The Pettyjohns originally came from the Alsace-Lorraine region in the north-east of France. This area has been contested between Germany and France for ages. Here they were a small minority of Protestants, possibly French Huguenots, living in a country where ninety eight percent of the people were Catholic. The original surname was Petit-jean which means "Little John." It is believed that the Petit-jeans lived in what today would be known as Alsace-Lorraine, which is located in the north-eastern region of France near Germany . Later, they moved and settled in the north-western region known as Normandy. After years of persecution, the Petit-jeans left France and immigrated to England. It has been theorized by a Brian Pettyjohn that the Petit-jeans came over from France with the famous William the Conqueror. According to Brian they probably did not fight, but provided William the Conqueror with financial aid and he granted them land in the southeast of England for their support. William the Conqueror, who was the Duke of Normandy and was the great-grandson of the famous Viking 'Rollo', crossed the English Channel with 7000 men and became the great Norman conqueror of England. In 1066, at the battlefield of Hastings in Sussex County, William defeated the Anglo-Saxon claimant, thus uniting the country into a feudal monarch and ending Saxon rule forever . Consequently, French, which was William the Conqueror's native language and the language of Normandy, became the language of the English court . The Petit-jeans lived peacefully in England for centuries. During this time period, the Petit-jeans anglicized their name to Pettyjohn. (Until the middle of the 19th century most Pettyjohn's were not literate and the name was spelled phonetically by any barister or attorney drawing up a document. Therefore all spellings of Pettyjohn are related.) Scott Neal checked some of the many records available on England and found several that date back to the fourteenth century; therefore, these new finding tend to support Brian Pettyjohn's theory and will be the premise of our investigations. The Pettyjohns settled around Hastings, Sussex County. There was a record of a John Petijohan in 1327 on the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex; a John Petyjohn in 1386 in Essex; a John Petyjon in 1443 in Highworth Hundred, Wilts; and a record of the baptism of a John Petijohn on Oct. 16, 1559 in Saint Clements Church, Hastings, Sussex County. Later, a branch of the Pettyjohn family left Hastings and settled near Plymouth in Brixham, Devonshire. The earliest record is of a John Pettijohn that married Isabell on June 8, 1558 in Brixham, Devonshire, England . This John would be the great-great grandfather of our immigrant ancestor James Pettyjohn. The Pettyjohns lived happily in England, free from religious persecution to the time of King Henry VIII. Then, sometime after the death of King Henry VIII, his daughter the famous Queen "Bloody Mary", took over the crown and turned the nation back over to a Catholic country. Once again the persecution against them began, so many of them left England and went to Wales. After the death of Bloody Mary, Elizabeth took over the crown as Queen of England and once again restored England back to a Protestant nation. This was the time period known as the English Renaissance. The population of England was about five million people. The Pettyjohns surely took pleasure from partaking in activities of the time such as sports, entertainment, diversion and merrymaking--the very things that were so greatly discouraged upon under the rule of Queen Bloody Mary. Furthermore, in the early 1600s economic times soon hit hard for the common farmers, serfs and peasants, who had become restricted from the lands that their grandfathers had farmed centuries before. The lords of the lands sought after larger and quicker profits from the grazing of sheep for wool. These poor yeoman left their homes and sought refuge in large cities where industry thrived. Moreover, many formed trading companies and left England seeking to start a new life in the New World. This was probably the case with the Pettyjohn family. James Pettyjohn, who was born about 1617 in Brixham, Devonshire, England, came to America and settled on the Eastern shore of Virginia around 1635. The first child of James and Isabell Pettyjohn was James Pettyjohn, Jr. James must have lived his whole life on the Eastern Shore of Virginia for his son and grandson's births were recorded in the Hungars Parish records . His descendant, James Pettyjohn, IV, evidently moved to Sussex Co., Delaware and on Apr. 1, 1773 married a Patience Marvel . It is thought that their son, James Pettyjohn, V, fought in the War of 1812 and served in Captain John Kollock's Company, Delaware Militia. The second child of James and Isabell Pettyjohn was William Pettyjohn. William was recorded living in Accomac County, Virginia between 1684 and 1702 . William died in Prince Anne County, Virginia in 1712 and nothing more is known about William. However, it has been speculated by Jack Pettijohn of Rockville, Maryland, that William's descendants settled in Chowan County, North Carolina. It is interesting because a Thomas Pettijohn made a will in 1767 in Chowan Co., and his heirs were Frances, John, Thomas, Abraham and Sarah . Two of Thomas children, Thomas, Jr. and John, fought in the American Revolution in North Carolina. The third child of James and Isabell Pettyjohn was Isabell Pettyjohn. Isabell was recorded as being baptized on May 16, 1660 in Hungars Parish, Northampton Co., Virginia . On Dec. 11, 1678, Isabell married Richard Lester . Richard Lester died in 1694 and, by 1702, Isabell remarried, to John Oakman . The fourth and last child of James and Isabell Pettyjohn was John Pettyjohn. John was recorded living in Accomac Co. from 1682 until 1692. About 1685, John married Sara Virginia Willson . The Pettyjohns had two children, who were born in Accomac Co., Virginia. About 1692, the Pettyjohns resettled to Sussex Co., Delaware. The Pettyjohns had six more children, all of which were born in Sussex County. Moreover, all of John and Sara's children owned land in Sussex Co., and had children and farms of their own. To this day, many of the Pettyjohn descendants can still be found living in the same area of Sussex County, Delaware. Most of the Pettyjohn families stayed in Delaware and Virginia up until the American Revolution. After that, the Pettyjohns began their trek through America. Some of the Pettyjohns went to West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee, others went to North Carolina and Georgia, while still others went to Ohio, Indiana and Missouri. In spite of the differences in the surname, there is a good chance that most of all the Pettyjohn (Pettijohn) families in the United States are probably related and probably all came from the original James Pettyjohn who immigrated to America from England. Furthermore, there has been evidence that states that some families like Peregen, Pettingil, Paragon and others, actually stem off our very own Pettyjohn branches The information presented here and in many of the family tree sections is excerpted from "The XXXXXXXXThorpe Family" book written by M. L. Thorpe, Ph.D., "Les Petit-Jeans" by Brian Pettyjohn, and "The Ancestory of Scott Allen Neal" by Scott Neal. This site is not, and never will be a complete document, but a living, breathing project that will continue to grow as I obtain more information. My thanks to those that have provided, and continue to provide information. David Duane Pettyjohn