The Historic Records Center holds the land records from 1742 to 1942. These records are arranged chronologically by the date of recordation. In addition to the land records recorded (see research note below), early deed books contain bills of sale for personal property (including slaves), commissions from the governor, bonds taken out for public office, powers of attorney, apprenticeship indentures, deeds of manumission, and other contracts.
Information on Virginia Land Records
Under Virginia law, women relinquished their dower rights to real property being sold. If the wife of the grantor or whoever held the dower claim did not appear in court to relinquish her right, the court appointed two or more individuals to go to her and inquire privately if she did indeed understand and approve of the sale. Such relinquishments were not always recorded with the deeds. They often were recorded later in the deed books and are sometimes found in other record books. Without such dower relinquishment, the purchaser did not have clear title to the property.
Slaves in Virginia were considered personal property and consequently were not usually sold by deed. They were, however, often transferred in deeds of gift or were listed as property in mortgages and deeds of trust. In the event that a slave was emancipated prior to the owner’s death, a deed of manumission was recorded with the court.
Online Deed Book Indexes
- Deed Book Index 1742 – 1866 – A – E
- Deed Book Index 1742 – 1866 – F – K
- Deed Book Index 1742 – 1866 – L – R
- Deed Book Index 1742 – 1866 – S – Z
Obtaining Copies From Deed Books
Both certified and non-certified copies of deed book entries can be made upon request. For additional information regarding copies please visit the copies information page.