Research


Scope and Content Note

This series, commonly referred to as "Land Papers, 2nd series,"contains the miscellaneous filed papers of the New York State Surveyor General and the State Engineer and Surveyor. The series documents the role of the Surveyor General and State Engineer and Surveyor in establishing the boundaries of public and private lands, and in planning the development of the State's transportation system. A number of volumes contain documents relating to the sale of Loyalist lands by the Commissioners of Forfeitures during and after the Revolutionary War.

The series contains records of land surveys undertaken for applicants for land grants; for landholders; to resolve disputes over property lines; and in preparation for land use by the State. A wide variety of document types are present: survey descriptions and measurements; survey diagrams; survey maps showing lots and numbers, name of town, names of landholders, property lines, route and length of roads, and waterways; small proofs of maps used in compiling David H. Burr's atlas of New York State in 1829; appraisals of the value of various tracts or lots; surveyors' certifications that land had been surveyed; correspondence and maps relating to errors in and corrections to previous surveys and maps; instructions to surveyors directing them to survey various lands; correspondence from surveyors discussing work they had done; petitions for land, often from soldiers; and Surveyor General's responses to petitions for lands or for resolution of property line disputes.

Volumes 7-10 and 17 of the series consist entirely or partly of documents relating to the sale of lands of Loyalists. These documents include contracts of sale by the Commissioners of Forfeitures; drafts or copies of deeds issued by the Commissioners of Forfeitures (up to 1788) and the Surveyor General (1788 and later); formal "locations" of lands by applicants to purchase; descriptions and surveys of those lands; and appraisals of the value of those lands. Occasionally other documents including correspondence, copies of judgments of attainder, and additional land title documentation are included. The series contains documents pertaining to forfeited lands in all sections of the state except for the Southern Disctrict (New York, Kings, Queens, Richmond, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties). Most records concern lands located in the Western District (Albany and Tryon/Montgomery Counties).

NOTE: The name index included in this finding aid pertains only to two very specific subsets of the series - 1. Records pertaining to loyalists and/or the sale of land confiscated from loyalists during and after the Revolutionary War; 2. Applications for land grants submitted by veterans of British regiments that served in the American colonies during the Seven Years' War. Researchers interested in other portions of the series must consult the paper indexes available onsite.