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Williamsburg (Independent City), Virginia Genealogy

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Williamsburg is a city in the state of Virginia. It is independent of any county and consists entirely of the city of Williamsburg.

Williamsburg, Virginia
—  Independent City  —
Location in Virginia
Founded 1884
Website http://www.williamsburgva.gov/

County Information[edit | edit source]

Description[edit | edit source]

The City of Williamsburg is located in the Eastern portion of the Commonwealth of Virginia and was named in honor of England's reigning monarch, King William III[1].

Williamsburg Virginia Boundary Map.JPG

Quick Facts[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has more about this subject: Williamsburg,_Virginia

Parent County[edit | edit source]

1884: Williamsburg was created in 1884 from James City County. [2]

Boundary Changes[edit | edit source]

Record Loss[edit | edit source]

War.jpg

James City County and Williamsburg shared a courthouse starting in 1770. During the American Civil War many of their courthouse records were moved to Richmond for safekeeping, but were destroyed by the 3 April 1865 fire.[3]

Consequently, few court records from prior to that date exist, although a few records from the 1850s are housed in the current Williamsburg-James City County Courthouse. Deed Book 1 and Will Book 1 both include some records from the 1850's.

For suggestions about research in places that suffered historic record losses, see:

Places/Localities[edit | edit source]

Populated Places[edit | edit source]

The City of Williamsburg

Neighboring Counties[edit | edit source]

Resources[edit | edit source]

African American[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

For a more detailed list, including addresses, phone numbers, and external links, see Williamsburg, Virginia Cemeteries.

Following is a list of cemeteries in Williamsburg:[4]

  • Bruton Parish Episcopal Church Cemetery
  • Cedar Grove Cemetery
  • Eastern State Hospital Cemetery
  • Galt Family Cemetery
  • Jones Family Cemetery
  • St. Bede Catholic Church Columbarium

Church[edit | edit source]

For a more detailed list, including addresses, phone numbers, and external links, see Williamsburg, Virginia Churches.

Following is a list of Churches in Williamsburg, Virginia:

  • Bruton Parish Church

Courthouse[edit | edit source]

Williamsburg City-JamesCity Courthouse
Williamsburg James City County Courthouse.JPG
Williamsburg Circuit Court
5201 Monticello Avenue
Suite Six
Williamsburg, VA 23188-8218
(757) 564-2242

The Williamsburg-James City County Courthouse houses records for the separate municipalities of the City of Williamsburg and James City County. Deeds for each municipality are maintained separately and generally utilize different numbering schemes (e.g., six digit instrument numbers for Williamsburg deeds and nine digit instrument numbers for James City County deeds).

The Clerk's Office in the Circuit Court has a variety of City of Williamsburg and James City County records including deed and will books, twentieth-century tax records, tax assessors, maps, plats, military induction records, marriage records, death records, order books, and other documents. The courthouse maintains a searchable, computer-based index for deeds, marriages, and wills for the following time periods:

Chancery
1993-present
Deeds
1982-present
Marriages
1968-present
Wills
1992-present

Clerk of Circuit Court

  • Visit website for hours and services

James City County records are available on microfilm through Interlibrary Loan via the Library of Virginia.

  • Visit Collections for information about the library's collections and resources
  • Visit Visitors' Guide for details about onsite research.

Indexes (1799-1967) and images (1799-1933) to Williamsburg City, Virginia Chancery Records are available online through Virginia Memory: Chancery Records Index. These records, which were often concerned with inheritance disputes, contain a wealth of genealogical information.

Genealogy[edit | edit source]

  • [Page] Rutherford, Dolores Crumrine. The Page Family in Virginia Personal Property Taxes (1782-1850). 2 vols. Carmichael, Calif.: D.C. Rutherford, 2002. FHL Book 929.273 P141rd v. 1-2 [Williamsburg appears in Vol. 2]
  • [Stuart] Coddington, John Insley. "Ancestors and Descendants of Lady Christina Stuart (1741-1807) Wife of the Hon. Cyrus Griffin of Virginia," National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 52, No. 1 (Mar. 1964):25-36. FHL Collection 973 B2ng v. 52

Immigration[edit | edit source]

  • Coldham, Peter Wilson. "Correspondence with the American Colonies 1739-1782," The Genealogist, Vol. 12, No. 1 (Spring 1998):108-128; Vol. 12, No. 2 (Fall 1998):189-205. [Overseas correspondence of residents of Williamsburg with the following surnames: Lee, Nicholas, Norton, and Prentis.] Available at FHL.
  • Coldham, Peter Wilson. North American Wills Registered in London 1611-1857. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 2007. [Includes wills of residents of Bruton Parish, James City County, and Williamsburg proved in London. These records often help establish an immigrant's place of origin.]

