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A History of The Middle
New River Settlements
and Contiguous Territory.

By David E. Johnston (1906).


Virginia Index || West Virginia Index || --- || Previous Page || Table of Contents || Next Page




The Courts, Judges, Magistrates, Attorneys, Etc.  (Part 1)

Deeming it of interest to the reader, a brief history of the organization of Courts of Justice for the states of Virginia and West Virginia, taken from the statutes and codes of said states is here inserted.  (See Compilation in Code 1894.)

An act was passed in Virginia, in 1784, for the establishment of courts of Assize (Hen-State Vol. II, p. 422) , but it never went into operation;  it was first suspended, and then repealed  (Id. Vol.12, pp. 45, 267, 497).  It was succeeded by the act establishing District Courts of Law  (Id. p. 532, Ch. 39, p. 644, Ch. 1, p. 730, Ch. 67).  These District Courts, after being in operation about twenty years, were abolished in 1809, under the acts establishing a Superior Court of Law in each county (1807-8, p. 5, Ch. 3; p. 10, Ch. 14; 1809, p. 9, Ch. 6).  The several acts concerning Superior Courts of Law were reduced into one by the Act of 1819 (1st Rev. Code, p. 227, Ch. 69).  In 1777 an act passed establishing a high court of Chancery for the state    (Hen-Stat., Vol. 9, p. 389, Ch. 15).  When first established it consisted of three judges, but the number was reduced to one by the Act of 1788 (Id. Vol. 12, p. 767).   The jurisdiction of this court extended over the whole state until 1802, when the state was divided into three districts, and a Superior Court of Chancery established for each district  (1801-2, p. 12, Ch. 14).  The places of holding these courts were Richmond, Williamsburg and Staunton.  In 1812 the Staunton district was divided into four districts;  the judge, previously assigned to the Staunton district was to hold courts for these, to-wit:  At Staunton and Wythe Court House, and a new judge was to hold court for the two others, to-wit:  at Winchester and Clarksburt (1811-12, p. 19, Ch. 15).  In 1814 the Richmond and Williamsburg districts were divided into four districts;  the judge previously assigned to the Richmond district was to hold courts for two of these, to-wit:  at Williamsburg and Fredericksburg (1813-14, p. 44, Ch. 16).  Under a subsequent act of the same year, the judge of the Staunton and Wythe district was, for certain counties, to hold a court at Greenbrier Court House   (1813-14, p. 81, Ch. 33).  The acts concerning the Superior Court of Chancery were reduced into one by the Act of 1818  (1st Rev. Code, p. 196, Ch. 66).  The Superior Courts of law held by fifteen judges, and the Superior Courts of Chancery held by four judges, were abolished by the Act of  the 16th day of April, 1831, which divided the state into 20 circuits, held by that number of judges, and established a Circuit Superior Court of Law and Chancery for each county and in certain corporations (1830-31, p. 42, Ch. 11).  Thus it will be seen that it was about thirty-five years from the date of the establishment of courts of Chancery in Virginia before one of such courts were authorized to be held west of the Alleghanies;   therefore our people, having occasion to resort to a Court of Conscience to have their grievances settled, had to travel many miles towards the rising sun to find a law doctor, authorized to administer relief.   As stated, the itinerant Circuit Court system was not adopted until April, 1831, before that time the courts were held by the judges of the District and General Court, who by allotment were assigned to the various districts as they then existed.  The following judges of the districts and General courts and of the Circuit courts held terms of court in the territory now embraced in the Counties of Montgomery, Giles, Tazewell, Monroe, and Mercer from 1809 to the present:

Judges of the General Court.

Hon. John Coalter.
Hon. Paul Carington.
Hon. Archibald Stewart.
Hon. William Brockenborough.
Hon. Allen Taylor.
Hon. Peter Johnston.
Hon. James Allen.
Hon. John J. Allen.

Circuit Judges.

Benjamine Estill.
Edward Johnston.
George W. Hopkins.
Samuel G. Fulkerson.
John W. Johnston.
Robert M. Hudson.
Alexander Mahood.
Hohn H. Fulton.
D. W. Bolen.
R. C. Jackson.
W. J. Henson.
John J. Allen.
James E. Brown.
Andrew S. Fulton.
John A. Campbell.
Edward B. Bailey.
................ Tipton.
Evermont Ward.
Randall M. Brown.
Samuel W. Williams.
Henry E. Blair.

Virginia Chancellors.

