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;before the commissioners for the county, to be appointed by virtue of this act within eight months, pay the consideration money, produce the auditor's certificate for the treasurer's receipt for the same, take out their warrants from the register of the land office within ten months, and enter the same with the sur* veyor of the county, within twelve months next after the end of this present session of assembly; and thereafter duly comply with the rules and regulations of the land office. All locations made by officers and sol* diers upon the lands of actual settlers, shall be void, b but the said officers, soldiers, or their assignees, may and soldiers, obtain warrants on producing the commissioners cer- on lands of tificate of their several rights, and locate their claims on other waste and unappropriated lands. To prevent the locations of those claiming under warrants for}. preemption, from interfering with such as claim under certificates for settlements, and to give due preference to the latter, so far as respects their rights to tracts of land not exceeding four hundred acres; the register of the land office shall particularly distinguish all preemption warrants by him issued, and no county surveyor shall admit any such warrant to be entered or located in his books, before the expiration of ten months as aforesaid. And where any such warrant rwhatloca* shall net be entered and located with the county sur- tibns intiveyor, within the before mentioned space of twelve j?ed to prc" months, the right of preemption shall be forfeited, and the lands therein mentioned may be entered for by any other person holding another land warrant; but such preemption warrant may, nevertheless, be located up- w on any other waste or unappropriated lands, or upon entered.3'6* the same lands where they have not in the mean time been entered for by some other.
VI. And be it farther enacted, That all persons Composition claiming lands, and suing out grants upon any such monev in . surveys heretofore made; either under entries with the tobcpaTdf ; surveyor of any county, or under any order of council, or entry in the council books, for which rights have not formerly been lodged in the secretary's office, and also those suing out grants for tracts of lands upon the .western waters, not exceeding four hundred acres here.1*1 allowed them in consideration of their settlements, or under former entries with the county surveyor, for lancjs upon the eastern waters, shall be subject to the Vol. x. F
payment of the usual composition money under lh$ former government, at the rate of ten -Shillings Stirling for every hundred acres, to be discharged in current money, at the rate of thirty three and one third per centum exchange, before: the grant issues, and to no other charge or imposition whatsoever, save the Cook mon office fees. And to all such persons, their heirs or assigns, who having title to land under the former government, had not only surveyed flie same, but had lodged their certificates of survey, together with their rights, in the secr-etary's office; and although no caveat hath been, entered, have not obtained patents, grants shall issue in consideration thereof, upon the payment of the office fees only.
Agreements VII. And whereas it kath been represented to the between general assembly, tb-a?t opon lands «urveyed for sundry companies companies by virtue of orders of council, many people der'orders of llave settled without specifick agreement, but yet under council, and the faith of the terms of sale pubMckly offered by the purchasers, sajd companies or.their agents at the time of such set* reflated1 tlements, who have made valuable improvements thereae" on: Be it enacted and declared, That alV persons s0 settled upoM any unpatented lands, surveyed as before mentioned, except only such lands as before the settle* ment of the satne, we^e notoriously reserved by the respective companies for their awn use, shall have their titles confirmed to them by the members of such companies, or their agents, upon payment of the price at which such lands were offered for sale when they were settled, together with- interest thereon from the time of the respective settlements, provided they compromise their claims with the said dompatiies, or lay them before the commissioners for their respective counties, to be appointed by virtue of this act, and have the same tried and determined by them, in manner herein after directed: And provided also^ that where any such survey contains more than four hundred acres, -no one settler shall be entitled to a greater quantity than three hundred acres, unless he takes the whole survey, to in» elude his settlement, and leave the remainder in one entire and convenient piece where the same is practicable.
