This page created 31 Oct 2008
In 1624 Virginia became a royal colony, and all land issued was in the name of the crown and by the royal governor. A method of private land distribution quickly evolved, known as the headright system. Each person who entered Virginia to settle was given fifty acres, but in practice the land was awarded to the person who paid the cost of transportation of the emigrant. An annual quitrent was to be paid to the crown for each fifty acres owned, and the land was to be settled and cultivated within three years.
This system involved several steps resulting in the issuance of a patent (the colonial word for grant), which conferred legal title to the land. The potential patentee had first to present proof to the county court that a stated number of persons had been imported into the colony at his expense. Virtually no records are extant of this proof. The court issued a certificate of importation, which was in turn presented to the secretary of the colony in Williamsburg, who then issued a right. This was presented to the county surveyor. The land was surveyed and all papers were returned to the secretary. If all was in order, then a patent to the land signed by the governor was issued to the patentee, and a copy was entered into a patent book.
The persons who are claimed as headrights are named, and these names constitute the best surviving proof of immigration to Virginia in its early years. The persons brought to Virginia as headrights received no land, only those who paid their own passage. The right to land due by importing headrights could be sold (assigned) to another person before the patent was issued. Patents were often issued years and even decades after the names of headrights were submitted, and the headright did not necessarily reside on the land described in the patent. Patents were often re-patented if they had lapsed or to clarify or strengthen the title.
By the first quarter of the eighteenth century, the demand for land led to the establishment of the treasury right, which allowed the purchase of land directly from the crown. This quickly became the preferred method of land acquisition.1
The records below focus on land grants involving the Mims family in Colonial Virginia. I have endeavored to find all grants involving them, but a few may have been missed.
|3 Apr 1751
|transporting 4 persons into the colony
|200 ac. in York Co. south side of Charles River, abutting NW and NE upon a creek and the head thereof dividing this land and the late land of John Broach
|Headrights: Ann Moro, Joseph Woodrow, Eliza Hayor, Thomas Minnes. One of 3 grants to same grantee that date
|1 Jun 1657
|600 ac. for transporting 12 persons;
|1000 ac. in Lancaster Co. on north side of Rappahannock River adjoining a tract of land formerly surveyed for Captain Daniel Gookins by the side of the mountains, including 400 ac. previously granted to John Phillips 13 Jul 1653, assigned to Stanford by by his administrator
|old bk 4
new bk 4
|Headrights: Robert Cornoluit [?], Tho: Mims, Roger Simily [?], Tho Hubbard, a Negroes
Note: headrights not listed in new book.
|3 Feb 1662
|transporting 16 persons
|800 ac. in James City Co. on branches of Chickahominy Swamp, adjoing the land of Thomas Meredith, George Smith, Richmond Terrill, Edmund Price
|21 Apr 1895
|transporting 44 persons
|2317 ac. in St. Peter's Parish New Kent Co. adjoining his own land, also land of Edward Johnson’s Bassett and Astings. Formerly gtd. to John Underhill, Apl. 21st, 1690.
|Headrights include Tho: Mims
|23 Dec 1714
|500 ac. in Henrico Co. on south side of main branch of Tucahoe, beginning at a black oak & poplar corner of Wm Burton's standing on the south side of said creek, on his line S24°W 105 poles to a __ oak in his line, W 21°S 4 poles to a white oak in Benja Woodson's line, on Woodson's line NW 130 poles to a live oak, W34°S 308 poles to two corner hickorys to Tho P. Woodson's parting Thos Mims & Michael Johson, N12°E 500 poles to a poplar on the S side of a branch of Tucahoe parting the sd Mims & Johnson, down the branch 400 poles & 8 to beginning
|31 Oct 1726
|David Mims of Henrico Co.
|358 ac. on the north side of James River on Licking Hole Creek in Henrico Co., beginning at a white oak on the east side of Licking Hole Creek, E5°N 164 ch. to black oak, E27°S 36 ch. to white oak, S2_°W 80 ch. to tree, W 27°N 36 ch. to pine, W6°S 164 ch. to oak, N29°E 88 ch. to beginning
|31 Oct 1726
|David Mims of Henrico Co.
|358 ac. on the north side of James River on Licking Hole Creek in Henrico Co., beginning at the SW corner of said Mims's land surved the same day, on his line E2°N 164 ch. to tree, E27°S 36 ch. to pine, S29°W 80 ch. to pine, W27°N 36 ch. to pine, W2°S 164 ch. to white oak, N29°E 80 ch. to beginning
The original records are handwritten, in some cases faded, and some films of poor quality. Errors no doubt were made.
In the property descriptions, I have extracted the contents rather than attempting to transcribe it exactly.
1. Adapted from "The Virginia Land Office," Minor T. Weisiger, compiler, Research & Information Services Division, Library of Virgina, revised September 2006, copy found on Library of Virginia website.
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by Terry Reigel