Virginia Records Details and Resources

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Though Virginia census enumerations were taken in 1790 and 1800, the records have not survived. Part of the 1810 census does exist. This makes it necessary to turn your attention to census alternatives, including Virginia tax lists from 1782 through 1785. Tax lists hold a wealth of information; they include the tithables and quitrents described above. For pre-1783 tax records, see Virginia Tax Records: From the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, The William and Mary College Quarterly, and Tyler’s Quarterly (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1983).

Researching Virginia court records is a maze of county courts, orphans’ court, courts of claim, quarter courts, general courts, a supreme court of appeals, a high court of chancery, a superior court of chancery, district courts, circuit superior courts of law and chancery and circuit courts. Some courts overlap; others replaced earlier courts. To get more information about the different courts and their jurisdictions, refer to A Preliminary Guide to Pre-1904 County Records in the Archives Branch, Virginia State Library and Archives by Suzanne Smith Ray, Lyndon H. Hart III and J. Christian Kolbe (Virginia State Library and Archives, 1987).

Virginia began registration of births and deaths early on, requiring counties to register these records beginning in 1853. This continued until 1896, but there is a gap during the Civil War, when most counties abandoned registration. You will find another gap in the records from 1896 until statewide registration began in 1912. Just a few independent cities kept birth and death records during this time.


Before 1853, marriages were handled by posting a bond — a written agreement to forfeit an amount of money should the marriage not take place — or banns, which were announced at three church meetings prior to the ceremony. Banns, therefore, are found in church records rather than county courthouse records.

Since 1853, state law has required counties and independent cities to issue marriage licenses. The application for marriage, which was formalized in 1858, asks for full names, ages, places of birth and residence, proposed marriage date and place, whether divorced or widowed, parents’ names, groom’s occupation and minister’s name. When the officiant gave the license to the state, the clerk was required to enter the marriage in a marriage register. The Division of Vital Records has this marriage register, which dates from January 1853. The clerk of the county or city court has copies of all marriage records kept by that court. The Library of Virginia has many marriage records. The Family History Library has microfilmed copies of marriage bonds and marriage registers up until about 1935.



  • The 1787 Census of Virginia, 3 vols., by Netti Schreiner-Yanits and Florence Speakman Love (Genealogical Books in Print, 1987)
  • State Slavery Statutes: Guide to the Microfiche Collection by Paul Finkelman (University Publications of American, 1989)
  • A Supplement to the 1810 Census of Virginia: Tax Lists of the counties for Which the Census is Missing by Netti Schreiner-Yanits (Genealogical Books in Print, 1971)
  • Virginia in 1740: A Reconstructed Census (T.L. C. Genealogy, 1992)
  • Virginia Taxpayers, 1782-1787 by Augusta B. Fothergill (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1974)
  • Virginia Tax Records: From the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, the William and Mary College Quarterly, and Tyler’s Quarterly (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1983)
  • Virginia Tithables from Burned Record Counties by Robert F. and Isobel B. Woodson (Isobel B. Woodson, 1970)


  • The Complete Book of Emigrants, 1607-1776, and Emigrants I Bondage, 1614-1775 by Peter Wilson Coldham (Broderbund Software, 1996, CD-ROM)
  • Documents, Chiefly Unpublished, Relating to the Huguenot Emigration to Virginia and to the Settlement at Manakintown by Robert A. Brock (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1987)
  • Early Child Immigrants to Virginia, 1618-1642 by Robert Hume (Magna Carta Book Co., 1986)
  • Early Virginia Immigrants, 1623-1666 by George C. Greer (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1982)
  • Some Emigrants to Virginia: Memoranda in Regard to Several Hundred Emigrants to Virginia During the Colonial Periods by William Glover Stanard (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1979)
  • Virginia Gleanings in England: Abstracts of 17th and 18th-Century English Wills and Administrations Relating to Virginia and Virginians by Lathrop Withington (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1980)


