NC, SC & TN Land Grants



South Carolina Land Grants

Compiled by: Paul M. Kankula NN8NN (non-copyrighted)

09 Jan 2015





Land Grants in SC
A Bruce Pruitt in 2006   (permission granted 19-Jun-2012)


                Attempts to settle Europeans in SC began as early as 1528 when Spain established an outpost on Paris Island near Beaufort. Due to bad relations with the natives, the Spanish abandoned the outpost. In 1663 & 1665 King Charles II of England rewarded eight men who had helped him regain the English crown from the remnants of Cromwell's administration. These eight Lords Proprietor were given all the Land from Virginia to a little South of Daytona Beach, Florida. The lords intended to sell the Land in small pieces to anyone willing to live on the Land & pay a yearly quit rent.


Permanent settlements by the English began about 1669 in the Port Royal-Beaufort area; later most of those early settlers moved to Charles Town (or Charleston). Soon Charles Town became the seat of government for the entire proprietary. During the colonial period, Charles Town remained as the only place in SC where legal papers were recorded. This creates difficulty when we try to look for people residing in the western half of the colony. May people who lived there didn't bother to travel to Charles Town to record deeds, wills, or other records.


Grants during the proprietary period are in three categories. The earliest were head right grants. If a person arrived on the first ship load of settlers, he was qualified to look for 150 acres for himself & 100 acres for each person arriving with him (including any relative, friend, servant, or slave). If a person arrived later but in the first 3 years, he was qualified for 75 acres for himself & 50 acres for others arriving with him. If a person arrived after the first 3 years, he was qualified for 50 acres for himself & 50 acres for others arriving with him. The person needed to make a statement before the Council in Charles Town to begin the process. An order was issued to survey the Land. The settler paid for the survey & other clerical fees. A grant was issued when the survey was returned to Charles Town. People were allowed to later obtain a purchase grant if they wanted more Land. The settler applied to the Council, paid the same survey fees & clerical fees, & received a grant for as much Land as he could afford. The Lords reserved 20% of the Land in every county for themselves & another 20% for lower level lords called Land graves & cassiques. These grants were intended to be 12,000 acres each. Proprietary grants ceased in 1718 due to a dispute between the colonial legislature & the Lords. At the same time, the King became the head of government & appointed governors. In 1727, seven of the surviving Lords decided to relinquish to King George II all the Land that had not been granted. It took about two years for this agreement to be finalized. One Lord decided to retain his one eighth share. After a lengthy negotiation, it was decided that share would be in the northern part of NC. When the King took charge of the Land office, it was decided to divide the former proprietary into 3 separate colonies. Grants in SC by the King's officials began about 1730 & continued until 1755. There were no land grave grants after 1718. Head right grants ceased about 1750.


In the 1730s there was a request to protect the colony from Indian attacks. It was decided to create a crescent shaped string of townships to protect the costal settlements. Nine of eleven townships were created: Purrysburg, Orangeburg, Amelia, Saxe Gotha, New Windsor, Williamsburg, Kingston, Queensborough, & Fredericksburg. The plan was for each man to receive a 50 acre head right & a town lot in a township. Township grants are recorded in a separate set of books. There was an effort to encourage different ethnic groups to settle a township, but most were eventually multi ethnic. In the 1760s, four more townships were added in Abbeville County: Boonsborough, Hillsborough, Londondary, & New Bordeaux. Also during the colonial period, four settlements were established which weren't townships: Welch tract, Waxhaw, Dutch Fork, & Long Cane.


SC also has memorials which are similar to a recitation of a t itle chain that wasn't previously recorded. Land may have descended by will or the rule of primogeniture. The statement was made before the Council & a survey may have been ordered to confirm the boundaries.


During the Revolutionary War, the state government was busy avoiding the British, & no Land laws were passed. In 1784 & 1785, the General Assembly passed acts allowing the state to issue Land grants. By this time, the state was divided into districts which we can think of as large counties; later the districts were abolished & counties returned. Each district had a location office. Ninety-six District was subdivided & had three offices. A man would go to the location to have his claim recorded in a book. Over the years, the state decided not to retain these location books. Usually within a few weeks, a warrant was issued to the local deputy surveyor ordering a survey. The state also decided not to retain these loose warrants. Usually the survey was completed within a few months, & the state had retained most of these surveys. Surveys were first recorded in a plat book in the district location office. Today those district plat books are sometimes found in the office of county register of deeds or in the state archives. The survey also passed through the Secretary of State's office where a grant was filled out. Grants were recorded in grant books but are rarely found in county Deed Books. The survey also went through the office of Surveyor General where it was recorded in plat books. Originally there were two offices of Surveyor General: one in Charleston & one in Columbia. Most of the surveys prior to 1800 are in the Charleston office, & most surveys after 1800 are in the Columbia office. From 1784 to 1788, we find in every plat book surveys from all 4 years & surveys from all districts. So plats weren't recorded in a systematic manner. Work is progressing to publish abstracts of the state plats. State grants continued until 1868. The surviving original surveys & the state plat books are in the state archives. By reading these, we sometimes discover Land was sold between the time of the warrant & the time of the grant.


