Hancock County Land Grants

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Date: 1762
Location: Hancock, Maine, United Statesmap
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1762 Land Grants

In 1762, a group of 352 citizens of Massachusetts and New Hampshire petitioned the English General Court of Massachusetts for a land grant of 12 townships between the Penobscot and St. Croix Rivers. Deacon David Marsh of Haverhill, Massachusetts, was issued the grant in the name of all the petitioners. Marsh chartered the sloop Sally to survey and explore the new lands, and the petitioners each posted a bond of fifty pounds and signed an agreement that each township, within 6 years, must:
      Be settled with 60 Protestant families;
      Build 60 houses at least 18 feet square;
      Be only 6 miles on the river of seacoast;
     Have 300 acres of land fit for tillage;
     Have a church with a minister settled; and
     Reserve 1 lot for parsonage purposes, 1 for the minister, and 1 lot for Harvard College and for the use of schools.

Township 1-6 East of the Penobscot River and Townships 1-3 East of the Donaqua/Donaquee River (for name of Union River).
The other townships below came a little later

Township Name Later town
Township #1 EPRBucksport June 27, 1792 from Buckstown Plantation from Township 1 EPR
Township #2 EPROrland February 21, 1800 from Township 2 EPR
Township #3 EPRPenobscot Incorporated February 23, 1787 from Majabigwaduce Plantation, also known as Plantation Number Three.
Township #4 EPRSedgwick incorporated on January 14, 1789 from the township of Naskeag or T4, EPR
Township #5 EPRBlue Hill incorporated on February 02, 1789 from Blue Hill Bay Plantation aka Newport Plantation
Township #6 EPRSurry incorporated on June 21, 1803 from the Township T6 EPR
Township #7 EPREllsworth incorporated as a town on February 26, 1800 from Plantation Number 7
Township #8 EPRDedham incorporated on February 7, 1837 from a portion of township T8
Otis incorporated on March 19, 1835 from the township T8 EPR
Township #1 EUR Trenton 1789 February 16, 1789 - to Eben Thorndike
Tract of land lying in said Territory of Sagadahock, on the East side of Mount desert River now called Union River, beginning at a spruce tree marked about eight miles up said River on the East Side thereof, and marked A on the Plat exhibited, and thence extending Due East by Compass six miles, from thence south to the sea about five miles then Westerly along the seashore to the said River, and up said River to the Spruce aforesaid;
Township #2 EUR Sullivan February 16, 1789 - to David Bean
Tract of Land before mentioned and beginning at the north East corner of No One, and running Due East along a line which is to be continued as a General Boundary Line North of all these Towns, Eight Miles thence Due South until it meets the North Side Line of No three then Due West along said Line to the seashore and along the same to the South East corner of No One thence North by the same to the first point.
Township #3 EUR Gouldsboro & Mount Desert February 16, 1789
A line shall be run from the mouth of a stream which falls from a large Pond, into the Bay next to No Two, marked in the Plan D East by Compass unto the Bay in which Capt Frost is settled; That the said Line be equally divided, and at the Point of the Division, another Line be run North by Compass to the bounding Line of the township on the North Side and South indefinitely; which Line shall be Determined to the Southward by a point from which a Line being run Westward to the first mentioned Bay, may together with the said North and South Line, as to the East, and the said Bounding Line of the township to the North, and the Shore of the said Bay to the West, Inclose one equal and equitable Fourth Part of the Township; Regard being had to the quality as well as the quantity of the Land so Inclosed. And Mr. Jones and Mr. Frye the surveyors heretofore employed in Surveying these towns, shall run the said lines, and determine the said South Boundary of the said Fourth Part as aforesaid; & shall make their return upon Oath if the same shall be required And if they cannot agree concerning the settling and running the said South Line, they shall all in a third Person, by whose arbitration the Thing shall be finally determined.
Township #4 EUR Steuben February 27, 1795
Tract of Land aforementioned beginning at a point on the East Side of the Creek marked K opposite to the point that makes the north east corner of No three at No 845 of the Survey and from thence along the seashore Easterly to the West Side of the mouth of a creek marked X No 1138 of the Survey and from the first mentioned point and also from the Last mentioned point by lines due North unto the Great East and West boundary Line and along the same until the Lines meet,
Township #5 EURHarrington June 17, 1797
Tract of land adjoining to the tract of land before mentioned and beginning at the North East corner of No. four and running by the great East and West boundary line unto the East End of the thirty third mile from Union River, from thence South unto the sea, and from thence along the Seashore Westerly to the East side Line of No four, and along that line to the first point.
Township #6 EURAddison February 14, 1797
Tract of Land adjoining to the tract of land before mentioned and beginning at the North East boundary of No Five and running along the great East and West Boundary Line five miles, and from thence South about Seven miles to the West side of a River, near to which is a slooping spruce marked W on the Plat, and down the said River, and along the Sea Coast Westerly to the East Line of No Five, then North up that Line to the first point.

