A Guide to the Henrico County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1770-1965 Henrico County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1770-1965

A Guide to the Henrico County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1770-1965

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia


Library of Virginia

The Library of Virginia
800 East Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219-8000
Phone: (804) 692-3888 (Archives Reference)
Fax: (804) 692-3556 (Archives Reference)
Email: archdesk@lva.virginia.gov(Archives)
URL: http://www.lva.virginia.gov/

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

Processed by: Sherri Bagley

The Library of Virginia
Henrico County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1770-1965
Physical Characteristics
184.4 cu. ft. (387 boxes)
Henrico County (Va.) Circuit Court.
Library of Virginia

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Chancery Causes 1770-1912 are indexed but not scanned. Contact Archives Research Services for availability.

Select Chancery Causes from 1913-1955 have been processed and indexed but not scanned. Contact Archives Research Services for availabilty.

Additional Chancery Causes from 1913-1965 are unprocessed. Contact Archives Research Services for availabililty.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

Henrico County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1770-1965. (Cite style of suit and chancery index no.). Local Government Records Collection. The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.

Acquisition Information

These items came to the Library of Virginia in transfer of court papers from Henrico County under an undated accession. Additional records were transferred to the Library of Virginia from the Henrico County Circuit Court in 1940 under accession number 21718.

Processing Information

Chancery causes for the years 1844-1874 are currently closed for processing. The index remains available for research purposes.

Henrico County Chancery was initially processed by Library of Virginia staff in 2009. The records were processed again in 2024 to bring the collection up to the new standards which include capturing additional information, such as causes of action and thematic topics.

Select Chancery Causes from 1913-1955 have been processed and indexed, but not scanned. At this time, there are no plans to digitize these records.

Additional post-1912 records are unprocessed. At this time, there are no plans to process these records.

Encoded by. S. Bagely: 2009; Updated by J. Taylor: February 2023.

Historical Information

Context of Record type: 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; however, the judge is basing the decision on findings compiled and documented by Commissioners. 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. Chancery causes document the lived experiences of free and enslaved individuals; women; children; people living with physical disabilities or mental health struggles; people living in poverty; defunct institutions and corporate entities; or those that may not have otherwise left traditional written histories.

Locality History: Henrico County was named for Henry, Prince of Wales, eldest son of King James I. It was one of the eight original shires, or counties, first enumerated in 1634. The county seat is in the western part of the county.

Lost Locality Notes: All county court records prior to 1655 and almost all prior to 1677 are missing. Many records were destroyed by British troops during the Revolutionary War. Post-Revolutionary War county court records exist. Almost all circuit superior court of law and chancery and circuit court records were destroyed by fire during the evacuation of Richmond on 3 April 1865 in the Civil War. The county's circuit court held its sessions at the state courthouse in Richmond.

Scope and Content

Henrico County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1770-1965, consists of cases concerning issues of equity brought largely by residents of the county and filed in the circuit court. These cases often involve the following actions: divisions of estates or land, disputes over wills, disputes regarding contracts, debt, divorce, and business disputes. Other less prevalent issues include freedom suits, permissions to sell property, and disputes concerning trespass. Predominant documents found in these chancery causes include bills (documents the plaintiff's complaint), answers (defendant's response to the plaintiff's complaint), decrees (court's decision), depositions, affidavits, correspondence, lists of heirs, deeds, plats, wills, records involving enslaved individuals, business records or vital statistics.


Arrangement of documents within each folder are as follows: Bill, Answer, and Final Decree (if found.)

Related Material

Additional Henrico 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."

Henrico County is one of Virginia's Lost Records Localities. Additional Henrico County Records may be found in the Virginia Lost Records Localities Collection at the Library of Virginia. Search the Lost Records Localities Digital Collection available at Virginia Memory.

See also: "A Guide to the James H. Barton Real Estate Business Records, 1889-1898." Exhbits in the Henrico County Chancery Cause 1921-001.

Selected Suits of Interest

Since the processing of this locality, information gathering standards have changed. At this time there are no suits of interest available for this locality.