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Early Land Grants

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Dale and Betty Payne


The laws relating to granting of land for the importation of persons is well explained in V.M.,  Vol. I as follows---Whoever paid the charges for transporting a person to the Colony, whether his own servant or a member of his family, or any one else, was entitled to 50 a. of land, and this was the usual means of obtaining a patent.   This "head-right" as it was called continued the principal basis of title to patent until the early part of the 18th century, when the right to purchase public land with money was established.  Throughout the colonial period, however, the head-right remained in force." Too much historical importance should not be attached to the significance of Court references to head-rights. In attempting to interpret their meaning, the writer drew upon the valuable store of knowledge of the late Mr. William G. Stanard, who wrote that "It is very difficult to ascertain anything about a head-right, except that he came not later than the date of the Patent.  Masters of ships had a fraudulent custom of selling rights for their passengers, even when the same people had taken up land of their own right.  Later in the 17th century, clerks of the Secretary's office made a business of dealing in head-rights. I have never found head-rights of much use genealogically, unless there was some other evidence as to the man. Some head-rights are great puzzles. For instance, about 1670 Giles Brent had a patent of land in Stafford (I think) , and among his head-rights were Christopher and Ralph Wormley, the emigrants, men of importance that had lived and died in York County long before. It would look like Brent had bought a number of rights from some one, and that some or all of these had been used long before and their use forgotten" It is unquestionably an error to conclude, without further evidence, that the imported person migrated to or resided  in the county in which the bounty land was granted. The importation was into the colony, and not necessarily in the county where the patented land lay.

Land Grants in North Carolina 

Broad Creek

Clubfoots Creek, 

Bath (present Craven) Co., NC  

Land Grants in South Carolina 


Land Grants  in Virginia 




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