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

     Are you tracing African American ancestors? Did they reside in the Old Dominion in the eighteenth or early nineteenth century? If you answer “yes” to both of these questions, you may discover helpful information in Martha W. McCartney’s latest work, KINGSTON PARISH REGISTER, MATHEWS, GLOUCESTER AND MIDDLESEX COUNTIES, VIRGINIA, SLAVES AND SLAVEHOLDERS, 1746-1827.

     At the beginning of the volume is an essay in which the author explains the historical background of the parish. The boundaries of Mathews County, created in 1791 out of Gloucester County, encompassed virtually all of Kingston Parish, which was formed between 1651 and 1657. In addition, Mathews County embraced some land to the south and west--acreage within neighboring Ware Parish. Overland transportation was difficult so slaveholders from the upper part of Ware Parish or from Christ Church Parish in Middlesex County occasionally had their slaves baptized in Kingston Parish because it was more easily accessible.

     Naturally, the register documents many of the births, baptisms, marriages, and deaths of the local white parishioners. In addition, the parish register includes the dates on which some of their slaves were born and/or baptized. (The birth or baptism records provided proof of ownership since slaves were viewed as personal property and were, therefore, transferable. Slave marriages were not recorded because the enslaved did not have any civil rights.) Death dates of a few slaves also appear in the material.

     Most of the 1,860 African American entries furnish the name of the slave, the name of the slaveholder, the date of birth or baptism (or both), and the page number in the Kingston Parish Register where the information can be located. Although usually only the first name of the enslaved is listed, knowing the name of the slaveholder and the slave’s birth or baptism date can often provide indispensable clues for further genealogical research.

     Experienced genealogists will be familiar with the 1963 publication of data from the Kingston parish register by Emma R. Matheny and Helen K. Yates. Their book, however, focused only on the white communicants. McCartney’s volume remedies that omission, publishing--for the first time--important details concerning enslaved individuals. Because it brings attention to previously overlooked material, KINGSTON PARISH REGISTER, MATHEWS, GLOUCESTER AND MIDDLESEX COUNTIES, VIRGINIA, SLAVES AND SLAVEHOLDERS, 1746-1827 is a valuable addition to the field of African American genealogical literature.

     Sporting on the front a beautiful photograph of Christ Church in Kingston Parish, the 108-page work has soft covers. Serving as an appendix is a list of the names of all slaveholders mentioned in the parish register and the years in which they were reported in the register. The full name index gives the names of individual slaveholders; under each slaveholder is an alphabetical listing of the name of every slave he or she owned.

     To the book's price of $17.50, buyers should add the cost for postage and handling charges. For U. S. postal mail, the cost is $5.50 for one book and $2.50 for each additional copy; for FedEx ground service, the cost is $7.50 for one copy and $2.50 for each additional book. The volume (item order 3507) may be purchased by check, money order, MasterCard, or Visa from Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, Maryland 21211-1953. For phone orders, call toll free 1-800-296-6687; fax 1-410-752-8492; website

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