Now Available: Richmond County Court Orders from the Revolution

I am pleased to announce the release of my transcription of Richmond County’s court orders from the Revolutionary War era. The volume, entitled “Richmond County, Virginia Court Orders 1776-1784,” is the fifth installment of my transcriptions of Virginia’s county court orders from the Revolution, the other four completed counties being Augusta, Bedford, Brunswick and Halifax. These volumes may be ordered at, by following this link to my author page: Each volume is available both as a hard copy and as a downloadable ebook (PDF).

Some of my readers have asked about future publication plans. I am currently transcribing Louisa County’s court orders from the Revolution, and Northumberland County will probably following Louisa. I have also completed about seventy-five percent of volume 4 of “Selected Virginia Revolutionary War Records.” This will include a complete transcription of Auditors’ Account volume XVIII (a manuscript volume in Library of Virginia, 701 pages, of receipts and warrants from the auditors from late 1783-1784, the “most important” volume of that series); also an inventory/extract of all items in LVA’s APA 238 “General Claims Approved” (a 2 inch file containing a hodge podge of loose affidavits and certificates related to claimed military and non-military service during the war); and finally a complete transcription of LVA’s APA 207 “Expences Incurred by the Conquest and Protection of Northwestern Territory 1777-1787” (an 88 page gold mine of claims made by individuals in present Illinois and Kentucky for services rendered to the American cause from those areas). The first three volumes of my “Selected Virginia Revolutionary War Records” series are also available at

