A Guide to the Northampton County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1721-1912 Northampton County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1721-1912 Northampton County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1721-001-1912-042

A Guide to the Northampton County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1721-1912

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Chancery Records Index: Northampton County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1721-001-1912-042


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The Library of Virginia
Chancery Records Index
Northampton County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1721-001-1912-042
Northampton County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1721-1912
Physical Characteristics
Digital images
Northampton County (Va.) Circuit Court
Library of Virginia

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

Patrons are to use digital images of Northampton County (Va.) Chancery Causes found on the Chancery Records Index available electronically at the website of the Library of Virginia.

Preferred Citation

Northampton County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1721-1912. (Cite style of suit and chancery index no.). Local Government Records Collection, Northampton County Court Records. The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.

Acquisition Information

Digital images were generated by Crowley Micrographics and Backstage Library Works through the Library of Virginia's Circuit Court Records Preservation Program.

Historical Information

Chancery Causes are cases of equity. According to Black's Law Dictionary they are "administered according to fairness as contrasted with the strictly formulated rules of common law." A judge, not a jury, determines the outcome of the case.

Northampton County was named probably for the English county, of which Obedience Robins, a prominent early resident of the Eastern Shore, was a native. The county, which originally included all of the peninsula south of Maryland and which was one of the eight shires, or counties, first enumerated in 1634, was first called Accomack. The General Assembly changed the name to Northampton County in 1643. Accomack County was created from Northampton County about 1663, but in October 1670, the General Assembly temporarily reunited the two counties as Northampton County. In November 1673, Accomack County was again separated from Northampton. The county seat is Eastville.

Scope and Content

Northampton County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1721-1912, are indexed into the Chancery Records Index. Cases are identified by style of suit consisting of plaintiff and defendant names. Surnames of others involved in a suit, including secondary plaintiffs and defendants, witnesses, deponents and affiants, and family members with surnames different from the plaintiff or defendant are indexed. Chancery causes often involved the following: divisions of estates or land, disputes over wills, divorces, debt, and business disputes. Predominant documents found in chancery causes include bills (plaintiff's complaint), answers (defendant's response), decrees (court's decision), depositions, affidavits, correspondence, lists of heirs, deeds, wills, slave records, business records or vital statistics, among other items. Plats, if present, are noted, as are wills from localities with an incomplete record of wills or localities other than the one being indexed.

Chancery cases are useful when researching local history, genealogical information, and land or estate divisions. They are a valuable source of local, state, social, and legal history and serve as a primary source for understanding a locality's history.


Organized by case, of which each is assigned a unique index number comprised of the latest year found in case and a sequentially increasing 3-digit number assigned by the processor as cases for that year are found. Arranged chronologically.

Arrangement of documents within each folder are as follows: Bill, Answer, and Final Decree (if found.)

Related Material

Additional Northampton County Court Records can be found on microfilm at The Library of Virginia. See A Guide to Virginia County and City Records on Microfilm

See the Chancery Records Index found on the Library of Virginia web site for the chancery records of other Virginia localities.

Separated Material

Index Terms

    Corporate Names:

  • Northampton County (Va.) Circuit Court.
  • Subjects:

  • African Americans--History.
  • Business enterprises--Virginia--Northampton County.
  • Debt--Virginia--Northampton County.
  • Divorce suits--Virginia--Northampton County.
  • Equity--Virginia--Northampton County.
  • Estates (Law)--Virginia--Northampton County.
  • Land subdivision--Virginia--Northampton County.
  • Geographical Names:

  • Northampton County (Va.)--Genealogy.
  • Northampton County (Va.)--History.
  • Genre and Form Terms:

  • Chancery causes--Virginia--Northampton County.
  • Deeds--Virginia--Northampton County.
  • Judicial records--Virginia--Northampton County.
  • Land records--Virginia--Northampton County.
  • Local government records--Virginia--Northampton County.
  • Plats--Virginia--Northampton County.
  • Wills--Virginia--Northampton County.

Selected Suits of Interest

1727-001: Jane Webb vs. Thomas Savage:

Plaintiff filed another freedom suit found in Northampton County (Va.) Judgments (Freedom Suits), 1723-1845 .

1737-001: Phillip Jacob vs. Esau Jacob, etc.:

Cause references how an enslaved person named Judith won her freedom in court.

1737-004: Thomas Preeson and James Gibson and wife vs. Peter Bowdoin and wife:

Cause centered on mental capacity of Hannah Preeson.

