Land Grants - Steven J. Coker
Subject: Land Grants
From: Steven J. Coker
Date: August 25, 1998

Land Grants
By Cyril Ray Parrott

     The land within the present boundaries of North Carolina and South Carolina
was owned by England when they restored King Charles to the throne in 1660. King
Charles II then gave eight members of the nobility of England a charter for all
land in America between 31 degrees and 36 degrees parallels of latitude on March
24th, 1663, to repay them for their efforts or work in helping him to regain the
throne. (The land was from the Atlantic to the Pacific, in so far as the Charter
was concerned.) Those eight men were referred to as the Lord Proprietors of the
Carolinas, as the land was theirs to do with as they pleased. They could and did
issue charters for land in the Carolinas to those people who were entitled to a
warrant for the land and paid the price of having a Surveyor or the Deputy
Surveyor run the boundary lines. Sir William Berkeley was one of the Lord
Proprietors. He was Governor of Virginia for many years prior to 1676. Anthony,
Lord Ashley, was another Lord Proprietor and he came to South Carolina, but did
not stay. Sir John Colleton was a third Lord Proprietor and his son, Peter
Colleton (Sir Peter Colleton) was the acting Governor of North Carolina at one
time. Generally speaking, the Lord Proprietors ruled the Carolinas through
resident Deputies. Each Lord Proprietor appointed a Deputy who represented the
Lord Proprietor in the Council or ruling tribunal, and in conjunction with the
Lord Proprietors, or with the consent and approval of the Lord Proprietors who
continued to reside in England, they nominated and installed the remaining
officers of the Colonial government, including the Surveyor General and his
      Every adult who paid his way to the Carolinas was entitled to fifty (50)
acres of land, and he or she was also entitled to fifty (50) acres for every
adult whose shipfare or passage was paid by them. They were also given land for
each child they transported into the Carolinas. Thus, if Parson Jones paid for
his passage aboard ship, and his wife's passage, to Carolina, he was entitled to
a warrant for 100 acres of land, plus certain other minor benefits -- such as a
bushel of corn, a hoe, etc. The warrant for the 100 acres was issued and the
immigrant gave it to the Survey General whose Deputy surveyed the land at a
predetermined location in Carolina -- 100 acres. The Lord Proprietors, through
their local Deputies, then signed and delivered a grant to Parson Jones for the
100 acres. Parson Jones was then under duty to clear the land, or some part of
it, of trees and bushes, prepare it for cultivation, farm part of it, and
construct a primitive house (hut or shed) on the land within a designated period
of time (usually three years) and if he failed to do so, he forfeited his right
to the land which then reverted back to the Lord Proprietors, who would issue
another warrant or the land to the next group of immigrants.
      The local citizenry of the Carolinas were not overwhelmed with joy with
the conditions that prevailed under the Lord Proprietors and there were at least
two insurrections -- several riots. The Parliament of England, and the Crown,
finally were convinced that the Lord Proprietors could not rule the land in
harmony, so they (the Crown) purchased the remaining interests of the Lord
Proprietors in the land of the Carolinas in 1729; except for the interest of
John, Lord Carteret, Baron of Hawnes, as heir of his father who died in 1696, he
being in possession of the share of Sir George Carteret. John, Lord Carteret,
was later created Earl of Granville, and as the Earl of Granville, he had his
one eighth interest laid off to him in land along the border with Virginia.
       I must add that several of the original eight Lord Proprietors sold their
interest in the land described in the 1663 charter long prior to 1729. The
stature, as well as the quality and names of the Lord Proprietors was constantly
changing and this was the source of irreparable injury, particularly after one
Lord Proprietor sold his interest to the notorious Lord Seth Sothell, who came
to North Carolina in 1681 to rule and to ruin. The North Carolinians rebelled
and eventually exiled him from the colony.
       From 1729 until roughly 1776, the beginning of the Revolutionary War, the
Crown of England was responsible for the issuance of land grants for land in the
Carolinas, which was supervised by the Royal Governor of the Colony, who was put
in office by the King. Strictly speaking, the land grants issued between 1729
and 1776 are the Royal land grants, but from a practical point of view, the land
grants issued between 1663 and 1729 by the Lord Proprietors, are also known as
Royal land grants. After 1776, the land grants were issued by the ruling body of
each individual state -- usually to reward a soldier (or his family) for
services rendered during the Revolutionary War. Those are State grants and not
Royal land grants.
       At one time, between 1665 and 1729, the Lord Proprietors awarded 100
acres to any adult who paid his fare to the Carolinas -- or 100 acres for each
adult whose fare was paid by him or her. This was to further encourage migration
to the Carolinas. Theoretically, each holder of a land grant was supposed to pay
a minimum fee to the Lord Proprietors for each acre in his or her land grant. It
was therefore theoretically to the advantage of the Lord Proprietor to have the
land set aside and cultivated under a land grant. The more land in cultivation,
the larger the rentals. I say theoretically, because in fact, the land owners
were not financially able to pay land rent and the Lord Proprietors were
annually having to forego and forgive the rents. Also, the more white settlers,
the better the buffer between the original settlers and the Indians, as the
later settlers were forced to live in the upcountry, or the hinterlands with the

Published in "The Lavender Line"
Volume 1, No. 4   Summer 1983
Editor: Doris Lavender Vilda
Assistant Editors: Elinor Reid Parrott, Frances Tucker McCabe
Corresponding Editors: Dr. Abraham Donald Lavender, Cyril Ray Parrott

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