Virginia Probate Records

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[[Image:Alexandria County, Virginia Courthouse.JPG|thumb|right|320x230px|
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<center>Alexandria County, Virginia Courthouse<center></center>]]
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''[[United States|United States&nbsp;]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]] &nbsp;[[Virginia|Virginia&nbsp;]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]] &nbsp;[[Virginia_Probate_Records|Probate Records]]''  
 
''[[United States|United States&nbsp;]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]] &nbsp;[[Virginia|Virginia&nbsp;]] [[Image:Gotoarrow.png]] &nbsp;[[Virginia_Probate_Records|Probate Records]]''  
  
 
== Record Synopsis  ==
 
== Record Synopsis  ==
  
Probate is the “court procedure by which a will is proved to be valid or invalid” and encompasses “all matters and proceedings pertaining to the administration of estates, guardianships, etc.”<ref>Henry Campbell Black, ''Black's Law Dictionary,'' 5th ed. (St. Paul, Minnesota: West Publishing Co., 1979), 1081, "probate."</ref> Various types of records are created throughout the probate process. These may include, [[United States Probate Wills|wills]], bonds, petitions, accounts, inventories, administrations, orders, decrees, and distributions. These documents are extremely valuable to genealogists and should not be neglected. In many instances, they are the only known source of relevant information such as the decedent’s date of death, names of his or her spouse, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, neighbors, associates, relatives, and their places of residence. They may also include information about adoption or guardianship of minor children and dependents. For further information about&nbsp;the [[Probate Process|probate process]],&nbsp;types of probate records,&nbsp;[[Analyzing United States Probate Records|analyzing probate records]], and to access a [[Glossary of United States Probate Terms|glossary]] of probate terms, see [https://wiki.familysearch.org/en/United_States_Probate_Records United States Probate Records].  
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Probate is the “court procedure by which a will is proved to be valid or invalid” and encompasses “all matters and proceedings pertaining to the administration of estates, guardianships, etc.”<ref>Henry Campbell Black, ''Black's Law Dictionary,'' 5th ed. (St. Paul, Minnesota: West Publishing Co., 1979), 1081, "probate."</ref> Various types of records are created throughout the probate process. These may include, [[United States Probate Wills|wills]], bonds, petitions, accounts, inventories, administrations, orders, decrees, and distributions. These documents are extremely valuable to genealogists and should not be neglected. In many instances, they are the only known source of relevant information such as the decedent’s date of death, names of his or her spouse, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, neighbors, associates, relatives, and their places of residence. They may also include information about adoption or guardianship of minor children and dependents. For further information about&nbsp;the probate process,&nbsp;types of probate records,&nbsp;[[Analyzing United States Probate Records|analyzing probate records]], and to access a [[Glossary of United States Probate Terms|glossary]] of probate terms, see [[United States Probate Records|United States Probate Records]].  
  
 
== History  ==
 
== History  ==
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== Records  ==
 
== Records  ==
  
The wills of colonial Virginians may have been proved locally, or abroad. Many wills were probated in London and Edinburgh.  
+
The wills of colonial Virginians may have been proved locally or abroad. Many wills were probated in London and Edinburgh.  
  
 
=== Proved in Virginia  ===
 
=== Proved in Virginia  ===
  
The best place to start '''pre-1800''' searches for wills and administrations is the index on the website of the [http://lva1.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/F/?func=file&file_name=find-b-clas08&local_base=CLAS08 Library of Virginia].<ref>This index is an expanded version of Clayton Torrence's ''Virginia Wills and Administrations, 1632-1800'' (1930; reprint, Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1985). {{FHL|540441|item|disp=FHL Book 975.5 P22t}}; {{FHL|371231|item|disp=FHL Film 29274}}.</ref>  
+
The best place to start '''pre-1800''' searches for wills and administrations is the index on the website of the [http://lva1.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/F/?func=file&file_name=find-b-clas08&local_base=CLAS08 Library of Virginia].<ref>This index is an expanded version of Clayton Torrence's ''Virginia Wills and Administrations, 1632-1800'' (1930; reprint, Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1985). {{FHL|540441|item|disp=FHL Book 975.5 P22t}}; {{FHL|371231|item|disp=FHL Film 29274}}. A few counties are not included.</ref>  
 +
 
 +
Some counties, such as Northumberland, are not currently included and Torrence's classic volume will still prove useful for those areas:
 +
 
 +
*Torrence, Clayton. ''Virginia Wills and Administrations, 1632-1800.'' 1930; reprint, Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1985. {{FHL|540441|item|disp=FHL Book 975.5 P22t}}; {{FHL|371231|item|disp=FHL Film 29274}}.
  
