Preface to the Spotsylvania County Early Deed Index 1722-1917

In 1634 the Colony of Virginia was divided into eight Shires, which are to be governed as the Shires in England. The names of the Shires were JAMES CITY, HENRICO, CHARLES CITY, ELIZABETH CITY, WARWICK RIVER, WARROSQUYOAKE, CHARLES RIVER, and ACCOWMACK. (1 Hen 224)

GLOUCESTER and LANCASTER Counties first appear in 1 Hening's Statutes page 371, April 26 , 1652. Their bounds are not given.

RAPPAHANNOCK County was formed from the upper part of LANCASTER County in December 1656 (1 Hen 427)

In April 1692 in the fourth year of the reign of William and Mary, RAPPAHANNOCK County was divided, that on the Northside of the RAPPAHANNOCK RIVER to be known as RICHMOND County, and that part on the Southside of the River to be known as ESSEX County, and the records of RAPPAHANNOCK County were ordered to be transferred to ESSEX County. (3 Hen 104)

SPOTSYLVANIA COUNTY was formed from ESSEX, KING WILLIAM and KING & QUEEN Counties in 1720. (4 Hen 77)

This new County of SPOTSYLVANIA extended "westward to the river beyond the mountains," which is generally believed to refer to the Shenandoah River.

ORANGE COUNTY was formed from SPOTSYLVANIA in 1734. (4 Hen 450)

Since 1774 the boundaries of Spotsylvania Country have been as they are now constituted.

Parishes

By the terms of the act creating it, effective May 1, 1721, the County constituted one parish, called St. George. In the year 1730, St. George Parish was divided, the southeastern portion being called St. George, and the north-western portion being called St. Marks. St. Marks Parish in 1734 became the County of Orange, and embraced territory which is now Orange, Madison, Culpeper and the mountainous county of (new) Rappahannock.

In March, 1769, St. George Parish was again subdivided, Berkeley Parish being formed next to the Orange line.

At the present writing, the County is composed of four districts: old St. George Parish having been subdivided into Courtland, Chancellor, Livingston and Berkeley. The bounds of these districts are indicated under their appropriate indexes:

Courtland running from a point on the Rappahannock River about three miles from Fredericksburg, across the County slightly south of the Court House, and ending in the Hart Mill Pond, and lays along the Rappahannock from about two miles above the Falls down the River to the Caroline line.

Chancellor District extends from Courtland District on the Rappahannock River up the Rappahannock and the Rapidan to the mouth of Wilderness Run, and follows the general direction of Wilderness Run southward.

Livingston District is in the middle-western end of the County: and Berkeley District is in the south-western and southern end of the County.

County Seat

The first County Seat was at Germanna, the residence of Governor Spottswood, but by Act of 1732 it was removed to Fredericksburg, and many of the Fredericksburg records are found in the records of Spotsylvania.

The County Seat remained here until the formation of the Corporation Court system in 1782, from which time the two records are separate and distinct. After one, and probably two, other removals, the Court House was located at its present site, 10 miles south of Fredericksburg.

Period Covered by this Index

It has been the aim that this index should cover the period from the beginning of the County down and through Deed Book 87, ending in February 1917: and through Will Book CC, page 192, ending with the will of J. R. Hicks.

Records

The earliest Will Book, A, covering the period from 1722 to 1749, is in very bad condition, and very little effort has been made to index it because of its condition. The wills, however, are noted in the index.

The records of the Circuit Court of Spotsylvania at Spotsylvania Court House begin in 1873, and prior to that time the records of the Circuit Court of Spotsylvania are in the Clerk's Office of the Corporation Court of Fredericksburg, in which office are likewise many hundred of Chancery Recordsm abd other fugitive papers, which would properly be expected to be found at the Clerk's Office at Spotsylvania Court House.

Books Indexed

Books indexed cover Deed Books A to Z in the first series, AA to ZZ in the second series, AB to AZ in the third series, when the numberican sequence was adopted, beginning with 75 and running through 87.

The Will Books A to Z, and AA through page 192 Will Book CC, and ending with the will of John R. Hicks, probated August 8, 1916.

Fiduciary Records A, B and C, and the Chancery Order Books, have also been indexed so far as pertained to the lands in the County.

In the early days, many of the deeds conveying Spotsylvania land were recorded in the District Court of Fredericksburg, and it has been endeavored to select these deeds from the Fredericksburg index, and incorporate them in the Spotsylvania index in their appropriate chronological position.

Each of these deeds has opposite it, under the "Property" column: "Rec in Fbg", showing that the deed is taken from the Fredericksburg index.

Chronology

Attention is called to the early chronology. In England from the 14th Century until the Change of Style in 1752, the Legal and Ecclesiastical year began March 25, though it was not uncommon in writing to reckon the year from January.

The change from Julian to Gregorian calendar was affected in England by Act of Parliament in September 1752, September 3rd being called September 14th, and December 31, 1752 closed that year, January 1, 1753 beginning a new year.

Explanations and Abbreviations

After many of the trusts will be found DR or MR. DR stands for what is believed to be a defective marginal release, and MR stands for what is believed to be a proper marginal release.

