Essex County, Virginia Index to Court Orders, 1702-1715


Almost all early records of Essex County have been abstracted or transcribed, either by John Frederick Dorman, or by Ruth and Sam Sparacio. Excepted from publication to date have been the Court Orders for the period from October 10, 1702 to March 19, 1716/7. Several issues impact this: (1) no orders survive for July 1709 to April 1710, April 12 to July 1711, and Spring 1715 to Spring 1717, and (2) Book 4 is in such bad condition that it is rarely used.

Presented here is an index to orders in Deeds & Wills Book 10, pp. 133-149 (October 10, 1702 to March 11, 1702/3), and items in Order Book 3 (August 11, 1703 to March 11, 1707/8), and Order Book 4 (April 10, 1708 to March 15, 1714/5). For Order Book 4, the following pages are missing: 77-81, 173-246, and 323-370.

At first glance the original typewritten index may be deemed a godsend, as it certainly fills a void to allow us a glimpse into the content of Order Books 3 and 4. That glance soon turns into a train wreck after careful examination of the index’s content. Once the author sorted his extracted entries by page number, he found the following issues with the original typewritten index when compared to the original order books: (1) the indexers left some complete and many partial pages unindexed; (2) did not index entire lists of county payments, imported persons or jury members; (3) omitted all criminal matters, details of court cases, ages of orphans or slaves when stated, and the difference between Jr. and Sr.; and (4) did not cross-index all actions, petitions or suits. In addition, the compilers of the original typewritten index were inconsistent in preserving the actual date based on the calendar. In other words, it was often unclear whether January 1705 is 1705/6 or 1704/5. The bulk of these issues has been adjusted in Pippenger’s Essex County, Virginia Index to Court Orders, 1702–1715, which presents approximately 3,335 new entries, and thus increases the quantity of entries extracted from the original typewritten index by about twenty-four percent.

Wesley E. Pippenger

2020, 8½x11, paper, alphabetical, 296 pp.

ISBN: 9780788405020