Great grants
Don't take land grants for granted.
They're full of genealogical tidbits

by Ruby M. Cusack

 We often take drives on old back roads. While my husband keeps his eye on the narrow winding road, my mind gets a chance to wander. An old abandoned house with the windows missing and a door hanging on one hinge looks so sad. I visualize children running about the home and how this house once protected a family and kept them safe and warm, but now it stands deserted and forgotten.

    Although an old apple tree, orange lilies or wild roses are often all that are left to mark the cellar of an old house, a string of tall evergreen trees proudly announces to the passerby that they are still guarding the line between properties.

    My mind quickly jumps to questions about the first owner of this land. Why did he ask for this particular piece?  Was it handy to a relative? Did he wish to remain close to friends or neighbours from his homeland?

    Land petitions will quite often answer these questions, but in genealogy every answer breeds more questions. Land petitions and grants are no exception.

    Many immigrants and residents of New Brunswick petitioned for a parcel of crown land and received grants. Other individuals petitioned and did not receive the land they requested. Some petitioners found it necessary to petition more than once.
    The petitions give us valuable genealogical information, whether or not land was granted.

    The land petitions for New Brunswick are on reels of microfilm. Certain petitions have loads of information, while others contain little to interest us. Earlier petitions seemingly have more biographical information on the applicant than those of  later years. The applicant may give the date of his arrival in the province. A woman petitioner may state she is petitioning for land as she is a widow with a family.

    Some applicants may request land near a father, brother or other relative who occupies the adjoining lot.

    One land petition, I  read, described the hardships suffered by the petitioner. It had been a bitter cold winter and the petitioner lost toes from frost bite.
    A book which is very useful when checking land grants is the Crown Land Grant Index. This publication was prepared by the Crown Lands Branch of the Department of Natural Resources and Energy.

    The following information is listed in the book: Name of person receiving the grant of land; location, parish and county; size; date of purchase; volume and number at the Land Registry Office.

    For example: James Floyd received grant #3 at Hardingville,  Parish of St. Martins, County of Saint John, Contained 200 acres, May 02, 1825,  Recorded Vol. 7, Number 1795 in Saint John County Register.

    There are microfilms for Land Petitions, as well as the Crown Land Grant Index book  available at the library at Market Square and at the Provincial Archives in Fredericton and at other research institutions. 

    Land Grant Maps are also handy. They show the original grants and owners. The ones for the Saint John and Kings County area can be purchased upstairs in the Calp's Building on King Square North, Saint John. You can also order them from the Department of Natural Resources in Fredericton.

  Queries have been grouped together to cover the year 1998 and can be viewed at Queries-1998

Ruby Cusack is a genealogy buff living in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. Readers are invited to send their New Brunswick genealogical queries to Ruby at When E-Mailing please put Yesteryear Families in the Subject line. Please include in the query, your name and postal address as someone reading the newspaper, may have information to share with you but not have access to E-mail. Queries should be no more than 45 words in length.

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