Warrantee Atlas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

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Contains 49 plates that depict the original land grants that settlers of present-day Allegheny County received from the Commonwealth after William Penn and his descendants vested the land to the legislature.

What’s in the entire collection?

The Warrantee Atlas of Allegheny County (1914) depicts the original land grants that settlers of present-day Allegheny County received from the Commonwealth after William Penn and his descendants vested the land to the legislature. The Warrantee Atlas is ordered by township, cities, boroughs, and river beds and islands. It includes the name of the individual who received the grant, the date the land was warranted and surveyed, property dimensions, patent information, and sometimes the name the property was given by the title owner.

Historical Sketch to Land Titles In Western Pennsylvania

Joel Fishman, Ph.D., Asst. Director for Lawyer Services, Duquesne University Center for Legal Information, Allegheny County Law Library, August 2002

NOTE: This is a slightly revised introduction from that in the original work published in 1982. For a more complete history of land records, see Donna Munger's Pennsylvania Land Records for its excellent summary of the institutional and administrative history of the Land Office and references to the original documents. In the near future, I hope to expand on this web site article to incorporate full-text of laws, court cases, and treatise materials.

The history of land titles in western Pennsylvania is an important aspect of the social and legal history of the people of this region. An understanding of the WARRANTEE ATLAS can only be gained by knowing some of the history of land laws1 and titles upon which the atlas is based. Older publications such as Daniel Agnew, Thomas Sergeant & Charles Smith have long been out-of-print (see bibliography), and therefore this introduction will summarize the history of land titles as provided in these works, but they should be consulted for a more in-depth view on the subject. For a current review, see the excellent work by Donna Munger (see bibliography). Citations to court reports within the article can be found in the nominative reports that cover the Pennsylvania Supreme Court from 1754 to 1845.

The lands of western Pennsylvania during the early and mid-eighteenth century, were inhabited chiefly by the Indian Tribes of the Six Nations. The Indian-settler disputes occurred throughout the second half of the century, as the Indians were drawn first into the Seven Years War and later into the Revolutionary War. War continued in the 1780s and 1790s until Gen. Anthony Wayne defeated the Indians at Fallen Timbers in August of 1794. A Treaty of Peace was concluded on 3 August 1795 that was ratified by the United States Senate on 22 December 1795. This treaty and its ratification date became important in the legal controversies over land disputes that are discussed further in this sketch.

William Penn and his descendants prided themselves upon the fact that they had never conquered the Indians, but had always purchased their lands through friendly treaties. The Treaty of Fort Stanwix (now Rome, New York) on 5 November 1768 brought a large tract of land to the Penns, while the later treaty of 23 October 1784 secured all of the remaining lands in Pennsylvania to the post-Revolutionary government. Previously by the Act of 27 November 1779 (1 Sm.L. 479) the title to all of the lands owned by the Penns was vested in the Commonwealth except all titles granted by the Penns before 4 July 1776, and the private lands and manors owned by the Penn Family. The Commonwealth legislature passed a succeeding Act on 12 March 1783 (2 Sm.L. 62) for division of lands purchased from the Indians into two large sections called The Depreciation and Donation lands. By the Treaty of 1784, the boundaries set out were:

"Beginning on the south side of the river Ohio, where the western boundary of the State of Pennsylvania crosses the said river, near Shingo's Old Town, at the mouth of Beaver Creek, and thence by a due north line to the end of the forty-second and beginning of the forty- third degrees of north latitude; thence by a due east line, separating the forty-second and forty-third degrees of north latitude, to the east side of the East Branch of the river Susquehanna; thence by the bounds of the late purchase made at Fort Stanwix, the 5th day of November, Anno Domini 1768, as follows: 'Down the East Branch of the Susquehanna, on the east side thereof, till it comes opposite the mouth of a creek, called by the Indians Awandac, and across the river, and up the said creek, on the south side thereof, along the range of hills, called Burnett's Hills by the English, and by the Indians ________; on the north side of them, to the head of a creek, which runs into the West Branch of the Susquehanna, which creek is by the Indians called Tyadaghton, but by Pennsylvanians Pine Creek, and down said creek, on the south side thereof, to the said West Branch of the Susquehanna; then crossing the said river, and running up the same, on the south side thereof, the several courses thereof to the fork of the same river which lies nearest to a place on the river Ohio (Allegheny), called Kittanning, and from the fork by a straight line to Kittanning aforesaid; and then down said river by the several courses thereof, to where the western boundary of the said State of Pennsylvania crosses the same river, at the place of beginning.'"