1786 Land Lottery :Bingham's Purchase

Samuel Wasson's A survey of Hancock County, Maine:[1]

Land Grants. –The first grants of land, were six townships each six miles square, between the Penobscot and Union, then known as the Donaqua River, which were granted to David Marsh et als, by the General Court of Massachusetts, upon certain conditions, one of which was that they should settle each township with sixty Protestant families, within six years. These grants were No. 1, (Bucksport); No. 2, (Orland); No. 3, (Penobscot); No. 4, (Sedgwick); No. 5, (Bluehill); and No. 6, (Surry). Six other townships east of the Donaqua River, were granted upon the same terms. But three of these are in this county, which are No. 1, (Trenton), granted to Eben Thorndike et als; No. 2, (Sullivan), to David Bean et als, and No. 3, (Mt. Desert) to Gov. Bernard. The whole survey was made by Samuel Livermore, and as six of the townships were on one side of the river, and six on the other side, the circumstance gave the present name of “Union River.” The onerous conditions imposed on the grantees, in this “forest wild,” could not be fulfilled, which occasioned a deal of uneasiness, as a new claimant might oust the occupant. In 1785, Massachusetts “quieted” the actual settlers in each, a hundred-acre lot. The grant of these several townships was made in 1762. One of the conditions in each grant was, that the grantee “ yield one-fifth part of all the gold and silver ore and precious stones found therein.” These grantees individually bound themselves in a penal bond of £50, conditioned to lay out no one of the townships more than six miles in extent, on the banks of the Penobscot, or on the sea coast; to build sixty dwelling-houses, at least 18 feet square ; to fit for tillage 300 acres of land, erect a meeting-house, and settle a minister. There were reserved in each township one lot for parsonage purposes, another for the first settled minister, a third for Harvard College, and a fourth for the use of schools, making 1,200 acres in each township, reserved for public uses.

Note that the townships listed here are limited to the ones that are or were part of Hancock County. More townships of Bingham's Penobscot Purchase are part of Penobscot and Washington counties. You may also be interested and another large track of land that was Bingham's Kennebec Purchase in Franklin and Somerset counties.

'Township Name
T2 NDNorthern half of T2 ND became Grand Falls Plantation in 1840 and was later Grand Falls Township. Grand Falls was ceded to Penobscot County in 1858
T3 NDUnorganized as of 2009
T4 NDUnorganized as of 2009
T7 SDUnorganized as of 2009
Contains Goodwin Siding - populated place
Parts were annexed by the towns of Gouldsboro and Sullivan
T8 SDUnorganized as of 2009
Also known as Fletchers Landing or Central Hancock
Parts were was used to form the towns of Franklin and Hancock
T9 SDParts were annexed by the town of Franklin
T10 SDParts were annexed by the town of Franklin
T14 MDportion to Mariaville Plantation in 1823 Incorporated in January 29, 1833 as Waltham
T15 MDIncorporated in 1837 as Eastbrook
T16 MDUnorganized as of 2009
T20 MDOrganized 1822 along with a portion of T14 MD as Mariaville Plantation Incorporated February 29, 1836 as Mariaville
T21 MDOrganized 1895 as Plantation No. 21; name changed to Osborn Plantation in 1923 and was Incorporated in 1975 as Osborn
T22 MDUnorganized as of 2009
Contains Steep Landing - a populated place
T26 MDOrganized 1822 as Mariaville Plantation and in 1831 as Amherst
T27 MDOrganized 1822 as Plantation No. 27 Incorporated 1831 as Hampton; name changed to Aurora in 1833
T28 MDIncorporated as Amherst February 5, 1831
T32 MDUnorganized as of 2009
Contains Grand Falls and Myra village
T33 MDorganized October 26, 1840 as Great Pond Plantation
T34 MDUnorganized as of 2009
T35 MDUnorganized as of 2009
T39 MDUnorganized as of 2009
T40 MDUnorganized as of 2009
T41 MDUnorganized as of 2009
Samuel Wasson's A survey of Hancock County, Maine:

