Land and real estate trading contracts can be used as the materials to edit and revise one's family history and genealogy.
For example: Lai Chun-liang of Shulin collected a trading agreement signed by Hisao Ting-kuei of Tantichuang, Haishan, in 1760. It read, "I, Haisao Ting-kuei, possess a piece of farm land which I bought earlier. The land, officially measuring 1.5 acres, is located at the back of a land god shrine in Tantichuang. Because I want to establish another kind of business, I now sell this piece of farm land to Wei Shih of the Lai family and Shen Chuang for 300 dollars." On the agreement were witnesses from three generations of the hsiao family and a seal bearing the name Hung Ke-tu and this title, "chief clerk under Chang Wu-wen of Haishanchuang."
This agreement can be used to edit and revise the family history and genealogy of Mr. Lai, who moved to Taiwan from Nanching province in the first year of the Chienlung reign, and later resided in Pengchaichuang, Haishan.
This document recorded that Lai-Wei Shih and Sheng Chuan jointly bought 1.5 acres filed at Tantichuang. From the seal on the agreement, it is learned that the Hung clan, which then resided at Haishanchuang, were descendants of Hung Ketu, who had worked as the chief clerk under Chang Wu-wen during the twenty-fifth year of the Chienlung reign (1760).
The signatures of the witnesses can be used to show that the family of Hsiao Ting-kuei had resided in Tantichuang since the twentieth year of the Chienlung reign. A family tree of the Hsiaos can thus be drawn: Tzu-chiang, uncle; Ting-jun, younger brother; Sheng-lieh, Ke-kung, and Hsiao-chung, nephews; and Tou and Pao, sons.
Land contracts include the agreements, contracts, and receipts of farms, land trading, presentation, description, exchanges, and cultivation. There are generally eight types of contracts and receipts:
- Contracts of land trading and presentation: This type of contract includes trading of plain lands, farms, gardens, unused lands, fishing ponds, fengshuilands, and estates.
- Cultivation licenses: These licenses were issued by the government and allowed the license holder to explore and cultivate virgin plain land.
- Land leases and cultivation contracts: These kinds of contracts were established between the Chinese or Ping Pu aborigines who had obtained a cultivation license and the tenant farmer. Under such contracts, the land proprietor or landlord would let the tenant farmer cultivate the unused plain.
- Farm land and land leases: Farm land leases were established between the landlord or small farm landowner and the tenant farmer, while land leases were established between the land proprietor and leaseholder.
- Estate appropriation and land description agreements: These were agreements appropriating the estate to others for management or for defining the unclear boundary of the land.
- Official survey certificates: After the virgin land had been explored and cultivated, the landowner would request an official survey of the land from the government for the levy of land taxes. After the authorities had completed the survey work, a land certificate would be issued to the landowner.
- Land ownership certificates, land survey (measurement) receipts, and land register copies: When Taiwan was ruled by the Japanese, a provisional land bureau was established in the thirty-first year of the Meiji reign (1899). In Meiji 36 (1903), the bureau surveyed the ownership of all pieces of land and put them into the survey record. Receipts and certificates of ownership were issued to the landowners who would, when necessary, apply for copies of the land receipts. In 1950, the land registration record replaced the receipt, but the owner could still apply for a copy if necessary.
- Land ownership succession registers, ownership transfer registers: During the japanese reign and after Taiwan was restored to China, when the owner of a piece of land died, his legatees had to apply for the ownership succession register. For land trading, the owner had to apply for the ownership transfer register because the owner had to possess a copy of this kind of register.
Rental Taxes, Property Deed Receipts, and Certificates
Property deed receipts and certificates were issued to people who had paid taxes to the government after they had bought a piece of farm land or real estate. The receipt or certificate carried the names of the traders, location, area, price, and tax amount of the land.
- The primary lessor receipt: This was a kind of contract carryign details of the purchase and sale of the rental relationships or stating the rental relationships between the primary and secondary lessors.
- Land lease receipts: This was a kind of tax-levied contract carrying details of the rental relations between the secondary lessor or landlord and tenant or land lessor. A certain amount of deposit or rental was stated.
- Farm cultivation and border land leases: This was a kind of tax-levied contract carrying the rental relations between a plain aborigine and a tenant farmer upon a piece of virgin land that had been appropriated to the plain aborigine by the manchu government. A certain amount of deposit or rental was stated.
- Miscellaneous duty receipts: These included sotrage duty, port duty, and transportation duty.
