Charleston County, South Carolina Church RecordsEdit This Page

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United States Gotoarrow.png South Carolina Gotoarrow.png Charleston County Gotoarrow.png Church Records

Church records are an essential part of family history research. When there is a lack of vital records for a particular area, church records can be used as another source. Church records usually contain: baptism or christening records, marriage records, burial records, communion records and membership records. The quality of the records will depend on how well denominations record and maintain their records. Church records may be obtained from the church where your ancestor attended. However, older and defunct churches may have placed their records in denominational repositories.

Charleston County Churches identifies dozens of churches in the area, courtesy: South Carolina Genealogical Society.

The following Charleston church records have been indexed on the International Genealogical Index:[1]

Church Baptisms Batch Marriages Batch
Christ Church Parish 1694-1843 (gaps) C506621 1709-1862 (gaps) M506621
Independent Congregational (Circular) Church 1732-1815 (gaps) C506611 1733-1815 (gaps) M506611
St. Andrews Parish x x 1714-1774 M506601
St. James Santee 1758-1788 C506631 x x
St. John Lutheran 1752-1785 C507171 1752-1785 M507171
St. Philip 1718-1810 C506621 1720-1802 M505491

Records of specific religions include:



Spanish expeditions clearly explored the region that would become Charleston and there are indications that priests accompanied these expeditions. However, prior to the American Revolution there were few Roman Catholics in Charleston. In 1786 an Italian priest celebrated Mass with a congregation of about twelve people. In 1789 a tract of land was purchased which contained an old Methodist meeting house. The old meeting house was refurbished for worship and named St. Mary's.[2]

  • England, John. Diurnal of the Right Rev. John England, D.D., First Bishop of Charleston, S.C. from 1820 to 1823. Philadelphia, Pa.: American Catholic Historical Society, 1895. Digital version at Google Books.
  • McElrone, Hugh P. The Works of the Right Rev. John England, Bishop of Charleston, S.C., With Memoir, Memorials, Notes and Full Index. 2 vols. New York: P.J. Kenedy, Publishers to the Holy Apostolic See, Excelsior Catholic Publishing House, 1900. Digital versions of Volume 1 and Volume 2 at Google Books.
Church of England (Anglican, Protestant Episcopal)

St. Philip's was the first church. Made of wood, it was located at the southeast corner of Broad and Meeting streets. This structure was replaced by a more permanent edifice in 1723 and opened on Easter. St. Philips was the earliest Church of England in the Carolinas and was the first Protestant foundation south of Virginia. FHL book 975.7915 D3l or FHL film 1598278 item 2[2]

Before 1785, residents of what is now Charleston County were served by these colonial parishes.[3]

Sketches of several of Charleston's old parish churches are reproduced in:

  • Smith, Alice R. Huger, ed. A Charleston Sketch Book, 1796-1806. Forty watercolor drawings of the city and the surrounding country, including plantations and parish churches, by Charles Fraser. Charleston, S.C.: Carolina Art Association.

A biography of one of the ministers has been published:

  • Elliott, James H. In Memoriam. Tributes to the Memory of the Rev. C.P. Gadsden, Late Rector of St. Luke's Church, Charleston, S.C. Charleston, S.C.: Fogartie's Book Depository, 1872. Digital version at Google Books.

After 1785, residents of Charleston County were also served by these parishes. Click the link to see a description of the parish records held by the South Carolina Historical Society:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Early LDS Church records located at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Charleston Branch (South Carolina). Record of Members 1935-1943. Salt Lake City: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1954. FHL Collection film 1986 item 6.
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Charleston Ward(South Carolina). Annual Report 1947-1948. Salt Lake City: Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1951?. FHL Collection film 23337. Charleston Ward was organized from a branch in October 1947.
Circular Church

The Huguenots had their beginnings in Charleston in 1681. In 1687 a second church was built along the Cooper River. Both of these structures fell victim to fire, but they were rebuilt. By 1686 Huguenot settlements existed in Charleston, Santee River, St. John's Berkeley and Cooper River. Rev. Elias Prioleau was the first recoginzed and regular pastor of the French church.FHL book 975.7915 D3l or FHL film 1598278 item 2[2]

  • The Liturgy, or Forms of Divine Service, of The French Protestant Church, of Charleston, S.C. Charleston, S.C.: James S. Burges, 1836. Digital version of 1836 edition at Google Books; digital version of 1853 edition at Google Books; digital version of 1869 edition at Google Books.

