Letter – Clayton sets ‘record straight’

Published 7:01 pm Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

As the retiring clerk, let me, within the limitations of wording, set the record straight regarding the misinformation contained in Thomas L.S. Mayes’ third-time pitch (in more than one county) to become the clerk of the circuit court in Surry County. 

First, each book located in this office has an index in front or by separate volume. Second, many of these records, particularly land records dating from 1742 to the present, are available on our in-house computer system and through a paid subscription to our secure remote access website. Third, criminal, civil and estate orders are on the computer and in hard copy.  

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Currently, through a $46,000 grant, Logan Systems is reindexing land records data from 1903 to 1983, to allow usage of the “full system,” not only making retrieval of documents easier but also ensuring that Surry’s land records will far exceed the offerings of larger surrounding localities. When Mayes speaks of a “grand index” does he mean an inventory of the records? That already exists! Surely, he knows that some records are confidential and/or sealed and cannot be shared with the public in some sort of “grand index.”

The indisputable reality is this: Records dating from 1652 are housed appropriately. During my 24-year tenure as the clerk, this office has received $251,471.00 in grant funding to restore books. To date, 79 books have undergone conservation, including deed books, plat books and others. Newly restored books have color-coded metal covers so that each series is easily identifiable. Land Books dating from 2010 through 2022 are easily accessible, and we installed new shelving in April 2023.

Feel free to visit the courthouse or visit our secure remote access website at www.surryvacocc.org in order to fully appreciate the court’s modernization. Lastly, to the citizens, please vote for Mr. Earl Newby Jr., based on his qualifications to become the future clerk. Thank you for 24 wonderful years.


Gail P. Clayton

Master Circuit Court Clerk

Surry County