The origins of St. John’s church began in 1610 on the Virginia peninsula, just three years after the founding of the Jamestown settlement. This makes it the oldest English speaking church parish in North America (the oldest church is the Spanish San Miguel Mission in Sante Fe, New Mexico). The current church is the fourth parish site. Only excavated foundations remain of the second and third churches, located in other parts of Hampton.
The present chuch, built of solid brick masonry, was initially constructed in 1728. It was damaged by British troops in the War of Independence and the War of 1812 but survived intact. In 1861 the church was one of the few structures in Hampton to survive when the citizens set fire to the town to prevent its use by Union troops. A belfry constructed in 1762 was destroyed in that fire and was not rebuilt. The current tower on the east facade was built in the early 20th Century.