MS 169 St. James' Episcopal Church Records


The collection consists of original papers, handwritten ledgers, bills, account books, early personal checks, indentures, letters, church records, and hand drawn town maps. The early church was est. 1729 in Newtown (Wilmington).

Also included are copies of early Colonial records in North Carolina from 1729, and copies of letters to the Bishop of London, 1735. The church was still very much an extension of the Church of England, and in 1737, a citizen of the town made a bequest toward building "an English Church". We find a Record of Deed to land for this church in 1747.

Among the many interesting documents, histories, papers, and gifts, is information on ECCE HOMO, the painting given to the church in 1748, taken from one of 3 pirate ships that attacked Brunswick Town, on the banks of Cape Fear River. The painting was salvaged from the captain's cabin and presented to St. James'. It is attributed to Francisco Pacheco [1564-1654] and still hangs in St. James'.

Handwritten specifications for church repairs, bills of lading from ships bringing much needed items for the church. Subscriber lists, pew rental lists, baptism, confirmation, marriage, and burial records, documented in ledgers from 1811, however, some papers written in late 1700s refer to some of the above mentioned statistics. Also included are church finances, including Rector salaries, and even the annual stipend for the church " bell ringer".

The collection will be of interest not only to those interested in church history, but social history as well, following the progression of many family names from earliest days to present day involvement. The growth of the church is relevant to the committed involvement of parishioners, and we follow the outreach in developing other churches, ministries, and an ever growing building program both in physical and spiritual development.

St. James survives the occupation of troops during the Civil War, and hardships that follow, a fire, disease, 2 World Wars, a depression, a decline in population of the city, and then rapid growth.  Included are many photographs and portraits of Rectors and Bishops from mid 1800's to 1970s, along with pictures of important church events and commemorations. Not all documents, letters, and photos are dated, and some lack name identification. As this information becomes available corrections to the collection will be made.