Mary Chisholm Rhodes


John Rhodes

Chancery Suit, Albemarle County, VA – 1850

Transcribed from original documents at the Library of Virginia in Richmond

1851-004 (original 1851-002)

Original case # 383

Transcriber's Note: I found this court case while searching for information on a John Rhodes of Albemarle County. I do not think this was the John Rhodes in my family line, but with the genealogy information provided on the Chisholm family, it seemed worthwhile to record.

To the Hon. Judge of the Circuit court of Albemarle County.

Humbly complaining, respectfully showeth unto the Court your Oratrix Mary Rhodes, who being a marries woman ---- by her next friend John Bishop, that her maiden name was Mary Chisholm and that in March 1847 she intermarried with one John Rhodes of the County aforesaid. Your Oratrix and her said husband lived together in tolerable comfort for about a year after their marriage. At the end of that time however he seemed to have lost all regard for her and tho he refrained from actual violence he treated her not merely with indifference but frequently with contempt. The cause of this was soon made manifest. He had connected himself in habits of constant and gross adultery with abandoned females in the neighborhood and tho your Oratrix and her said husband continued to reside under the same roof until some time in the month of April last, yet for about two years prior to that the relation of husband and wife was merely nominal between them. Even before your Oratrix was aware of the adulterous habits of her husband, he had ceased to cohabit with her. Nor has there been any change in this respect since she obtained certain information on the subject. In the month of April last finding herself neglected and abandoned and her husband -?- given up to the grossest profligacy, your Oratrix left the residence of her husband (his rather in name than in fact) and became indebted for the home which she now enjoys to the kindness and sympathy of Mr. Bishop by home as her next (?) friend she now ----. His wife is the aunt of your Oratrix. The husband of your Oratrix still resides somewhere in the County of Albemarle. The residence of both of them indeed since their marriage has been wholly in said County. They have had only one child which died very young.

Your Oratrix further represents that she inherited from her father, Menucan Chisholm, property in land and slaves worth she supposes between 300 and 400 dollars. This property was sold and her interest therein received and entirely squandered by her said husband. And he is now your Oratrix presumes wholly insolvent.

Your Oratrix further represents that her paternal uncle Isham Chisholm died in the County of Albemarle in the year 1837 leaving a will which was duly recorded in the County Court of said County and of which an attested copy is herewith filed as an exhibit marked A. By this will the Testator gave to his brother William Chisholm three negro women Judith, Lucy, and Maria in trust for the use and benefit of the father of your Oratrix during her life and after his death for the benefit of his children. Therefore the will provides however that the trustee shall make no division of said slaves until the youngest child of Menucan Chisholm (the life tenant) shall arrive at lawful age.

The said Menucan Chisholm died several years ago leaving three children namely John Chisholm who is of full age your Oratrix who is also of age and Lavinia Chisholm who has intermarried with Fleming Dudley of the County of Albemarle. The said Lavinia will not be of age until May 1851 or 1852 she is not sure which.

The slaves left by Isham Chisholm in trust as aforesaid have increased to twelve in number.and are named as follows, 3 boys, 3 old women & 6 girls.

They are still in the hands of Wm Chisholm trustee as aforesaid. Perhaps some of them may be hired out. But your Oratrix supposes that altogether they do but little if any more than support themselves.

Your Oratrix further represents that her prospect of future destitution (unless she can obtain relief from this Court) is increased by the fact that on the 4th March last her husband the said John Rhodes executed a deed which has been duly recorded in the Clerks Office of Albemarle and of which a copy is herewith filed marked B, purporting to ------------ (did not photograph this section)

In consideration of all which and as your Oratrix is without remedy in the premises save in a Court of Chancery, she prays that the said John Rhodes may be made a defendant to this bill and required to answer the same. That a divorce from the bond of matrimony may be decreed to your Oratrix and that the property bequeathed to your Oratrix by her uncle Isham Chisholm as aforesaid may be secured to her free from the control of her husband and from the claims of his creditors as the only means whereby a maintenance can be provided for her. And your Oratrix prays for all such other and further relief as the nature of the case and the principles of equity may entitle her to.

