
during the terminal year of this study, we find the significant
reappearance of sale of land by "treasury right" which increased in
importance as the eighteenth century progressed. Grant by headright
continued immediately to account for the great majority of land patents
issued, but after the first quarter of the eighteenth century it
gradually fell into disuse.

Being unable to inaugurate the proposed plan for land reform of the
Board of Trade, Nicholson turned to the improvement of collection of
quitrents as the most feasible means of achieving the approximate goal.
Payment of rent was an acknowledged requirement, even though frequently
evaded in the seventeenth century; and Nicholson proposed a stringent
collection of quitrents in arrears in order to force the return of
unused land to be patented by others who would actually occupy and
cultivate the vacant areas. Improvements were made in the sale of
tobacco received as quitrents, and the rent roll of 1704/05 was an
improvement over previous ones. Yet many loopholes still existed in the
system, and Nicholson's attempts to make further reforms were hindered
by the arguments that ensued with leading Councilors. His second term as
executive for Virginia came to an end in 1705.


The Northern Neck

Before completing this study of seventeenth-century land grants, a brief
analysis will be made of the nature of the land system in the Northern
Neck with some attention given to the major ways in which it differed
from the remainder of Virginia. The included area reached from the
Potomac River south to the Rappahannock River and from the headwaters of
these two streams in the western part of the colony to Chesapeake Bay.

The separate provision for the area went back to the days of exile in
France of Charles II following the execution of Charles I in 1649. As a
reward to those cavaliers who had been faithful to the Stuart regime,
Charles II exercised his royal prerogative by making a grant of the
portions of tidewater Virginia that were not seated. In the year of the
execution the Northern Neck was granted to the following seven
supporters of the King: Lord John Culpeper, Lord Ralph Horton, Lord
Henry Jermyn, Sir John Berkeley, Sir William Morton, Sir Dudley Wyatt,
and Thomas Culpeper. Efforts of the representatives of this group were
frustrated in Virginia by the suspension of royal government, and
therefore the proprietary charter was ineffective for a time. It had,
however, been recorded in chancery in 1649 and was revived after the
restoration of Charles II to the throne. In 1662 and again in 1663
Charles II ordered the Governor and Council of Virginia to assist the
proprietors in "settling the plantations and receiving the rents and
profits thereof." But portions of the area had been seated since 1645,
and legal obstructions were brought forth by Virginia planters and the
Council to defeat the efforts of the proprietors.

A second appeal to the King led to a solution maneuvered in part by the
Virginia resident agent in London, Francis Moryson. The original patent
of 1649 was surrendered and a new charter was issued on May 8, 1669, to
the Earl of St. Albans, Lord John Berkeley, Sir William Morton, and John
Trethewy. The new document required the recognition of grants in the
Northern Neck made by the Governor and Council prior to September 29,
1661, and it limited the title of the proprietors to that land which
would be planted and inhabited within twenty-one years. The political
jurisdiction of the area was still under the Virginia government. The
laws of the colony were to remain operative, and in effect the grant was
"to create a subordinate fief or proprietorship within Virginia." But
considerable confusion prevailed over the retroactive recognition of
grants, and many landholders sought confirmation of their ownership.
"Besides there are many other grants," stated Governor William Berkeley,
"in that patent inconsistent with the settlednesse of this government
which hath no barr to its prosperitie but proprieties on both hands, and
therefore is it mightily wounded in this last, nor have I ever observed
anything so much move the peoples' griefe or passion, or which doth more
put a stop to theire industry than their uncertainty whether they should
make a country for the King or other proprietors."

The confusion that existed was further confounded by the grant of
Charles II on February 25, 1672/73, of all of Virginia for thirty-one
years to Lord Arlington and to Lord Thomas Culpeper, son of one of the
original patentees of the Northern Neck by the same name. These two
proprietors of the whole colony were to control all lands, collect
rents, including all rents and profits in arrears since 1669, and
exercise authority that sprang from grants previously made. Up until
1669 amid all the controversy over control of the Northern Neck, grants
were regularly made by the local government on the basis of headrights
as revealed in the land patent books. After that date the number
decreased; and in March, 1674/75, the first land grant of 5,000 acres,
later George Washington's Mount Vernon, was issued to Nicholas Spencer
and John Washington of Westmoreland in the name of the proprietors with
the common seal being affixed to the grant by Thomas Culpeper and
Anthony Trethewy. By this date Thomas Culpeper had obtained from the
proprietors of 1669 recognition of one-sixth interest in the Northern
Neck for him and his cousin on the basis of their fathers having been
original patentees.

