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The Virginia Tidewater county of Gloucester was created from York County in 1651, and at one time it was the most populous and wealthy county in the colony. The vast majority of Gloucester County records were destroyed in fires at the county clerk's office in 1820 and at the burning of Richmond in 1865. Recognizing Gloucester's importance in Virginia genealogy, Mrs. Mason undertook to reconstruct the county records from other sources. This work, published as two volumes in one and spanning the period 1635 to 1800, is the result of that prodigious effort.
Leaving no stone unturned, Mrs. Mason consulted the records of the Virginia State Library and the Virginia Land Office in Richmond; the neighboring counties of York, Middlesex, and Mathews (including colonial Kingston Parish); the manuscript divisions of the University of Virginia, the College of William and Mary, and the Library of Congress; and numerous other public and private collections.
Volume I "puts the colonial people back in Gloucester on their lands" via abstracts of patents for all lands granted in Gloucester County, the "Rent Role" of landowners as reported in 1704, the Gloucester tax list of 1782, and several other land ownership or tax lists relating to Gloucester County or its offspring counties: Mathews and King and Queen. The second volume focuses on the movement of Gloucester residents into neighboring counties, as evidenced in abstracts of deed books for York, Old Rappahannock, Essex, Lancaster, and Middlesex counties. The abstracts in both volumes retain every reference to individuals and family relationships found in the original documents, as well as all geographical descriptions giving place names of every kind. Mrs. Mason's extraordinary achievement is the true starting point for Gloucester County genealogy.