Glossary of Land Terms


Perches One perch when speaking of “along the line of” is 16 and ½ linear feet; when speaking of addition to acreage 160 square perches equal one acre.


The dates on records may reflect the date on which they were recorded.   The key to whether they had been living on the land sooner than that date is the statement “of Township grantee is from”.


Yeoman, owns acreage at purchase place or elsewhere.   Husbandman, owns animals, may not own any land or enough to be considered a yeoman.


The following is a combination of the information Barbara Wentz has in her book, 

Pennsylvania Land Records, A History and Guide for Research, Donna Bingham Munger, Published in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Scholarly Resources Inc., Wilmington, Delaware, copyright 1991, fourth printing 200, pp. xxix , 34, 126. 

Also included are indented examples from the land records themselves and other sources.

p. xxix:

The Application is a request for land, usually a certain amount in a particular place.

The Warrant is a written order to survey and usually restates the amount and location requested in the application.

The Survey is the actual process of going upon the land, measuring and marking the courses, and distances, and drawing a tract diagram. [6 percent of the acreage in a survey is reserved for roads or streets.]

The Return of Survey is a written restatement combining the warrant and survey and signifies that the purchase price and all fees have been paid.

The Patent is the final deed from the proprietor or the state passing ownership of the particular tract of land to its initial purchaser.


p. 34: The quit rent system, initiated by Penn to provide his family with a steady income, placed a nominal ground rent upon all land whether purchased or rented. Although the quit rent was figured from the time of the return of survey, the money was not collected until the land was patented.  

[Quit rents were regular payments made by the owner of the land to the person who held the patent.  This was in addition to the quit rent due to the Proprietor, Wm. Penn or his family.   Examples:   

(1) When Van Bebber sold in 1706 to John Newberry 450 acres in Van Bebber’s Twp. part of the description included that the SW line is 237 perches, but later he discovered that it was really only 225 perches, so in 1714 he made a new deed rectifying his mistake and apologizing by releasing him from paying to quit rents to him, and paying only the quit rents due the proprietor (Wm. Penn):      “At and under the proportional part of the yearly quit rent of an English Silver Shilling or value thereof in coin current for one thousand acres of land henceforth to become due and payable to the aforsd. William Penn his heirs and assignes forever seeing that he sd. Mattias Van Bebber for the consideration above mentioned hath remised by leased and quit claimed and by virtue of these present for himself his heirs assigns doth absolutely remise release and quit claim unto the sd. John Newberry his heirs and assigns the abovesd. of one silver shilling or value thereof for each 450 acres which he the sd. Mattias therefore had refused unto himself.  (Phila. Co. Deed Book E-5 7:164)


(2) The Deed of sale of Peter Umstat, son of Johannes,  in 1775, included 4 complete deeds unrecorded until 1775.  These unrecorded deeds form a complete picture of the land from 1722- 1775.  Finding live witnesses to affirm them was a scramble!

When Johannes purchased his 256 acres in Limerick in 1725 from James Steel. the following history of the land is given in the two deeds, one of James Steel in 1725 and one of the patent holders in 1729:

1725 Whereas in and by a certain indenture of Lease and Release bearing date the ninth and tenth date of December, 1720 made between Thomas Hackney of the County of Burlington in the Province of West New Jersey and Rebecka his wife of the one part and James Steele of the City of Philadelphia, Gent. Thomas and Rebecca Hackney did release unto James Steel under the Quit rent...the eighth day of May 1722....This was original patent of Darby Green and his wife Mary, and their daughter Mary their only heir and daughter, is married to Robert Osborne of Philadelphia and they confirm the purchase of  James Steel of 512 acres to Thomas Hackney, relinquishing their quit rents to Thomas, but not to James Steel.   James Steel and wife Martha sell to John Umstatt 256 acres of said 512 acres.

1729   3. Deed of Quit Rent Release

This indenture made 15 Nov 1729 between John Hollingshead of the township of Chester in the County of Burlington in the Western division of the Providence of New Jersey, yeoman and Agness his wife, she being one of the daughters of Thomas Hackney late of the City of London in Great Britain, Gent. decsd, and John Umstatt of Limerick [!], Co. of Phila., PA.... for and in consideration of the sum of 5 shillings lawful money to them in hand paid agree to relinquish their quit rents. [This is Johannes, though some Umstead researchers have thought it meant a later John Umstatt.]

(Philadelphia Co. Deed Book I-15: 105-113,  SLC Film  #0021905, Rec. 6 Dec., 1775.)


p. 126: The end of the quit rent system was the Divesting Law of 1779. The law transferred all ungranted land within the bounds of William Penn's charter to the disposal of the legislature. The law also abolished quit rents and ordered all arrears in purchase money to be paid to the newly formed state government. In return the Penn family was to be reimbursed with 130,000 pounds sterling of Great Britain and permitted to retain ownership of all private estates and proprietary manors that had been surveyed and returned to the Land Office before July 4, 1776.






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last updated March 2007