New Brunswick Land Grants
Records of New Brunswick land grants exist from 1784 to 1997.
As noted in my page Nova Scotia Land Grants, the province of New Brunswick was originally part of Nova Scotia.
It became a separate province in 1784, after an influx of United Empire Loyalists caused a sudden increase in the population, and it became necessary to divide what is now Eastern Canada into more administrative divisions. This meant that the government could better manage and provide services to the much larger population.
New Brunswick land grants began in 1785. At that time, all those who had previously been granted lands under Nova Scotia’s land grant system were required to re-register their deeds in New Brunswick.
The process for applying for a land grant was similar to that in other provinces governed by British law:
- An individual or group of persons would apply for a grant of land.
- A decision would be made either approving or denying a grant.
- Between 1785 and 1840, the Committee on Land made these decisions.
- After 1840, the Department of Crown lands made the decision, which was recorded on the petition.
- Once a grant was approved, a land survey would be done through the department of the Surveyor General.
- Once the survey was returned to the Crown Land Office, the grant was drafted, recorded, and issued.
- A copy of the grant, notarized by the Great Seal of New Brunswick and the signatures of the Lieutenant Governor and other officials, would be given to the grantee (the settler) as proof that he owned the property.
Once the settler had the required ownership of the land, any subsequent transactions having to do with that land – i.e., sales, mortgages, liens, divisions, etc. of the property - should be registered in the Registry Office in the county where the property was located.
However, it was not mandatory for the changes having an impact on ownership to be registered. Many of them were not. Those that were are found in the New Brunswick Archives, in series RS84-RS98.
Land Grant Map, Saint-Louis-de-Kent, New Brunswick.
Public domain. Wikimedia Commons
Where Can I Find the Records?
The New Brunswick Archives has two on-line, searchable indices relating to the transfer of Crown land to individuals, groups, churches, or companies:
- RS108, entitled “Index to Land Petitions: Original Series, 1783-1918”. Although this series does go to 1918, 98% of the entries are between 1783 and 1867. The index is searchable by entering surname, forename, county, and year of grant. (If the year of grant is unknown, the entire database will be searched).
Land petitions prior to 1850 are much more useful to the genealogist than those after that year, as it appears that a simplified form requiring very little biographical information was used for petitions beginning in that year, and virtually all petitions were granted.
Land petitions prior to 1850, in contrast, were not so likely to be granted. Petitioners therefore supplied details of their family, their economic situation, their service in the Army (either British or on the British side in the American Revolutionary War), and any other details which might be more likely to make a favourable impression on those deciding the matter, both as to this particular family’s need for the land, and as to how deserving they were of receiving the land. Detailed biographical information about the family – and particularly about the husband – therefore was supplied.
A related series, RS272, entitled “Land Petitions: Current Series contains land petitions from 1918 to the present. An ongoing series, it is not available online; and
- RS686, entitled “Index to New Brunswick Land Grants, 1784 – 1997”. This index is searchable in four different ways:
- by name and county;
- by county and place within the county at the time the land was granted. The New Brunswick Archives notes that county names and boundaries have changed over time. Since the population continued to increase, counties were divided into small portions, and the number of counties went from 8 to 15; and
- by year; and
- by grant number.
The grants themselves are available only on microfilm. Consult your local library with respect to whether these microfilm are available for interlibrary loans.
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