A Guide to the Middlesex County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1754-1912 Middlesex County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1754-1912 Middlesex County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1754-001-1912-012

A Guide to the Middlesex County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1754-1912

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Chancery Records Index: Middlesex County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1754-001-1912-012


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© 2012 By The Library of Virginia. All Rights Reserved.

Processed by: Bari Helms and Library of Virginia staff

The Library of Virginia
Chancery Records Index
Middlesex County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1754-001-1912-012
Middlesex County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1754-1912
Physical Characteristics
Digital images
Middlesex County (Va.) Circuit Court
Library of Virginia

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

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

Preferred Citation

Middlesex County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1754-1912. (Cite style of suit and chancery index no.). Local Government Records Collection, Middlesex 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.

Middlesex County probably was named for the English county. It was formed from Lancaster County about 1669.

Scope and Content

Middlesex County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1754-1912, 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 Middlesex 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.

Index Terms

    Corporate Names:

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

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

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

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

Selected Suits of Interest

1773-005, Simon Laughlin vs. Jacob Valentine:

Simon Laughlin sues for costs incurred while traveling to a prison in Snow Hill in Maryland to view a slave thought to be a runaway belonging to the estate of Samuel Batcheloer.

1792-007, George Bird vs. Isaac Williams:

Suit concerns the work and wagers of a plantation overseer.

1809-001, Exrs. of James Mills, etc. vs. James H. T. Lorimer, etc.:

Debt suit includes an estate settlement that contains an extensive list of slaves sold and a catalog of books.

1815-003, Agga~ etc. vs. Exr. of Randolph Segar etc.:

Slaves Agga, Alice, Sophrina, Solomon, Phil, Lancaster, David, and Ceasar sue for their freedom after being emancipated in the 1795 will of Randolph Segar.

1823-002, Gdn. of Ann Sutton vs. Lucy Gray:

Contract dispute over Ann Sutton's tuition and board at a school operated by Lucy Gray.

1824-001, Hannah Watson vs. Exr. of Mary Watson:

1821 will of Mary Watson emancipates Peter and Jenny, a married couple, along with their child and leaves a portion of Watson's land to them for their support. Hannah Watson contested the will claiming that Peter and Jenny remained in Virginia longer than the one year required for emancipated African Americans to leave the state thus forfeiting their freedom and the land they inherited.

1837-001, Beverley Daniel vs. Mordecai C. Booth etc. :

Includes the 1821 Will of John S. Stubbs of Gloucester County: "I give and bequeath to my once wife Isabella C. Stubbs one cents on account of her abominable conduct in many instances toward me."

1838-003, Robert W. Pace etc. vs. Admr. of George S. Pace etc. :

Estate dispute includes an 1838 division of slaves belonging to the estate of George S. Pace.

1840-004, Philip T. Montague vs. Jane E. Montague, infant:

Estate dispute over a Revolutionary bounty land warrant for 1333 1/3 acres granted to Lieutenant Richard Montague, grandfather of Jane E. Montague, for his services during the Revolutionary War.

1846-002, Betsy Hord etc. vs. Thomas Jones, shff. etc.:

Freedom suit. Betsy Hord asks that the defendants be restrained from selling her and her two sons, Joshua and Moses, as payment for her late husband's debt. Hord claims that she was the property of her husband Benjamin Hord and that he emancipated her by deed on 16 July 1842.

1846-010, John Blake etc. vs. Benjamin P. Dobson, infant, etc.:

Suit includes an evaluation list of slaves with names and ages.

1848-008, Judy Wood etc. vs. Admr. of Nancy Watts etc.:

Freedom suit. Slaves Judy Wood, George Butler, Lucy Butler, William Butler, Mary Butler, Martha Wood, and Abram Wood successfully sue for their freedom that was given to them in the 1828 will of Nancy Watts.

1849-011, Thomas M. Stubblefield vs. John Beazley:

Contract dispute includes plat of land in contention that shows the prison boundaries and illustrations of buildings - jail, stables, court house, clerk's office, Dr. Spratt's shop, and John Bayton's house.

1852-003, Arthur Carlow vs. Maria Carlow:

Divorce suit. Carlow caught his wife having an affair with "free mulatto man" John Winder. Suit includes letter from wife agreeing to the divorce proceedings.

1858-003, William P. Woodward vs. Robert Woodward:

Guardian of Robert Woodward seeks permission to sell slave George because Woodward is no longer able to hire him out due to his bad reputation in the neighborhood and fears that he will escape to a free state.

1858-012, Elizabeth Thornton vs. Margaret Thornton:

Suit seeks the sale of slave Lucy who is described as worthless because of a "very bad disposition... she is a very bad girl, a notorious rougue [sic] and cannot be trusted - she is also very idle and cannot be made to attend her work."