Land Lottery.—In 1786, Massachusetts attempted a lottery sale of fifty townships, between the Penobscot and Passamaquoddy. The land intended to be sold, was represented by 2,720 tickets, the price of each ticket $2.00. These "lottery townships,” and those who settled upon them, were to be exempt from taxes for 15 years. Every ticket was a prize ticket; the smallest prize being a half-mile square, and the largest a six mile square. There were five managers, one of the number being Leonard Jarvis, of Surry. On the drawing of the lottery, it was found that but 437 tickets were sold, and only 165,280 acres drawn, and 942,112 acres remained unsold. The average price received for the lands drawn was about 52 cents per acre. The lots not drawn, and also the greater part of the prize lots, were purchased by William Bingham (1752-1804), of Philadelphia, a man of immense wealth. Mr. Bingham died in England in 1803, and left one son and two daughters. One of the daughters married Alexander Baring, of London. At one time the Bingham heirs owned in Maine, outside of the lottery purchase, 2,350,000 acres.
      The lottery townships in Hancock, sold to Bingham, were Nos. 14, 15 and 16, each containing 23,040 acres. The conveyance was made January 28th, 1793, by Samuel Phillips, Leonard Jarvis and John Reed, a Committee appointed by the General Court of Massachusetts. The “consideration,” named in the deed, is “a large and valuable sum of money.” Query—Were not the “up-river” townships north of the tier of townships, sold to Bingham, included in the lottery scheme? In 1796, Bingham purchased the residue of the Gregoire grant. A plan of the 60,000 acre grant to Madame De Gregoire, was made by Nathan Jones and Samuel Thompson, and a survey of the same, by John Peters, was completed on or before January 8th, 1789. August 4, 1792, Barthelemy De Gregoire, after “excepting out” certain “lots” and “tracts,” sold the balance of his grant, or 23,121 acres, to Henry Jackson, of Boston, for £1,247, 16 shillings. Jackson, July 9th, 1796, sold his claim to Bingham for $100.
      The outlines of the Gregoire grant are thus defined in the earliest recorded deeds: “A tract of land lying on the main, on each side of the Donaquec river, in the County of Hancock. Beginning near the Sweedeland Mill dam, on the Eastern side of Skillings river, thence due North 550 rods to Taunton bay, there crossing a cove in said bay 432 rods in the same course, and running same course from said bay 460 rods, for the N.E. corner, thence 7 miles and 56 rods to Union river, a due West course, crossing the river and continuing 2 miles, 172 rods, thence South 68 East to Union river, crossing the same, and continuing 176 rods to a stake in Melatiah Jordan's field.”
      In the conveyance from Gregoire to Jackson, or in that from Jackson to Bingham, among the lots “excepted out,” are 100 acres to Mr. Jennison, 100 to James Hopkins, one half of Trenton, and part of No. 8, conveyed to Jean Baptiste De La Roche; Gregoire's farm; a lot at North East Creek, Mt. Desert, lying between lots of Nicholas Thomas and Eliza Higgins; 450 acres intended for the town of Mt. Desert; a lot of Col. Jones, a settler on Great Duck Island, and 8,333 acres of No. 7, granted to the Beverly Cotton Manufactory.
    &nbsp The islands “lying in front,” granted to Barthelemy DeGregoire, and his wife Maria Theresa De la Motta Cadilace De Gregoire, and which were a part of the Bingham purchase, are Bartlett's island, containing 1,414 acres; Great Cranberry island, 490 acres; Little Cranberry, 73 acres; Sutton's, 74 acres; Bear, 9 acres; Thomas, 64 acres; Green, 44 acres; Great Duck, 182 acres; Little Duck, 59 acres; also, two small islands of 6 acres each. Col. John Black, an English man by birth, who resided at Ellsworth for many years, was the Bingham heirs' agent. Messrs. Hale and Emery now hold that trust. The Bingham lands presented an inviting field for “smugglers,” and the value of timber pilfered therefrom is immense.

