Updated March 18, 2016
In 1782 the General Assembly of Virginia enacted a major revision of the commonwealth's tax laws. The act provided for statewide enumeration on the county level of certain personal property and land. It also created a permanent source of revenue for the operation of government in Virginia.
Copies of annual lists of personal property owners for each county and city from 1782 (or the date of formation of the county if after 1782) to 1930, and for each fifth year thereafter, are available for research at the Library of Virginia in Richmond. The General Assembly passed an act in 1808 ordering the commissioners not to compile lists of taxpayers or collect taxes. In March 1864, the General Assembly suspended the revenue act of 1864 because there already were adequate funds in the treasury. Therefore no personal property tax records exist for the years 1808 and 1864.
The personal property tax records in the Library are one of four copies required by law. Prior to 1928, one copy of each tax book was sent to the Auditor of Public Accounts. After 1928, the personal property tax book for each locality was sent to the newly created Department of Taxation. The personal property taxes now in the collection come from these two agencies. There are more than 19,000 volumes, comprising one of the largest series of archival records in the Library.
Various revenue acts passed by the General Assembly established the tax rates and procedures for the collection of personal property taxes. At first, justices of the local court were designated to collect the taxes. By 1786, the county courts were directed to divide each locality into precincts and to appoint commissioners to collect the tax. Taxes were assessed between March and April of each year and were payable by the end of December. The commissioners prepared four "fair and correct" copies of the personal property tax books. Copies were prepared for the commissioner, county clerk, sheriff, and Auditor of Public Accounts.
Several different GILLIAM families may be found in the Personal Property Tax lists of Powhatan.
The James GILLIAM family of the 1780s with slaves Daphney, Pharoah and Patrick, among others, is the family of James and Frances GILLIAM. James bequeaths those slaves in his Will dated 11 Feb 1821, Sumner County, TN to his children.
It is likely that William GILLIAM of the 1786 Taxes is the brother of James, above, as James' father, John, bequeaths to son, William, a slave named Dinah.
It appears that the James and John GILLIAM of the taxes of the 1790s is James GILLIAM, above and his son John H. GILLIAM. John was born about 1775, making him age 16 in 1792—the first year John appears in the tax lists.
In 1795, a John GILLIAM is listed with the household of William Cardwell along with Josiah Walton and Wm Low. Cardwell may possibly be operating a school or apprenticeship. This John may be the son of James, above, or James of Cumberland, below.
The James GILLIAM family of the 1800s is the family of James GILLIAM, Jr., formerly of Cumberland. James and his family remove to Powhatan after their purchase of Somerset in 1804. The John listed is John who married Maria Jefferson James. James dies in 1812. His estate is listed in the 1812 taxes. His widow, Susannah, is listed the following year.
Daphne, Pharoah, Jacob
|Slaves||Slaves, Under Age 16||Horses|
|Apr 1783||James GILLIAM|
Patrick, Daphne, Phars, Jacob, Milly
|Date||Tithe||White Males over 21||White Males, Age 16 to 21||Black Slaves, Age 16 and Up||Black Slaves, Under Age 16||Horses|
|Mar 1784||James GILLIAM|
Patrick, Daphney, Betty, Pharaoh, Jacob, Milly
|May 1785||James GILLIAM|
Daphny, Phars, Jacob, Milly, Sampson
Patrick, Dauphney, Pharick, Jacob Milly, Sampson
|19 Apr 1787||James GILLIAM||James GILLIAM||0||2||5||4|
|1788||No Gilliams enumerated|
|1789||No Gilliams enumerated|
|1790||No Gilliams enumerated|
|1791||No Gilliams enumerated|
|Date||Tithe||White Males, Age 16 and Up||Black Slaves, Age 16 and Up||Black Slaves, Age 12-16||Horses|
|3 Apr 1792||James Gilham||James Gilham|
|16 May 1793||James Gilham||James Gilham|
|6 May 1794||James Gilham||James Gilham|
|23 Apr 1795||William Cardwell||Wm Cardwell|
|1796||No Gilliams enumerated|
|1797||No Gilliams enumerated|
|1798||No Gilliams enumerated|
|1799||No Gilliams enumerated|
|1800||No Gilliams enumerated|
|1801||No Gilliams enumerated|
|1802||No Gilliams enumerated|
|1803||No Gilliams enumerated|
|1804||No Gilliams enumerated|
|12 Apr 1805||James Gilham||James Gilham||6||0||2|
|6 May 1806||James Gilham||James Gilham||6||0||2|
|1807||James Gilham||James Gilham|
|1809||James Gilham||James Gilham||5||0||4|
|1810||John Gilham||John Gilham||4||2||4|
|1810||James Gilham||James Gilham||6||1||4|
|1813||James GILLIAM Est||0||6||7||3|
- Binns Genealogy. 1790 / 1800 Virginia Tax List Censuses: Reconstructed 1790 and 1800 Federal Censuses. www. binnsgenealogy.com.
- Library of Virginia. Using Personal Property Tax Records in the Archives at the Library of Virginia - (Research Notes Number 3)