The Depreciation Lands were set aside for the redemption of certificates of depreciation given to the officers and soldiers of the Pennsylvania Line in lieu of money payments which according to the Act of 18 December 1780 (1 Sm.L. 522) should be equal to gold and silver in payment for unlocated lands. The Act of 3 April 1781 (1 Sm.L. 519) set up scales of depreciation for the years 1777-1781 as compared with silver and gold; in July 1777 the scale was 3:1; in 1778 it was 6:1; in 1779 it was 41½:l; in 1780 it was 75:1; in 1781 it was 75:1. The Supreme Executive Council, later in April 1781, appointed ten commissioners, with either James Stevenson or John Nicholson being present, for the payment of one-third of the depreciation certificates and for granting new ones.

The Depreciation Lands were described in the Act of 12 March 1783 (2 Sm.L. 62) as: "Beginning where the western boundary of this state crosses the Ohio River, thence up said river to Fort Pitt; thence up the Allegheny River to the mouth of the Mogulbughtition (now Mahoning) Creek; thence by a west line to the western boundary of this State; thence south by the said boundary to the place of beginning." Nell Herchenroether identifies the area today as perpendicular to the Ohio boundary and east to where the Mahoning Creek enters the Allegheny River a few miles north of Kittanning, including in Allegheny County the part north of the Ohio (river) and west of the Allegheny (river); in Beaver County the part north of the Ohio River; in Lawrence County a strip of about five miles in the southern part, following the northern boundaries of Little Beaver, Big Beaver and Wayne townships and on the extension of this line through Perry township; in Butler County, roughly the southern half; and in Armstrong County, the southern half. The lands were to be laid out in numerical sequence by the Surveyor General into lots between 200 and 350 acres. The territory was divided into five districts running from the Ohio (river) northward; while the numbering of lots ran west to east:

District No. 1, to Alexander McClean, lay closest to the Ohio boundary. District No. 2, to Daniel Leet with Nathaniel Breading. District No. 3, was divided among Nathaniel Breading, Win. Alexander, Samuel Nicholson, Ephriam Douglass and Samuel Jones. District No. 4, to Col. James Cunningham. District No. 5, to Col. Joshua Elder and John Morris.

By 29 August 1785 the Surveyor General reported to the Supreme Executive Council that almost 140 land surveys of appropriated land had been received by his office. In September 1785 the Council first ordered 100 lots sold in District No. 2, and two months later, ordered the sale of another 43 lots. The land sold amounted to 38,202 acres for the sum of £13,985, 14 shillings or an average of a little over 8 shillings and 5 pence per acre.

In December, District 3 lands, totaling 31,883 acres were sold for £4,402, 17 shillings, 3 pence averaging 2 shillings, 6½ pence per acre. Another sale of 27 lots was sold in Leet's District in March 1787 averaging only £5, 8 shillings, 4 pence per 100 acres. No other sales occurred until after the Act of 3 April 1792 when the Depreciation Lands were taken up by warrant and survey. Although lands were later sold, Daniel Agnew questions on what grounds the officers of the Land Office considered the office open for sale and settlement. It was not until the Act of 22 March 1813 (6 Sm.L. 54) that these titles came under the express legislation. Agnew believes that the surveys of the Depreciation Lands were well made and they were partly adapted in locations made under the Act of 3 April 1792.

Partial adoption of the lines of the Depreciation surveys was decided in McRhea v. Plummer, 1 Binn. 227 (1807), while the effect of the Depreciation District lines was discussed by Justice Huston in Evans vs Beatty, 1 Penrose & Watts 489 (1829).

