Land patents of Washington County, Maryland (1730-1830)
The land patents, also known as land grants, for the years 1730 to 1830, covering the area of the current Washington County, Maryland, are listed here. Patents are documents granting ownership rights to some previously unpatented property. They have the nature of a deed and contain a description of the property and conditions of tenure.
Also included here are Certificates of Survey. After obtaining a warrant, the prospective landowner requested a survey of the specified acreage, and gave a name to the tract. After making the survey, the surveyor filed a certificate of survey, including a plat and description, with the Land Office. A patent was issued after the certificate of survey was approved. A prospective patentee was considered the owner of the land between the time of the approval of the certificate of survey and issuance of the patent, and thus paid taxes and could sell or bequeath the parcel.
Resurveys of patented land were frequently made, using a warrant of resurvey. The resurvey verified the original boundaries of the tract and added contiguous vacant land, if any was discovered. Resurveys were also used to consolidate a landowner's holdings of parts of several parcels into a single patented tract with a new name (Maryland State Archives). Many parcels of land have names beginning with Resurvey on ..., as in Resurvey on Hills and Dales and the Vineyard. Additions to existing patents were frequently named Addition to..., as in Addition to Felfoot or Enlarged, as in Long Meadow Enlarged.
The core of the data in these documents was researched by Arthur Tracey. The Historical Society of Carroll County has a collection of research materials including file cards, drawings, surveyors' books and maps of early land patents and settlement patterns in Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick and Washington counties, collected by Dr. Arthur G. Tracey and his daughter, Dr. Grace Tracey. Copies of these documents are also available at the Maryland State Archives, and have been added to the Archives website at Dr. Arthur G. Tracey patent/tract index and map locations for
Carroll, Frederick, and Washington Counties
Paul D. McDermott, Professor Emeritus of Montgomery College, Maryland, compiled the documents using Tracey’s card file records and Court Records (Libers 1 and 2) from the Washington County Court House. With the details from historical maps, McDermott added a brief description of location, an approximation to help the reader obtain a rough guide to the patent site.
Washington County, 1794
Additional data was added from the Maryland State Archives land plat collection for Washington County. The State Archivist is the Commissioner of Land Patents and all the official records of the land office including the original warrants, certificates of survey, and land patents are located at the Maryland State Archives. The Land Patents of Washington County can be found at Washington County Circuit Court Land Survey on the Maryland State Archives land plats website.
Note should be made that the stated acreage may not be accurate, since surveying methods employed at the time were subject to error. For example, surveys were never closed. Metes and Bounds descriptions always concluded with a vague statement, like "and thence to the beginning."
Maryland required that the lands be named. Sometimes today, housing developments continue to use names or identities provided for early land grants. A well-known example is Thomas Cresap’s patent, Long Meadow. But there are many others. A study of the names selected by earlier generations living in the county would be most fruitful. There are those named for the land in question, like Scant in Timber; Dry Spring; Poor Land; but also Verdant Mead; Fertile Grove; Pasture Green; and Peace and Plenty. There are many patents with the word Disappointment in the name, for example Burkhart’s Disappointment,but also those with Delight, as in Paul’s Delight and Martha’s Delight. One wonders the stories behind land patents named I am glad it is no worse; More loss than gain; More trouble yet; and More than lovely.
Further information on the land patent system in Maryland is found at Land Records, Maryland State Archives, Reference & Research. In addition, John Kilty’s book The Land-Holder's Assistant and Land-Office Guide. (Baltimore: G. Dobbin & Murphy, 1808) is:
A brief Historical account of the grant and settlement of the province of Maryland with an explanation of the Tenure by which it was held by the Proprietary, and those under which his grants were made to the settlers. Archives of Maryland Online
Information on the Tracey Collection can be found at Historical Society of Carroll County
Also included in this collection is a map of the land patents of Western Washington County in the area of Hancock. This will give some notion as to the complexity of land patents.
|Western Maryland Regional Library is grateful to Paul McDermott for sharing his research with us.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have corrections or additions.
The original documents are available at the Maryland State Archives, and mapping software can assist researchers in locating the original plot.