Essex County, Virginia Guardianship and Orphans Records, 1707-1888, A Descriptive Index


For this work, the compiler reviewed microfilm copies of a number of guardians accounts or records books for the period 1707–1888 in Essex County, Virginia. The problem that users often face with using this type of original record is that the court indexes to the guardianship records usually refer to the person bonded or the guardian, and not the ward who is the primary interest for genealogical research. Most of the entries here are from sources that actually have “Guardians” on the spine of the original record book. Also, particularly for the early years, guardianship records (mainly bonds) may be found in Will Books. The index that is created here frequently presents the name of the ward, the name of a deceased or living parent, and the name of the guardian. Since public birth records do not begin in Essex County until 1856 and are rather incomplete for many years thereafter, the guardianship records supplement that void by frequently showing a parent-to-child relationship. Sadly, the earliest guardian bonds rarely give the name of the parent of the orphan.

The filing date is indexed here for most records except bonds wherein the date the bond was executed is used. Oftentimes a guardian account is presented to the court earlier than the date it is finally recorded, as it frequently sat in “limbo” for one or more months pending any exceptions presented. As time goes on, one will find that a certificate may be recorded for a minor over the age of fourteen years who has chosen a guardian. A corresponding bond may list additional minors in the same family group who are under the age of fourteen years. A buried name index adds to the value of this work.

Wesley E. Pippenger

(2016), 2018, 8½x11, paper, 112 pp.

ISBN: 9780788458149