Maine Land Records
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This entry was originally written by Alice Eichholz, Ph.D., CG for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
Maine is a State-Land State.
Maine obtained provincial status in New England under royal grants from England. In 1677 the Massachusetts Bay Colony purchased the area in Maine below the Kennebec River. The area east of the river became part of Massachusetts in 1691. As part of Massachusetts, the process of creating town grants for proprietors followed that of other Massachusetts towns (see Massachusetts Land Records). All deeds before 1737 for the settled area in Maine have been transcribed verbatim and published in eighteen volumes entitled York Deeds, 1642–1737 (Portland, Maine: Maine Historical Society, 1887–1910), available at most major libraries with a collection of New England materials.
Following the Revolution in 1783, under the auspices of the Massachusetts General Court, a Committee for the Sale of Eastern Lands began to survey and sell remaining unorganized portions of the state to help pay for the cost of the war. Land was disposed of in lotteries, tax sales, street grants, patents, and a few war grants. All the original papers for the Eastern Lands are held in the Massachusetts State Archives, and there is a limited card index. Additionally, they have been published in The Maine Historical and Genealogical Recorder, vols. 4-8. Between 1824 and 1891, the Maine Land Office took over the work of the Massachusetts Committee for the Sale of Eastern Lands and distributed public land after separation from Massachusetts. Records are located at the Maine State Archives and include maps, field notes, and deeds starting with 1794 (as Massachusetts deeds). A brochure entitled “Land Office Records in the Maine State Archives” is available from the archives. Land grant applications from Revolutionary War veterans are also available.
Land transactions are recorded on the county level and are available at the county deed office.