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Fontaine, Peter

by Vernon O. Stumpf, 1986


Peter Fontaine, Church of England priest, rector of Westover Parish, Va., chaplain for the Dividing Line Commission of Virginia and North Carolina and missionary in North Carolina, was born at Taunton, England, the son of the Reverend James Fontaine. He was descended from John de la Fontaine (1500–1563), of the province of Maine near the border of Normandy, France, who was martyred in France in 1563.

Young Fontaine emigrated to Virginia in 1716 and was rector of Westover Parish in Charles County for nearly forty years. Governor Alexander Spotswood of Virginia mentioned him to the bishop of London in a letter dated 13 June 1717. In 1728, Fontaine accompanied the Dividing Line Commission of Virginia and North Carolina as a chaplain. During the boundary survey, he preached to many citizens and baptized a number of children on both sides of the line.

On 22 March 1714 Fontaine married Elizabeth Fourreau, and they became the parents of two children: Mary Ann (m. Isaac Winston) and Peter (m. Elizabeth Winston), who in January 1774 was a trustee for a relief fund for clergymen's widows in Virginia. Fontaine later married Elizabeth Wade in Virginia. They had a son, Thomas, and a daughter whose name is unknown. A brother of Peter, the Reverend Francis Fontaine (1697–1749), was in Virginia in May 1721. He held the York Hampton Parish in May 1724 but in 1729 became a professor of Oriental languages at the College of William and Mary. Francis was married twice. His first wife was M. Glanmission by whom he had John and Francis, who settled near New Bern, N.C.; his second wife has not been identified.

Authorities disagree on the year of Peter Fontaine's death. Some believe it was 1757, whereas Kennedy argues for 1755.


William K. Boyd, ed., William Byrd's History of the Dividing Line Betwixt Virginia and North Carolina (1929).

R. A. Brock, ed., Collections of the Virginia Historical Society, vol. 2 (1885).

Mary S. Kennedy, Seldens of Virginia and Allied Families, vols. 1–2 (1911).

William L. Saunders, ed., Colonial Records of North Carolina, vols. 2–3 (1886).

Virginia Gazette, scattered issues, 1716–57.

Additional Resources:

Ragland, Charles J. Ancestors and Descendants of the Reverend Peter Fontaine (1691-1759) of Westover Parish, Charles City County, Virginia. C.J. Ragland, 199? (accessed July 25, 2013).