Early History of the Eastern Shore

The earliest settlement of the region known as the Eastern Shore dates from 1614, when twenty men were sent to Smith's Island (sic) to make salt for the colony. In the reorganization of the colony in 1634, the Eastern Shore began an original shire known as "Accawmak". That name continued from 1632 to 1642; from 1642 to 1663 it was designated Northampton County, named for an English county [named by Obedience Robins]; in 1663 the Eastern Shore was divided into Accomack and Northampton counties and continued thus to the present, except for the three-year period of 1670-1673. During that time these two counties were united under the name Northampton County, with Accomack being called Upper Northampton. The records for the period 1632-63 are in the custody of the clerk of Northampton County. Northampton's records, which begin in 1633 and thus predate the county itself, comprise the oldest continuous group of county records in English America. There have been no courthouse fires or other destruction of the clerk's records. NORTHAMPTON COUNTY VA

"Accawmak" Shire

Northampton County

The Eastern Shore was divided into two counties Turman Eastern Shore: 64).

October 1670
The General Assembly adopted a resolution that Accomack County be united again with Northampton County with the court meeting in two sessions, one for Upper Northampton County [Accomack] and the other for Lower Northampton County, [Northampton] (70).

The Eastern Shore was again divided into two counties (77).

Although the "Accawmak" Shire was renamed Northampton County in 1642, the early records of both counties until the division in 1663 can be found in record books of Northampton County.

(Walczyk, Frank V. Wills &c 1651-1654: 75).

vicesimo octano die mensis October 1653 present ut antea
This day George Parker by his humble petition delivered to the court that he hath bought six hundred acres of land bounded between the land of John Major orphant, and John West situated upon Nandue Creek for which land exhibited his certificate and survey, and complaineth to this court that the land claimed by the John West (not being surveyed) doth make the pet'r uncapable of knowing the land do to him and is greatly pervidical and detaineth him from proceeding in his present negotiations there upon consideration of the premisses and for prevention of future difference and dissensions, that each party may insty. know the bounds of his own land. Its ordered that Mrs. Ann West shall (within 30 days) after the date here of, and bounded (according to act of assembly) by marked trees, or otherwise the said George Parker shall quietly enjoy his said quantity of six hundred acres of land (according to his survey).
Recorded 12 die October 1653 per Edm. Mathews clk cur

NOTE: The Nandue Creek mentioned above is Nandua Creek and has been always been where it is today

(Mackey Record Book, Orders &c Vols. 7, 1657-1666: 38).

Be it Known unto all Men by these prts. yt I George Hack Physican do hereby for me my Heirs Exrs Admrs or Assigns for divers good & Sufficient consideration by me recieved have bargained & let out unto Wm Boucher his heirs Exrs Admrs & Assigns one Lease or Tentement of Land called Hacks Neck containing about one hundred Acres Situate lying and being upon Aracocks Creek bounded Southerly wth a Corner Tree and Northerly with Bran[ch] or Natural boundeth upon said Creek to hold the Said Tenemt of Land the full Term of eight Years following paying unto ye rent gatherers as it Shall be demanded one Shilling for every 50 Acres and Yearly a Couple of fed Capons upon St. Georges day to ye Said Hack or his Assigns for an Acknowledgmt of the Said Land further the Said Wm Boucher is to [plant] upon the Said plantation fifty Apple Trees and pserve them wyh a good & Sufficient Fence as also one days work in ye Year for reaping English Grain after ye Expiration of ye eight Years ye Said Boucher or his Assigns is to diliver up again ye above mentioned Tenemt of Land

The records of Northampton County and the later formed Accomack County include:

_____. Northampton County Virginia Orders, Deeds & Wills, 1632-1640

_____. Northampton County Virginia Orders, Deeds & Wills, 1640-1645

_____. Northampton County Virginia Orders, Deeds & Wills,1645-1651

_____. Northampton County Virginia Orders, Deeds & Wills, 1651-1654

_____. Northampton County Virginia Orders, Deeds & Wills, 1654-1655

_____. Northampton County Virginia Orders, Deeds & Wills, 1655-1656

The books listed below also contain those of Accomack until the first court was held at Accomack in April 1663

