Serving in Virginia and North Carolina
1738 - 1753
The man who more than others
The Presbyterian Church in America
The Westminster Standards
as its Constitution
He was the first pastor of Buffalo Church
Prince Edward County, Virginia
The first Missionary and Gospel pioneer
in the Yadkin-Catawba section of North Carolina
Scotch-Irish of the Old Side, Orthodox,
Author of An Explication of The Shorter Catechism,
Champion of Presbyterian Polity and
Author of The Government of The Church of Jesus Christ
By him Hopewell was rightly started
"Well started, half done."
Born: 1690 in County Down, Ireland
Married: before 1713; after 1733 married 2) to Mary McKean ("a
Highlander of dark complexion", widow of Thomas Reid, I who had died in
Education: University of Edinburg, M.A. degree; 17 Jun 1712
"entered on Tryalls in order to Licensing"; 23 Jun 1713, licensed by
Occupation: (1st Wednesday of) April 1717, ordained as pastor of Lewis-Town, DE
Immigrated: summer 1715 to New York with wife and child or family; name of wife unknown. "Tradition says that on the same ship with them was
Samuel Crockett, son of James Crockett and Martha Montgomery his wife,
a young Irishman born about 1690 or 1694, who played with little Esther
Thomson, then about five years old."
Charter member of New Castle Presbytery & of the first synod in America
1727 brought resolution advocating the adoption of the Westminster
standards as the creed of the Presbyterian Church in America; again in
1728 & it was adopted in 1729
preached at New Castle, DE
3 yrs at Middle Octorara, Lancaster Co., PA
1732 - 1744 Chestnut Level
Prominent member of Philadelphia synod
1738 was on committee to wait on the Governor of VA
1739 on synod's commission
Salem Chapel, now Cook's Creek, Rockingham Co., VA
winter of 1738 he "travelled up the Shenandoah, crossed the Ridge at
Rock Fish Gap into Piedmont Virginia and crossed the James to the
tobacco fields of the Southside"
1743 was in VA as a missionary
1744 was granted dismissal to live in the "Valley"
"When living in Virginia with his son-in-law, Rev. Richard Sankey, John
Thomson established a school in Prince Edward County for the young men
of "the back parts of Virginia" . . . roughly "might be called a
fore-runner of Hampden-Sydney College". "Dr. Squires quotes the
verbal statement of a direct descendant of Thomson, one "Rev. Mr.
I'Anson": "This school was probably near old Buffalo Church, a few
miles west of Hampden-Sydney, and may have been situated at or near his
son-in-law, Rev. Richard Sankey, an advocate of a college in Prince
Edward County and later one of the trustees of Hampden-Sydney."
1744 first visited NC as a missionary
19 Dec 1745, purchased 386 acres in Buffalo district, Prince Edward Co., VA (Amelia Co., VA Deed Bk II, pg. 217)
Lived w/ his daughter & son in law, Elizabeth & Samuel Baker
(Baker was one of the first settlers on Davidson's Creek near the
present Centre Church); visited settlements within a 20 mi. radius of
Samuel Baker's -- preached "at the various creeks reckoned first creek,
second creek, etc., going west from Salisbury -- affluants of South
Yadkin; near Concord on third creek; on South Creek at Cathey's
(Thyatira) ten miles from Salisbury; at Osborne's meeting house"; and
as early as 1752 he held services at Richard Barry's, "under a wide
spreading oak or poplar near the Beatty's Ford Road", ca 14 mi. north
"Dr. Foote, in his sketch of Poplar Tent (seven miles from Concord and
fourteen miles east of Davidson College) says: "He preached at
Charlotte in the grove at Block Smith Shop, now the grounds of the
Presbyterian Church. He preached to the people at Poplar Tent
under the shade of a large poplar tree which stood near the place now
occupied by the session house and academy. He was never a pastor
of a church in N. C. but a missionary to a struggling colony."
Had a cabin built a short distance from the house of his friends
1751, organized Poplar Tent & preached there frequently in the summers of 1752 & 1753
He went on circuit by horseback & made the "circuits profitable by
finding and having surveyed tracts of the best land which he sold to
Died Sep 1753 in his cabin -- "for some reason they cut a hole through
the floor and buried him on the exact spot where he had died. . . .
