The James Harrod Trust, a non-profit advocate for historic preservation in Harrodsburg recently announced the availability of “Mercer County Land Patents, A Comprehensive Study of Land Appropriation in Mercer County, Kentucky, from 1779 to 1841.”
Perhaps a logical followup question might be: “What in the world is a land patent?” This article will attempt to provide a brief overview of the land patenting process and the historical significance of the James Harrod Trust publication.
In 1763—13 years before the Declaration of Independence was signed—King George III of England issued a proclamation that addressed two of his major concerns: 1) How should veterans of the F1ench and Indian War be compensated–with land or money? and 2) What is the best way to remind surveying companjes he was in charge of land appropriation in the western hemisphere?
In his Proclamation of 1763, King George III developed a four-step process by which he (or a royal governor) could transfer property ownership to settlers who resided east of the designated proclamation line which extended from Canada to present-day Florida. (The Kentucky territory, known as “the Western Waters” was located west of the proclamation line which King George III had reserved for Native Americans. Treaties and exploration associated with westward expansion and “Manifest Destiny” nullified the proclamation line of 1763 after the Revolutionary War.)