By section 5 of the Act of 13 March 1783 (2 Sm.L. 62) the Assembly set aside a tract of land known as Donation Lands:

"Beginning at the mouth of the Mogulbughtition (Mahoning) Creek; thence up the Allegheny River to the mouth of the Cagnawaga (Conewage) Creek; thence due north to the northern boundary of the state; thence west by said boundary to the northwest corner of the state; thence south by the western boundary of the state to the northwest corner of lands appropriated by this act for discharging the certificates of depreciation given to the soldiers under the Act of 18 December 1780; thence by same line east to the place of beginning; which said tract of country shall be reserved and set apart for the only and sole use of fulfilling and carrying into execution the said resolve.

By the Act of 24 March 1785 (2 Sm.L. 290) the distribution of Donation Lands were of four classes of 500, 300, 250 and 200 acres. Officers and enlisted men were assigned within a class and then (by section 13) each person was permitted to draw from a lottery between 200 and 2000 acres in lots depending upon one's rank.

Deputy surveyors were required to take an oath not to select the best lands or to favor some classes to the detriment of others. The surveyors, however, failed to carry out instructions in performing these surveys. According to Agnew, the east to west lines were not adequately drawn so that those corners of the tracts were not opposite to each other thereby forming irregular figures rather than rectangular parallelograms. The surveyor was also required to mark the northwest corner with the number of the lot. This "numbered corner" or "earmark" controlled all other matters of description and was given in the patent. The "numbered corner" was later described by Chief Justice Gibson as having "acquired much of the inviolability of a mile of property, Smith v. Moore, 5 Rawle 348, at 353 (1835)."

Five weeks after the passage of the act, the Comptroller-General on 3 May 1785 issued a list of people entitled to Donation Lands. The Council then instructed the Surveyor General to appoint deputy surveyors of whom thirteen (13) were appointed. The Lands were divided into ten (10) districts with the surveys generally completed in 1786. By the Act of 12 March 1783, officers and soldiers were supposed to make their claims within two years after peace was concluded, and if they should die, then their heirs or executors had to make their application within one year. However, many failed to follow the act and a succeeding Act of 6 April 1792. (2 Sm.L. 296) authorized the drawing of lots for those who had not yet received Donation Lands. Patents not issued within two years would be disposed of by the State according to the general Act for Sale of Vacant Lands (passed three days earlier on 3 April 1792).

A later Act of 5 April 1793 (3 Sm.L. 110) repealed the two-year limitation and gave an indefinite time limit for the drawing of Donation Lands. A 1795 act (3 Sm.L. 233) again provided for the lottery drawing of lands and was extended in 1801. By the Act of 2 April 1802 (3 Sm.L. 505) the legislature again recognized that people still had not yet obtained their lands, that other lots had not been numbered or returned, or that lots had been otherwise appropriated. The land officers had to determine the various categories of lots, ticket them, and prepare lottery applications for drawing. The Surveyor General had to match the number of lots to actual surveys, have returns made, and divide larger lots into smaller ones in order to carry out the intent of the Act. The Board of Property was to serve as arbitrator in all disputes over lands. This Act was extended by three succeeding acts to 1810. No more applications were made at the Land Office until the Act of 26 March 1813 (5 Sm.L. 223) which opened up the Donation Lands left undrawn on 1 October 1813 to improvement and actual settlement and confirmed titles by actual settlement previously made.. The 1813 Act differed noticeably from the General Land Act of 3 April 1792 (see below), since settlers had to reside with their families for three (3) successive years immediately preceding the passage of the Act and had to clear, fence, and cultivate at least ten acres. Any person after 1 October 1813, who fulfilled the same conditions, made proof of his settlement before a judge or justice, and paid the State $1.50 per acre with three years interest, was entitled to a patent.

The Act of 12 March 1783 (2 Sm.L. 63) that set up both the Depreciation and Donation Lands also provided for two (2) Reserve Tracts of 3000 acres to be set aside for the use of the State. One tract was on the north side of the Allegheny River opposite Fort Pitt (Pittsburgh); while the second tract was at the mouth of the Beaver River; the former encompassing, part of Allegheny City (later taken into the City of Pittsburgh) and the latter part of the present City of Beaver (in Beaver County).

