Hatchett Documents - Life of John Hatchett

The following appeared in the pamphlet "A Short Narrative of the Life of John Hatchett" transcribed by Dr. Joseph D. Eggleston, and printed by The Farmville Herald in the mid 1900's. The Farmville Herald has kindly given hatchetts.com permission to reprint the contents here.

A Short Narrative of the Life of John Hatchett, 
John Hatchett (edited by Dr. Joseph D. Eggleston), 
"Hatchett Documents - Family History from Edward Hatchett" (online hatchetts.com)
[Original data: The Farmville Herald.]

The following is the first, and main section of a manuscript transcribed and edited by Dr. Eggleston. This may have been written over a period of time, probably the late 1790's to the early 1800's. John Hatchett was the son of John Hatchett, grandson of William Hatchett and Margaret Remay, and great-grandson of John Hatchett "the immigrant". - Steve Hatchett, hatchetts.com

Prince Edward County, Virginia
A Short Narrative of the Life of John Hatchett
(The following narrative is from an old manuscript loaned to me by Mrs. Louise
Leonard, Route 3, Petersburg, Virginia. I have not attempted to edit the
manuscript except in the few places where it was neccessary in order to make
the sense clearer.      J.D. Eggleston)

   I was born in the County of Amelia, Va., near Avery's Church, the 18th day
of December, in the year of our Lord 1769. My parents were both born in the same
   My father's grandfather came from England as a little boy; he was named John
Hatchitt; he married a Miss Bass and settled in Chesterfield County, where they
raised a large family, and the old people lived and died in Chesterfield.
   My father's father moved to Amelia; he went by the name of William Hatchitt,
where my father was born. My father's name was John Hatchitt. My father's mother
came from France when young, with her parents, who fled from the persecution
that raged there under Louis XIV, and settled on James River at the Manekin town.
   My father's mother's family was one of the name of Remay; they were all of
the Protestant religion. My father's mother's family all soon died after coming
to this country, and left her the only one of the family. Her name was Margaret
Remay. She married a Mr. Levenston, who soon died and left her a widow with one
daughter. She was married again to a Mr. John Neal; he also soon died and left
a daughter. She then married my grandfather, moved to Amelia, and they raised
several children, to wit John, William, Archer, Abraham, Marthey, Anne, Jane. My
grandmother's first children were Elizabeth Levenston and Mary Neal.
   My grandfather lived a strictly honest life and his religion was of the Church
of England. My grandmother was a truly pious Christian of the same Church, and a
constant communicant. The old people moved the latter part of their days to
Nottoway County. The old lady lived to bury three husbands and died aged 92.
   My mother was by the name of Mary Neal, daughter to Roger Neal. My mother's
parents came to this country from Ireland. My mother's mother was by the name of
Catherine Malone, previous to marriage. They settled on the Beaver pond creek in
Amelia County, as also my mother's grandfather and grandmother Neal, and several
uncles in the same neighborhood, all from Ireland settled on the Beaver pond;
they were honest, industrious, money making people, Protestant religion. These
old people were great church people, their creed and catechisms were strictly
attended to and learned to their children at an early age.
   My mother's parents lived on a rich plantation on the Beaver pond, where they
had seven children, two of them died before they were raised, the other five
lived to be raised and their names were as follows: Margaret, Anne, Mary, John,
Stephen. Grandfather Neal died before these above named children were all grown.
Grandmother Neal married the second husband, a Mr. William Feston a tailor by
trade, a native of England, that soon died and left the old lady a widow, as she
remained during the remainder of her life, moved to Prince Edward and there she
was buried.
   My father and mother settled near Avery's church on the head waters of west
creek, where they had nine children, to wit : Margaret, Anne, Mildred, Elisabeth,
Abner, Bartley, John, William and Mary that died a few hours old, she being a twin
sister to Brother William. My mother died when I was so young that I remember but
little of her. They were both inclined to the Mother Church, and had all their
children baptized into that church. Myself among the rest of my father's children
was carried to Avery's church and received the ordenance of Baptism by Parson
Brunskill at a few weeks old, he being the parson of that parish, we being at that
time under the Crown of Great Britain. The death of my mother brought about a
great change in the family. My father took up regular worship in his family and
attended more to the religious instruction of his family than he had done
heretofore, as we lived near the church we were not suffered to stay away from
church. We were learnt the Lord's Prayer and the church creed, at a very early
age, as also the church catechism. I remember being at the church when Mr. Joseph
Grey read prayers and sung the following psalm, The Lord himself, the mighty Lord,
vouchsafes to be my guide, etc., that it left an impression on my mind that never
has been arrested to this day, although I could not have been more than four
years old ....
