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Virginia Reports, Jefferson-33 Grattan, 1730-1880, Volumes 1, 2, 3 Munford
Number of CDs: 1
Pub. Date: (1903) 2014
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This is the eleventh volume in the series of Virginia Reports made available as fully searchable text in a joint project of Archive CD Books USA and the Virginia Genealogical Society. While virtually all of the remaining papers of the General Court, and the bulk of the papers of the Supreme Court of Appeals were destroyed in the Confederate evacuation of Richmond, the reports of the cases argued before the courts survive. These can be extremely useful to researchers. As noted in the examples below, information in these reports is not restricted to those suing or being sued.
The wheels of justice grind slowly, which on occasion can be to our advantage. In 1811 the Supreme Court of Appeals, heard a suit on appeal from thedistrict court held at Hardy County Court House involving a lease for lives made in August 1773 by Lord Fairfax to Jacob Stookey, the elder, "for and during the natural lives of Abraham Stookey and Michael Stookey, his sons, and Abraham Stookey, son of the said Michael." Information in the suit dates to 1755 or 1756 when Jacob Stookey, the younger, the eldest son of the said Jacob Stookey the elder, "was taken prisoner by the Indians, being then sixteen years of age[. He] remained out of the commonwealth until January 1802, when he was brought into the county of Hardy by one of his nephews; (his identity being established by several circumstances; especially a scar on his forehead occasioned by an accident when he was eight or nine years old;) that he lived, after his return, only nine or ten days, and, during that time, made a will, devising the land in controversy to the lessor of the plaintiff." We also learn thatJacob Stookey the elder died intestate "in the January after Cornwallis was taken; that Michael Stookey lived on the land eight or ten years before the death of the said Jacob the elder, and died about ten or fifteen days before him. The defendant proved that Jacob Stookey the elder was in possession of the land until his death, which took place in the year 1783; that (ever since) the defendant, and those under whom he claimed, had been in actual possession, under title derived from the grandchildren of the said Jacob Stookey the elder, to wit, David Stookey, Abraham Stookey and Eve Stookey."
While papers for this and other suits, such as /Harvey and wife vs Pecks/ sent to the Supreme Court of Appeals do not survive, researchers will find that earlier and later suits by the same parties may still survive in other courts. See, for example, /Jacob Hyers vs Jacob Shobe, etc./, 1816-006 SC, Superior [District] Court, Frederick County Chancery Records, microfilm, Library of Virginia; and/Reps of Joseph Borden, Major Dowell, Jacob Peck & wife vs John Bowyer, etc. Mathew Harvey, etc., David Moore,/ 1903-119, Augusta County Chancery Records, digital images, Library of Virginia (www.www.lva.virginia.gov).
Marriage agreements can sometimes lead to involved disputes. Such was the 1810 case in /Payne vs Coles/ et al. Of interest to researchers are the multiple relationships, some involving Hanover County families, that it revealed. The suit was filed in the High Court of Chancery in 1796 by Mary Payne (residing in Philadelphia in 1785)for her infant children John and Mary Payne (who later married a Jackson) against Walter Coles, Isaac Winston and Lucy his wife, Garland Anderson and Mary his wife, Thomas Price, executor of William Darracott, deceased, and John Syme and Sarah his wife. Williams Coles of Coleshill in Hanover County, the father of Walter Coles, Lucy who married Isaac Winston and the said Mary (Coles) Payne, wrote to Mrs. Darracott, the mother of Mary Darracott, to whom his son Walter was then paying his addresses promising £3000 in land, slaves and other valuables at the marriage and at his [Williams Coles] death "his possession in Ireland." Relationships noted in the suit included Mary Darracott's brother William Darracott; and her son Walter, a posthumous son of her husband Walter Coles, who died in 1769 testate. Williams Coles died intestate about 1781 his wife Lucy surviving (she died in 1784). Walter Payne, executor of Lucy Coles, (described as Lucy's grandson in the suit) was described as having gone beyond the seas and not having been heard from in seven years. Lucy Coles married first, Cornelius Dabney, and then Williams Coles. Lucy had by Cornelius Dabney a son William Dabney, who had issue several sons of whom Isaac Dabney was the eldest. Isaac Dabney, who died in the lifetime of his mother Lucy, but after the death of his father William, left issue including William, his eldest son, who as the child of her eldest son Isaac, was heir-at-law of the said Lucy. Coleshill was described as originally the property of Lucy (--?--) Dabney Coles.
Information on individuals from burned record counties is always of interest. /Wyatt vs Sandler's Heirs /was a suit heard in King and Queen District Court. Richard Wyatt proved that he was the eldest son of Richard Wyatt, who died testate in 1768 naming a wife Elizabeth and sons Richard and William. Richard left land on Dragon Swamp to his sons and ordered his lot in West Point sold. Both the widow and William, the younger son, died prior to the institution of the suit.
The date of death can often be an important point in a court case, thus references to the year or even the specific date of death can frequently be found. On occasion, a series of deaths may be enumerated as in the case of /Geddy and Knox vs. Butler and wife/ heard in 1812 on appeal from a judgement of the District Court of Petersburg. The report notes that Robert Newsum died testate in January 1776, Thomas Barrett died in November 1788, Edward Stabler died about the year 1785, Richard Taylor died some time in the year 1801, and Francis Ruffin died in 1803.
Other suits can provide details about individuals. In the suit /Mayo vs Murchie/, determined in 1811, we learn that at the time the town of Manchester was laid off, Daniel Moore acted as one of the chain carriers, David Patteson served as a manager of Colonel Byrd's estate in 1769, Samuel Weisiger removed from Colonel Cary's to Manchester in the fall of 1773, Nathaniel Quarles was an inhabitant of Manchester, Robert Goode was (about forty years ago) frequently called upon by the surveyor (Benjamin Watkins) because of his knowledge of local landmarks, James Patterson was an agent for Colonel Byrd, and that about 1784 Austin Talman was employed by the father of John Mayo to build a vessel for him on the land between the canal of the defendant's [Mayo's] mill and James River.
Often when a testator dies leaving young children, it is difficult to determine whether they survived to adulthood or whom they married. The suit /Mooberry and Others vs Marye/ heard in 1811 provides this much sought after information. James Marye wrote his will on 21 June 1774, added a codicil on 3 Oct 1780 and died that year. He left James Marye, his eldest son and heir-at-law, and six daughters, Lucy, Susanna and Sally who were named in the will and three younger children mentioned in the codicil. Lucy, Susanna and Sally survived the testator. Lucy married James Weir and was living in 1811; Susanna died in 1782 underage and without having married; and Sally died in 1786 of age, unmarried and intestate.
Court reports are an underutilized tool that can provide proof of relationships, details about the lives of individuals and explanations of points of law. Long ignored because they were unindexed, these files provide easy access to information often available in no other source.
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 Munford
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