1859-018, Elizabeth I. Thornton vs. Catharine Thornton etc.:

Suit seeks to sale slave Lucy, aged 45, who "has become so unmanageable that she is wholly worthless" and has been a runaway.

1860-013, John B. Jesse etc. vs. Turner Reavis & wife etc.:

This estate dispute involves the distribution of slaves and other property and includes a 1793 Deed of Emancipation of Thomas Richie of Gloucester County which sets his slaves free once they reach the age of twenty-one.

1861-012, Anna F. Wortham, widow vs. Admr. of Edmund H. Montague etc.:

Estate dispute contains list of slaves that includes names and birth dates.

1864-001, John H. Chrispenn etc. vs. Martha Chrispenn, widow, etc.:

Suit contains two Confederate States of American bonds, 1864.

1873-016, Joseph W. Statins for etc. vs. Henry L. Layton etc.:

Debt dispute involves blockaded goods purchased but captured by Union forces before they were delivered. The answer and depositions identify Joseph W. Statins as a known blockade runner during the Civil War.

1884-014, Admr. of Elliott P. Jones vs. Laurence Bayne etc.:

Estate dispute contains family correspondence between the Jones and Calef families. 17 May 1843, Sallie Calef writes to David Calef to describe her husband's death; the education of her daughter at Gothic Seminary in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she studied geometry, chemistry, and Latin; and the theft by her slaves of barrels of corn intended for horse feed which resulted in the death of seven of her horses. 15 January 1845, Daniel J. Calef writes to his mother about advising his Aunt Sally Calef "to dispose of her nap heads or Blacks," and he goes on to write, "you can't imagine how the slaves want waching. Everything has to be put under lock and key or they would steel it. They are a pac of unprophetable servents." 24 September 1850, Elliott P. Jones writes to D. J. Calef relating an incident with his teacher O. White in which White "called a whipping" that Jones was not strong enough to prevent - "would I have crushed the man who dared to treat me as a negro, but I could not." 26 February 1860, Elliot P. Jones writes to his cousin discussing the approaching Civil War - Virginia is "now arming and preparing herself for active war.... I hope to God we may not have to use our men, but if the North is determined to force upon us a Black Republican President, then I am willing, ready, and anxious for the conflict."

1884-016, Creds. of James H. Acra vs. James H. Acra etc.:

Suit originated in Gloucester County.

1886-003, Michael Russell etc. vs. Admr. of Dormer Oaks:

Estate dispute contains family correspondence. On 17 August 1817, John Russell wrote to his Aunt Mrs. Dormer Oaks to tell her of his arrival in Baltimore from Scotland and to report on her family still back in Scotland: "...I think I will like this Country very well but only there hours in this place for working is much longer than Scotland which is not so agreeable but perhaps I will like it better when a littler longer used to it. Times was very bad in Scotland when I left it and great numbers leaving it to come to America."

1886-004, W. C. Conrad vs. John Purcell etc. and 1886-005, William Fears vs. Pinkney Hodges etc.:

Both of these suits involve disputes over the ownership of oyster planting grounds.

1887-004, Freeman Higgins vs. Robert Daniel etc.:

Higgins, a schooner owner in the business of buying oysters in Virginia, sues the Middlesex County oyster inspector for making "threats of violence and force" and requiring him to pay a fee before he could buy oysters to take for sale at the Port of Orleans.

1887-005, John Bohannon etc. vs. James Rolley etc.:

Schooner owners claim that county oyster inspectors and commandant of the Virginia Oyster Navy are hindering their rights to purchase oysters.

1889-008, John Jones vs. Mary Jane Jones:

Divorce suit includes marriage certificate of Mary Jones's illegal second marriage to Edward Wood.

1889-009, Robert Henry Carter vs. Emily Carter:

Married 4 October 1885, Robert Henry Carter sought a divorce from his wife who was arrested for murdering his child from his first marriage, Lila Carter. Emily Carter was convicted 27 February 1886 and sentenced to ten years in the penitentiary.

1891-008, Oscar Holliday vs. Fannie Holliday:

Divorce suit alludes to the husband shooting a man involved with his wife: "...your orator finally caught her in the act of adultery, shot her paramour, and has been punished for such shooting."

1892-007, Francis South vs. Mary W. South:

Divorce suit in which the husband and his witnesses accuse wife of having affairs with "colored men."

1892-010, Admr. of Manus Rowan vs. Admr. of Winnie Carey etc.:

Estate dispute includes a drawing of a family tree for the families McCarty/Tomlin/Rowan.

