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1622 - Sir Ferdinando Gorges and James Mason received a land patent for New England, including Maine.
1629 - Gorges and Mason divided the land, and Gorges retained Maine.
1652 - Maine became part of Massachusetts.
1783 - Massachusetts created the 'Committee for the Sale of Eastern Lands', including Maine.
1819 - Maine separated from Massachusetts, but Massachusetts retained ownership of half the available land.
1853 - Maine bought the rest of the land still owned by Massachusetts within Maine borders.
Land ownership in the colonial period can be traced to royal charters, proprietary grants, and Indian deeds. During this period, all of Maine was included in York County. You will find many of the early records for 1642 to 1737 in:
- York Deeds. 18 Volumes. (Portland, Maine: John T. Hull, 1887-1910). Each volume is well indexed. Volume (book)2 is free on the Archive.com site. All 18 volumes are on the New England Historic Genealogical Society site ($). The Family History Library has all 18 volumes FHL Collection book 974.195 R2m; film 599904 item 3 through film 599914; on 186 fiche 6046839]. Volume 10 is on film and fiche only.
Post-Revolutionary War Records
In 1783 the Massachusetts Committee for the Sale of Eastern Lands was formed to sell unclaimed land and distribute grants to soldiers. In 1794 more than 2,000,000 acres were sold.
- Massachusetts, Land Agent. Massachusetts Deeds, 1794-1860. (Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1954). On five Family History Library FHL Collection films starting with 010248 item 3. Each volume is indexed.
From 1820 to 1853, the state of Maine purchased the remaining land from Massachusetts and held auctions to distribute it. The Land Office of Maine was established in 1824 to distribute this land.
- Maine. Land Office. Record of Deeds of the Land Office of Maine, 1824-1861. Ten Volumes. Indexes are in the volumes. (Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1954). FHL Collection films 10238-41.
After 1835, Revolutionary War veterans or their widows made applications to the Land Office for land. The following includes claims, applications, and declarations.
- Maine. Land Office. Revolutionary War Veterans Land Records. (Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1954). FHL Collection films 010249-60].
A partial index to these records is:
- Charles J. House. Names of Soldiers of the American Revolution Who Applied for State Bounty, pub. 1893. (Reprint. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1967). FHL Collection book 974.1 M2n; film 1033754 item 16; film 010248]. Film 010248 contains handwritten numbers of certificates next to the names of the soldiers and another index of names of soldiers who applied to Massachusetts for State Bounty under services rendered in the Revolutionary War.
After land was transferred to private ownership, subsequent transactions were recorded by the register of deeds in each county. The addresses and a description of each county's records are in:
- Lindberg, Marcia Wiswall. Genealogist's Handbook for New England Research. 3rd ed. (Boston, Massachusetts: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1993). This is an excellent guide to Maine towns and counties, location of public records, and genealogical societies. FHL Collection book 974 D27g 1993]. .
Land records are kept by the Registry of Deeds in each county. Aroostook County and Oxford County (Eastern and Western) each have two deed districts that cover specifice towns. The Maine Land Records Office has an index to deeds for several of these registries that can be searched by name of buyer or seller and property address.
The Family History Library has copies of deed records for all counties, most to about 1900. See the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under MAINE, [COUNTY] - LAND AND PROPERTY.
- My Maine Genealogy gives good information about researching land records in Maine.