These lands were surveyed into in-lots and out-lots in each tract, for sale by the state, save those areas put aside for a court house, market house, church, cemetery, and common pasture land to be used for public use. Later by the law of 13 April 1840 (P.L. 303) the right of the Commonwealth to grant land for public use was transferred from the State to the Select & Common Councils of Allegheny City.

The Beaver Reservation was probably surveyed in April or May of 1785. By the Act of 28 September 1791 (3 Sm.L. 56) the Governor received permission to lay out a town and out-lots. The Surveyor General was authorized to survey 200 acres of land into town-lots and 1000 acres into out-lots of not less than five and not more than ten acres in size. In November 1792, Daniel Leet, in the absence of commissioners, surveyed the land. The survey had to be separately approved by the Legislature in 1793 (3 Sm.L. 90). The Governor thereafter reserved land for public use, followed by setting off of lands for use of an educational institution. From 1800 to 1840 a series of Acts were passed selling lands in the Tract area of in-lots and out-lots and for designating certain areas for public uses, e.g. churches &c.

The establishment of the northern boundary of the State between New York and Pennsylvania was settled by 1789 (2 Sm.L. 510) except for the area now called the Erie Triangle. By the earlier compact, Pennsylvania was left with no access to Lake Erie. Pennsylvania therefore wished to purchase the territory lying between the western boundary of New York and Lake Erie, triangular in shape, and embracing the harbor at Erie. Congress approved the sale of the land on 4 September 1788 (II Pa. Archives 387-8) followed by the Assembly's confirmation on 13 September 1788 (II Pa. Archives 395-6). This was followed by a meeting between Pennsylvania representatives and Indian chiefs on 9 January 1789 to purchase the Indian's title and rights to the land in a treaty called "Agreement between the Six Nations and Commissioners for Lands on Lake Erie.

The most difficult and largest legal problem arising out of the disposition of lands in western Pennsylvania arose in the courts over the judicial interpretation of the general act for sale of lands passed on 3 April 1792, and in particular, Section 9 of the Act. In offering the lands to the settlers, the act provided the purchasers to have a survey made and a patent issued within two years after purchase, and within five years of settlement or the purchaser could actually settle on the land and improve it before requesting a survey made and payment completed. Section 9 provided that

"no warrant or survey...shall vest any title in or to the lands therein mentioned unless the grantee has, prior to the date of such warrant, made, or caused to be made, or shall, within the space of two years next after the date of same, make or cause to be made, an actual settlement thereon, by clearing, fencing, and cultivating, at least two acres for every 100 acres contained in one survey, erecting thereon a messuage for the habitation of man, and residing, or causing a family to reside thereon, for the space of five years next following his first settling of the same, if he or she shall so long live."

Since there were two methods of acquiring land, either by purchase or by settlement, it was only natural that those who were in Philadelphia near the Land Office took the first approach. Besides individual purchasers, the two largest purchasers of land were the Holland Land Company and the Pennsylvania Population Company. The former had invested monies in the colonies during the American Revolution and had purchased lands in Pennsylvania after the 1784 Indian treaty. The company's agents now invested $222,071 and purchased 499,660 acres of land; while the Pennsylvania Population Company's agents purchased a lesser amount of land in the western territory and in the Erie Triangle. Although the sale of these lands occurred, the actual settlement did not occur since the Indian war was still going on. The war itself did not end until the winter of 1795 and settlers first came into the area in large numbers in the spring of 1796.

The legal controversy arose over the provision of Section 9, which stated:

"Provided always nevertheless, That if any such actual settler, or any grantee in any such original or succeeding warrant, shall, by force of arms of the enemies of the United States, be prevented from making such actual settlement, or be driven therefrom, and shall persist in his endeavors to make such actual settlement as aforesaid, then, in either case, he and his heirs shall be entitled to have and to hold the said lands, in the same manner as if the actual settlement had been made and continued."

