Rhode Island 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.

This article is part of
the Rhode Island Family History Research series.
History of Rhode Island
Rhode Island Vital Records
Census Records for Rhode Island
Background Sources for Rhode Island
Rhode Island Maps
Rhode Island Land Records
Rhode Island Probate Records
Rhode Island Court Records
Rhode Island Tax Records
Rhode Island Cemetery Records
Rhode Island Church Records
Rhode Island Military Records
Rhode Island Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Rhode Island Archives, Libraries, and Societies
Rhode Island Immigration
Rhode Island Naturalization
Ethnic Groups of Rhode Island
Rhode Island County Resources
Map of Rhode Island


Rhode Island is a State-Land State.

From the beginning of the settlement, as in Connecticut and Vermont, land transactions in Rhode Island were filed in the town office in either proprietors’ records or deed books. Indexes to the records are just as varied as they are in the rest of New England. Some grantor/grantee indexes are by surname only, some by surname and first initial instead of full name. Land was divided by proprietors in a pattern of lots. Metes and bounds were the usual land descriptions when the transaction did not involve an easily identified part of the lot or full lot.

One group of land records was recorded by the colony during the seventeenth century. Such transactions produced a multi-volume collection entitled “Rhode Island Land Evidence,” which is located at the Rhode Island State Archives. Volume 1 has been abstracted and published as Rhode Island Land Evidence, vol. 1 (1921; reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1970). Abstracts of volumes 2, 3, 4, and 5 have been printed in Rhode Island Roots (see Rhode Island Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections).

Some unindexed, unpublished deeds from the 1640s, which did not appear in the first volume of Records of the Colony of Rhode Island (see Background Sources for Rhode Island), are at the Rhode Island Archives.

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