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Colonial Wars Bounty Lands (VA-NOTES)

As early as 1630, the governor's Council offered grants of land to persons who settled on the frontier. In 1646, the Council issued patents to the fort captains and men for the lands on which outlying forts were built along with the lands surrounding the forts. And, in 1701, in an unsuccessful attempt to garrison the frontier, patents equal to four times the headright were offered to groups of men who would undertake the defense of the frontier. None of these offers met with a great deal of success.

Later in the colonial period, bounty lands were offered as an incentive or reward to men who performed military service during the French and Indian War; however, the area in which the land was available was closed by the Proclamation of 1763, so it was not until 1779, and after, that the bounty was actually awarded.

Those persons who performed requisite service had first to obtain a certificate showing proof of that service; some of these certificates were signed in 1774 by Lord Dunmore but most came from county courts in 1779 and 1780. These certificates show the name of the solder; his rank, unit, and length of service; the county in which his service was proved (which was not necessarily his county of residence); the number of the certificate; and any assignment made on the certificate up to the time the warrant was issued.

The land granted on the basis of colonial wars service was in Virginia counties and the resulting grants are searchable through the Virginia Land Office Patents and Grants/Northern Neck Grants and Surveys.

Beware, however, that many colonial soldiers assigned their warrant to speculators or others interested in moving west. All records pertaining to colonial bounty land service are available in manuscript form only.

H. J. Eckenrode's List of the Colonial Soldiers of Virginia, which was published as a Special Report of the Department of Archives and History for 1913 by the Virginia State Library, and William Armstrong Crozier's Virginia Colonial Militia, published initially in 1905 and reprinted several times since, most recently in 1982, contain the most detailed lists of Virginians who performed military service during the colonial era.

An online series on Research in Virginia Documents.
Prepared by Daphne Gentry, Publications and Education Services Division.
Copyright by The Library of Virginia; this note may be reproduced in full if proper credit is given and no changes are made