The warrantees, those who held warrants, felt that proviso should dispense with the settlement requirement altogether, while settlers asserted that failure to settle the land nullified the warrants. Agnew claims that the legal profession felt that neither the warrants were void nor condition of settlement gone, but only suspended until the war~ was over and that the two-year requirement covered until December of 1797.

During the administration of Governor Mifflin, the Board of Property adopted the interpretation that the proviso dispensed with the requirement of settlement. The Holland Land Company's warrantee~ therefore were issued their patents (called "prevention certificates" because the company had been prevented by the enemies of the country from developing their tracts). Upon the election of Governor McKean, however, in 1800, the Board of Governors adopted the settlers' view of the proviso, i.e. that it merely postponed the settlement requirement. The Holland Land Company opposed the board's position and sued the chairman, Commonwealth v. Coxe, 4 Dall. 170 (1800) to show cause why the remaining grants should not be granted.

Chief Justice Shippen took the side of the warrantees, but Justice Yeates, with Justice Smith concurring, found that since the settlement requirement had not been met, the Company was not entitled to its patents, and discharged the petition.

Because the state courts continued to grant lands to the warrantees as a result of a variety of circumstances that hurt the defendants' cases, the State Legislature continued its support of the settlers and farmers. In an Act of 2 April 1802, the legislature directed the Supreme Court to meet and devise a form of action for trying and determining land title cases. The trial occurred at Sunbury on 25 November 1802 in the case of Attorney General v. Grantees Under the Act of 3 Feb. 1792, 4 Dall. 237 (1802). Neither the Holland Land Company nor Chief Justice Shippen participated in the trial and Judge Yeates gave a jury charge similar to his earlier opinion delivered in the Coxe case, i.e. the proviso merely postponed the requirement of settlement. The jury found for the Attorney-General but the dispute was not ended.

The Holland Land Company, as a non-resident of Pennsylvania, then sued in the Federal Court in Philadelphia. Jan Huidekoper, the Company's agent, brought three ejectment cases before the court, one of which was inconclusively decided upon by the federal judges. The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court as Huidekoper's Lessee v. Douglass of U.S., 7 U. S. (3 Cranch) 1 (1805). Three questions were certified to the Supreme Court:

1) Does the proviso excuse a warrantee from performing as required by the settlement condition?
2) If there were prevention, but the warrantee persisted in his efforts, what title did he receive?
3) Was the Commonwealth the only party that might take advantage of noncompliance with the settlement requirement?

The Supreme Court, through Chief Justice John Marshall in discussing the ambiguity of Section 9, found for the warrantees. The proviso had to be applied to each case individually depending on whether the person was a warrantee or settler. The proviso did not require residence as a condition of a person's taking title. Marshall also interpreted the Act to be a contract between the State and individuals and therefore governed by the law of contracts that would reject the State's position. This part of the decision precedes a further discussion in Fletcher v. Peck, 10 U. S. 87 (1810).

Furthermore it appears, as the two latest historians of the Marshall Court have viewed the case that Pennsylvania's overreaching of the sanctity of private property led to this decision; yet it is unclear why the Supreme Court did not follow the precedents of the State Supreme Court as demanded by Section 34 of the Judiciary Act of 1789. Agnew severely criticizes Marshall's opinion as a literal reading of the statute and feels he overlooked the main purpose of the act, i.e. settlement of these western lands since warrantees, supposedly as speculators, would never settle the lands themselves.

Although the court's opinion was a judicial step in placing the Supreme Court as the interpreter of state powers, the immediate effect of the court's decision upon Pennsylvania courts was negligible. The state courts were not bound by the high court's decision, since the case dwelt on purely state matters and so they continued to follow Judge Yeates' opinion. Still, as late as 1810, Charles Smith observed that the populating of the western lands had been slow to develop. Acts of 25 March 1811 (5 Sm.L. 206) and 24 March 1814 (6 Sm.L. 130) dwelt with these lands but it was not until the Act of 3 April 1833 (P.L. 129) that dispensed with settlement as a provision, and provided instead that a warrantee might obtain a patent without proof of settlement. Meanwhile numerous cases continued to be brought before the state and local courts over the 1792 statute. The 1833 law ended this aspect of judicial cases, but controversy further continued over the application of a statute of limitations to the possession of the actual settlers. Criswell v. Altemus, 7 Watts 565 (1838) became the basis for future decisions in which the rights of settlers were supported after an adverse possession of twenty-one years.