Land[edit | edit source]

History[edit | edit source]

Maps[edit | edit source]

Newport News (Independent City)York CountyJames City CountySurry CountyVA WILLIAMSBURG IND CITY.PNG
About this image
Click a neighboring county
for more resources


Migration[edit | edit source]

  • Clay, Robert Y. "Some Delinquent Taxpayers 1787-1790," The Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 22, No. 2 (Apr.-Jun. 1978):121-130. Available at FHL; digital version at New England Ancestors ($). [These records identify migrants who left the county and often their intended destinations. Williamsburg's 1789 Delinquent List appears on 22:129-130.]

Military[edit | edit source]

The Clerk's Office in the Circuit Court has military induction records.

French and Indian War[edit | edit source]
  • Bockstruck, Lloyd DeWitt. Virginia's Colonial Soldiers. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1988. Available at FHL. [Identifies some Williamsburg militia officers, soldier enlistments, and veterans; see place name index.]
Civil War, 1861-1865 [edit | edit source]

Since Williamsburg was created in 1884 from James City County[5], see the James City County page for information about the Civil War military units of that area. During the Civil War men often joined a company (within a regiment) that originated in their area.

Civil War Battle[edit | edit source]

The following Civil War battle was fought in Williamsburg.

Maps of Civil War battles in Virginia: 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

There are two distinct publication timeframes for newspapers titled The Virginia Gazette.

The was paper was first published weekly in Williamsburg, Virginia during much of the 18th century, when Williamsburg was the capital of the colony.  Beginning in 1766, another printer launched a competing publication by the same name.  In total, three different publishers used the name "Virginia Gazette" during the Colonial era, and are listed separately in the digital collection, grouped by publisher. Digitized images of the paper can be viewed on-line through the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Digital Library.  The collection is indexed for publication years 1736 to 1780.  Williamsburg Regional Library has microfilm of the Colonial era collection, as well.

More recently, the Virginia Gazette was revived in 1930 by publisher J.A. Osborne as part of the first Colonial Williamsburg renovation.

Digitized images of the paper through the Library of Congress.  Collection covers from 1900 to 1903.

Digitized images of the paper through the Library of Congress. Collection covers from 1901 and 1903.

Digitized images of the paper through the Library of Congress. Collection covers from 1907 to 1910.

Professor Tom Costa and The Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia have created a database of all runaway advertisements for slaves, indentured servants, transported convicts, and ship deserters listed in the Virginia Gazette and other Virginia newspapers (1736-1803), see: The Geography of Slavery in Virginia.

Occupations[edit | edit source]

  • Cutten, George Barton. The Silversmiths of Virginia (together with Watchmakers and Jewelers) from 1694 to 1850. Richmond, Va.: The Dietz Press, Incorporated, 1952. Available at FHL. [Includes a section on Williamsburg silversmiths.]

Private Papers[edit | edit source]

  • Coldham, Peter Wilson. "Correspondence with the American Colonies 1739-1782," The Genealogist, Vol. 12, No. 1 (Spring 1998):108-128; Vol. 12, No. 2 (Fall 1998):189-205. [Overseas correspondence of residents of Williamsburg with the following surnames: Lee, Nicholas, Norton, and Prentis.] Available at FHL.

Probate[edit | edit source]

Wills

York County, Virginia Court

York County Estate Inventories

This collection includes digitized images of the probate records from York County during the colonial period.  York county abuts James City County, and these records include information from Williamsburg, Virginia.  The images are provided by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.   The records can be digitally searched.

London Courts

  • Coldham, Peter Wilson. North American Wills Registered in London 1611-1857. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 2007. [Includes wills of residents of Bruton Parish, James City County, and Williamsburg proved in London. These records often help establish an immigrant's place of origin.]

Taxation[edit | edit source]

How can Virginia tax lists help me?

