Gazetteer of New York, 1860 & 1861 page 046
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The absolute property of all the lands in the State is vested in the respective owners, liable only
to escheat and to the reservation of gold and silver mines in such as derive title from Colonial
.1    .

The law prohibits the leasing of agricultural lands for a longer period than twelve years.2 The care
and sale of lands belonging to the State are intrusted to the Commissioners of the Land Office.
These commissioners have also the sole right of dealing with the Indians for the sale and surrender
of reservations, excepting within the territory whereof the pre-emptive right of purchase was ceded
to Massachusetts and is now held by the Ogden Company.

The Commissioners of the Land Office were created by an act of May 11,1784,
to carry into execution the promises of bounty lands for Revolutionary services which had been
made by the Legislature in 1780. As now formed, this Board consists of the Lieutenant Governor of
the State, Speaker of Assembly, Secretary of State, Comptroller, Treasurer, Attorney General, and
State Engineer and Surveyor. The Deputy Secretary of State is
ex officio Clerk of the Board, and
the meetings are held in the Secretary’s office, upon the call of the Secretary of State.

When State lands are to be sold, they are first surveyed, appraised, and advertised for sale at
auction, and their minimum bid affixed. The lots that remain without a bid are liable to be taken
by the first applicant upon payment of one-fourth of the price and giving bonds for the residue.
If they remain unsold any considerable time, they are re-appraised ajid offered at a lower rate

The lands under water in the bays around Long Island are in most cases the property of the
townships, by virtue of original patents; and the privilege of fishing and taking oysters and clams
is by some towns held as exclusively belonging to their inhabitants

2 This feature was adopted to prevent the recurrence of anti¬
rent difficulties. The Legislature, in 1846, enacted a law pro¬
viding that all lands previously rented for a life or lives, or for
more than 21 years, should be taxed as the personal property
of the persons receiving the rents, to an extent equal to a sum
that at legal interest would produce the annual rent. Such
taxes were made payable in the Cos. where tne lands lay; and
this unpleasant encumbrance has largely contributed to reduce
the amount of lands thus held.

s Unappropriated lands in the counties of Clinton, Essex,
Franklin, Hamilton, Montgomery, Saratoga, St. Lawrence,
Washington, and Warren may be sold by the commissioners in
quantities of not less than 160 acres, if already surveyed, at such
price as they may be found worth. If over 1,000 acres, they
may be surveyed and sold for their value, and may not be
assessed at a higher rate for five years. Lands sold under fore¬
closure of loan mortgages are bid in by the Loan Commissioners
if liable to go for less than the sum due. They are then sold
by auction, or otherwise, for the best invests of the State,
under the regulations above stated. Land under water may be
conveyed by the Commissioners of the Land Office, pnder regu¬
lations fixed by law. Notice of application for such grants
must be advertised for six weeks in the co. newspaper where the
lands lie, and posted on the courthouse door. These notices
must describe the adjoining lands and give the names of their
owners. Applicants must make affidavit that they intend to
appropriate the lands applied for to commercial purposes. The
co. judge, or supervisor and town clerk, or two assessors of the
town where the lands lie, must make affidavit that the land is
not more than is necessary for the purposes of commerce, and
that the persons applying are believed to be
bona fide applicants
for the purposes stated. Applicants must also produce an accu¬
rate map of the proposed grant and the adjacent lands owned
by them, certified by the oath of a surveyor; and also a correct
description in writing, with courses and distances, and the
soundings for every 50 feet on the exterior line. The map must
show the general course of the shore for a mile each way, and
the particular cburse at the point applied for, and include all
docks, bulkheads, or other improvements, the names of owners
of lands adjoining, and the width of the channel or river if less
than two miles. The deduction of title and proof that the lands
belong to the State must also be produced, with claim of owner
ship by the applicant, or by himself and those under whom he
claims. The patent is conditioned to occupation in the mode

agreed upon within years, and the fees are $5.00. Grants

under the waters of navigable rivers and lakes can only be made
to the owners of the land along the shores; and the com¬
missioners are restricted in their powers so far as relates to
New York City and the Hudson River R. R.

* Around Staten Island .the owners of the shores possess the
right of using or leasing the adjacent lands under water for
planting oysters.. The custom of granting lands under water
without the restrictions here enumerated has led to seriou3
encroachments upon the harbor of New York, the details of
which are stated on pages 418, 419.


The Dutch Government sometimes granted lands in the
Colony without the formalities of Indian purchase; but it was
the rule of the English to first extinguish the aboriginal title.
It was customary to apply to the Governor and Council for
leave to purchase. If granted, a treaty was held and- an Indian
deed obtained, a warrant was issued to the Surveyor General
tor a survey, and the map and field notes were reported. The
Attorney General was then directed to prepare a draft of a
patent, which Was submitted to the Governor and Council, and,
if approved, was engrossed upon parchment, recorded, sealed,
and issued. The fees incident to procuring a patent were im¬
portant sources of revenue to the officers concerned. Only 1,000
acres could he granted to one person; but this rule was evaded
by associating great numbers of merely nominal parties; and
the officers through whose hands the papers passed were often
largely interested in the grants. The Colonial Government in
this respect became exceedingly corrupt, and stood greatly in
need of a reform like that wrought, by the Revolution. In a
few isolated cases grants of land were made directly by the
crown, and no records appear in our offices. Of this class was
the Royal Grant to Sir Wm. Johnson, n. of the Mohawk.
Patents for land were generally very formal, and abounded in
repetitions. The grants were “in fee and common socage.” as
in the manor of East Greenwich, in the co. of Kent, and in¬
cluded with the land all “ houses, messuages, tenements, erec¬
tions, and buildings, mills, milldams, fences, inclosures, gardens,
orchards, fields, pastures, common of pastures, meadows,marshes,
swamps, plains, woods, underwoods, timber, trees^rivers, rivu¬
lets, runs, streams, water, lakes, ponds, pools, pits, brachen,
quarries, mines, minerals, (gold and silver [wholly or in part]
excepted,) creeks, harbors, highways, easements, fishing, hunt¬
ing, and fowling, and all other franchises, profits, commodities,
and appurtenances whatsoever.” This enumeration of rights,
more or less varied, was embraced in all land patents. Colonial
grants were usually conditioned to the annual payment of a
quitrent, at a stated time and place named in the patent. This
payment was sometimes due in money, and often in wheat or
other commodity. Others were conditioned to the payment of
the skins of animals or a merely nominal article, as simply an
acknowledgment of the superior rights of the grantors. The




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