The Library of Virginia houses local court
records, state records, personal papers,
business records, newspapers, special
collections, books, journals, etc, that date
back to the 1600’s. Collectively, these
records contain the names of millions of
African Americans, slave and free.
The names are not just names. The names
are access points to individual stories of
African Americans who lived in Virginia
from the establishment of slavery in the
1600’s until its demise in 1865.
Petitions to the General Assembly were
the primary catalyst for legislation in the
Commonwealth from 1776 until 1865.
Public improvements, military claims,
divorce, division of counties, incorporation
of towns, religious freedom, and taxation
were just some of the concerns expressed
in these petitions. African Americans could
petition the General Assembly.
Cohabitation Registers record the name of
the husband, his age, place of birth,
residence, last owner, last owner's
residence, name of his wife, her age, place
of birth, residence, last owner, last owner's
residence, name and age of each child, and
the date of commencement of cohabitation.
This register lists the name of the child, age, place of
birth, residence, last owner, residence of the last owner,
residence of father, his age and last owner, residence of
last owner of father, name of mother, her age, her
residence if alive or noted if dead, last owner of mother,
residence of last owner of mother, and the signature of
A few registers include additional information such as
residence of the mother if alive, rough date of death if
known, or that she had been sold away, left, or was
immoral. County of residence is noted if known.
Charles Evans, etc. vs. Lewis B. Allen –
Freedom suit. Plaintiffs are slaves of Lewis
B. Allen. They claim to be free on the basis
that their ancestor Jane Gibson was a
Native American. The plaintiffs entered
genealogical charts as exhibits.
Surry County Chancery Cause 1867-003:
Robertson Holt vs. Exr. of John Holt, etc.
At center of dispute was the sell of a slave
named Tempe and her children that took
place in 1835.
Northampton County Chancery Cause
1727-001: Jane Webb vs. Thomas Savage
Virginia Memory - http://www.virginiamemory.com
Chancery Records Index –
Legislative Petition Database –
Virginia Chronicle - http://virginiachronicle.com/
Virginia Heritage Project – Finding Aids http://vaheritage.org/
Out of the Box Blog –