The migration and settlement of one's ancestors is dependent upon the land laws that were "on the books" when they arrived to make their way. These laws would often change based upon the needs and political environment that produced them. It is helpful to be sure and try to understand the laws that were "in effect" at the time of settlement. I have written an example in a series of posts on Virginia Land Laws. These can be found at my blog,
http://thejonesgenealogist.blogspot.com in the following order:
Virginia Land Laws: A Chronology (Part I) - Sunday, December 19, 2010.
Virginia Land Laws (Part II) Importation Rights - Monday, December 20, 2010.
Virginia Land Laws (Part III) Treasury Rights - Tuesday, December 21, 2010.
Virginia Land Laws (Part IV) Escheated Lands - Wednesday, December 22, 2010.
Virginia Land Laws (Part V) The Processioning - Thursday, December 23, 2010.
Virginia Land Laws (Part VI) The Surveyors - Tuesday, December 28, 2010.
Virginia Land Laws (Part VII) Surveyor's fees - Wednesday, December 29, 2010.
Virginia Land Laws after 1713 (Part I) - Wednesday, January 5, 2011.
Virginia Land Laws after 1713 (Part II) - Friday, January 7, 2011.
Land Laws Virginia - Meritorious Service - Thursday, January 13, 2011.
Land By Rank - Virginia Land Laws 1763 - Friday, January 14, 2011.
Virginia Land Laws : Cabin Rights - Saturday, January 22, 2011.
Tidewater Virginia - Thursday, March 3, 2011.
This gives an outline of the land laws of Virginia from the earliest days to the Revolutionary War period. Each colony would have their own laws. Identifying these laws could make a difference in a few brick walls!