Commission- Vlll. And whereas the claims of various persons to fls for **• the lands herein allowed to the inhabitants, in consideration of their settlements, and of those who, by this act, are entitled to preemption at the'state price, as claims to well as of the settlers on the lands surveyed for sundry lancls °»the companies by orders of council as aforesaid, may oc- ^f howl* casion numerous disputes, the determination of which pointed, depending upon evidence, which cannot, without great their oath, charge and trouble, be collected, but the neighbour- duty, power, hood ofsnch lands will be most speedily and properly aj^ T^GS Of made by commissioners in the respective counties: Be proceeding,. it enacted, That the counties on the western waters shall be allotted into districts, to wat: The counties of Monongalia; Yohogania, and Ohio, into one district; the counties of Augusta, Botetourt, and Greenbrier, into one district; the counties of Washington and Montgomery, into one other district; and the county of Ken* tticky, shall fee another district; for each of which districts, the governour, with the advice of the council, shall appoint four commissioners under the seal of the commonwealth, not being inhabitants of such district (any three of whom may act) to continue in office eight months from the end of this present session of assembly, for the purpose of collecting, adjusting, and determining such claims, and four months thereafter for the purpose of adjusting the claims of settlers on lands surveyed for the aforesaid companies. Every sufh commissioner, before he enters on the duties of his office, shall take the following oath of office: "I A. B, do swear that I will well and truly serve this commonwealth in the office of a commissioner for the district of for collecting, adjusting, and settling
the claims, and determining the titles of such persons as claim lands in the said district, in consideration of their settlements; of such as claim preemption to any lands therein, and also of such settlers as claim any lands surveyed by order of council, for sundry companies, according to an act of general assembly, entitled An act for adjusting and settling the titles'of claimers to unpatented lands, under the former and present government, previous to the establishment of the commonwealth's land office; and that I will do equal right to all manner of people, without respect of persons; I will not take by myself, nor by any other person, any gift, fee, or reward for any matter done, or to be done by virtue of my office, except such fees or salary as the law shall allow mej and finally in all things belonging to my said office, I will faithfully, justly, and truly,
according to the best of my skill and judgment, do equal and impartial justice, without fraud, favour, af* fection, or partiality. So help me God." Which oath shall be administered by any of the said commissioners to the first of them in nomination, who shall be present, and then by him to the others. The said commissioners shall have power to hear and determine all titles claimed in consideration of settlements to lands, to which no person hath any other legal title, and the rights of all persons claiming preemption to any lands within their respective districts, as also the rights of all persons claiming any unpatented lands^ surveyed by order of council for sundry companies, by having settled thereon under the faith of the terms of sale publickly offered by such companies or their agents, aud shall immediately upon receipt of their commissions, give at least twenty days previous notice by advertisements at the forts, churches, meetinghouses, and other publick places in their district, of the time and place at which they intend to meet, for the purpose of collecting, hearing, and determining the said claims and titles, requiring all persons interested therein, to attend and put in their claims, and may ad * j»urn from place to place, aud time to time, as thek business may require; but if they should fail to nveet at any time to which they shajl have adjourned, neither their commission nor any matter depending before them shall be thereby discontinued, but they shall proceed to business when they do meet, as if no such failure had happened. They shall appoint and administer an oath of qffice to their clerk; be attended bv the sheriff, or one of the under sheriffs of the county^ be empowered to administer oaths to witnesses of others, necessary for the discharge of their office; to punish contempts, enforce good behaviour in their presence, and award costs, in the same manner with the county courts; they shall have free access to the county surveyor's books, and may qrder the same to be laid Before thein, at any time or place of their sitting', and shall pay to such surveyor, out of the fees received by them for certificates, this sum of three pounds for eVe* ry day he shall attend, and to the sheriff for the like attendance, two pounds for each day's attendance. In all cases of disputes upon claims for settlement, the made the first actual settlement^ his orhef heirs or assigus, shall have the preference. In all disputes for the right of preemptions for improvements made on the land, the persons, their heirs or assigns respectively, who made the first improvement, and the persons to whom any right of preemption on account of settlement or improvements shall be adjudged, shall fix the quantity at their own option at the time of the judgment, so as not to exceed the number of acres respectively allowed by this act, or to interfere with the just rights of others. The clerk shall keep exact minutes of all the proceedings of the commissioners, and enter the names ot all the persons to whom either landg;
for settlement or the right of preemption as the case is, shall be adjudged with their respective quantities and locations, and also the names of all such persons to whom titles shall be adjudged for lands within the surveys made by order of council for any company with the quantity of acres adjudged, and in what survey; and if the same is only part of such survey, in . what manner it shall be locate^ therein, the name or style of the company, and the price to be paid them, with the time from which the same is to bear interest, ItJpon application of any perspn claiming a right to Conflicting any lands in virtue of this act, and complaining that riSh*f h another pretends a right it) opposition thereto, the said corn clerk shall issue 3 summons, stating the nature of the era. plaintiffs qlaim ^nc} calling on the party opposing the game, to appear at 3 time and place certain therein to fee named, and shew cause why a grant of the saidl lands may not issue, or a title be made to the said plaintiff: The said summons shall be served on th£ party by the sheriff pf the county where he resides, of therein he may be found, and such service being returned thereon, and the party appearing or failing to appear, the commissioners may proceed to trial, or1 for good caiise shewn, may refer such trial to a farther day. The clerk shall also have power at the re* €(uest of either party, to issue stibpcenas for witnesses to appear at the time and place of trial, which shall fee had in a summary way without pleadings in writing and the court in conducting the said trial, in all matters of evidence relative thereto, and in giving judgment, shall govern themselves by such rules and printiples of law or equity, as are applicable to the case, dt Would be the rule of evidence or of dicision,