New York State Engineer and Surveyor Records of Surveys and Maps of State Lands
Use the Google search to the entire collection. You can also browse the alphabetical index. However, given the structure of this index, you are more likely to find results with the Google search.
Names of Loyalists and Purchasers of Loyalist Lands
List of British Soldiers Applying for Land Grants
ArrangementCertain records in the series are grouped by subject. For example, records relating to state roads are found in Volume 1; material on town boundaries appears in Volumes 3 and 4; and documents relating to the sale of Loyalist lands by the Commissioners of Forfeitures are found in Volumes 7, 8, 9, 10, and 17.
New York's revolutionary government began seizing the personal and real property of suspected Loyalists in the summer of 1776. Statutes of 1779 and 1784 authorized the forfeiture and sale of real property of "persons who have adhered to the enemies of this State." An individual's real property became forfeit to the state when he was adjudged guilty of treason, either by an act of attainder passed by the State Legislature, or by trial and conviction in the Supreme Court of Judicature. Commissioners of Forfeitures were appointed to manage, sell at public auction, and convey by deed the lands forfeited to the state.
The Commissioners of Forfeitures operated in four disctricts: Western District (Albany, and Tryon/Montgomery Counties); Eastern District (Charlotte, Cumberland, and Gloucester Counties); Middle District (Dutchess, Orange, and Ulster Counites; and Southern District (New York, Kings, Queens, Richmond, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties).
Scope and Content Note
This 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.
Series A1816, New York State Assembly Petitions, Correspondence, and Reports Relating to Forfeited Estates, contains related information.
Other finding aids
Each volume is indexed alphabetically by county, town, name or location of tract or patent, name of landholder, and name of surveyor. The series is also indexed by Series B1858, Card File Index to Records of Surveys and Maps of State Lands and Volume 3 of Series A4024, Indexes to Maps and Land Records.
Use of Records
There are no restrictions regarding access to or use of this series.
Corporate Name: New York (State). Dept. of Transportation
Corporate Name: New York (State). Commissioners of Forfeitures
Corporate Name: New York (State). Surveyor General
Geographic Name: New York (State)
Subject: American loyalists
Subject: Real property
Genre/Physical Characteristic: Maps
Genre/Physical Characteristic: Land surveys
Genre/Physical Characteristic: Field notes
Function: Surveying land
Function: Surveying land
Title: Land papers, 2nd series