Skip to main content

Full text of "Colonial Churches in the Original Colony of Virginia: A Series of Sketches ..."

See other formats


This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 

to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 

to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 

are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other maiginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 

publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing tliis resource, we liave taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 
We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain fivm automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attributionTht GoogXt "watermark" you see on each file is essential for in forming people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liabili^ can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at |http: //books .google .com/I 






The Old Church Tower at Jamestown, Va, 


A Series of Sketches by Especially 
Qualified Writers 

2[l|trtg- JTttir Ilhtotratiims 


titltraUa Virilato andUa 

Sovnaam Chubchmah Company 

Ck>pyrifirht 1907 by 
I Richmond. Va. 

• • 

Copyright 1906 by 


Richmond, Va. 


THIS book is issued in response to a recognized need and an ex- 
pressed demand. 
These papers appeared originally as articles in the Southern 
Churchman, and from the beginning of their publication elicited a 
wide interest; hence, it was considered wise to preserve them in com- 
pact and permanent form. 

The object of this book is two-fold: First, to show that this Church 
is no intruder in this lajid, but was the first religious body to claim 
possession of the EJnglish Colonial Possessions for Christ and Holy 
Church; that the very first settlers in these Colonies were Church- 
men, intent on the spread of the Church and the preaching of the 
Gospel; and that before ajiy other body of Christiajis had located 
in the territory of the English Colonies the Church had taken formal 
and permanent possession. 

Second: To show that this possession was not an ephemeral or spo- 
radic act, but that it was continuous and permanent; that where the 
Colonists first landed, there the ministrations of the Church were 
nobegun, and there permanent church buildings were erected; that these 
» ministrations have continued unbroken to the present day; and that 
S permanent and handsome structures marked the progress of Colonial 
\ growth, and remain to-day as monuments to the piety and churchly 
- character of the American forefathers. 

^ Incidentally, this book will show the amazing eftect which Church- 
^ men had on the founding of the Colonies, and the tremendous part 
they played in the upbuilding and development of the nation and the 
•^ formation of national ideals and character. 


And this work is done by no polemic or argumentative process, but 
simply by reciting and putting on permanent record the historic facts 
In connection with Colonial, Revolutionary and Post-Revolutionary 

History, as it affected the C3iurch. 

B\>r too many years Churchmen have allowed those who are anti- 
pathetic to her character and purpose to write her history as it 
touched Colonial development and legislation; and it is far from sur- 
prising that she should have been misrepresented and maligned; and 
it is more than high time that her own sons should give to the world 
the facts as they really were and are. 

The papers constituting this book have been prepared by many 
authors, each specially qualified for the special work undertak^i, and 
the whole represents a labor of love and loyalty such as has never, 
so far, been equalled in the history of the American Church. What 
the writers of these articles have done has been done without hope of 
other reward than that of placing their Mother Church, the Mother 
Church of this Land, right in the eyes of all fair-minded men. They 
deserve the gratitude of the Church at large for their faithful en- 

To the American Church this book is dedicated, with the hope and 
prayer that in this Tercentenary year it may not only silence the 
detractor, but may strengthen the position of every Churchman who 
believes in the historic position and claims of his Mother Church. 

Editor Southern Churchman, 


The first edition of "Colonial Churches" was exhausted in a few 
months after its publication. This second edition is issued in response 
to a continuous demand for the book. The improvements and additions 
in this edition will be patent to all who read the first edition. 


