Land records

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From 1787 free settlers in New South Wales could be granted land by the Governor. A single male was entitled to 30 acres, while a married man received 50 acres and an additional 10 acres for each child if his wife and children were with him at the time the land grant was made. In 1825 the sale of land by private tender began and restrictions were imposed on the maximum size of land that could be granted freely. At the same time a survey of the Colony was undertaken that divided settled areas into Counties, Hundreds and Parishes.

Documents relating to original land grants and purchases are held in State Records NSW or, as further States were created, in the relevant State archival repository. After the original land grant, records of further transactions on a particular piece of land will be found in the relevant State’s Titles Office.

How can I find out if my ancestor owned any land?

There are a number of surname indexes to land records that are available in the State Library of Queensland collections and/or online. Most of these are organized by State.

Queensland | New South Wales | Victoria | Tasmania | Northern Territory

Queensland

Note: For records relating to Queensland prior to Separation in 1859 check land records for New South Wales.

Queensland State Archives holds an extensive range of early Queensland pastoral maps showing the names of the original land owners. Land selection files for the period 1868 -1884 have been indexed and can be located in a surname search of their catalogue.  A number of online Land indexes are also available.

The indexes include:

  • Land orders 1865-1866
  • Land selections prior to 1884
  • Mineral leases 1871-1940
  • Miners rights 1874–1880
  • Register of land sold 1842-1859
  • Register of lands 1861-1868
  • Register of lands sold 1849-1861
  • Register of Pastoral Holdings 1863 - 1880
  • Rents payable on pastoral runs 1860-1911
  • Soldier Settlement Ledger 1917-1929
  • Transfer of runs 1848-1874

There are also the following guides available at Queensland State Archives:

State Library of Queensland holds:

New South Wales

State Records NSW provides online indexes to various land records at their website.

Some of the indexes available are:

  • Closer Settlement and Returned Soldier’s transfer files, 1907-1951
  • Closer Settlement Promotion Files, 1913-1958
  • Closer Settlement Transfer Registers, 1919-1925
  • Depasturing Licenses 1837-1851
  • Land Grants and leases, 1792-1856
  • Squatters & Graziers index, 1837-1849
  • Surveyor General’s Crown Maps & Plans
  • Surveyors’ field books 1794- 1860
  • Surveyors’ letters, 1822-55

Also try Colonial Secretary Records such as:

See also the following guides to land records available at State Records NSW:

State Library holds:

Check our One Search online catalogue for further titles.

Victoria

Public Records Office Victoria (PROV) has an online index to Pastoral Runs.

See also Researching Land and Property.

State Library holds:

Tasmania

Tasmanian Archives and Heritage has an info guide, Tasmanian Land Grants, which includes what can be found online.

State Library holds:

Northern Territory

Northern Territory pastoral permits from 17/11/1902 to 14/04/1924 [microfiche] (MFC 929.39429 1988)

How can I find out about land owned by an ancestor in a particular area?

Parish maps record original land grants and are a very useful family history resource. The State Library of Queensland holds some early parish maps and related material for both Queensland and New South Wales. Examples include:

County & parish maps of New South Wales with index / compiled by Alice Jansen (ATLAS 912.944 1991)

This map of the Colony of New South Wales: exhibiting the situation and extent of the appropriated lands, including the countries, towns, village, reserves &c … [map] / Robert Dixon. (MAPS 811 00500 r 1837). Shows property boundaries with landowners' names [1837]

The Parish map in family history research / Crown Lands Office, Department of Local Government and Lands [Sydney]. (PAM 912.944 1982)

Along the line: Theebine to Kilkivan, Gympie to Croydon Junction, Maryborough: extracted names from maps / compiled by Eileen B. Johnson. (P 929.3943 alo)

Check our One Search online catalogue for additional titles.

Post Office and pastoral directories can assist in determining the period that an individual held land in a particular district. See our Directories, almanacs and gazetteers for more information.

Download the PDF version of Land records  (PDF 59.1 KB)

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