1739-001: William Andrews vs. Exrs. of Michael Christian:

Infant child suffered from sore leg and died. Physician accused of malpractice. Reference to salivation treatment.

1747-002: Joshua Robins, by etc. vs. Arthur Robins, etc.:

Arthur Robins, the father of Joshua and Arthur, left a widow, Anna Robins. Mr. Robins wrote a will in January 1746 and his wife put it in a drawer. When she went to find it later, it was gone. Arthur, the eldest son, plans to claim his father's entire estate according to Law of Primogeniture.

1813-008: Walter C. Gardiner and wife, etc. vs. John Simkins:

This suit concerns the property of Isaac Simkins, the son of William Simkins who was born 13 February 1775. Isaac Simkins had been missing since 1796. His brothers and sisters want to divide his property. According to the depositions of Isaac's brother, Arthur Simkins and of James Travis, Isaac was impressed on board a British Man of War in June 1796. Arthur Simkins, brother of Isaac, heard that Isaac died shortly after he was impressed in to the British Navy.

1815-002: Thomas Clay vs. George Taylor, etc.:

Thomas Clay bought a slave in 1795 that was sold under execution by the sheriff of Northampton County at a public auction. In 1812, George Taylor appeared claiming that he had bought the slave and the deed was recorded in Norfolk County or the Borough of Norfolk. Mr. Clay gave executed a bond or note of had for the hire of the slave to be paid if Mr. Taylor proved ownership. The deed has not been found that proves Mr. Taylor owns the slave. Mr. Taylor has given the bond to Major L. Pitts and Mr. Pitts has bought a suit against Mr. Clay to have the bond paid.

1819-019: Rickards Dunton and wife, etc. vs. Leah F. Carpenter, by etc.

John Carpenter, Sr. wrote his will on 18 December 1803. He left a widow Lucy, and children Dicke (Dickie), Azel G., Samuel, Betsy and Leah F. Carpenter. Azel died without writing a will. Dicke wrote a will before he died and left his share of his father's slaves to his sisters Leah and Elizabeth, wife of Arthur B. Upshur. This cause concerns the division of Azel and Dicke's share of their father John Carpenter, Sr.'s slaves among their mother and brother and sisters. The ownership of the slaves was divided in fractions, for example one share equaled 1/5th of 4/5th of a slave.

1822-007: Margaret L. Read, by etc. vs. Sally Read:

John H. Read died in Accomack County in 1812 and his will was probated on 3 December 1812. He was survived by his widow, Sally Read, and his daughter, Margaret L. Read. The plaintiff is worried that Mrs. Read will sell the slaves, Moses and Mary to some "Southern Negro purchaser" who will remove them from Virginia. Miss Read wants an injunction to prevent Mrs. Read from selling the slaves.

1822-009: Thomas Ames and wife, etc. vs. William A. Christian:

John Christian died on March 7, 1821, without issue. He died leaving brothers and sisters of the whole and half blood and the children of his deceased brothers and sisters. This cause is unusual in that it states which of the brothers and sisters of the half blood are on the maternal or paternal side. John Christian had a sister named Sally Ames who was his only sibling of the whole blood. John had a paternal brother named William Christian. He had two paternal sisters who were named Betsy Milby and Rosey Fisher. He had two maternal sisters who were named Ann Ames and Catherine Johnson.

1822-010: John D. Turpin and wife vs. Admr. of William Stokely:

Douglas Willette died in Northampton County leaving a widow, Elizabeth, called Betsey and children, one of whom, Betsey has married John D. Turpin. Mrs. Willette obtained guardianship of her children. Mrs. Willette intermarried with William Custis and the couple moved to Ohio. The couple left her children in Virginia. Mrs. Custis did not make a settlement of her guardian accounts for her children before she left Virginia or before her death in Ohio. Mr. and Mrs. Turpin sued to have a settlement made. This cause includes a letter from William Custis, who lived in Scioto County, Ohio, that was written on June 16, 1813. In the letter, he tells his stepchildren, who lived in Northampton County, about the death of their mother. The letter is very religious in nature.

1823-019: Harriot B. Parker vs. Thomas Parramore and wife:

Nathaniel Darby left slaves in his 1811 Will to his sister-in-law, Esther Darby. Mr. Darby's slaves were to be divided two nieces, Harriot B. Parker and Mary Parramore, when Esther Darby's died or married. Some of Mr. Darby's slaves had runaway with the enemy in the late war with Great Britain. He had not removed their names from his will. The slaves were named Hampton, Caleb, Benjamin, and Cato.

