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Kilty's Land-Holder's Assistant, and Land-Office Guide
Volume 73, Page 174   View pdf image (33K)
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but, besides some particular evidences of a loose and
arbitrary practice in this matter, the enormous number of escheats
found on the proprietary records naturally suggests the
conclusion that it was at least a very easy matter for lands in
Maryland to fall within that predicament. The mode of
proceeding, nevertheless, in respect to land alledged to be escheat,
had generally speaking, an appearance of fairness and
caution. A person conceiving a tract or parcel of land to be
escheatable for want of heirs or in any other way stated his
discovery by petition to the proper tribunal in land affairs,
praying that a mandamus might issue for the summoning a jury
to ascertain and declare on oath whether the land was escheat
or not, and if so by what means. An order generally passed,
on such an application, for a mandamus to issue from the
chancery court of records to the sheriff of the county in
which the land was suggested to lie, commanding him to
summon and swear a jury of the neighbourhood for the
purpose stated in the petition, and to make return to the same
court of their inquisition and verdict. If the provincial
court, upon view of this inquisition and a motion for that
purpose, adjudged the land to be escheat, the petitioner then
applied for a warrant to resurvey it for his own benefit,
payment therefore to be made at such price as should be
required upon the return of the certificate. The warrant was
generally granted to that person in preference to any later
applicant, although a positive right of pre-emption was not at
all periods given to discoverers under the proprietary
government. The warrant commonly embraced the privileges of
other warrants of resurvey in respect to the correction of
errors in the original surveys, and the taking in adjoining
vacancy, but was not so frequently renewed or transferred; for
the applicants, after the trouble and expence of the
preceeding process, were not apt to delay what remained to
complete their acquisitions, and as to transfers, as the
pre-emption was in many instances granted as a special favour, it
was not certain that an assignee would obtain a patent, or at
least get the land upon equally favourable terms; for these
remained, almost always, undetermined until the return of
the certificates, although they were then mostly regulated by
the conditions of plantation, so far as concerned the
estimation of the land apart from its improvements: but besides
the improvements on the just quantity of the original tract,
there might be surplus land, also improved, and vacancy
added, all which would form distinct objects of calculation,
and therefore the proprietary's officers could very easily
disappoint the assignee of an escheat warrant by imposing
unreasonable terms of purchase.

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Kilty's Land-Holder's Assistant, and Land-Office Guide
Volume 73, Page 174   View pdf image (33K)
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