|Pages 1-27||Pages 50-71|
| CHAP. VII.
An Act permitting those who will not take oaths to be otherwise qualified.
|[From revised Bills of 1779, chap. CXIX p. 83; Chan. Rev. p. 89.]|
|BE it enacted by the General Assembly, That any person refusing to take an oath, and declaring religious scruples to be the true and only reason of such refusal, if he will use the solemnity and ceremony, and repeat the formulary observed on similar occasions, by those of the church or religious societies he professeth himself to be a member of, or to join in communion with, shall thereupon be deemed as competent a witness, or to be as duly qualified to execute an office, or perform any other act, to the sanction whereof an oath is or shall be required by law, and shall be subject to the same rules, derive the same advantages, or incur the same penalties of forfeitures, as if he had been sworn. In presentments, indictments, inquisitions, verdicts, examinations, or other forms, the words "upon their oath" or "sworn" may be left out, and instead of them "in solemn form" or "charged" whichever may be adapted to the case, may be inserted; but if the antient form be adhered to, it shall not be adjudged errour.||Solemnities and forms instead of oaths.|
An Act for raising a body of Cavalry.
|BE it enacted by the General Assembly, That for defence of the commonwealth, under the present invasion, it shall be lawful for the governour, with the advice of the council of state, to cause to be raised by voluntary enlistments, so many troops of cavalry, as in their judgments shall be requisite, to be formed and officered as they shall think best.||Troop of cavalry to be raised, at discretion of executive, during existing invasion.|
|The officers and troopers shall receive such pay, rations, and forage, as are allowed and given to the cavalry of the United States, and to commence from the time of their rendezvous. They shall continue in service during the present invasion, unless sooner discharged by the governour and council. Each of the said troopers shall bring his own horse into the service, and if such horse be killed, otherwise die, be captured, or lost during service, not through the default of the trooper; or if any arms or accoutrements, with which the trooper may furnish himself, be taken, injured, or lost, without his default, the same shall be paid for out of the publick treasury, at such price as shall be estimated by three indifferent persons, to be appointed and sworn by the commanding officer of the said cavalry, truly and impartially to value the same, according to the best evidence which they shall be able to procure. The said troopers during their service, shall be subject to the same rules and articles of discipline and government, to which the militia are subject when called into actual service.|
An Act for fixing the allowance of the members of the General Assembly.
|[Chan. Rev. p. 90.]|
|WHEREAS it is just that the members of general assembly, delegated by the people to transact for them the legislative business, should, while attending that business, have their reasonable sustenance defrayed, dedicating to the publick service their time and labours, freely and without account; and it is also expedient that the publick councils should not be deprived of the aid of good and able men, who might be detered from entering into them, by the insufficiency of their private fortunes to bear the extraordinary expenses they must necessarily incur, and it being inconsistent with the principles of civil liberty, and contrary to the natural||Preamble.|
|rights of the other members of the society, that any body of men therein should have authority to enlarge their own powers. prerogatives or emoluments, without restraint: the said general assembly cannot at their own will increase the allowance which their members are to draw from the publick treasury for their expenses while in assembly, but to enable them so to do, an application to the body of the people has become necessary, and such application having been accordingly made to the several counties, and a majority of them having thereupon consented that the said allowance shall be enlarged, and authorized their members to enlarge the same for themselves, and the members of all future assemblies to fifty pounds of neat tobacco by the day for attendance on assembly, and two pounds of like tobacco for every mile they must necessarily travel gong to or from the same, together with their ferriages, to be paid in money out to the publick treasury, at such rate as shall be estimated by the grand jury at the session of the general court next, before the meeting of every session of assembly, governing themselves in the said estimate by the worth of the said tobacco, and the competence of the same to defray the necessary expenses of travelling and attendance. Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, by express authority from the body of the people, that the allowance to the several members of the present, and of all future general assemblies, shall be of fifty pounds of tobacco by the day for attendance on the said assemblies, two pounds of the like tobacco for every mile they must necessarily travel going to or from the same, together with their ferriages, to be paid to them in money out of the publick treasury, at such rate as shall be estimated by the grand jury at the session of the general court next, before the meeting of each respective session of assembly, governing themselves in the said estimate by the worth of the said tobacco, and the competence of the same to defray the necessary expenses of travelling and attendance.|| Wages of members of assembly, in
tobacco, how estimated & paid. |
|WHEREAS it is at present uncertain whether the monies directed to be emitted by an act of the last assembly, entitled "An act for providing a supply in aid of the loan office," and those which have, and shall come into the treasury, until the taxes of the present year be paid in, will be sufficient to answer the calls for the publick service: Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That it may and shall be lawful for the treasurer of this commonwealth, to issue treasury notes in dollars for any sum, or sums, which may be required to supply the deficiency, until the taxes of this present year shall be paid in, so as the sum to be issued by authority hereof do not exceed one million of pounds. And he shall cause such notes to be engraved and printed in such manner, and on such paper, as he shall judge most likely to secure the same from being counterfeited. He shall appoint proper persons to overlook the press, and to number and sign the notes, upon the best terms he can. The bills of credit to be emitted by virtue of this act, shall be entered in the auditors office to the debit of the treasurer, and be signed in the left hand corner by one of the auditors or of their clerks, or by any assistant clerk to be appointed for this special purpose by the auditors, who shall receive such allowance for his service as they shall judge reasonable; without which signature, the said notes or bills of credit shall not be current. If the taxes imposed by the several acts now in force shall be insufficient to answer the purposes for which the said taxes were laid, and also for the redemption of the notes to be issued by authority of this present act, farther provision shall be made by law for making good the deficiency, and redeeming the whole before the first day of December, which shall be in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty six.||Further emission of paper money authorised.|
| CHAP. XI.|
An Act for raising a body of troops for the defence of the commonwealth.
|FOR the better defence of the commonwealth and providing a force sufficient to repel any hostile invasion: Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That four regiments of infantry be raised, two for the defence of the western frontiers, and two for the defence of the eastern limits of this state. Each regiment to be commanded by a lieutenant colonel commandant (who shall take rank of a colonel of militia) and a major, the regiments to be divided into ten companies, each company to be commanded by one captain, one lieutenant, and one ensign, the field officers, as well as the inferiour commissioned officers, to be appointed by the governour, with the advice of the council, and commissioned by the governour. The whole to be arrayed, armed, disciplined, and provided as the governour and council, from time to time, shall direct. For completing those regiments, each county in this state, and the city of Williamsburg, except the county of Illinois, shall furnish one twenty fifth part of their militia. And for the more speedy and certain mode of raising the said men: Be it enacted, That the county lieutenant or commanding officer of each county within this commonwealth, so soon as he is certified of this act, shall summon the four senior justices, not being field officers, and the field officers of his county, to meet at such convenient time and place in the said county as he shall appoint, within not less than five, or more than ten days after due notice thereof to them given, which said justices and field officers, or in the absence of any of them, any two or more of the said justices, and any two or more of the said field officers having first taken an oath, to be administered by the senior justice to the other members, and by some one of the other justices to him, to do equal and impartial justice to the best of their judgment therein, shall proceed to lay off the militia in their respective counties into divisions, agreeable to the act of the last session of assembly, entitled|| Four regiments to be raised, two for the defence of the
western, and two for the eastern frontiers. |
How officered and organized.
