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Jno: Van Vechten
Volcort Van Vechten
Solomon Van Vechten
Cap : Hendrick Van Renselaer
Martin Van Alstine
Marte Van Alstine Junr
Cornelis Van Alstine
Jan: Van Alstyne
Wm: Van Alen
Pursuant to an Order of Court of Judicature held for the Province of New York on the Eleventh Day of June 1720, Directed to Gerrit Vanschaick high Sheriff of the City and County of Albany; A Returne of the free holders of the said City and County.
Gerret Vanschaijck Sheriff
STATE OF THE LANDS IN THE PROVINCE OF NEW YORK IN 1732,
BY CADWALLADER COLDEN, SURVEYOR GENERAL.
In obedience to your Excellency's Commands, I now lay before you the State of the Lands in this Province, in the best manner I am capable of, by a plain Narrative of such facts as have come to my knowledge.
It may be necessary in the first place to observe, that the Kings Commissioners, who were sent in the year 1664 to reduce this Country to the Kings obedience (it being then in the possession of the Dutch) issued a Proclamation wherein they Promised and Declared, that whosoever of what Nation soever will upon the Knowledge of this Proclamation, acknowledge and testify themselves to submit to his Majesties Government, as good subjects ought to do, shall be protected by his Laws and Justice, and peacibly enjoy what ever Gods blessing and their own industry hath furnished them with, and all other privilidges with English Subjects And by the third article of Surrender, agree'd to with the Dutch Gov1' it is stipulated that Jill People shall continue free Denizens, and enjoy lands, houses, goods, ships wheresoever they are within the County, and dispose of them as they please. And by the eleventh Article The Dutch here shall enjoy their own customs concerning inheritances.
In pursuance of which the Inhabitants took out Confermations of their Lands and tenements under the hand and seal of Coll Nicholls the first English Governor under the Duke of York in which their Title under the Dutch is recited, and the form of these Confirmations appear to be every where the same.
Govr Nicholls likewise granted unimproved Lands, to any that were willing to settle and improve them and these first grants were made without any previous survey, or without reciting any certain Boundaries, but only to contain for example 100,200 or 300 Acres adjoining to such another mans Land, or to a certain Hill or Eiver, or Rivulet
The Reddendum in these first Grants varied from time to time. At first it was Paying the usual Rents of New Plantations, what that was is now a dispute, but perhaps it may still be ascertained by living Evidences and sometimes their is added as a condition of the Grant, that the Grantee shall do and perform such acts and things as shall be appointed By his Royal Highness or his Deputy.
In about a years time the form of the Reddendum was changed as follows Paying such duties as shall be constituted and ordained by his Royal Highness and his heirs or such Govr or Govrs as shall from time to time be appointed or set over them. It is probable people were not willing to axcept of Grants upon such precarious terms and therefore we find this form soon after changed into the foling, Paying such duties and acknowledgements as now are or hereafter shall be constituted and established by the Laws of this Government.
What Laws were then in being or afterwards enacted I know not tho° perhaps they are still among the Records; but it is to be observed, that the Legislative authority was then assumed by the Gov* and Council without the assent or concurrence of the Representatives of the People and the Laws then made are now in disuse. And for this Reason, none of these Lands pay now any Quitrgnt, tho7 their number be large, being, as I compute, not less than a Thousand: but I take into
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this computation all those grants in recording whereof the Clerks have omitted all that part of the grant which is commonly called the Habendum and Reddendum. The reason of which neglect, I suppose to be that they were all in the same words with a few that are Recorded at length in the beginning, for so much is recorded as wherein they can differ, when the Habendum and Reddendum is the same viz The Motives to the Grant, the bounds to the thing granted, and the Grantees name and designation
Before I proceed further, It will be likewise necessary to observe that the greatest part of Long Island,Viz all that part which lies opposite to Connecticut,was settled from Connecticut, and claimed by the Inhabitants under the Connecticut Title, to which in pursuance of the Proclamation above mentioned some regard is had. For the first, or at least the principle Grants of Lands upon this Island, are made in Townships according to the custom of Connecticut, & to the Freeholders and Inhabitants which supposes a previous Title some I know, think that these Grants of Townships are not Grants of the Soil, but only for the Good Government of these parts of the Country, as I remember it is expressly mentioned in the Patents for the Townships of Southampton and Southold and perhaps it is so in others likewise, and the Governours who granted these Town Patents continued to grant the Soil, within the limits of these Townships, as some of the succeeding Governours did likewise, However most of all the Lands within these Townships are held by Grants from Trustees, or Common Council of these Towns upon the General Town rights only. If these Town Patents should not be valid, as to the whole Soil contained within their limits yet they may operate as a confirmation of the particular rights and possessions of those who are called freeholders in the said Grants. These Town Patents are generally upon small yearly acknowledgements—
Notwithstanding that the Govrs under the Duke of York, took these extraordinary methods to secure their Masters Authority, and interest, they made some Grants of Large Tracts of Land, upon trifling Quitrents but as these are very few in Comparison of what happened afterwards what observations 1 have to make on this head will come in more properly in another place.
Sir Edmond Andross the third English Gov1' of New York, as he seems to have had the interest of his Master and of the People he Governed as much at heart as any Govr that has at any time been set over this Province so he was very carefull in Granting of Lands: All lands to be Granted were Surveyed before the Grant and bounded in the Grant according to the Survey. The Quitrents were likewise fixed by the Grant, generally at the rate of one Bushel each hundred acres tho'some times at a higher rate and sometimes the rent was less, probably as the value of the land was represented. And as these grants are the most profitable to the Lords of the soil, so are they to the Tenant, they being free of all those disputes about their Boundaries which have in a great measure rendered some others useless to the grantees. Sr Edward has left but a few exceptions to be made to this general account given of his care of his Masters Interest. Coll Dungan who succeeded him, followed his steps in the Granting of Lands, but the exceptions to the General Good Rule are both more numerous and more considerable than in Sr Edmonds administration.
While Coll Dungan was Govr the Duke of York became King by which the property of the Soil and the Quitrents became annexed to the crown, and have continued so ever since, but as the Revolution happened soon afterwards, there is nothing material to be observed 'till after that time.
After the Revolution the Grants of Lands to all ran in the Kings name, whereas before that they were made in the Govrs name that granted the Land, and this method of Granting in the Govrs name was continued after the Duke of York became King, as it was before.
Coll Slaughter the first Governor after the Revolution, found the Country in such confusion and lived so short a while that I think only one Patent passed in his time for Lands. But Coll Fletcher who succeeded him, made amends by the liberal hand with whLh he gave away Lands. The most extraordinary favors of former Govrs were but petty Grants in comparison of his He was a generous