 
For the period '''1800 to 1865,''' see the 10-volume:  
 
For the period '''1800 to 1865,''' see the 10-volume:  
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Pippenger's book references all types of probate records, including inventories, accounts, etc.  
 
Pippenger's book references all types of probate records, including inventories, accounts, etc.  
  
Original wills are stored at courthouses. Many of them are available on microfilm at the [[Library of Virginia]] and the [[Family History Library]]. A guide is available for the Library of Virginia collections.<ref>John Vogt, William T. Kethley and Virginia State Library and Archives (Richmond Virginia). ''Will and Estate Records in the Virginia State Library A Researcher's Guide'' (Athens, Ga.: Iberian Pub. Co., c1987). {{FHL|478868|item|disp=FHL Book 975.5 P23v}}.</ref>
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For the period '''after 1865''', it is necessary to search will indexes on a county-by-county basis.
 +
 
 +
Original will books are stored at courthouses. Many are available on microfilm at the [[Library of Virginia]] and the [[Family History Library]]. A guide for the Library of Virginia collections has been published.<ref>John Vogt, William T. Kethley and Virginia State Library and Archives (Richmond Virginia). ''Will and Estate Records in the Virginia State Library A Researcher's Guide'' (Athens, Ga.: Iberian Pub. Co., c1987). {{FHL|478868|item|disp=FHL Book 975.5 P23v}}.</ref>  
  
 
=== Proved in London  ===
 
=== Proved in London  ===
  
Virginia wills and administrations proved in London have been abstracted and published multiple times. Each edition is listed here, as some are available online, while others are not. In addition, publishers included more detailed abstracts in some editions than&nbsp;others. The 2007 edition includes a place-name index that enables users to pluck out Virginia references:  
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Virginia wills and administrations proved in the [[Prerogative Court of the Archbishop of Canterbury|Prerogative Court of Canterbury]] in London have been abstracted and published multiple times. Each edition is listed here:  
  
*Coldham,&nbsp;Peter Wilson. ''English Estates of American Colonists: American Wills and Administrations in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1610-1699''. Baltimore:&nbsp;Genealogical Publishing Co., 1980. Digital version at [http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=48506 Ancestry] ($).  
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{| class="FCK__ShowTableBorders" border="0" cellspacing="1" cellpadding="1" width="100%"
*Coldham, Peter Wilson. ''English Estates of American Colonists: American Wills and Administrations in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1700-1799''. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1980. Digital version of 1991 reprint available at [http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=48554 Ancestry] ($).  
+
|-
*Coldham, Peter Wilson. ''English Estates of American Colonists: American Wills and Administrations in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1800-1858''. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1981. Digital version at [http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=48507 Ancestry] ($).  
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| '''Years'''
*Coldham, Peter Wilson. ''American Wills &amp; Administrations in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1610-1857''. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1989. {{FHL|60113|item|disp=FHL Book 942 P27c}}; digital version at [http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=48453 Ancestry] ($).  
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| '''Book'''
*Coldham,&nbsp;Peter Wilson. ''American Wills Proved in London, 1611-1775''. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1992. {{FHL|619298|item|disp=FHL Book 973 P27ca}}; digital version at [http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=48497 Ancestry] ($).  
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| '''Link'''
*Coldham, Peter Wilson. ''North American Wills Registered in London, 1611-1857''. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2007. {{FHL|1384506|item|disp=FHL Book 942 P27c 2007}}.
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|-
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| 1610-1699<ref>Peter Wilson Coldham, ''English Estates of American Colonists: American Wills and Administrations in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1610-1699'' (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1980). Digital version at [http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=48506 Ancestry] ($).</ref>
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| <br>
 +
| [http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=48506 Ancestry] ($)
 +
|-
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| 1700-1799<ref>Peter Wilson Coldham, ''English Estates of American Colonists: American Wills and Administrations in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1700-1799'' (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1980). Digital version of 1991 reprint available at [http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=48554 Ancestry] ($).</ref>
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| <br>
 +
| [http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=48554 Ancestry] ($)
 +
|-
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| 1800-1858<ref>Peter Wilson Coldham, ''English Estates of American Colonists: American Wills and Administrations in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1800-1858'' (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1981). Digital version at [http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=48507 Ancestry] ($).</ref>
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| <br>
 +
| [http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=48507 Ancestry] ($)
 +
|-
 +
| 1610-1857<ref>Peter Wilson Coldham, ''American Wills and Administrations in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1610-1857'' (Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1989). {{FHL|60113|item|disp=FHL Book 942 P27c}}; digital version at [http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=48453 Ancestry] ($). </ref>
 +
| {{FHL|60113|item|disp=FHL Book 942 P27c}}
 +
| [http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=48453 Ancestry] ($)
 +
|-
 +
| 1611-1775<ref>Peter Wilson Coldham, ''American Wills Proved in London, 1611-1775'' (Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1992). {{FHL|619298|item|disp=FHL Book 973 P27ca}}; digital version at [http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=48497 Ancestry] ($).</ref>
 +
| {{FHL|619298|item|disp=FHL Book 973 P27ca}}
 +
| [http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=48497 Ancestry] ($)
 +
|-
 +
| 1611-1857<ref>Peter Wilson Coldham, ''North American Wills Registered in London, 1611-1857'' (Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2007). {{FHL|1384506|item|disp=FHL Book 942 P27c 2007}}.</ref>
 +
| {{FHL|1384506|item|disp=FHL Book 942 P27c 2007}}
 +
| <br>
 +
|}
  
