A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Microfilm reel numbers: Rockingham County (Va.) Reels 667-675
Library of VirginiaThe Library of Virginia
800 East Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219-8000
Phone: (804) 692-3888 (Archives Reference)
Fax: (804) 692-3556 (Archives Reference)
© 2007 By The Library of Virginia. All Rights Reserved.
Processed by: Louise Jones
There are no restrictions.
Due to the fragile nature of the volumes, patrons of the Library of Virginia are encouraged to use microfilm copies, Rockingham County (Va.) Reels 667-675.
Rockingham County (Va) Wills and Administrations, 1803-1862. Rockingham County (Va.) Reels 667-675, Local Government Records Collection, Rockingham County (Va.) Court Records. The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia, 23219.
These items came to the Library of Virginia in a transfer of court papers from Rockingham County.
Many of the documents in these volumes were damaged by the 1864 wagon fire. As a result, pagination and recorded dates were effectively removed. Using county order books, a Local Records archivist (Louise Jones) with the Local Records Services Branch of the Library of Virginia, painstakingly researched and reconstructed the original volumes for microfilming purposes. In total, nine voumes were reconstructed.
Once reconstructed, the original volumes were microfilmed in-house by the staff of Preservation Resources (OCLC Preservation Service Center.)
Rockingham County was formed from Augusta County in 1778. The county is named for Charles Watson-Wentworth, second marquis of Rockingham, who supported the colonists in their disputes with Great Britain.
Individuals dying with a written will died testate. After the death of an individual, his or her will was brought into court, where two of the subscribing witnesses swore that the document was genuine. After the will was proved, the executor was bonded to carry out his or her duties to settle the estate. The court then ordered the will to be recorded.
The court appointed an administrator who was bonded and issued an order to appraise the deceased's estate. The court usually appointed four appraisers, any three of whom might serve. They returned an inventory of the decedent's personal property to the court to be recorded. An appraisal listed the personal property and assigned a monetary value to each item.
A guardian was appointed by the court only if there was an estate to protect. At age thirteen, a child was eligible to go into court and choose his own guardian. Periodically, guardians were required to bring estate accounts inot court. These accounts deal with the expenditures of the guardian for the raising of each child, generally on an individual basis. The estate of a deceased person with minor children required the keeping of records until it was settled. The settlement occured when the last minor child married or arrived at legal age.
A courthouse fire in 1787 destroyed primarily wills and estate records. In June 1864, many court records were removed from the courthouse and loaded on a wagon to be taken to place of safety in or beyond the Blue Ridge. The wagon was overtaken by Union troops near Port Republic and set afire. Some local citizens put out the fire; however, many court order books, deed books, will books, and fiduciary books were lost or severely damaged by the fire. Pre-1864 records including deeds and wills were re-recorded following an act of assembly passed on November 18, 1884.
The original Rockingham County Wills described in this collection were created by the County Court.
Rockingham County (Va.) Wills and Administrations, 1803-1862, record the deceased's plan for how his or her estate was to be divided among his or her heirs following his or her death. Information commonly recorded in wills include the name of the deceased, also referred to as the testator; names of heirs; a listing of real and personal property (including slaves) and how it was to be divided among the heirs; names of individuals who were to be the will's executors; the date the will was written and the date the will was recorded at the court house. These will books also include estate inventories and guardians' accounts.
Additional Rockingham County Wills can be found on microfilm at the Library of Virginia. Consult A Guide to Virginia County and City Records on Microfilm
An additional resource to consult for these volumes is a publication by Wesley Pippenger, "Index to Virginia Estates, 1800-1865, Volume 6." This volume is found in the Library of Virginia's book collection.
Rockingham County is one of Virginia's Lost Records Localities. Additional Rockingham County Court Records may be found in the Virginia Lost Records Localities Collection at the Library of Virginia. Search the Lost Records Localities Database found at the Library of Virginia web site.
The original volumes are located at the State Records Center. Contact Archives Research Services for access information, directions and hours.
- Rockingham County (Va.) Circuit Court.
- African Americans--History.
- Estates (Law)--Virginia--Rockingham County.
- Guardian and ward--Virginia--Rockingham County.
- Land subdivision--Virginia--Rockingham County.
- Orphans--Virginia--Rockingham County.
- Personal property--Virginia--Rockingham County.
- Public records--Virginia--Rockingham County.
- Real property--Virginia--Rockingham County.
- Slaveholders--Virginia--Rockingham County.
- Slaves--Virginia--Rockingham County.
- Rockingham County (Va.)--History--19th century.
- Appraisals--Virginia--Rockingham County.
- Estate inventories--Virginia--Rockingham County.
- Fiduciary records--Virginia--Rockingham County.
- Guardians' accounts--Virginia--Rockingham County.
- Local government records--Virginia--Rockingham County.
- Probate records--Virginia--Rockingham County.
- Will books--Virginia--Rockingham County.
- Wills--Virginia--Rockingham County.
- Rockingham County (Va.) County Court.