Virginia, Church Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records scheduled to become available at FamilySearch.org.

Contents

Record Description

This collection contains church records from various denominations in Virginia for the years 1656 to 1968. Most of the church records are Presbyterian or Quaker. The contents and time period vary by location.

You will be able to browse through images in this collection when it is published.

Record Content

The information varies by record. You may find any of the following:

  • Event dates and places
  • Names of parents, children, other family members, and witnesses
  • Ages
  • Places of residence
  • Previous residences
  • Relationships

How to Use the Record

To begin your search you will need to know the following information:

  • The ancestor’s name
  • Other identifying information such as the religion or sect, the location of the congregation or parish and the approximate date of the event such as the christening or baptism

If you do not have this information you will need to look for clues in other records.

Search the Collection

To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒Select the appropriate "County, Town"
⇒Select the appropriate "Church Record" which takes you to the images

Look at each image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination. Keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life.

Using the Information

When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. Save a copy of the image or transcribe the information. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details such as a title, an occupation, or land ownership. Add this new information to your records of each family. You should also look for leads to other records about your ancestors. For example:

  • Use christening and birth records of christenings (baptisms) to identify a person’s birth date and place. These are an excellent substitute for civil birth records.
  • Use confirmation records to identify a person’s birth date and place and his or her age. If only the age is given, use it to calculate the person’s death date.
  • Use death or burial records to identify a person’s birth date and place. Use age at the time of death or burial to calculate the person’s birth date. These are an excellent substitute for civil death records.
  • Use marriage records to identify a couple and the marriage date and place and to begin compiling a family group. These are an excellent substitute for civil marriage records.
  • Use church records in general to identify other family members who may have served as witnesses to an event.
  • Use the date of the event along with the locality or residence to find the family in census records and land records.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • It is often helpful to extract the information on all children with the same parents. If the surname is unusual, you may want to compile entries for every person of the same surname and sort them into families based on the names of the parents. Continue to search the birth records to identify siblings, parents, and other relatives in the same or other generations who were born in the same county or nearby.
  • An infant’s christening usually took place within a few days or few weeks of the birth, depending on the religion. Some churches, such as the Baptists, baptized only adults not infants. Members of other sects blessed their infants when they were a few weeks or a few months old.
  • Many religions tested the church knowledge of those that had been baptized as infants and then confirmed them a member of that religion. Frequently, a person’s age at confirmation was between 14 and 20.
  • Church records are considered a primary source. They are usually reliable because they are kept by the minister, or a clerk appointed by the minister, who usually recorded an event at or very near the time it occurred.
  • Look at the officiator at your ancestor’s wedding or burial. They are often clergymen. Check with local congregations or a local historical society to see if they help you determine the sect from clergyman’s name.
  • Many individuals attended the closest Christian church. This is especially true in small, rural communities where there may be only one church in the area. Search the records of that church.
  • Immigrants often kept the same religion after migrating and may have banded together to form their own congregation. This is especially true if they did not speak English.
  • There is also some variation in the information given from record to record.

Unable to Find Your Ancestor?

  • Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for alias names, nicknames and abbreviated names.
  • Check with local historical societies for indexes to church records. Be aware that as with any index, transcription errors may occur.
  • Check the records of other congregations in the area or nearby communities.

Related Websites

Related Wiki Articles

Virginia Church Records

Contributions to This Article

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. Guidelines are available to help you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide. If you would like to get more involved join the WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Citations for This Collection

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information; that is, cite your sources. This will help people find the record again and evaluate the reliability of the source. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records. Citations are available for the collection as a whole and each record or image individually.

Collection citation:

"Virginia, Church Records, 1656-1968." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2014. Citing University of Richmond, Richmond, Virginia.

Image citation:

The citation for an image will be available on each image once the collection is published.

 

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  • This page was last modified on 28 October 2014, at 19:49.
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