Opposition to the proprietary grant of the Northern Neck in Virginia led
to efforts of the Assembly, encouraged by Governor William Berkeley, to
buy out the rights of the proprietors. Apparently the proprietors were
willing to sell and set the price of £400 each for the six shares then
held in the charter. Negotiations to complete the transaction were
interrupted by the outbreak of Bacon's Rebellion, and the status of the
proprietary grant hung in suspension. Meanwhile, Thomas, Lord Culpeper
was appointed Governor of Virginia but did not arrive in the colony
until 1680. The next year Culpeper bought up the proprietary rights in
Virginia, both the rights of the other proprietors in the Northern Neck
and the rights of Lord Arlington for all of Virginia. In 1684, however,
he gave up the Arlington charter of 1673 to the crown in return for an
annual pension of £600 for twenty-one years.

Lord Culpeper retained the Northern Neck charter and made efforts to
encourage settlement of the area. But the terminal date of the
twenty-one year period stipulated in the charter of 1669 was
approaching, and he appealed for a renewal of the grant on the basis
that the amount of land intended by Charles II had not been taken up.
Considering the restriction an impracticable one, King James II issued a
new charter in 1688 with Lord Culpeper as the sole proprietor and with
no time limit specified. Through changes and additions prompted by
Culpeper's knowledge of Virginia's geography, the area of the grant
included in the Northern Neck was substantially enlarged over the
boundaries stated in the previous charters of 1649 and 1669, the
additions later being interpreted as extending Culpeper's claim beyond
the Blue Ridge Mountains to the foot of the Alleghenies. The area as
outlined in 1688 was as follows with the additions to the former
descriptions shown in italics:

    All that entire tract, territory or parcel of land situate, lying
    and being _in Virginia_ in America and bounded by and within the
    _first_ heads or _springs_ of the rivers of Tappanhannocke alias
    Rappahanocke and Quiriough alias Patawomacke Rivers, the courses of
    the said rivers, _from their said first heads or springs_, as they
    are commonly called and known by the inhabitants and descriptions
    of those parts, and the Bay of Chesapoyocke, together with the said
    rivers themselves and all the islands within the _outermost_ banks
    thereof, _and the soil of all and singular the premisses_.

Soon after receiving this third charter, Lord Culpeper died on January
27, 1688/89. Despite efforts that were again made by the colony to
eliminate the proprietary grant, it was confirmed to Culpeper's
survivors and passed by marriage to the Fairfax family.

After the 1669 charter, the proprietors opened an office in the colony
and an agent was designated to handle land grants and collect fees. The
scant records that survive indicate that from 1670 to 1673, Thomas
Kirton was agent in the land office in Northumberland; from 1673 to
1677, William Aretkin was appointed the proprietor's "agent in
Virginia"; and from 1677 to 1689, Daniel Parke and Nicholas Spencer were
agents in the land office in Westmoreland.

Beginning in 1690 land patents in the Northern Neck were entered
separately and the grant books that have survived give a good account of
the land policy under the proprietors. Philip Ludwell served as agent
from 1690 to 1693 and began an orderly handling of the proprietor's
interest at the land office in Westmoreland. Throughout his term as
agent he used a form for land grants in establishing his authority which
reviewed a part of the checkered history of the Northern Neck. The
introductory portion of this form was as follows:

    _Whereas_ King Charles the Seacond of ever blessed memory by his
    letters pattents under the broad seale of England beareing date at
    Westminister the eighth day of May in the one and twentyeth yeare
    of his reigne Annoqe Dom. 1669, His Matie was gratiously pleased to
    give graunt and confirme unto Henry then Earle of St. Albons, John
    Lord Berkley, Sir William Morton, Knt., & John Trethewy, Esqr.,
    there heires & assignes all that intire tract territory or parcell
    of land lyinge & being betweene the two rivers of Rapah. and
    Patomack and the courses of the said rivers and the Bay of
    Chesapeake, as by the said graunts, recourse beinge had there unto,
    will more at large appeare, and

