Rappahannock Legal Services, Inc. will hold a resource fair and offer free wills-for-seniors sessions at the England Run Branch on Monday, May 16, from 9:30 - 3:00. Seniors over 60 who are interested in participating in these one-on-one sessions are required to preregister as space is limited. For eligiblity and screening, please contact Carolyn Ross at 540-371-1105, ext. 111 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Looking for general information about wills? Check out our resource list, Writing Your Will.
The Senior Resource Fair is open to all and will include representatives from Rappahannock Legal Services, Rappahannock Area Agency on Aging, the disAbility Resource Center, and Quin Rivers (housing, finances, physical and mental well-being). Steven Scheibe from AARP/Triad will also be on hand to answer questions.
When I began began doing genealogical research many years ago, like all beginners I focused on marriage records, birth and death records--when they were available, and wills. Then came deeds and other land records, and through using them I discovered the world of "courts of chancery" and "chancery records."
Not all Virginia courts judged cases the same way, you see. Some courts decided cases based on written laws that either specifically allowed or specifically prohibited various actions in certain circumstances. There was in these courts no latitude for judicial interpretation; there were no "grey areas."
Other courts, however, dealt with issues of equity or fairness in a much more flexible way--Chancery Courts. These courts decided cases which codified law could not readily accomodate, and these cases were usually land disputes, divisions of estates, divorce petitions, and business partnership disputes.
Chancery Court files are filled with subpoenas, depositions of witnesses, affidavits and other items of enormous interest to genealogists!
The Library of Virginia in Richmond has been diligently digitizing and indexing old chancery records, covering cases from the early eighteenth century through World War I. The database now includes hundreds of thousands of items. Several jurisdictions of interest to us are already completed! You may now find and view online the scanned chancery records for Westmoreland County, 1753-1913; Caroline County, 1787-1849; and Culpeper County, 1829-1913. Others will be made available in due course.