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Virginia Reports, Jefferson-33 Grattan, 1730-1880, Volumes 1, 2, 3, and 4, Hening & Munford
Virginia Reports, Jefferson-33 Grattan, 1730-1880, Volumes 1, 2, 3, and 4, Hening & Munford
Product Code: US0623-4
Number of CDs: 1
Author: Daniel Call
Pages: 1001
Pub. Date: (1902) 2012
Qty in Cart: none

The burning of the state court house in the evacuation fire of 1865 destroyed all of the extant records of Virginia's General Court (1777-1851), Court of Appeals (1779-1865) and High Court of Chancery (1777-1802). The only surviving records are the court reports and the occasional loose papers found in manuscript collections. Thus these court reports provide the major (and in many instances, the only) source of information on the interpretation of Virginia law as well as details about individuals and their families, which no longer survive in other records. Indexes to these volumes consist of lists of the cases and subject (topic) indexes only. These copies, which are fully searchable, provide access to surnames and places names.

While most researchers are probably not interested in whether or not a still was personal property (Crenshaw and others vs Crenshaw's executors, p.319), other points of law or details about families that otherwise do not survive can sometimes help us in our search for solutions to family puzzles. The following are some of the interesting pieces of information found in this latest addition to the growing collection of Virginia Reports made available though the cooperative efforts of the Virginia Genealogical Society and Archives CDBooks USA.

In 1803 in the Superior Court of Chancery for Williamsburg District (papers no longer survive) Ann Efford and Thomas Shurley, illegitimate children of Richard Rice and Judith Shurley, who after the birth of the children (in about 1776) married, were complainants. Richard had legitimate children by a former wife and additional children by Judith Shurley after his marriage to her. He died in 1799 having written a will on 31 January 1795 in which he recognized his illegitimate children and gave them "my land in Northumberland County formerly belonging to Robert Sibbles." The will was signed by the testator but was not witnessed and was deemed by the District Court of Northumberland insufficient to pass the real property, which was to be distributed according to the laws of intestate succession. The new law of inheritance, which became effective on 1 January 1787, allowed illegitimate children who were acknowledged to inherit. The issue was whether the new law covered illegitimate children born prior to 1 January 1787, but acknowledged by the father after that date. The determination of the court was that it did. (Rice and others vs Efford and another, p.644.)

Researchers may also want to follow cases back to the court of origin in the hope that additional details may survive in court order books and loose papers that no longer survive at the state level. Such is the case of an unnamed pauper who provided evidence that she descended in the maternal line from Nanny, who recovered her freedom in 1799 in a case entered in the District Court of Petersburg, against Stephen Mayes. Nanny, according to general reputation, descended from an Indian imported into the colony after 1705. (Pegram vs. Isabell, p. 396.)

Those who have attempted to resolve issues with land plats that fail to close or overlap other tracts will find the suit, Dogan v Seekright, Lessee of Landon Carter (p. 832) of interest. The original patent in the case dated to 1724 with a partition decreed in the General Court in 1739. The suit was over conflicting surveys. In essence, the court, based its determination on the premise that lines marked, agreed to, or otherwise accepted as the boundary of a tract established adversarial possession overriding courses and distances described in a deed or survey. Thus that extra hundred acres that an ancestor gained or lost may not have been the result of an inheritance or an unrecorded deed, but rather caused by an inaccurate description of the metes and bounds of a tract of land. One more possibility to consider when trying to solve that ancestral puzzle.

Researchers often wonder what caused an ancestor to move to a specific area. While we may know that they came in the 1760s drawn by the desire for land, it is difficult to learn exact dates and specific reasons. Although not typical of most reports, the description of the suit Vance vs Walker, includes brief abstracts of depositions taken in the case. These depositions provide interesting detail on settlement in one area of Washington County. For example, John Campbell deposed that "in the fall of the year 1768, he came, for the first time to the western parts of Virginia, now (1809) comprehended within the limits of Washington County; that on his way he overtook a number of persons who informed him that they were coming to see a tract of land owned by Doctor Walker, which the deponent understood was the Wolfhill tract that they said he offered to settlers and emigrants at 11 per hundred acres." Campbell further stated that he met Doctor Walker in Staunton the following summer and that Walker told him that "he had published fully his terms and conditions in advertisements dispersed in the Western Country, and that the deponent would see one at Col. Inglis's and be fully informed. Campbell also noted that he had never heard of any being set up except at Fort Chiswell and Inglis's ferry, "few persons at that time being settled on the waters of Holstein." Alexander Breckenridge deposed that, some time in the year 1769, Robert Doake informed him that he was agent for Dr. Thomas Walker and that he (Breckenridge) agreed with Doake to take a part of said lands and built a cabin there to which he moved in September 1770; Josias Gamble deposed that in 1769 he, when on his way to the Holstein, saw an advertisement at Col. Inglis's on New River "and in consequence of which advertisement, the deponent made a settlement on the said tract." James Piper and others were also named. (Vance vs Walker, p. 667.)

Summary by Barbara Vines Little, CG, FVGS
for Archive CD Books USA

This electronic book includes high-quality images of every page as originally published (not just a transcript) and is fully searchable using Adobe Acrobat Reader (version 5 or later recommended) on any Windows, Macintosh, or Unix computer.

Virginia Reports, Jefferson-33 Grattan, 1730-1880, Volumes 1, 2, 3, and 4, Hening & Munford
Price: $19.95

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