Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Kevin P Kelly


The majority of studies of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century communities have examined either towns, the focus of social organization in New England, or counties, the equivalent for the Chesapeake. However, the parish, not the county, was the unit of government that dealt with the problems which affected seventeenth- and eighteenth- century Virginians. Because the parish served as a focus for the day to day activities of the majority of colonial Virginians, it seems logical to examine a parish community in order to learn about their lives. However, most of the Chesapeake historians have focused their studies on a county or several counties.;The following study focuses on the development of Charles Parish, York County, Virginia from 1630 to 1740 in order to contribute new information to what is already known about life in the early Chesapeake. A detailed approach based on biographical data about residents of Charles provides data about the impact of high mortality rates and immigration on the development of the parish community and its neighborhoods, the role that family members and neighbors played in associations, the different social levels within Charles and its neighborhoods, the ways in which local leaders exercised their power, and the impact of nearby Williamsburg and Yorktown on a rural area such as Charles Parish. The inclusion of all the free residents--women, free blacks, and small white planters, not just the successful white male planters--of Charles in a data base makes it possible to study the role of each group in the parish community. A variety of sources including the most complete birth and death registers extant for a seventeenth-century Virginia parish, colonial records, and court proceedings from York County furnish the necessary data to study the development of neighborhoods in Charles and the parish's connections to the other parishes in York County and the nearby counties.



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