Skip to main content

NC Land Records before 1800: Home

Information on the different types of land records in Colonial North Carolina through the Revolutionary War and some resources available at the Government and Heritage Library

About this guide

This guide provides information on the various ways our ancestors acquired land before 1800. There were several ways the earliest settlers to North Carolina could receive land. They can always purchase from other residents, but there were several ways to get land from the crown before 1776 and from the state after the Revolutionary War. Resources are included from the Government and Heritage Library at the State Library of North Carolina.

This guide includes information on receiving land through headrights, as grants from the Lords proprietor and from the State after independence, as bounty land in Tennessee for service during the Revolutionary War, and land in Tennessee before statehood through the Wataugah Land Purchase.

Receiving land through a grant from the Lords Proprietor, the Crown, or the State was a multi-step process that could take months, event years to complete. The three types of land records you will see associated with land grants are entries, warrant,s and grants or patents. The numbers for the entry, the warrant, and the grant may all be different. this is especially true with Revolutionary bounty land.

  • The first step in the land grand process is the entry. Land entries are essentially applications to receive a parcel of vacant land.
  • The next step is the land warrant. This is an order from the court to the county surveyor to survey the land in question
  • The final step is the state granting the land with a land patent. The words patent and grant are often used interchangeably, but they do have a difference in meaning. A grant is the action of giving the land, but the resulting record is called a patent.

​Pages in this guide:

  • Land Records in 1663-1775 - Land practices during the colonial period just before the Revolutionary War
  • Land Records 1775-1790s - Land records during the Revolutionary period just before 1800. Bounty Land and that Wataugah Land Purchase
  • Terms - a lit of terminology found in land records
  • Sources - a list of sources at the Government and Heritage Library for land records before 1800
  • Get More Help: contact GHL library staff for additional assistance

Chat with a Librarian

Chat requires JavaScript.

Contact Information

Government & Heritage Library


Phone: (919) 807-7460


Physical address:
109 E. Jones St.
Raleigh, NC 27601

Mailing address:
4640 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-4600