TH1 TRINIDAD) HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
Publication No. 144.
A Proclamation as to Security of Land Tenure.
DECEMBER 5TH, 1815.
Source :--Tinidad Duplicate Despatches, Vol. II, I815-I816.
By His Excellency Sir Ralph James
Woodford, Bart., Governor and
Commander-in-Chief in and over the
said Island and its Dependencies, and
Vice-Admiral, thereof, &c., &c.
RALPH JAMES WOODFORD.
Whereas, it appearing that a great proportion of the
Titles to Land in this Colony are defective or absolutely
void either as arising from the neglect of the Parties themselves
or from an abuse or violation of their respective Grants or
from want of some specific Declaration of the Royal Pleasure
thereupon :--His Royal Highness, the Prince Regent,
taking these circumstances into consideration as well as the
advantages that the inhabitants, now and hereafter, will
derive from a secure tenure and unmolested possession of
their lands, has been pleased to declare as it is hereby
proclaimed and declared ;
That in all and every case where, previous to the date
of this Proclamation the lands occupied or granted either
under Spanish or British authority (excepting those hereinafter
mentioned) have been put and are now in a state of cultivation,
the Tenures and Titles of such lands shall be confirmed to the
extent of such land in cultivation together with such portion
as shall be equal to the quantity in cultivation ; provided
always that in case the lands so occupied, granted and
cultivated shall be required for the Public Service the same
shall be retained and the Owner or Occupier thereof shall
receive in land, a full equivalent to those of which he has
been deprived :--and provided always that from and after
the date of this Proclamation the persons holding or claiming
to hold such lands shall in the month of June in the ensuing
and every succeeding year pay into the Colonial Treasury
for and in consideration of such confirmation, the sum of
Five Shillings Currency for every Quarree of land confirmed
and granted ; the said sum to be a perpetual charge and
incumbrance on the lands so held and confirmed.
And His Royal Highness has been pleased to declare
that notling -herein before declared shall extend to such
Grants or Titles of lands as have been made and registered
in strict conformity to the Royal Cedula of His Catholic
Majesty, dated San Lorenzo, 24th November, One Thousand
Se en Hundred and Eighty-Three and previous to the
surrender of the Island to His Majesty's Arms.
And whereas amongst the Grants and Titles herein last
recited there are found to be many, the lands whereof are
entirely uncultivated or abandoned contrary to the spirit
and letter of the above mentioned Order and to the present
and future disadvantage and inconvenience of the Colony
at large : His Ro\al Highness the Prince Regent has been
further pleased to declare that unless the said lands shall
within the space of Two Years from and after the date of this
Proclamation be put into a state of cultivation in a proportion
of One-Fourth Part at least to the whole extent of the land
held and be so continued ; and unless there shall be placed
by the Owner and employed thereon a number of Negros
or Labourers amounting at least to the proportion of One
Negro or Lalourter to e\clry Five Quarrees of land so held,
the Owners ihereol shall pay to the Colonial Treasurer in
the month of June next alter the determination of the said
term and in the said month of every succeeding year, the
sum of Five Shillings Currency per Quarrec : And in case
the said Annual Pa\ ment slall not be made at the first Annual
Period next succeeding the determination of the said term,
the said lands shall be taken and considered as abandoned
and sliall be res:,umed and seized as fIorbited to His Majesty,
His Heirs and Successors.
And xwhereas amongst those persons who from time to
time obtained ,permission liom the several British Governors
of the Colon\ to occupy lands under certainn conditions and
restrictions, tlhel are many w ho ha\e isolatedd the same,
His Royal Hllghness the Prince Regent has been pleased
to give a po\\er to His Excellency the Governor to confirm
tle Grants of such parts of those lands as are cultivated with
the reserve of such portion of them as ma\ be wanted for
the Public Service in manner as aforesaid, on payment by
the Occupiers thereof into the Colonial Treasury of the sum
of One Hundred Pounds Currency by way of fine and penalty
for the violation of the conditions and restrictions of their
several permissions of occupancy; the said lands being
also held subject to the Annual Quit Rent or charge of Five
Shillings per Quarree payable in the same manner and period
as are herein more particularly described.
And whereas permissions have also been obtained from
the several British Governors to occupy lands in the Colony
which said lands have remained and are now uncultivated ;
His Royal Highness the Prince Regent has been pleased to
declare that all such grants and permissions shall be considered
and taken, as they are hereby declared to be, void;- with a
reservation nevertheless to such nominal occupiers to pray
for a grant to the same on such conditions as are herein
after declared in the case of new settlers.
