During the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, south central Virginia was a funnel through which a large number of families passed as they spread out to settle the continent. Many family historians throughout the United States already know that their ancestors once lived in Brunswick County, Virginia, or perhaps Prince George, Surry, or Isle of Wight counties. What may sometimes be overlooked is that many of the eighteenth-century residents of those counties actually lived in what is now Greensville County. Because Greensville County was formed in 1781 from the eastern and earliest settled portion of Brunswick County, many families that find evidence of their roots in the Brunswick County archives should actually look to Greensville County for their ancestral land. The same is true, though to a lesser extent, for families that trace their ancestry to Prince George, Surry, and Isle of Wight counties. Prior to 1728, most of what is now Greensville County was the southwestern corner of Surry County. The southeastern portion of present-day Greensville known as the "Lowground" area was part of Isle of Wight County, and the extreme northwestern tip of the county fell within the jurisdiction of Prince George County. Some land in present-day Greensville was also issued in the name of Sussex County, Virginia, and Chowan Precinct, North Carolina.
Bringing order to this confusion is the purpose of Royal Patents and Commonwealth Land Grants of Greensville County Virginia, by Ray Sasser. The book is essentially an atlas that identifies the first land owners in the county and maps each original tract of land. The heart of the book is a collection of sixteen detailed section maps showing the property lines, original land owner, acreage, and date of legal acquisition of each land patent or grant in the county. These detail maps also show watercourses with their eighteenth-century names, eighteenth-century roads, Indian settlements, and other miscellaneous features of the eighteenth-century landscape. The sixteen detail maps are supported by thirteen other maps illustrating the county as a whole for patents, waterways, roads, changing county lines, and modern communities. The maps tracing the evolution of the county lines clarify the location of those lines at various times not only for Greensville County, but also for Prince George, Surry, Sussex, Isle of Wight, and Brunswick counties.
While the maps are the heart of the book, the bulk is claimed by 119 pages of abstracts describing each of the 645 Royal Patents and 63 Commonwealth Grants thus far identified for land in Greensville County. The book also contains a chapter explaining the creation and settlement of Greensville and surrounding counties, a chapter explaining the Virginia patent system and how it applied specifically to the settlement of Greensville County, an index of over 700 persons mentioned in the book, an index of over 270 place names, and a bibliography of 37 works cited in addition to the Virginia Patent Books and the Commonwealth Land Grant Books.
Total number of pages: 211 (including un-numbered pages and maps)