Hanover County, Virginia, Superior Court Records. Volume I: Superior Court of Law 1809-1826; By Richard Slatten and Janice Luck Abercromby; xvi + 275 pp.; Paperback; Published: 1987; ISBN: 9780806353555; Item # CF9462D
This is the first in a two-part series of court records from Hanover County, Virginia. Court records constitute one of the most democratically inclusive and reliable of all records available to the genealogist, yet they are grossly underutilized, perhaps because some researchers consider their contents to be too erudite to assist in solving everyday genealogy problems. Such fears are groundless, according to the authors of this volume, who contend that, with the help of the legal glossary included with this and its companion volume (Volume II, Superior Court of Law 1827-1830, Superior Court of Law and Chancery, 1831-1838), researchers can readily comprehend the genealogically rich subject matter of the 19th-century Hanover County, Virginia, Superior Court.
During the early 19th century, county courts were the basic regulators of social activity in a way that has no exact equivalent today. Besides proving wills, distributing estates, recording deeds, and trying criminal charges, 19th-century justices regulated such affairs as the sale of spirits, the building of mills, and the maintenance of road--all functions that have since been delegated to county or state agencies. On this account, a wider cross-section of the population is likely to have appeared before the bar in the early 1800s than is generally true at present. Besides having value in their own right, the records transcribed for these companion volumes are of special significance since they relate to Hanover County, one of the pivotal areas in the settlement of the Virginia Piedmont and a county that has lost the majority of its pre-1865 records. Fortunately, information concerning many Hanover citizens has survived in the numerous jury lists, for example, which can be viewed as a quasi-census of the county's local land owners. In the court cases themselves, researchers will find information on individuals belonging to such diverse groups as tenants, widows, minors, debtors, African Americans (free and bound), and inevitably, the proverbial horse thief.
The index includes many names that do not appear in any of the standard genealogy reference works on Virginia, nor in the few other surviving Hanover County record books. This series was published in 1987 but never widely distributed.