Preface , 3 

List of Illustrations $ 

A Preliminary View of American Church History 7 

/ The Church at Jamestown I5 

The Church in Virginia in the Days of the Colony 26 

The Fall and Rising Again of the Church in Virginia 34 

St. John's Church, Henrico Parish, Richmond, Va 51 

St. John's Church, Elizabeth City Parish, Hampton, Va 57 

St. Paul's Church, Elizabeth River Parish, Norfolk, Va 68 

The Old Brick Church (St. Luke's), Isle of Wight County, Va 80 

^Bruton Parish Church, Williamsburg, Va 87 

The Parishes in Accomac County, Va 93 

Hungar's Church, Northampton County, Va 98 

Merchant's Hope Church, Martin's-Brandon Parish, Va 112 

Westover Parish, Charles City County, Va 118 

The Colonial Churches of York County, Va 125 

Suffolk Parish, Nansemond County, Virginia 132 

Lynnhaven Parish, Princess Anne County, Virginia 142 

Blandford Church, Bristol Parish, Virginia 163 

Abingdon Church, Gloucester County, Va 177 

Ware Church, Gloucester County, Va 193 

Vauter's Church, St. Anne's Parish, Essex County, Va 207 

St. Peter's Church, St. Peter's Parish, New Kent County. Va 212 

Yeocomico Church, Westmoreland County, Va 224 

Christ Church, Lancaster County, Va 229 

Christ Church, Middlesex County, Va 243 

Aquia Church, Overwharton Parish, Stafford County, Va 254 

St. Paul's Church, King George County, Va 265 

Washington as a Vestryman 270 

Christ Church, Alexandria, Va 285 

The Old Falls Church, Fairfax County, Va 290 

Pohick Church, Truro Parish, Fairfax County, Va 295 

The Fork Church, Hanover County, Va 302 

St. Mary's White Chapel, Lancaster County, Va 308 

St. Thomas' Church, .Bath — St. PauKs Church, Edenton, N. C 313 


Ablng^don Church, Gloucester County 177 

Aqula Church, Stafford County 256 

Bruton Parish Church, Williamsburg 8S 

Blandford Church, Petersburg 168 

Christ Church, Alexandria 288 

Christ Church, Liancaster County 232 

Christ Church, Middlesex County 248 

Eastern Shore Chapel, Princess Anne County 144 

Falls Church, Fairfax County 290 

Fork Church, Hanover County 304 

Glebe Church, Nansemond County 136 

Grace Church, Yorktown 128 

Hungar's Church, Accomac County 104 

Jamestown Church Tower , Frontispiece 

Jamestown Church Restored 48 

Madison Bishop 32 

Merchant's Hope Church, Prince George County 112 

Old Brick Church (St. Luke's), Isle of Wight County 80 

Payne's Church, Fairfax County 40 

Pohick Church, Fairfax County 296 

St. George's Church, Accomac County 96 

St. John's Church, Hampton 64 

St. John's Church, Nansemond County 132 

St. John's Church, Richmond 56 

St. Mary's White Chapel, Lancaster County 312 

St. Paul's Church, Edenton, North Carolina 316 

St. Paul's Church, King George County 265 

St. Paul's Church, Norfolk 72 

St. Peter's Church, New Kent County 216 

St. Thomas' Church, Bath, North Carolina 314 

Vauter's Church, Essex County 208 

Ware Church, Gloucester County 193 

Washington as a Vestryman 272 

Westover Church, Charles City County 120 

Yeocomico Church, Westmoreland County 224 


A Preliminary View of American Church 



THE imx>ortance of the settlement at Jamestown lies in the fact 
that then, at last, the English race began to come into perma- 
nent possession of their portion in the New World, and to 
shape the destiny of this continent. They were belated in 
so doing, but when they came they brought with them princi- 
ples, civil and religious, which in the circumstances, they could hardly 
have brought sooner; and to which, under God, they owe the supremacy 
they have achieved. 

As introductory to these historical papers, a brief review of the 
conditions under which Virginia was settled seems appropriate. 

When in 1493 the Portuguese had rounded the Cape of Good Hope, 
and begun to explore the East Indies, and the Spaniard was taking 
possession of the Western World, Pope Alexander VI. (Rodrigo Bor- 
gia) was appealed to by the Kings of Spain and Portugal to adjust 
their claim in their new discoveries. This he did by dividing the 
privileges of discovering and colonizing the unknown parts of the 
world between these two great powers, the line of division being an 
imaginary line which was supposed to be drawn from pole to pole 
one hundred degrees west of the Azores. No account was taken of 
any interest which the rest of the world might have or might come 
to have in discovery and colonization; all was turned over bodily by 
the Pope to Portugal and Spain. We smile at such a performance 
now; but it meant a great deal when it was done. 

