Virginia Public Records

Jamestown, Virginia doesn't always get the credit it deserves as the first English settlement in the United States, founded in 1607. The first crop the settlers tried, silk, did not thrive due to a blight, but tobacco was successful and made many Virginians wealthy, earning them status as decision-makers among statesmen in the early years of the United States. Eight presidents were born here in the Old Dominion State.

The earliest settlers had a hard time surviving, as many starved trying to make the settlement successful. But Native Americans had farmed the area for 1,500 years, so the settlers knew living here was possible. By 1624 nearly half of the settlers had died, some by the hand of the nearby Native Americans in the Anglo-Powhatan War.

Indentured servants and African slaves were imported to work the fields in the new colony by around 1619. By 1676 indentured servants and former indentured servants comprised 80 percent of the population. Many were involved in Bacon's Rebellion, which began as a complaint about Governor Berkeley's handling of Native American raids on outlying settlers and resulted in the burning of the statehouse in Jamestown. The governor retaliated by hanging 23 men who were involved, but he was soon recalled to England.

Virginians were major players in the American Revolution, including Thomas Jefferson, then governor of the state, drafted the Declaration of Independence (and later served as the second President of the United States). Virginian George Washington lead the troops who trapped British Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown and received his surrender, winning the war. Washington went on to become the first President, followed by Jefferson and several other Virginia-born men, including Monroe, Taylor, Madison (who drafted the Bill of Rights), Taylor, Harrison, and Tyler, earning the state another nickname, "Mother of Presidents."

As landowners grew wealthier with cotton, indigo, and tobacco exports, the number of slaves in the state increased, as did the tension between abolitionists and slave owners. Slave Nat Turner lead a rebellion in 1831 that killed more than 50 whites and lead to at least 100 African Americans' deaths; John Brown's Raid on Harper's Ferry in 1859 was a white abolitionist's attempt to foment a slave uprising by seizing an armory but few slaves joined the revolt and many of Brown's comrades were killed when Marines broke into the building. These events culminated in Viriginia's decision to leave the Union in 1861 and Richmond became the capital of the Confederacy. Immediately thereafter, 48 counties voted to secede from Virginia and create their own state, West Virginia.

During the Civil War, General Robert E. Lee, a Virginian, lead Confederate troops into battle. Many significant battles of the war took place in Virginia, including Bull Run, Chancellorsville, and Appomattox Courthouse. Richmond was seized by Union troops in 1865, essentially ending the war. Like many other Southern states, the lasting effect of the Civil War and Emancipation of slaves was not all good for African Americans who were denied their rights by Jim Crow laws and restrictions on voting for the next 75 years.

Entrepreneurs made the most of the Industrial Revolution, inventing the tobacco rolling machine in Virginia and establishing major shipyards at Newport News that contributed to America's military might that won World War II. In the postwar era Virginia benefited from growth of the federal government, including construction of the world's largest building, the Pentagon, in Arlington, Virginia. The Defense Department spends some 12 percent of its budget in Virginia, second only to California. The federal government also provides about 900,000 jobs to Virginians.

Agriculture is still an important industry for Virginia, as over 8 million acres of the state are farmland, creating more than 350,000 jobs. The state is also the largest producer of seafood on the East Coast.

Virginia Criminal Records

The crime rate of a community is calculated by dividing the number of residents by the number of crimes reported. Sometimes big cities have lower crime rates than small towns. Virginia Beach, with 451,000 residents and millions more visitors, reported 660 violent crimes including 107 rapes and 17 murders or non-negligent homicides. Chesapeake with 232,000 residents, reported 991 violent crimes, 63 rapes, and 10 murders or non-negligent homicides. Newport News has 182,000 residents, and reported 783 violent crimes in 2014 including 25 rapes and 72 murders or non-negligent homicides. FBI data shows that Norfolk with 247,000 residents, reported 1,280 violent crimes including 122 rapes and 31 murders or non-negligent homicides.

The Virginia State Police allow searches of criminal history records by name, using a form found on their website (sent via U.S. Mail). A fee is required. Searching on RecordsFinder.com may return similar results.

The state offers an inmate locator that's searchable by name and may allow for notifications of status changes (parole, etc).

Virginia Court Records

In order to search court records, individuals must contact the clerk of the local circuit court for a password.

Virginia Vital Records

An index to public records including birth, death, and marriages is available on RecordsFinder.com. There you may find death, marriage, and divorce information (complete records must be requested) that has been made public because the events took place at least 25 years ago. Birth records are not made public for 100 years.

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