    _Whereas_ all the rite and title of in and to the said lands &
    premisses is by deed enrold and other suffentient conveyance in law
    conveyed and made over to Thomas Lord Culpeper, eldest sonn & heire
    of John late Lord Culpeper, his heires & assignes for ever, who is
    thereby become sole owner and propriator of the said land in fee
    symple, and

    _Whereas_ Kinge James the Seacond hath beene gratiously pleased by
    his letters pattents bearinge date at Westminister the 27th day of
    September 1688, and in the fourth yeare of his Maties. reigne, to
    confirme the said graunt for the said tract or parcell of land to
    the said Thomas Lord Culpeper his heires & assignes for ever, as by
    the said graunt, relation beinge there unto had, will more at large

    _And_ the said Thomas Lord Culpeper he beinge since deceased all
    the rite title and interest of in and to the said tract of land
    lawfully desendinge on the Honorble. Mrs. Katherine Culpeper sole
    daughter and heire of the said Thomas late Lord Culpeper, and
    Allexander Culpeper Esqr. who cometh in part propriator by lawfull
    conveyance from Thomas late Lord Culpeper, and confirmed by the
    said Mrs. Katherine Culpeper, who are thereby now become the true
    and lawfull propriators of the said tract or territory, and

    _Whereas_ the said propriators have thought fitt under there hands
    & seales to depute me Phillip Ludwell Esqr. with full power and
    authority to act in the prmisses. persuant to the powers granted by
    there said Maties. as fully & amply to all intents & purposes as
    they the said propriators them selves might or could doe if they
    were personally present,

    NOW KNOW YEE therefore....

    The provisions in the fourth paragraph above designating Mrs.
    Katherine Culpeper and Alexander Culpeper as "the true and lawfull
    propriators" were obsolete after the former married Lord Fairfax
    while Ludwell was still agent. By law the husband also became a
    proprietor and should have been added to the list. This omission was
    corrected by George Brent and William Fitzhugh, the two agents who
    succeeded Ludwell in 1693 and continued to serve during the 1690's
    in the land office at Woodstock in Stafford County. In a much
    simplified form, Brent and Fitzhugh merely listed the proprietors
    including the husband as follows:

    Margarett Lady Culpeper, Thomas Lord Fairfax, Katherine his wife
    and Alexander Culpeper Esquire, proprietors of the Northern Neck
    of Virginia....

The grants made by the various agents of the proprietors in the Northern
Neck were not substantially different in nature from those held under a
Virginia land patent. Both tenures reflected the feudal law of the
manor. The proprietors held their land in free and common socage, and
the planters in the Northern Neck paid quitrents and fees to the
proprietors rather than to the crown.

While the nature of the tenure was similar, there was a marked
difference in the methods of obtaining a grant. Instead of the headright
which we have seen was the basis for Virginia land grants during most of
the seventeenth century, the proprietors turned to what they considered
the more practical procedure--acquisition of title by purchase, or the
"treasury right." To obtain title to land the individual paid a
"composition" which was established at a uniform rate. For each 100
acres in grants less than 600, the price was five shillings; for 100
acres in grants more than 600, the price was increased to ten shillings.
Payment was permitted in tobacco which was valued at the rate of six
shillings for every 100 pounds in 1690. Such a provision could permit
the acquisition of large holdings without the manipulations that were
practiced under the headright system.

In the provision for quitrents, the two areas were similar. The amount
of the quitrent in the Northern Neck was the same as elsewhere in
Virginia--two shillings annually for 100 acres. Under agents Brent and
Fitzhugh one exception occurred with the attempt in 1694 to double the
quitrent and thereby maintain the same scale as was customary in
Maryland at the time. But few grants have been found to indicate the
agents succeeded to any extent in establishing the higher rate.

Relative to requirements for seating to validate the claim, the two
areas followed a different course as the seventeenth century progressed.
We have previously noted the three-year "seating and planting"
requirement for other Virginia patents. Similar provisions were included
in the first proprietary grants as revealed in the earliest patent in
1675. But beginning with the grant for Brent Town in 1687, the seating
requirement was omitted and this precedent was followed for all
subsequent proprietary grants in the Northern Neck in the seventeenth
and eighteenth centuries.