George Wythe.
William Wirt.
Creed Taylor.
Henry St. George Tucker.

County Court Judges for Giles County.

P. W. Strother.
A. N. Heiflin.
Bernard Mason.
George W. Easley.
Martin Williams.

County Court Judges for Tazewell County.

James P. Kelley.
Samuel C. Graham.
J. H. Stuart.
Sterling F. Watts.
S. M. B.Couling.

The following are the names of the Circuit Judges who have presided over the Circuit County of Mercer County since its organization, viz:

Honorable James E. Brown, Wytheville, Virginia.
Honorable Edward B. Bailey, Fayetteville, Virginia.
Honorable Evermont Ward, Logan, Virginia and West Virginia.
Honorable Nathanial Harrison, Union, West Virginia.
Honorable Henry L. Gillaspie, Beckley, West Virginia.
Honorable David E. Johnston, Princeton, West Virginia.
Honorable Robert C. McClaugherty, Princeton, West Virginia.
Honorable Joseph M. Sanders, Bluefield, West Virginia.
Honorable Luther L. Chambers, Welch, West Virginia.

The following is a list of the names of the justices of the peace for the counties of Fincastle and Montgomery, serving on the courts of these counties from 1773 to 1805:

Arthur Campbell.
Daniel Trigg.
John Henderson.
Adam Dean.
Joseph Gray.
William Christian.
Andrew Lewis.
Daniel Howe.
James Charlton.
James McGavock.
James Thompson.
Andrew Boyd.
James Byrn.
John Preston.
James Craig.
James McCorkle.
Christian Snidow.
William Ward.
Walter Crockett.
John Adams.
James Robertson.
John T. Sawyers.
Robert Moffett.
John Taylor.
John Kent.
Henry Patton.
John Hough.
Flower Swift.
Thomas Goodson.
Joseph Cloyd.
George Rutlege.
William Love.
James Taylor.
Anthony Bledsoe
Johnathan Isan.
George Pearis.
James Reaburn.
James Newell.
John Taylor.
William Russell.
James P. Preston.
William Davis.
James Woods.
Thomas Shannon.
James Barnett.
William Preston.
David French.

The following is a list of the names of the sheriffs of Fincastle and Montgomery Counties from 1773 to 1806:

William Ingles.
Walter Crockett.
James McCorkle.
Daniel Trigg.
James Barnett.
John Montgomery.
Andrew Lewis.
Charles Taylor.
Joseph Cloyd.
Henry Patton.

The following are the names of the gentlemen who represented this New River District of country in the various constitutional conventions of Virginia, viz:
1776, Arthur Campbell and William Russell, representing Fincastle County.
1788, the convention assembled to consider the ratification or rejection of the Federal Constitution, viz: Walter Crockett and Abraham Trigg, from Montgomery County.
1829-30, Gordon Cloyd, Henley Chapman, George P. Matthews and William Oglesby.
1850-51, Albert G. Pendleton, Allen T. Caperton and A. A. Chapman.

Secession Convention of 1861.

Giles County--Manilius Chapman.
Monroe County--Allen T. Caperton and John Echols.
Mercer County--Napoleon B. French.
Tazewell County--William P. Cecil and Samuel L. Graham.

Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1869.

Giles and Pulaski Counties--Eustace Gibson.
Tazewell and Bland Counties--James M. French.

Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1901-2.

Giles and Pulaski Counties--Joseph C. Wysor.
Tazewell County--Albert Pendleton Gillespie.

Members of the House of Representatives of the United States, representing the territory in the now Counties of Montgomery, Giles, Tazewell, Monroe and Mercer, from 1789 to the  creation and organization of the state of West Virginia, June 20th, 1863, and also the names of those who have been members of Congress from the 9th Congressional District of Virginia since 1863:


Andrew Moore.
Hugh Caperton.
Robert Craig.
A. A. Chapman.
Fayette McMullen.
Francis Preston.
John Floyd.
William McComas.
William B. Preston.
W. R. Staples.
Abram Trigg.
Robert B. Craig.
Andrew Bierne.
Henry A. Edmundson.


Daniel Hoge, 1865-7.
James K. Gibson, 1869-71
William Terry, 1871-73.
Rees T. Bowen, 1873-75.
William Terry, 1875-77.
A. L. Pridemore, 1877-79
J. B. Richmond, 1879-81
Abram Fulkerson, 1881-83.
Henry Bowen, 1883-85.
C. F. Trigg, 1885-87.
Henry Bowen, 1887-89.
John A. Buckhannan, 1889-93.
James W. Marshall, 1893-95.
James A. Walker, 1895-99.
W. F. Rhea, 1899-1903.
C. T. Slemp, 1903-1905.