With the work of Portugal we have nothing to do; that lay eastward. 
But after more than one hundred years of amazing activity, Spain 
had possessed herself of the West Indies, Mexico, the richest parts 
of South America, and had reached across the Pacific and laid her 
hands upon the Philippines. She had established herself in Florida, 
had traversed the land from Florida to South Carolina and across to 
the Mississippi, and claimed it all, along with what we now call Vir- 


ginia, as a part of her West Indian territory. Out of these vast re- 
sources she had reaped incalculable treasure. 

England as yet had not a single colony. But England had not been 
idle. She, too, had made great gains. During the ninety-four years 
between the death of Henry VII. and the accession of James I., Lon- 
don had become the greatest mart of trade and commerce in the civil- 
ized world. The ships of English merchants were on every sea; and 
in exploration, and in all naval matters, from being comparatively in- 
significant, England had come to the very front This was equally 
true in social advancement, and especially in literature. But most 
important of all, the Reformation of the English Church had been 
accomplished. During the reign of Elizabeth, and in the midst ol 
her great strugle to maintain the independence of England, the 
Church of England had become gradually and permanently Protestant; 
and for forty years previous to the settlement of Jamestown, Elnglanjd 
stood as the leader and champion of the Reformation. 

For two generations the power of Spain, armed with the exhaustless 
wealth of the Indies, and directed by the fanatical minds of the Em- 
peror Charles V. and his son Philip II., bent upon the aggrandizement 
of the Kingdom of Spain and of the Church of Rome, had threatened 
the civil and religious liberty of every Protestant power in Europe. 
During that period, any settlement of Englishmen in America had 
proved impossible. It was all England could do to maintain her in- 
dependence at home, and assist others struggling in the same cause. 
This she did throughout the long reign of Elizabeth, giving assist- 
ance and a refuge for the French Huguenots, and fighting the battles 
of the Dutch against Spain in the Netherlands. At last, in the over- 
throw of the Armada in 1588, the liberty of England was assured; 
and upon the accession of James I. peace was established between 
Spain and England, and a better opportunity was thereby afforded 
for the settlement of an English colony in America. But though peace 
had been declared, war was in the hearts of both nations, and many 
of the English who, under Elizabeth had been fighting Spain for years, 
went over to the Netherlands, and continued the fight there in behalf 
of the Dutch. 

In the meantime, the great question of religion, on which all the 
rest hinged, had been determined, and so a colony could be estab- 
lished homogeneous in faith as Protestants: and no sooner was the 
peace declared than the minds of the English turned again to Virginia. 

Under the diflaculties which existed during the former reign, the 


task of colonization had proved too great for even the heroic enter- 
prise and the princely fortune of Sir Walter Raleigh, aided by his 
chivalrous and pious brother, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, and by that ter- 
rific fighter. Sir Richard Grenville. It was now to be attempted by 
many English men of wealth and power operating in two stock com- 
panies. The plan was taken in hand by Sir John Popham, the Lord 
Chief Justice of England. The charter granted for the settlement 
of Virginia was granted by James I. on April 10, 1606; and as was 
natural, those patriots and Churchmen who were sustaining the move- 
ment looked for their leaders among those who had distinguished 
themselves in the English struggle in the days of Elizabeth, or who 
had been or were still assisting the Dutch in their long battle for 
liberty and the Protestant faith. 

