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Colonial Tithables

Guide to colonial-era tithable lists in Virginia

Case Study

The following situation shows the value of tithable lists for researchers. Zachariah Hendrick, of Cumberland County, died leaving a will recorded in 1783 (Cumberland County Will Book 2, p. 315.) Researchers attempting to identify Zachariah’s father should first examine Cumberland County wills and deeds for the name Hendrick. The examination of wills does not provide the name of Zachariah’s father, but it shows that he had a brother, Obadiah. The will of Obadiah Hendrick (Cumberland County Will Book 2, p. 434) mentions his brother Zachariah and another brother, Benjamin. In his will, Obadiah Hendrick freed the following enslaved individuals: Old Ben, Young Ben, Moses alias Bachus, Dansey, Martin, Will, Harry, Artimy, and Bess.

Examination of the Cumberland County deeds shows that when Zachariah Hendrick first purchased land in 1765, he was a resident of Amelia County (Cumberland County Deed Book 4, p. 60). Clayton Torrence’s book Virginia Wills and Administrations, 1632–1800 (1931) lists several wills for individuals named Hendrick in Amelia County. The 1777 Amelia County will of Benjamin Hendrick mentions executors, named Obadiah and Benjamin Hendrick, and makes a bequest to his son, Bernard Hendrick. No Hendrick will in Amelia County, however, mentions a son named Zachariah.

Fortunately, Amelia County has a long run of tithable records. In the 1746 list, Benjamin Hendrick listed Zachariah Hendrick as a tithable. In 1748, Benjamin Hendrick listed Zachariah Hendrick and Benjamin Hendrick Jr. In 1752, Benjamin Hendrick listed Benjamin Hendrick Jr. and Obadiah Hendrick. In 1762, Benjamin Hendrick listed Bernard Hendrick. These tithable lists reveal that Zachariah, Benjamin Jr., Obadiah, and Bernard were at one time or another listed as tithables in the household of Benjamin Hendrick Sr. The inventory of Benjamin Hendrick Sr. lists the following enslaved individuals: Ben, Bess, Harry, Joe, Peter, Bachus, Marten, Bob, Amos, Sally, Fan, Betty, Abigail, Rainy, Jenny, Rachel, Phebe, Silla, and Stephen (Amelia County, Will Book 2, p. 247.) The will of Obadiah Hendrick mentions enslaved individuals named Ben, Bess, Harry, Bachus, and Martin, which further connects Zachariah and his brother Obadiah to their father, Benjamin Hendrick Sr., of Amelia County. Only by using the Amelia County tithables is the father of Zachariah Hendrick able to be identified.