A Guide to the Lunenburg County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records, 1780-1868 Lunenburg County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records, 1780-1868 1138026

A Guide to the Lunenburg County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records, 1780-1868

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Barcode number 1138026


Library of Virginia

The Library of Virginia
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Richmond, Virginia 23219-8000
Phone: (804) 692-3888 (Archives Reference)
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Email: archdesk@lva.virginia.gov(Archives)
URL: http://www.lva.virginia.gov/

© 2006 By The Library of Virginia. All Rights Reserved.

Processed by: Sarah Nerney

The Library of Virginia
Barcode number
Lunenburg County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records, 1780-1868
Physical Characteristics
.25 cu. ft. (1 box)
Lunenburg County (Va.) Circuit Court.
Library of Virginia

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

Lunenburg County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records, 1780-1868. Local government records collection, Lunenburg County Court Records. The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia 23219.

Acquisition Information

These items came to the Library of Virginia in transfers of court papers from Lunenburg County including accesion 42852.

Historical Information

Lunenburg County was formed in 1745 from Brunswick County. Part of Charlotte County was added in 1777.

Lists of free negroes and mulattoes were compiled by the commissioner of the revenue for tax purposes.

Beginning in 1778, slaveholders who brought slaves into Virginia were required to register the slaves with the county court and sign an oath agreeing not to bring slaves into the commonwealth with the intent of selling them.

The Virginia legislature passed an act on 29 April 1867 authorizing the state government to acquire the originals or copies thereof of any marriage registers of colored people collected by the federal government. Such registers were to be deposited with the clerks of county court in order to legitimize both the marriages and the offspring of the marriages.

The General Assembly of Virginia passed a law as early as July 1, 1861, calling for the enrollment of free negroes to work in the public service. From 1862 to 1863, at the request of the president of the Confederate States, the General Assembly passed three more laws that requisitioned slaves to work on fortifications and other works of the public defense. Each county and city were alloted a certain number of slaves that had to be provided to the government under the requisition.

Scope and Content

Lunenburg County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records, 1780-1868, include lists of free negroes and mulattoes, 1802-1810; certificates of non-importation of slaves, 1812-1813; records related to slaves requisitioned for work on the public defenses, 1862-1865; instructions from the governor's office and Freedmen's Bureau regarding receiving marriage records, 1868; and photocopies from other series.

Lists of free negroes and mulattoes, 1802-1803; 1810, are four lists that record the name, sex and place of abode of each person on the list and the trade or occupation for each head of household. On the 1802 and one of the 1803 lists, families are grouped together as one entry and familial relationships are given. Occasionally a person is noted as being an emancipated slave.

Certificates of non-importatation of slaves, 1812-1813, contain information whereby a slaveowner swears that (s)he has not imported the slave from Africa and that (s)he has not brought the slave into Virginia for the purpose of selling it. The slave is sometimes named but not always and occasionally information is given as to age or birth date.

Instructions from governor's office and Freedmen's Bureau in re: receiving marriage records, 1868, are two printed letters sent from the governor of Virginia and the assistant commander of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, District of Virginia, concerning the reception of Freedmen's Bureau marriage records by the localities. The letters both instruct the clerks of the county courts that due to the dissolution of the Freedmen's Bureau and the Act of the General Assembly of 1867 April 28 that the clerks should be prepared to receive and hold for future reference any marriage records recorded by the United States.

Slaves Requisitioned for Work on the Public Defenses, 1862-1865, n.d., consists of court orders (1863-1865), a letter from Governor William Smith in response to a protest from Lunenburg citizens over the requisitions (1864), printed communications from the Virginia Executive Department (1864), and lists of slaves sent under requisition to work on the public defenses (1862-1865, n.d.).

The court orders are four orders concerning the requisitioning of slaves for use on the public works. The orders either command the justices to make lists of eligible slaves to make up Lunenburg's required allotment or concern resisting the state's requisition.

The letter from Governor William Smith is a reply to the citizens of Lunenburg who had submitted to him resolutions opposing some of the requirements of the slave requisition. Smith encourages Lunenburg's citizens to participate cheerfully in the requisition or face the Confederate impressment officer.

The communications from the Executive Department are printed letters from the governor and annexed schedules concerning the requisition of slaves to work on the fortifications at Richmond. There are two letters, two schedules, and a copy of the March 13, 1863, Act of Assembly passed to amend and re-enact the 1862 act to provide for the public defense. The letters order the county to comply and the annexed schedules indicate how many slaves each county is required to provide.

The lists of slaves sent under requisition to work on the public defenses are lists of slaveholders and the numbers of slaves that they have sent under the requisition. Slave names are never given. Some of the lists have multiple columns indicating numbers of slaves sent on different dates. Some lists note exemptions or other information about a slaveholder and his particular situation regarding the requisition. A few of the lists seem to indicate an individual slaveowner's total number of slaves owned as well as the numbers sent to the public works. Some of the lists are recorded by numbered magisterial district and several of the lists are undated.

Photocopies from other series consist of: List of negroes belonging to the estate of Isaac and William Love from the state of South Carolina, 1780; R. J. H. Hatchett property lost by results of war, 1867; J. B. Wilson, Sr. list of property lost by war, 1868.

Index Terms


  • Smith, William, 1797-1887.
  • Corporate Names:

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

  • African Americans--Employment--Virginia--Lunenburg County.
  • Confederate States of America -- Defenses.
  • Free African Americans--Virginia--Lunenburg County.
  • Freedmen -- Virginia -- Lunenburg County.
  • Lunenburg County (Va.) -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- African Americans.
  • Slave labor -- Virginia -- Lunenburg County.
  • Slaveholders -- Virginia -- Lunenburg County.
  • Tax collection--Virginia--Lunenburg County.
  • War -- Economic aspects -- Virginia -- Lunenburg County.
  • Geographical Names:

  • Lunenburg County (Va.)--History--19th century.
  • Genre and Form Terms:

  • Executive orders -- Virginia -- Lunenburg County.
  • Free negro and slave records--Virginia--Lunenburg County.
  • Free negro lists--Virginia--Lunenburg County.
  • Legislative acts -- Virginia.
  • Letters (correspondence) -- Virginia -- Lunenburg County.
  • Lists--Virginia--Lunenburg County.
  • Local government records--Virginia--Lunenburg County.
  • Marriage records -- Virginia -- Lunenburg County.
  • Added Entry - Personal Name:

  • Wells, Henry Horatio, 1823-1900.
  • Added Entry - Corporate Name:

  • United States. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands.

Significant Places Associated With the Collection

  • Lunenburg County (Va.)--History--19th century.