Partitions of Land, 1762-1960

RECORD GROUP: County Clerk
SERIES: Partitions of Land
DATES: 1762-1960 (bulk 1835-1890)
VOLUME: 1.5 cubic feet and 1 volume

partition of land jpg for webpage
Application for Partition of Land
by David Baird of Millstone 1876
The Partitions of Land series consists of 377 records:

  • loose papers
  • one disbound volume
  • maps.
A partition of land, among heirs and for other purposes, was an involved and confusing process in the Colonial era. To remedy this situation, on November 17, 1789, the New Jersey Legislature passed “An Act for the more easy partition of lands held by coparceners, joint tenants and tenants in common.”

The partition process, also called a division, began when one of the heirs for the land petitioned either a Supreme Court justice or three justices of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas in the county where the land was located. Since most of the records in the Monmouth County Archives result from the latter, subsequent references will be to the county-level procedure.

The Common Pleas justices then placed a notice in the newspaper that they intended to appoint three impartial Commissioners in six weeks. After notices in a local newspaper such as the Monmouth Democrat, the Commissioners were appointed if there were no objections. The Commissioners then appointed surveyors, who under their supervision made a map of the land showing where the dividing line or lines should be made to make an equitable division among the parties. The lots were divided according to value, not size, as the Commissioners had to take into account such features as improvements, utility for farming, woods, and buildings.

The Commissioners then advertised in the newspaper that they would allocate the lots by ballot in three weeks. At the allotment, the Commissioners set up two ballot boxes. In one were the names of the parties; in the other, the lot numbers. An individual would pick from one box, then the other until the all the lots were assigned. The Common Pleas justices turned over the records pertaining to the partition to the County Clerk, who recorded them in the Division of Real Estate book.

Although the above procedure was usually followed, rarely, instead of partitioning the land, the Commissioners were authorized to sell the land because they could not divide it up equitably. The land was sold and the money was distributed instead. Records of such sales were made and recorded with the partition records. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, some of the proceedings were conducted by Circuit Court, rather than Common Pleas, justices.


Partitions of Land, loose papers, 1762-1960, and one case from 1690, consist of records of partitions of estates of deceased persons, but also containing a few other transactions concerning land, especially annexations by towns.

Types of loose documents include, but are not limited to, notice of application; appointment of commissioners and signed oaths of same; map; field book (notes); Commissioners Report (of partition or sale); clippings of newspaper notices; and list of costs. Some folders contain incomplete records, such as only a map. There is also one folder containing a family tree, ca. 1930, for the Farr family. Many of the cases are recorded in both the book and in the loose papers.

Partitions of Land, Division of Real Estate book, 1835-1903 with index (disbound), is a chronological record of partitions and land sales. It includes transcripts of various documents, including but not limited to, application; orders to nominate Commissioners and to insert notice in newspapers for six consecutive weeks; sworn statement from newspaper editor that notice was made; appointment and oaths of Commissioners; oaths of surveyors; report of surveyors (‘Field Book’), including detailed descriptions of each lot and map(s) showing dividing lines; report of Commissioners; judges’ confirmation that they have inspected the report; and order concerning assignment of costs.

This series is open to researchers.

The records are available on microfilm. An Access database is available at the Archives.

Partitions of Land loose papers are stored in four manuscript boxes. The records are arranged alphabetically by name of deceased, name of applicant if not involving an estate, or name of town in cases of annexations. A notation is included in the file if a large map is stored separately in the oversized box. The disbound volume is chronological and the encased pages are stored in two flat boxes.

Monmouth County Archives
125 Symmes Drive
Manalapan NJ 07726
Tel. (732) 308-3771

These records were transferred to the Archives by Jane G. Clayton, Monmouth County Clerk before 1997.

A finding aid was created April 1997; updated May 2016 by George Joynson. The loose records were microfilmed September 1999 on three rolls of microfilm. An Access database containing 377 records was created September 22, 2006.

For partitions of real estate among minors of a deceased landowner, contact the Monmouth County Surrogate, regarding Orphan’s Court records dating back to 1785. Microfilmed copies of pre-1900 Surrogate records are also available from the