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 can also be found in:
- Records of Rhode Island, 1638-1644, (Microfilm of manuscripts in the Rhode Island State Archives in Providence, Rhode Island. Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1974.) FHL film 954960 Item 3
- Dorothy Worthington, Rhode Island Land Evidences, 1921, Reprint (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1970; Family History Library 1921 ed. on FHL Collection FHL film 564389; index on FHL Collection film 022254). Volume 1, 1648-1696 is also on Google Books and FHL film 564389
- Louise Prosser Bates, Peirce Manuscripts of Rhode Island Land Evidences 1686-1826, (Microfilm of manuscripts in the Rhode Island Historical Society. Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1950.) FHL films 22291 and 22292
In the colonial period, the general assembly granted land to groups of colonists who became the proprietors of towns. 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).
Colony and State Records
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 FHL films starting with film 954959
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.