Land grant

Land grant

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A land grant is a gift of real estate
Real estate
In general use, esp. North American, 'real estate' is taken to mean "Property consisting of land and the buildings on it, along with its natural resources such as crops, minerals, or water; immovable property of this nature; an interest vested in this; an item of real property; buildings or...

 – land or its privileges – made by a government or other authority as a reward for services to an individual, especially in return for military service
Military service
Military service, in its simplest sense, is service by an individual or group in an army or other militia, whether as a chosen job or as a result of an involuntary draft . Some nations require a specific amount of military service from every citizen...

. Grants of land are also awarded to individuals and companies as incentives to develop unused land in relatively unpopulated countries; the process of awarding land grants are not limited to the countries named below.

Ancient Rome

Roman soldiers
Military history of ancient Rome
From its origin as a city-state in Italy in the 8th century BC, to its rise as an empire covering much of Southern Europe, Western Europe, Near East and North Africa and fall in the 5th century AD, the political history of Ancient Rome was typically closely entwined with its military history...

 were given rewards at the end of their service including cash or land (praemia). Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

 fixed the amount in AD 5 at 3000 denarii
In the Roman currency system, the denarius was a small silver coin first minted in 211 BC. It was the most common coin produced for circulation but was slowly debased until its replacement by the antoninianus...

 and by the time of Caracalla
Caracalla , was Roman emperor from 198 to 217. The eldest son of Septimius Severus, he ruled jointly with his younger brother Geta until he murdered the latter in 211...

 it had risen to 5000 denarii.


Starting from 1788, the British crown granted land to released convicts in the colony of New South Wales
New South Wales
New South Wales is a state of :Australia, located in the east of the country. It is bordered by Queensland, Victoria and South Australia to the north, south and west respectively. To the east, the state is bordered by the Tasman Sea, which forms part of the Pacific Ocean. New South Wales...


Males were allowed 30 acre (12.1 ha), plus 20 acre (8.1 ha) if they were married, and 10 acre (4 ha) additional per child. Instructions were issued on 20 August 1789 that non-commissioned Marine Officers were to be entitled to 100 acre (40.5 ha) additional and privates to 50 acre (20.2 ha) additional.

Governor Macquarie
Lachlan Macquarie
Major-General Lachlan Macquarie CB , was a British military officer and colonial administrator. He served as the last autocratic Governor of New South Wales, Australia from 1810 to 1821 and had a leading role in the social, economic and architectural development of the colony...

 canceled land grants issued during the Rum Rebellion
Rum Rebellion
The Rum Rebellion of 1808 was the only successful armed takeover of government in Australia's history. The Governor of New South Wales, William Bligh, was deposed by the New South Wales Corps under the command of Major George Johnston, working closely with John Macarthur, on 26 January 1808, 20...

 1808-09, although some were later renewed.

Land grants started to be phased out when private tendering was introduced, and stricter limits were placed on grants without purchase. The instructions to Governor Brisbane
Thomas Brisbane
Major-General Sir Thomas Makdougall Brisbane, 1st Baronet GCH, GCB, FRS, FRSE was a British soldier, colonial Governor and astronomer.-Early life:...

 were issued on 17 July 1825. Eventually, on 9 January 1831, Viscount Goderich
Viscount Goderich
Viscount Goderich was a title that was created twice in British history. The first creation came in the Peerage of England in 1706 in favour of Henry Grey, 12th Earl of Kent. He was made Marquess of Kent at the same time and was further honoured when he was made Duke of Kent in 1710. All the titles...

 commanded that all land was to be sold at public auction
Public auction
A public auction is an auction held on behalf of a government in which the property to be auctioned is either property owned by the government, or property which is sold under the authority of a court of law or a government agency with similar authority....


There were also significant land grants in the Swan River Colony
Land grants in the Swan River Colony
The Swan River Colony, established in June 1829, was the only British colony in Australia established on the basis of land grants to settlers. Under the conditions stipulated by the Colonial Office, settlers would be granted land in proportion to the value of assets and labour that they brought to...

, and in Van Diemen's Land
Van Diemen's Land
Van Diemen's Land was the original name used by most Europeans for the island of Tasmania, now part of Australia. The Dutch explorer Abel Tasman was the first European to land on the shores of Tasmania...

 from 1803.

Land Grant Railways

  • In 1886, the Midland Railway of Western Australia
    Midland Railway of Western Australia
    The Midland Railway of Western Australia was a privately built and operated railway in Western Australia, operated by the British-owned Midland Railway Company of Western Australia...

     was granted land concessions to build and operate a railway from Midland, near Perth, to Walkaway, near Geraldton.