  • Abstract of Land Grant Surveys, 1761-1791 by Peter Cline Kaylor (Clearfield Co., 1991)
  • Cavaliers and Pioneers: Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants, 5 vols., edited by Dennis Hudgins (Virginia Genealogical Society, 1994)
  • Master Index Virginia Surveys and Grants 1774-1791 by Joan E. Brookes-Smith (Kentucky Historical Society, 1976)
  • Mother Earth-Land Grants in Virginia, 1607-1699 by W. Stitt Robinson (350th Anniversary Celebration Corp., 1957)
  • Old Rights, Property Rights, Virginia Entries and Soldiers Entitled to Donation Lands by William Henry Egle (C.M. Busch, State Printer, 1896)
  • The Quit Rents of Virginia, 1704 compiled by Annie Laurie Wright Smith (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1980)
  • Turff and Twigg: The French Lands by Priscilla Harriss Cabell (Priscilla Harriss Cabell, 1988)
  • Virginia Land Patent Books by William Lindsay Hopkins in Magazine of Virginia Genealogy (Virginia Genealogical Society, 1984)
  • Virginia Land Records: From the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, the William and Mary College Quarterly, and Tyler’s Quarterly by Gary Parks (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1982)
  • Virginia Northern Neck Land Grants, 4 vols., by Gertrude E. Gray (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1993)
  • Virginia Revolutionary War Land Grant Claims 1783-1850 by William Lindsay Hopkins (Gen-N-Dex, 1988)
  • War of 1812 Virginia Bounty Land and Pension Applicants by Patrick G. Wardell (Heritage Books, 1987)


  • Approved Place Names in Virginia by Mary Topping (University Press of Virginia, 1971)
  • Atlas of County Boundary Changes in Virginia, 1634-1895 by Michael F. Doran (Iberian Publishing, 1987)
  • The Cartography of Northern Virginia: Facsimile Reproductions of Maps Dating From 1608 to 1915 by Richard W. Stephenson (Fairfax County, Virginia, 1981)
  • A Gazetteer of Virginia and West Virginia by Henry Gannett (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1975)
  • A Historical Atlas of Colonial Virginia by John S. Hale (Old Dominion Publications, 1978)
  • How Justice Grew: Virginia Counties, and Abstract of Their Formation by Martha W. Hiden (Clearfield Co., 1992)
  • Index of Kentucky and Virginia Maps, 1562 to 1900 by James W. Sames III (Kentucky Historical Society, 1976)
  • A New and Comprehensive Gazetteer of Virginia, and the District of Columbia by Joseph Martin (J. Martin, 1835)
  • Virginia Atlas and Gazetteer (Delorme Mapping Co., 1995)
  • Virginia Place Names by Raus McDill Hanson (McClure Press, 1969)
  • Virginia Postmasters and Post Office, 1789-1832 by Edith F. Axelson (Iberian Publishing Co., 1991)


  • A Calendar of the Warrants for Land in Kentucky, Granted for Service in the French and Indian War by Philip F. Taylor (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1967)
  • Catalogue of Revolutionary Soldiers and Sailors of the Commonwealth of Virginia: To Whom Land Bounty Warrants Were Granted By Virginia for Military Service in the War for Independence by Samuel Mackay Wilson (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1967)
  • Gold Star Honor Roll of Virginians in the Second World War edited by W. Edwin Hemphill (Virginia World War II History Commission, 1947)
  • A Guide to Virginia Military Organizations, 1860-1865 by Lee A. Wallace (H.E. Howard, 1986)
  • Guide to Virginia Militia Units in the War of 1812 by Stuart Lee Butler (Iberian Publishing Co. 1988)
  • Historical Register of Virginians in the Revolution: Soldiers, Sailors, Marines: 1775-1783 by John H. Gwathmey (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1973)
  • Index to Saffell’s List of Virginia Soldiers in the Revolution by Joseph T. McCallister (McAllister Publishing Co., 1913)
  • List of the Colonial Soldiers of Virginia by H.J. Eckenrod (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1974)
  • List of the Revolutionary Soldiers of Virginia by H.J. Eckenrod (D. Bottom, 1912)
  • Old Rights, Property Rights, Virginia Entries and Soldiers Entitled to Donation Lands by William Henry Egle (C.M. Busch, State Printer, 1896)
  • Revolutionary War Records: Virginia Army And Navy Forces with Bounty Land Warrants for Virginia Military District of Ohio and Virginia Scrip by Gaius M. Brumbaugh (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1967)
  • Soldiery of West Virginia in the French and Indian War, Lord Dunmore’s War, The Revolution, The Later Indian Wars, The Whiskey Insurrection, The Second War with England, The War with Mexico, and Addenda Relating to West Virginians In the Civil War by Virgil A. Lewis (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1967)
  • Virginia Colonial Militia, 1651-1776 by William Armstrong Crozier (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1982)
  • Virginia’s Colonial Soldiers by Lloyd DeWitt Bockstruck (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1988)
  • Virginia Military Records: From the Virginia Magazine of History And Biography, the William and Mary College Quarterly, and Tyler’s Quarterly (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1983)
  • Virginia Public Claims, 3 vols., by Janice L. Abercrombie (Iberian Publishing Co., 1992)
  • Virginia Regimental History Series by H.E. Howard (H.E. Howard, 1982)
  • Virginia Revolutionary War State Pensions (Southern Historical Press, 1982)
  • Virginia Soldiers in the United States Army, 1800-1815 by Stuart Lee Butler (Iberian Publishing Co., 1986)
  • Virginia Soldiers of 1776, 3 vols., compiled and edited by Louis A. Burgess (Reprint Co., 1973)
  • The War with Mexico, and Addenda Relating to West Virginias in the Civil War (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1967)
  • War of 1812: Virginia Bounty Land and Pension Applications by Patrick G. Wardell (Heritage Books 1987)


  • Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia: Extracted form the Original Court records of Augusta County, 1754-1800, 3 vols., by Lyman Chalkey (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1980)
  • Hanover County Chancery Wills and Notes: by William Ronald Crocke (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1978)
  • Minutes of the Council and General Court of Colonial Virginia by H.R. McIlwaine (Virginia State Library, 1979)
  • Some Wills from Burned Counties of Virginia and Other Wills Not Listed in the Virginia Wills and Administrations, 1632-1800 by William Lindsay Hopkins (W.L. Hopkins, 1987)
  • Virginia Settlers and English Adventurers: Abstracts of Wills, 1484-1798, and Legal Proceedings, 1560-1700, Relating to Early Virginia Families, 3 vols., by Noel Currier-Briggs (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1970)
  • Virginia Wills and Administrations 1632-1800 by Clayton Torrence (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1985)
  • Virginia Wills Before 1799: A Complete Abstract Register of All Names Mentioned in Over 600 Recorded Wills compiled by William Montgomery Clemens (Biblio Co., 1924)
  • Virginia Will Records by Judith McGhan (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1982)
  • Will and Estate Records In the Virginia State Library: A Researcher’s Guide by John Vogt and T. William Kethley Jr. (Iberian Publishing Co., 1987)


  • Abstracts of Marriage and Obituary Notices in Virginia Newspapers Before 1820 by Virginius Cornick Hall (Genealogical Society of Utah, 1987)
  • Early Virginia Marriages by William A. Crozier (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1982)
  • Index to Obituary Notices in the Richmond Enquirer form May 9, 1804 through 1828, and the Richmond Whig from January 1824 to 1838 by H.R. McIlwaine (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1974)
  • Marriage Records in the Virginia State Library: A Researcher’s Guide by John Vogt and T. William Kethley (Iberian Press, 1984)
  • Marriages of Some Virginia Residents, 1607-1800, 2 vols., by Dorothy F. Wulfeck (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1986)
  • Some Marriages in the Burned Record Counties of Virginia (Virginia Genealogical Society, 1979)
  • Some Virginia Marriages, 1700-1799, 25 vols., by Cecil D. McDonald (Cecil D. McDonald, 1972)
  • Some Virginia Marriages, 1800-1825, 12 vols., by Cecil D. McDonald (Cecil D. McDonald, 1973)
  • Some Virginia Marriages, 1826-1850, 2 vols., by Ransom B. True (Cecil D. McDonald, 1975)
  • Tombstone Inscriptions (Virginia), 9 vols., by Duane L. Borden (Yates Pub. Co., 1986)
  • Virginia Cemeteries: A Guide to Resources by Anne M. Hogg and Dennis A. Tosh. (University of Virginia, 1986)
  • Virginia Marriage Records: From the Virginia Magazine of History And Biography, the William and Mary’s College Quarterly, and The Tyler’s Quarterly (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1982)
  • Virginia Vital Records: From the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, the William and Mary’s College Quarterly, and the Tyler’s Quarterly (Genealogical Publishing Co., 1982)

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From the Family Tree Sourcebook
Also available: the State Research Guide Book, State Research Guides CD and The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy.