What is a chancery cause? Chancery courts settled issues of equity, or fairness, that could not be readily decided by existing written laws. The outcome of the case is determined by a judge rather than a jury. Chancery court documents are useful when researching genealogical information and land or estate divisions and may contain correspondence, lists of heirs, or vital statistics, among other items. Cases in chancery often address estate and business disputes, debt, the resolution of land disputes, and divorce. Records pertaining to the purchase and sale of slaves may also be found in Chancery case records.
The Library of Virginia has undertaken a project to index and scan or microfilm early Chancery Court records from Virginia. Currently, more than 70 counties have been indexed and records reformatted, with several counties now having digitized images of the case records available online. To see more on this project, and search the Chancery Court Index, visit the LVA Chancery Collection website.