Searching the Legislative Petitions Database
Petitions to the General Assembly were the primary catalyst for legislation in the Commonwealth from 1776 until 1865. Public improvements, military claims, divorce, manumission of slaves, division of counties, incorporation of towns, religious freedom, and taxation were just some of the concerns expressed in these petitions. The petitions often contain hundreds of signatures and are a useful tool in genealogical research. Frequently, the petitions contain supplementary support documents useful in research, including maps, wills, naturalizations, deeds, resolutions, affidavits, judgments, and other items.
This database provides a calendar of Legislative Petitions submitted to the General Assembly between 1776 and 1865. The database lists the name of the petitioner, locality, date of presentation, description, reel number, box number, and folder number. In addition, each petition has been assigned one or more topics for indexing purposes. There are four ways to search the database: By Petitioner, By Locality, By Description, or By Topic. The petitions are on microfilm in the West Reading Room and available through interlibrary loan at the Library of Virginia. The collection is organized in boxes by county, then chronologically with a separate petition in each folder. In order to locate the petitions on microfilm or request copies of originals, please be specific and note the exact box, folder, and reel number.
Over 25,000 petitions, representing the counties between Accomack and York, and cities Alexandria through Winchester, have been entered into the database. In addition, there are petitions with unidentified localities filed as Miscellaneous (Chronological) and Miscellaneous (Alphabetical).
Please use the following search pages:
Database Search (Allows searches by: Petitioner, Locality, Description and Topic)
- Notes on Specific Name search: This database does not provide an index to every signature on the petitions. The main petitioner(s) is displayed in the Petitioner field or a general term like Citizens or Inhabitants is used for multiple petitioners.
- Also note that a search for "John" will yield records containing both given names and surnames containing "John" such as "Johnson" and "Johnston"
- Browse by locality