…each and every estate record…

The Mary Ball Washington Museum and Library in Lancaster Virginia has announced a new project funded by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities:

We are pleased to announce our latest project, to abstract each and every estate record from 1835-1865 in Lancaster County. The objective is to identify previously unidentified slaves not mentioned in wills and to abstract the estates of those who died with no will, with or without slaves, and their heirs.

This set of records has never been published and they are often overlooked by researchers because they are not among the Index to the Wills record group at the Court House–which was the basis for the fore-runner of this project, Closing the Gap, which identified slaves named in wills.

Apparent from these records is that almost always these records name far many more slaves than are mentioned in the will. The project director is Carolyn Jett.

About 60% of people died with no will, making this record group a gold-mine of previously little-used information which, ultimately, will be placed on our web site and be published in hard copy.

The major component of this project is to identify more slave families, their sale to others, their being hired out to others, how they were valued or described, or how they were divided among the heirs. And an equally valuable component is to learn of marriages that were not recorded in Lancaster County, identifying here-to-fore unknown heirs, and the extremely detailed identification of personal property owned by the decedent.

The estate records for a deceased person–with or without a will–ideally contains four components: 1. A detailed inventory of the estate, sometimes listed room-by-room. 2. An account of the sale of the estate (listing the purchasers). 3. A detailed account of the income (hire of slaves to others) and expenses (the price of the coffin). 4. A division and distribution of the estate among the heirs. When listing heirs, we learn of marriages that are not recorded in the public records… Craig Kilby, Library Volunteer, Newsletter, http://www.mbwm.org

Lancaster County Virginia is a very old county with a rich, English background and heritage. And recently, I have been searching for ancestors in Southside Virginia and Old Frederick County VA who originate in Lancaster County. What great news this is that information from records originally unindexed by courthouse officials will now be easily available!

Let me introduce you all to another companion record category that is now available and needs to be indexed:

Two nationwide land surveys were made in nineteenth century Ireland. 1) The Tithe Composition Applotment, 1823, provided that tithes (taxes) due the Anglican Church, (the established Church) were to be paid in money rather than in kind. The entire country was valued, parish by parish in each barony. And the amount of the tax to be paid by each individual was fixed according to the price of wheat and oats over the previous seven years. 2500 Tithe Books were recorded between 1823 and 1837.

2) General Valuation of Ireland under the Tenement Act of 1852. The uniform value was based on production of the land and rent of the buildings to create a fair rate of taxation. Richard Griffith was the Commissioner of Valuation, and the survey was called by his name, “Griffith’s Valuation.” Over 200 volumes, one for each barony, were published between 1852 and 1863.

These two sources help fill the gap left by the destruction of the census records when the Four Courts burned in 1922.

Wait, there is more…

3) The Cancelled Land Books, also called Revision Griffith’s Revision Books. These begin in 1855 and record changes in tenants and land holdings–transfers when a tenant died and his heir assumed possession of the land or changes in valuation or size of the holdings. Thus, these records function much like our own abstract books found in most mid-western counties and across Canada.

You can access the two land surveys and this companion record on FH Library microfilm. Your favorite genealogist of choice, Arlene Eakle

PS  Watch for Genealogy News from the Research Field throughout the month of October.

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