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according to the best of my skill and judgment, do equal and impartial justice, without fraud, tavour, af fection, or partiality. So help me God.” Which oath shall be administered by any of the said commissioners to the first of them in nomination, who shall be present, and then by him to the others. The said commissioners shall have power to hear and determine all titles claimed in consideration of settlements to lands, to which no person hath any other legal title, and the rights of all persous claiming preemption to any lands within their respective districts, as also the rights of all persons claiming any unpatented lands, survejed by order of council for sundry companies, by having settled thereon under the faith of the terms of sale publickly offered by such companies or their agenis, aud shall immediately upon receipt of their commissions, give at least twenty days previous notice by advertisements at the forts, churches, meeting houses, and other publick places in their district, of the time and place at which they intend to meet, for the
purpose of collecting, hearing, and determining the said claims and titles, requiring all persons interested therein, to attend and put in their claims, and may ad. journ from place to place, and time to time, as their business may require; but if they should fail to meet at any time to which they shall have adjourned, neither their commissiou nor any matter depeąding be fore then shall be thereby discontinued, but they shall proceed to business when they do meet, as if no such failure bad happened. They shall appoint and administer an oath of office to their clerk; be attended by the sheriff, or one of the under sheriff's of the countyi be empowered to administer oaths to witnesses or others, necessary for the discharge of their office; ta punish contempis, enforce good behaviour in their presence, and award costs, in the same manner with the county courts; they shall have free access to the coun. ly surveyor's books, and may order the same to be laid before them, at any time or place of their sitting, and shall pay to such surveyor, out of the fees received by thein for certificates, the sum of three pounds for every day he shall attend, and to the sherifi for the like attendance, two pounds for each day's attendance. In all cases of disputes upon claims for settlement, the person who made the first actual settlement, his or her
heirs or assigus, shall have the preference. In all disputes for the right of preemptions for improvements made on the land, the persons, their beirs or assigns þespectively, who made the first improvement, and the persons to whom any right of preemption on account of settlement or improvements shall be adjudged, shall fix the quantity at their own option at the time of the judgment, so as not to exceed the number of acres respectively allowed by this act, or to interfere with the just rights of others. The clerk shall keep exact minutes of all the proceedings of the commissioners, and enter the names of all the persons to whom either lands for settlement or the right of preemption as the case is, shall be adjudged with their respective quantities and locations, and also the names of all such persons to whom titles shall be adjudged for lands within the surveys made by order of council for any company with the quantity of acres adjudged, and in what survey; and if the saine is only part of such survey, in what manner it shall be located therein, the name or style of the company, and the price to be paid them, with the time from which the same is to bear interest, Upon application of any person claiming a right to Conficting any lands in virtue of this act, and complaining that rights how another pretends a right in opposition thereto, the said adjudged by
commission clerk shall issue a summons, stating the nature of the ers. plaintiffs claim and calling on the party opposing the same, to appear at a time and place certain therein to be named, and shew cause why a grant of the said lands may not issue, or a title be made to the said plaintiff: The said summons shall be served on the party by the sheriff of the county where he resides, or wherein he may be found, and such service being returned thereon; and the party appearing or failing to appear, the commissioners may proceed to trial, or for good cause shewn, may refer such trial to a farther day. The clerk shall also have power at the request of either party, to issue subpænas for witnesses to appear at the time and place of trial, which shall be had in a summary way without pleadings in writing, and the court in conducting the said trial, in all matters of evidence relative thereto, and in giving judg. ment, shall govern themselves by such rules and principles of law or equity, as are applicable to the case, os would be the rule of evidence or of dicision, were
the same before the ordinary courts of law or equity;
save only as far as this act shall otherwise have spe. Judgment cially directed. Judgment when rendered shall be final, final, be.
except as herein afier excepted, and shall give to the tween par: ties to trial. party in whose favour it is, a title against all others
who were parties to the trial; and if after such judgment rendered, the party against whom it is, shall en. ter the said lands forcibly, or forcibly detain the same, it shall be lawful for the said commissioners or any one of them, or any justice of peace for the county, to
remove such force, in like manner as if it were com Certificates mitted on lands holden by grant actually issued. The of settle. said commissioners shall deliver to every person to ment; whom they shall adjudge lands for settlement, a cer
tificate thereof under their hands, and attested by the clerk, mentioning the number of acres, and the time of settlement, and describing as near as may be, the particular location, noting also therein the quantity of
adjacent land to which such person shall have the right and preemp- of preemption. And to every other person to whom tion, how to be given.
they shall adjudge the right of preemption to any lands, they shall in like manner deliver a certificate, specify• ing the quantity and location of such land, with the cause for preemption, with a memorandum for the information of the party in each certificate of the last day on which the lands therein respectively mentioned can
be entered with the county surveyor: For every hunFees there.