In 1784, the state authorized bounty grants for service in a SC regiment during the revolution.
Many of these grants were in the north western part of the state, but some are found in every district. These plats are
distinguished by the word "Bounty" written on the recorded copy of these 477 plats. Abstracts of these grants have
been published.


SC had the usual troubles with its borders with other states. The trouble with GA was mainly confined to deciding the head waters of the Savannah River. In 1787 at a meeting in Beaufort, it was decided the Land between the Keowee River & Tugaloo River would be awarded to SC. GA had already issued about 45 grants in this area; these grants were recognized by SC & have been published.


The border with NC was more complicated. The first segment was to run from the ocean on a diagonal line to the thirty-fifth parallel, but the surveyors stopped a little early. So a small strip of Land now in NC was claimed by SC; maybe as many as 53 grants where issued in that area by SC. In the 1760s, King George II awarded a 15 mile square area to the Catawba Indians. It was decided that area should be all in SC. So the line went North for several miles & round the Catawba tract to the Catawba River. in the 1760s & early 1770s, NC ignored the northward movement of the line & issued perhaps 1,000 grants in the upper part of SC. Abstracts of these grants were published by Brent Holcomb. In 1772 it was agreed the line would continue from the Catawba River to the Blue Ridge Mounts. Up to 1787, SC considered the line to continue from that point to the Mississippi River. SC issued some grants along the French Broad, Green, & Hiawassee Rivers for Land now in NC. In the early 1787, there were about a dozen grants by NC in Greenville & Pickens Counties. The last segments of the border were completed in the 1820s. There is currently an effort to resurvey the entire SC-NC line.


There are several publication in the reference section. The best aid for genealogists is free on the web at the site for the SC Archives. The archives has a "consolidated" index of grants, state plats, Revolutionary War accounts audited, dower renouncements in early Charleston deeds, & other material. The archives site is & the site for the online index is You can search one category or all categories. EVERY conscientious genealogist should consult this index before going to Columbia.


Do not despair if your ancestors are not mentioned in the grants. There are also lots of county Deed Books containing Land transactions for people who lived a full life in SC but aren't in the grant books.





E-Mail A.B. Pruitt for book availability [email protected]



Map Courtesy of



COLONIAL GRANTS by Mrs. Margaret M. Hofmann:












E-Mail A.B. Pruitt for book availability [email protected]



Map Courtesy of



E-Mail A.B. Pruitt for book availability [email protected]



Map Courtesy of



For information about land grant procedure in NC & TN & list of other books about
NC records, see web site


This site is divided into ten pages:



(1)  List of books published by various authors about land entries, land warrants, and land grants in North Carolina. [last update September 2008]


2. List of books published by ABP Abstracts about land entries, land warrants, deeds, and other land records in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee (subdivided into 3 pages) [last update May 2012].


3. A description of the land grant procedure in North Carolina beginning in 1777 [last update November 1999].


4. A description of the land grant procedure for land in Tennessee between 1777 and 1806 [last update November 1999].


5. Books about South Carolina Marriages (by Barbara R Langdon).


6. Books about public records in North Carolina:


   A. Books for Alemance to Catawba Counties [last updated December 2005]

   Following counties: Alemance, Albemarle, Alexander, Allegany, Anson, Ashe, Avery, Bath, Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen,

   Brunswick, Buncombe, Burke, Bute, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Camden, Carteret, Caswell, & Catawba


   B. Books for Chatham to Glasgow Counties [last updated December 2005]

   Following counties: Chatham, Cherokee, Chowan, Clarendon, Clay, Cleveland, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland,  

   Currituck, Dare, Davidson, Davie, Dobbs, Duplin, Durham, Edenton Dist, Edgecombe, Forsyth, Franklin, Gaston, 

   Gates, & Glasgow


   C. Books for Graham to Martin Counties [last updated December 2005]

   Following counties: Graham, Granville, Greene, Guilford, Halifax, Halifax Dist, Harnett, Haywood, Henderson, Hertford,

   Hillsborough Dist, Hoke, Hyde, Iredell, Jackson, Johnston, Jones, Lee, Lenoir, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, & Martin

   D. Books for McDowell to Rockingham Counties [last updated Sept. 2008]

   Following counties: McDowell, Mecklenburg, Mitchell, Montgomery, Moore, Morgan Dist, Nash, New Hanover, 

   Northampton, Onslow, Orange, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Pender, Perquimans, Person, Pitt, Polk, Randolph, Richmond, 

   Robeson, & Rockingham


   E. Books for Rowan to Yancey Counties [last update December 2005]

   Following counties: Rowan, Rutherford, Sampson, Scotland, Stanley, Stokes, Swain, Surry, Transylvania, Tryon,

   Tyrrell, Union, Vance, Wake, Warren, Washington, Watauga, Wayne, Wilkes, Wilson, Yadkin, & Yancey