   About this time the Baptists began to preach in the County, and there was a
considerable stir among the people. Jeremiah Walker and one Baker was the
principal preachers at this day. The above named ministers preached at my father's
on Good Friday to a large congregation. I remember to have seen some of the
congregation's faces bathed in tears, but I was so young at that day that I did
not know what these things meant.
   About this time the Methodists began to preach in the neighborhood and many
profest to Experience a change. One of the preaching places in the neighbourhood
was at Joseph Farler's Barn, as they were not permitted to preach in the fine
churches in that day. I remember riding behind some of the family to the said
barn to hear a Mr. Williams, the first Methodist preacher I ever saw. . . . I
remember to have seen him (my father) on his knees at private devotion many times
when myself and my youngest brothers was little fellows and used to follow him
about the plantation....
   The country a little after this was involved in war with the Mother Country,
which lasted nearly eight years ... Enlisting troops seemed to put a check to
the progress of religion in this neighbourhood.
   At this time the congregation at Briery meeting house appeared to be cold
Christians. Samuel S. Smith was their pastor at that time, but was soon
succeeded by his Brother John B. Smith, who remained their pastor a good many
years. About the years '77-'78 & '79 fidling and dancing appeared to be thought
more of than religion in this neighbourhood, altho at that time the distress of
the war was great and wickedness seemed to abound in this part of the world
untill the close of the war and afterwards untill the revival of religion in '87
& '88. Times appeared in this war to be gloomy. No money to pay the troops, paper
money little or no account. Soldiers naked and barefoot, many dead, Parents
bereaved of their sons, women of their husbands. There was a law made that all
men should bear arms from sixteen to fifty.
   1780, this year and the fall previous produced that memorable winter that
James River and all other big water courses were frozen so that waggons went over
the Ice. This year war still raged in this country. I went to school to Mr. Wm.
Booker, he taught school in one room of Col. Thos. Flournoy's House. Frequently
the soldiers would call at Col. Flournoy's and give intelligence of the war, and
in the year 1781 on the 15 of March was the memorable Battle at Guilford
Courthouse fought. My oldest brother was there, he at that time had just turned
his sixteenth year; providence preserved him, and he returned home safe, tho
there was many lives lost on both sides.
   This fall under kind providence by the assistance of the French the war was
brought to a close. Lord Cornwallis and his whole army was taken prisnors of war
at Yorktown, Va., on the 19 October. All places of worship were resorted to to
pray & return thanks at a proper time, altho there was little appearance of heart
religion in this neighbourhood....
   I went to school '81 & '82 to Mr. Ulitious Rogers along the public road and
used often to see the soldiers passing and repassing; in the summer '81 and a
little after wheat harvest, Col. Tarlton and his troop of Cavalry came in the
neighborhood of Pr. Edward Courthouse pillaging and burning as they came. Stayed
all night at the Court House, went to several places pillaging as they went.
Started for Charlotte as appeared, carrying all the men they got hold of prisners
off with them and as they crossed Briery Bridge between Mr. Watson's and Mr.
Allen's a brave young man that lived in the neighbourhood stept in the road
before them with his rifle well charged, ordering them to halt, and at the same
time let fly among them, gave one his Mortall wound and made his escape, they
then after coming as high as the forks of the road took the left hand leading to
Moor's Ordenary taking all prisners they could get hold of along with them.
Spent the Balance of that day at the old Ordenary and then moved off, went
through Lunenburgh, Brunswick and the lower counties, burning and plundering as
they went to their headquarters. Soon after this the neighbours was alarmed again
by a rumor that Cornwallis and his whole army was coming in the neighbourhood.
Families was all hurry again as in the former case, hiding their property
expecting to be stript of everything, but the report was soon contradicted and
families went peaceably to their work again ; and within three months from this
time that same old fox had to surrender his whole army to our Great Washington...