|"An act for speedily recruiting the Virginia regiments on continental establishment;" each division so laid off, is hereby required to produce to the county lieutenant, one able bodied man, on or before the first day of August next. Every able bodied volunteer enlisting for any division, shall be entitled to a bounty from the division of seven hundred and fifty dollars, to be paid by the individuals therein, and there shall be added to every division so laid off, every person liable to a tax within the bounds of the said districts, making them as equal as possible, who shall pay in proportion to their respective taxable property as it stands taxed for the present year. Every division returning such volunteer soldier, shall be entitled to a discount for the bounty aforesaid in the next years tax, in proportion to the respective sums paid by the individuals therein. The field officers of each county, or a majority of them, shall meet on the first day of August, and direct certificates to be given to every individual of the sums severally paid for their respective proportions of the bounty aforesaid, such certificates to be taken by the commissioners of the tax in evidence of the discount to be allowed to each individual in the tax of the next year. If any of the said divisions shall fail to furnish an able bodied man in fifteen days after the said first day of August, the said justices and field officers are hereby empowered and required, to appoint some reputable diligent man in each of the said districts or divisions so failing, to enlist one able bodied volunteer to serve as a soldier for the time aforesaid, and when any soldier shall have so enlisted, the person who enlisted him shall carry him before the county lieutenant or commanding officer of the militia, who is hereby required carefully to view and examine such soldier, and if he shall be found able bodied and fit for military service, to give certificate thereof, which shall entitle the person enlisting him, to receive the sum of ten dollars for his charge and trouble, and the said county lieutenant or commanding officer shall also certify to the said justices and field officers, for what district and division such soldier hath been enlisted, the bounty he is entitled by law to receive, which sum, together with the sum of ten dollars for the charge of enlisting, and five per centum for collection, shall be forthwith levied upon every person male and female, within such district,|
|in proportion to the rate of each persons last assessment, to be adjusted and ascertained by the said justices and field officers; for which purpose the commissioners of the tax are hereby required to furnish them at their first meeting, with an exact alphabetical list or account of every persons assessment in the county, and the said justices and field officers are hereby authorized and required to nominate and appoint some reputable and responsible person for each district, speedily to make such collection, and when any person chargeable with his proportion as aforesaid, shall refuse or neglect to make payment thereof within ten days after the same shall have been demanded, it may and shall be lawful for such collector to distrain for the same, in manner directed by the act entitled "An act for raising a supply of money for publick exigencies," provided that the sums so collected entitle the payer to the same discount as if voluntarily advanced. All officers and soldiers serving in any of the regiments to be raised by virtue of this act, shall be entitled to the same pay, benefits, privileges and emoluments, provided for the officers and soldiers of this state by the act of this present session of assembly, entitled "An act concerning officers, soldiers, sailors, and marines." All soldiers enlisted by virtue of this act, shall be entitled to a discharge from the commanding officers to the respective regiments on the twenty first day of December, one thousand seven hundred and eighty one.|| Pay and emoluments. [See ante p. 6.] |
|Provided always, That the executive of this state may discharge any of the said regiments whenever their service is not necessary for the defence of this state. The said regiments shall not be marched out of this state, except to the assistance of North Carolina, Maryland, or the western frontiers of Pennsylvania in case of invasion.|
|[Chan. Rev. p. 90.]|
|I. WHEREAS the various and vague claims to unpatented 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 purchasers would be discouraged from taking up lands upon the terms lately prescribed by law, whereby the fund to be raised in aid of the taxes for discharging the publick debt, would be in a great measure frustrated; and it is just and necessary, as well for the peace of individuals 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 college, acting in conformity to the laws and rules of government then in force, and founded either upon 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,|| Preamble. |
[See 2 Rev. Code of 1819 p. 354 to 482 for this, and the subsequent acts.]
Surveys, what declared valid.