_____. Northampton County Virginia Deeds & Wills, (No 7 & 8) 1655-1658; 1666-1668

_____. Northampton County Virginia Orders, 1657-1664

_____. Northampton County Virginia Orders, 1667-1668


(1) For the suit; for the purpose of the suit; pending the suit. A guardian ad litem is a guardian appointed to prosecute or defend a suit on behalf or a party incapacitated by infancy or other wise. (Black's Law: 43)

Term used to indicate another name by which a person is known. Short for alias dictus" otherwise known as. When used with a description on a person, it indicates that he has used or been known by another name. (71)

Example: There were two petitions heard that day (McKey Vol. 10: 6). An abstract of the first reads" Mrs. Elizabeth Parker widow of William Parker complained that George Parker Sr. had in his custody Scarburgh Parker the daughter of William and Elizabeth........ George Parker refused to return her to her mother without an order of the court."
An abstract of the second Court order reads:

"Mrs. Elizabeth Parker, widow of the recently deceased William Parker petitioned that William who had 'departed this life in ye Province of Maryland', had left a small estate there. Elizabeth had only a few items in her possession, an inventory of which the court ordered to be recorded: a bed, bolster, rug and blanket; a pewter tumbler and a small gold hoop ring. 'The list was signed on 2 June 1703 by Elizabeth Parker alias. Scarburgh. Elizabeth promised payment to anyone with a just claim against the estate, 'being wholly desirious to relinquish all manner of claim to any part or parcel of the said Parker's estate.' " Meaning: Elizabeth Parker was also (could be) known as Elizabeth Scarburgh.

CONSORT: 1 a companion or associate, 2 a husband or wife. 3 to be in agreement; harmony.

CHAIN: The chain as a unit normally refers to the English unit chain, also called a Gunter's chain. This is defined as 66 feet (20.1168 meters). It is also known as the surveyor's chain or land chain. A chain consisted of 100 links. 10 Square chains = 1 Acre.

The term "cousin" as written in many of the Court Records for Accomack and Northampton counties in the 1600 and 1700 hundred could mean any three of the definitions below:

(1) A child of one's aunt or uncle. Also called first cousin.
(2) A relative descended from a common ancestor, such as a grandparent, by two or more steps in a diverging line.
(3) A relative by blood or marriage; a kinsman or kinswoman.

EXAMPLE: (Nottingham: 204). BAGWELL, HELY - 21 Mar. 1761 - 31 Mar. 1761 - Mother Sabra Dix plantation on Folly Creek with 100 acres of marsh on the Bayside for life & then to my brother Spencer Bagwell. Cousin John Milby. To Henry Bagwell, son of my brother Spencer. To father in law John Dix & mother Sabra Dix balance of estate for life & then to be divided between my brothers & sisters, Ann Dix, Elizabeth Dix, John Dix the younger, Mary Dix & Levin Dix. Mother & father in law Exrs. Witt: Laban Simpson, Southy Simpson. Note: John Dix is not the father of Hely Bagwell's wife, but the husband of Hely's mother Sabra.

FEE SIMPLE: The estate which a man has where lands are given to him and to heirs absolutely without any end or limit put on to his estate (615).

FEE TAIL (TAIL) A freehold estate in which there is a fixed line of inheritable succession limited to the issue of the body of the grantee or devisee, and in which the regular and general succession of heirs at law is cut off (616).

IN THE ROOM OF: In stead of. See Ejectment below.

NEXT FRIEND: One acting for the benefit of infant, or other person not able to look after his own interests or manage his/her own lawsuit. (1043).

RELICT: a widow or widower. the survivor of a pari of married people, whether the survivor is the husband or wife; it means the relict of the united pair, not the relict of the deceased person (1291).

SECURITY: Protection; assurance; indemnification. The term is usually applied to an obligation, pledge, mortgage, etc (1355).