   War now being brought to a close, trade being opened again, people turned
their attention to their plantations; tobacco got up to forty shillings. People
now began many of them to live and dress differently from what they had done,
pride began to appear in our congregations, and all this while religion seemed
to be the last thing thought about in my neighbourhood.
   In 1783 I went to school to Mr. Joseph Price, I now having entered my
fourteenth year. ... There was but little preaching in this neighbourhood at
that time near enough for me to attend often. The Rev. Mr. Smith preached at
Briery once or twice a month.... At this and a little before this time the Rev.
Mr. McRobert preached at an old barn called Thompson's Barn, about three miles
   In 1784 I went to school to a Mr. John Bibb. This year a little bug called
the chinch bug attacked the wheat fields and destroyed the wheat and then went
into the fields of corn destroying as they went. . . . The same little insects
remained among us two years after, untill people stopt trying to raise wheat,
which they thought the only way to get clear of them.
   As wheat harvest this year '84 approached, the Rev. Mr. Robert Foster preached
a funeral sermon in the neighbourhood.... This was the first time that I had ever
seen Mr. Foster....
   1785, this year I went to school to Mr. Wm. Russell. . . 1786, this year
Robert Marten, a Methodist, held meetings a few times in the neighbourhood; his
rough manner of expresssion together with the zeal he had, rendered him unpopular
with many.... The latter part of this summer I went to school to Mr. John
Bassette. I went also to singing school at Thompson's old barn, taught by a Mr.
Wm. F. Morton. Sometime the latter part of this summer the Rev. Mr. Thomas Grimes
preached a funeral sermon in the neighbourhood.... he was a Baptist preacher.
About this time Rev. Archerbald McRoberts, a dissenting minister that I had
frequently heard, preached. This man's preaching seemed to me to be different
from what it had been heretofore ... the good old man's words seemed ... to go
from heart to heart, and from breast to breast, and drew tears from many eyes...
   In 1787 a blessed work broke out in Cumberland and the lower parts of Prince
Edward counties, under the ministerial labours of Mr. Hope Hull, a Methodist
minister. The Presbyterians and Baptists caught the flame, and the latter part of
this year several of the students at Hamden Sidney College became subjects of the
work, and 1788 there appeared to be a general outpouring in this and adjoining
neighbourhoods; no strange thing to hear of conversions now. This spring, some
time in the latter part of April at a sacrement at old Briery meeting house
several appeared to be pierced to the heart and was crying out for mercy....
   This summer myself and my youngest sister went to singing school, to old Mr.
Morason. This good old man prayed in his school and instructed his school in the
things of religion. Sometime in the early part of June this year there was a
quarterly meeting held at Magehee's barn, the first meeting of the kind ever
held in this neighbourhood. On Sunday I went, never before having been to a
meeting of the kind. There was a large collection of people at the place of
different denominations. The Lord was there. ... Many fell to the floor and lay
prostrate, as dead, many more crying and praying for mercy, many others
testifying that God for Christ's sake had pardoned their sins. A Mr. Thos.
Conner was presiding Elder at this meeting. He had a number of preachers to
assist him. . . From this time the work seemed to spread and go on as if the
people would all soon become Christians; young ladies and gentlemen would now
walk miles to preaching. . . People went far and near to preaching; night
meetings was kept up by all denominations....
   Early in July this summer my eldest brother died, a very sudden death, that
was a great shock to the family, he being a brother that we all very much doted
on.... My father, as above stated, was of the old church persuasion ... he joined
the Methodist church some time this summer '88, as also two of my sisters with
him, at Magehee's old barn....
   The Methodists had formed a large church at Megehee's Barn, and several other
places; at length a society was raised at a near neighbour's, old neighbour
George Cardwell's, where they had circuit preaching....
   1790 religion still seemed to decline (he states that it did in his own case),
1791 and 1892 religion seemed still to decline, and about this time a dreadful
split took place in the Methodist Church. The Rev. James O'Kelley, Edward Almon,
John Robertson and Thos. Hardy broke off from the old body of the Methodists at
Conference held in Baltimore, formed a party, drew off many lay members with
them, and stiled themselves republican Methodists. The Rev. Clemmont Read joined
them after being a Presbyterian minister, then a Methodist Episcopal, now one of
the republican party with the above; the Rev. John Chappel also broke off with
the above party. Old Mr. O'Kelley after a while thought fit to change the name
of their party from republican Methodist to the Christian church, which was a
cause of a split among them. John Chappel was the only minister that joined with
O'Kelley in Charlotte, together with several lay members....