Mary Rhodes by

John Bishop her next friend

Albemarle County to wit:

Personally appeared before me, a Justice of the Peace of said County, Mary Rhodes who made oath to the allegations contained on the foregoing bill. Given under my hand this 21st day of August 1850.

Thos. Garland, JP

------------ first sworn says:

Qu1 by Plaintiff Council – state what you may know of John Rhodes intimacy with lewd women before his separation from his wife.

I saw him in bed & under the covering with one, one night, at other times I have often seen him with ?.

  1. What have been his habits since he left his wife?

Sometimes he goes to see lewd women. I know so because I have gone with him.

  1. Please say what character Mrs. Rodes has always borne and still bears?

Answer: As far as I know or ever heard, that of a virtuous & genteel lady.

  1. Has Mr. Rodes ever since the separation between him and his wife made any provision for her support?

None that I know of nor has he any means.

----------------- (not all photographed)

Mrs. Mary Kirby another witness in the same behalf being first sworn says:

Qu 1 by Plaintiff Council – Please state how long you have known John Rhodes and Mary this wife?

Ans. I have known them intimately since before they were married.

  1. Have you lived near enough to them or been enough with them to be able to state how they lived together.

I have always lived near them & have visited them. I never knew John Rhodes to speak to his wife whilst they lived together, he slighted her very much, she seems much attached to him whilst he evidently cared nothing for her.

  1. Do you know of any reason why Jn Rhodes thus slighted his wife.

I do not know unless it was his fondness for other females; I mean women of bad characters; with such I have seen him walking to church.

  1. What has been Mrs. Rhodes' character, as well before as since her separation from her husband.

I have known her for years & her character in all respects has ever been & still is good.

  1. Does Jn Rodes now provide for his wife?

He makes no provisions for her now, she is entirely dependent on her relations for support.

And further deponent ? Not.

Mary X Kirby

(her mark)


In the name of God Amen. I Isham Chisholm of the County of Albemarle and state of Virginia being in a low state of health, yet of a sound mind and disposing memory do make and declare this to be my last will and testament, in which I request my executor first to pay my funeral expenses and all other just debts then.

Article 1 – I give to my brother Menucan Chisholm the following property to wit Judith, Lucy, and Maria together with their increase to be left in the hands of my brother William Chisholm who I appoint as trustee for him during his natural life, then to be kept together by the above named trustee for the benefit of his (Menucan Chisholm) children until the youngest shall become of age, then to be equally divided amongst them. I also give up to Menucan Chisholm all the bonds executions to which I have paid for him.

Article 2 – I wish the piece of land which I bought of Ned Hughes (it being my sister Elizabeth's portion of this estate) to be divided equally between her children.

Article 3 – I give to my niece Nancy Hughes a horse, bridle and saddle to be taken out of my estate by my executor hereafter named, and a negro boy called Jim a son of Dolly to have to hold and to do with as she may choose.

Article 4 – I give to my brother William Chisholm all the remaining estate of every kind and description whatever which I may die in possession of, to have to hold and to do with as he may choose, namely my tract of land lying in the Ragged mountains containing about one hundred and twenty six acres, all my interest in this tract on which we now live not heretofore disposed of, my interest in the negroes belonging to the estate not to be divided until our mother's death, and my interest in Dolly and her family (Jim excepted) it being one half, together with my interest of the household and kitchen furniture, the farming utensils, stock of every kind and description, it being one half, and my bonds and all debts which are now due me or which ever may hereafter be due me.

I require my executor William Chisholm to support our mother as we have heretofore done together, not wishing her to want for any thing, and to support our niece Nancy Hughes in like manner as we have done heretofore so long as she remains single and lives with him.

Lastly, I hereby appoint my brother William Chisholm as my sole executor and request that he shall give no security. As Witness whereof I hereunto affix my hand & seal this 11th day of July 1837. I Chisholm (Seal)

In the presence of the witnesses: A.R. Shiflett, John R. Chisholm, Wm Suttle (?)

Recorded in Albemarle County Court the 7th August 1837

A Copy

Teste Ira Garrett CC