I’m not exactly sure where the phrase “unwritten rights” came from or who came up with the idea of unwritten conveyances in relation to surveying, boundaries and deeds, but it seems that it caught on quickly and then became a universal idea in the land surveying profession.
In 1955, Curtis Brown published an article entitled “Duties and Liabilities of the Surveyor Where Land is Transferred by Unwritten Means.”1 If you read the article, however, Brown discusses “adverse uses” and lumps in estoppel, oral agreements, acquiescence, escheatment, and even accretion and erosion with respect to title being transferred. Under normal circumstances and general application, none of these principles or doctrines operate to transfer title. Accretion and erosion may move your boundary but they do not affect your title. The other doctrines he discussed (outside of adverse uses) tend to settle the location issue, also without affecting title.