Texas Court of Claims

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: May 14, 2019

The Texas Court of Claims was established on August 1, 1856, to handle claims against the Republic of Texas and the state, particularly land claims based upon military service. A commissioner of claims, elected by joint vote of the two houses of the state legislature, was to serve until January 1, 1858. Two years were allowed for registry of land certificates of every description, certain specified classes of certificates being exempt. The commissioner of claims was given the functions of a special commission that had been set up under an act of January 29, 1840, to investigate claims for headrights and colonization grants; this special commission had expired in 1842. Also assigned to the commissioner's office were claims growing out of an act of March 20, 1848, for validation of Mexican land grants; an act of February 9, 1850, granting lands to heirs of soldiers of the Texas Revolution, and an act of February 11, 1854, allowing compensation for services and supplies furnished to the Republic. Two rooms in the basement of the Capitol were set aside for the Court of Claims, and the commissioner was allowed two clerks. An act of January 16, 1858, further defined the duties of the commissioner and extended his term to September 1, 1859, when his duties were supposed to be taken over by the comptroller. In February 1858 the legislature liberalized the bases for proof of claims and authorized a larger number of specified land certificates. The Court of Claims was reestablished by the legislature on February 8, 1860, and the commissioner's term of office was extended to January 1, 1862. Applications were to be made to the local district court or to the county court, that court then forwarding the claim to the Court of Claims. The commissioner was authorized to reject claims which he believed fraudulent, but persons who were thus refused were given the privilege of suit in the Travis County District Court. No special Court of Claims has existed in Texas since 1862, and since that time claims against the state have been referred by the legislature to a committee on claims in the House of Representatives. See also LAND GRANTS.

Hans Peter Nielsen Gammel, comp., Laws of Texas, 1822–1897 (10 vols., Austin: Gammel, 1898).


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

Anonymous, “Texas Court of Claims,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 17, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/texas-court-of-claims.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 14, 2019