Almost all of the early Jews in Charles Town came from English possessions located in the western hemisphere. These places included New York, Georgia, Barbados, and the British West Indies.Beth Elohim met for worship in a wooden house from 1750 to 1757.

  • Breibart, Solomon. "The Synagogues of Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, Charleston," The South Carolina Historical Magazine, Vol. 80, No. 3 (Jul., 1979), pp. 215-235. Digital version at JSTOR ($).
  • Cohen, J. Barrett. Judaism and the Typical Jew. An Address Delivered Before the Jews of Charleston, S.C., on the Celebration of the Centennial Anniversary of the Birthday of Sir Moses Montefiore at the Hasel Street Synagogue, October 26th, 1884, by J. Barrett Cohen. Charleston, S.C.: The News and Courier Book Presses, 1884. Digital version at Google Books.
  • Elzas, Barnett A. Jewish Marriage Notices from the Newspaper Press of Charleston, S.C. (1775-1906). New York: Bloch Publishing Company, 1917. FHL 975.791 F2e; digital version at Google Books.
  • Elzas, Barnett Abraham. The Old Jewish Cemeteries at Charleston, S.C.: A Transcript of the Inscriptions on Their Tombstones, 1762-1903. Charleston, S.C.: Daggett Print., 1903. FHL 975.791/C1 V2e; digital versions at Ancestry ($); FamilySearch Books Online ; Google Books; Internet Archive; and World Vital Records ($).
  • Elzas, Barnett A. The Reformed Society of Israelites of Charleston, S.C. New York: Bloch Publishing Company, 1916. Digital version at Google Books.
  • Elzas, Barnett A. The Sabbath Service and Miscellaneous Prayers Adopted by the Reformed Society of Israelites Founded in Charleston, S.C. November 21, 1825. Reprint, New York: Bloch Publishing Company, 1916. Digital version at Google Books.
  • Hagy, James W. "The Death Records of Charleston," The South Carolina Historical Magazine, Vol. 91, No. 1 (Jan., 1990), pp. 32-44. Digital version at JSTOR ($). [Local study on Jewish deaths in Charleston during the nineteenth century.]
Methodist Episcopal

The visit of John Wesley in about 1736 was the beginning of Methodism in Charleston. The organized beginning of the church was in 1785 with the assistance of Bishop Francis Asbury. By the end of the year Charleston had a membership of thirty-five white and twenty-three African-Americans. In 1786 the first Methodist Church was erected on Cumberland Street in Charleston.[2]

  • Mood, F.A. Methodism in Charleston: A Narrative of the Chief Events Relating to the Rise and Progress of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., With Brief Notices of the Early Ministers Who Labored in that City. Nashville, Tenn.: E. Stevenson & J.E. Evans, 1856. Digital version at Google Books.

Presbyterianism was established in South Carolina by the Congregational Presbyterians in 1682. In about 1865 individuals from Scotland and New England formed the Presbyterian Meeting. In about 1680 Lord Cardross attempted to organize a Presbyterian colony at Port Royal. The colony was attacked by the Spanish and abandoned in 1688. Many remained in Carolina and were organized into congregations.[2]

  • Centennial Celebration of the Dedication of the First Presbyterian Church, Charleston, S.C., Organized Seventeen Hundred and Thirty-two: Dedication, December Twenty-ninth, Eighteen Hundred and Fourteen: Celebration, December Twenty-sixth to December Twenty-ninth, Nineteen Hundred and Fourteen. Charleston, S.C.: Walker, Evans & Cogswell Co., 1915. Digital version at Ancestry ($).
  • Smith, Thomas. Manual, for the Use of the Members of the Second Presbyterian Church, Charleston, S.C. Charleston, S.C.: Jenkins & Hussey, 1838. Digital version at Google Books.
  • The Old and the New, or, Discourses and Proceedings at the Dedication of the Re-modelled Unitarian Church in Charleston, S.C., on Sunday, April 2, 1954: Preceded by the Farewell Discourse Delivered in the Old Church, on Sunday, April 4, 1852. Charleston: S.G. Courtenay, 1854. Digital version at Ancestry ($).


  1. Hugh Wallis, IGI Batch Numbers for South Carolina, USA, accessed 14 September 2010.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Thomas Petigru Lesesne. History of Charleston County, South Carolina.Charleston, S.C.: A.H. Cawston
  3. "South Carolina Districts and Parishes 1770" [map] in Carolana at (accessed 11 May 2011).


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  • This page was last modified on 30 January 2015, at 02:19.
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