This family extends back to England in 1066 where early “Scrivins” fought with William the Conquerer. In a church at Stratford-on-Avon there is a “Scrivin Window,” a memorial to two Screven brothers who drowned and are buried in the church cemetery. The family line in America was commenced by William Screven, great-grandfather of James Screven. His children by his first marriage in England were Samuel, Robert, Joseph, Elisha, and Elizabeth Screven.
William Screven was ordained a Baptist minister in 1681, emigrated to Jittery, Maine, married Bridget Cutt , and in 1696 migrated with his family and the congregation of the church he founded, to South Carolina. He founded the first Baptist church in South Carolina. The grandfather of James Screven was Samuel Screven, whose first marriage was to the daughter of James Witten of James Island, South Carolina. Their children were William, James, and Mary Screven. Samuel Screven married a second time to Sarah (“Pert”) Grimball, widow of Thomas Grimball, but they had no children. The father of James Screven was James Screven, and his mother was Mary Smith, daughter of Thomas and Mary Smith who immigrated from Exeter, England, to South Carolina, where he became its second landgrave (governor).
The children of James and Mary Smith Screven were Thomas. James, Barbara, John, and Elizabeth Screven. James Screven married Mary Esther Odingsell, daughter of Charles and Ann Grimball Odinsell, and their five children include Elizabeth Screven Daniel and Charles Odinsell Screven. The latter married (1) Lucy Barnard Jones, mother of Reverend James O. Screven, and (2) Barbara Golphin, mother of William Edward Screven. The latter became a Baptist minister and founded Sunbury Baptist Church, the second house of worship in Liberty County. James Screven and his brother,
John Screven, migrated to Liberty County before 1770. John Screven married two times and had children by each wife. James Screven received grants of land in Saint Johns, Saint David, and Saint Paul parishes. He established his home on a plantation he called “Screven’s Hill,” a short distance north of Midway Church and adjacent to “Hall’s Knoll,” the plantation and home of Lyman Hall. James Screven was a representative from Saint Johns Parish to the Provincial Congress which met at Savannah, Georgia, in July 1775. He became a member of the Georgia Council of Safety on May 28, 1776, and justice of the quorem. He was commissioned captain of the Saint Johns Rangers when it was instituted in 1776. He was an officer in the Continental Army, but a brigadier general in the Georgia Militia when he was fatally wounded in combat with British troops near Midway Church in 1777.
Elizabeth Odingsell was the sister of Mary Odingsell Screven. Her first husband was Reverend Moses Allen, second pastor of Midway Church, who was a prisoner of the British during the Revolutionary War, and drowned while trying to escape from a prison ship in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. She married Elisha Lee of Massachusetts after her husband’s death, and is buried in Midway Church cemetery.
Her tombstone reads:
“This stone marks the spot where by the side of her reknowned brother-in-law, General James Screven, are deposited the remains of Elizabeth Lee, formerly the widow of Reverend Moses Allen, second pastor of Midway Church. She departed this life in full assurance of blessed immortality, December 11, 1843, the 85th year of her age.”
Fort Screven, a U.S. Army installation on Tybee Island, Georgia, was named in his honor, as was Screven County, Georgia.