Many English wills mentioning Virginia (and some Scottish and Irish wills)&nbsp;have been&nbsp;reproduced in the Virginia Colonial Records Project (Library of Virginia). For a guide, see:  
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If you find a will abstact of interest, it is now possible to view digital images of the original Prerogative Court of Canterbury wills online at two United Kingdom pay-per-view websites:  
  
*Walne, Peter. ''English Wills: Probate Records in England and Wales With a Brief Note on Scottish and Irish Wills, A Special Report of the Virginia Colonial Records Project'', 2nd ed. Richmond, 1981.
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#[http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documentsonline/wills.asp Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills (1384-1858)], courtesy: The National Archives,&nbsp;UK.<br><br>
 +
#[http://www.thegenealogist.co.uk/user/subscriptions.php#record_sets PCC&nbsp;Wills Index and Images (1384-1858)] ($), courtesy: The Genealogist. (in progress)
  
If you find a will abstact of interest in Walne's or Coldham's&nbsp;books, it is now possible to view digital images of the original Prerogative Court of Canterbury wills online at two United Kingdom pay-per-view websites:  
+
Many English wills mentioning Virginia (and some Scottish and Irish wills)&nbsp;have been&nbsp;reproduced on microfilm in the Virginia Colonial Records Project (Library of Virginia). For a guide, see:  
  
*[http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documentsonline/wills.asp Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills (1384-1858)], courtesy: The National Archives,&nbsp;UK.<br><br>
+
*Walne, Peter. ''English Wills: Probate Records in England and Wales With a Brief Note on Scottish and Irish Wills, A Special Report of the Virginia Colonial Records Project'', 2nd ed. Richmond, 1981.
*[http://www.thegenealogist.co.uk/user/subscriptions.php#record_sets PCC&nbsp;Wills Index and Images (1384-1858)], courtesy: The Genealogist. (in progress)
+
  
 
=== Proved in Edinburgh  ===
 
=== Proved in Edinburgh  ===
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The wills of some Virginia residents were proved in Edinburgh, Scotland, see:  
 
The wills of some Virginia residents were proved in Edinburgh, Scotland, see:  
  
*Dobson, David. ''Scottish-American Wills, 1650-1900''. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1991. {{FHL|588724|item|disp=FHL Book 973 P22d}}. Over 2,000 citations including name, occupation, residence, and date.
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*Dobson, David. ''Scottish-American Wills, 1650-1900''. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1991. {{FHL|588724|item|disp=FHL Book 973 P22d}}. Over 2,000 citations including name, occupation, residence, and date.<ref>Most of these references were taken from the Commissariat Court of Edinburgh (now the Sheriff Court of Edinburgh) and the ''Index to Personal Estates of Defuncts, 1846-1866.''</ref>
  
