Under the Virginia Land Law of 1779, residents of the Kentucky District could purchase Certificates of Settlement and Preemption Warrants if they met certain residency requirements. Any bona fide settler in Kentucky County prior to January 1, 1778, who had made an improvement and planted a crop of corn, was eligible for a 400 acre Certificate of Settlement for the land he (or she) had improved. An additional 1000 acres, adjoining the Settlement tract, could be purchased under a Preemption Warrant. All those who had "marked out" or chosen any unappropriated lands and built any house or hut or made other improvements prior to January 1, 1778, but could not prove actual settlement, were entitled to a preemption of no more than 1000 acres. (These warrants were issued for "chop claims" or "lottery cabin improvements.")
Anyone in Kentucky County, Virginia, after January 1, 1778 and before May 1779 (when the Land Law was written) was eligible for a 400 acre Preemption Warrant for the tract on which they had made an improvement and planted a corn crop.
A Land Commission was appointed to hear testimony from Kentucky County residents and their witnesses; the Commission then decided who qualified for Certificates of Settlement, 1000 acre Preemption Warrants, 1000 acre Preemption Warrants, and 400 acre Preemption Warrants. The Commission for the Kentucky District consisted of William Fleming, Edmund Lyne, James Barbour and Stephen Trigg. The Commission conducted their hearings in Harrodsburg, St. Asaph (Logan's Fort), Boonesborough, Bryants Station (near Lexington), and the Falls of Ohio (Louisville).
To view scanned images of the journal maintained by the Land Commission, open Doomsday Book in the left column of this website.
The Certificates of Settlement and Preemption Warrants Database is indexed by Preemption Warrant number, the individual acquiring the Warrant & Certificate of Settlement, immediate assignees, and tract location. Result pages include links to scanned images of the commissioners' certificates issued to the claimant, agent, assignee, or heir. Microfilm of the Certificates of Settlement and authorizations for Preemption Warrants is available for research at the following facilities: Secretary of State's Land Office, Kentucky History Center and the Kentucky Department for Libraries & Archives (all in Frankfort), the Filson Club and the Sons of the American Revolution Library (both in Louisville), and the Library of Virginia (Richmond, Virginia.).
Many of the search results on this database link to patent files authorized by Certificates of Settlement & Preemption Warrants. Check "Authorized" for patent series (VA=Virginia; OK=Old Kentucky) and patent numbers. The patents may be reviewed and printed in pane-format by opening the "Virginia and Old Kentucky Patent Series" channel on the Land Office website.
Some counties in present-day Virginia and West Virginia are also included in this index. For information on patents authorized by those Preemption Warrants, contact the Library of Virginia (Richmond, Virginia).
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