|* 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 original.|
|regularly made before the 26th day of October, in the year 1763, or on the eastern waters 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 order 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 heirs or assigns, claiming under the late governour Dinwiddie's 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 college, 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 surveys 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 mentioned 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 founded,|
|* See Vol. 7, p. 663, for the king's proclamation of 1763.|
| See Vol. 7, p. 661, for governor Dinwiddie's proclamation of 1754.|
|be entitled to a grant or grants for the same in manner and form herein after directed.|
|II. Provided, That such surveys and rights be returned to the said office within twelve months next after the end of this present session of assembly, otherwise they shall be, and are hereby declared forfeited and void. All persons, their heirs or assigns, claiming lands under the charter and ancient custom of Virginia, upon importation rights as before limited, duly proved, and certified in any court of record before the passing of this act; those claiming under treasury rights for money paid the receiver general duly authenticated, or under proclamation warrants for military service, and not having located and fixed such lands by actual surveys as herein before mentioned, shall be admitted to warrants, entries, and grants for the same, in manner directed by the act of assembly entitled "An act for establishing a land office, and ascertaining the terms and manner of granting waste and unappropriated lands,"* upon producing to the register of the land office the proper certificates, proofs, or warrants, as the case may be, for their respective rights within the like space of twelve months after the end of this present session of assembly, and not afterwards. All certificates of importation rights proved before any court of record according to the ancient custom, and before the end of this present session of assembly, are hereby declared good and valid: And all other claims for importation rights not so proved, shall be null and void; and where any person before the end of this present session of assembly, hath made a regular entry according to act of assembly, with the county surveyor for any tract of land not exceeding four hundred acres, upon any of the eastern waters, which hath not been surveyed of forfeited, according to the laws and rules of government in force at the time of making such entry, the surveyor of the county where such land lies, shall after advertising legal notice thereof, proceed to survey the same accordingly, and shall deliver to the proprietor a plat and certificate of survey thereof within three months; and if such person shall fail to attend at the time and place so appointed for making such survey, with chain carriers and a person to mark the lines, or shall fail to deliver such plat and certificate into the land office, according to the rules and regulations of the same, together with the auditors certificate|| Proviso. |
Under what rights and in what manner grants shall be made.
* See the next chapter.
|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 to a grant for such tract of land as in other cases.|
|III. And be it enacted, That all orders of council or entries for land in the council books, except so far as such orders or entries respectively have been carried into execution by actual surveys in manner herein before mentioned, shall be, and they are hereby declared void and of no effect; and except also a certain order of council for a tract of sunken grounds, commonly called the Dismal Swamp, in the south eastern part of this commonwealth, contiguous to the North Carolina line, which said order of council with the proceedings thereon and the claim derived from it, shall hereafter be laid before the general assembly for their further order therein. No claim to land within this commonwealth for military service founded upon the king of Great Britain's proclamation, shall hereafter be allowed, 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 to 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 detachment of militia.|| Rights claimed under certain orders of council, and a royal
proclamation declared void. |
Except actual surveys; and except the Dismal Swamp.
|IV. And whereas great numbers of people have settled in the country upon the western waters, upon 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||Settlement rights, upon the western 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 before the first day of January, in the year one thousand seven hundred and seventy eight, have really and bona fide settled themselves or their families, or at his, her, or their charge, have settled others upon any waste or unappropriated lands on the said western waters, to which no other person hath any legal right or claim, shall be allowed for every family so settled, four hundred acres of land, or such smaller quantity as the party chooses, to include such settlement. and where any such 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.|| |
[See Journal of Convention of June 24, 1776 − & 2 Rev. Code of 1819, p. 350 − See also vol. 9, p. 355, 356.]
|V. And whereas several families for their greater safety have settled themselves in villages or townships, under some agreement between the inhabitants of laying off the same into town lots, to be divided among 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 situated, 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 allowed 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 respective 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,||Provision for families settled in villages or townships.|
|upon producing to him certificates of their rights from the said commissioners of the county, duly attested, within twelve months next after the end of this present session of assembly, and not afterwards; which certificate the said surveyor shall record in his books, and then return them to the parties, and shall proceed to survey the lands so entered, according to law. And upon due return to the land office of the plats and certificates of survey, together with the certificates from the said commissioners of the rights, by settlement upon which the entries were founded, grants may and shall issue to them and their heirs or assigns, in manner before directed. And if any such settlers shall desire to take up a greater quantity of land than is herein allowed them, they shall on payment to the treasurer of the consideration money, required from other purchasers, be entitled to the preemption of any greater quantity of land adjoining to that allowed them in consideration of settlement, not exceeding one thousand acres, and to which no other person hath any legal right or claim. And to prevent doubts concerning settlements, It is hereby declared, That no family shall be entitled to the allowance granted to settlers by this act, unless they have made a crop of corn in that country, or resided there at least one year since the time of their settlement. All persons who, since the said first day of January, in the year one thousand seven hundred and seventy eight, have actually settled on any waste or unappropriated lands on the said western waters, to which no other person hath a just or legal right or claim, shall be entitled to the preemption of any quantity of land, not exceeding four hundred acres, to include such settlement at the state price to other purchasers. And all those who, before the said first day of January, in the year one thousand seven hundred and seventy eight, had marked out or chosen for themselves, any waste or unappropriated lands, and built any house or hut, or made other improvements thereon, shall also be entitled to the preemption uno the like terms, of any quantity of land, to include such improvements, not exceeding one thousand acres, and to which no other person hath any legal right or claim; but no person shall have the right of preemption for more than one such improvement; provided they respectively demand and prove their right to such preemption,|| Settlement, and preemption rights defined. |
Grants for, how obtained.
