Research

New York State Secretary's Office Record of Deeds

Held by the New York State Archives


Overview of the Records

Repository:

New York State Archives

New York State Education Department

Cultural Education Center

Albany, NY 12230

Summary:
This series contains deeds recorded in the office of the Secretary of the Colony (from 1664 to 1783) and the Secretary of State (from 1783 to 1890). Prior to 1700, the deed books were used to record various contracts in addition to conveyances of real property. Beginning in the eighteenth century, the overwhelming majority of entries documented conveyances of real property between private parties.
Creator:
Title:
Quantity:
22.2 cubic feet (43 volumes)
Inclusive Dates:
1659-1890
Series Number:
A0453

Administrative History

The Duke's Laws of 1665 provided for recording conveyances of land worth 30 pounds or more in the secretary's office in New York City. These instruments were first recorded by the clerks of the courts of sessions, who transmitted copies to the Secretary of the Colony. The first Assembly of 1683 (Chap. 15) established a recording system for conveyances of real property involving a consideration of 50 pounds or more. The county clerk or the register of deeds was required to transmit copies of all recorded conveyances once a year to the Secretary. Laws of 1684, Chap. 9, required that all deeds from Indians be "entered on record" in the Secretary's office, along with any certificates of satisfaction upon payment. These three acts were the legal authorization for keeping the series of deed books during the colonial and early statehood periods.

Laws of 1798, Chap. 78, and Laws of 1801, Chap. 155, permitted recording of land conveyances either in the county clerk's office or in the office of the Secretary of State. However, these acts required that all deeds executed after February 1, 1799 in the new western counties be recorded in the clerk's office in the county where the land was located. The recording requirement was subsequently extended to include all other counties, but the place of recording for those counties remained optional. Laws of 1839, Chap. 295, required that all deeds be recorded either in the county clerk's office or in the office of the register of deeds in New York City. This act abolished the option of recording only in the office of the Secretary of State, though deeds could still be recorded there as well as locally.

Scope and Content Note

This series contains deeds and other instruments recorded in the office of the Secretary of the Colony (from 1664 to 1783) and the Secretary of State (from 1783 to 1890). In the seventeenth century the deed books record not only conveyances of real property but also many other "deeds." In its broadest meaning a deed was any contract bearing the seals of the parties, and duly delivered from one party to the other. After the turn of the seventeenth century, the overwhelming majority of entries are for conveyances of real property between private parties. Only very rarely do the deed books record grants of land from the crown or the state, or releases of land back to the state.

The series also contains recorded copies of academy charters granted by the Board of Regents prior to 1847; after 1847, recorded copies of Regents charters are found in series 17261, Charters and amendments. During the 19th century acts of incorporation of academies and other educational institutions could also be passed by the State Legislature. Recorded copies of those legislative "charters" (though not technically so named) are found in series 13036, Enrolled acts of the State Legislature.

Deed books for early nineteenth century include recorded notices of discovery of gold, silver, or other minerals. Abstracts of those notices are found in the first volume of Series A0449, Register of Gold and Silver Mines.

Use of Records

Access Restrictions

Microfilm is not available for duplication or interlibrary loan.

Alternate Formats Available

Microfilmed in 1973 at the Department of State by the Genealogical Society of Utah, microfilm reels 945268-945287. Cataloged by the GSU as part of a collection called “Deeds, 1659-1846.”

GSU microfilm has been digitized by FamilySearch. Images can be viewed online at FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries (including the New York State Archives and the New York State Library).

Related Information

Related Materials

Series 13036 Enrolled acts of the State Legislature, also contains 19th century acts of incorporation of academies and other educational institutions

Series B1371 Charter of the Proprietary Colony from Charles II to the Duke of York, contains the 1664 royal patent from Charles II, King of England, to his brother James, Duke of York

Series 17261 Charters and amendments, contains recorded copies of Regents charters granted after 1847

Series A0449 Register of Gold and Silver Mines contains abstracts of notices discovery of gold, silver, or other minerals.

Other finding aids

Series A3074, Abstracts and indexes of deeds, indexes this series by grantor, grantee, and location.

Series A4688, Grantor index to deeds and other miscellaneous documents recorded or filed by the Secretary of State, indexes this series by grantor.

Series A4689, Grantee index to deeds and other documents recorded or filed by the Secretary of State and Office of General Services, indexes this series by grantee.

This series is partially indexed by Series A4690, Location index to deeds and other documents recorded or filed by the Secretary of State and Office of General Services; by Series A4691, Location index to releases to the state; by Series A4694, Old index to field books and maps; and by Series A4695, Bureau of Land Management Index to maps. Lists of academy charters recorded and delivered, found in Series B1447 Volume 1, effectively index charters recorded in this series.

Maps in deed books are indexed in David E. E. Mix, "Catalogue of Maps and Surveys in the Offices of the Secretary of State, State Engineer and Surveyor, and Comptroller" (Albany, 1859), pages 125-133.

Naturalizations and denizations of aliens recorded in the colonial deed books are abstracted in Kenneth Scott and Kenn Stryker-Rodda, Denizations, Naturalizations, and Oaths of Allegiance in Colonial New York (Baltimore: 1975) (entries starting ca. 1700), and in Terri Bradshaw O’Neill, “Naturalizations in the New York Secretary of State Deeds,” New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, 139 (2008), 18-25 (additional entries, 1686-1717).

Maps in deed books are indexed in Freeborn G. Jewett, comp., Catalogue of Records of the Office of Secretary of State (Albany: 1898), pages 32-123.

Volume list is available at the repository.

Related Publications

The published annual reports of the Regents of the University of the State of New York start in 1790 and contain references to Regents' charters granted. Summary information on academies and colleges chartered by the Regents or incorporated by act of the Legislature is found in Franklin B. Hough, Historical and statistical record of the University of the State of New York, during the century from 1784 to 1884 (Albany, Weed, Parsons & Company, printers, 1885).

Other Descriptive Data

The published annual reports of the Regents of the University of the State of New York start in 1790 and contain references to Regents' charters granted. Summary information on academies and colleges chartered by the Regents or incorporated by act of the Legislature is found in Franklin B. Hough, Historical and statistical record of the University of the State of New York, during the century from 1784 to 1884 (Albany, Weed, Parsons & Company, printers, 1885).

Access Terms

Geographic Name(s):
Subject(s):
Genre(s):
Function(s):