And His Royal Highness the P e Regent having
taken into his gracious consideration t eat benefit that
might be derived to the inhabitants others from a
cultivation of many parts of the most'fertile lands of this
Colony, has been further pleased to authorise His Excellency
the Governor to confer grants upon the following conditions.
That it be shown to the satisfaction of the Governor that
the persons applying for lands are possessed of the means of
cultivating them and rendering them valuable.
That no new grant to a resident of the Island shall exceed
in the first instance One Hundred Quarrees except in cases
where the nature of the intended cultivation shall render
a relaxation of this condition indispensable.
That if strangers shall be desirous of settling with any
great number of slaves from other British Colonies and
requiring any greater extent of land than is herein before
limited, they will be recommended to His Royal Highness's
That the said grants of new lands shall in all cases be given
upon condition of cultivating One-Fourth part of the same
within the period of five years from the date of the grant;
and in failure thereof all title of dominion and of occupancy
or otherwise shall revert to the Crown.
That the right of His Majesty to all minerals as well as
quarries, timber, and water when required for the Public
Service with free ingress and regress to and from the same,
That the tllree chains on the Sea Coast (comprehending
lifty paces) from the height of the spring tides be held and
reserved for tlle ,:se of His Majesty and the Public Service.
That to avoid and differences or disputes in this respect,
no building of whatever description shall be erected within
the line of this chain without express permission of the
Government first obtained through tie Commandant of
lie Quaarter and the Commissary of Population ; and in all
such permission the right t demolish and abate at will,
shall be reserved.
That the right of tracing and directing new roads, canals
or other means of communication to be opened, be preserved
to His Majesty.
That all lands granted to new settlers shall, in like manner,
as all other lands, hereafter to be cultivated, be held subject
to the payment of the Annual Quit Rent ol Fi\e Shillings
Currency per Quarrce.
That in case any of the lands now to be confirmed and
granted or hereafter to be granted to new settlers shall cease
to be cultivated according to the proportion herein before
prescribed for and during the space of Three Years, then
and in such case and after notice gi\ en by the Attorney-General
or Law Officer lf the Crow\n l or the time being and Judgment
of Abandonment given in tle Court of the Intendant, the
said lands shall be resumed by the Crown and become
absolutely forfeited to His Majesty, His Heirs and Successors.
And it is hereby further Ordered and Declared that in
dealt of pa of n m of the Quit Rent hereby imposed on all
lands herebxy granted and confirmed or to be granted into
the Treasury of the Island in every month ol June, the said
Quit Rent shall be sued for, levied and recovered in the
same manner as all other debts of His Majesty now are
recoverable and under l ie same privileges, rights and pre-
ference which bv thle laws in force are provided and declared
in respect of debts contracted to thlie Crown : and in default
of other property than the lands so granted, the said lands
slihall revert to the Crown.
And it is hereby also declared that if anyone shall fee!
himself agrieved by any matter or thing that may be done
in the execution of the orders of His Royal Highness the
Prince Regent, in the name and on behalf of His Majesty,
herein set forth, such person may present and prefer his
Petition to His Excellency the Governor in his Court of
Intendant where the same shall be exclusively heard and
determined under the provisions of the Proclamation of
All applications for confirmation of grants or for new
grants are hereby directed to be made by Petition to His
Excellence the Governor according to the tenour of certain
instructions which will be filed in the office of the Commissary
And lastly I do hereby in the name and on behalf of
His Majesty will and require and strictly charge and command
the Judges of all Courts and Tribunals of the said Island,
the Law OYficer of the Crown, the Commandants of Quarters,
the Cmn:nissary of Population, the Public Treasurer, the
AlguLzil Mayor and all Magistrates and Alcaldes de Barrios,
all Land Surveyors and all other His Majesty's loving
subjects within the said Island duly to obey and observe these
presents and to govern themselves accordingly.
In witness whereof I have hereunto set
my hand and caused the Great Seal
of the Island to be hereunto affixed
at Government House in the town of
Port-of-Spain, the fifth day oi
December in the year of Our Lord
One Thousand Eight Hundred and
Fifteen and in the Fifty-Sixth year
of His Majesty's Reign.
By Command of His Excellency,