Thousands of Virginians Moved West 1782, 1783, 1784, 1785, 1786, 1787, 1788, 1789, 1790, 1791, 1792, and on, and on…

The Virginia challenge–at the end of the Revolutionary War, the population of Virginia just flowed out of the eastern counties, bursting through the mountains onto the “western waters.” Thousands of families moved West–1782, 1783, 1784, 1785, 1786, 1787, 1788, 1789, 1790, 1791, 1792, and on, and on…

Using a 1782 census or tax list, then depending upon the 1810 census or 1820 census is too broad a span to track these Virginia families–by 1810 and 1820, many of them are in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio. The official 1790 compilations used only 1782-1785 (with a few lists in 1786-87), based on whichever list was the first to survive.

Every time I used Nettie Schreiner-Yantis’s 1787 Census of Virginia, I wished someone would do a1790-1800 statewide “census” based on tax lists to fill the destructive gap left by the missing census schedules for Virginia during this critical time period. Nettie estimated that between 95% and 98% of the free white males are included in her 1781 Census of Virginia.

Steve and Bunny Binns to the rescue!

1790/1800 Virginia Tax List Census database is FREE online at

[Editor’s NOTE:  This link has been fixed based on the correction in the comments]

The reconstructed census years are based on tax lists 1788-1792 and 1798-1801–depending upon which list is available for which counties. You can search by ancestor’s specific name, by surname, by year, and by county. Or you can use the index provded by

Of the 81 counties and 7 cities in 1790, 62 counties and 5 cities are imaged and indexed. Of the 91 counties and 7 cities in 1800, 65 counties and 5 cities are imaged and indexed. The introduction to the database includes a county-by-county chart of the sources used and the counties not included. Indexed results are displayed 10 entries per screen. And each name is linked to the digital image for that entry. Special identifiers used by the tax collector to keep residents straight are included in the index.

You can also buy the databases in whole or segments from their online store.

The tax lists are actually more complete than the original census enumerations. And they provide a more precise description of the residents in each county. The census listed head of house, the tax list lists every white male over age 16–with many of the 16-21 year olds named. And several county lists include Black slaves by name.

In 1790, Virginia and Kentucky–which was still part of Virginia–had a combined population of 1/5th the total of the whole United States! And these lists include independent cities–a jurisdiction usually not separately listed in other states.

Those exempted from the actual payment of taxes may still be listed with their property anyway, with no tax shown. By law, exemptions included white women (married and single) although widows responsible for the tax owed on the estates of their deceased husbands are listed. Non-citizens of Virginia and non-residents of the county who held lands and property in other counties were taxed only once–at their residence.

Other exemptions included government employees, presidents and professors at William and Mary College, Anglican ministers, military officers, ferry owners, and the old and infirm who could petition the court to be set levy free. Also exempt were persons who were awarded this bounty for extraordinary service to Virginia or their local counties.

I would do many things for my state and my county if I could be set levy free–wouldn’t you? Your favorite Virginia genealogist, Arlene Eakle.

PS Remember: we offer you the latest strategies to research, organize, and prove your family tree. In our books. In our seminar presentations. In our field research. In our consultations. In our blogs–both the Genealogy News Sheet and “Virginia is for Lovers” of genealogy.

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One Response to Thousands of Virginians Moved West 1782, 1783, 1784, 1785, 1786, 1787, 1788, 1789, 1790, 1791, 1792, and on, and on…

  1. ysbinns says:

    The correct URL to our 1790 / 1800 Virginia Tax List Censuses is:

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