  • In 1889, a land grant railway was from Roebuck Bay
    Roebuck Bay
    Roebuck Bay is a bay on the coast of the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Its entrance is bounded in the north by the town of Broome, and in the south by Bush Point and Sandy Point. It is named after HMS Roebuck, the ship captained by William Dampier when he explored the coast of...

     in Western Australia
    Western Australia
    Western Australia is a state of Australia, occupying the entire western third of the Australian continent. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, the Great Australian Bight and Indian Ocean to the south, the Northern Territory to the north-east and South Australia to the south-east...

     to Angle Pole
    Angle Pole
    Angle Pole is a locality in the Northern Territory where the direction of the Telegraph Line changed to a more northerly direction.- Transport :...

     in the Northern Territory
    Northern Territory
    The Northern Territory is a federal territory of Australia, occupying much of the centre of the mainland continent, as well as the central northern regions...

     or South Australia
    South Australia
    South Australia is a state of Australia in the southern central part of the country. It covers some of the most arid parts of the continent; with a total land area of , it is the fourth largest of Australia's six states and two territories.South Australia shares borders with all of the mainland...

     was proposed. This would have been 1000 miles (1600km) long. Angle Pole was a locality where the Telegraph line had bend in it. It was stillborn. The gauge would have been .

  • In 1909, a land grant railway was proposed in Queensland
    Queensland is a state of Australia, occupying the north-eastern section of the mainland continent. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean...

     from Charleville
    Charleville, Queensland
    Charleville is a town in south western Queensland, Australia, 758 kilometres by road west of Brisbane . It is the largest town and administrative centre of the Murweh Shire, which covers an area of 43,905 square kilometres...

     to Point Parker
    Point Parker
    Point Parker is a desolate place in Queensland on the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria opposite Allen Island and south of Mornington Island. The point is distinctive as the coast makes a 135 degree turn at this location.- Transcontinental railway :...

     on the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria
    Gulf of Carpentaria
    The Gulf of Carpentaria is a large, shallow sea enclosed on three sides by northern Australia and bounded on the north by the Arafura Sea...

    , but this was stillborn.


The Hudson's Bay Company
Hudson's Bay Company
The Hudson's Bay Company , abbreviated HBC, or "The Bay" is the oldest commercial corporation in North America and one of the oldest in the world. A fur trading business for much of its existence, today Hudson's Bay Company owns and operates retail stores throughout Canada...

 was incorporated in 1670 with the grant of Rupert's Land
Rupert's Land
Rupert's Land, or Prince Rupert's Land, was a territory in British North America, consisting of the Hudson Bay drainage basin that was nominally owned by the Hudson's Bay Company for 200 years from 1670 to 1870, although numerous aboriginal groups lived in the same territory and disputed the...

 by King Charles II of England
Charles II of England
Charles II was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.Charles II's father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War...

; this vast territory was greater than one third the area of Canada today. Following the Rupert's Land Act in the British Parliament, Rupert's Land was sold in 1869 to the newly-formed Canadian Government for the nominal sum of £300,000.

Land grants were an incentive for the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway


The Plantations of Ireland
Plantations of Ireland
Plantations in 16th and 17th century Ireland were the confiscation of land by the English crown and the colonisation of this land with settlers from England and the Scottish Lowlands....

 in the 16th and 17th centuries involved the confiscation of some or all the land of Irish lords and its grant to settlers ("planters") from England or Scotland. The English Parliament's Adventurers Act
Adventurers Act
The Adventurers' Act is an Act of the Parliament of England, with the long title "An Act for the speedy and effectual reducing of the rebels in His Majesty's Kingdom of Ireland".-The main Act:...

 1642 and Act for the Settlement of Ireland 1652
Act for the Settlement of Ireland 1652
The Act for the Settlement of Ireland imposed penalties including death and land confiscation against participants and bystanders of the Irish Rebellion of 1641 and subsequent unrest.-Background:...

 specifically entitled "Adventurers" who funded the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland
Cromwellian conquest of Ireland
The Cromwellian conquest of Ireland refers to the conquest of Ireland by the forces of the English Parliament, led by Oliver Cromwell during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. Cromwell landed in Ireland with his New Model Army on behalf of England's Rump Parliament in 1649...

 to lands seized from the leaders of the Irish Rebellion of 1641
Irish Rebellion of 1641
The Irish Rebellion of 1641 began as an attempted coup d'état by Irish Catholic gentry, who tried to seize control of the English administration in Ireland to force concessions for the Catholics living under English rule...

 and the ensuing Confederacy
Confederate Ireland
Confederate Ireland refers to the period of Irish self-government between the Rebellion of 1641 and the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland in 1649. During this time, two-thirds of Ireland was governed by the Irish Catholic Confederation, also known as the "Confederation of Kilkenny"...


United States

In Colonial America, starting in the 16th century, land grants were given for the purpose of establishing settlements
A town is a human settlement larger than a village but smaller than a city. The size a settlement must be in order to be called a "town" varies considerably in different parts of the world, so that, for example, many American "small towns" seem to British people to be no more than villages, while...

