Many Scottish Presbyterians moved from Scotland to Northern Ireland. The king wanted to counterbalance the Irish Catholics and offered land for bargain rates. When the Scots developed good homesteads, the landlords raised the rent. Many migrated to America in search of land which they could develop and enjoy as their own.

Joseph Colville and his extended family were typical Presbyterian settlers across the Blue Ridge on Opequon Creek (near current Winchester) in old Frederick County, Virginia. They bought tracts from Joist Heydt (Hite) who had a grant from the royal Governor Spotswood.

Suspicions about their property rights were raised when King George granted the same land to Lord Fairfax. Decades of legal squabbles over ownership ensued.

The Proclamation of 1763 prohibited settlement outside the Atlantic watershed. Some Samuel Newell relatives were already out of bounds on Monongahalia and New River settlements. The proclamation was rescinded, but suspicions were not erased.

Edmond Pendleton and Thomas Walker had large land grants on the western waters which had little value. For at least one of his tracts, Pendleton divided the survey dimensions by the square root of two so that his monuments on the ground covered twice what his grant on paper showed.

A homestead claim was valued by local people above legal grants by distant absentee landlords. Botetourt County allowed the absentee to buy out the homesteader’s improvements and reclaim the land. But they appraised the value of the improvements so high that the absentee often abandoned his claim to the homesteader.

In 1771 a caravan of Joseph Colville and Samuel Newell next generation with other friends and neighbors settled in the Holston River Valley. One of their frustrations was the backlog of surveyor work. Despite capabilities of others, only William and Mary certified surveyors could file legal county land documents.

Issues with land were among the grievances which caused the Whigs to support the Declaration of Independence.

The counties took care of common land use. They licensed roads and required residents to maintain them. Tillables were people who did the work. Tithables were those who provided equipment or funds to get the work done. Some people were on both the titables and tillables lists. Ferries and millraces were authorized by county magistrates. Salt licks were preserved for wild game and could not be privately owned. Mines could be privately owned, but only upon authorization by the state.

After the Revolutionary War, soldiers could not be paid from empty treasuries. Many took land grants in lieu of money. Virginia used tracts in expansive districts in Ohio and Kentucky counties to settle debts. North Carolina used the military district, now middle Tennessee, to cover its lack of funds.

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