A Guide to the Petersburg (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1787-1912 (bulk 1802-1912) Petersburg (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1787-1912 (bulk 1802-1912) Petersburg (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1787-001-1912-055

A Guide to the Petersburg (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1787-1912 (bulk 1802-1912)

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Chancery Records Index: Petersburg (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1787-001-1912-055


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Processed by: Louise Jones and Sherri Bagley

The Library of Virginia
Chancery Records Index
Petersburg (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1787-001-1912-055
Petersburg (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1787-1912 (bulk 1802-1912)
Physical Characteristics
Digital images
Petersburg (Va.) Circuit Court.
Library of Virginia

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

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

Preferred Citation

Petersburg (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1787-1912 (bulk 1802-1912). (Cite style of suit and chancery index no.). Local Government Records Collection, Petersburg Court Records. The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.

Acquisition Information

Digital images were generated by 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.

Petersburg was formed from parts of Dinwiddie, Prince George, and Chesterfield Counties. A garrison and fur trading post called Fort Henry was established there in 1645 on the site of the Indian town Appamattuck. The present name, suggested in 1733 by William Byrd (1674-1744), honors Peter Jones, Byrd's companion on expeditions into the Virginia backcountry. Petersburg was established in 1748 and incorporated as a town in 1784. In the latter year the towns of Blandford, Pocahontas, and Ravenscroft were added to Petersburg. It was incorporated as a city in 1850.

Scope and Content

Petersburg (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1787-1912 (bulk 1802-1912), 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, 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 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.

Related Material

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

See the Chancery Records Index to search for chancery suits of additional Virginia localities.

Separated Material

Index Terms

    Corporate Names:

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

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

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

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

Selected Suits of Interest

1827-003, William Smith vs. Benjamin W.B. Jones.

Involves a dispute over a runaway slave named Davey, alias Davey Smith. Exhibits found in the suit include a notice published in a local newspaper describing Davey's physical appearance, occupation, and his escape. The suit also contains letters from Benjamin W. B. Jones of Alabama claiming that he was Davey's owner.

1834-015, Jane, a free woman of color vs. Admr. of Edwin Lanier, etc.

Jane, freed by Edwin Lanier's will, sues the administrator and heirs of Lanier's estate to receive the property and cash bequeathed to her in Lanier's will.

1840-066, Jane, a free woman of color vs. Admr. of Edwin Lanier, etc.

Lanier's administrator and others successfully sued Jane for debts she owed as a consequence of the property she received from her former owner. When Jane could not repay the money owed, she was placed in the Petersburg jail. The case details Jane's efforts to win back the freedom she had enjoyed only briefly. Jane's certificate of freedom, the paperwork that had to be carried by freed persons of color, is used as an exhibit in the suit.

1846-040, Admr. of John Page the Elder vs. Heirs of James Brown, Sr., etc.

The suit was filed in the Superior Court of Chancery, Richmond District, and later removed to the Circuit Superior Court of Law and Chancery in Petersburg. It includes a transcript of the suit filed the Superior Court, Richmond district. The original was destroyed during the Civil War. The suit involves property located in Manchester and Richmond that John Page won in 1756 as part of Byrd's Lottery. Deed for the property was never recorded by the trustee of Byrd's property, Charles Carter of Shirley plantation. The administrator of John Page and Page's descendants sued Carter's descendants to receive title of the property in Manchester and Richmond. The suit includes exhibits listing the individual names of the parties of the suit, from whom they were descended, and their residence if known.

1850-025, Chesterfield Railroad Co. vs. Richmond and Danville Railroad Co. and Richmond and Danville Railroad Co. vs. Chesterfield Railroad Co.

The suit concerns a dispute between the mule and gravity powered Chesterfield Railroad Company and the steam powered Richmond and Danville Railroad Company over access to the Manchester coal yards on the James River opposite Rocketts Landing. The suit includes depositions from numerous individuals associated with both railroad companies, as well as multiple plats showing the rail lines of both companies between the Midlothian mines and the James River.

1907-055, George E. Fisher, for etc. vs. Virginia Passenger and Power Company, etc.

The plaintiffs ask the court to take over the floundering Virginia Passenger and Power Company in order to protect their financial stake in the business. The suit contains numerous exhibits including plats, minutes from board of directors, and stockholders' meetings.

1908-034, John F. Crowder, etc. vs. Eli Tartt, etc.

The suit stems from the unhappiness of the First Baptist (Colored) Church members with their pastor Eli Tartt. The plaintiffs wanted the court to remove Tartt as pastor of the church. The church constitution was used as an exhibit in the suit.

1911-025, Frank Roberts vs. Emma Grace Roberts.

A scandalous divorce case in which the plaintiff claimed that his wife was impregnated by a person other than him. A letter from Mrs. Roberts' paramour, living in Idaho at the time, was referred to in a deposition and used as an exhibit.