About one mile east, on north (lefthand) side of road (see stone marker and old foundations) stood the last colonial church of Charles Parish, built about 1708 and burned a century later, on the site of two earlier churches of the parish, built about 1636 and 1682. The parish was first known as New Poquoson Parish in 1635 and was renamed Charles Parish in 1692.
Regarding Charles Parish, the House of Burgesses on Dec. 11thof 1692 ordered that, “upon the peticon of ye pishioners of New Poquoson in ye county of Yorke yt from henceforth forever hereafter ye old pish Church shall be called and named Charles Church. And ye river formerly called New Poquoson river shall from time to time and all times hereafter be called and written, Charles river.” (125) After this proclamation, the parish officially became known as Charles Church. The Register of the Parish has offered a long history of the Church’s reverends, and members. One of the first entries was made in 1687: “Ye Rev. Thomas Finney, rector of this parish, died and was buried in the chancel of New Poquoson Church.” (126)
The next minister, Rev. James Sclater served the parish for 35 years, and died in 1723. After Sclater’s death, it was reported to the Bishop of London that Charles Parish’s leadership was vacant. Rev. James Falconer was then called from Elizabeth City to serve as rector, but died shortly after in 1727. After Falconer’s death, Rev. Theodosius Staige came from Fredericksburg, and then died in 1747. The Register then mentions Rev. Thomas Warrington as the church’s rector, but was called away from the church in 1756. Rev. Samuel Shields is the last name mentioned on the register in 1789. Throughout 140 years of existence, Charles Parish had only six ministers. (127)
Today, The Register of Charles Parish, York County, Virginia is the oldest surviving database of Colonial Virginia genealogy that exists. It provides the records of the births and deaths of its members from 1648 to 1789.
Bell, Landon C. Charles Parish, York County, Virginia: History and Registers, Births, 1648-1789 and Deaths, 1665-1787. Indexed. Clearfield Co, 1999.
Colonial Churches in the Original Colony of Virginia: a Series of Sketches by Especially Qualified Writers. Southern Churchman Co., 1908.
Historical Marker “Charles Church NP-1,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.
“Charles Parish,” The Virginia Shop at the Library of Virginia, www.thevirginiashop.org (accessed May 2, 2012).