SURETY: One who at the request of another, and for the purpose of securing to him a benefit, becomes responsible for the preformance by the latter of some act in favor of the third person. One who undertakes to pay money or do another act event that his principal fails ro do any other act in event that his principal fails. (1441).

NOTE: both or the above terms are used interchangeably in the Court records of Accomack and Northampton Counties.

EXAMPLE: Marriage Bond

(Accomack Marriage Bonds 1774-1806).
Jan. 10, 1800 Gladding, John [to] Hepsey [Hessey] Powell $150. William Delastatius [posted bond]

(Turman marriages: 112).
Gladding, John [to] Hepsey [Hessey] Powell 10 Jan. 1800 William Delastatius, sec.

Both the above are the record of the same Marriage License Bond. the first being in the reocord. The second being tracnscribed and written in book form. Both state that on 10 January 1800 John Gladding applied for a marriage license bond to marry Hessey Powell and that William Delastatius gave insurance of $150 that the marriage would take place. In the court record the amount that William Delastatius paid to insure that the marriage would take place is recorded. In Turman the appreviation sec. denotes that fact.


CHANCERY: Equity; equitable jurisdiction; a court of equity; the system of jurisprudence administered in a court of equity. (231)

EJECTMENT: At common law, this was the name of a mixed action (springing from the earlier personal action of ejectione firma). which lay for the recovery of the possession of land, and for damages for the unlawful detention of its possession. The action was highly fictious, being in theory only for the recovery of a term for years, and brought by a purely fictious person ... The plaintiff's title, however. had to be established in order to warrant recovery 516). This explains the use of fictious names like Thomas Seekright and Timothy Notitle. In subsequent court sessions fictious names were changed to reflect real names.

IN DETINUE: A form of action which lies for the recovery in specie, of personal chattels form one who acquired possession of them lawfully, but retains it without right, together with damages of the detention. (450).

TRESPASS: An unlawful interference with one's person, property or rights (1592).

A conveyance of realty; a writing signed by grantor, whereby title to realty is transferred from one to another. A written instrument, signed and delivered by which one person conveys land, tenements, or hereditaments to another. (414).

EXAMPLE: This Deed made this twenty fourth day of October in the Year of our Lord one thousand Seven hundred and ninety Seven Between Joakim White and Susanna his wife of the County of Accomack in the State of Virginia of the one part and Isaiah Bagwell of the same place of the other part. Witnesseth that the said Joakim White and Susanna his wife for and in consideration of the sum of Twenty nine pounds fourteen Shillings current money of Virginia to them in hand paid the Receipt whereof the said Joakim and Susanna do hereby acknowledge and wholly discharge the said Isaiah Bagwell, therefrom Have granted bargained and sold, released, aliened, enfeoffed, and confirmed and by these presents do grant bargain and sell, enfeoff, release, alien and confirm unto the said Isaiah Bagwell his heirs & Assigns forever the Reversion of two Several Tenements and Tracts of land, the one now in the possession of George White the Tenant for life by devise under the Will of his Father Charles White decd containing thirty three and a half acres of land; and the other Tenement and tract of land in the possession of Levin White the Tenant for life by devise under the Will of his Father Charles White containing also thirty three and a half acres of land, the bounds whereof are particularly described in said Will as will appear by reference thereto, which is now of Record in Accomack County Court which said reversions descended to the said Joakim White by the death of his Father the said Charles White as being undisposed of by his Will, together with all the Estate, Right, Title and interest in reversion and reversions, remainder and remainders which he the said Joakim now has or hereafter may have by virtue of devise or descent either from Charles White the Father or Charles White the Grandfather of said Joakim with the appurtenances there to belonging unto him the said Isaiah Bagwell his Heirs and Assigns forever to the only proper use benifit and behoof of him the said Isaiah Bagwell his heirs and assigns forever and to and for no other use intent or purpose whatsoever. And the said Joakim White for himself his heirs and Assigns for ever doth hereby covenant and agree that he the said Joakim and his heirs shall and will at all times hereafter at the Costs and charge of the said Isaiah Bagwell execute any further Deed for the better securing the title of said premises in fee simple after the death of the said Tenants for life unto the said Isaiah Bagwell and his said heirs, and further that he the said Joakim White at this present time has good title and full power and lawful authority to sell the said premises and convey the same unto the said Isaiah Bagwell his heirs and assigns for ever as aforesaid. And theat he the said Joakim White and his heirs for ever the afsd premises and every part thereof with the appurtenances unto the said Isaiah Bagwell his heirs and assigns for ever against the lawful claim and demand of himself and his heirs and all persons or persons claiming from by or under either of them and also all and every other person or persons whatsoever claiming or hereafter to lay claim to the same will warrant and forever defend by these. In Testimony whereof the said Joakim, White and Susanna have hereunto set their hand and affixed their Seals the day and Year above written. (Accomack County Virginia District Court Wills & Deeds 1789-1799; pp 261-264.)

