New York State Secretary of State Record of Deeds, Mortgages, Regents Charters, and Other Documents

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Overview of the Records


New York State Archives
New York State Education Department
Cultural Education Center
Albany, NY 12230

THis series contains copies of conveyances (deeds and mortgages), and many other types of private and public documents recorded by the Secretary of the colony of New York, 1664-1783, and by the Secretary of State, 1783-1890. Series also includes applications for and copies of academy charters granted by the Board of Regents, 1788-1855, and notices of discovery of gold and silver mines, 1789-1839.
Record of deeds, mortgages, Regents charters, and other documents

22.2 cubic feet


43 volume(s)


20 35mm microfilm roll(s)

Inclusive Dates:
Bulk Dates:
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Original arrangment of volumes alphabetically remains intact, although volumes were later (and remain) numbered sequentially. Overal progression of the series from beginning to end is chronological. Entries in each book are usually chronological by date of recording (not by date of document, which often differs).

Administrative History

The Duke's Laws of 1665 and another act in 1674 required that conveyances of real property (deeds and mortgages) worth 30 pounds or more be recorded in the secretary's office in New York City. Counties were established in 1683, and an Assembly act of that year (Chapter 15) required the county clerks to record ("register") deeds and mortgages. Conveyances in which the consideration was more than 50 pounds were also recorded by the secretary. An act of 1710 (Chapter 216) permitted recording in either a county clerk's office or the secretary's office, options that were continued by several laws enacted between 1788 and 1813. Starting in 1799 a series of laws required the county clerk in the new counties in western, central, and northern New York to record all deeds and mortgages for lands in those counties. That requirement was eventually extended to several other counties (including New York County in 1811).

Recording in the county clerk's office (or in the New York City register's office) was required statewide by a law of 1823 (Chapter 263), with two exceptions. A law of 1798 (Chapter 72, as amended by later laws) required that all deeds to which one of the parties was an out-of-state or out-of-country resident be recorded by the Secretary of State. (That statutory requirement was repealed in 1896.) A law of 1806 (Chapter 167) continued to permit retrospective recording, by either the Secretary of State or a county clerk, of deeds pre-dating 1801. The Secretary of State, because he was considered a general recording officer or due to statutory requirement, recorded many other types of documents in the "deed" books.

Scope and Content Note

Before roughly 1720, many types of documents were recorded: deeds between private parties, including bargain and sale deeds; deeds of trust, partition, and gift; and mortgage deeds. Most of the deeds and mortgages pertain to lands in New York City and Long Island. (A few are confirmations of Dutch land grants made prior to 1664.) There are also conveyances of real property in remote parts of the colony of New York that were part of the royal grant to the Duke of York in 1664, including New Jersey, Delaware, Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, other islands, and part of Maine. Some conveyances relate to lands in other English colonies such as Bermuda, Jamaica, and other Caribbean islands. Official documents include a few letters and land grants from James, Duke of York; orders and commissions issued by the governor; a few executive pardons; and letters of denization (a form of naturalization, all prior to 1709).

Many other recorded documents concern private business affairs. They include contracts (many relating to maritime commerce, and a few to enslaved persons), powers of attorney, some wills and estate inventories, and a few marriage agreements. In the years around 1700 there are many licenses to marry, to teach school, to practice medicine, to engage in whaling, to erect a church, or to serve as a minister of the Gospel.

About a third of Book 1 is a private ledger of accounts, 1652-1654, kept in England for sales of cloth to merchants residing in Hamburg, Bremen, and other cities in northern Europe. Books 2-3 contain documents relating mostly to Long Island. They include deeds, settlements of land and boundary disputes, civil and military commissions and appointments, and many Indian deeds and a few treaties, dating from roughly 1648-1669. Almost all of the latter pertain to Long Island, but there are also recorded copies of the treaty between Gov. Richard Nicolls and the Esopus Indians, 1665, and a few Indian deeds for the Albany area.

After roughly 1720 and until the end of the Revolutionary War the series is almost entirely a record of deeds, mortgages, and powers of attorney. Commissions of civil officers were recorded during the British military occupation of New York City, 1776-1783. Starting in 1782 the series was labeled "Miscellaneous Records," to reflect its more diverse contents. It now included not only deeds and mortgages, but also a wide variety of other documents. Some of the deeds are accompanied by maps. Almost all of the conveyances recorded after 1798 had one party residing out-of-state or out-of-country. Many of the deeds and related documents pertain to large land tracts in the northern, central, and western parts of the state.

The post-1800 books also contain patentees' assignments of patents (land grants); State Comptroller's deeds for lands sold by the state for non-payment of real property taxes; and descriptions of properties acquired by the United States government for lighthouses. Books 22-24 contain numerous assignments by Revolutionary War veterans of their rights to military bounty land grants, recorded by the Secretary of State pursuant to a 1784 law (Chapter 63). Miscellaneous documents recorded during the 1780s and 1790s include records of the state board of canvassers for state elections; some appointments of state and local civil officers, including justices of the peace; releases of widows' dower rights; a statistical abstract of the state census of 1786; and names of subscribers to shares of stock in the Northern Inland Lock Navigation Company and the Western Inland Lock Navigation Company.

The series also includes applications to the Regents of the University of the State of New York for charters of academies and copies of the charters, 1788-1855, mostly found in Books 42-43. Laws of 1855, Chapter 471, transferred the recording function from the Secretary of State to the secretary of the Board of Regents, and Regents charters were thereafter recorded in State Archives Record Series 17261. Notices of discovery of gold and silver mines (and other mineral resources) were recorded in this series (as required by Laws of 1789, Chapter 18) until 1839. Thereafter such notices were recorded in State Archives Record Series A0449.

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 Material

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

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.

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

A0449 Registers of Notices of Discovery of Gold and Silver Mines and other Minerals, contains related material.

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 and Company, printers, 1885).

Other Finding Aids

Available at Repository

Each book contains a name index to grantors, grantees, and other parties.

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

Series A0479 Index to deeds and mortgages, partly indexes deeds by name of grantor and grantee.

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.

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.

Certain documents are published in Victor Hugo Paltsits, ed., Minutes of the Executive Council of the Province of New York: Administration of Francis Lovelace 1668-1673, 2 vols. (Albany: 1910).

Documents relating to Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard are published in Franklin B. Hough, ed., Papers Relating to the Island of Nantucket; With Documents Relating to the Original Settlement of That Island, Martha's Vineyard, and Other Islands Adjacent, Known as Dukes County, While Under the Colony of New York; Compiled from Official Records in the Office of the Secretary of State at Albany, New York (Albany: 1856).

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).

Volume list is available at the repository.

Custodial History

Most of the books in this series were originally arranged and alphabetically lettered in two series, the latter series labeled "Miscellaneous Records." In the early nineteenth century the two series were combined and the books numbered sequentially. Entries in each book are usually chronological by date of recording (not by date of document, which often differs).

Access Restrictions

Microfilm is not available for duplication or interlibrary loan.

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