“Patriots” and “Tories” in Montgomery County: Sources in the Library of Virginia

Montgomery County, which lay on Virginia’s western frontier during the American Revolution, is notable for the quality and quantity of its records relating to both “patriots” and “tories” during the Revolutionary War era. While it is unrealistic to give an account of all Library of Virginia holdings specific to Revolutionary War Montgomery County here, three notable holdings should be consulted by any researcher seriously interested in this area: (1) the manuscript volume entitled “Fincastle & Montgomery Counties: Revolutionary War Records 1775-1783”; (2) the Montgomery County Commonwealth Causes; and (3) the William Preston Papers.
First and foremost for genealogists is the volume entitled “Fincastle & Montgomery Counties: Revolutionary War Records 1775-1783,” LVA barcode #1118855. This photostatic copy of an original volume held in the Montgomery County courthouse is divided into eight sections, which I will describe here in turn.
1. Journal of the Committee of Safety 8 Nov 1775-4 April 1776 (pp 1-26). This has been transcribed in Harwell, “The Committees of Safety of Westmoreland and Fincastle.” The journal includes references from early in the war to Montgomery County tories, such as this 11 June 1776 entry: “orderd. that William Blivens, James Blivens & John Blivens be summoned […] to answer the following complaint, that they have refusd. to bear arms or muster in Capt John Shelby’s company of militia […] by reason of their attachment to the enemies of American Liberty and their correspondence with Tories in the Cherokee nation.” The proceeding against Nathaniel Britton and John Martin is also worthy of special mention: 4 April 1776, “ordered that Nathaniel Britton & John Martin be apprehended […] to answer the following charge, That they have made a practice of stealing horses, That they have threatened to take the life of Capt Jos. Cloyd & have said many things that shew that their intentions are unfriendly to the American cause.” The committee also ordered Capt Cloyd to take as many men out of his company necessary for the task, “who it is expected will chearfully attend him & execute the order.”
2. Minutes of the Committee of Safety (pp 27-52). These are evidently the rough notes preceding the final journal version (#1). There are a handful of entries not found in the journal, as well as a petition signed by inhabitants “on the frontier part of Clinch.”
3. Letters of Arthur Campbell from May 1776 (pp 53-7).
4. Militia lists (pp 58-181). These 41 lists, which include 29 undated lists, 9 lists from 1781, 2 from 1782, and 1 from 1783, have been transcribed in Kegley, “Militia of Montgomery County, 1777-1790.” These lists reflect the state of each militia company, but do not reflect expeditionary service and may not even reflect attendance at private (company) and general (regimental) musters. This is generally supported by many notations, such as “not fit,” “an old man,” over 50,” “under 18,” “removed from the county,” etc.
5. Oaths of Allegiance (pp 132-53). These include one list of those who swore allegiance to King George in 1774-5; 8 lists under the 1777 act of the General Assembly requiring the swearing of allegiance to the Commonwealth; and 1 bond dated 26 April 1779 of disaffected persons for their good behavior towards the Commonwealth, signed by 32 men. Again, many of these were transcribed in Kegley, above.
6. Court Martial records (pp 154-78). These are very important records, since they constitute the only substantive militia court martial records from Virginia during the Revolution, with the exception of Augusta County. There are two long lists of fines for non-performance of militia duties from 1778 that, as far as I know, have never been published. There are also minutes for 5 courts martial in 1781-3, and it is here where things get interesting. Many entries are exactly what you would expect to find in records such as these, such as references to men excused from militia duty due to age or infirmity. However, many entries reflect serious strife in the county, such as the summoning of the whole of Capts Ozburn’s and Swift’s companies for not attending general muster; and the sentencing of several tories to service in the Continental Line. Some of these entries are abstracted in Kegley, “Early Adventures on the Western Waters.”
7. Individual Service Records (19 certificates receipts, etc., relative to militia and Continental Line service performed); and
8. Public Service Claims (19 certificates and receipts for supplies furnished patriot forces).
The second set of records that Montgomery County researchers should consult in LVA are the Montgomery County Commonwealth Causes, LVA barcode 1048926, encompassing .15 cubic feet. Many of these records are criminal cases for murder, slander, etc., but quite a few are warrants to apprehend tories for refusing to bear arms against the king, etc. The several following examples should give you a good idea.
1. Warrant 27 April 1779 from Walter Crockett and James McGavock to any officer civil or military, which sd officer is empowered to command a guard for his assistance; “Whereas complaint has been made upon oath that Joshua Jones, John Lewis, Moses Wells, Fredrick Slamp, John Vaute, David Vaut and Vaut that has the mill on the Cripple Creick, Henry Vaut, Philip Dutton, Benjamin & John Griffith, Frances Kattering, Peter Kattering, Peter Kinder, Frederick Brontstedder, Andrew Brontstedder, Jinkin Williams, Humphrey Best, old Fredrick Moor, Henry Wiess or Vice have entred into a conspiracy and taken an oath not to lift arms against the King of Great Britain or his heirs and to join the Inglish and Indians and to assist them in destroying the country,” warrant to take “the above named traitors to their country.”
2. Warrant 6 April 1779 from Walter Crockett and James McGavock to the Sheriff; “Whereas complaint has been made to us upon oath that John Henderson, Jacob Darter, Joseph Irwin, Joseph McFarland, Daniel Atter, John Stephens, Dunkin Ogullion, Philip Myer, William Black, Daniel Liberton, Daniel McKinsey, John Cox, Nathaniel Britain and Philip Lambert have entred into a conspiracy to seize the publick magaziens, and then to proceed to kill murder and lay waste this county,” warrant to apprehend them.
3. Bond of Lawrence (x) Buckholder 8 Jan 1778, for 200 pounds; Whereas sd Buckholder was taken on suspicion of “being an enemy to this state & expressing himself in many instances as such” and being brought into court and a jury being summoned, the jury returned verdict that he was to pay 10 pounds and give bond for his good behavior 12 months and a day.
4. 20 April 1779 whereas John Dones “a person of evil fame, has been this day brought before me Wm. Preston a Justice for sd. county being charged by Nickolas Salles a recruit for the Continental Army for wanting and requesting the said Nickolas to quit the service in which he is engaged and to enter into the service of the King of great Britain for which he should have two shillings and seven pence sterling per day from the day he would engage, that he the said Dones was to go last Saturday to a certain place where a club was to meet to consult matters & that he would give him an answer on Sunday & that they had a Justice appointed amongst them, all which the sd. Salles made oath to in presence of sd. Dones who did not attempt to disprove thereove, and whereas the sd. John upon many occasions, has called the good subjects of the state rebels to their King & declared himself a true subject of King George of great Britain and drank his health,” these are to command the Sheriff to receive said Dones and keep him under a good guard, “as he is an old offender.”
Many of the tory cases mentioned in the Commonwealth Causes overlap entries found in the “Revolutionary War Records” volume and, as such, it is important to consult both groups of records if you find your ancestor in either. It is also worth checking the last group of records on our agenda, as well: the “Colonel William Preston Papers Concerning the Defense of Southwestern Virginia” (APA 223, 5 inches, miscellaneous reel 655). These papers give great color to a serious tory uprising in Montgomery County in the summer of 1780. The letters of William Preston, the County Lieutenant, to other county leaders name many of the tory individuals in the records noted above, and show that the tories in the county had three main objectives in mind. First, some of the tories wanted to kill William Preston, Arthur Campbell and various militia Captains to render the county’s patriot faction leaderless. Second, they actively recruited soldiers destined for the Continental Army to desert and join a royalist army that tory leaders would lead in a campaign to lay waste and destroy the frontier. Third, they intended to seize control of the lead mines (in present-day Wythe County) and effectively deny the Commonwealth of its main source of lead.
All of the records mentioned here show that tories were active in the county from the earliest days of the Revolution until fairly late in the conflict and that their influence was rather strong and widespread. Preston’s actions in suppressing them were evidently of such a serious nature that the General Assembly, in its session of October 1782, indemnified him, Robert Adams Jr., James Callaway and Charles Lynch from “all pains, penalties, prosecutions, actions, suits, and damages on account thereof” (Hening, “Statutes at Large,” vol XI, pp 134-5). Such an extreme action as this suggests that Montgomery County’s Revolutionary War experience deserves more attention than it has heretofore received.