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Circuit Court for the City of Fredericksburg, VA

Sharron S. Mitchell, Clerk

During the history of courthouses in Fredericksburg, Virginia, there sat many different courts. Until its incorporation as a town in 1781 the courthouse in Fredericksburg served as the courthouse for Spotsylvania County, of which Fredericksburg was a part. Starting in 1782 the Fredericksburg Courthouse was the site of the Fredericksburg Hustings Court, which continued until 1889 when the court was renamed the Corporation Court, coinciding with Fredericksburg's newly declared status as an independent city (no longer associated with Spotsylvania County). Due to lack of space at the Spotsylvania Courthouse the Fredericksburg Courthouse was also used for the Spotsylvania District Court and the series of Superior Courts to follow from 1789 until 1889.

Fredericksburg Circuit Court Records Preservation

In 1992 a program was initiated under the Virginia Circuit Court Clerks Preservation Program (VCCCPP) to process court records papers lodged in the Fredericksburg Courthouse for archival storage and reformatting. In 1998 the City of Fredericksburg started sponsoring the Fredericksburg Circuit Court records preservation work.  Under these programs pre-1914 records are indexed on primary names after they have been processed and organized in an archival filing system. Unique to the VCCCPP work in Fredericksburg was the contribution of the Records Conservation Project which started extracting data of genealogical and / or historical note, entering the extracts into a database together with the primary names index.  Development of the combined name/extract database continues under sponsorship of the City of Fredericksburg. This combined database is the basis for Historic Court Records.

Obtaining copies of Fredericksburg Circuit Court Records

Requests for copies of records presented in Historic Court Records should be mailed to :
Fredericksburg Circuit Court
P.O. Box 359
Fredericksburg, VA 22404

Please send a SASE with your request and the citation information provided with each record. Since many of the court records contain a large number of pages, many of which are fragile, please try to be specific as to what portion of the record you need. A request for photocopies of the entire record may be not be possible to honor due to Clerk's office staffing limitations. Your request will be answered by an estimate of the photocopy cost of the requested record(s). By law (Code of Virginia) the minimum photocopy cost the Clerk is permitted to charge is $.50 per photocopy page.

History of the Fredericksburg, Virginia, Courthouse

The first courthouse on the site of the current courthouse for the Circuit Court for the City of Fredericksburg was built between 1736 and 1740. The early courthouse was built of brick and modeled after an English town hall (similiar to the Hanover County, Virginia, courthouse which still stands today). Among the attorneys to practice law in the original building were James Monroe, John Marshall and Bushrod Washington. The 1768 trial of the Baptist Dissenters may have been the most famous trial held in the old building. The present courthouse, designed by James Renwick in the French Gothic style, was completed in 1852, replacing the original building which was demolished. James Renwick later designed "The Castle" of the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, and St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. The current courthouse has been renovated twice - once shortly after World War II and, to a lesser extent, in 1991/2.

The courthouse tower houses a six hundred pound bronze bell made at the Paul Revere Foundry in Boston, one of one hundred and thirty-four surviving Revere Foundry bells and the only known Revere bell in Virginia. The bell was donated to the Corporation of Fredericksburg in 1828 by Silas Wood, of New York, who married Miss Julia Ann Chew Brock of Fredericksburg in 1816.

Disclaimer: Data provided by Historic Court Records is not official and is provided by the Historic Court Records site for genealogical and historical research purposes only. All data contained herein should be verified by obtaining a copy of the original record.

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Last modified: 23 September 2002
URL: http://www.historiccourtrecords.org/fch.stm