Kinsearching August 31, 2008




Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     Out-of-print for several years, VESTRY MINUTES OF ST. PAUL'S PARISH, CHOWAN COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA, 1701 - 1776, SECOND EDITION by Raymond Parker Fouts is again available. Known for the reliability of her work, Fouts transcribes verbatim the vestry records of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Edenton, North Carolina, from the commencement of the eighteenth century to the initial shots of the American Revolution. Like vestry minutes in general, the material pertains to the church's business affairs.

     During the colonial era, the church administered many government functions which were later handled by county courts. Among the church's duties was the collecting of money for taxes and fines for offenses ranging from swearing to bastardy to failure to vote in elections. Because the vestry dealt with bastardy cases, information about illegitimate children may appear in the minutes. One case in 1765, for instance, gave an allowance to a woman for the upkeep of her illegitimate child and the vestry brought charges against the "Reputed father" to reimburse the money to the parish.

     Money was also collected for burial of the poor and for the maintenance of widows, orphans, and the destitute. In 1708, for example, William WALSTON asked for an allowance to cover his expenses for taking care of Elenor KIRKHAM, who was ill for eighteen days at his house. After her death, she "was buried at the petitioner's Charge having no Estate...." Walston received thirty shillings in payment.

     Another important function was processioning, which took place every three years after 1723. Processioning consisted of walking and marking the boundary lines of land owned within the parish. Appointed by the vestry, the processioners were upstanding members of the community in which they resided. In 1764, for instance, the vestry ordered David WELSH and William COUPLAND to "Procession all the Lands included Between the Sandy Run and Indian Town Creek Chowan River and perquimons And make Return to April Court Next According To Law."

     Because St. Paul's Parish adjoined the Upper Parish of Nansemond County, Virginia, Chowan County procured the former Nansemond County lands when the North Carolina/Virginia border was drawn in 1728. Those lands are now located in Gates County, North Carolina. All land west of Bennett's Creek, including Knotty Pine Chapel, became part of Hertford County, North Carolina, when it was created in 1759.

     Since few early parish records exist for what became the Tar Heel State, these vestry records are indeed a rare find. By preserving the material in a published form, Fouts has again made an unusual resource accessible to many genealogical and historical researchers. Anyone seeking information on colonial ancestors along the Virginia/North Carolina border will want to utilize VESTRY MINUTES OF ST. PAUL'S PARISH, CHOWAN COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA, 1701 - 1776, SECOND EDITION as a major resource.

     The 136-page book has soft covers, a preface, a map showing the approximate location of several chapels and landmarks mentioned in the processioning orders, and separate indexes for names of decedents, female given names, all individuals, and locations (for instance, bridges, chapels, churches, creeks, mills, rivers, roads, swamps, and towns). The book costs $30.00 plus $2.50 postage for one book and 75 cents for each additional copy. Residents of North Carolina should also add 7% state tax to the price. To order this unusual work, send your check--payable to NC Research at Home--to North Carolina Research at Home, c/o Walter R. Haun, 410 Crestview Drive, Durham, NC 27712-2335.

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