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the Library of Virginia
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Processed by: Greg Crawford
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Powhatan County (Va.) Judgments (Freedom Suits), 1807-1844. Local government records collection, Powhatan County Court Records. The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia 23219.
These items came to the Library of Virginia in transfers of court papers from Powhatan County under the accession numbers 41545 and 41547.
Slaves sued for emancipation in freedom suits based on the following: they were descendant(s) of a free female ancestor, typically a Native American (Hening Statutes, volume 2, p.170); failure of slaveowner(s) to abide by the 1778 slave nonimportation act (Henings Statutes, volume 9, pp. 471-472); or claimed to have been freed by slaveowner(s) by deed of emancipation or last will and testament (Henings Statutes volume 11, pp. 39-40)
Powhatan County was named for the paramount chief of the Powhatan Indians in the tidewater of Virginia in the late sixteenth and early years of the seventeenth century. It was formed from Cumberland County in 1777, and part of Chesterfield County was added in 1850. The county seat is Powhatan.
Powhatan County (Va.) Judgments (Freedom Suits), 1807-1844, consist of suits initiated by slaves seeking to gain their freedom on the law side of the court. 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. Also identified are names of slaves and slaveowners identified in suit as well as whether slave(s) won their freedom. Predominant documents found in freedom suits include petitions, records of suits, depositions, affidavits, wills, among other items. Information found in documents include slave's argument for freedom, acquisition of slaves by slaveowners, slave ancestry, and relationship between slaves and slaveowners.
Judgments (Freedom Suits) are useful when researching local history and genealogical information, particularly for African Americans. They are a valuable source of local, state, social, and legal history and serve as a primary source for understanding a locality's history.
Additional Powhatan County Judgments are found at the Library of Virginia. The collection is unprocessed.
Additional Powhatan County Court Records can be found on microfilm at The Library of Virginia. See A Guide to Virginia County and City Records on Microfilm
Additional freedom suits may be found in the Powhatan County Chancery Causes. Search the the Chancery Records Index found on the Library of Virginia web site. Enter the tilde symbol in the plaintiff surname field.
- Powhatan County (Va.). Circuit Court.
- African Americans -- Virginia.
- Free African Americans -- Virginia -- Powhatan County.
- Slaveholders -- Virginia -- Powhatan County.
- Slavery -- Virginia -- Powhatan County.
- Powhatan County (Va.) -- Genealogy
- Powhatan County (Va.) -- History.
- Civil actions -- Virginia -- Powhatan County.
- Freedom suits -- Virginia -- Powhatan County.
- Judicial records -- Virginia -- Powhatan County.
- Local government records -- Virginia -- Powhatan County.
- Petitions -- Virginia -- Powhatan County.
- Wills -- Virginia -- Powhatan County.