The term “proprietor” was used in two distinct senses in the American colonies. In order fully to understand the nature and the scope of the present study, therefore, it is necessary at the outset to distinguish these two usages.
“The more familiar usage of the word “proprietor” is with reference to the proprietary provinces. The “Lords Proprietary” or “Lords Proprietors,” whether single persons or groups of grantees, were created and constituted by the crown on the model of the Palatinate of Durham. They held both territorial and governmental powers and like “the feudal seigneurs of the middle ages, became, or aimed to become, the lords of great colonial territories to which they were to stand as to any fief or estate of land.”
The institution, in this sense, was essentially feudal and monarchial in its character. The more noted examples of such Lords Proprietary or Proprietors are William Penn of Pennsylvania and Lord Baltimore of Maryland. Chief among the many others are the Earl of Carlisle, the Lord Palatine of Barbadoes and adjoining islands; the first Earl of Stirling, the lord proprietor of Nova Scotia, half of Maine, and Long Island; the Earl of Arundel and of Surrey of the early Carolinas; Sir George Carteret and Lord John Berkeley of the Jerseys; Sir James Hamilton of the Narragansett country; the Earl of Lenox, Lord Maltravers; and the eight Proprietors of Carolina.”
Akagi, Roy Hidemichi. “The town proprietors of the New England Colonies: a study of their development, organization, activities and controversies, 1620-1770” Gloucester, Mass., P. Smith, 1963. https://archive.org/details/townproprietorso00akag_0/page/n5/mode/2up