, missions, and farm
A farm is an area of land, or, for aquaculture, lake, river or sea, including various structures, devoted primarily to the practice of producing and managing food , fibres and, increasingly, fuel. It is the basic production facility in food production. Farms may be owned and operated by a single...

s. Countries granting land included Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, Portugal, the Netherlands, and Britain.
Under colonial law, a patentee had to improve the land. Under this doctrine of planting and seeding, the patentee was required to cultivate 1 acres (4,046.9 m²) of land and build a small house on the property, otherwise the patent would revert to the government.

Starting with the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

, United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 veterans often received land grants in lieu of other remuneration.

Between 1783 and 1821, Spain offered land grants to anyone who settled in their colony of Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

. When that colony was transferred to the United States, the resulting treaty agreed to honor all valid land grants. As a result, years of litigation ensued over the validity of many of the Spanish Land Grants.

During the Mexican period of California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 (and other portions of Mexican territories inherited from New Spain
New Spain
New Spain, formally called the Viceroyalty of New Spain , was a viceroyalty of the Spanish colonial empire, comprising primarily territories in what was known then as 'América Septentrional' or North America. Its capital was Mexico City, formerly Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec Empire...

), hundreds of ranchos
Ranchos of California
The Spanish, and later the Méxican government encouraged settlement of territory now known as California by the establishment of large land grants called ranchos, from which the English ranch is derived. Devoted to raising cattle and sheep, the owners of the ranchos attempted to pattern themselves...

 and large tracts of land were granted to individuals by the Mexican government. The ranchos established land-use patterns that are recognizable in the California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 of today.

Controversy over community land grant claims in New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

 persist to this day.

During the 19th century, extensive land grants were made to railroads, since their development was seen as a new form of transportation internal improvements
Internal improvements
Internal improvements is the term used historically in the United States for public works from the end of the American Revolution through much of the 19th century, mainly for the creation of a transportation infrastructure: roads, turnpikes, canals, harbors and navigation improvements...

. The Land Grant Act of 1850 provided for 3.75 million acres of land to the states to support railroad projects; by 1857 21 million acres of public lands were used for railroads in the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 valley, and the stage was set for more substantial Congressional subsidies to future railroads. Four out of the five transcontinental railroad
Transcontinental railroad
A transcontinental railroad is a contiguous network of railroad trackage that crosses a continental land mass with terminals at different oceans or continental borders. Such networks can be via the tracks of either a single railroad, or over those owned or controlled by multiple railway companies...

s in the United States were built using land grant incentives.

Since the conclusion of the Spanish-American war, there has not been a legitimate use of Land Grants.

See also

  • Atrisco Land Grant
    Atrisco Land Grant
    The Atrisco Land Grant of 1692 is one among many Spanish land grants in New Mexico. It is in the the Atrisco Valley in the vicinity of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The grant was established during the New World expansion of the Spanish Empire, as part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain...

  • Land patent
    Land patent
    A land patent is a land grant made patent by the sovereign lord over the land in question. To make a such a grant “patent”, such a sovereign lord must document the land grant, securely sign and seal the document and openly publish the same to the public for all to see...

  • Land-grant university
    Land-grant university
    Land-grant universities are institutions of higher education in the United States designated by each state to receive the benefits of the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890....

  • Military Tract of 1812
    Military Tract of 1812
    In May 1812, an act of Congress was passed which set aside bounty lands as payment to volunteer soldiers for the War against the British...

  • Mexican land grants in Arizona
  • Province of Carolina
    Province of Carolina
    The Province of Carolina, originally chartered in 1629, was an English and later British colony of North America. Because the original Heath charter was unrealized and was ruled invalid, a new charter was issued to a group of eight English noblemen, the Lords Proprietors, in 1663...

  • Ranchos of California
    Ranchos of California
    The Spanish, and later the Méxican government encouraged settlement of territory now known as California by the establishment of large land grants called ranchos, from which the English ranch is derived. Devoted to raising cattle and sheep, the owners of the ranchos attempted to pattern themselves...

  • Sea-grant college
    Sea grant colleges
    The National Sea Grant College Program is a program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration within the U.S. Department of Commerce...

  • Space-grant college
    Space grant colleges
    The space-grant colleges compose a network of 52 consortia, based at universities across the United States, for outer space-related research. Each consortium is based in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia or Puerto Rico and consists of multiple independent institutions, with one of the...

  • United States Court of Private Land Claims
    United States Court of Private Land Claims
    The United States Court of Private Land Claims , was a United States court created to decide land claims guaranteed by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, in the territories of New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah, and in the states of Nevada, Colorado, and Wyoming.-Origins:During Spanish and Mexican rule...

External links