A matter of record

The declaration

He was, he said, about 70 years old, and a resident of Cole County, Missouri.

He hadn’t applied before because “he did not wish to become burdensome to the country,” but now, in February of 1828, Enoch Job was “compelled by old age and bodily infirmity” to apply for a pension based on his service in the Revolutionary War.

JobJob had enlisted in Virginia on the 18th day of February in the year 17751 and was discharged two years later at Valley Forge.

As of 1828, he said, he owned two mares, two colts, one gelding, one old wagon, three cows, two heifers and two calves, five sheep, 18 stock hogs and pigs, some cast iron for kitchen use, a plow and “one negro woman aged seventy three years.” And he lived with his second wife and three of her children, “two daughters grown and one son sixteen years of age.”2

Now we’ve all seen those sorts of declarations, if we’ve ever looked at Revolutionary War pension files. But The Legal Genealogist was a little taken aback by the rather lengthy statement included in that declaration that the Circuit Court was

a court of record for the County of Cole …in the State of Missouri made a Court of record by the laws of the State proceeding by course of the common law having jurisdiction unlimited in amount and keeping a record of their proceedings having the power of fine and imprisonment and having a seal…3

It isn’t entirely clear who wrote that long description of the court. The declaration itself was before Circuit Court Judge David Todd, and an attached certification was executed by Jason Harrison, clerk of the Circuit Court. Either could have made sure that the language was included.4

But perhaps a better question than who wrote it is… why was it written?

You already know the answer, don’t you?

Yep.

It’s because of the law.

Job’s pension application was being filed under the federal pension acts of 1818 and 1820. Section 2 of the 1818 statute provided

That to entitle any person to the provisions of this act, he shall make a declaration, under oath or affirmation, before the district judge of the United States of the district, or before any judge or court of record of the county, state, or territory, in which the applicant shall reside…5

And the 1820 statute added, in part:

That no person who now is … on the pension list of the United States … shall … continue to receive the pension … until he shall have exhibited to some court of record, in the county, city, or borough, in which he resides, a schedule, subscribed by him, containing his whole estate and income …6

So… what’s a court of record?

The simplest definition is that it is “a trial court in which a court clerk or a court reporter takes down a record of proceedings.”7 Simple… but incomplete.

Oh, it does have to have a written record… but that’s not enough in American law to make a court a court of record. Here, to be a court of record, a court generally must

• have a seal;
• keep a written record of its proceedings;
• have power to fine and imprison for contempt of its authority;
• have general jurisdiction over major civil and/or criminal cases;
• act according to the course of the common law (rather than by statute or code); and
• have functions independent of the judicial officer named to hold the court.8

By setting out its functions, the clerk or judge who recorded Enoch Job’s declaration was covering all the bases — taking no chances that the court wouldn’t be accorded its due. That may have been because Missouri was still a young state, having been admitted only seven years earlier,9 and Cole a young county, having been formed only in 1820.10

Enoch got his pension, by the way. He was enrolled under the act of 1818, and received a pension until his death on 14 April 1845.11

It’s all, you see, a matter of record.


SOURCES

  1. Later corrected to 1776. See Cole County, Missouri, Circuit Court Case No. 21, Job v. Cole Circuit Court, Declaration of Enoch Job, 24 October 1828; Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City, Mo.; database and images, “Missouri, Cole County Circuit Court Case Files, 1820-1926,” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 18 Sep 2013). Note that the case is indexed as “Job vs. Cole Circuit Court” whereas the packet itself is labeled “Enoch Job to Cole Circuit Ct., App for Pension.”
  2. Cole Co., Mo., Circuit Court Case No. 21, Job v. Cole Cir. Ct., Declaration of Enoch Job, 22 February 1828.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Section 2, An Act to provide for certain persons engaged in the land and naval service of the United States, in the Revolutionary War, 3 Stat. 410 (1818).
  6. An Act in addition to an act, entitled An Act to provide for certain persons engaged in the land and naval service of the United States in the revolutionary war,” passed the eighteenth day of March, one thousdand eight hundred and eighteen, 3 Stat. 569 (1 May 1820).
  7. Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.com), “court of record,” rev. 16 Jun 2013.
  8. See Henry Campbell Black, A Dictionary of Law (St. Paul, Minn. : West, 1891), 293-294, “court of record.” Also, John Bouvier, A Law Dictionary Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States of America and of the Several States of the American Union, rev. 6th ed. (1856); HTML reprint, The Constitution Society (http://www.constitution.org/bouv/bouvier.htm : accessed 19 Sep 2013), “court of record.”
  9. Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.com), “Missouri Territory,” rev. 21 Apr 2013.
  10. Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.com), “Cole County, Missouri,” rev. 7 Sep 2013.
  11. Sarah Job, widow’s pension application no. W.1193, for service of Enoch Job (Pvt., Capt. William Croghan’s company (8th Va. Reg.); Revolutionary War Pensions and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, microfilm publication M804, 2670 rolls (Washington, D.C. : National Archives and Records Service, 1974); digital images, Fold3.com (http://www.Fold3.com : accessed 19 Sep 2013), Enoch Job file.
Print Friendly
This entry was posted in Legal definitions, Statutes. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>