The previous information concerning the legal history of land titles cannot be fully understood without a short description of the administrative role that the government took in creating the Land Office, and the procedures involved in obtaining warrants.

Before the Revolution there was no statutory body called the Land Office. The Board of Property did exist, but it did only as long as the Proprietors found it useful to have. The Proprietors were not strict about their vast amounts of land. If people settled upon lands and did not obtain the proper warrants, legal proceedings rarely occurred. Occasionally the Proprietors issued proclamation or advertisements for warrants to be paid, but these summonses were usually ignored. Only when the need arose for either patent, or for confirmation of a title or to sell the property did a person then come to terms with the Proprietors. Usually there were controversies over the same piece of land with the two claimants appearing before the land officers, as representatives of the Proprietors, who adjudged the dispute. The officers' opinion however was not final in regard to the rights of persons other than the Proprietors, individuals could still bring their case into the Court of Quarter Sessions.

Following the Revolution it was not until the Act of 5 April 1782 (1 Sm.L. 529) that the Board of Property was established, consisting of a Secretary to the Land Office, Surveyor General, and the Secretary of the Commonwealth. This three-man body heard cases in equitable jurisdiction without a jury. By the Act, they were entitled to hear all cases of controversy on caveats (i.e. a caution given by one party to the officers to withhold their sanction to the title of an opponent); escheats; warrants on escheats; conflicting titles wherein settlements were made between the parties before coming to the board; rights of preemption; promises; and imperfect titles. The Act further provided that the board's decision could always be appealed to the courts at common law either for recovery of possession or for damages of waste or trespass. Sergeant states that it was advantageous to have the board uphold a person's rights. The board could correct incomplete titles by correcting errors; by ordering resurveys; or by confirming titles when not forbidden by law, and its decisions would be accepted by the courts under the Act of 3 April 1792, Section 11 (3 Sm.L. 70) the board could approve title to a person claiming possession of vacant or unappropriated lands if no suit has been entered within six months.

There were several different types of warrants. A descriptive warrant which pertained to one location could be either explicit description as to its boundaries or "certain to a common intent" where the land was detailed adequately enough to distinguish it from other land. A vague, loose, or indescriptive warrant did not pertain to one specific spot but would apply to several positions.

A third type, called a shifted warrant or location occurred when the land surveyed differs from the land detailed in the warrant. The forms of the' warrants also differed over the years. The warrant usually gave the person's name, residence, the number of acres applied for, its location, the date, the act which covered the transaction, a request to authorize and require a survey, and the signature of one member of an executive council to serve as witness.

Once a warrant is drawn upon with an order of survey of an application, the Surveyor-General or his deputies have the responsibility to survey the ground, mark out the boundaries, and return the survey. Sergeant indicates that possession of the warrant is not an absolute grant to the land, "it was an authority enabling the party to acquire it, on the performance of certain conditions stipulated in the warrant, and on the regulations of the Proprietary and Acts of Assembly (p.122) by Act of 1805 even stated that unexecuted warrants had no effect if within two years they were not acted upon."

Given this time limitation, surveyors, upon receiving a warrant, had to enroll that warrant into the registry book before going out to perform the survey. Each surveyor had to take an oath and give security, while various acts of the Assembly provided surveyors with instructions on how to carry out their work. By the 1785 act, purchase money for the warrants had to be paid first before the survey could take place. The act also provided that all surveys returned had to be completed by actually going to the land and measuring it and marking the lines to be returned. Marking was usually done by notching and blazing trees for corners and boundary lines, or if no trees, stones were heaped upon each other or posts might be used. If the marks disappeared, for one reason or another, it had to be left to a jury to decide the proper boundary. The surveyor was not always considered to be at fault. Interestingly, up to the time the survey was to be returned, the owner could ask the surveyor to go out again to the ground and alter the survey, provided the request came at a reasonable time and did not interfere with rights of a third person. Once the survey was returned, the surveyor's job was finished and it was up to the owner to seek relief with the Board of Property. If the surveyor was guilty of misconduct in making a survey, the owner had to complain to the land office, otherwise he may have waived his right to objection.

