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  • Writer's pictureTheFormidableGenealogist

Personal Property Tax Lists

One of my go-to resources in Virginia are personal property tax lists. From the 1780s through the mid 1800s, those annual lists can offer a lot more information than one might think at first glance.


  • You might be able to determine the first name of a man's wife. By tracking the entries of that surname from year to year, you can compare when a widowed female appears on the list for the first time and which male dropped off the list a year or two earlier.

  • You might be able to narrow the age estimate of a man by finding the first or last year that the man paid a tax for himself. White males under under a specified age and those over a certain age were not taxed. Some age ranges of enslaved males were often included also.

  • You might be able to determine a date of death. Tracking the entries from year to year can give you an idea of when an individual last appears on the list. Similarly, a notation on the list might indicate that an estate was paying taxes on property. I've found this useful in counties with lost or incomplete probate records.

  • You might find the name of a man's father, or other family member. In the example below is one of two Robert Daniels on the list for the same area for the same year. The Roberts were differentiated by the names of their fathers. It doesn't necessarily resolve which Robert might be your Robert. But tracking other data across the years, and cross-referencing with other data types, might.


excerpt from personal property tax list

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