A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Chancery Records Index: Rockingham County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1781-001-1913-080
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Patrons are to use digital images of Rockingham County (Va.) Chancery Causes found on the Chancery Records Index available electronically at the website of the Library of Virginia.
Rockingham County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1781-1913 (bulk 1819-1913). (Cite style of suit and chancery index no.). Local Government Records Collection, Rockingham County Court Records. The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.
Digital images were generated by Backstage Library Works through the Library of Virginia's Circuit Court Records Preservation Program.
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.
Rockingham County was named for Charles Watson-Wentworth, second marquis of Rockingham, who supported the colonies during the years before and during the Revolutionary War. The county was formed from Augusta County in 1778. The county seat is the city of Harrisonburg.
A courthouse fire in 1787 destroyed primarily wills and estate records. In June 1864 during the Civil War, court records (mostly volumes) were removed from the courthouse and loaded on a wagon to be taken to place of safety on or beyond the Blue Ridge. The wagon was overtaken by Union troops near Port Republic and set afire, which was put out by local citizens. Many order books, deed books, will books, and fiduciary books, however, were lost or severely damaged by the fire. The loose records that remained at the courthouse were undamaged. Pre-1865 records including deeds and wills were rerecorded following an act of assembly passed in November 1884.
Rockingham County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1781-1913 (bulk 1819-1913), 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.
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.
Additional Rockingham County Court Records can be found on microfilm at The Library of Virginia web site. Consult 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.
Rockingham County is one of Virginia's Lost Records Localities. Additional Rockingham County Court Records may be found in the Virginia Lost Records Localities Collection at the Library of Virginia. Search the Lost Records Localities Digital Collection found at the Library of Virginia web site.
For more information and a listing of lost records localities see Lost Records research note.
- Rockingham County (Va.) Circuit Court.
- African Americans -- History.
- Business enterprises. -- Virginia -- Rockingham County.
- Debt -- Virginia -- Rockingham County.
- Divorce suits -- Virginia -- Rockingham County.
- Equity -- Virginia -- Rockingham County.
- Estates (Law) -- Virginia -- Rockingham County.
- Land subdivision -- Virginia -- Rockingham County.
- Rockingham County (Va.) -- Genealogy.
- Rockingham County (Va.) -- History.
- Chancery causes -- Virginia -- Rockingham County.
- Deeds -- Virginia -- Rockingham County.
- Judicial records -- Virginia -- Rockingham County.
- Land records -- Virginia -- Rockingham County.
- Local government records -- Virginia -- Rockingham County.
- Plats -- Virginia -- Rockingham County.
- Wills -- Virginia -- Rockingham County.
Genre and Form Terms:
Case involving the Methodist Episcopal Church and slavery. There was an argument over which side (northern anti-slavery or southern pro-slavery) would have access to church in Harrisonburg. The suit provides detailed background on the creation of the Methodist Episcopal Church South for the churches in slave-holding states. Numerous depositions discussing the split. A "large minority" wanted to stay with the Northern branch of the church. The suit contains exhibits such as correspondence, newspapers, and print of the Resolutions of the General Conference of 1844..
Suit involves the untimely death of a slave named Bill. He was purchased by Phillips from Newman, a resident of Missouri. Includes depositions of doctor that detail his illness and death. Other depositions illustrate the poor treatment of the sick man, all related to Bill's value.
Most of the Whitesel family are from Indiana, but father and one son are living in Rockingham County. This son convinces the father that his current will would be confiscated by the Confederate government which views his family as alien enemies, and would take over his estate. He convinces the father to hand over rights to all his estate to him, promising he would divide it equally after the war. The son insisted that his father did intend for him to have the bulk of the estate, as he was the one who cared for him in his decline. Suit includes numeorus depositions.
The suit includes a petition to the District Court of the Confederate States of America in the Western District of Virginia seeking the seizure of property from "alien enemies" residing in Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois based in the Sequestration Act of 1861.
Divorce suit. Defendant left husband for Robert Sampson after longstanding affair and three children. She fled to Erie, PA with Robert Sampson. Suit includes letters to her oldest son that recount everyday life and mother's regrets.