Early Land Grants in Maryland

Posted by: Eileen A. Souza

I was recently asked to transcribe some land grants from Prince George’s county. The records covered a period from 1739 to the early 1800s and were related to properties in what was originally called Tom’s Creek One Hundred and later became the Emmitsburg area of Frederick County, Maryland.

I was not that familiar with original land grants and thought that these document copies represented the patent. When I started on the first land grant, I noticed that it seemed to record a survey rather than the patent and was signed by the surveyor of that county; but in a small section to the left the date of the Patent was listed. I decided to do some background research since I was new to land records in Maryland. Based on what I learned on the Maryland Archives web site, all colonial land records were filed and maintained by the state. In addition, I learned that some counties also maintained their own land records for this period.

MDLandRec.net is a digital image retrieval system for land records in Maryland. While the service is free, you must register for a username and password. At this site, I searched the state land records. What I found is that all the patented and unpatented certificates of surveys for early land grants were available as digital images online. I found an image of the original survey for the land grant record that I was currently transcribing and it looked very different.

The certificate of survey I found was essentially a trifold legal document. The first page was formatted and included who the survey was for and who received the Patent with the number and date. The second digital page was the survey itself. This write up was much longer than the record I was transcribing and it had a plat drawing included, while the record I was transcribing did not have a plat drawing. The final page documented the approvals of the survey and finalized its certification.

I discovered that the Patents were on microfilm at the state archives and digital images were not available online. I was able to search an index, get the Patent number and microfilm number that contained this Patent and print a pull-sheet. When I make my next trip to the archives I will be able to obtain a copy of this Patent. Maryland is to be commended for providing so much of its early records in digital formats online.

Back to the land entry that I was transcribing. This copy appears to be an entry in a register book of land entries and was very unlike the standalone documents I found online at the state Archives. I couldn’t find a documented explanation of this but I believe that the local county made an abstract of the survey to record the property legal description and to record the important dates: survey date, survey examined and passed date and Patent number and date. It also includes the surveyor’s signature. The marginal information may have been added once the Patent was issued (if it was). The land record from the county is assigned a book and page number in the county land registers.

What a great learning experience this was!

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25 Responses to Early Land Grants in Maryland

  1. I love MDLandRec.net. We have ancestors in PG county also and have found several records on them there. I had trouble translating at first, but soon realized most of it was formulatic and also learned the trick of reading the records just prior and after the record in question to help with deciphering handwriting issues.
    I wish all states had a site like Maryland’s!
    Regards,
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)

  2. Eileen A. Souza says:

    Thank you. I love it too.

  3. I found your comments on Maryland land grants very interesting. I have a question you may be able to address. Were land grants awarded by the Calverts just for immigration from England or were they granted regardless of where the immigrant came from. For instance, if someone immigrated from another colony like Massachusetts could they qualify for a land grant?
    Regards,

    • Eileen A. Souza says:

      It was Calvert land but usually granted via the Maryland-based land office. There are land grants to non-British colonists, like early Germans from the Palitinate. I don’t know about colonists from other colonies. I suspect that there were other political reasons for granting the land then place of origin.

  4. Jack R. Templeton says:

    At what minimum age could land grants be requested – 18 or 21?

    • Firstly, land grant requirements were specific to the individual or colony doing the granting–also, these requirements could change over time. In my Maryland references I have so far found no reference to age. Early land grants were used to encourage settlement of Maryland. Any individual that brought in or paid for the transportation of five other individuals to settle in the colony could apply for a grant of 2,000 acres. Later, this system changed to purchasing the grant for money. After the Revolutionary War, some grants known as bounty land grants were issued to veterans of the war who applied. Those allowed to apply for a land grant under any of the above conditions had to be male or a single or widowed female.

  5. Jack R. Templeton says:

    At what minimum age could land grants be requested?

    • Firstly, land grant requirements were specific to the individual or colony doing the granting–also, these requirements could change over time. In my Maryland references I have so far found no reference to age. Early land grants were used to encourage settlement of Maryland. Any individual that brought in or paid for the transportation of five other individuals to settle in the colony could apply for a grant of 2,000 acres. Later, this system changed to purchasing the grant for money. After the Revolutionary War, some grants known as bounty land grants were issued to veterans of the war who applied. Those allowed to apply for a land grant under any of the above conditions had to be male or a single or widowed female.

  6. John Thomas says:

    Hi, I’m hoping this is still an active site for questions! My ancestor [David Thomas] had a small parcel of land (around 100 acres) granted to him in Baltimore County (later Harford)around 1700. Any advice on where I should look to find out who granted the land to him, or why? Thanks for any help you can offer!