Most of these references were taken from the Commissariat Court of Edinburgh (now the Sheriff Court of Edinburgh) and the ''Index to Personal Estates of Defuncts, 1846-1866.'' If you find a will abstact that interests you in Dobson's book, it is now possible to view digital images of the original records online at a United Kingdom pay-per-view website:  
+
If you find a will abstact that interests you in Dobson's book, it is now possible to view digital images of the original records online at a United Kingdom pay-per-view website:  
  
 
*[http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/ Wills &amp; Testaments (1513-1901)], courtesy: Scotlands People
 
*[http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/ Wills &amp; Testaments (1513-1901)], courtesy: Scotlands People
  
== Statewide Record Collections ==
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== Abstracts ==
  
 
For abstracts of early Virginia wills, the following reference books are available:  
 
For abstracts of early Virginia wills, the following reference books are available:  
  
 
*Hopkins, William Lindsay. ''Some Wills from Burned Counties of Virginia and Other Wills Not Listed in the Virginia Wills and Administrations, 1632-1800''. Richmond, Virginia: W.L. Hopkins, 1987. {{FHL|537823|item|disp=FHL Book 975.5 P2h}}.
 
*Hopkins, William Lindsay. ''Some Wills from Burned Counties of Virginia and Other Wills Not Listed in the Virginia Wills and Administrations, 1632-1800''. Richmond, Virginia: W.L. Hopkins, 1987. {{FHL|537823|item|disp=FHL Book 975.5 P2h}}.
 +
 
*Currer-Briggs, Noel. ''Virginia Settlers and English Adventurers, Abstracts of Wills, 1484-1798, and Legal Proceedings, 1560-1700, Relating to Early Virginia Families''. Three volumes in one. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1970. {{FHL|78100|item|disp=FHL Book 975.5 P2cb}}.
 
*Currer-Briggs, Noel. ''Virginia Settlers and English Adventurers, Abstracts of Wills, 1484-1798, and Legal Proceedings, 1560-1700, Relating to Early Virginia Families''. Three volumes in one. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1970. {{FHL|78100|item|disp=FHL Book 975.5 P2cb}}.
*King, George H.S. "Copies of Extant Wills from Counties Whose Records Have Been Destroyed," which was originally published in ''Tyler's Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine'', was reprinted in Volume 4 of ''Genealogies of Virginia Families From Tyler's Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine''.<ref>John Frederick Dorman, "Review of ''Genealogies of Virginia Families From Tyler's Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine,''" in ''The Virginia Genealogist,'' Vol. 26, No. 1 (Jan.-Mar. 1982):59. Digital version at [http://www.americanancestors.org/search.aspx?Ca=098&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;Da=285 American Ancestors] ($). {{FHL|33159|item|disp=FHL Book 975.5 B2vg v. 26 (1982)}}</ref>
 
*McGhan, Judith. ''Virginia Will Records''. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1982. {{FHL|488373|item|disp=FHL Book 975.5 P2v}}. Excerpted and reprinted from ''The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography'', the ''William and Mary Quarterly Historical Magazine'', and ''Tyler's Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine''.
 
  
Additional online collections include:  
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*King, George H.S. "Copies of Extant Wills from Counties Whose Records Have Been Destroyed," which was originally published in ''Tyler's Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine'', was reprinted in Volume 4 of ''Genealogies of Virginia Families From Tyler's Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine''.<ref>John Frederick Dorman, "Review of ''Genealogies of Virginia Families From Tyler's Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine,''" in ''The Virginia Genealogist,'' Vol. 26, No. 1 (Jan.-Mar. 1982):59. Digital version at [http://www.americanancestors.org American Ancestors] ($). {{FHL|33159|item|disp=FHL Book 975.5 B2vg v. 26 (1982)}}</ref>
  
*''[http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=7832 Virginia Land, Marriage, and Probate Records, 1639-1850]'' database at Ancestry ($). Includes wills from the counties of Augusta, Isle of Wight, and Norfolk.&nbsp;
+
*McGhan, Judith. ''Virginia Will Records''. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1982. {{FHL|488373|item|disp=FHL Book 975.5 P2v}}. Excerpted and reprinted from ''The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography'', the ''William and Mary Quarterly Historical Magazine'', and ''Tyler's Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine''.
*[http://www.gunstonhall.org/library/probate/index.htm Probate Inventory Database: Virginia and Maryland Probate Inventories 300+ Transcriptions Recorded 1740 - 1810], courtesy: [http://www.gunstonhall.org/ Gunston Hall Plantation].
+
*[http://www.virginiamemory.com/collections/chancery/ Chancery Records Index] (search online database with digital images). Wills are included in some chancery cases.
+
  
==== Additional Statewide Collections  ====
+
Many additional Virginia will abstracts have been published, see: [[Virginia Probate Record Abstracts]].
  
