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2555-001 1 of 2

COMMISSIONERS OF THE LAND OFFICE

By the end of the 18th century, the General Assembly felt it should have some control over all the various parcels of vacant and uncultivated land in the state, and raise some revenue in the process. In 17931, it was determined that the Governor was to appoint a reputable surveyor in each county; then, citizens could make application to their Recorder of Deeds for a specific parcel, and the Recorder would issue a warrant to the surveyor to locate and accurately plot the land. The returned plot was to be assessed by an appointed examiner, who, if he concurred, sent it back to the Recorder, who issued a grant for the property, once the purchase price was received by the State Treasurer. The Board of Commissioners would then approve or disapprove the sale. A record of all warrants and surveys was to be maintained by the Recorder and subsequently forwarded to the State Treasurer. Disputes were handled by the Board and could be appealed to the Supreme Court. Due to the confusion about records of Delaware property being located only in Philadelphia, a reputable lawyer was sent to the city to make copies of all Delaware land records he could locate.

From the records, it seems that the worst aspect of the Board of Commissioners was that the commissioners seldom showed up at the appointed times. In 17962, all outstanding surveys were ordered turned over to the Recorder of Deeds, and in 17993, the General Assembly had to legislatively revive the proceedings of the Kent County Board. The Sussex County Recorder of Deeds in 1806 was given the ability to act in the place of the commissioners should they not appear at a particular meeting.4

The land office is not mentioned in Delaware Laws after 1806.

2555-001 2 of 2

COMMISSIONERS OF THE LAND OFFICE

1 2 D.L., ch.45

2 2 D.L., ch.101

3 3 D.L., ch.71

4 4 D.L., ch.5

JRF April 6, 1989