Cavaliers and Pioneers: Virginia Genealgoy

Since its first printing in 1934, Cavaliers and Pioneers: Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants 1623-1666, the book has proven to be one of the most important genealogical references for colonial Virginia. The book is effectively a directory of Virginia’s earliest settlers. The book is a history into colonial origins, and offers genealogical references possibly not found anywhere else.

The book is comprised of land record abstracts dating back to 1623. Each record is provided in paragraph form under the name of each patentee or grantee.  Each records provides the number of acres, locations and dates of settlement, and names of family members. Many entries even include further references to marriages, wills, and other legal instruments. The volume also has the names of some thousands who were transported or brought over by the early settlers as “headrights.” A 200 page index contains the names of about 20,000 persons.

Extracting these records was a massive undertaking; especially, in the 1930s before computers and automated filing systems. The records themselves were often in poor shape, primarily due to mishandling, after nearly 300 years. In summary, the Land Office records followed thus: “45 volumes or 24,983 pages of Colonial Patents; 22 1/2 volumes or 8,371 pages of Northern Neck Deeds (issued by Thomas, Lord Fairfax, beginning in 1690); 67 volumes or 47,769 pages of Commonwealth Grants (beginning in 1779) and 7 1/2 volumes or 4,782 pages of Northern Neck Grants subsequent to the Revolutionary War, making a total of 142 manuscript volumes, representing 85,905 pages.”

Here is a sample entry, chosen at random:

“WILLIAM MELLING, 100 acs. Accomack Co, 20 June 1636, p. 366. At the head of the old plantation Cr., beg. at the Cabin brand, running Nly. along the same & Ely. along the head br. into the woods towards pynie swampe. 50 acs. for his per. adv. & 50 acs. by assignment from William Morton, to whom it was due for his per. adv.”

An explanation provided in the front matter gives the meaning for all the various abbreviations.


Table of Contents

Publishers Introduction

List of Illustrations

General Forword: Nell Marion Nugent

Introduction: Robert Armistead Stewart



  • Patent Book 1, Part I
  • Patent Book 1, Part II
  • Patent Book 2
  • Patents Book 3
  • Patent Book 4
  • Patent Book 5

Greatest Number of Acres in a Single Patent (Table)

Index to Introduction

General Index



Copies of Cavaliers and Pioneers: Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants 1623-1666, are available from Family Roots Publishing; Price: $49.00.

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