For the seventeenth century under consideration in this study, there was
considerable private and public animosity displayed toward the
principles of the proprietary system. There was a distrust of the grants
that were issued, and there was criticism of the proprietary system as
it differed from the remainder of Virginia. Demand for land in the area
was not as great; and with the exception of large holdings such as that
of William Fitzhugh, most of the patents were small. It was not until
the eighteenth century that public antipathy toward the proprietors was
for the most part dispelled and that demands on the Northern Neck land
offices increased to equal other areas in Virginia.


The availability of land was a leading motive in the European
colonization of America. Although much of the country was inhabited by
Indians, European nations claimed sovereignty over the area and denied
superior claims by the non-Christian aborigines. The London Company held
essentially to this position, although gradually the colony of Virginia,
like other English colonies, recognized the Indian's right of occupation
and provided some compensation for relinquishment of territory. By the
middle of the seventeenth century Virginia had initiated the policy of
laying out Indian boundaries or creating reservations for neighboring
tribes that were not open to white settlement.

Under the London Company land was held in common until the provision for
distribution to individual stockholders was carried out after 1616. In
addition to grants according to the number of shares of stock owned, the
company rewarded individuals with land for special services rendered to
the colony. And to stimulate immigration, grants were offered as
dividends to voluntary associations or "societies of adventurers" for
organizing and financing settlements such as the hundred or particular
plantations. It was also possible to obtain patents by purchase or by
"treasury right" under the company, but the most significant development
was the provision for acquisition by headright as outlined in the
Instructions to Governor George Yeardley in 1618.

With the dissolution of the company in 1624, the "treasury right" was
discontinued in Virginia and did not reappear other than in the Northern
Neck until 1699. The major method of obtaining title to land was the
headright which attempted to maintain an appropriate balance between the
size of the population and the area patented. However, its basic concept
was distorted by irregular practices and fraudulent acts. Other
conditions for obtaining patents after 1624 were as a dividend for each
share of stock invested in the company, as remuneration for special
services, and as a means of encouraging frontier fortification.

The size of land patents gradually increased during the seventeenth
century with the peak being reached in the third quarter. During the
last quarter of the period there was a definite trend toward the breakup
of large estates by distribution to heirs and by sale of small segments
of the larger patent. Whatever the variation in size, the small
landholder constituted the major group in seventeenth-century Virginia
and assumed a more important role in the socio-economic pattern of the
colony than is evident from the descriptions of plantation life by
romantic writers.

By the end of the seventeenth century the use of the headright as the
major means of land distribution began to give way to acquisition of
title by purchase in all of Virginia other than the Northern Neck. For
the Northern Neck which was granted to various proprietors who were
faithful to the King during the civil war, the headright never served as
the basis of the land system. Rather the distribution of land by the
"treasury right" was employed in the seventeenth as well as the
eighteenth century.

The abuses of the land system and lax enforcement of its major
principles brought forth a detailed discussion of its many facets by the
Board of Trade near the end of the century. Reforms were proposed that
would enhance the royal revenue by collection of the quitrent and would
prevent the accumulation of large estates. But the existence of vast
areas of unoccupied land on the frontier militated against the
restriction, and there was considerable opposition to feudal tenures and
to the payment of rents to the crown. The proposed reforms did not
prevent the acquisition of large landholdings; the few large estates of
the seventeenth century increased both in number and size in the
eighteenth century and from them were developed the large plantations of
some of the well-known Virginia leaders of the American Revolution.



    Virginia Land Patents. Forty-two volumes. Records of the Virginia
    State Land Office now in the custody of the Virginia State Library,
    Richmond. Indispensable source for the study of land grants in
    Colonial Virginia. Nine volumes cover the period to 1706 with two
    additional volumes for the Northern Neck beginning in 1690: Northern
    Neck Grants No. 1, 1690-1692 and Northern Neck Grants No. 2,

    Thomas Jefferson Papers. Alderman Library, University of Virginia,


    Brown, Alexander, ed., _The Genesis of the United States_, New
    York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1890. 2 vols.

    Force, Peter, ed., _Tracts and Other Papers Relating Principally to
    the Origin Settlement and Progress of the Colonies in North
    America, from the Discovery of the Country to the Year 1776_,
    Washington, D.C., 1836-1846. 4 vols.

