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Commonwealth's Lands.--The General Assembly, in May, 1780, passed an act which may be found in Henning's Statutes at Large, ch. 2, page 226, for the purpose of securing ‘"to the public certain lands held as common. "’ The lands referred to were ‘"unappropriated lands on the bay, sea and river shores, in the Eastern parts of this Commonwealth."’ It is further stated, that in the ‘"act establishing a land office, and ascertaining the terms and manner of granting waste and unappropriated lands,"’ no reservation thereof is made, but the same ‘ "is now subject to be entered for and appropriated by any person or persons, whereby the benefits formerly derived to the public therefrom will be monopolized by a few individuals, and the poor laid under contribution for exercising the accustomed privilege of fishing."’ For the reason stated, the lands so referred to which remained ‘"ungranted by the former covenant,"’ (meaning that of the English,) were excepted out of said act, and it was declared that no grant issued by the Register of the Land Office for the same thereafter should be valid to pass any estate or interest therein. A similar law was made on the 15th January, 1802, in reference to the banks, shores and beds of the rivers and creeks in the western part of the State. The 1st section of chapter 62 of the Code of Virginia, in alluding to the above recited acts, declares that ‘"all the lands which remained ungranted by the former government, and which have been used as a common by-way to all the people of the State, shall continue to be such."’ These repeated and emphatic prohibitions have estopped the passage of any title by the register for any such lands in the East since 1780, and in the West since 1802, which reunited migranted by the Colonial Government. The Auditor of Public Accounts alludes to the subject in his recent communication to the General Assembly, and we insert his concluding remarks, as they possess local interest. He says: ‘ ‘"In 1675 Governor Berkeley granted William Byrd 7,351 acres of land on the north side of the James River, beginning at the mouth of Shockoe Creek, and running up said river; and in 1687 William Byrd obtained a grant of 956 acres on the north side of said river, beginning at the mouth of Shockoe Creek, and running down said river. --Neither grant appears to include either the banks or beds of the said James River or Shockoe Creek, nor the islands in James River opposite and near the city of Richmond. The channel of Shockoe Creek within the city of Richmond has been changed by artificial means for necessary improvements. That which was at a former day the bed of Shockoe Creek no longer remains so; and quite extensive encroachments on the bed and banks of James River opposite Richmond, appear to have been made. Those banks and islands have become very valuable; and I would most respectfully suggest the propriety of an investigation into the Commonwealth's right to them, and the passage of an act authorizing their sale. If no other good were accomplished than a legislative report on the subject affirming or disclaiming the Commonwealth's right to such beds and banks, the subject is worthy of such report. It is also worthy of it because of the great value of the beds and banks, and because of the insecurity which the claimants must feel under circumstances which induce many of them to seek a grant from the Commonwealth. Those beds and banks are not alone at the city of Richmond, but elsewhere of almost equal value."’ ’
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