|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 surveyor 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 soldiers upon the lands of actual settlers, shall be void, but the said officers, soldiers, or their assignees, may obtain warrants on producing the commissioners certificate 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 count 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 shall not be entered and located with the county surveyor, within the before mentioned space of twelve 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 upon any other waste or unappropriated lands, or upon the same lands where they have not in the mean time been entered for by some other.|| Locations, by officers and soldiers, on lands of settlers,
What locations intitled to preference.
|VI. And be it farther enacted, That all persons claiming lands, and suing out grants upon any such surveys heretofore made; either under entries with the 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 herein allowed them in consideration of their settlements, or under former entries with the county surveyor, for lands upon the eastern waters, shall be subject to the||Composition money in what cases to be paid.|
|payment of the usual composition money under the 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 common office fees. And to all such persons, their heirs or assigns, who having title to land under the former government, had not only surveyed the same, but had lodged their certificates of survey, together with their rights, in the secretary'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.|
|VII. And whereas it hath been represented to the general assembly, that upon lands surveyed for sundry companies by virtue of orders of council, many people have settled without specifick agreement, but yet under the faith of the terms of sale publickly offered by the said companies or their agents at the time of such settlements, who have made valuable improvements thereon: Be it enacted and declared, That all persons so settled upon any unpatented lands, surveyed as before mentioned, except only such lands as before the settlement of the same, were notoriously reserved by the respective companies for their own 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 companies, 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 include his settlement, and leave the remainder in one entire and convenient piece where the same is practicable.||Agreements between companies claiming under orders of council, and purchasers, from them regulated.|
|VIII. And whereas the claims of various persons to the lands herein allowed to the inhabitants, in consideration of their settlements, and of those who, by this||Commissioners for adjusting and determining|
|act, are entitled to preemption at the state price, as well as of the settlers on the lands surveyed for sundry companies by orders of council as aforesaid, may occasion numerous disputes, the determination of which depending upon evidence, which cannot, without great charge and trouble, be collected, but the neighbourhood of such lands will be most speedily and properly made by commissioners in the respective counties: Be it enacted, That the counties on the western waters shall be allotted into districts, to wit: 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 Kentucky, shall be 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 such 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 me; and finally in all things belonging to my said office, I will faithfully, justly, and truly,||claims to lands on the western waters, how appointed, their oath, duty, power, and modes and rules of proceeding.|
|according to the best of my skill and judgment, do equal and impartial justice, without fraud, favour, affection, 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, and shall immediately upon receipt of their commissions, give at least twenty days previous notice by advertisements at the forts, churches, meeting-houses, 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 adjourn from place to place, and time to time, as their business may require; but if they should fail to meet at any time to which they shall 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 office to their clerk; be attended by the sheriff, or one of the under sheriffs of the county; be empowered to administer oaths to witnesses or 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 tot he county surveyor's books, and may order the same to be laid before them, at any time or place of their sitting, and shall pay to such surveyor, out of the fees received by them for certificates, the sum of three pounds for every 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 person who made the first actual settlement, his or her|
|heirs or assigns, 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 of all the persons to whom either lands 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 located 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. Upon application of any person claiming a right to any lands in virtue of this act, and complaining that another pretends a right in opposition thereto, the said clerk shall issue a summons, stating the nature of the plaintiffs claim and calling on the party opposing the same, to appear at a time and place certain therein to be named, and shew cause why a grant of the said lands may not issue, or a title be made to the said plaintiff: The said summons shall be served on the party by the sheriff of the county where he resides, or wherein he may be found, and such service being returned thereon, and the party appearing or failing to appear, the commissioners may proceed to trial, or for good cause shewn, may refer such trial to a farther day. The clerk shall also have power at the request of either party, to issue subpœnas for witnesses to appear at the time and place of trial, which shall be 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 principles of law or equity, as are applicable to the case, or would be the rule of evidence or of dicisiion, were||Conflicting rights how adjudged by commissioners.|