    Grant, William, Munro (James) and Fitzroy (A. W.), eds., _Acts of
    the Privy Council of England, Colonial Series, 1613-1783_, London,
    1908-1912. 6 vols.

    Hartwell, Henry, Blair (James) and Chilton (Edward), _The Present
    State of Virginia and the College_. Edited by H. D. Farish,
    Williamsburg: Colonial Williamsburg, Inc., 1940.

    Hening, W. W., ed., _Statutes at Large: being a Collection of All
    the Laws of Virginia from the First Session of the Legislature in
    the Year 1619_ [to 1792]. Richmond, 1809. 13 vols.

    Kennedy, J. P. and McIlwaine, H. R., eds., _Journals of the House
    of Burgesses of Virginia, 1619-1776_, Richmond: The Colonial Press,
    1905-1915. 13 vols.

    Kingsbury, S. M., ed., _The Records of the Virginia Company of
    London_, Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1906 and
    1933. 4 vols.

    Labaree, L. W., ed., _Royal Instructions to British Colonial
    Governors_, 1670-1776, New York: D. Appleton-Century Company, 1935.
    2 vols.

    McIlwaine, H. R. and Hall, W. L., eds., _Executive Journals of the
    Council of Colonial Virginia_, Richmond: Virginia State Library,

    McIlwaine, H. R., ed., _Legislative Journals of the Council of
    Colonial_ _Virginia, 1680-1775_, Richmond: The Colonial Press,
    1918-1919. 3 vols.

    ----, _Minutes of the Council and General Court of Colonial
    Virginia, 1622-1632, 1670-1676_, Richmond: The Colonial Press,

    Nugent, Nell M., ed., _Cavaliers and Pioneers: Abstracts of
    Virginia Land Patents and Grants_, Richmond: The Dietz Printing
    Company, 1934. Only volume I published covering the period from
    1623 to 1666. Excellent source for study of seventeenth-century
    land grants.

    Sainsbury, W. N. and others, eds., _Calendar of State Papers,
    Colonial Series, America and West Indies_, London, 1860-.


    Swem, E. G., comp., _Virginia Historical Index_, Roanoke: Stone
    Printing Company, 1934-1936. 2 vols.

    Valuable guide to material found in Hening's _Statutes_, _Virginia
    Magazine of History and Biography_, _Tyler's Quarterly Historical
    and Genealogical Magazine_, _William and Mary College Quarterly
    Historical Magazine_--first and second series, _Calendar of
    Virginia State Papers ... Preserved in the Capitol at Richmond_,
    _Virginia Historical Register and Literary Adviser_, and _Lower
    Norfolk County Virginia Antiquary_.


    Ames, Susie M., _Studies of the Virginia Eastern Shore in the
    Seventeenth Century_, Richmond: The Dietz Press, 1940.

    Andrews, C, M., _The Colonial Period of American History_, New
    Haven: Yale University Press, 1934-1938. 4 vols.

    Beverley, Robert, _The History of Virginia in Four Parts_.
    Reprinted from the author's second revised edition, 1722. Richmond,

    Brown, Alexander, _The First Republic in America_, New York:
    Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1898.

    Bruce, P. A., _The Economic History of Virginia in the Seventeenth
    Century_, New York: Macmillan and Company, 1896. 2 vols.

    ----, _Institutional History of Virginia in the Seventeenth
    Century_, New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1910. 2 vols.

    ----, _Social Life of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century: An
    Inquiry into the Origin of the Higher Planting Class, together with
    an Account of the Habits, Customs, and Diversions of the People_,
    Richmond: Whittet & Shepperson, 1907.

    Craven, W. F., _Dissolution of the Virginia Company: The failure of
    a Colonial Experiment_, New York: Oxford University Press, 1932.

    ----, _The Southern Colonies in the Seventeenth Century,
    1607-1689_. Volume I of _A History of the South_, Baton Rouge:
    Louisiana State University Press, 1949.

    Harrison, _Fairfax, Virginia Land Grants: A Study of Conveyancing
    in Relation to Colonial Politics_, Richmond: The Old Dominion
    Press, 1925. Valuable for its emphasis upon the Northern Neck.