  • [1673] Annual Co. Levy, Unlawful Assembly, Advices, 1673, Colonial Williamsburg, Vol. 25, No. 1 (Spring 2003).
  • [1782-1815] Heinegg, Paul. "Williamsburg City Personal Property Tax List 1782-1815," Free African Americans.com. [Heinegg abstracted free blacks listed in these records.]
  • [1783] "A List of Taxable Articles in the City of Williamsburg Taken by Robert Nicolson for the Year 1783 Under the Revenue Act," William and Mary College Quarterly, 1st Series, Vol. 23 (1914):133-142. Available at FHL; reprinted in Virginia Tax Records. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1983, which is also available at FHL; digital version at JSTOR ($).
  • [1786, 1788] Schreiner-Yantis, Netti and Florene Speakman Love. The 1787 Census of Virginia: An Accounting of the Name of Every White Male Tithable Over 21 Years, the Number of White Males Between 16 & 21 Years, the Number of Slaves over 16 & Those Under 16 Years, Together with a Listing of Their Horses, Cattle & Carriages, and Also the Names of All Persons to Whom Ordinary Licenses and Physician's Licenses Were Issued. 3 vols. Springfield, Va.: Genealogical Books in Print, 1987. Available at FHL. [The sources for this publication are the 1788 personal property tax list, and a partial reading of the 1786 personal property tax list (names from the 1786 personal property tax list that do not appear on the 1788 list). Williamsburg is included in Vol. 2.]
  • [1788, 1798] Indexed images of the 1788 and 1798 Personal Property Tax Lists of Williamsburg, Virginia are available online at Binns Genealogy.
  • [1789] Clay, Robert Y. "Some Delinquent Taxpayers 1787-1790," The Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 22, No. 2 (Apr.-Jun. 1978):121-130. Available at FHL; digital version at New England Ancestors ($). [These records identify migrants who left the county and often their intended destinations. Williamsburg's 1789 Delinquent List appears on 22:129-130.]
  • [1793] Tithables, ca.1793, Williamsburg, Tidewater Virginia Families, Vol. 3, No. 3 (Nov. 1994).

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

Societies, Libraries and Museums[edit | edit source]

Local Resources[edit | edit source]

The WRL is the central library for the City of Williamsburg and James City County

Swem Library is the central research library for The College of William and Mary.

This library is operated by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Its contains secondary and primary materials on the colonial history of Virginia.

The Omohundro Institute is a joint research institute between The College of William & Mary and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, focusing on academic research on early American history.

State Resources[edit | edit source]

Virginia Genealogical Society

Virginia Historical Society

The Library of Virginia

The Library of Virginia has an extensive collection of documents related to James City County including:

Board of Supervisor Minutes: Sept. 1887 to 1908, Court Minutes: 1871-1882, Clerk's Guide to Sampel Forms for Certain Court Records, undated, Chancery Execution Book: 1868-1916, Chancery Minutes: 1871-1873, Chancery Order Books: 1889-1903, Chancery Rules: 1872-1911, Execution Book: 1866-1916, Judgment Docket: 1865-1903, Law Execution Book: 1866-1882, Circuit Court Order Book: 1879-1885, James City County and Williamsburg Fiduciary Bond Book: 1865-1908, James City County and Williamsburg Plat Books: 1891-1918, Birth Register: 1866-1884, Death Register: 1864-1884, School Commissioners Records: 1819-1861, Tax Book: 1768-1769, Deed and Will Books: 1854-1861, 1865-1874 Land Tax Lists: 1782 on, Personal Property Tax Lists: 1782 on, Agricultural Census Records: 1850-1880, Census Records: full run, Slave Schedules: 1850 and 1860, Processioners Records: 1890-1891, 1903-1904 James City County/Williamsburg Rolls of Registered Voters: 1900-1965, James City County/Williamsburg Contracts for Personal Property: 1900-1918

Websites[edit | edit source]

Research Guides[edit | edit source]

Researching Seventeenth Century Virginians

Researching Williamsburg Area Virginians

Researching Revolutionary Era Virginians

These three research guides were prepared by the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library at Colonial Williamsburg.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. https://www.williamsburgva.gov/i-want-to/learn-more-about/about-williamsburg
  2. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).
  3. Lost Records Localities: Counties and Cities with Missing Records, 3, in Library of Virginia (accessed 4 April 2014).
  4. CScn= CScntry=4& CSst=48 CScnty=2937 Find-a-Grave
  5. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).
  6. Heritage Preservation Services, Civil War Battle Summaries by State, (accessed 7 August 2012).