While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Manuel Guerra

LAND SCRIP. When the Republic of Texas was established, it was rich in lands but low in funds. In an effort to convert the public domain into cash, an act of December 10, 1836, authorized the issuance of land scrip for sale in the United States at not less than fifty-five cents an acre, the proceeds of the sale to be applied to the public debt. The scrip was often called Toby Scrip, for Thomas Toby of the Toby and Brother Company of New Orleans, the chief scrip agent. During the republic era, 1,329,200 acres of public land was sold or used directly to retire debt.

Under the Confederate Soldier's Bill of April 5, 1881, wounded Confederate soldiers, their servants, or their widows were eligible to receive a 1,280-acre land certificate. Those having property valued at $1,000 or more were ineligible, and the applicant had to take two witnesses to the county court to attest to his or her eligibility. The county courts certified eligibility to the General Land Office, which in turn issued the certificates. Certificates could only be located on public domain, and for every plot of land located on a Confederate scrip certificate, a like amount of acreage had to be surveyed for the Permanent School Fund, since half the public domain had been reserved for the school fund. Though the objective of the bill was to help provide for Confederate veterans and their widows, most of those receiving the certificates sold them to others, for an average of $100 to $200 a certificate. One certificate went for $5. A total of 2,068 certificates for 2,647,040 acres were issued from July 5, 1881, to February 16, 1883. Of these, 1,726 certificates (1,979,852 acres) were properly surveyed and 342 certificates (437,760 acres) were rejected. The bill was repealed in 1883.

The state of Texas, in an effort to raise money and pay off debts, in 1879 offered for sale certain western lands at fifty cents an acre and in 1889 at two dollars an acre. Under these two acts the state sold 1,660,936 acres of land; the proceeds of the sales were pledged at one half to the public debt and one half to the Permanent School Fund. Land scrip was also the term used to describe certificates issued for internal improvements (see LAND GRANTS FOR INTERNAL IMPROVEMENTS).

History of Texas Land (Austin: Texas General Land Office, 1958). Thomas L. Miller, "Land Grants to Confederate Veterans and Widows," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 69 (July 1965). Thomas L. Miller, The Public Lands of Texas, 1519–1970 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1972).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Manuel Guerra, "LAND SCRIP," accessed August 08, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/mnl05.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...