dred acres of land contained within the said certificates, For. the party receiving the same, shall pay down to the
commissioners the sum of ten shillings, besides a fee of ten shillings to the clerk for each certificate so grant, ed; and the said certificates produced within the times herein before respectively limited to the surveyor of the county, or to the register of the land office, with the auditors certificate of the treasurer's receipt for the payment due on the preemption, as the nature of the case may require, shall entitle the person respectively receiving them, to an entry and survey, or a warrant for the said lands, in such way, and on such terms as
are herein before prescribed. And to prevent frauds Commissioners to return or mistakes, the said commissioners immediately upon lists to re. having completed the business in their district, shall gister. transmit to the register of the land office, under their
hands, and attested by their clerk, an exact list op schedule in alphabetical order, of all such certificates
by them granted, and a duplicate so signed and attested to the county surveyor for their information. They shall in like manner, and upon payment of the Duty of com. same fees, deliver to every person to whom they shall missioners in adjudge, a title to any unpatented land, surveyed for lands adany company by order of council, a certificate men- judged ationing the number of acres to which they have ad- mainst com
. judged the title, what particular survey the same is in, and for what company made, the price to be paid such coinpany, and the date from which the same is to bear interest, and where there is a greater quantity of land contained in the survey, describe as near as may be, the manner the land to which they have adjudged title, shall be laid off and bounded; and shall also immediately upon having completed the business in their district, transinit to the clerk of the general court, under their hands, and attested by their clerk, a list or schedule in alphabetical order, containing exact copies of all such certificates by them granted, to remain in the said clerk's office for the information of the said companies, and as evidence and proof of the respective titles.
IX. Provided nevertheless, That if the parties, their In what caheirs or assigns, to whom such titles shall have been ses rights
adjudged aadjudged, shall not within six months at farthest, from
gainst comthe time of their respective judgments in their favour, panies forpay or tender to the company to whom the same is
feited. due; or their agent, the price and interest so fixed by the said commissioners, the title of every person so failing, shall be forfeited, and shall be from thence for ward, to all intents and purposes, null and void; any thing herein to the contrary thereof notwithstanding. The said commissioners for every day they shall be actually employed in the execution of their office, shall Allowances
to commis be allowed the sum of eight pounds each; they shall
sioners, be accountable for all the money they shall have re- clerk and ceived upon issuing certificates as aforesaid, except sheriff. the fee to the clerk, and shall settle a fair account upon oath, with the auditors, and receive from the treasurer whatever balance may appear due to them thereon, or pay to him any balance which shall be by them due to the commonwealth. The clerk and sheriff shall receive for their services, the sees heretofore allowed by law for the like services in the county court, and the witnesses the same allowance for their attendance, to
be paid by the party, and collected in like manner as is directed in the ordinary cases of the same nature, and the clerk shall have the same power of issuing executions as the clerks of the county courts; provided that the clerk shall not be allowed any farther or other fee for entering and issuing a certificate than is herein
before mentioned. But as by this summary mode of Within what proceeding, some persons at a great distance may not time caveats have timely notice, and may be unable to appear in tojudgments support of their claims, for remedy whereof, Be it of coinmis enacted, That no grant shall issue upon any of the be entered claiins determined by tlie said commissioners until the in general first day of December, 1780, and in the mean time, court.
any such person injured by their determination, bis or. her heirs or assigns, may enter a caveat against a grant thereupon, until the matter shall be heard before the general court, and may petition the said general court to have his or her claim considered; and upon its be. ing proved to the court that he or she laboured under such a disability at the time of the meeting of the como missioners thereupon, the court shall grant him or her a hearing in a summary way, and if it shall appear upon trial, that the petitioners claim is just, such court may reverse the former determination, and order a grant to issue for such land or any part thereof, on the terms herein before mentioned, to the person to
whom they shall adjudge the same. Certain land X. And be it farther enacted, That all claims for claims to be lands upon surveys under any order of council or enthe court of try in the council books, shall by the respective claim. appeals, and ers be laid before the court of appeals; which shall there decide meet for that purpose on the sixteenth day of Decemed.
ber next, and shall adjourn from day to day until the business be finished; or if it be proved to the court that any such claimer is unable to attend and prosecute his claim, or for other just cause to them shewn, they may order such claim to be tried before them on some fu. fure day. All such claims shall be heard and deters mined in a summary way, without pleadings in writing, upon such evidence as in the opinion of the court, the nature of the case may require; and no such claim shall be valid, but such only as shall be so heard and established by the said court of appeals, and on their certificate that any such claim hath been by them established, the register is hereby required to issue a war