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Peter Pelham Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: SC-026

Scope and Contents

The collection holds three of Pelham’s handwritten journals, dated September 17, 1790- April 15, 1791. The journals primarily discuss Pelham’s personal experiences with prayer and religious devotions, but they also mention daily life with his family and interactions with other Methodists. There are other, more recent materials in the collection. The journals were used for an article published in the Spring 1986 issue of the Virginia United Methodist Conference’s publication HERITAGE; several copies of the article are included here. There is also an article and photographs from Baker University’s alumni publication Baker World about Baker’s receipt of the journals from Pelham Adams, a descendent of Peter Pelham. There are some photocopies of articles about the history of the Brunswick Circuit and the Pelham family genealogy, and a student paper written in the 1990s about the journals as well. In addition to the articles, correspondence about the journals is included in the collection. Much of it concerns Virginia Markham’s efforts to learn more about Peter Pelham. There is correspondence between her and the archives at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Greene County Historical Society in Ohio, as well as letters from several individuals. Some of them sent photocopies of materials to Markham. These include typewritten excerpts from a diary, a copy of Peter Pelham’s will, and copies of plat maps. Markham’s correspondence with Dr. Alpheus Potts, author of the HERITAGE article, is also in the collection. Lastly, all three journals were photocopied. Those copies are in this collection.


  • Other: Majority of material found in 1790-1791

Conditions Governing Access

No restrictions

Biographical or Historical Information

Peter Pelham was born in Boston in 1747. He was a member of a family that was prominent in both England and the United States. His father and grandfather were also both named Peter Pelham; his grandfather is considered to be the first mezzotint engraver in America and made portraits of several notable people of his time, including Queen Anne and Cotton Mather. His father was a musician who studied with Pachelbel and was church organist at Trinity Church in Boston and Bruton Parish Church in Williamsburg, Virginia. Not long after Peter’s birth in 1747, the Pelhams moved from Boston to Virginia. Peter grew up and married Parthenia Brown in Hampton, Virginia in 1772. They had eleven children. Peter worked as a clerk in Brunswick County, Virginia, until it was divided in 1781; he then became clerk of Greenville County. He also served the Brunswick Battalion during the American Revolutionary War as a quartermaster. Around 1787, Peter became an early convert to Methodism. In 1804, he provided the land for a church named for him in the Brunswick Circuit, one of the oldest charges in Methodism. Not long after this he moved with his family to Xenia, Greene County, Ohio and served as the county’s first auditor. He continued to live in Ohio until his death in 1822.

Note written by Sara DeCaro


1.00 boxes

Language of Materials



This collection holds the journals of Peter Pelham, an early Methodist who lived in Virginia and Ohio, and several articles and letters written about the journals in the 1970s and 1980s.

Archon Finding Aid Title
Sara DeCaro
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Baker University and Kansas United Methodist Archives Repository

518 8th Street
PO Box 65
Baldwin City KS 66006 US