About the Virginia Revolutionary War Public Service Claims

About the Collection |
Format of Collection | Related Resources

About the Collection

Virginia Revolutionary War Public Service Claims

The various records that comprise the Public Service Claims collection relate to claims for compensation from the state made by Virginia citizens for materials, supplies, and personal services provided to the militia, State, and Continental troops during the Revolutionary War. The collection consists of several types of documents: certificates, court booklets, lists, indexes, and commissioners' books.

The Legislature, sitting in session between 4 May 1780 and 14 July 1780, passed "An act for procuring a supply of provisions and other necessaries for the use of the Army" [Hening 10:233-237]. This act, extended in other sessions, authorized the governor to appoint commissioners within each county to carry out the terms of the act.

The commissioners issued receipts, or certificates, to individuals for materials and services provided. The front of the certificates included the name of the individual, the date, a description of the item (including quantity and weight), and its value. The back of the certificates often contained an assignment of the right to reimbursement signed by the original owner. The certificates and any other available documentation was presented to the county court during special sessions held between 1781 and 1783. Certificates were examined and authenticated by the courts, and the amount of compensation was determined. Information pertaining to claims that were approved was recorded by the court clerk in court booklets which were sent to the public service claims commissioners' office in Richmond. The local provision law commissioners and deputy commissaries also kept lists of the foodstuffs, animals and other provisions that were collected in each county.

Two public service claims commissioners were appointed by the governor in 1783 to authorize reimbursement for materials and services provided. Individuals or their agents went to the commissioners' office in Richmond where payment on their claims was approved based on information contained in the certificates and court booklets. These transactions were recorded in the commissioners' books. The information recorded included the number of claims involved in the transaction, the name of the individual, descriptions and valuations of the property, and the date payment was authorized. The individual or his agent was then issued a warrant by the auditor of public accounts which he in turn took to the state treasurer's office for payment.

The Revolutionary War Public Service Claims records are part of: Records of the Executive Branch. Auditor of Public Accounts (Record Group 48) and are listed on page 15, of A Guide to State Records in the Archives Branch. The records are also further described in entry no. 241-243 in Auditor of Public Accounts Inventory (Auditor of Public Accounts. Administration of State Government: Military Expenditures - Revolutionary War. Public Claims. Impressed Property Claims).

Format of Collection

Certificates. 1780-1783 The certificates (6 feet, 3 inches) are arranged by locality and then alphabetically by the name of the claimant. There are also 27 negative photostat volumes that reproduce the fronts of the certificates.

Court Booklets, Indexes, and Lists. 1781-1783 These records (4 feet) summarize the information on the certificates and are arranged by locality and sub-arranged by the date of the court session on which the claims were returned. Lists are also arranged by locality and then chronologically by the date the provisions were impressed.

Commissioner's Books. 1783 The commissioner's books (5 v.) are arranged chronologically by the date payments were authorized.


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