    Osgood, H. L., _The American Colonies in the Seventeenth Century_,
    New York: Macmillan Company, 1904-1907. 3 vols.

    Voorhis, M. C., The Land Grant Policy of Colonial Virginia,
    1607-1774, Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Virginia.

    Valuable study with emphasis upon analysis of land policy. Does not
    include the Northern Neck.

    Wertenbaker, T. J., _Patrician and Plebeian in Virginia; or, The
    Origin and Development of the Social Classes of the Old Dominion_,
    Charlottesville, 1910.

    ----, _The Planters of Colonial Virginia_, Princeton: Princeton
    University Press, 1922.

    ----, _Virginia under the Stuarts, 1607-1688_, Princeton: Princeton
    University Press, 1914.

    Wright, L. B., _The First Gentlemen of Virginia: Intellectual
    Qualities of the Early Colonial Ruling Class_, San Marino: The
    Huntington Library, 1940.


_Honorary Chairman_


LEWIS A. MCMURRAN, JR., _Chairman of the Commission_

_Members of Senate appointed by President of the Senate_:

LLOYD C. BIRD, Vice Chairman     HARRY F. BYRD, JR.

_Members of the House of Delegates appointed by the Speaker of the House_:

HALE COLLINS                     LEWIS A. MCMURRAN, JR.
JOHN W. COOKE                    W. TAYLOE MURPHY

_Members appointed by the Governor_:

                    ALLEN R. MATTHEWS

           PARKE ROUSE, JR., _Executive Director_

                     *      *      *      *      *


_Appointed by the President of the United States_

ROBERT V. HATCHER, Chairman      SAMUEL M. BEMISS, Vice Chairman
                         CONRAD L. WIRTH

_Appointed by the Vice President of the United States_

HARRY F. BYRD                    A. WILLIS ROBERTSON

_Appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives_


          H. K. ROBERTS, _Administrative Director_



Anatomizing the whole Corps of the
Facultie; _Viz._

_The Materiall, Mathematicall, Mechanicall and
Legall Parts_,

Intimating all the Incidents to Fees and Possessions, and
whatsoeuer may be comprized vnder their Matter, Forme,
Proprietie, and Valuation.

_Very pertinent to be perused of all those, whom the Right, Reuenewe,
Estimation, Farming, Occupation, Manurance, Subduing,
Preparing and Imploying of Arable, Medow, Pasture, and all
other plots doe concerne._

And no lesse remarkable for all Vnder-takers in the Plantation
of Ireland or Virginia, for all Trauailers for Discoueries of
_forraine Countries, and for Purchasers, Exchangers, or Sellers_
of Land, and for euery other Interessee in the Profits
or Practise deriued from the compleate

_Of Manours, Lands, Tenements, Edifices, Woods, Waters, Titles,
Tenures, Euidences, &c._

Composed in a compendious Digest by



Printed for _Richard Moore_, and are to be solde at his shop in Saint
_Dunstanes_ Church-yard in Fleete-streete,


[Photograph by T. L. Williams]


Very profitable for all men to pervse, but
_especially for Gentlemen, Farmers, and Husbandmen_,
that shall either haue occasion, or be willing
to buy, hire, or sell Lands: As in the ready and perfect
Surueying of them, with the manner and Method of
keeping a Court of Suruey with many necessary rules,
and familiar Tables to that purpose.

                     *      *      *      *      *

_As also_,
The vse of the Manuring of some Grounds, fit as well
_for_ LORDS, _as for_ TENNANTS.

                     *      *      *      *      *

Now the third time Imprinted.

                     *      *      *      *      *

_And by the same Author inlarged, and a sixt Booke newly_
added, of a familiar conference, betweene a PVRCHASER,
and a SVRVEYOR of Lands; of the true vse of both being
very needfull for all such as are to purchase Land,
whether it be in Fee simple, or by Lease.

_Diuided into sixe Bookes by_ I. N.

                     *      *      *      *      *

PROV. 17.2.

_A discreate Seruant shall haue rule ouer an vnthriftie Sonne, and he shall
deuide the heritage among the brethren._

Voluntas pro facultate.

                     *      *      *      *      *


Printed by THOMAS SNODHAM. 1618.

[Photograph by T. L. Williams]

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