The Chancery Court Could Reveal your Ancestor

Jeannette Holland Austin

Initially, England had a Court of Chancery to handle cases which dealt with the harshness of common law. This same type of court was brought into the American Colonies.

Chancery Court is an element of English law that was brought to the United States in colonial times. The idea of the court of chancery was initially based on separation from circuit courts, whose origins were mainly common law. The role of the court of chancery was to handle those particular cases that could not be resolved in common law courts. This same type of English Law was used in the American Colonies during the colonial period. The cases included guardianships, wills, trusts, contracts, land issues, etc. In essence, the chancery attempted to resolve the small troublesome issues of daily life.

If you are a genealogist who had not found the last will and testament nor estate of your ancestor, this resource offers some hope. You may have noticed “Chancery Notices” in old newspapers. This is where to search. Once you have read the chancery notice, the next step is to locate the actual case in the Chancery Court. Old newspapers can be read online here

Virginia Chancery cases may be found online Most of the colonial wills and estates in Virginia may be found here-members only

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