Documents of the Distribution and Management of Properties
These documens were a kind of record known as a lotting document or lotting subagreement, receipt, or a will carrying details of the allotment of properties and money among members of a family.
Mortgage and Loan Documents
These documents include mortgages, mortgage transfers, pawns, loand, loan mortgages, and credit documents. To mortgage real estate (Tien) was to mortgage the ownership of the real estate to the creditor. The creditor was entitled to cultivate or make use of the land or to rent the land to the tenant farmer for cultivation after a certain sum of tax had been paid.
To mortage the receipts or certificates of real estate (Tai Chieh) was to pawn these receipts or certificates to the creditor so that the creditor was entitled to receive the rentals from the real estate as a kind of interest.
Credit receipts were documents carrying the amount of cash being lent and borrowed without a mortgate.
Personal Contracts and Agreements
- Bond service contracts: There were children selling agreements, son selling agreements, adoption agreements, women selling agreements, wife selling agreements, and bondsman contracts. Son selling and adoption contracts were a kind of agreement specifying the trading of a non-relative male.
- Children adoption and their succession agreements: Most such documents specify the adoption of a male or blood relation, mostly nephews or sons of one's brother. In China this kind of relation was described as ko fang. Adoption of a male without relation was not popular in China or in Taiwan in the past.
- Marriage agreements, marriage-into-the-wife's-family agreements, remarriage agreements, and divorce agreements: There were two kinds of marriage agreements,chien and kun. Chien was a document delivered by the male's family to the female's family. The kun was the reverse. These documents told how proud the family was of this marriage and were full of blessings, such as the hope that the couple would be on good terms forever and that they would bear lots of children. The marriage-into-the-wife's-family agreement was used when the family was without a son or when a widow took a husband. This kind of agreement had three types: A taking in, a taking out, and a taking in and then out. almost all parties to the marriage participated in a marriage contract, which stated the conditions and terms of the marriage for both the male and female parties. When a widow or divorcee remarried, there was also a marriage contract. Divorce agreements were also known as yu-shu or yu-chi agreements. They were also called li-yuan or tui-hun agreements.
- Chu (will), tuo-ku or guardianship agreements, and tuo-chiao-chi agreements: The chu and tuo-ku agreements mostly are related to family property taken care of by an honest relative or a friend when the heir was still young and not yet able to care for the property, or due to other reasons for which he was unable to care for his property.
The will distributed the property of forefathers, while the guardianship agreement selected an honest person or relative to manage the property in order to preserve the property. When the minor grew up, the property would be returned to him. The tuo-chiao-chi agreement was used when one had no offspring and requested someone else to assume the responsibility of making offerings to his ancestors.
Accusations included lawsuits and accusations brought when clan properties and tombs were occupied or destroyed. The division of property was included in these sentences and verdicts.
Business Contracts and Accountings
- Trade agreements and withdrawal of shares: These documents included agreements establishing and dissolving partnerships.
- Business receipts and accounts:These included accounts of revenues and expenditures and annual financial statements.
- Chambers of Commerce documents:These documents rose from the Chambers of Commerce in the three chambers of Taiwan. After some improvements, they became standardized.
- "Acknowledging Teacher" cards: These cards were used when requesting a person to teach a vocation or skill. They were also known as yi-pang, kuan-tieh, and keui-tzu agreements.
Irrigation Agreements and Permits
These documents were agreements to build and repair drains, ditches, and gutters; and to decide shares of the irrigation water, fees, and tolls.
These documents included bilingual documents written in Chinese and romanized transcripts of the Ping Pu tribal language. Their contents included the cultivation of lands, mortgages, and loans. They were common in the south of Taiwan during the time the Dutch were in control of the island (1624-1662) and were used as late as the Chiaching period (1796-1820).
Land Ownership Certificates and Land Survey Registers
The ownership, location, area, and succession of land were recorded in these documents. Notwithstanding the fact that these documents recorded both private individual possession and public property, they can be used to edit and revise one's family or clan history. For instance, the edition of the clan history of Chen Ho-ho, who moved to Taiwan from Hoshan, made use of the land survey and registration records in Taipei County.
Land Ownership Succession Registers
When an owner of a piece of land died, while the ownership needed to be transferred to his legatees, a family tree chart of the heirs was made, stating both the relationship between the owner and his heirs, and the death date of the owner. Details of other property that could be passed on were also recorded.
These documents are invaluable in doing genealogical research.