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Kilty's Land-Holder's Assistant, and Land-Office Guide
Volume 73, Preface 4   View pdf image (33K)
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IV. PREFACE        

that the project was originally not my own. I had, indeed, been accustomed
to hear of the obscurity of the rules of the land office: I had
heard that the late chancellor, Mr. Hanson, had been solicited to prepare
a publication on this subject: Upon being appointed to the land office, I
was naturally led to enquire for some written directions applicable to the
cases that came before me, and was then informed that there was no collection
of rules or precedents in the office, but that the business was regulated
by laws and established usages, and was to be learned by reading and
practice. On my making a visit to Baltimore a few days after my appointment,
this design was suggested to me by an experienced member
of the bar, who told me that such a publication had long been required, that
it was left for me, and that I must undertake it. On my return, I found other
gentlemen prepared to offer the same thing to my consideration. I was
startled at the difficulty of such an undertaking; but, considering that
the thing was to be done at leisure, that it was not becoming or reputable
for me to learn the business of my office by rote, without knowing the
foundation and reason of the matters to be transacted, and that there was
no way to avoid this but searching into the origin of the system, and,
tracing things from their causes and beginnings, I resolved, at least, to
enter upon such a research, and to be regulated, as to the rest, by the degree
of success which might attend this first design. In a few months I
became satisfied of the practicability of combining with my own instruction
the plan which had been suggested to me, and began to make extracts
of what I observed in the records. I communicated my intention to the
chancellor, who confirmed what had been said relative to himself and
seemed to regret that circumstances had not permitted him to execute
the design, but cheerfully promised me all the assistance in his power.
The work had not advanced, at the time of his death, to that point at
which I had proposed to submit it to his inspection. This is the history
of the present undertaking; and, if it does not exempt me from the
charge of a considerable degree of confidence, in beginning to write upon
a subject which I did not then thoroughly understand, (if I may be said
now to understand it) it will at least shew that this confidence was excited
by others, and pushed into action by laudable considerations; in fine,
that I have not unasked obtruded myself upon the public.

       In regard to the difficulties that have attended this undertaking, and
which have so long protracted its accomplishment, I have to observe that,
when my design was announced to the public, I was but little aware of
the extent of the enquiry which it involved. I had collected all the matter
to be found in the records of the land office, and there, with exception
of a few documents in the office of the late general court, I had supposed
that my research was to end. After having actually begun to prepare
my compilation for the press, I was led by accident to inspect the records
of the council room, and soon found that it was principally from them that
the history of the provincial land office was to be collected. The book
from which the erection of the land council, and many other important
matters relative to the ancient practice, have been obtained was found
lying, as an article of mere lumber, in the chancery office. I examined
these records page by page, and spent several months in extracting and
digesting the matter which they contained. My work, which had been
commenced on imperfect information, was, of necessity, to be new
modelled, and the loss of some months more, comprising two sessions of
assembly, during which the necessary attention to the duties of my office
obliged me lay aside this undertaking, may easily account for the time
that has been spent in completing it. In short, at every period I found
something new to engage my attention, and it was with difficulty that I
put a stop, at length, to my enquiries, and prepared to offer the fruit of
them to the public.

       Concerning the manner in which this investigation has been conducted
I have to say that I have adopted that kind of arrangement which appeared

Source: John Kilty. Land Holder's Assistant and Land Office Guide.
Baltimore: G. Dobbin & Murphy, 1808. MSA SC 5165-1-1.

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Kilty's Land-Holder's Assistant, and Land-Office Guide
Volume 73, Preface 4   View pdf image (33K)
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