Saturday, May 27, 2017

Land Petitions

Be sure to explore Colonial New York Land Surveys as some of these same names will appear in both areas. Additionally, we've also included a few extra land petitioners from the 78th Regiment dated in 1802.

There are 3 steps involved with Land Grants:
  • Land petitions
  • Land allotments
  • Letters patents
1. Land Petitions
When New France became a British colony in 1763, a new land system was introduced. Lands were granted as part of townships in areas not already seigneury lands. Many early settlers, both military and civilian, submitted petitions to the Governor to obtain Crown land.

2. Land Allotments
If approved, the petitioner would obtain land on which to settle and work. Full ownership was often contingent on certain conditions being met, such as clearing, building, etc.  Authorities wanted to make sure that people actually settled the land and established themselves: colonization was the primary goal.

3. Letters Patent [Lands Granted]
Once the conditions were satisfied, the Government issued a Letter Patent, representing the final confirmation of a land grant. The two volume publication showing the successful land grants, List of Lands Granted by the Crown in the Province of Quebec from 1763 to 31st December1890, is available at the Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah or remotely using their online catalog.

There is, in the archives of the Registrar's Department in Quebec, Canada, no trace or rather no registration of the land grants which may have been made under the original issuing instructions at the conclusion of the war in 1763. According to these instructions, all Crown lands were to be granted in free tenure and without any other condition than the reservation of the right of the Crown to resume possession of the whole or part of the land granted in the event of its being required for military purposes.

The newly formed government limited the extent of military concessions as follows:

Staff Officers: 5,000 acres
Captains: 3,000 acres
Subalterns: 2,000 acres
Non-commissioned officers: 200 acres
Private men: 50 acres


Apr. 27: Joseph Bouchette [1774-1841], in his Topographical Description of Lower Canada, says that the seigniories of Malbaie and Mount Murray were granted on 27 April 1762 to Captain John Nairn and Lieutenant Malcolm Fraser, two officers of the 78th Regiment. We were able to locate both of these concessions in the Department.


Mar. 15: In a land petition, dated at Quebec 15 March 1765, 12 serjeants were listed; two in the 2nd Battalion 60th Royal American Regiment, and 10 in the 78th Regiment as follows:

"The Petition of Alexander Simpson and John McLone late Serjeants in the 2nd Battalion of the 60th Regiment, James Thompson, Hugh Tulloch, William Gunn, James McDonell, John Fraser, James Sinclair, Alexander Ferguson, Alexander Lieth, Lachlan Smith and Donald Fraser late Serjeants in the 78th Regiment."

This petition shows that of the 10 serjeants in the 78th Regiment, two were not among those previously listed; namely, Alexander Leith and Lauchlin Smith, the latter becoming the future father-in-law of Joseph Fraser, son of Lieutenant Malcolm Fraser of Mount Murray [1733-1815].

May 14: In a land petition, dated at Quebec 14 May 1765, Malcolm Fraser, late serjeant in the 78th Regiment, and entitled to two hundred acres of land, filed his paperwork with the Quebec Government. No location for the proposed property is mentioned; however, it is suggested the grant be tied together with 'the twelve reduced serjeants that have already petitioned.' This remark to reference land petition dated at 15 March 1765.

May 19: In a land petition, dated at Quebec 19 May 1765, one corporal and 22 private soldiers are listed as having served with the 78th Regiment as follows:

"The Petition of Donald McKenivan*, late Corporal, James Campbell, Edward Davidson, Thomas Davidson, George McAdam, Donald Clark, John Grant, Alex`r Cormac, John Chisolm, Alexander McDonald, Ranald McDonald, Alexander McNab, Thomas Cameron, Thomas Cameron, John Robie, Alexander Fraser, Angus McDonald, Duncan McCraw, James Forbes, Finlay Munro, Willm McNabb, Murdoch McPherson, Willm McKenzie, late Private Soldiers in the 78th Regiment, and William Campbell late Private in the 47th Regt." 

*Most likely Corporal Donald McKinnon.

