The source of all land titles in Maine is the crown of England. The first English settlement here was authorized by a royal license, which guaranteed to the emigrants all the liberties, franchises and immunities of Englishmen at home. They came as English subjects and they brought with them the laws of England. It was declared in the same instrument that one purpose of their coming was to bring the Indians living in this region to human civility and to a settled and quiet government. The Indians occupied the soil as a boat occupies a river. They did not enclose and improve any considerable portion of it. They did not possess it as their property as related to European understanding. In European  thinking the origin of property is the right which every man has to the fruits of his own labor. If he fences, clears and cultivates a piece of land previously unimproved and unoccupied, he creates a value which is justly his. The Indian deeds conveyed no property of this kind. The king’s license conveyed no property in this sense. King and sagamore alike granted permission to English subjects to create property in American lands.

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York County Maine Deeds

York County Maine Deeds cover of Volume 7

At a meeting of the Maine Historical Society, held in Portland on the 23d of December, 1882, a communication was received from Mr. John T. Hull, proposing to publish the early volumes in the York registry of deeds and asking for the cooperation of the society. Messrs. Edward H. Elwell, James P. Baxter and William Goold were thereupon appointed a committee to present the matter to the legislature of Maine. The fruition of their collaboration are the following 20 volumes of York County Maine Registry of Deeds.