    • Thank you for your comment. What I would suggest is to look to see if a survey was done on this property. I did another post at https://www.oldbonesgenealogy.com/finding-maryland-county-land-records-certified-uncertified-plats-tuesdays-tip/ that explains how to find a survey at Plats.net (another site of the State Archives). The survey itself gives you tons of info about the property. It may also list the patent information needed to find the original land grant, which would be on microfilm at the State Archives.

      I have a book called Settlers of Maryland 1679-1783 Consolidated Edition by Peter Wilson Coldham. On page 658, I found a David Thomas who was issued a grant in Baltimore County on 10 Oct 1707. It was for 62 acres and the property was named Landilo. This book is also available and searchable online at Ancestry.com. Search for it in the Catalog. The references provided by this entry state that the grant is in book DD% which is on microfilm SR7378 possibly on page 418. This may be the survey and therefore, obtainable on Plats.net. I recommend you get download a copy of the survey. The patent is book PL2 on microfilm SR7461 possibly on page 217. To see this you would need to go to the archives and view the microfilm. No patents are online.

      Happy searching!

    • Jack R. Templeton says:

      John, The best place I can think of is The Maryland State Archive Center in Annapolis, MD. It’s been years since I’ve been there (I no longer drive0 but they have a great staff to help new visitors.

  7. Jaems W. Fraley says:

    I am looking for information on my great grandfathers land. Frederick Fraley was one of the largest land owners and had land that was suppose to stay in the family and be handed down. What happened to this land.

    • Thank you for your comment. To determine what happened to the land, you would need to research every piece of land he owned and trace it to the first owner that was not family. You would need to know the county where each piece of land was originally located. This research would tell you where it went, it may or may not explain why. There are many reasons financial hardships, those who inherited any of it may have sold it off, state eminent domain, etc. How he acquired the land may impact how the land was disposed, purchasing it lot by lot over time or purchasing it as one huge tract. Good luck in you research.

  8. Jaems W. Fraley says:

    My great grandfathers land that I am interested in is Moors Fort also known as Fraley’s Fort on the Clinch. He is buried there at the back of the property. Any information would be helpful. I know he had land and was in Virginia, Philadelphia, North Carolina, Maryland. Daniel Boone and the rest of the clan used to stay on grandfathers land.

    • I am a professional genealogist and only take clients for specialized research in Baltimore City and County, Carroll County, Frederick County and Howard County.

      I did find this write up on Frederick Fraley at http://vagenweb.org/lee/FrederickFraleyMA.html. This may answer your question. Thank you for your comments.

      • Jaems W. Fraley says:

        Hello Eileen, Yes you found him. Now I just wondering if I am entitled to part of his land grant. My dad past recently and he told me about some land. I do not expect anything for free but very interested in keeping land for my grand-son. His father was murdered and I wanted to have something I could hand down to him. If you can find out any information I would appreciate it. I also see that 400 acres was suppose to go to each in the family of Frederick Fraley.

  9. Ron Richardson says:

    Was land grants awarded for residents of Maryland for land in Georgia?

    • Thank you for your comment, but I do not know the answer to your question. I specialize in Maryland research. I do know that Georgia held land lotteries but I do not know if non-residents of Georgia could participate. If they could, then there is certainly the possibility that a Maryland resident might participate.

  10. Paul E. Parish says:

    I am researching colonial land grant and surveying practices in Maryland from about 1740 to 1775 or so. iI do an impression of a surveyor for Lord Fairfax in that time period, and have extensive knowledge of the practices employed in Virgina, but cannot find any real information on entries, warrants, surveys and patents, fees, quit rents, etc. I am developing a program on the Maryland land grant process and want to highlight the similarities and differences between the two. I want to be as accurate and documentable as possible. Any help is greatly appreciated

  11. D. Huger says:

    Hi,

    I’m trying to find out if an ancestor was a Revolutionary War Soldier. I tried to locate him on MDLandRec.net. There is a Henry Harley, Md that received 50 acres as a private and I’m trying to find out if it was in Aquasco, Prince George’s County, MD. I’m hoping that if I can locate the area that he received the land I would be able to determine if he is my ancestor since my family has lived in that general area for generations. I understand that this is not your area of focus but could you tell me how to figure out how to locate him on the website?

  12. Thom Knott says:

    I have news articles from the 1880s in which my family made suit against the federal goverment to recover much of the land of Maryland. Reputedly after the revolutionary war the federal goverment leased the land for 100 years and it was attempted to regain the lands, although a cash settlement was made instead.Rhe Heirs were by the Dorman name andit is my belief that the land was originally conveyed to Andrew House by King George. If you have any insight, I would greatly appreciate it.

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