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Pennsylvania Deed History

As one of the original 13 colonies, Pennsylvania became the second state to ratify the U. S. Constitution on December 12, 1787, just five days after Delaware. Before the commonwealth was settled by Europeans, the area was inhabited by Native Americans. The Dutch and the English claimed both sides of the Delaware River as part of their colonial lands, but the Dutch were the first to take possession. The British conquered the region in 1664, after they had already been granted the land, with a doubtful claim, and had subsequently sold the grants. However, in 1672 the Dutch conquered the region again and established county courts and the three original counties. The Dutch conquest was reversed two years later and the region went back to British hands until the colonies formed the United States.

There are 67 counties in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. There are three original counties created by William Penn in 1682: Philadelphia County, Chester County, and Bucks County. The most populous county is Philadelphia. When William Penn established the first set of laws in 1682, he made a provision that all deeds, conveyances, and grants of land should be registered within six months by the Master of the Rolls. The Register of Deeds office was created in 1715. In 1683, Thomas Lloyd was the Master of Rolls in Philadelphia County, and when the Recorder of Deeds office was established in 1715, Charles Brockden was commissioned as the county recorder.

One of the largest land grants to an individual was in 1681 when King Charles granted a land charter to William Penn in order to repay a debt. The land granted encompassed the entire state of Pennsylvania. The oldest recorded property transaction in the state is believed to be from 1682 when William Penn purchased of a piece of land overlooking the Delaware River in Bucks County.