To transfer or make over to another person; to convey or transfer the property of a thing from one person to another; to alienate. Usually applied to the transfer of lands and tenements. (71)

Something annexed to another thing more worthy as principal, and which passes as incident to it, as a right of way or other easement to land; barn, garden, or orchard, to a house or messauge (103).

To transfer , make over, or set over to another. Those to whom property is, will, or any be assigned. Used e.g. in the phrase, in deeds, "heirs administrators, and assigns to denote the assignable nature of the interest or right created." (119).

The inducement to contract. The cause, motive, price or impelling influence which induces a contracting party to enter int a contract. (308)

To invest with an estate by feoffment (the instrument or deed by which a person is invested with possession.) (528)

A future interest under which a grantor retains a present right to a future interest in property that the grantor conveys to another, usually the residue of a life estate. (1320).

IN SPECIE: Coined money; coin. -- in specie 1. In coin. 2. In kind. (Webster: 705). In the example below (Accomack County Virginia District Court Wills & Deeds 1800-1806; pp. 123, 124), the part highlighted in red translates as seventy five pounds in coin that at the time was used in Virginia.

EXAMPLE: This Deed made this 8th day of December Anno Domini One thousand eight hundred Between Jacob Waterfield and Sally his Wife of Isle of White County in the State of Virginia of the one part and Levi Rodgers of the county of Accomack in the State aforesd of the other part Witnesseth that the said Jacob Waterfield and Salley his Wife for and in consideration of the Sum of Seventy five pounds eighteen Shillings current money of the State aforesd in Specie to them in hand paid by the said Levi Rodgers the receipt hereof is hereby Acknowledged, hat given granted bargained and sold and Do by these presents give grant bargain Sell and Confirm unto the said Levi Rodgers Twenty three Acres of land more or less lying & being in the parish of Saint George and County of Accomack and bounded as follows (to wit) on the NW By the lands of John Parsons on the SE by the lands of Geo. Scarburgh & Levi Rodgers and adjoining the lotts of land of Tabitha Joynes & Elizabeth Joynes, To have and to hold the said twenty tree Acres of land more or less in two parcels as for Survey at the Division of the lands of Ruebin Joines decd with the appurtenances thereunto belonging unto his the said Levi Rodgers his heirs & assigns forever to and for their use & benifit and for none other whatever And the said Jacob Waterfield & Sally his Wife doth covenant that they have a good and clear Estate in fee Simple to the Said Twenty three Acres of land with the appurtenances aforesd and that they will for themselves their Heirs Executors and Administrators Warrent and defend the Same lands and its appurtenances to the said Levi Rodgers his heirs and assigns forever to and for their use and benefit and for no other use Intent or purpose whatever to the Said twenty three Acres of land and its Appurtenances, or any part thereof In Witness whereof the parties to these presents have set their hands and affixed their Seals the day & Year first above written,

This term in its common acception, is only applied to houses, and other buildings, but its original, proper, and legal sense it signifies everything that may be holden, provided it be of a permanent nature, whether it be of a substantial and sensible, or of an unsubstantial, ideal , kind. (1468).