1787-001: Skinner Wallop vs. Exr. of Agnes Parish:

The plaintiff seeks compensation for her share of inheritance, on the grounds that the slaves she inherited didn't do much work. The case includes a deposition about the division of the estate in which a slave asked "where he and his wife should go."

1825-012: Alexander Wales Ward vs. Elizabeth Yetman, widow:

Elizabeth's husband, John Yetman was from Great Britain. He was the master of the Schooner Mary Ann. He sailed the ship to the Port of Charleston in August 1818. On the return trip in September 1818, there was a gale of wind experienced in the part of the American Coast where the schooner would have been sailing. The schooner "Mary Ann" was missing and believed to have been sunk by the gale.

1825-019: William R. Custis vs. John C. Milburn etc.:

Mr. Custis and Thomas Copper of Accomack County hired Mr. Milburn to repair the Accomack County Jail and Jailor's house. Mr. Milburn was to be paid when he finished the job. Mr. Milburn left the job site and did not return. Mr. Copper paid laborers wages for 8 to 10 days while they waited for Mr. Milburn to return. The materials that were purchased for the job were wasted. Mr. Curtis wants to be reimbursed for the money that was lost.

1828-018: Samuel S. Williams etc. vs. Margaret Williams, etc.:

Margaret Williams, the widow of John Williams, had two dower slaves that were carried away by the British in the last war with Great Britain. Under the Treaty of Ghant she was allowed 280 dollars for one and 390 dollars for the other. She was to received 402 dollars, which was then in the hands of Thomas Spady. The plaintiffs are afraid that she would spend and squander the money if Mr. Spady gave it to her.

1829-005: Thomas James vs. Edmund James etc.:

Edmund James sold Thomas James a schooner named "Schooner Susan" or "Schooner Sukey". Thomas James claims the schooner had rotten boards and when he bought it and Edmund James was to pay for its repairs. The deposition of Thomas Dowty talks about how the schooner was blown on shore and he offered to get the boat off the shore. He describes the boat as being a pretty good boat that some timbers were good and some timbers were rotten. Stephen Kellam said he heard the schooner leaked. Victor Ewing was paid to make repairs on the vessel by Edmund James said unseaworthy and gives a description of the vessel after it was blown ashore by the gale.

1831-001:Billy Pool and wife vs. Admr. of Thomas Baker, etc.; 1831-019: Gdn of Susan Baker, etc. vs. Susan Baker and others by etc.; 1831-024: Luke Trower and wife, etc. vs. John Jeffry and others by etc.; 1832-012: Charles West vs. Johannes Johnson; 1832-014: John Jeffery and others by etc. vs. Thomas Beavans and wife; 1832-017: George Press, etc. vs. Edmund Press, etc.; 1851-015: Littleton Jeffry vs. Hannah P. Waddey, widow, etc.

These suits concern plots of land in Indian Town that belonged to the Gingaskin Indian Tribe.

1834-006: George W. P. Custis vs. James Saunders, etc.

George W. P. Custis of the District of Columbia sold land in Northampton County. Mr. Custis claims he has not received the full price for the purchase of the land.

1852-010: Daniel, a slave, etc. vs. Exr. of Nancy White:

Freedom suit. Nancy White, in her will recorded in 1838, gave her slaves Daniel, Mary and her issue their freedom in 1849. Mary's two children Abram and George, were also plaintiffs in the suit. Abram was born during Nancy White's lifetime and George was born after Nancy White died. The plaintiffs won their suit.

1854-007: Daniel, a slave, etc. vs. Admr. of Major S. Pitts, etc.:

Freedom suit. Nancy White's will, recorded on 8 January 1838, freed her slaves Daniel, Mary Senior, Abram(alias Abraham), Leah, and the increase of Mary Senior and Leah in 1849 and allow them to leave Virginia. Mary Sr. has a son George Senior and they were freed in 1852, see Chancery Cause 1852-010. Leah's children, George Junior, Jimmy, Mary Junior, and Joe were not freed in 1849 and they sued to get their freedom. The court decreed that Leah, George, Jr., Jimmy and Joe were free.

