County Land Taxes in Virginia



Virginia has a fantastic series of personal property tax digests. There is a list for each year for each county from 1782 to 1850. There is no list for the year 1808 for any county. There are only a tiny fraction of the other years missing even for burned counties.

A poll tax was due from each white male age 16 years or older, along with taxes for slaves, horses, cattle and, in later years a variety of other taxable items. This table only addresses the poll tax. All males had to pay taxes. Females did not show up in the tax digests unless (1) they had taxable males in their household; or (2) they had other taxable property. Some taxpayers are marked as “exempt” for one or more years.

After a male died, his estate may pay taxes while it was still open.

In the years 1782-1786 each county had multiple tax districts. From 1787 on most counties had 2 districts. When organizing and microfilming these records, the LVA arbitrarily assigned a letter A or B to each list. It is important to note that the lists assigned year to year are most often not consistent. One year a district may be assigned the letter A and the next year it might be assigned the letter B.

The format of the tax digests changed over the years and can differ slightly by county. In the early years the first few column in the tax digests are somewhat like the following:

Name of Taxpayer

Names of Males over age 16

Names of Other Males over age 21

Names of Slaves

Total Number of Taxable Males

Various Columns and Tabulations


Typically, but not always minor sons.





In later years the details were dropped in favor of simple tabulations. The first few columns looked something like this:

Name of Taxpayer

Total Number of Taxable Males

Various Columns and Tabulations
















Then in some years for some counties, the total number of taxable males is dropped completely.

The tax assessors used a variety of techniques to identify multiple people with the same first name. The simplest was to assign Sr. (the eldest, but not necessarily, the father); and Jr. (the youngest, but not necessarily, the father).

Then as more names conflicted, they added nicknames, i.e. “Buck”; tag letters, i.e. “BC” for Buffalo Creek, “SD” for son of David (one assessor in Mecklenburg County even listed “Son of ____” after numerous names); and even later middle initials. It is important to know that the tags used may not be consistent from year to year.


Currently, if the relationship is in brackets, it means that I have proposed the relationship based upon who paid the taxes or external research outside of the tax digests. Otherwise, it could be an expressly stated in the tax digest or a proposed relationship by me. I plan to clear up the inconsistency at a later date. Most of the expressly stated relationships are in Mecklenburg County.

What the Letters Under the Years Mean.

 Please be patient with me here. This project started with the accumulation of information decades ago when there was no such thing as a spreadsheet. I gathered information and was not consistent as I wrote it down. Currently, the preferred format is, for example, A2. This means the person was on list A and paid taxes on 2 males. The following chart might help.

District Code

White Polls

Special (optional)

(These are rare)


A list as arbitrarily assigned by LVA or by me


No poll Paid


Estate of


B list as arbitrarily assigned by LVA or by me


1 Poll




Joint list- all lists are merged into one list (Mainly 1782-1786)


2 polls


Minor Taxpayer (Under Age 16)


Single List - there was only list in the County for that year


3 Polls


Under Age 21


ZZ or ZZZ= Initials of Tax Assessor


4 Polls


Taxpayer Exempt




Number of polls not specified in List






Need to review list again to determine number of polls



Extra Polls may be older sons helping a parent, boarders, parents, siblings.

Some tax digests expressly prove relationships, but most provide hints and circumstantial evidence of relationships.

David H. Robertson, 159 Hickory St., Roswell, GA 30075