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About the Revolutionary War Virginia State Pensions Database

About the Collection | Auditor of Public Accounts
 Format of Collection | Related Resources
 

About the Collection

Virginia Revolutionary War Pensions

During the session which began in October 1777, the Virginia General Assembly passed several laws designed to increase military enlistment. These laws authorized the payment of pensions to maimed and disabled soldiers and to the widows of men killed in action. The provisions varied according to the specific terms of each act. In October 1782 an act was passed requiring county courts to certify on a semi-annual basis the continued eligibility of pensioners to receive allowances. The state auditor of public accounts maintained lists of pensioners that he sent to the county clerks for verification. He also issued warrants for the disbursement of pension funds. A few of the pensions in the collection are for French and Indian War service.

The last act concerning Revolutionary War pensions was passed by the General Assembly in 1785.

The records in a pensioner's file usually consist of proof of service, medical evaluations, orders for payment, records of payment, receipts signed by the pensioner, and statements of disability from the local court. The online index to these records lists the name of the veteran and the county in which he lived. Details about military service and the pensioner's family (such as the name of the widow and the number of children) may also be available.

It is important not to confuse records pertaining to pensions issued by the state of Virginia with records for federal pensions issued to Virginians for Revolutionary War service. The original federal pension records are held by the National Archives. The Library of Virginia has federal Revolutionary War pensions on microfilm.

The Revolutionary War Pensions records are part of: Records of the Executive Branch. Auditor of Public Accounts (Record Group 48) and are listed on page 13, of A Guide to State Records in the Archives Branch. The records are also further described in entry no. 230 in Auditor of Public Accounts Inventory (Auditor of Public Accounts. Administration of State Government: Military Expenditures - Revolutionary War. Pensions).

Auditor of Public Accounts

Although the colonial government had appointed auditors general from time to time, the office was not established on a permanent basis until after independence was declared. At its first session, which convened on 7 October 1776, the General Assembly passed an act creating a board of three auditors to examine and settle claims concerning receipts and expenditures for military purposes. The confusing financial situation of the state, however, resulted in a series of acts being passed over the next fifteen years elaborating and refining the duties of the auditors.

Finally, at its session begun in November 1791, the General Assembly passed an act that combined the duties of the board of auditors and the solicitor general, whose office had been created in 1785 to settle the accounts of the state with the United States. These duties were assigned to a single auditor of public accounts effective 1 January 1792. The auditor soon became the most powerful fiscal officer in the state. All receipts and disbursements were made only upon his warrant to the treasurer, and his books were the standard against which those of the treasurer were checked.

As the state moved into a period of steady financial and governmental growth in the nineteenth century, the number of accounts and funds maintained by the auditor became excessive. Thus, on 24 February 1823 the General Assembly passed an act creating the office of the second auditor to ease the auditor's burden. Although the second auditor handled several large special funds, the auditor continued to be responsible for most of the accounts concerning the daily operation of state government.

Effective 1 March 1928 the office of auditor of public accounts and second auditor were abolished and replaced by the office of comptroller--head of the Department of Accounts--to monitor the receipt and disbursement of state funds. A new office of auditor of public accounts, under the General Assembly, was created to audit state and local government agencies.

Format of Collection

Available on microfilm: Virginia Revolutionary War Pension Applications. Reels 1-15.

Related Resources

Federal Pensions

State Pensions