|the same before the ordinary courts of law or equity; save only as far as this act shall otherwise have specially directed. Judgment when rendered shall be final, except as herein after excepted, and shall give to the party in whose favour it is, a title against all others who were parties to the trial; and if after such judgment rendered, the party against whom it is, shall enter the said lands forcibly, or forcibly detain the same, it shall be lawful for the said commissioners or any one of them, or any justice of peace for the county, to remove such force, in like manner as if it were committed on lands holden by grant actually issued. The said commissioners shall deliver to every person to whom they shall adjudge lands for settlement, a certificate thereof under their hands, and attested by the clerk, mentioning the number of acres, and the time of settlement, and describing as near as may be, the particular location, noting also therein the quantity of adjacent land to which such person shall have the right of preemption. And to every other person to whom they shall adjudge the right of preemption to any lands, they shall in like manner deliver a certificate, specifying the quantity and location of such land, with the cause for preemption, with a memorandum for the information of the party in each certificate of the last day on which the lands therein respectively mentioned can be entered with the county surveyor: For every hundred acres of land contained within the said certificates, the party receiving the same, shall pay down to the commissioners the sum of ten shillings, besides a fee of ten shillings to the clerk for each certificate so granted; and the said certificates produced within the times herein before respectively limited to the surveyor of the county, or to the register of the land office, with the auditors certificate of the treasurer's receipt for the payment due on the preemption, as the nature of the case may require, shall entitle the person respectively receiving them, to an entry and survey, or a warrant for the said lands, in such way, and on such terms as herein before prescribed. And to prevent frauds or mistakes, the said commissioners immediately upon having completed the business in their district, shall transmit to the register of the land office, under their hands, and attested by their clerk, an exact list or schedule in alphabetical order, of all such certificates|| |
Judgment final, between parties to trial.
Certificates of settlement.
and preemption, how to be given.
Commissioners to return lists to register.
|by them granted, and a duplicate so signed and attested to the county surveyor for their information. They shall in like manner, and upon payment of the same fees, deliver to every person to whom they shall adjudge, a title to any unpatented land, surveyed for any company by order of council, a certificate mentioned the number of acres to which they have adjudged the title, what particular survey the same is in, and for what company made, the price to be paid such company, and the date from which the same is to bear interest, and where there is a greater quantity of land contained in the survey, describe as near as may be, the manner the land to which they have adjudged title, shall be laid off and bounded; and shall also immediately upon having completed the business in their district, transmit to the clerk of the general court, under their hands, and attested by their clerk, a list or schedule in alphabetical order, containing exact copies of all such certificates by them granted, to remain in the said clerk's office for the information of the said companies, and as evidence and proof of the respective titles.|| |
Duty of commissioners in relation to lands adjudged against companies.
|IX. Provided nevertheless, That if the parties, their heirs or assigns, to whom such titles shall have been adjudged, shall not within six months at farthest, from the time of their respective judgments in their favour, pay or tender to the company to whom the same is due, or their agent, the price and interest so fixed by the said commissioners, the title of every person so failing, shall be forfeited, and shall be from thence forward, to all intents and purposes, null and void; any thing herein to the contrary thereof notwithstanding. The said commissioners for every day they shall be actually employed in the execution of their office, shall be allowed the sum of eight pounds each; they shall be accountable for all the money they shall have received upon issuing certificates as aforesaid, except the fee to the clerk, and shall settle a fair account upon oath, with the auditors, and receive from the treasurer whatever balance may appear due to them thereon, or pay to him any balance which shall be by them due to the commonwealth. The clerk and sheriff shall receive for their services, the fees heretofore allowed by law for the like services in the county court, and the witnesses the same allowance for their attendance, to|| In what cases rights adjudged against companies forfeited.