This was the beginning of Baker's graveyard . . . No stone marks the
grave of the pioneer missionary, and no one can tell the spot, for all
old records were burned."
Published writings include:
The Government of the Church of Christ, "by John Thomson, minister of the Gospel, 1741"
Adoption of the Standards of the Church of Scotland (a tract)
An Examination of the New Brunswick Apology
The Poor Orphan's Legacy (a volume of sermons) published in 1792
by Andrew Baker, a member of his church, Buffalo, in VA; later
published by the Board of Publication, Philadelphia, PA.
An Explication of the Shorter Catechism, by John Thomson, A.M. and V.D.M. in the county of Amelia, Williamsburg, VA; printed by William Parks, 1749
Children of John Thomson
Esther Thomson -- b. ca 1710, Ireland; married 1) ca 1732 or 1734 to Samuel Crockett (son of James Crockett and Martha Montgomery; b. ca 1690 or 1694; d. 1750); married 2) William Sayers
(from PA, owned adjacent farm in Wythe Co., VA); d. 19 Nov 1770, Wythe
Co., VA; possibly buried in the old Oglesby Graveyard, Wythe Co.,
VA. Child of Esther Thomson & Samuel Crockett:
Samuel Crockett, Jr., b. 1735, Prince Edward Co., VA
Samuel Thomson -- 1739, ordained as a Presybterian minister in PA; died 1787, PA
Sarah Thomson -- b. ca 1710, Ireland; married Rev. Richard Sankey
(or Sanckey; born ca 1700, North Ireland; pastor of Buffalo Church,
Prince Edward Co., VA; educated at Glasgow University; resided in PA,
then Buffalo, Prince Edward Co., VA; 1775 was chairman of the County
Committee of Safety; his name is first (of 160) on the petition for
Religious Liberty, 1776 called "the first dissenters petition that came
into the House of Delegates"; 1775, one of the founders of
Hampden-Sydney College; trustee of Hamden-Sydney College until he died.
Elizabeth Thomson -- married 1) Samuel Baker
("one of the earliest settlers on Davidson's Creek in the lower end of
Iredell County near the present Centre Church"); widow w/ 5 children;
married 2) 1753 Charles Harris (of Cabarrus Co., NC). Sons of Elizabeth Thomson & Charles Harris:
Samuel Harris; teacher in Clio Academy, Iredell Co., NC; tutor in Princeton; died 1789, Princeton
Charles H. Harris; resided Mecklenburg Co., NC; surgeon; died 4 Jul 1776 (his wife died a few weeks later)
Hannah Thomson -- married ca 1753 Roger Lawson (of NC); moved to GA
Roger Lawson Gamble is their descendant; became prominent in GA
Anne Thomson -- married James Cunningham of Lunenburg Co., VA
Jane Thomson -- married Douglas Baker of Prince Edward Co., VA
Miscellaneous note: Rev. James Anderson, "perhaps the most
influential minister in synod, a strong friend of Thomson and a
protagonist with him for the Adopting Act" was appointed to visit
Governor Gooch. While on this visit to VA, Anderson visited Col.
John Lewis & preached the first sermon in Augusta Co., VA.
Source: The History of Hopewell Presbyterian Church
for 175 years from the assigned date of its organization 1762, by
Charles William Sommerville, Ph.D., D.D.; published 1939 by Hopewell
Presbyterian Church; reprinted 1987; pages 14 - 27.
Submitted by: Susan Shields Sasek. (My aunt believes that
this Thomson family may have intermarried with our Shields ancestors
from Mecklenburg Co., NC -- need more info on these families)
support and help free genealogy prosper by sharing your records and/or
research - if you can't put it online, find someone who can. Click this
link to view a list of the contributors to this site and those who have helped me in my research.
The majority of the information, images, etc. on this web site is not
public domain, it's placed here to help other genealogists with their
personal research use only. The data and images are copyrighted either
by myself, the submitter or the source. NO PORTION of any of this web
site (including the visitor & queries section or message board) may
be copied, recopied onto any web site (or part thereof) for any
purpose; redistributed, included or used in any format for any public,
commercial or profitable purpose without written permission of the
copyright holder for each instance.