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Land Records and Maps prior to 1900

Land records can establish that your ancestors were on Prince Edward Island at a specific date, they can pinpoint a locality so that other records, usually available by Lot, can be more easily used, and they allow you to trace the movements of the family. They may include the name of the purchaser's spouse, his place of origin, or his occupation. Maps can be particularly useful in tracing who was on a specific piece of property at a given time, a task made somewhat more difficult by the fact that, until October 1939, land could be transferred by will alone, without registration of the transaction.

The Public Archives and Records Office has a large collection of land-related documents prior to 1900. After that date, records are housed at the Land Registry Office.

  • Conveyances: The first series of land conveyances covers all of Prince Edward Island from 1769-1873. It is indexed alphabetically and contains, as well as conveyances, some leases, court judgments and powers of attorney. After 1873, the records are arranged by County.

  • Leases: Leases, unlike conveyances, were not recorded in registry books. Therefore the lease itself, or its counterpart, is the only documentation of the transaction. Transfers of legal ownership to a lease were often recorded on the document itself and so these documents can be a valuable source of genealogical information. Unfortunately there are gaps in the collection of leases which survived to be exchanged for deeds after the Land Purchase Act.

  • Crown deeds and Township ledgers: Following the first Land Purchase Act of 1853, tenants were allowed to purchase their land from the government which had purchased it from the proprietors. After a series of payments recorded in Township Ledgers set up for this purpose, a deed was issued. These deeds may contain information about previous transactions and may record the number of the original lease.

  • Maps and plans: In addition to the 1863 Lake map, the 1880 Meacham's Atlas, and the 1927 Cummins Atlas which contain maps bearing residents' names for all lots, the Public Archives and Records Office has a large collection of manuscript maps for the Island as a whole and for individual lots. Many are cadastral, and though the quantity and quality of maps existing for the various Lots is quite uneven, they may be very useful in establishing a family's location at a particular time. Maps may also record the liber and folio references for specific properties enabling you to refer to the documents of transfer.

  • Other:
    • Rent books recording payment of rents by tenants, kept by the proprietors or their agents may be the only source you find establishing your ancestors' place of residence. Again, the records for various Lots and proprietors vary in quantity and continuity.

  • Petitions to Executive Council, 1780-1837 contain some land petitions. These have been indexed in the Master Name Index.

  • Warrants of Survey exist for some Loyalist allotments in about 20 Lots from 1784-1803.
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