Land Record

Introduction to Virginia Land History

24 Sep 1996

The first English settlement in the New World was made in Virginia, and it's not surprising that Virginia's history of settlement has a few twists and turns while the King and the English government figured out how to manage colonization of the vast new American lands.

And though we are focusing on Virginia, let's not forget that the states of Kentucky and West Virginia were originally part of Virginia. What's more, much of the land in the Northwest Territories was considered Virginia as well, so the territory in which land was being granted was huge.

Though it was one colony, Virginia had two rather different personalities during its early settlement. The majority of the colonial land was granted by the King through the colonial government, but in the Northern Neck it was granted out of a private proprietorship. Land companies and speculators also played an important role in the settling of the colony.

An Outline of Virginia Land History

Further Reading

The Virginia State Library and Archives has a wonderful publication Virginia Land Office Inventory, 3rd edition, compiled by Daphne Gentry and revised by John Salmon. This booklet contains a more complete history than outlined above, and provides a detailed listing of the substantial (400 linear feet!) holdings on land records at the archives.

Another excellent series of publications, a classic if you will, is Cavaliers and Pioneers, by Nell Marion Nugent et al, in 5 volumes (and counting!). [See our list of books for vendors.] These books are detailed abstracts of Virginia colonial patents. Volume 3 of the series has information regarding the settlement history of Virginia.

The LDS has a course outline on Virginia genealogy that has information on land records.

Information on the Northern Neck was found in Beyond Germanna, v. 3, n. 5, September 1991.

[The information in this article was compiled from the above sources.]

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