*''Colonial Virginia Source Records, 1600s-1700s.'' [S.l.]: Brøderbund, c2000. {{FHL|992765|item|disp=FHL CD-ROM no. 9 pt. 510}} (FHL US/CAN Access Window).<br>
+
== State Statutes  ==
*Oliver, Harold. ''Virginia in the 1600's, An Index to Who was There!---and Where!'' Riverside, California: D&amp;H Pub. Co., c1992-. {{FHL|1287425|item|disp=FHL Book 975.5 H22v vol.1}}; {{FHL|1287426|item|disp=FHL Book 975.5 H22v vol.2}}.<br>
+
*Daughters of the American Revolution (Virginia).&nbsp;''Genealogical Records (Family, Church and War Records, etc.).'' Salt Lake City, Utah: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1972. {{FHL|385395|item|disp=FHL Film 897333 Items 1-2}}.<br>
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*Daughters of the American Revolution (Virginia). Genealogical records. Salt Lake City, Utah: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1970. {{FHL|302320|item|disp= FHL Film 850096 Item 9, Film 850097 Items 3-4}}.<br>
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*''Miscellaneous Wills of Virginia, 1675-1884. San Marino''. California: Henry E. Huntington Library, 1948. {{FHL|371381|item|disp=FHL Film 29281}}.<br>
+
*Daughters of the American Revolution (Virginia). ''Records, ca. 1700-1930'' {{FHL|302286|item|disp=FHL Film 850096 Items 5-6}}.<br>
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*Daughters of the American Revolution (Virginia). ''Report, 1933''. Salt Lake City, Utah: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1970. {{FHL|302298|item|disp=FHL Film 850096 Item 7}}.<br>
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*Fleet, Beverley. ''Virginia Colonial Abstracts''. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Pub. Co., c1988. {{FHL|616706|item|disp=FHL Book 975.5 N2fb 1988, 3 vol.}} <br>
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*Daughters of the American Revolution (Virginia).&nbsp;''Virginia Genealogical Records: Bibles,Wills, Deeds, Genealogies.''Salt Lake City, Utah: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1971. {{FHL|722782|item|disp=FHL Film 858646 Item 6}}.<br>
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*Bell, Annie W. B.''Virginia Genealogies and County Records''. Salt Lake City, Utah: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1970. {{FHL|302275|item|disp=FHL Film 850096 Items 1-4}}.<br>
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*Nimmo, Thomas.''Virginia Notes''. Salt Lake City, Utah: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1970. {{FHL|302261|item|disp=FHL Film 850095}}.<br><br>
+
  
== Websites ==
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Understanding the&nbsp;Virginia probate laws and how they changed over time can help researchers learn how the estate was administered, taxed, and distributed and might help to solve difficult genealogical problems.
  
*[http://estate.findlaw.com/probate/probate-court-laws/state-probate-courts(2).html#UT FindLaw] has information on Virginia State Probate Courts.<br><br>
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Additional information about Virginia state statutes relating to probate matters can be found at law libraries. ''Hening's Statutes at Large'' (13 vols.) are available [http://vagenweb.org/hening/ online].  
*[http://genealogy.about.com/library/authors/uclittle1d.htm Sources for Virginia Genealogy Research] at About.com has a bibliography of sources for learning about Virginia Probate Records.<br><br>
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*Jurisdiction information&nbsp;of Virginia courts can be found at the [http://www.lva.virginia.gov/public/guides/burned_juris/Jurisdiction_info.htm Library of Virginia] Internet site.&nbsp;
+
 
+
== State Statutes  ==
+
  
Understanding the&nbsp;Virginia probate laws and how they changed over time can help us learn how the estate was administered, taxed, and distributed and might help to solve difficult genealogical problems.
+
== Websites  ==
  
