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The Royal Charter of June, 1732, given by King George II to the Trustees for Establishing the Colony of Georgia in America, defined the boundaries of the new colony as lying between the Savannah and Altamaha Rivers, extending as far north as those rivers flowed and thence from their sources in a straight line to the South Seas.

The land in question was in possession of the Creek and Cherokee Nations, and when James Edward Oglethorpe, one of the Trustees and the leader of the colony, landed at Yamacraw Bluff on the Savannah River on February 12, 1733, he was well aware that some agreement with the Indians was necessary. His first treaty with the Creeks in 1733 assured him of a small area along the Savannah River, running north along it to a point opposite today's Rincon, passing through that town and today's Eden in a diagonal line to the Ogeechee, thence south and a little west in a straight line to the Altamaha River, or, as it has been described elsewhere, "the area between the Savannah and the Altamaha as high as the tides flowed." This was the small part of the original charter grant in which the colonists settled and here they laid out the City of Savannah.

The 1733 Treaty with the Creeks reserved two parcels of land for themselves. One was an area from Pipemaker's Bluff to Palachucolas Creek and the other was the Island of Ossabaw, Sapelo, and St. Catherine. It was not until 1757 at a congress held as Savannah that a treaty between the English and the Creeks gave to Georgia the three great Sea Islands and the small tract of land in reserve near Savannah. By this time, too, the colonists had settled considerably beyond the limits of the first treaty and came to look upon all this land as their own. Oglethorpe had early fortified St. Simons Island knowing well that it was outside of the treaty boundary as well as the charter limits. The next year in 1758, without treaty or permissions from the Indians, an Act of the Assembly created seven parishes, i.e., St. Paul, St. George, St. Matthew, Christ Church, St. Philip, St. John and St. Andrew. By Royal Proclamation in 1763, the English Crown extended Georgia's southern boundary to the St. Mary's River, and by Act of Assembly again, the four new parishes of St. David, St. Patrick, St. Thomas and St. Mary were created from that extension in 1765.

The Creeks were uneasy about these expansions and in order to quiet them and to redefine the western boundary, a new treaty was made in 1763 at Augusta. The limits of the settlers went as far as the Little River to the north, down the Ogeechee to the southwest corner of the present boundary line of Bulloch County, southward crossing the upper reaches of the Canoochee River and ended at the St. Mary's.

The last of the Royal Provincial treaties was in 1773 and this included what was called the Ceded Lands, a rich area acquired from the Creeks and Cherokees north of the Little River to the Broad and west almost to the Oconee River. Settlement in this area was barely begun when the first fires of the Revolution were seen in the Province and until that war was over, Georgia remained a relatively narrow strip along the Savannah to the Ogeechee River.

Under the Trustees, from 1732 until the charter was resigned to the Crown in 1752, all allotments or leases of land made to the settlers were in Tail Male. Unlike fee simple grants, the leases could not be mortgaged, sold or otherwise disposed with. Some confusion exists about these allotments and leases, since some of the written records refer to them as grants, when, strictly speaking, that term is not correct. In 1752, after the relinquishment of the charter, Georgia became a Royal Province and under the English Crown and its Royal Governors, fee simple grants were made to the land which gave a clear title to the grantees. These Royal Grants, in the Georgia Surveyor General Department of the Office of the Secretary of State, begin in 1755. The three year gap between 1752 and 1755 is variously explained by historians, but in any case, the latter year is the first date for the grants. There are some 5000 of these recorded.

The department has now abstracted, very carefully and accurately, all of the Royal Provincial Grants. Using cards, citations to survey date, grant date, acres, name of grantee, page and book of record are shown, and a verbatim extraction of the description of the property granted. The legal verbiage of "Appurtenances and hereditaments" has been omitted. All else is shown in the abstract.

During the Revolution, according to one of the state's early Surveyors General, many of the plats of survey for the Royal Grants were destroyed. In abstracting the grants, it was found that only one grant in four had the plat of survey. Also, some plats existed for which there was no grant issued, although there were not many of these. In the text, where the reader finds no citation for a survey, there is none, and, conversely, where no grant is shown, there is none extant.

It is hoped that this effort will give important data to state officials first, and then to geographers, historians and the general public.

By Pat Bryant
Surveyor General Department
State of Georgia

Transition of Districts and Towns to Parishes to Counties

Transcription copyright 2004 by Sherry Deal Jones,