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John Francis Pelot
Early South Carolina Baptist

      The Pelot family of South Carolina, Georgia, & Florida, which Dr. J. G. B. Bulloch of Washington, DC. in the Transactions of the Huguenot Society of South Carolina classes as among the families which made that State, illustrious, was founded in America by the Rev. Francis Pelot, A. M., who was born in La Neuveville, Bern, Switzerland, March 11, 1720. His ancestors were people of political and financial consequence in Switzerland, and "he derived from them," as the Rev. Oliver Hart, the distinguished Baptist clergyman of Charleston says: "the right of Burghership, in his native town."

      The Rev. John Francis Pelot married, first, Miss Martha Sealy (a first cousin of the second wife of the Rev. Oliver Hart), a descendant of Joseph Sealy, Esq. an English settler with Lord Cardross in 1683, whose first plantation was on Edisto Island, SC. but who about forty years later removed to Euhaw*. Martha was a Daughter of John Sealy and his wife, Hannah.
* Euhaw, was located near present-day Grahamville, Jasper Co, SC.

      Rev. Pelot married, 2nd, Catharine (Stoll), widow of William Screven Jr. (Son of the Rev. William Screven), & Daughter of Justinius Stoll. Whence comes the name of Stoll's alley, in Charleston, SC.

      About Rev. "Francis" Pelot...The year of his coming to America is said to have been 1734, and the Rev. Morgan Edwards, the founder of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, says that in 1772, He was the owner of three islands and 3,785 acres of land on the mainland of South Carolina, and "stock in abundance."
Although raised Presbyterian, in 1744 he adopted the Baptist faith, and two years later, a plantation owner and a layman, he assumed the ministry of the Euhaw Church, on Indian Land. This church, which had had its beginning in 1683, had remained a dependency of the First Baptist Church of Charleston for sixty years, but had now been constituted a separate church.

      In 1745, certain planters of the Euhaw or "Indian Lands," who had worshiped formerly on Edisto Island, organized a Baptist Church in "the neighborhood of Euhaw Creek." The location is some six miles East of the present village of Grahamville. An acre of ground for the initial building was donated by George Pelot. Some of the families associated with the church's early history were Pelot, Postell and Sealy.

      Quoting from the manuscript - diary (kept from 1740-1780) of the Rev. Oliver Hart, who was for more than thirty years pastor of the First Baptist Church in Charleston, South Carolina:

      "On Friday November ye 12, 1774, died my dear Friend and Brother, the Rev. Francis Pelot. A greater loss the Baptist Interest could not have sustained by the death of any one in the Province. His family, his Church, and the Neighborhood, will feel a sensible and irreparable loss. And as to my own Part, I have lost the best Friend and counselor I ever was blest with in the world; the most intimate friendship had subsisted betwixt us for about four and twenty years. In all which time I ever found him a faithful Friend, & qualified to give advice in the most critical cases. This worthy man was born March 11, 1720, of a reputable family, in the town called La Neuveville, in Switzerland, to which town he had an ancient right of, Burghership, & came to America, with his Father, Mother, Sister and Brother, Oct. 28, 1734.

      They settled in Purrysburg, St. Helena Parish, Granville Co, SC. where his mother died about two years after their arrival, and his father died May 24, 1754.


[From Find A Grave, via internet. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

      The following is from the Diary of Oliver Hart, located in the biography section. Pastor Francis Pelot is virtually unknown except for Hart's writing. [The paragraph breaks are added by the editor (jd).]


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On Saturday, November ye l2, I774, died my dear friend and brother, the Rev. Francis Pelot. A greater loss the Baptist interest could not have sustained by the death of any one man in the Province. His family, his church and the neighborhood wi11 feel a sensible and irrepable [sic] loss, and as to my own part, I have lost the best friend and compelor [?] I ever was blest with in the world; the most intimate friendship had subsisted betwixt us for about four and twenty years. In all which time I ever found him a faithful friend and gratified to give advice in the most critical cases. This worthy man was born March llth 1720 of reputable family in the town ca11ed Norvil1e, Stutgart, in Switzerland, to which town he had an ancient right of Burgership, and came over to America (with his father, mother, sister and brother) Oct, 28, 1734. They settled in _________(?) South Carolina, where his mother died in about two weeks after their arrival, and his father died May 24, l754, Hls brother set off from ______ for the Euhaw on Saturday Jan. 6th 1749/50, but being overtakcn with excessive bad weather, lost his way, and (though sought for) was not heard of for many months, when his bones and horses bones with some rags of clothes and things he had with him were found, fack [?] of a place called the Oakatees. The loss of his only brother in such a manner must have been a great affliction to him as well as their father, sister and other friends. Mr. Pelot came into America while still young, wanting about five months of fifteen years o1d, but being a youth of bright parts and a good education. He was noticed by the family of the Sealys (people of some property, and a good religious character) who procured him as a tutor to their children. In this station he continued for some time and at length made suit to Miss Martha, thr daughtrr of Mr. John Scaly, to whom he was married by consent of all parties May ye 19th, 1741. In her he was blest with an agreeable companion, she being a pious, prudent wife. By her he had eight children, three which only
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survive him. On August ye 29, 1750, Mrs. Pelot died, they having been married l9 years and 8 months. Mr. Pelot, finding it inconvenient to live a widower, made suit to Mrs. Catherine Screven, widow of Mr. William Screven, and daughter of Mr. Justinus Stoll, to whom she was married Oct. ye 6th, 1761 by the Rev. Olivcr Hart.

