What do I need to know?
From October 1862-1996 (Torrens System of of Land Title)
The volume and folio number of the Land Title of the property you are interested in. You can find your volume and folio number for a fee via the Landata website.
Land Title documents will have the previous volume and folio number at the top of the second page or on the first page, and this enables you to search back to the original Crown grant.
Once you have a volume and folio number, copies of land titles can be downloaded for free from the Land Titles index using the computers in the PROV North Melbourne Reading Room.
Note: the Land Titles index contains digitised copies of paper titles only. Land Victoria has now transitioned from creating paper title documents to digital records. Title documents created as a digital record are available through the Landata website.
For the period prior to October1862 (Old Law System of Land Title)
Most properties purchased before October 1862, when the Torrens System was introduced, have now been converted to the Torrens System and for these parcels of land the same process for tracing land title can be used, however these title documents lead back, not to the Crown grant but to the first Certificate of Title for that land with an application number at the top of the second page. This number refers to the application under the Transfer of Land Act to transfer the land from the original ‘Old Law’ system to the Torrens System. PROV holds these application files (VPRS 460) and they will usually contain (at minimum) an application, with typically some or all of the original conveyance and mortgage documents relating to the property. The files vary but can hold a trove of other information so are well worth pursuing.
How do I search?
If you already have the application number (see above on how this can be done), proceed to step 2 below.
If you have not traced the application number using the above method, for the period 1862-1904 you can also find an application using indexes if you know only the name of the applicant and a rough date for the application to convert the title (see step 1 below).
Step 1: Finding an application number using indexes
Order one of the index books using the links below. The contents are arranged alphabetically by family name. Find the family name of the applicant, noting down the application number. If you only know the name and not the date, you will need to look in all three indexes. Once you have the application number, proceed to step 2 to search for the application.
Step 2: Browse listings for application number
The applications for certificates of titles were catalogued in semi-random number ranges. The quickest way to find your number is to browse the units online listing link below) then observe the number range in the unit description field until you find the right unit. Order the whole unit and then manually select your application number record.
You can also use the application number to find summary information about the application in VPRS 405 Register of Applications for Certificate of Title.
About these records
Land Titles describe pieces of land and are the legal record of ownership. As well as supporting the regulation of land they are important when tracing changes to the shape of properties, tracking owners and looking at how land was used.
Order the index books or the applications for title and view them in the North Melbourne Reading Room.
What are in these records?
A Land Title will generally include:
- a sketch of the outline of the land,
- a list of the owners of that land,
- any caveats or conditions that were placed on land use at the time the title was registered,
- a reference to the volume and folio of any previous titles to that land that have been replaced,
- a reference (in earlier titles) to the application that created that title (see below).
The Torrens title system replaced common-law registration. From 1862 landowners needed to apply to convert their common law titles to the Torrens system. The common-law (or ‘old law’) titles were kept by the Government and we now hold these records.
We also hold Parish Plans, which use Crown Descriptions to describe land parcels, and are for researching land transactions involving State-owned land.
Material in the Public Record Office Victoria archival collection contains words and descriptions that reflect attitudes and government policies at different times which may be insensitive and upsetting
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples should be aware the collection and website may contain images, voices and names of deceased persons.
PROV provides advice to researchers wishing to access, publish or re-use records about Aboriginal Peoples