Rhode Island Land and Property
The earliest land grants were made by the colony. The records of these grants are known as "land evidences." The original documents are at the Rhode Island State Archives. Land evidences for 1648 to 1696 have also been published in Dorothy Worthington, Rhode Island Land Evidences, 1921, Reprint (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1970; Family History Library 1921 ed. on FHL Collection film 564389; index on FHL Collection film 022254). Volume 1, 1648-1696 is also on Google Books.
Some land transfers and grants are recorded in the proceedings of the general assembly, 1646 to 1851. These are at the Rhode Island State Archives and at the Family History Library on 18 microfilms.
In the colonial period, the general assembly granted land to groups of colonists who became the proprietors of the town. These proprietors divided the land into portions owned by individuals and portions owned in common. The proprietors, in turn, sold land to other individuals. The proprietors' records begin as early as 1659 for the Narragansett area (southern Rhode Island). Transcripts of some of the records, 1659 to 1686, are in James N. Arnold, The Records of the Proprietors of the Narragansett (Providence, Rhode Island): Narragansett Historical Publishing, 1894 (FHL Collection film 1033805 item 2).
After proprietors sold their land or a town was incorporated, the town recorded deeds and mortgages. The Family History Library has copies of the town records to about 1880. From the Providence Recorder of Deeds, for example, the library has 218 microfilms of deeds and mortgages for the years 1677 to 1901. Documents from the town of Providence and other early settlements have been published in many volumes.