      In this second marriage Mr. Pelot was again blest with a pious prudent and suitable companion by whom he had four children (one born after his death) three of them survive him, and are the charge of his sorrowful relict. By his industry and frugality Mr. Pelot had procured a fine interest which he left free fron incumbrance between his widiw and children in the most equitable manner. This valuable man seems (by which I can learn from the best information) to have had religious turn from his youth and was converted while young, soon after which he embraced the Baptist principles, was baptizcd by thc Rev. Isaac Charles upon a personal profession of his Faith at Euhaw and gave himself a member of the Baptist Church there of which church he continued a worthy member to the day of his death.

      He had not long been a member before the church discovered that he was endowed with ministerial gifts. The Rev. Mr. Charles was also [of] the same opinion and used his influence with Mr. Pelot to accept the church invitation to make tryal of his gifts. The great dlffidence that he ever of himself and his own endowments caused him for some time to withstand all their solicitations. At length, being overcome by enteaty, he consented and performed so as to give general satisfaction and hopes of future usefulness, in public character. He was therefore licensed to preach thc Gospel publickly whenever God or his providence might call him. Thus he continued as a candidate (resisting, through modesty and self diffidence many solicitations to ordination until at last, he was overcome (as he himself often acknwledged) by the arguments of one whom he ever honored with his friendship and esteem.

      And on Monday Jan. ye 13th 1752 he was solemnly ordained or set apart to the Ministry at Euhaw by the Rev. Mr. John Stephens snd Oliver Hart. The lattcr preached his ordination sermon from Matt. 10:16: "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in thc midst of wolves. Be ye wise as serpents and harmless as doves." Many attended the solemnity and in general they were much affected. He now took upon him the pastoral charge of the church, and in that capacity acted a faithful part, as long as he lived. To lineate a finished picture of this worthy man's character would require much nicer touches than my pencil is capable of, therefore [I] shall not attempt it. I have already observed that he was blest with good natural parts and a pretty good education, whereby a foundation was laid, for thc great improvement he made, by reading, study and conversation. He had much vivacity of temper, a great flow of spirit, which being regulated by a principle of grace rendered him a facitious and agreeable companion. His conversation was not only pleasing but profitable, as he had a fine turn of introducing religion and spiritualizing most occasions in life.

      The French was his native language, which he pronounced accurately and spoke fluently, as long as he lived. As to his preaching he did not content himself with delivering a little dry morality, but unfolded and applied the great and glorious doctrine of the Gospel. His principles were truly evangelical and his knowledge of truth was extra ______ and clear and judicious. He knew how rightly to divide the word of truth and to give the Saint and sinner their proper portion. He would search the hyprocrite and his false proof out of his hands.

      In the choice of his subjects he often seemed to give his fancy scope for he wou1d freguently go upon text which his _________ could hardly devise how he could manage them, to advantage, but when he had smote the rock, the water would gush out.

      Upon the whole he was a workman who needed not to be ashamed for he rightly divided the word of truth. In his fanily he was a bright example of true piety. The morning and evening sacrifices of prayer and praise were constantly offered up to the God of our lives and mercies. He not only endeavored to train up his children in the paths of virtue and religion, but he also took much pains with his servants to teach them the fear of the Lord and the way to eternal happiness.

      I wish I could say that in these things I could say that his succcss had been equal to his endeavors. He was a good __(?)___ knew how to solves doubts and clear up difficult cases of conscience.

      To say no more, he was the sincere open, constant and hearty friend, could keep

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a secret, and in short, few men were ever better qualified for friendship than he. His last illness he bore with much patience and seemed not at all terrified at Death.

      He died (as observed before) on Saturday Nov. 12, 1774. I preached his funeral sermon in his own congregation at Euhaw, from Jos[hua]. l4:19 - "Because I live, ye shall live also" - which word he had made choice of for that purpose more than three years before his death when he engaged me to perform this last kind office of respect to him. I had a full congregation to hear the funeral sermon, most were in tears and gave visible marks of the regards they bore to the memory of their late dear minister. May God sanctify the affliction and repair the loss to al1 concerned.

[Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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