James Swan's Purchase

July 7, 1786. James Swan (1754-1830)

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts was the owner of the District of Maine at the close of the Revolution, and had, as been recorded, sold the twenty-five islands included in the Burnt Coat group to Col. James Swan. He was the first private owner of this property. It was estimated to contain 12,800 acres, at the price of three shillings an acre, which would have amounted to 1920 pounds. This sum Swan paid March 19, 1785, and was to receive a deed as soon as the islands could be surveyed. By Putnam’s survey, it was found to contain only 9,625 acres, and the difference which was overpaid between the estimated and exact measurements, was returned to Swan January 19, 1786.
      His deed of this group of islands was dated July 7, 1786. On October 28, 1790, the records show that James Swan of Boston, by his attorneys Henry Jackson and Benjamin Hitchborn, sold to Joseph Prince, resident of Burnt Coat, for the sum of 300 pounds, and “divers other good causes.” Burnt Coat island, and all other islands within three miles of said Burnt Coat, (vol. 1, page 28, Hancock Reg. Deeds).
      After Prince’s purchase, he carried out Swan’s agreement with the settlers by giving a bond to each occupant of the land he had cultivated, and if occupied for seven years, agreed to give a deed at the end of that period. To Joseph Toothaker he gave a bond in the sum of $100 to convey to him one hundred acres of land, extending from the Carrying Place, westward around Toothaker’s Cove to include that amount, dated April 26, 1792 (3-208). Joshua Grindle’s lot from the Carrying Place southward to Moses Staples’ lot containing 100 acres, dated May 1, 1794 (3-245).
      On June 29, 1785, Joseph Prince and wife Joanna, sold to Henry Jackson of Boston, for 300 pounds, the same purchase that he had made of Swan. On July 16, 1795, Jackson also bought of Bartolomy De Gregoire, land on Mt. Desert for which he paid 1247 pounds. He also bought Bartlett’s island, Cranberry and Duck island, also a tract near Stinson’s Neck, Deer Isle (3-256).
      On Sept 28, 1796, Henry Jackson conveyed Burnt Coat islands back to Colonel Swan, in consideration of 300 pounds. He also gave to Swan a quitclaim deed of the island and all improvements made thereon, also land in Suffolk and Norfolk counties, for 5000 pounds (4-207). On December 12, 1796, again mortgaged this property to Henry Jackson to secure payment of a loan of 2333 pounds (4-203). On July 13, 1798, Swan gave this same security to Stephen Higginson and Samuel G. Perkins of Boston to secure a loan from them of $30,000. These various transactions and conveyances were thought he made to his friends to prevent it being attached by his creditors.
      On February 28, 1798, Swan gave to Joseph Prince of Swan’s Island (formerly Burnt Coat) a power of attorney to sell and convey to the settlers the land which they had occupied, and other fishermen who might settle there, on the conditions stated elsewhere. He also gave power to Prince to sell a lot of land on the “Island of Holt”, which he had purchased of Nathaniel Shelden in 1796 (5-481 Hancock Reg.)
      There is no further record that any of this island was bought or sold for fifteen years. During all this period new arrivals had taken up land on which they built their houses, and no one disputed their claim to the land. The promise which Swan made with the settlers to give them a deed of the land when they should have occupied it for seven years was not carried out, probably because Swan had already gone to France, never to return, and the agents and attorneys did not see fit to carry out his agreement. However the settlers did not care much about title to the land they occupied, which at that time was of little value. The log cabin and boat were the greater part of their possessions, and if ousted their loss would not be great.
      On October 3, 1812, James Swan of Boston, “at present residing in Paris,” mortgaged to Michael O’Maley, a merchant of Baltimore, a part of this group of islands. Swan was indebted to O’Maley for the sum of 43080 francs, as appears on a bill of exchange drawn at Harve, in 1808. Swan paid on this account 6663 francs, with interest, leaving a balance due on Sept 1, 1818, of 3641 francs. For security, Swan had mortgaged to O’Maley thirteen islands of this group, viz: Swan’s Marshall, Black, Hat, Great and Little Placentia, Long island and five others, the names of which are not recollected, containing about 12,000 acres, together with grist and saw mills, farms, stores, mansion house, timberlands, waters and fisheries. The mortgage was executed in Paris in the Greffe of the prison of St. Pelagie, where Swan was there imprisoned, and acknowledged, before David Bailey Warden, U. S. consul at Paris, October 3, 1812 (33-226)
      After this time there seems to have been no claimants for any of this property, either mortgager or mortgagee, until 1817. On March 10, 1817, Rufus B. Allyn of Belfast, attorney for O’Maley, entered and took peaceable possession, for the purpose of foreclosing all mortgages which had been previously given to settlers. He notified the people that in O’Maley’s name he should take possession of all land on Swan’s Island. He brought with him as witnesses Jesse Holbrook and Paul Giles.
      On August 29, 1821, a power of attorney was given by O’Maley to Daniel Webster to transact necessary conveyance of the thirteen islands of the Burnt Coat group, as well as other transactions with Swan. This was signed in Boston. Swan and O’Maley had been connected in business in France, but this last transaction seems to have been a bona fide one, as O’Maley actually claimed possession here for many years.
      On June 13, 1823, Daniel Webster, attorney for O’Maley and William Sullivan, son-in-law of Swan, substituted Rufus B. Allyn to act jointly for both parties (43-168) and whatever deeds that were given after that date, were given to both parties jointly. Considerable of Swan’s property in and around Boston, was conveyed at that time by the same parties. Allyn came here again and demanded payment from all the land owners, and many of the settlers had occupied the land they had taken for more than thirty years, during which time they had made a great many improvements on their property, and had erected substantial buildings. These demands brought consternation to the people, many of whom were now in old age. They did not anticipate, after all these long years of silence, that their homes would be imperiled. He gave a deed to each land holder, and secured payment by taking a mortgage, requiring annual payment on principal and interest. Both

