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Englishman’s research turns into historical gem for Christ Church

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Nigel Mac-Fall (above) recently learned that his ancestor, Duell Pead, served as rector of Christ Church Parish in Middlesex from 1683-1690. Mac-Fall began corresponding with church verger Grace Parker and recently donated a copy of a childhood portrait of Pead to the church. Mac-Fall came from England to visit Christ Church Parish on Sunday, July 31. (Photo by Larry Chowning)

by Larry Chowning

Christ Church Parish Episcopal Church is celebrating its 350th anniversary this year and, although not formally part of the event, an ancestor of one of the church’s early rectors came to worship on Sunday, July 31, and commemorated the church’s long history.

A while back, Nigel Mac-Fall of Middlesex, England, which is today part of London, was researching his genealogy and discovered one of his ancestors, Duell Pead, was a rector in Middlesex County, Virginia.

“It will amuse you to know when I started researching the history of my ancestor, ‘Middlesex’ kept coming up,” he said Sunday during the 10:30 a.m. worship service. “I knew Duell Pead had been a minister in a church in London, and London is in Middlesex, but I couldn’t understand the many references to baptizing Negroes and being paid in tobacco. Then the penny dropped, this isn’t the County of Middlesex in England, but Middlesex County in Virginia.

“After that things got really exciting,” he said. “When I found out it was Middlesex, Virginia, I looked to see if the church was still in existence and I could hardly believe it. When I Googled it—it came up!”

After this discovery, Mac-Fall contacted Christ Church verger Grace Parker and they began communicating, which eventually led to Mac-Fall’s visit on Sunday.

Mac-Fall’s research led to a discovery of a 17th-century portrait (circa 1661) of Duell Pead as a youngster. He obtained a copy and gave it to the Christ Church Parish. The church had it framed and it now hangs on the wall in the parish hall building.

Mac-Fall also presented a silver plate to the church with Pead’s name and his years of service inscribed. “It is such a privilege to come and worship with you today,” he said. “And, in the same building that my ancestor was minister. I have a feeling times here then were a little rougher than what they are today.”

Interim church rector Rev. Stuart Clary Wood accepted the silver plate and, after thanking Mac-Fall, said Rev. Pead introduced the tradition of holding Communion once a month in the church. Prior to Rev. Pead, Anglicans held Communion three times a year, he noted.

Rev. Duell Pead also preached a sermon in Jamestown in 1686 on a ceremonial occasion. Governor Effingham was so impressed with his sermon that he dispatched a copy to London in the hope, which proved unsuccessful, that it might be published.

When Rev. Pead left Middlesex in 1690, he returned to England and became minister at St. James Church in Clerkenwell, England, today part of London.

“Nigel, who found us and made a tremendous effort to connect with us has given us information we did not have, but are ever enriched to know,” said Parker. “At the moment of our 350th anniversary, he has brought our history to life in a way we did not expect.”

posted 08.03.2016

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