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NC Land Records before 1800: Terms

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.

Terminology Used in Early Land Records

Bounty land grants: These were land grants given as a result service Continental Line during the Revolutionary War. In North Carolina, bounty land was located in what later became Tennessee.

Chain: A measurement of length totaling 66 feet. 1 chain is the length of 100 links or 4 poles.

Courses and Distances: System North Carolina used that measured land based on compass directions (courses) and lengths of the line (distances).

Deed: Written agreement between one party (Grantor - the seller) transferring real property (i.e., land) to another party (Grantee - the buyer) in exchange for a specified amount of money. Deeds are recorded in deed books. During the time of slavery, real property could include the enslaved.

Grantee: Person who received land, whether by deed or grant.

Grantor: Person who sold land to a grantee.

Headright: Also called, was a British system that was adopted by North Carolina during the colonial era that allowed a certain amount of land for each person brought into the colony.

Land entries: The first step to acquire land from the state or colony; this was a petition for a specific tract of land by the prospective land owner that has been identified as vacant.

Land grants: Closely related to land patents, land grants were the act of transferring public lands to private individuals by means of a land patent.

Land patents: Land patents are the legal documents granting land to an individual from the state, the lords proprietors, or the Crown.

Land warrants: An order to the surveyor to set apart land which was loosely described in the warrant.

Links: A measurement of length equaling 7.92 inches.

Metes and Bounds: Boundary (bounds) lines of land with their specific points and angles (metes). Metes and bounds were used in North Carolina.

Poles: Also called a rod or perch, this is a unit of land measuring 5 and ½ yards and is ¼ of a chain.

Quitrents: A tax on land owned by the British Crown, generally 3 shillings for every 100 acres.  Quitrents were abolished during the Revolutionary War.