The surveyor had to return the survey to the office of the Surveyor-General only after the warrantee first paid for his fees and expenses. The return once made and accepted, was in itself prima facie evidence that the survey had been made correctly, however, someone could claim a better right that would have to be determined either by trial or by the Board of Property. Once the survey was returned, the owner was usually bound by the survey. The survey became a notice of record that defines and fixes the right of the party and the boundaries of the land. It gave a right to a patent and once that patent was obtained, it provided legal title and right of entry against all others. In effect that person had title to the land as real estate, possessing rights under the descent, devise and transfer.

The patent was a deed from the Commonwealth, under its great seal, conveying to the grantee all the rights and legal title to the lands surveyed. It was given upon payment of the purchase money. As to third persons, it was prima facie evidence that the grantee had complied with all conditions in acquiring the patent; yet a third party could challenge its authenticity upon various grounds which had to be decided in a court of law.


1. The published laws in Pennsylvania has a long history. There were chronological sets of laws published in the 18th century by R. Jensen, A. Bradford, B. Franklin, P. Miller, F. Bailey, and A. Dallas. In 1810, John Bioren published a chronological set of Laws of Pennsylvania covering from 1800 to 1808. This set was annotated by Charles Smith, President Judge of the Third Judicial District (Common Pleas) in Pennsylvania, and is commonly referred to as Smith's Laws. This set was eventually expanded to cover down to 1829 in ten volumes. It is Smith's Laws that is cited in the various legal treatises for references to the public laws, although there is a later set called the Statutes at Large of Pennsylvania (Harrisburg: 1896-1916) in 18 volumes covering from 1700 to 1809. Gail M. Beckman's Statutes at Large of Pennsylvania Volume 1, 1680-1700 (N.Y.: Vantage Pr., 1976) is the main source today for the early statutory law of the colony. For more information, see Joel Fishman, "The History of Statutory Compilations in Pennsylvania," Law Library Journal, 86 (1994): 559-596.

2. In Pennsylvania, the pre-1845 Supreme Court reports are known by the name of the Court Reporter. These early nominative reports are: Dallas Reports, 4 vols. (1754-1806); Binney's Reports, 6 vols (1799-1814); Yeates's Reports, 4 vols.(1791-1808); Sergeant & Rawle' Reports, 17 vols. (1814-1828); Rawle's Reports, 5 vols. (1828-1835); Penrose & Watts' Reports, 3 vols. (1829-1832); Watts' Reports, 10 vols. (1832-1840); Wharton's Reports, 6 vols. (1835-1841); and Watts & Sergeant's Reports, 9 vols. (1841-1845). For more information, see, Joel Fishman, "The Reports of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania," Law Library Journal 87 (1995): 643-693.


Agnew, Daniel. A History of The Region of Pennsylvania North of The Ohio and West of The Allegheny River, of The Indian Purchases, And of The Running of The Southern, Northern, and Western Boundaries. Philadelphia: Kay & Bro., 1887.

Haskins, George Lee and Herbert A. Johnson. History of the Supreme Court of The United States Foundations of Power: John Marshall, 1801-1815. N.Y.: Macmillan Pub. Co., 1981. v.2 of the Oliver Wendel Holmes Devise History of the Supreme Court of The United States.

Herchenroether, Nell Y. "The Depreciation and Donation Lands of Western Pennsylvania." Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society Quarterly 7 (May, 1981): 127-133.

Laws of The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 10v. Philadelphia: John Bioren, 1810-1829. Commonly referred to as Smith's Laws.

Munger, Donna Bingahm. Pennsylvania Land Records: A History and Guide for Research. Wilmington, Del: Scholarly Resources, Inc. 1991.

Sergeant, Thomas. View of The Land Laws of Pennsylvania with Notices of Its Early History and Legislation. Philadelphia. James Kay, Jun. and Bro., 1838.

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