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Virginia Decisions: A Collection of Virginia Cases Not Officially Reported
Virginia Decisions: A Collection of Virginia Cases Not Officially Reported
Product Code: US0629
Number of CDs: 1
Pages: 943
Qty in Cart: none

Although the cases adjudicated in these two volumes were brought to trial between 1871 and 1900, they frequently reach decades back in time. Some provide information from the previous century as does a suit brought in 1896 regarding the right to free ferriage. The suit provides the following details about a previous suit brought in 1810.

On 7 January 1786, Nicholas Syme, the owner of land in King William County, upon which a ferry was established across the Pamunkey River to Hanover County sold the land to Walker Tomlin, whose wife, Sarah Tomlin, owned the adjoining tract of land upon which was the present landing place of the ferry and through which the road to the landing then and for a number of years had passed. In return, Tomlin and wife conveyed the land the ferry ran upon to Syme, reserving "a passage, ferry free, in all time coming, to them, the said Walker Tomlin and Sarah, his wife, their heirs or assigns, and their and each of their families, who shall be holders and proprietors of the said two several tracts of land." This right of free ferriage was exercised first by Walker Tomlin, and afterwards by John Walker Tomlin, his son and heir, and assented to by Nicholas Syme, from 1786 until the year 1810. " In 1810, free passage was refused by Syme, upon the ground that Tomlin had forfeited the right to cross free himself, in consequence of having transferred his residence from the said lands in King William County to his farm, Clifton, in Hanover County. Tomlin prevailed.


Prior practices are sometimes detailed as in the case involving a Louisa County man jailed for failure to work the road. The 1894 decision noted,

The road law for Louisa County (Acts 1891-92, c. 417, p. 686), requiring all able-bodied men between 16 and 60 years old to work the roads 2 days in each year, and conferring authority on the overseer of roads to impose a fine upon persons refusing so to work, and to collect it by levy as in case of taxes, and providing for the imprisonment of one so refusing, is void.


Topics include tax sales, adverse possession, alien enemies (Civil War), bankruptcy, cloud on title, defects in title, distinctions between mortgage and conditional sale, marriage settlements, separate property of married women, deeds of trust, divorce, custody of children, and fraudulent sales. Appeals of criminal trails are included as are a number of suits involving commercial entities and matters including railroads, real estate brokers, and partnerships.

Specific topics include the power of the Camp of Confederate Veterans to hold and sell land and a suit regarding the legality of a marriage involving a free man of color and a slave that notes "The statute requiring marriages to be under license is directory, and the absence of a license does not render the marriage void."


Court suits can be useful tools for tracking migrations. Even with the census tracking families and individuals post Civil War can sometimes be difficult. Garland v Garland involves a suit in which the claims presented in 1896 "arose 30 years ago" and involved the original testator who died in 1861, property in Mississippi and heirs living in Illinois The fact that the case is a sequel suggests additional information may be found in the other suits as well as the court case papers which should survive.

Another case which should be studied by those interested in the application of inheritance law, is an involved inheritance which included no direct heirs, but did include the descendants of half-blood siblings. Final distribution was based upon the new inheritance laws found in the Code of 1873 and 1887. The explanation of the case provides an in-depth description of the application of these inheritance laws.

These late 19th century sources can shed light on earlier family migrations, provide insight into points of law and interesting details about community and family history as well as sometimes solving long-standing puzzles. Since these cases post date the Civil War, court case files providing additional details should be available as well.


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Virginia Decisions: A Collection of Virginia Cases Not Officially Reported
Price: $24.95

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