The record group consists of large volumes of memorials and indexes of all registrations pertaining to the ownership of land in Essex County, Ontario after the Patent from the Crown. The Copy books described in this inventory cover registrations from the years 1796 to 1955 and total approximately 800 linear meters (1145 volumes). They are a part of Record Group 61 - Real Property Registration Records at the Archives of Ontario and are on permanent indefinite loan from the Archives of Ontario.
Series Level Description
The Record Group is divided into three series: the Area Series, the General Register Series, and the Miscellaneous Series.
I. Area Series
The Area series include memorials of instruments from 1796 -1955, and consist of all types of land transactions, including bargain and sales, quit claims, mortgages, and deeds. Earlier transactions often took place several years prior to the actual enregistration of the memorial at the Registry Office. Instrument #432(Old Records B) is an example of a Bargain and Sale dated 29 Aug 1799, that was not registered at Sandwich until 20 Jan 1809. Additionally, a memorial could have been registered outside Essex County, but by statute, had to be brought to the Registrar to be entered in the copy books with at least one witness who could swear oath that he or she saw the same executed. The Registry Act of 1795 also required that memorials of all wills shall be registered within six months after the death date of the deceased. Even though the Registry Act only required the registration of memorials, the "Old Records" copy books (which date from 1796 - 1846), contain a wide variety of registrations including court judgements for trespassing or lands sold by the sheriff for arrears of taxes due. For a more complete list, see Types of Documents.
The more recent Area Series copy books begin to reflect the more structured and organized systems set forth by ammendments to the Registry Act. For example, after the ammendments of 1825, memorials were registered for deeds of gift, lands sold at public auctions, deed polls and release of dowers. After the 1865 ammendments, the Area Series copy books included deeds to trustees for religious institutions, property for grammar schools, order of decree for alimony and declaration of the formation of Library Associations and Mechanics' Institutes.
Some of the copy books have indexes in the front of the volumes, although none of the "Old Records" are indexed. As the books come forward in time, they become more completely indexed. There are also more incorporations and many more lease agreements, particularly as oil companies began to move into area municipalities. In Colchester for example, a large number of lease agreements were made between Imperial Oil Limited and private land holders. The Area Series copy books directly mirror the influx of population growth and industry into Essex County, as well as the changes to the land registration system in Ontario.
II. Miscellaneous Series
These were copy books relating to a variety of transactions such as bylaws, deposits, bankruptcies, partnerships, joint stock ventures and judgements which began to be recorded in separate volumes after the 1865 ammendments. Each of these copy books contain a wealth of information. To illustrate, bankruptcies could include the bankruptcy of an individual or a company. Certificates of partnership were registered for butchers, plasterers and wholesale egg merchants, while partnership deeds recorded partnerships in the trades of carpenters, cabinet makers and undertakers.
The card catalogue lists the first volume "Judgement Book A" as never having been received from the Registry Office. Additionally, one of the "Old Records" volumes, which is not lettered, contains judgements numbered 305 - 445 and "Judgement Book B" begins with number 584, so there are two gaps in the registration of judgements - one from instrument numbers 1 - 304, and from 446 - 583. It is possible that these copy books have been lost, or that these instruments are contained within other copy books, and have not been located to date.
III. General Register Series
The third series of copy books is the General Register Series, which also began with the Registry Act of 1865. This series is the most straight-forward and contains wills and letters of administration that were recorded at the Registry Office since most probates dealt with the transfer of land. The Treasurer of the County or City was to provide a General Registry book to be used for the entire county, not by municipality. These registrations list the name of the deceased, and often the death date, as well as a description of the property, both real and personal, that was to be dispersed among the heirs.
The Copy Books are very large, bound volumes, and are generally in good condition. Even though some of the pages are brittle, they are still intact, and the writing is legible. Many of the oldest volumes have deteriorating bindings, and some pages are loose. Most of the books are stored on shelving units in the University of Windsor Archives, located in the basement of the Leddy Library. Due to space constraints, a large number of the older volumes are located in the shipping area, also in the basement of the Library. The records are open for research, however due to the size and condition of the books, photocopying is not permitted. Photography is allowed in the Archives as long as a flash is not used.
The Ontario Archives Computerized Land Index is available on microfiche on the fourth floor of the Leddy Library. This is an index of some Crown Land records at the AO. Crown Land relates to property before the patent was issued by the government, while the Copy Books contain records after the patent has been issued to an individual. This index may be helpful in locating the lot and concession number for an individual who received a patent from the Crown. There are no related records at the University of Windsor Archives, however, the Abstract Indexes are on microfilm at the Land Registry Office in Windsor, and can be accessed there. The original plans of survey are also at the registry office, while the plat plans have been transferred to the Hamilton LRO. Post-1955 copy books are located at the Registry Office and can be viewed there.
Microfilm copies of the copy books from 1796 -1876 are available at the Archives of Ontario, and also on loan through the LDS Family History Centers. Microfilm copies of the 1754 -1796 land records (pre-Registry Act) are available at the Burton Historical Collection, located in the Detroit Public Library.
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