the deeds and mortgages are recorded in Hancock Registry of Deeds, executed between 1823 and 1839. The following are some of those there recorded:

Moses Bridges of Sedgwick bought Eastern Calf island, containing 162 acres, for $400, May 24, 1823 (43-509).
Peter Powers bought the Western Calf island, containing 256 acres, for $750, September 21, 1822 (43-521)
John Finney bought the place on which he lived, October 1, 1823, for $147 (44-238).
Ebenezer Joyce gave a mortgage for his lot for $130.27—68 acres of land on which he lived, Oct. 3, 1822.
Abel E. Staples gave a mortgage for the land he occupied near Mackerel Cove in 1823.
James Joyce lot was appraised at $146.51 on May 27, 1824.
Francis Gilley of Placentia was valued at $237. This mortgage was paid Oct. 27, 1839.
Robert Mitchell land on Placentia, May 24, 1824. This mortgage was paid Dec. 25, 1828.
Benjamin Smith lot was valued at $365.50, the farm on which he lived, on May 18, 1824.
Moses Staples land was listed at $83.37; recorded May 20, 1824.
Benjamin Stinson lot valued at $200.
Franklin B. Staples lot near Mackerel Cove was $42.13; dated May 18, 1824.
Moses Staples, jr., lot was $158.16; May 17, 1824.
Daniel Hamblin, for a part of the island of Placentia, containing 93 acres; dated 1825.
Israel B. Lunt, unincorporated place called Long Island, 1123 acres, for which he was to pay $600; dated June 30, 1835.
Michael O’Maley, at present residing in Paris, Kingdom of France, sold to Thomas Colomy for $200, a lot near Seal Cove; deed executed by Rufus B. Allyn, July 1, 1835 (60-424).
      Few paid anything on these mortgages, and no action was taken by Allyn to enforce payment. Afterward O’Maley or his heirs employed Ex-governor Kent to prosecute these claims on all these islands, and he made several attempts to collect these bills at court, but the settlers were informed that they had a legal claim to the property they occupied by Swan’s recorded agreement with the settlers, and also that they could hold their land by reason of more than thirty years of quiet possession. Anyhow, no further claims were ever made by Allyn or Kent. The latter had collected some money from a few of the owners, but he could not locate his clients, so he returned what he had collected to the islanders. No doubt that Swan and O’Maley had taken this method to collect something from the settlers, but finding that the matter was likely to be hotly contested, concluded the results would not justify the expenditures. No further claim was made by O’Maley or his heirs. After Col. Swan’s death, his heirs had Charles J. Abbott, attorney at Castine, appointed as administrator of Swan’s estate in Maine, on April 6,

1837. He appointed Thomas Cobb, John B. Redman and Benjamin Rea, in December 1837, to make an appraisal of some of the islands in the group, as follows:

Island Acres Value
Little Marshall42 $63
W 10 10
A 21 21
B 4 4
D 44 66
F 16 80
G 33 49
K 5 6
N 23 46
P 16 16
T 6 5
John’s 20 50
U 17 17
V 3 3

Small, H. W. 1898. A history of Swan's Island, Maine. Ellsworth, Me: Hancock County Pub. Co.

Plan of Burnt Coat Division of Islands, 1785


  1. Wasson, Samuel. 1878. A survey of Hancock County, Maine: by Samuel Wasson. Augusta [Me.]: Sprague, Owen & Nash, printers.

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