NOTE: There are other records in the Deed Books of both the Counties of Accomack and Northampton besides deeds, such as Obligation (Accomack District Court Wills &c: 90). One such Obligation reads:

Know all Men by these presents that I William Mason am held and firmly bound unto James Taylor & Bartholomew Taylor (orphans of Major Taylor decd) in the full and Just sum of fifty Six pounds eleven Shillings and two pence currant money of Virginia to be paid unto said James Taylor & Bartholomew Taylor [-----] certain Attorney, heirs, Executors, administrators or assigns to which payment, well and truly to be made I bind myself my heirs Executors and administrators by these presents Sealed with my Seal and dated at Accomack this 16th Day of August One thousand eight hundred

The Condition of the above Obligation is such, That if the above bound William Mason shall well and truly pay or cause to be paid, unto the said James Taylor and Bartholomew Taylor when they arrive to lawful age their certain Attorney heirs Executors, Administrator, or Assigns, the sum of twenty eight pounds five Shillings an Seven pence with lawful Interest thereon from this date being the amount of thier part of their fathers personal Estate then the above Obligation to be void or else to remain in full Force and Virtue

(It seems that the clerk of the Court did not know where to record this instrument.)


ADMINISTRATION (of estates):
The management and settlement of the estate of an intestate decedent, or of a testator who has no executor, performed under supervision of a court, by a person duly qualified and legally appointed, and usually involving (1)the collecting of the decedents assets; (2) payment of debts and claims against the estate; (3) payment of estate taxes; (4) distribution of the remainder of the estate among those entitled thereto. The administration of an estate runs from the date of an individual's death until all assets have been distributed and liabilities paid. Such administration is conducted by an administrator or an executor. (44)

Administrations were handed with Court Orders.

ADMINISTRATOR (Administrix):
A person appointed by the court to administer (i.e. manage or take charge of) the assets and liabilities or a decedent. Such a person may be a male (i.e. administrator) or a female (i.e. administrix). (45)

EXECUTOR(Executrix): A person appointed by a testator to carry out the directions and requests in his/her will and to dispose of the property according (570).

NOTE: Not everyone died with either a will or an administration. These deaths might be found in other court documents.


_____. Accomack County Virginia Marriage Bonds 1774-1806.

_____. Accomack County Virginia District Court Wills & Deeds 1789-1799.

_____. Accomack County Virginia District Court Wills & Deeds 1800-1806.

Black, Henry Campbell M. A., Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition. (St. Paul Minn: West Publishing Co. 1990.

Mackey, Dr. Howard. Northampton County Virginia Record Book, Orders, Deeds, Wills & etc. Vols. 7, 1657-1666. Rockport MA: Picton Press 2002.

McKey, JoAnn Riley. Accomack County, Virginia Court Order Abstracts 1703-1710 Vol. 10. Bowie MD: Heritage Books Inc., 2000.

McKey, JoAnn Riley. Accomack County, Virginia Court Order Abstracts 1703-1710 Vol. 16. Bowie MD: Heritage Books Inc., 2007.

Nottingham, Stratton. Wills and Administrations of Accomack County, Virginia 1663-1800. Bowie MD: Heritage Books, Inc., 1990.

Turman, Nora Miller. Marriage Records of Accomack County, Virginia 1776-1854, Recorded in Bonds, Licenses and Ministers' Returns. Bowie, MD: Heritage Books, Inc., 1994.

Turman, Nora Miller. The Eastern Shore of Virginia 1603-1964. . Bowie, MD: Heritage Books, Inc., 1988.

Walczyk, Frank V., Northampton County VA Wills Deeds & Orders 1651-1654. Book IV.Coram, NY: Peter's Row Publishing, 1998.

Walczyk, Gail M. Accomack County Processioners Returns 1723-1792. Coram NY: Peter's Row, 2003.

© Copyright 2008-2012 by Gail M. Walczyk