   In the year 1794 a rebellion broke out in some of the Northern States.
Government thought proper to lay a tax on all publick distilleries and stills
of every kind, and as some of the Stillers to the north made their calling on
whiskey trade, they refused their paying their tax and set up their liberty
poles, with their flags a-sailing at every fork of the road. Government thought
proper to send an army against them, that soon put a stop to their murmurings.
They cut down their liberty poles before the army got in sight, and their ring
leaders left the state, the army had to return, having nothing to do.
   It fell to my tower to have gone under Cptn Wood Boulding in this campaign,
and was making arrangements to do so when Cptn Gedion Spencer stept out as a
volunteer and soon raised a company of volunteers of unmarried men. I being at
that time in a marriage state staid at home tho with much reluctance. In November
1795, the latter part of the month I moved my few black people and settled a
little place of my own where I now live.
   Previous to these years a dreadful revolution broke out in the French nation;
they beheaded their King and Queen, which brought on a wretched, bloody war that
involved the greater part of Europe, that lasted about twenty years. This
European war raised the price of produce in this county. Flower and tobacco got
up, so that many of the people of this country became rich....
  This summer (1797) I went to hear the Funeral sermon of one of my neighbours
preached, the Rev. Drury Lacy was the preacher. This sermon had a great effect
on my poor heart. ... I now began to go to the Methodist meetings more than I
had done for some time past, and my will was good to ask them to pray for me,
but shame and my poor proud heart prevented me.
   1798 this year I frequented the Methodist meetings and would often stay in
their class meetings for which privilege I feel thankful to this day, for this
year I was enabled through grace divine to form a resolution to be for God....
I accordingly joined at Mount Pleasant this summer, the Rev. Pemberton Smith
being the circuit preacher....
   (The writer then describes a long and dangerous illness through which he went,
and resumes:)
   Among my kind friends was my esteemed and affectionate friend Wiltshire
Cardwell, who spared no pains day or night, cold or what not. ... His kind
nursing was blessed to my being restored to the land of the living again.... My
little family at that time consisted of a few black people, my little son and a
little boy that boarded with me to go to school, and myself. Poor Billey Spencer
spared no pains in helping me all he could ;he put many good books in my hands.
I often heard him preach with much warmth and zeal. I often went with him to his
appointments, far and near, and I then thought that he was the greatest pattern
of piety I then knew.
   This year Christopher Mooring and James Paterson rode the circuit, and there
was a class organised at the Rev. Wm. Spencer's schoolhouse where we had
preaching once a fortnight
   1800, our circuit preachers this year was John Buckston, William Douthet and
Pemberton Smith, this circuit at that time being a six weeks tower. 1801 this
year, if I mistake not, a couple of young men traveled here by the names of
Turner and Kendrey, besides a fine young man by the name of Louis Garret, that
soon left this state and went to the western country. Some part of these times
David Hume and Bisher from South Carolina traveled this circuit.
   1802 Samuel S. Stuart rode here. 1803 a fine little man from Granville, North
Carolina, by the name of Moore traveled here. 1804 this spring our much esteemed
friend William Spencer sold his possessions and moved to the lower parts of
Lunenburgh County.
   It may be that I have made some mistakes with respect to the particular dates
that some of the above named traveling preachers rode and preached here ... also
a Louis Faylor (Taylor?) rode here....
   In consequence of the Rev. William Spencer's removal, preaching was moved to
my father's where I now reside. Wm. Rite was our preacher, a very sensible,
shrewd man, and if I mistake not our presiding Elder was Daniel Hall. Jesse Lacy
had been our Elder before 1805. Some of my neighbours wished to teach a school
in the neighbourhood, and made up a large school and accordingly I undertook to
teach their children as well as I knew how. Our preacher this year was by the
name of Nathaniel Walker from Pr. Ann County.
   (Note: Here follows the closing of this Diary. John Hatchett united with Mount
Pleasant Methodist Church.)