Albeit seven of these men are listed on the Subsistence Rolls in 1763, they were not among those previously listed as having been discharged in Canada in 1763; namely, Donald Clark, Alexander McDonald, Alexander McNabb, Angus McDonald, Duncan McCraw, William McNabb, Finlay Munro; and four additional men were not among those previously listed as having served in the 78th; those being John Grant, Thomas Cameron, John Robie, and William McKenzie.

May 31: In a land petition, dated at Quebec 31 May 1765, the petition of Alexander McArthur and John Simson, late Private Soldiers in His Majesty's 78th Regiment of Foot. Alexander McArthur appears in Captain Archibald Campbell's Company, and John Simpson in the Colonel's Company when the regiment disbanded in 1763. Private men were entitled to 50 acres of land.

June 1: In a land petition, dated at Quebec 1 Jun 1765, the Petition of Donald Williamson, late Private in the 78th Regiment, John Valance - late Serjeant, John Thomas, Francis Anderson, John Lee, and Joseph Thompson, late Private in the 2d Battalion Royal American Regiment, Mackrick Sears, James Turner and Michael OBryean, late Private in the 47th Regiment.

Jul. 25: In a land petition, dated at Quebec 25 Jul 1765, James Abercrombie, Major, 78th Regt., petitions the Honorable James Murray, Governor of the Province of Quebec, for five thousand acres of land in "any of the Colonies in North America."

Nov. 20: In a land petition, dated at Quebec 20 Nov 1765, Peter Stuart and Donald McDonald petition the government for land located in the Bay of Chaleur, a familiar area for grant approval. Stuart's name appears twice as fighting on the Plains of Abraham, both in the 78th Regiment, and Donald McDonald's name appears in both the 78th Regiment [numerous instances] and also the 2nd Battalion of the 60th Royal American Regiment.


Four additional soldiers from the 78th Regiment: Alexander McNab, James McKenzy, Duncan Mcray, and Murdoc Morrison, petition the Crown in this 1766 document. Two of these men - namely, Alexander McNab and Duncan Mcray [or Mcraw,] appear in the May 1765 petition. McNabb, McKenzey, and Morrison appear to be recently discharged soldiers from the 15th Foot.

Aug. 18: In a land petition, dated at Quebec 18 Aug 1766, the Petition of Donald Mackay and John Anderson, discharged soldiers in the 78th Regiment.

Aug. 23: Petition of Donald Mackay, a discharged soldier in the 78th Regiment.

Aug. 27: In a land petition, dated at Quebec 27 Aug 1766, Mr. Alex`r Mackay late Serjeant of the 78th Regt. present at Berthier, petitioned for his lands at the Bay of Challour, has given a toleration to Mr. James Thomson Town Sargeant to draw for him not being himself present. This is most likely Alexander McKay, Serjeant, in Capt. Hugh Fraser's Company when the regiment disbanded in 1763.

Jul. 30: In a land petition, dated at Quebec 30 July 1768, Ranald MacDonell, late discharged soldier from the 78th and 15th Regiments of Foot, is listed in the Department as filing with the Lieutenant Governor of the Province of Quebec. There were many soldiers from the 47th and 78th Regiments that transferred to the 15th Regiment at the conclusion of the war in 1763, electing to stand guard on the province through 1768.


May 20: To His Excellency Frederick Haldemand Esq. Captain General and Commander in Chief of His Majestys Province of Quebec, Vice Admiral of the same:

The humble petition of George GEDDES of Piercie Sheweth

Quebec 20 May 1787 George Geddes [signature]
To Jenkin Williams Esq.

Witness David Miles Clerk of the Council


Jul. 8: Petition of John Ross of Maskinonge in the District of Three Rivers. That he served as a corporal in His Majesty's 78th Regiment commanded by Colonel Fraser at the Siege of Louisbourg and conquest of Canada in 1759 and 1760. That the petitioner is in an advanced state of age and has a wife and twelve children.

Quebec National Archives. Land Petitions of Lower Canada, 1764-1841 [Oct. 2015].

Fraser, Marie. Muster Rolls of the Old 78th Fraser Highlanders [Clan Fraser Society, 2017].

QFHS. Quebec Land Grants [May 2017].

©  Jeffrey Campbell, Fraser's 78th Regiment of Foot, 2017. 


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