1892-027, Creds. of Robert L. Montague vs. Admr. of Robert L. Montage:

Debt suit includes an 13 June 1873 letter from C. B. Robb to E. L. Montague in which Robb writes, "...all my papers & letters had been destroyed the day the Yankees made a raid here we thought it best to destroy them lest they might fall in their hands...."

1893-016, Trst. for Martha L. Taylor vs. Archibald Taylor & wife etc.:

Thomas Fauntleroy letter to Wallace Woodward, dated 11 February 1893, references economic depression of 1893, railroads, and the Sherman Silver Law.

1894-027, Lucy Ann Haile etc. vs. Byron Wake, infant etc.:

Suit includes family tree for descendants of Robert Mountain.

1895-006, Thomas Harris vs. Fannie Harris:

In this divorce suit of an African American couple, Thomas Harris went in front of the congregation of Grafton Baptist Church and accused his wife of having an affair with W. E. Thompson, a pastor in the church who stayed in the Harris home.

1898-006, John Laws vs. Alice Laws:

In his bill for divorce, John Laws claims he was forced to marry when a warrant was issued charging him with seducing Alice Bumpass under promise of marriage. Laws believed that the marriage was the easiest and cheapest way out of the trouble, and he left Alice immediately after the ceremony. After Alice gave birth to a "white girl child," John Laws believed that he should be absolved of any wrong doing since he was an African American.

1898-034, D. Morelli etc. vs. W. W. Moody etc.:

A group of Italian immigrants sue a representative of the Gray Improvement Co. for nonpayment of contracted work.

1902-026, Annie B. Tolle vs. Admr. of Joel Cilley etc.:

Annie B. Tolle, claiming to be well-educated and an accomplished musician, both vocal and instrumental, left her own property in Baltimore to move to Middlesex Co. to stay with her aunt and uncle under the promise that she would inherit their property after their deaths. Annie claims that she worked for them unpaid - she was "their cook, their maid, their washerwoman, their nurse, their all" - and sues the estate of her uncle for control of his property.

1903-002, Charles W. Morris vs. Mary Morris :

Divorce suit. Charles Morris claimed that he was accused by Mary's father of impregnating his daughter. With a warrant out for his arrest and his life threatened, Charles went through with the marriage despite claiming his innocence. When Charles asked Mary why she accused him instead of the men she had actually been with, she replied "because I want you."

1903-018, Mary Daniel etc. vs. Admr. of William Walton etc.:

Includes broadside for a baseball exhibition held at the Tappahannock fair between Warsaw, Bowling Green, and the Tappahannock Picked Team.

1905-007, Rosa Lush vs. John T. Lush:

Divorce suit includes depositions detailing domestic abuse.

1906-005, Mary A. Smith vs. George Smith:

In her bill for divorce, Mary Smith requests that her husband be restrained from interfering with her children and from demanding and collecting any wages earned by the children.

1907-033, Andrew Courtney vs. Mary Courtney:

Divorce suit. Andrew Courtney accuses his wife, Mary, of "adulterous and sinful intrigue" and running off to Hartford, Connecticut, with Beverly Smith, a married man. Mary Courtney claimed she went to Hartford for work and accuses her husband of adultery, abuse, and the operation of a speakeasy. Mary Courtney produces several letters written to her husband from various women, one of which included a lock of hair with her letter. (The alleged affair between Mary Courtney and Beverly Smith is referenced in the Middlesex County divorce suit Mary Ellen Smith vs. Beverly Smith, 1910-014.)

1910-008, James Williams vs. Lucy Williams:

Divorce suit. When confronted about her affair, Lucy Williams threatened to split her husband's head with an axe.

1911-004, Zachariah Holmes vs. Lelia Holmes:

Divorce suit includes 15 May 1911 letter from wife declining to say anything about the case: "I am perfectly satisfied for Mr. Holmes to be free. As it is not my intention to live with him anymore."

1911-007, Mary F. Morris by etc. vs. R. F. Ransom etc.:

Debt suit. Mary F. Morris sues for compensation for the eleven months she spent nursing 20-year-old Mary I. Prince through an illness/death.

1911-011, George A. Marks vs. Russell A. Davis:

Bill and depositions include a lot of information about operating a general mercantile business.

1912-005, James Grinells vs. George W. Daniel, Jr.:

Injunction to halt construction of new buildings and to restrain the use of existing buildings located on the North End wharf, owned and operated first by the Weems Steamboat Co. then by the Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia Railroad Co. Said buildings were interfering with a breakwater and its privileges operated by James Grinells and negatively impacting his business operations.

Significant Places Associated With the Collection

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