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Tag Archives: colonial records

- A Colonial Cover-up: Lunenburg County Records Reveal New Information


Front cover, The Killing of Reverend Kay, courtesy of cynthiamattson.com.

Has researcher and author Cynthia Mattson uncovered a sordid, centuries-old murder conspiracy and cover-up?  There’s good reason to believe she has.

Reverend William Kay was a lightning rod for controversy. As Virginia’s nascent planter elite sought to consolidate their social position in the mid-18th century, they ran into one obstacle: the Anglican Church, which, with the weight of the British government behind it, occasionally took precedence over the even the wealthiest laymen. This put Kay on a collision course with Tidewater planter Landon Carter.

In the past centuries, aspects of Kay’s life have warranted comment in a number of history books, including ones by such high-profile authors as Eric Foner, but the manner of his death has never been addressed. Indeed, as Mattson wrote to me, “I happened upon a lone entry in a court order book from the fall of 1755… recording the jailing of three of Kay’s slaves for killing their master. I was astonished by my finding, for I had thoroughly researched the Kay/Carter affair and not one of the historical accounts, nor the histories of Lunenburg County, mentioned that Kay had met a violent death a mere two years after the conflict with Carter had ended.”

Suspicious of this murder, Mattson attempted to dig deeper. Strangely enough, however, no record of the trial made it into Lunenburg’s official court order … read more »

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- Remembering Craig Moore, 1971-2013



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Craig Moore, State Records Appraisal Archivist, died on August 13 after a lengthy battle with cancer.  While long time readers of Out of the Box will know Craig from his many posts, he was anonymous to most researchers conducting archival research at the Library of Virginia.  For most of Craig’s 15 years at the Library, he worked behind the scenes in the State Records section making some of the Library’s most significant collections accessible.  His work will contribute greatly to understanding the state’s history for generations.

I met Craig in 1998 when he joined the Library’s Archives Reference staff.  A year later we both started new positions in the State Records section and became “office mates.”  Craig and I shared an office which was unusual in our (then) new building.  Sharing a workspace can be a minefield of personality quirks.  For us, it worked and we became good friends.  We had similar interests (baseball, football, South Park, listening to Howard Stern, fantasy football, the music of Genesis, etc.), the same sense of humor (potty jokes made us giggle like school girls), and a love of history and our work as archivists.   We laughed at the names he would see in the records such as:  Bittle C. Keister, Reekes & Goode, Attorneys at Law, Garland P. Peed, M.I. Snoody, and many others that … read more »

- Treasure in the Attic: Accomack County Colonial Era Records

 These two Accomack County deeds, circa 1814, display serious insect damage. The oldest record found in the attic was a deed or land grant from 1686. These are some of the oldest records in the LVA's collection.

In 1996, Samuel Cooper, circuit court clerk of Accomack County, contacted the Library of Virginia about a large amount of county records he found in the attic of the clerk’s office.  He requested assistance from LVA to determine their value, with the possibility of transferring them to LVA.  A team of archivists travelled to Accomack County expecting to examine only a few boxes of old court papers.  After climbing through the narrow opening of the office ceiling, they discovered a treasure trove of court records dating from the late 1600s to the early 1700s.  Unfortunately, due to the poor environmental and storage conditions the records were in extremely fragile condition. Approximately 50 cubic feet of county records were transferred to the Library of Virginia where they were stabilized.

During the course of several years we examined these records to determine what they were and whether they could be recovered through conservation.  The examination revealed that the records were primarily wills, deeds, fiduciary records, judgments, and chancery suits dated from the colonial era of Accomack County.  Regrettably, the vast majority of these records are unsalvageable.  Victims of heat, humidity, and insects, they can never be recovered. (images above)  Fortunately we were able to identify a few gems that could be restored.  They include tobacco plant censuses, 1728-1729, tithable lists, 1738-1769, and oaths of allegiance, … read more »

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