The Township Land Papers can best be described as a miscellaneous collection of documents relating to early transactions and correspondence to the lots of land in each township.
The Township Land Papers are an important source of information to the family historian, since these files pre-date information found in Land Registry Office records.
These documents have been arranged by lot and concession and are the papers that have survived and are not necessarily a complete record of all business that may have transpired. The type and amount of information contained will vary for each lot, and not every lot has a file.
The purpose of this publication is to provide an index and brief description of the contents of each document found on the microfilm. Without an index, the researcher must know the lot and concession to find reference to the person they are looking for. This index will also record names of people that may never have obtained title to the lot and therefore one would not normally search that particular record. Names of people who witnessed documents have also been indexed since that record is valuable in placing a person in a particular place at a certain time period and provides the family historian with a signature.
There are many types of information found in the Township Land Papers. A large part of the files are correspondence from people wishing to purchase or lease a particular lot, enclosing payments for purchase or rent, disputes over title of a lot, and stating their claims for military service or United Empire Loyalist rights. Much of this correspondence is addressed to the Crown Lands Department by the settler themselves, while a number of letters exist from John B. Askin in London who was an Agent of the Department, who wrote on behalf of the settler or asking the Department for advice in settling disputes and claims.
Some of the correspondence from persons wishing to purchase is very brief, while others went into great detail of when they arrived in the province, the size of their family, and where they immigrated from.
There are also many letters from Mahlon Burwell, a Deputy Surveyor; and Col. Thomas Talbot, who was responsible for locating a great number of settlers in Elgin County.
Other documents found in the Township Papers include grants to sons and daughters of United Empire Loyalists, and grants to settlers located by Thomas Talbot. Certificates from Talbot declaring that a person has performed the required settlement duties and location tickets will also be found. Examinations of military claims, verifying the service of a settler, are also included. These usually identify the regiment in which the claimant served, and the length of service. Another type of document found is the Order in Council, which most often refers to the decision by the Government to grant land to sons and daughters of United Empire Loyalists, or other settlers who have performed the required settlement duties.
A large percentage of the documents include assignments of title or rights to the property from one person to another. These transfers often occurred before a patent was issued for the lot and therefore will not be found in the records of the Land Registry Office for that property.
It should be noted that in most cases, the reply (if any) from the Crown Lands Department for these requests are not included in the file. Therefore it is difficult to determine the outcome of many of these petitions to purchase or the settling of disputes that arose. For the lots that were granted to sons or daughters of United Empire Loyalists, it should be noted that many of the grantees were from other parts of the province and may not have actually settled on the lot granted to them. In most cases, the file contains only the grant document with no record of further transactions. The Abstract Index at the Land Registry Office must be consulted to determine if these grantees disposed of the property to another settler.
The extracts found in this publication appear in the order in which the files were found on the microfilm. The page numbers throughout the text are the page numbers found on the microfilm. The page number in the index refers to the printed page of this publication.
The Township Papers are part of the collection of microfilm housed at the Elgin County Archives. The Elgin County Archives microfilm numbers are as follows:
Aldborough MF 1237 - 1239
Bayham MF 1240 - 1242
Dunwich MF 1243 - 1244
Malahide MF 1245 - 1248
S. Dorchester MF 1249 - 1250 (includes North Dorchester in Middlesex County)
Southwold MF 1251 - 1253
Yarmouth MF 1254 - 1255
The Township Land Papers have also been microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah and are available through the Family History Centers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Consult the LDS Library Catalogue under “Ontario, Elgin - Land and Property” for a listing of these microfilms