1859-012: George, a slave vs. Thomas Hatton Kellam, etc.:

George is suing to prevent Mr. Kellam from selling him for life as a slave in the Southern Market. George's grandmother Sabra (Sabrah) was freed according to the 1800 Will of Walter Hatton when she became age 31 and her heirs were to be freed at age 31 also. George is not yet 31 years old. The decree said that George could not be sold, but he could be hired out in any part of the Commonwealth until he became 31 years old and freed. According to the bill of complaint, Thomas C. Bunting and William J. Goffigon were "engaged in supplying the Southern market in part, with persons of Color in the character of slaves." George was in the custody of the Jailor of Northampton County "awaiting as he is informed and believes transportation to some slave market beyond the limits of the County of Accomac and the Commonwealth of Virginia."

1867-010: Richard B. Winder vs. Sallie M. Winder:

Mr. Winder married Sallie M. Custis on or about 26 September 1851. He left their home in Accomack County in November 1861. Mrs. Winder states that the Federal Forces where "making an invasion of the County of Accomack" when he left in 1861. Mr. Winder left her at home with two young children, a large farm and slaves. She also accuses her husband of adultery. The plaintiff wanted a divorce because he believes his wife committed adultery. The adultery was supposed to have taken place during the Civil War. One of the witnesses was asked if Mr. Winder was posted at the Anderson Prison in Georgia. Mr. Winder appears to have been released from Libby Prison in March 1865. The witnesses were questioned about his conduct when he returned home and Mrs. Winder's conduct when he was away.

1877-020: James W. Downing and wife vs. Rachel R. Upshur etc.:

Rachel bought land from her sister. She had a neighbor James C. Major. Mr. Downing uses a lane that runs through the Miss Upshur's and Mr. Major's land to get to the public road. Miss Upshur and Mr. Major were trying to build fences and gates across the lane. A map showing where the lane and farms of Miss Upshur, Mr. Major, Mr. Downing and a neighbor of Mr. Downing is included in the suit.

1878-005: Virginia Military Institute, for etc. vs. Exrs of John N. Brickhouse, etc.:

Mr. Brickhouse owed VMI 164.98 on 1 July 1858 for goods that were sold and delivered to him. Mr. Brickhouse and his executors had not paid the debt, so VMI sued them in Northampton County which was where Mr. Brickhouse owned land.

1884-008: James A. Fisher for etc. vs. Admr. of John H. E. Smith, etc.:

John H. E. Smith's will is Exhibit A in the suit. The will starts with instructions of how he wants to be buried and instructions of how and where to build the vault for his body. Mr. Smith wanted to be buried in a metallic coffin. He wanted the vault for his body to be built entirely above ground and also to be built on the highest point of land that he owned. He had other instructions about his burial plot.

1886-003: Harry Fitchett and wife, etc. vs. Admr. of Ibby Jane Smith, alias Ibbie Jane Smith, etc.:

Ibby Jane Smith died in 1880 age 16 or 17. She was a pensioner of the United States as the heir of her father Seth Smith, alias Scott, who served in the Civil War in Company C, 10th Regiment, United States Colored Troops. Seth died at Point of Rocks, May 22, 1865. Since Seth and Ibby's mother Leah lived together while they were slaves, Leah's family claims that Ibby was illegitimate and Seth's family claims that she was legitimate. Leah's family wanted to be the sole heirs of Ibby's estate and Seth's family claimed they are heirs also. There is a lot of information about both sides of Ibby Jane's family. The deposition of Jacob Fitchett tells how Leah brought Ibby Jane to the Freedman's Bureau at Town Fields, to report her birth and that she was the daughter of Seth Smith, alias Scott. The final item in this suit is a Supersedeas Bond that cites the Laws used to determine that Ibby was the legitimate child of Seth Scott and Leah Jacobs. An abstract of the marriage record of Frederick J. Goffigon and Mary E. Nottingham in 1851 is included as an exhibit.

1886-004: Edward W. Nottingham, etc. vs. Representatives of Edward W. Nottingham, Sr., etc.:

The plaintiff and Thomas H. Nottingham were the only children of Edward W. Nottingham, Sr. Their father married a second time to a woman named Harriet. When Mr. Nottingham died he was supposed to have 1050 dollars in gold and silver in his possession. Mr. Edgar J. Spady the administrator of both Edward W. Nottingham, Sr and his deceased widow, Harriet S. Nottingham claims that the gold and silver belonged to Mrs. Nottingham, not Mr. Nottingham. Mr. Edgar S. Spady's answer gives and interesting description of the search of the house to find the gold and silver that was hidden there. Exhibit A gives the list of Mrs. Nottingham's heirs. The heirs include nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews of the whole and half blood to Mrs. Nottingham.

