Virginia, Church Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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United States
Virginia
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This article describes a collection of records scheduled to become available at FamilySearch.org.
Virginia, United States
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Flag of Virginia
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Location of Virginia
Record Description
Record Type Church
Collection years 1656-1968
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites




What Is in This Collection?

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.

Collection Content

Sample Images

What Can This Collection Tell Me?

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 Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search you will need to know:

  • The name of your ancestor.
  • The location of the congregation or parish.
  • The approximate date of any event that occurred in the church.
  • The religion in which your ancestor participated.

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

View the Images

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:

  1. Select County, Town
  2. Select Church Record to view the images.

How Do I Analyze the Results?

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?

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.

I Found Who I Was Looking For, What Now?

  • 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.
  • 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.

I Can't Find Who I'm Looking For, What Now?

  • 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.

Record Finder


Citing This Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.

Collection citation:

"Virginia, Church Records, 1656-1968." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org: accessed 2017. Citing University of Richmond, Richmond, Virginia.

Image citation:

The image citation will be available once the collection is published.

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How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.