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Brentsville in Prince William County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

County Courthouse

Brentsville

 
 
County Courthouse Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), July 5, 2020
1. County Courthouse Marker
Inscription.  This building was constructed by 1822 as Prince William County’s fourth courthouse. The County seat was moved to Brentsville from Dumfries to centralize its location within the county. The Courthouse design is typical of 1800s Virginia courthouses. The front wall is of “Flemish” brick bond while other walls are of “common bond” laid brick. The building sits on the town’s highest ground, stressing its importance.

(caption beside small picture on left) Courthouse builder William Claytor left his mark on a stone above the front door. The reason for his and the County’s misspelled names is unknown.

Here, county Magistrates ruled in criminal and civil cases, levied taxes, and oversaw all county governmental functions. On court days, citizens converged on the Courthouse to hear cases and learn of Magistrates’ decisions. In 1850, Virginia’s new Constitution transferred local political authority from Magistrates to elected officials. Prince William’s Board of County Supervisors first met here in 1870.

(caption under center, top picture) This drawing shows the alterations scheduled
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to occur within the Courthouse as Prince William County’s Commissioner of the Public Lot, George W. Macrea, remembered them on June 6, 1837. It is unknown whether all of these changes were made.
Clerk’s Loose Papers

19th-Century Magistrates

When the County seat moved to Brentsville, Virginians still relied on political and legal practices established during the colonial period. Justices, or Magistrates, received lifetime appointments from the County Court and were approved by the Governor. The Chief Magistrate was usually the Court’s oldest member. Twelve Magistrates were appointed, but all rarely sat on a case. From one to twelve Magistrates would rule on a case, depending on the charge and the defendant. While most Magistrates were wealthy and influential county citizens, few were actually trained in law.

After the Civil War

The Courthouse was damaged during the Civil War. After the war, Court convened at various locations, including St. James Episcopal Church across the street, while the Courthouse was repaired. The County Clerk moved to the Courthouse since the war had destroyed his office. In 1893, the County seat moved to Manassas, as the railroad had transformed that town into the county’s economic and social center. This building then housed schools and a community center. In 2006, the Courthouse was restored
County Courthouse Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), July 5, 2020
2. County Courthouse Marker
to its 1830s’ appearance.

(caption under lower, right picture) This photograph shows the Courthouse before 1910.
Courtesy of the Manassas Museum, Manassas, Virginia. From the Cooksie Collection.
 
Erected 2007 by Prince William County and the Friends of Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Colonial EraNotable BuildingsSettlements & SettlersWar, US Civil. A significant historical month for this entry is June 1775.
 
Location. 38° 41.379′ N, 77° 29.982′ W. Marker is in Brentsville, Virginia, in Prince William County. Marker can be reached from Bristow Road (Virginia Route 619) 0.2 miles west of Izaak Walton Drive, on the right when traveling west. Prince William County and the Friends of Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre added several markers to this area in May 2007. This marker is between the Jail and Courthouse buildings. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 12235 Bristow Road, Dayton MD 21036, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 12 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Public Lot (here, next to this marker); County Jail (here, next to this marker); Brentsville Courthouse (here, next to this marker); Brentsville Jail (here, next to this marker); Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre
County Courthouse Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Kevin W., September 26, 2007
3. County Courthouse Marker
The marker is shown in its previous context.
(a few steps from this marker); Brentsville (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named Brentsville (within shouting distance of this marker); One-Room School (within shouting distance of this marker); The Town (within shouting distance of this marker); Clerk's Office (within shouting distance of this marker); Haislip-Hall House (within shouting distance of this marker); Tavern Square (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Brentsville.
 
County Courthouse image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Kevin W., September 26, 2007
4. County Courthouse
Front of County Courthouse in Brentsville image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Kevin W., September 26, 2007
5. Front of County Courthouse in Brentsville
Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre, Prince William County image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Kevin W., September 26, 2007
6. Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre, Prince William County
This sign is in front of the Brentsville Historic Centre.
County Courthouse - Builder's Mark image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Kevin W., September 26, 2007
7. County Courthouse - Builder's Mark
This is the builder's mark shown in the left-most picture on the marker. The reason for his and the County’s misspelled names is unknown.
Inside of Courthouse - from front left window. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Kevin W., September 26, 2007
8. Inside of Courthouse - from front left window.
Inside of Courthouse - from a window on the right side. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Kevin W., September 26, 2007
9. Inside of Courthouse - from a window on the right side.
Period Era Advertisement on front door of Court House image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Kevin W., September 26, 2007
10. Period Era Advertisement on front door of Court House
TRUSTEE’S SALE!!!

I shall on the 7th day of August, before the front door of the Prince William Court House, offer for sale to the highest bidder, for ready money, all the Estate, real and personal, conveyed to me by said deeds, containing of said Alexander’s interest under his father’s will in a Tract of Land, called Effingham, lying upon Cedar Run in said County and in 31 valuable Slaves, his share, estimated to contain 3,000 acres, of certain Lands in the State of Kentucky, a tract of land of about 160 acres adjacent to Effingham and four Slaves now in his possession. As I shall sell merely as Trustee, I shall convey to the purchasers of said Estate such title only as is vested in me by the said deeds.
-John Macrae
Trustee
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 26, 2021. It was originally submitted on October 4, 2007, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,349 times since then and 31 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on July 5, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.   3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. submitted on October 4, 2007, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.

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May. 27, 2024