Augusta County, Virginia Delinquent Tithable Lists, 1771-1817 (with others from its former territories)


A portion from the author's Introduction is reproduced here:
In the late 1700s and after, the expense of governing Virginia's counties was raised by taxes collected by the sheriffs and their deputies. Lists of taxpayers, also called tithes, often contained remarks on individuals who were unable, for various reasons, to pay the taxes. Deputies returned lists of those delinquents to account for their failure to produce the full amount of tax. People appeared on these delinquent lists for a variety of reasons: they were dead, in the penitentiary, removed, run away, or insolvent. Another reason was that they were classed as supernumeraries. Those were men who had been exempted by the Court from taxation, usually for reasons of age or demonstrated infirmity. I suspect constables, as officers of the Court, were exempt as a perk of their position, as were men serving in the military. Occasionally information was recorded about the individual's occupation (to distinguish between men of the same name), generational status, or new location. Some women were named as heads of household, some names were identified as (free) blacks.

Most of this volume are the delinquent tithable lists found in the holdings of the Library of Virginia, Barcode number 1204934: Tax and Fiscal Records (1771-1833), a portion of Augusta County (Va.) Court Papers, 1769-1837. A Library of Virginia finding aid describes these records in greater detail. Boxes 1, 2, and 3 of those Papers are records of the Overseers of the Poor: Boxes 1 and 2 (covering the period 1769-1811) are transcribed and published in a separate volume. A third in this series is the transcription of the second portion of the Vestry Book of Augusta Parish, for the period 1759-1780, which is catalog item 20429, Vestry book, 1746-1782, Augusta Parish (Augusta County, Va.). It deals with (among other issues) insolvent residents assisted by the vestry, before the establishment of the Overseer of the Poor system in 1781. The first portion of that record, 1747-1759, has been transcribed in a very useful Master's thesis by John Logan Anderson at the University of Virginia, entitled The Presbyterians and Augusta Parish, 1738-1757: a political and social analysis, 1985.

In the interest of keeping this study to a reasonable scope, I did not transcribe Box 3 of the overseer records, from 1812 to 1837. For the same reason, I truncated the later delinquent tithable lists: there is a natural gap between the lists for 1817 and the resumption of lists from 1829 to 1833; I have not included those later lists in this volume.

Thematically, this is part of a three volume series. I hope to shed light on impoverished and under-documented residents in the general area of Augusta County. The inclusion of a name in these records is not indicative of criminal delinquency; poverty is not delinquency, after all, and many criminals are better documented than some of these impoverished men and women. As for the reasons these names appear on these lists, many had moved to another location and would have been taxed there. Other recurring individuals appear as 'insolvent', 'too poor to pay', etc, and show up elsewhere on the parish lists as recipients of public charity. Some women on those poor rolls may have been widows of some of the insolvent men here.

As a matter of context, some of the earliest lists in this present volume are not from what is presently Augusta County; but from counties formed from the vast territory of its original boundaries. Botetourt County was formed from in it 1770, and Fincastle County was formed from Botetourt in 1772, and was in turn absorbed by Montgomery County in 1775. Three Fincastle lists are Library of Virginia catalog items 1) barcode 28547 List of delinquents in that part of Fincastle County settled on the waters of Clinch River, compiled by Henley Moore; 2) barcode 28548 List of delinquents returned by James McGavock for 1773; and 3) barcode 28549 List of delinquents returned by Daniel Trigg, deputy sheriff, for the year 1773. These items were copied from Montgomery County papers (Accession 23680). Catalog item GLR05074, not copied, is an affidavit, by Henry Ewin, Clerk, of Rockingham County, from March 1784 regarding Captain Benjamin Harrison's list of delinquents, it is available at the Library of Virginia on microfilm Misc Reel 2979. Rockingham was created in 1778 from a northern part of Augusta County. Other additional delinquent lists are from Library of Virginia catalog item APA 427a, Augusta County, delinquent taxes, 1788-1796, Virginia, Auditor of Public Accounts (1776-1928), which includes the document concerning the sheriff's prosecution, below.

Karen Wagner Treacy

2023, paper, index, 160 pp.