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Warrant Registers of the Colony and State of Pennsylvania, 1682-ca 1940

These are the master indexes used for locating the earliest individual owners of all land in Pennsylvania, one ledger for each of the 67 counties starting in 1733 and 3 earlier ledgers covering 1682-1733 (also available on CD or flash drive from Ancestor Tracks).  The process for obtaining land in Pennsylvania involved a 3-part process: (1) after applying and paying a fee, a warrant to survey the tract was issued to the warrantee.  The loose warrant was copied into a county ledger called a Warrant Register (all county Warrant Register pdf downloads are included in this product);  (2) after paying a fee for a surveyor, the survey (nearly always including the names of neighbors who owned adjacent tracts; nearly all Survey Books are now online for free) was returned to the Land Office; and (3) after paying one last fee to the colony or state, the final title or patent was issued to the patentee. The patents were copied into ledgers called Patent Register Indexes (see our product "Patent Register Indexes of the Colony and State of Pennsylvania, 1684-ca 1957" which contains the many volumes of Patent Register Indexes). Patents were the official transfer of ownership from the colony or state to an individual.  Sometimes many years and several owners passed between the 3 steps.  

The Warrant Registers give references to all three steps. Copies of the original warrant, survey, and patent can be ordered from the Pennsylvania State Archives.

The snippet below is a page from the Philadelphia Warrant Register.  Entry #10 shows John Alprick (possibly a phonetic rendering of Albrecht) received a warrant to survey 200 acres on 27 Feb 1733.  The ledger does not show when it was surveyed or for whom, but that information will be apparent from the image of the survey which is online.  Continuing with the Warrant Register entry, the survey of 150 acres was returned to the Pennsylvania Land Office on 10 Jan 1739 for patenting (or receiving final title) to Michael Warin.  The patent is recorded in Patent Register A10, page 10.  The survey, which is online, was copied into Survey Book A59, page 235. The Warrant Register is the only ledger in which the survey reference is recorded. The marginal notation in the ledger indicates the tract was in Oley Township which later became part of Berks County.  

If you go to the online Survey Book A59, pg. 235, you will see that the survey of 150 acres was conducted for John Alprick 20 April 1734.  The survey shows neighbors at that time, as well as the Survey Book and page number for their surveys.  The reverse side of the survey shows it was granted to Michael Warin by warrant dated 1 Jan 1739. 

Other entries on this page show tracts that were "vacated"--in other words, the warrantee did not follow up so it was released to another warrantee. Others show tracts that were subdivided and patented by new owners who patented their portion of the original tract.

The original three counties--Philadelphia, Chester, and Bucks--were established in 1682; other counties were set up as settlements became dense enough to warrant a courthouse. Because of the confusing state of the original records, Pennsylvania started a new set of ledgers in 1733. Then, as each county came into existence, the PA Land Office created a new register and began entering the land sales as they occurred. Therefore, the warrantees are entered under the county as it existed at the time of the sale, then under the first letter of the surname, and then chronologically thereafter.  We suggest you download and save all of these pdf files on your computer so that you always have access to them, even when there is no internet connection.  Every county except the original three (Bucks, Chester, and Philadelphia) were created from other counties, so if your ancestor settled in a county before it was formed, you need to consult the parent county/counties for their information.  An excellent source for dates counties were formed from their parents is https://ancestortracks.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/Formation_of_the_Counties-1-scaled.jpg or https://i2.wp.com/pennsylvaniagenealogy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/genealogical-map-of-the-counties-of-pennsylvania.jpg?ssl=1 or https://i2.wp.com/pennsylvaniagenealogy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/genealogical-map-of-the-counties-of-pennsylvania.jpg?ssl=1.  

 NOTE: The Warrant Registers should not be confused with the deed registers located in the counties which show all subsequent land transfers after individuals received their tracts. The Warrant Registers document the first owners of land for approximately 70% of Pennsylvania and cover each county (other registers or ledgers covering the remaining transactions include the "East Side Applications Register," "West Side Applications Register," "New Purchase Register," "Last Purchase Register," and Donation and Depreciation Land transfers.)  

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  • 70 master indexes including thousands of pages (1682 to about 1940) documenting land transfers from the colony or state government to individual owners


Warrant Registers of the Colony and State of Pennsylvania, 1682-ca 1940

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