State Senators from the district comprising in part Montgomery, Giles, Monroe, Mercer and Tazewell counties from 1773-1863:

William Christian.
John Preston.
James Hoge.
Andrew Bierne.
Manilius Chapman.
Charles H. Greaver.
A. A. Chapman.
William Fleming.
James Preston.
Henley Chapman.
William Thomas.
William H. French.
J. W. M. Witten.
William Russell.
John Chapman.
Joseph Draper.
Allen T. Caperton
William B. Preston.
Napoleon B. French.

The following is a list of the names of the gentlemen who represented Montgomery County in the General Assembly of Virginia from 1785 to 1806, inclusive:

1785-6--Robert Sayers and John Breckenridge.
1788--Daniel Trigg and Joseph Cloyd.
1793--Andrew Lewis and John Preston.
1795-6---James Craig and James Barnett.
1797-8--John Ingles and James Taylor.
1800--Daniel Howe and James Craig.
1804--John Ingles and John Gardner.
1805--John Ingles and Andrew Lewis.

Giles County, being created in 1806, and being entitled to two representatives, the following named  gentlemen were elected as her representatives:

1807-8-9-10--Andrew Johnston and Thomas Shannon.
1811--Andrew Johnston and Hugh Caperton, Sr.
1812--John Chapman, Jr., and Christian Snidow.
1813-14--David Johnston and John Chapman, Jr.
1815-16-17--Andrew Johnston and William Smith.
1818-19--John Peters, Jr., and John Kirk, Sr.
1820-21-22--David Johnston and Christian Snidow.
1823-24--William  H. Snidow and William Smith.
1825--Charles King and William Smith.
1826--William H. Snidow and Charles King.
1827--William H. Snidow and William Smith.
1828--William H. Snidow and Charles King.
1829--Samuel Pack and George  N. Pearis.
1830--Samuel Pack and Charles King.

Under the Constitution of 1829-30 Giles County was entitled to one delegate only, and the following named gentlemen were elected to the assembly from that county, to-wit:

1831--William Smith.
1832--William H. Snidow.
1833-34--Morton P. Emmons.
1835--Reuben F. Watts.
1836-37--Daniel Hale.

.Mercer County, created in 1837, and attached to the delegate district of Giles and Mercer, elected the following representatives to the assembly, to-wit:

1838--William Smith.
1839--Manilius Chapman.
1840--Charles King.
1841--Oscar F. Johnson.
1842-3--William H. French.
1844--Albert G. Pendleton.
1845--William H. French.
1846--Madison Allen.
1847--Cornelius White
1848--Lewis Neal.
1849--Elijah Bailey.
1850--Albert G. Pendleton.
1851--George W. Pearis.

Representatives from Giles County after adoption of the Constitution of 1850-1:

1852-5--Thomas Shannon.
1855-7--A. G. Pendleton.
1857-9--Madison Allen.
1859-61--Samuel Lucas.
1861-3--William Eggleston.
1863-5--Absolom Fry.
1866-8--A .G. Pendleton.
1869-71--F. W. Mahood.
1871-3--J. C. Snidow.
1873-5--P. W. Strother.
1875-7--S. E. Lybrook.
1877-9--James D. Johnston.
1879-81--C. J. Mathews.
1881-3--S. E. Lybrook.

Representatives from Pulaski and Giles:

1883-5--J. H. Darst.
l885-7--J. W. Moore.
1887-9--H. B. Howe.
1889-91--S. E. Lybrook.
1891-3--J. R. Caddall.
1893-7--James W. Williams.
1897-9--D. C. Pollard.
1899-01--J. R. Stafford.

Representatives from Bland and Giles:

1901-3--George T. Bird. 1805--Martin Williams

Under the Constitution of 1851 Mercer County was entitled to a delegate of her own, and under that Constitution elections were held every two years, and the following are the names of the gentlemen who represented Mercer County after the adoption of this Constitution, Viz:

1851-52--Reuben Garretson.
1852-54--James M. Bailey.
1855-56--William M. Meador.
1857-59--James M. Bailey.
1860-61--Napoleon B. French.
1862-64--Robert A. Richardson.
1865--Alexander Mahood; elected, but did not serve.



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