1888-011: Charles B. Bonwell vs. John Belote, alias William H. Ward:

John Belote moved to New York City and changed his name to William H. Ward. Mr. Ward borrowed money from Mr. Bonwell to start a restaurant. He could not pay his debt; so Mr. Belote's land in Northampton County, Virginia was sold to pay the debt. A copy of papers from the judgment heard in the City Court of New York is included in this cause as an exhibit.

1898-042: David C. Kellam for etc. vs. Admr. of Stephen C. Carpenter, etc.:

Stephen C. Carpenter, an African American, died in 1892. A letter written by Thomas J. Upshur gives the names of Stephen Carpenter's wife, children, brothers, and his sister. Mr. Upshur states that Mr. Carpenter's brother, Henry, was living in Alabama. The depositions by Lloyd A. Winder and Mathew Carpenter, Stephen Carpenter's Uncle, provide more information about Mr. Carpenter and his family. Mr. Mathew Carpenter gives information about Stephen Carpenter's birth date and that he did not cohabit with a woman prior to Feb. 27, 1866. He gives the addresses of where Mr. Stephen Carpenter's brother Henry and sister Mary were living in 1894. He says Mr. Stephen Carpenter's brother Michiel Nelson was sold from Virginia in 1860 and lived in Alabama after the Civil War. The deposition of M. E. Underhill states that Mr. Underhill's Grand Mother Sally J. Nelson was Stephen's owner. Mr. Underhill gives information about Mr. Carpenter's brothers and sister. Mr. Underhill also states that Mr. Carpenter served in the Civil War and returned to Northampton County in 1866.

1899-007: George Blue and wife vs. Abel Spady and wife, etc.:

Mollie James, alias Mollie Costin, died in 1892 unmarried and without issue and owning property. George Blue and his sisters Ellen Banks, wife of Ollie Banks and Sarah Blue, claim to be the children of Mollie's half brother, Spencer Blue. Mollie and Spencer's mother Sarah Spady was sold before the Civil War and removed from this state. The descendants of Abel Spady, Sr. claim that he was Mollie James' father. Abel Spady, Sr.'s heirs are Abel and Jack Spady and Polly Joynes. John Blue, who was born on 8 July 1855, claims to be the son of Spencer Blue and a woman named Letty, both of whom were slaves of James H. Costin before the Civil War. John Blue said his parents had cohabited until 1862. Mrs. Annie S. Spady, daughter of James H. Costin, gave a deposition in which she states that Spencer Blue had one son by Letty named John Blue; he had two children with Flora who are Ellen the wife of Ollie Banks and Sarah Blue; and he had one child by Harriett who is named George Blue. Mrs. Spady said Spencer was living with another woman named Tamer, as man and wife when he died. William Graham, Mathew Carpenter, Arthur Booker, William Watts, Peter Cox, Joshua Pernell, and E. J. Spady gave depositions about Spencer Blue and the mothers of his children. The Court was trying to determine which of Spencer Blue's children were legitimate.Mathew Carpenter said Spencer Blue went to fight in the war in 1863.

1901-026: Raffle Passaro vs. Irene V. Passaro:

This is a divorce cause that includes a marriage license. According to the marriage license, Mr. Passaro was born in Naples, Italy and Mrs. Passaro was born in Northampton County.

1905-012: Severn Spady vs. Ada Spady

This is a divorce cause. Henry Cypress was asked if he remembered when the couple separated. He stated that "they separated about Irish Potato planting time, February or March, of 1898. I remember only by the time Shelly Banks was frozen to death during the bid February Blizzard." Mr. Cypress stated that he "was a member of an investigating committee of my church when Severn Spady was disciplined on account of the separation."

1907-018: Petition of the School Board of Capeville District, No. 3, Northampton County:

The former school building on one-fourth acre of land was too small, so they bought a lot having two and a half acres from Francis Parsons, Jr. The first petition asked to have the title of the land certified and recorded. The second petition was a request to sell the one-fourth acre of land they no longer needed. The land they purchased was to be used for a new High School for white students.

Significant Places Associated With the Collection

  • Northampton County (Va.)--Genealogy.
  • Northampton County (Va.)--History.