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December 18, 2013 / Joanne Yeck

Rev. John Spencer


Dixie, Courtesy Historic Buckingham

Rev. John Spencer (1808-1889) was a Baptist minister, living, working, and preaching in Buckingham County.   It has been said that he performed more marriages in the county than any other pastor.

According to Virginia Baptist Ministers by George Braxton Taylor:

At the age of twenty-one Mr. Spencer was converted and joined the Baptist Church near him. The very next year he began to preach, and his active labors in the ministry continued for half a century. While he never had the advantages of a college training he was a most original preacher. Upon one occasion, when the James River Association met at Enon Church, the brother appointed to preach the introductory sermon was not present. Several ministers, who were college graduates, when called on to preach the sermon refused, saying they had had no time for preparation. When Mr. Spencer was asked he consented on certain conditions. A text was to set down upon a slip of paper, which he was not to see until he was ready to begin to preach. This was done and when his sermon was finished the other preachers present agreed that the way in which he knew the Bible was wonderful, and that he preached it.

For the most part, Mr. Spencer preached to weak, struggling churches. In the course of his ministry he was pastor of the Wilderness, Union and Cedar churches, in the James River Association, and before his career as a preacher was ended his son had succeeded him as pastor of at least one of these places. He did not attend the general meetings of the denomination, and was little known among his brethren of the ministry. He was instrumental in leading some 3,000 persons to Christ and he baptized nearly as many. He was married three times and was survived by his widow and six children.

Rev. John Spencer lived to a ripe old age, dying at his Buckingham County home, Dixie, on November 1, 1889, aged 81 years, 5 months, 13 days.  He is buried in an unmarked grave, in the family cemetery.

For more about the marriages Rev. Spencer performed, see Lost Marriages of Buckingham County, Virginia by James Randolph Kidd.


Leave a Comment
  1. DVF / Dec 18 2013 10:19 am

    Great information! I also believe that Rev. Spencer married across colored lines…as I believe, I remember seeing his name ref some of my own people.

    • Joanne Yeck / Dec 18 2013 10:26 am

      If you can easily find the names of the couples, let me know! I ‘ll look too.


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