Allowances to commissioners, clerk and sheriff.
|be paid by the party, and collected in like manner as is directed in the ordinary cases of the same nature, and the clerk shall have the same power of issuing executions as the clerks of the county courts; provided that the clerk shall not be allowed any farther or other fee for entering and issuing a certificate than is herein before mentioned. But as by this summary mode of proceeding, some persons at a greater distance may not have timely notice, and may be unable to appear in support of their claims, for remedy whereof, Be it enacted, That no grant shall issue upon any of the claims determined by the said commissioners until the first day of December, 1780, and in the mean time, any such person injured by their determination, his or her heirs or assigns, may enter a caveat against a grant thereupon, until the matter shall be heard before the general court, and may petition the said general court to have his or her claim considered; and upon its being proved to the court that he or she laboured under such a disability at the time of the meeting of the commissioners thereupon, the court shall grant him or her a hearing in a summary way, and if it shall appear upon trial, that the petitioners claim is just, such court may reverse the former determination, and order a grant to issue for such land or any part thereof, on the terms herein before mentioned, to the person to whom they shall adjudge the same.|| |
Within what time caveats to judgments of commissioners may be entered in general court.
|X. And be it farther enacted, That all claims for lands upon surveys under any order of council or entry in the council books, shall be the respective claimers be laid before the court of appeals; which shall meet for that purpose on the sixteenth day of December next, and shall adjourn from day to day until the business be finished; or if it be proved to the court that any such claimer is unable to attend and prosecute his claim, or for other just cause to them shewn, they may order such claim to be tried before them on some future day. All such claims shall be heard and determined in a summary way, without pleadings in writing, upon such evidence as in the opinion of the court, the nature of the case may require; and no such claim shall be valid, but such only as shall be so heard and established by the said court of appeals, an don their certificate that any such claim hath been by them established, the register is hereby required to issue a warrant||Certain land claims to be laid before the court of appeals, and there decided.|
|or grant thereupon, according to the nature of the case, and the rules and regulations of the land office; and the attorney general is hereby required to attend the said court on behalf of the commonwealth|
|XI. Provided always, That nothing herein contained shall extend to officers, soldiers, or their assignees, claiming lands for military service. The register of the land office shall regularly record all land warrants issued by virtue of this act; they may be executed in one or more surveys, and may be exchanged or divided so as best to suit the purposes of the party, and shall remain in force until lands shall have been actually obtained for them, in the same manner with the warrants to be issued by virtue of the before recited act for establishing a land office. And when the said register shall make out a grant to any person or persons for lands due to him, her, or them, by virtue of this act, he shall recite therein as the consideration, the rights and cause for which the same became due, according to an act of general assembly, passed in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy nine, 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 if any part thereof is due in consideration of the ancient composition money, or the new purchase money paid to the commonwealth, the same shall be properly distinguished, and in every other respect the grant shall be drawn and pass in the form and manner prescribed by law for future grants of lands from the commonwealth.|| Proviso, in favour of officers and soldiers. |
Register's duty in recording land warrants, & making out the grants.
|XII. And whereas at the time of the late change of government, many caveats against patents for lands which had been entered in the council office, were depending and undetermined, Be it enacted, That all such caveats, with the papers relating thereto, shall be removed into the clerk's office of the general court, there to be proceeded on and tried in the manner directed by law for future caveats; but the same shall be determined according to the laws in force at the time they were entered; and upon the determination of any such caveat, a grant shall issue in the name of the person to whom such land shall be adjudged, his or her heirs or assigns, upon producing to the register of the land||Caveats depending at the revolution, how proceeded on.|
|office, within three months at farthest from the time of such judgment, an authentick copy thereof, together with the auditor's certificate of the treasurer's receipt for the antient composition money due thereon, at the rate of exchange herein before mentioned; but where the person recovering had before paid rights into the secretary's office, a grant shall issue in consideration thereof upon payment of the office fees only.|
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