The word REFERENCE under the "Property" column means that the deed, paper, or fact, indexed is referred to in the Book and Page indicated. If the date of the deed, paper or fact referred to is disclosed, then it appears in the column "When Dated".

"W" before a letter in the "Book" column, like W-Z means Will Book Z.

FR-A is Fiduciary Record A: COB is Chancery Order Book: MR is Marriage Record: OB is Order Book - and so on.

The Deed Books are lettered and numbered without such designation, as "A" means Deed Book "A".

In the descriptions under "Property", MB means that the metes and bounds are set out in the writing referred to, and MBP means that the metes and bounds are set out in the writing referred to, and that a plot accompanies the writing.

Under "Kind", DT means Deed of Trust, PART means partition, Inv means Inventory: Dec means Decree: Des means Descent: M refers to a Marriage, B&S means Bargain and Sale: Pat means Patent: MC means Marriage Contract.

In indexing the Marriage Register, the female has been put as the Grantor, the male being the Grantee, since the marriage changes the name of the Grantor to that of the Grantee.

Under "Property", frequent references are made in marriages indexed to "An account of ye Governor's dues". These marriages are in Clerk's Order Book 1, and are taken from what appears to be the Clerk's accunt of revenue belonging to the Governor: and likewise under "Property" will be found statements of marriages indexed as "Married by Thomas Marston", or "Married by Jeremiah Chandler", etc. These records are taken from the Court Marriage Register covering the period from 1795 to 1800.

All Patents prior to the Declaration of Independence are under Proprietors, and subsequent to the independence of the colonies, these Patents appear under Commonwealth of Virginia.

The plots are referred to in the description under "Property", and some of the larger plots are indexed under Plots in the letter P.

In all instances groups of names or property descriptions should be read down from page line, and never up.

Tax deeds are indexed both in the name of the Clerk and of the prior owner: and Commissioners' deeds are indexed in the name of the prior owner only, except in a few instances where the deeds do not disclose the names of the prior owners, which the style of the suit, as Smith vs Jones, and such style reversed, as Jones ads Smith, is given as the grantor.

Trust foreclosures are indexed in the name of the prior owner, as well as in the name of the trustee.

In indexing FREDERICKSBURG DEVELOPMENT COMPANY deeds, it has been sought to arrange the lots and blocks in numerical sequence, both as to lots and blocks, though very few of the deeds are so written.It is hoped that this effort will facilitate the finding of the lots whoses titles ware sought to be examined. Many of these deeds were executed by W.S. White, Trustee, but are indexed in the name of the Company.

Chain of Title

It has been sought to state under "Property" some prior conveyance in the title, and, so far as possible, the immediate prior conveyance has been stated. In a few instances, the chain of title is by mesne conveyance, which few instances are so designated.

Explanation of Descriptions under "Property"

It has been sought to give the acreage in each case, so far as possible. Acres, roods and perches or poles, have not been written out: 62 would refer to 62 acres: 62-2-12.5 would stand for 62 acres, 2 roods and 12.5 perches or poles.

Where the deed gives one area and refers to a plot which gives another, the area of the deed is stated in figures, and the area indeicated by the plot is stated in figures inclosed in brackets.

Fr is from: Tr is trust or tract, as indicated by the context.

An effort has been made to state the name of the tract and its location on one or more roads, or on or near (nr) some stream or river, and in the name of the stream or fiver, the spelling is as taken from the deed indexed.

Two or more separate parcels are separated by a colon, or are indicated by the also.

Where a deed is made by two or more grantors of the same family name, the Christian names of the two or more grantors or grantees are separated by colons. Co-grantors and co-grantees of different family names are indicated in the description under "Property", or by ditto marks across the index.

Churches

All Churches are indexed under Churches.

CHIROGRAPHIC DIFFICULTIES and Cross References

The formations of many of the letters in the early days differed from modern writing, though both the modern and ancient writing at Spotsylvania is remarkably clear.

Some of the Letters are hard to distinguish.

Voss, for instance, reading Vass: Billingsly and Billingsby. Many cross references have been made, and others will suggest themselves to the searcher.

So difficult has it been to determine the true reading of Billingsly and Billingsby that the two family names have been indexed under the same group. Edenton, Edinton, Edington, Eddington, and Edrington, are suggested as difficulties.

Where slight differences of spelling such as Eatherton and Etherton, occur, the different spellings are set out: the predominating spelling at the beginning of the controlling the family group, and variations are indicated by parentheses.

Property Names

The last pages of the book are devoted to names of the properties which are referred to in the deeds, and are alphabetically arranged.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Acknowledgement is gratefully made for the assistance rendered in the preparation of this index by Mrs. Elizabeth Marshall, Misses Lucy B. Knox, Winifred D. Walker, Florence Foster, and Messrs Cary G. Marshall, Philip Olarsch, Edwin G. Haislip, and J. L. Hawkins, and likewise to Clerk Arthur H. Crismond, of the Circuit Court of Spotsylvania.

Alvin T. Embrey
Fredericksburg, Va.
November 24, 1917



Last modified: 13 August 2013
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