Additional information about&nbsp;Virginia state statutes relating to probate matters can be found at law libraries. Online digital versions of state statutes can often be found by conducting a search engine search for the term, "Virginia statutes."
+
*''[http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=7832 Virginia Land, Marriage, and Probate Records, 1639-1850]'' database at Ancestry ($). Includes wills from the counties of Augusta, Isle of Wight, and Norfolk.&nbsp;  
 +
*[http://www.gunstonhall.org/library/probate/index.htm Probate Inventory Database: Virginia and Maryland Probate Inventories 300+ Transcriptions Recorded 1740 - 1810], courtesy: [http://www.gunstonhall.org/ Gunston Hall Plantation].
 +
*[http://www.virginiamemory.com/collections/chancery/ Chancery Records Index] (search online database with digital images). Wills are included in some chancery cases.
 +
*[http://estate.findlaw.com/probate/probate-court-laws/state-probate-courts(2).html#UT FindLaw] has information on Virginia State Probate Courts.
 +
*Jurisdiction information&nbsp;of Virginia courts can be found at the [http://www.lva.virginia.gov/public/guides/burned_juris/Jurisdiction_info.htm Library of Virginia] Internet site.
  
 
== References  ==
 
== References  ==
  
<references />  
+
<references />
  
 
{{Virginia|Virginia}}  
 
{{Virginia|Virginia}}  
  
[[Category:Virginia|Probate Records]]
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[[Category:Virginia|Probate Records]] [[Category:Virginia_Probate_Records]]

Revision as of 19:21, 3 May 2012

Alexandria County, Virginia Courthouse

United States  Gotoarrow.png  Virginia  Gotoarrow.png  Probate Records

Contents

Record Synopsis

Probate is the “court procedure by which a will is proved to be valid or invalid” and encompasses “all matters and proceedings pertaining to the administration of estates, guardianships, etc.”[1] Various types of records are created throughout the probate process. These may include, wills, bonds, petitions, accounts, inventories, administrations, orders, decrees, and distributions. These documents are extremely valuable to genealogists and should not be neglected. In many instances, they are the only known source of relevant information such as the decedent’s date of death, names of his or her spouse, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, neighbors, associates, relatives, and their places of residence. They may also include information about adoption or guardianship of minor children and dependents. For further information about the probate process, types of probate records, analyzing probate records, and to access a glossary of probate terms, see United States Probate Records.

History

Probate records have been kept by at the county level in Virginia by the general court and by the county and circuit courts. In independent cities, probates are now kept by the clerks' offices of the circuit courts.

Records

The wills of colonial Virginians may have been proved locally or abroad. Many wills were probated in London and Edinburgh.

Proved in Virginia

The best place to start pre-1800 searches for wills and administrations is the index on the website of the Library of Virginia.[2]

Some counties, such as Northumberland, are not currently included and Torrence's classic volume will still prove useful for those areas:

  • Torrence, Clayton. Virginia Wills and Administrations, 1632-1800. 1930; reprint, Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1985. FHL Book 975.5 P22t; FHL Film 29274.

For the period 1800 to 1865, see the 10-volume:

  • Pippenger, Wesley E. Index to Virginia Estates, 1800-1865. 10 vols. Richmond, Va.: Virginia Genealogical Society, 2001-2008. FHL Book 975.5 P22p.

Pippenger's book references all types of probate records, including inventories, accounts, etc.

For the period after 1865, it is necessary to search will indexes on a county-by-county basis.

Original will books are stored at courthouses. Many are available on microfilm at the Library of Virginia and the Family History Library. A guide for the Library of Virginia collections has been published.[3]

Proved in London

Virginia wills and administrations proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury in London have been abstracted and published multiple times. Each edition is listed here:

Years Book Link
1610-1699[4]
Ancestry ($)
1700-1799[5]
Ancestry ($)
1800-1858[6]
Ancestry ($)
1610-1857[7] FHL Book 942 P27c Ancestry ($)
1611-1775[8] FHL Book 973 P27ca Ancestry ($)
1611-1857[9] FHL Book 942 P27c 2007

If you find a will abstact of interest, it is now possible to view digital images of the original Prerogative Court of Canterbury wills online at two United Kingdom pay-per-view websites:

  1. Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills (1384-1858), courtesy: The National Archives, UK.

