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CHAP. XII.

An Act for adjusting and settling the Chan Rev.

titles of claimers to unpatented lands p. 90.! under the present and former government, previous to the establishment of the commonivealth's land office.*

1. WHEREAS the various and vague claims to un- Preamble. patented lands under the former and present government, previous to the establishment of the commonwealth's land office, may produce tedious and infinite litigation and disputes, and in the mean time purcha- [See 2 Rev. sers would be discouraged from taking up lands upon

Code of 1819

p. 354 to 482 the terms lately prescribed by law, whereby the fund for this, and to be raised in aid of the taxes for discharging the pub- the subselick debt, would be in a great measure frustrated; and quent acts.] it is just and necessary, as well for the peace of indir viduals as for the publick weal, that some certain rules should be established for settling and determining the rights to such lands, and fixing the principles upon which legal and just claimers shall be entitled to sue out grants; to the end that subsequent purchasers and adventurers may be enabled to proceed with greater certainty and safety: Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That all surveys of waste and unappropriated land made upon any of the western waters before the first day of January, in the year 1778, and upon any of the eastern waters at any time before the end of this present session of assembly, by any county surveyor commissioned by the masters of William and Mary

Surveys, college, acting in conformity to the laws and rules of wbat decla government then in force, and founded either upon red valid. charter, importation rights duly proved and certified according to ancient usage, as far as relates to indented servants, and other persons not being convicts, upon treasury rights for money paid the receiver general duly authenticated upon entries on the western waters,

* This act is published in Chan. Rev. p. 90, in which it is separated by sections, as here; which was not the case in the origi, nal.

regularly made before the 26th day of October, in the year 1763, or on the eastern water: at any time before the end of this present session of assembly, with the surveyor of the county for tracts of land not exceeding four hundred acres, according to act of assembly upon. any order of council, or entry in the council books, and made during the time in which it shall appear either from the original or any subsequent order, entry, or proceedings in the council books, that such ore der or entry remained in force the terms of which have been complied with, or the time for performing the same unexpired, or upon any warrant from the governour for the time being for military service, in virtue of any proclamation either from the king of Great Britain* or any former governour of Virginia, shall be, and are hereby declared good and valid, but that all surveys of waste and unpatented lands made by any other person, or upon any other pretence whatsoever, shall be, and are hereby declared null and void, provided that all officers or soldiers, their beirs or as signs, claiming under the late governour Dinwiddie'st proclamation of a bounty in lands to the first Virginia regiment, and having returned to the secretary's office, surveys made by virtue of a special commission from the president and masters of William and Mary col., lege, shall be entitled to grants thereupon on payment of the common office fees; that all officers and soldiers, their heirs or assigns under proclamation warrants for military service, having located lands by actual sur. veys made under any such special commission, shall have the benefit of their said locations, by taking out warrants upon such rights, resurveying such lands according to law, and thereafter proceeding according to the rules and regulations of the land office. All and every person or persons, his, her, or their heirs or assigns, claiming lands upon any of the before recited rights, and under surveys made as herein before men tioned against which no caveat shall have been legally entered, shall upon the plats and certificates of such surveys being returned into the land office, together with the rights, entry, order, warrant or authentick copy thereof

upon which they were respectively found

* See Vol 7, p. 663, for the king's proclamation of 1763.

See Vol. 7, p. 661, for goyernor Dinwiddie's proclamation of 1754.

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of the treasurers receipt for the composition money herein after mentioned, and pay the office fees, he or she shall forfeit his or her right and title; but upon performance of these requisitions, shall be entitled io a

grant for such tract of land as in other cases. Rightsclaim. III. And be it enacted, That all orders of council or ed under entries for land in the council books, except so far as certain or

such orders or entries respectively have been carried ders of council, and a into execution by actual surveys in manner herein beroyal procla-fore mentioned, shall be, and they are hereby declared mation, de; void and of no effect; and except also a certain order clared void. of council for a tract of sunken grounds, commonly Except ac

called the Dismal Swamp, in the south eastern part of tual surveys:

this commonwealth, contiguous to the North Caroli. And except na line, which said order of council with the proceed. the Dismal

ings thereon and the claim derived from it, shall hereSwamp.

after be laid before the general assembly for their further order therein. No claim to land within this conmonwealth for military service founded upon the king of Great Britain's proclamation, shall hereafter be als lowed, except a warrant for the same shall have been obtained from the governour of Virginia, during the former government as before mentioned; or where such service was performed by an inhabitant of Virginia, or in some regiment or corps actually raised in the same; in either of which cases the claimant making due proof in any court of record, and producing a certificate thereof to the register of the land office within the said time of twelve months, shall be admitted 10 a warrant, entry, and grant for the same, in the manner herein before mentioned; but nothing herein contained shall be construed or extend to give any person a title to land for service performed in any company or de

tachment of militia. Settlement

IV, And whereas great numbers of people have selrights, upon tled in the country upon the western waters, upon the western waste and unappropriated lands, for which they have

been hitherto prevented from suing out patents or obtaining legal titles by the king of Great Britain's proclamations or instructions to his governours, or by the late change of government, and the present war having delayed until now, the opening of a land office, and the establishment of any certain terms for granting lands, and it is just that those settling under such circumstances should have some reasonable allowance for

waters.

the charge and risk they have incurred, and that the property so acquired should be secured to them: Be it therefore enacted, That all persons who, at any time (See Journal before the first day of January, in the year one thou- tion of June sand seven hundred and seventy eight, have really and 24, 1776& bona fide settled themselves or their families, or at his, 2 Rev. Code her, or their charge, have settled others upon any waste 350-See alor unappropriated lands on the said western waters, to so vol. 9, p. which no other person hath any legal right or claim, 355,356 ) shall be allowed for every family so settled, four huudred acres of land, or such smaller quantity as the pare ty chooses, to include such settlement. And where any guch settler hath had any survey made for him or her, under any order of the former government, since the twenty sixth day of October, in the year one thousand seven hundred and sixty three, in consideration of such settlement for less than four hundred acres of land, such settler, his or her heirs, may claim and be allowed as much adjoining waste and unappropriated land, as together with the land so surveyed will make up the quantity of four hundred acres.

V. And whereas several families for their greater Provision for safety have settled themselves in villages or townships, families set

tled in villa under some agreement between the inhabitants of lay

ges or towning off the same into town lots, to be divided among ships. them, and have, from present necessity, cultivated a piece of ground adjoining thereto in common: Be it enacted, That six hundred and forty acres of land whereon such villages and towns are situate, and to which no other person hath a previous legal claim, shall not be entered for or surveyed, but shall be reserved for the use and benefit of the said inhabitants until a true representation of their case can be made to the general assembly, that right and justice may be done therein; and in the mean time there shall be al. lowed to every such family, in consideration of their settlement, the like quantity of land as is herein allowed to other settlers adjacent, or convenient to their re, spective village or town, and to which no other person hath, by this act, the right of preemption, for which said quantities to be adjusted, ascertained, and certified by the commissioners to be appointed by virtue of this act, in manner herein after directed. The proper claimants shall be respectively entitled to entries with the surveyor of the county wherein the land lies,

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