A Guide to the Portsmouth (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1859-1932 (bulk 1859-1913) Portsmouth (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1859-1932 (bulk 1859-1913) Portsmouth (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1859-001-1932-002

A Guide to the Portsmouth (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1859-1932 (bulk 1859-1913)

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Chancery Records Index: Portsmouth (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1859-001-1932-002


Library of Virginia

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© 2009 By The Library of Virginia. All Rights Reserved.

Processed by: Louise Jones

The Library of Virginia
Chancery Records Index
Portsmouth (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1859-001-1932-002
Portsmouth (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1859-1932 (bulk 1859-1913)
Physical Characteristics
Digital images
Portsmouth (Va.) Circuit Court.
Library of Virginia

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

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

Preferred Citation

Portsmouth (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1859-1932 (bulk 1859-1913). (Cite style of suit and chancery index no.). Local Government Records Collection, Portsmouth Court Records. The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.

Acquisition Information

Digital images were generated by OCLC through the Library of Virginia's Circuit Court Records Preservation Program.

Historical Information

Portsmouth was located in Norfolk County, which is now extinct. It was named by its founder, William Crawford, for the English seaport and was established in 1752. Portsmouth was incorporated as a town in 1836 and as a city in 1858.

The chancery causes of Portsmouth (Va.) described in this collection were created by the following courts: Hustings Court and Circuit Court.

The Hustings Court was the city equivalent of the County Court. It was dissolved in 1904 and its functions were assumed by the Circuit Court.

Scope and Content

Portsmouth (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1859-1932 (bulk 1859-1913) 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. The predominant number of chancery causes in this collection were created by the Hustings Court prior to its dissolution in 1904.

Chancery causes 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.

Related Material

Additional Portsmouth 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 to find the chancery records of additional Virginia localities.

Separated Material

Index Terms

    Corporate Names:

  • Portsmouth (Va.) Circuit Court.
  • Subjects:

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

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

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

Selected Suits of Interest

1865-003: Virginus A. Haynes vs. Olivia F Haynes:

Virginus came home from the Civil War and found his wife pregnant. The depositions include reports of his life in the Army. There is a report on divorce laws in other states.

1874-020: John Nash, etc. vs. City of Portsmouth, etc.

The people living on London Street between Middle and Crawford Streets did not want the Seaboard and Roanoke Rail Road to lay tracks on their street.

1889-018: Gdn. of William T. Maurice, etc. vs. Thomas J. Maurice and wife, etc.

Sale of farm at Langley's Point in Norfolk County. It was sold to a wealthier owner because the north eastern's (storms) were washing away the shore line and the Maurices did not have the money to shore up the land.

1889-052: Fanny Umstadter vs. Trustees of the Congregation Obed Sholem

Mrs. Umstadter and her husband sold the Congregation land for a cemetery and after his death, she found her key did not work to enter the cemetery. She hired a lock smith to cut open the lock and the blacksmith was being tried in Norfolk County Court for breaking and entering.

1889-054: Widow of Samuel T. Hartt vs. Admr. of Samuel T. Hartt

Louise W. Hartt signs a power of attorney to Thomas W. Peirce of Norfolk, Virginia. She lives in the Kingdom of Saxony, City of Dresden.

1895-015: Taylor Bros. vs. Griffin and Pierce, etc.

This suit concerns the building of the Independent Engine House, a fire station. There are list of materials used and the price of the products.

1898-015: George A. Martin vs. Scott Riddick and wife

This suit has a deposition by Ann Majette, a former slave. She references slaves she knew prior to the 1831 Nat Turner slave revolt which the deponent called "Nat's War." She also talks about her family. The suit contains extensive slave genealogy and references to slave trading.

1899-031: Margaret McVeigh, etc. vs. Admr. of John O'Neill, etc.

The deceased defendant's heirs live in Ireland, Chicago, Illinois, and in Australia. There is a power of attorney in the oversize box from the heirs in Australia.

1901-006: L. A. Bilisoly, for etc. vs. Comt. Of Margaret Pruden, etc.

Margaret was a freed slave that lived with George Ricks (Rix) and according to her relative was married to him under the law 1873 (Section 4, Chapter 103, Code of 1873) They are trying to get out of paying her doctor's bills.

1902-008: Thomas J. Brady vs. Cincinnati Architectural Iron Work Co.

Suit concerns the iron work purchased for St. Paul's Roman Catholic Church.

1909-015: Harry Freedman vs. Mirel Freedman.

Harry and Mirel were married in Kovne, Keidan, Russia. Harry came to the United States in 1904 and has sent tickets for his wife to come to the United States. She refuses to come so he divorced her.

1909-018: Livius Lankford, for etc. vs. Admr. of Charles E. Richardson, etc.

The letter concerns paying Mr. Richardson's debts and dividing his estate among his relatives on his mother's and father's side of his family. Exhibit D with the depositions is a letter from Enigal, Gawagh, County Derry, Ireland from Thomas Boyle. Since there are no entries in the church registers before 1846, he talks about the inscriptions on tombstones instead. He also talked to people in the community about the McCredy family. There are other letters about the McCredy family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and other states.

1909-034: George Joiner, Jr. vs. Cornelia Eley.

George, Jr. was the son of George, Sr., a free man and a slave woman. George, Jr. was trying to prove he was a legitimate son of George, Sr.

1911-027: Pauline Bond vs. Oliver Thomas Bond.

Evidence for the divorce included 6 pictures of women. One picture is on tin and one has been painted so that the flowers on the hat are pink and yellow.

Significant Places Associated With the Collection

  • Portsmouth (Va.)--Genealogy.
  • Portsmouth (Va.)--History.