Bristol Parish, Virginia was established in 1643 by Act of the House of Burgesses, and at one time it encompassed the whole valley of the Appomattox River (Henrico, Prince George, and Dinwiddie counties). Mr. Chamberlayne’s transcription of The Vestry Book and Register of Bristol Parish contains the earliest extant records of the parish. Among other things, the volume includes the minutes of all vestry meetings from October 30, 1720 to April 18, 1789, except for the period October 28, 1722 through November 11, 1723, and a register of births and baptisms, and a few deaths, spanning the period 1720-1798.
The vestry book occupies about 60 percent of the transcription. Since it was concerned primarily with church business, most of the entries pertain to payments for services, tithables, guardianship issues, and so forth. Nevertheless, the frequent lists of accounts payable, witnesses to petitions, and so forth have the decided value of placing many colonists in Bristol Parish at a particular moment in time. The parish register, on the other hand, is an unassailable genealogical treasure. The vast majority of the more than 3,000 entries constitute records of birth and baptism, and they unfailingly indicate the names of the child, names of parents, date of birth, and date of baptism. In all, the parish register bears reference to over 9,000 persons, all of whom may be found in the comprehensive index at the back of the volume.