The boundaries of Mathews County, formed in 1791, embraced virtually all of Kingston Parish, formed between 1651 and 1657. Mathews County also included some acreage to the south and west, within neighboring Ware Parish. Fortunately for family history researchers and social historians, substantial portions of Kingston Parish’s early parish register (1746-1827), which contains parishioners’ vital records, also includes the dates on which their slaves were born and baptized. In some instances, a slave’s date of death is recorded. All of this important information is published here for the first time.
Generally, each of the 1,860 entries includes the name of the slave (usually the first name only), name of the slaveholder, date of birth, date of baptism, and the page number in the Kingston Parish Register where the information can be found. Although slaves are listed only by their first name in connection with the name of the owner, the dates of birth and baptism, plus the full name of the owner, provide indispensable clues for family history research. The recording of this unique body of information came about because slaves, as personal property, were both taxable and transferable, and birth records would provide unimpeachable proof of ownership.