  2. PCC Wills Index and Images (1384-1858) ($), courtesy: The Genealogist. (in progress)

Many English wills mentioning Virginia (and some Scottish and Irish wills) have been reproduced on microfilm in the Virginia Colonial Records Project (Library of Virginia). For a guide, see:

  • Walne, Peter. English Wills: Probate Records in England and Wales With a Brief Note on Scottish and Irish Wills, A Special Report of the Virginia Colonial Records Project, 2nd ed. Richmond, 1981.

Proved in Edinburgh

The wills of some Virginia residents were proved in Edinburgh, Scotland, see:

  • Dobson, David. Scottish-American Wills, 1650-1900. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1991. FHL Book 973 P22d. Over 2,000 citations including name, occupation, residence, and date.[10]

If you find a will abstact that interests you in Dobson's book, it is now possible to view digital images of the original records online at a United Kingdom pay-per-view website:

Abstracts

For abstracts of early Virginia wills, the following reference books are available:

  • Hopkins, William Lindsay. Some Wills from Burned Counties of Virginia and Other Wills Not Listed in the Virginia Wills and Administrations, 1632-1800. Richmond, Virginia: W.L. Hopkins, 1987. FHL Book 975.5 P2h.
  • Currer-Briggs, Noel. Virginia Settlers and English Adventurers, Abstracts of Wills, 1484-1798, and Legal Proceedings, 1560-1700, Relating to Early Virginia Families. Three volumes in one. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1970. FHL Book 975.5 P2cb.
  • King, George H.S. "Copies of Extant Wills from Counties Whose Records Have Been Destroyed," which was originally published in Tyler's Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine, was reprinted in Volume 4 of Genealogies of Virginia Families From Tyler's Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine.[11]
  • McGhan, Judith. Virginia Will Records. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1982. FHL Book 975.5 P2v. Excerpted and reprinted from The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, the William and Mary Quarterly Historical Magazine, and Tyler's Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine.

Many additional Virginia will abstracts have been published, see: Virginia Probate Record Abstracts.

State Statutes

Understanding the Virginia probate laws and how they changed over time can help researchers learn how the estate was administered, taxed, and distributed and might help to solve difficult genealogical problems.

Additional information about Virginia state statutes relating to probate matters can be found at law libraries. Hening's Statutes at Large (13 vols.) are available online.

Websites

References

  1. Henry Campbell Black, Black's Law Dictionary, 5th ed. (St. Paul, Minnesota: West Publishing Co., 1979), 1081, "probate."
  2. This index is an expanded version of Clayton Torrence's Virginia Wills and Administrations, 1632-1800 (1930; reprint, Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1985). FHL Book 975.5 P22t; FHL Film 29274. A few counties are not included.
  3. John Vogt, William T. Kethley and Virginia State Library and Archives (Richmond Virginia). Will and Estate Records in the Virginia State Library A Researcher's Guide (Athens, Ga.: Iberian Pub. Co., c1987). FHL Book 975.5 P23v.
  4. Peter Wilson Coldham, English Estates of American Colonists: American Wills and Administrations in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1610-1699 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1980). Digital version at Ancestry ($).
  5. Peter Wilson Coldham, English Estates of American Colonists: American Wills and Administrations in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1700-1799 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1980). Digital version of 1991 reprint available at Ancestry ($).
  6. Peter Wilson Coldham, English Estates of American Colonists: American Wills and Administrations in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1800-1858 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1981). Digital version at Ancestry ($).
  7. Peter Wilson Coldham, American Wills and Administrations in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 1610-1857 (Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1989). FHL Book 942 P27c; digital version at Ancestry ($).
  8. Peter Wilson Coldham, American Wills Proved in London, 1611-1775 (Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1992). FHL Book 973 P27ca; digital version at Ancestry ($).
  9. Peter Wilson Coldham, North American Wills Registered in London, 1611-1857 (Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2007). FHL Book 942 P27c 2007.
  10. Most of these references were taken from the Commissariat Court of Edinburgh (now the Sheriff Court of Edinburgh) and the Index to Personal Estates of Defuncts, 1846-1866.
  11. John Frederick Dorman, "Review of Genealogies of Virginia Families From Tyler's Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine," in The Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 26, No. 1 (Jan.-Mar. 1982):59. Digital version at American Ancestors ($). FHL Book 975.5 B2vg v. 26 (1982)