Tithe Lists for Amelia County, Virginia, 1765-1766, 1769-1771, and 1778


Prior to 1782, taxes (called 'poll taxes' or 'tithes') were taken each year by county tax commissioners in many, if not all, counties in the colony of Virginia. These commissioners were evidently appointed by the official state church of the Virginia colony, and the taxes ('tithes') collected went toward the care of the poor, the maintenance of the church, etc.

These annual tithe lists from Amelia County, Virginia, are among the earliest colonial records available for this county and for Nottoway County as well, since they contain the record of residents in the region that later became Nottoway County. These records function much like a census since every white male over the age of 16 (21 in some years) was supposed to be recorded. Moreover, unlike the Personal Property Tax Lists in later years, these records list every white male over the age of 16 in each household. When the surname of other individuals in the household is the same as that of the taxpayer, these individuals are virtually always related in some way, and are usually the taxpayer’s sons who have come of age. Thus these records represent an annual census of sorts, at least for the white males of Amelia and Nottoway counties. That they occurred annually and include the names of other adult males in the household make them superior to the pre-1850 federal censuses, in the amount of information they can provide.

Reiley Kidd, MD

2016, 8½x11, paper, 170 pp.

ISBN: 9781680340686