BEDFORD COUNTY, VA. 29
The first minister of the Gospel in Bedford County, Virginia, of whom there is any record was the Rev. John Brander, who belonged to the Established Church of Great Britain. He was a bachelor. The first deed to him is dated the 28th of December, 1762, and was made by Benjamin Arnold of Buckingham County, conveying to Revd. Mr. John Brander, Minister of Russell Parrish in the County of Bedford and his successors for the use of the Parrish"
four hundred and ninety-six acres of land in Bedford County, and it was paid for by the Church Wardens. It was subsequently sold by the Trustees and conveyed to Rev. John White Holt, Clerk of Russell Parish, who also belonged to the Established Church.
Mr. Brander acquired lands in his own right in 1772 and 1773, two tracts in Bedford County, amounting to fourteen hundred acres, and quite a number of slaves and other property. He made his
will, dated March 27th, 1777, which was probated 28th of July, 1778. He devised his whole estate to his nephew, John Brander, who then resided in the county, charging it with the payment of certain legacies. January 27th, 1777, (during the Rev. War) the court entered the following order:
"Ordered that it be certified to his Excelly. the Governor that John Brander junior & Council & James McMurray subjects to the King of Great Britain & residing in this County are Agents for two Companies of Merchants in Great Britain, have not manifested a friendly Disposition to the American Cause, and are otherwise unconnected with Wives or Children in this State."
On 7th of October, 1779, the whole of Mr. Brander's estate was escheated to the commonwealth, but the records do not show what became of it further than the inquisition of escheatment made by the jury and recorded in the clerk's office.
The above is from “A Historical Sketch of Bedford, Virginia”. Ruth Early also writes about it in “Campbell Chronicles”. Some of it is in the Quarterly of the Virginia Genealogical Society. On various forums, I have bemoaned the heretofore missing Register and Vestry books of early Russell Parish in Bedford county, Virginia. This would cover the years of the 1750’s thru 1777? John Brander would be the fellow that kept them. Where did these records go? I have babbled on about what a tremendous genealogical find these records would be. Births, baptisms, marriages, orphans, deaths, etc. Even if you descend from the groups of “dissenter” churches (Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, etc.) the law required all these measures through the established Church of England. Back then, you did not have a choice in the matter. It was law and they would put you in jail if you ignored them. After the “disestablishment” of the government sanctioned Episcopal Church, Virginia ordered these records to be turned over to the counties. Naturally, this did not always happen as ordered. The Bishops and parish ministers were a bit peeved to say the least and some of these documents were lost through strange circumstance. Who knows? Some of these records could be in one of the courthouses in an old folder marked Rev. John Brander. Of course, his torie successor may have burned them all. The VGS Quarterly, Vol 2, no.3, (1964) says that Rev. John Brander was the son of one Alexander Brander from the “town of Pittendrich (sic?) in the Parish and County of Elgin, Scotland, part of the old province of Moray in the early 18th century”. Rev. John was supposedly educated there at a school of divinity, then emigrated to
the American Colonies. In Virginia, he settled on the James River maybe as early as Mar. 15, 1759.” I have searched much for the Russell Parish records to no avail. There are later records, but nothing during Rev. Branders’ tenure. I have often wondered if a copy of these Vestry records might be found in the U.K. As an American descendant of a long line of Scots Presbyterians, I am clueless when it comes to searching records in the British Isles. The few times I have tried, I always come away with a large fee in pounds sterling. I was hoping some of my Scottish “cousins” or fellow researchers could lend me some guidance. Brander is not my line and I have not studied the Brander line very much; Only as a side track to my search for the Vestry records. Surely, the Church of England required that a copy be sent across the Atlantic. Edwin