Court Life

Laying the Levy

King George County Order Book courtesy Library of VirginiaLevy pg 418

Shortly after William began his stint as court recorder it came time to Lay the Levy. Simply put this was the process whereby the county taxes were computed and recorded and then entered into record. Sometimes these figures were posted on the court house door or on signposts near local crossroads to be seen by all. The individual tax rate for the year was based upon the total of charges against the county divided by the number of polls. Charges against the county included payment to the Sheriff and the Clerk of the Court, the King’s Attorney, and others who provided services to the county. And that would include a tidy little sum for William Longmire which is given as a Secretary’s Fee listed just under a fractional fee entry of 6%. This latter fee I believe would eventually go to the Treasury and was slated to support the General Court at Williamsburg. In the above account summaries you will see that there is a charge recorded for Hester Jones – her account for running an Ordinary. In this case the Ordinary was adjacent the court house and served to provide meals, lodging and drink to various people called to court who came from some distance. Contrary to several passages in various biographical accounts of President Monroe’s grandfather it was actually his grandmother, Hester, who ran the Ordinary. A quick look above to the first court entry under the Levy proceedings will confirm that Hester was granted License to run an Ordinary, providing sufficient bond with her brother, Samuel Davis. For those of you who are Mark Twain fans, such as myself, you might notice that Hester’s son, Joshua Lampton, is also named above. He was named for Hester’s father, Joshua Davis – the traveling judge. Hester’s first husband was William Lampton, an ancestor of a fellow who sometimes went by the name Samuel Langhorne Clemens.

At the lower portion of the document is recorded Samuel Donne, Gent who is appointed a Justice of the Peace and Joseph Morton for Coroner. These two gentlemen were involved in a boundary dispute in which a map for the court was drawn by William Longmire and used as evidence in the case and entered into record. Chalk up another talent of the hat thief.

Categories: Court Life

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