Virginia Church Records

I am excited this evening about researching Virginia Church Records. Let me share two studies that show specific ancestors doing fun things:

  1. Nelson, John K. A Blessed Company:  Parishes, Parsons, and Parishioners in Anglican Virginia, 1690-1776. 2001. University of North Carolina Press, PO Box 2288, Chapel Hill NC 27515-2288. http://www.uncpress.unc.edu. There were 47 parishes in 1690 and 95 in 1775, on the eve of the American Revolution which changed established religious worship and record keeping for all time. Appendix A is a “Biographical Dictionary of Virginia’s Anglican Parish Clergy, 1690-1776”–some 365 clergyman. Included among these is William Stith, born 1707 in Virginia. He married Judith Randolph. He graduated from the College of William and Mary and served as master of the grammar school. He was also a local historian. I’m hunting now for what he wrote.
  2. Worrall, Jay R. The Friendly Virginians:  America’s First Quakers. 1994.  Available Iberian Publishing Company, 548 Cedar Creek Drive, Athens GA 30605-3408. Quakers appeared first in Virginia in Sep 1655. The population was 18,000 scattered through the woods along the rivers and creeks of the Tidewater.  About 50% of these were indentured servants who had to serve their masters for a period of years before they could acquire lands of their own. There were also about 5,000 Black slaves and 4,000 Indians. Appendix A is a “List of Quaker Meetings in Virginia” and there is an accompanying map showing the locations by number.  Quakers brought America their commitment to peace and their desire to end war and violence; their belief in religious freedom, civil rights, women’s rights, aid for Native Americans, and recommended changes to the penal system.  Included among the pages at random are several references to John Hunnicutt, of Burleigh who along with James Ladd, a minister from Charles City County, and Pleasants Terrell of Caroline Meeting partnered with Robert Pleasants to represent the Virginia Monthly Meeting in 1787.  Virginia was in the middle of an earnest debate over whether slavery should be abolished. And Robert Pleasants and six other Friends, including John Hunnicutt, proposed the formation of the Virginia Abolition Society in 1790. They invited other churches to participate. George Washington suggested that this took real courage, since “nearly all Virginians are convinced that the general emancipation of Negroes cannot occur in the near future and for this reason they do not wish to organize a society which might  give their slaves dangerous ideas.” p. 243.

I just love to discover records showing pedigree ancestors involved in important historical events of the day. Churches led the way in the drive to abolish slavery and in several states, when the civil authorities moved too slow, they held organizing meetings, collected funds to compensate slave owners, encouraged their own members to emancipate their Blacks in their wills (even when it was illegal to do so).

How excited I am to discover that the Hunnicutts and their relatives put their actions behind their beliefs.

Your favorite Virginia genealogist, Arlene Eakle http://arleneeakle.com

PS Historians and genealogists providing new, detailed studies with precision are needed for us to compile lineages with accuracy. Virginia is a special ground for ancestors!

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