The first name on the list of those to whom the Letters Patent were 
granted is that of Sir Thomas Gates, who had fought with Drake 
against Spain on the sea, and was still later' keeping the fight up in 
the Netherlands. When he himself sailed for Virginia in 1609 he 
took with him his old company of veterans in the Spanish wars, with 
Captain George Yeardly, afterwards Governor of Virginia, in com- 
mand. These were they of whom Hakluyt wrote, "If gentle pollsh- 
ishing will not serve" to bring the Indians in Virginia into civil 
courses, "our old soldiers, trained up in the Netherlands, will be 
hammers and rough masons enough to square and prepare them to 
our preachers' hands." Next to Gates on the Letters Patent stands 
Sir George Somers, a most devout and knightly Christian, who had 
distinguished himself as a commander in victorious voyages in the 
West Indies in Elizabeth's days, and who, later, left his seat in the 
House of Parliament to go to Virginia. The Reverend Richard Hak- 
luyt stands next. He was Prebendary of Westminster, and more learn- 
ed in the history of English voyages than any man of his times. His 
great book on the subject is still an inspiration. And having recorded 
the heroic exploits of the English nation on the seas, he now sustain- 
ed with all his influence this, their latest effort to gain a foothold 
in America, and lived to see it succeed. Edward Maria Wingfleld, 
another veteran of the Spanish wars, is named next, and went to 
Virginia himself in the first ships. 

Such were the men to whom the Letters Patent were committed. 
Captain Newport, the commander of the first fleet, and Lord 
De la Warr, the first Captain-General of Virginia, and Sir Thomas 


Dale, who succeeded him, were all veterans In Spanish wars; and so 
were many more who took prominent part in the colonization of Vir- 
ginia. And now in the establishment of this Protestant colony they 
saw their opportunity not only to enlarge the realm of their king, and 
the bounds of the Kingdom of God, but also, as Sir Thomas Dale ex- 
pressed it, "to put a bit in the mouth of their ancient enemy," the 
King of Spain, and to check the power of Rome; and with all their 
heart and might they set themselves to do it. 

The Colony of Virginia is sometimes conceived of as a mere com- 
mercial and mercenary venture, in which "to get the pearl and gold'^ 
was the chief idea; and those who founded the colony are represented, 
as for the most part, mere adventurers, without principles either po- 
litical or religious. Doubtless "the pearl and gold" was the only idea 
with many "adventurers" who stayed at home, and adventured a sub- 
scription to the Company's stock, and also of many "planters" who 
adventured themselves Into the wilds of the New World. But the 
conception and purpose of those who planted and maintained the Col- 
ony was of the broadest and most far-reaching character. There were 
already buccaneers, English, French and Dutch in plenty in the West 
Indies; and the fear that Virginia would be Just one more nest of pirates 
haunted the Spanish mind. But the mature determination and pur- 
pose of those who received the King's Letters Patent for this Colony 
was the spread of the English dominion, carrying with it English 
liberty, and the English Church into the New World, and there to 
contest with Spain her claim of the Western Hemisphere. Their Let- 
ters Patent guaranteed to the colonists and to their heirs forever all 
the liberties, franchises and immunities of Englishmen, born and abid- 
ing in England. The third article of their Letters Patent reads: 
"We, greatly commending and graciously accepting of their desires 
for the furtherance of so noble a work, which may, by the Providence 
of Almighty God, hereafter tend to the glory of His Divine Majesty, 
in propagating of Christian religion to such people as yet live in dark- 
ness and miserable ignorance of the true knowledge and worship of 
God, and may in time bring the infidels and savages living in those 
parts to human civility and a settled and quiet government; do," etc. 

In the Instructions given to 4Jie colonists, it is provided that the 
President, Council and Ministers shall "with all diligence, care and 
respect provide that the true Word and Service of God and Christian 
Faith be preached, planted and used, not only within every of the said 


several coloniee and plantations, but also as mucli as they may amongst 
the savage people who doe or shall adjoin unto them, or border upon 
them, according to the doctrine, rights and religion now professed 
and established within our realm of England." 

The establishment of such an English Colony of Protestants in. 
America under the authority of the King, and with the support which 
they saw it have was what Spain regarded with far more concern than 
she did the buccaneers in the West Indies. 

The preparations for planting the Colony were jealously watched 
by the Spanish Ambassador in London, and promptly reported to King^ 
Philip; and the Spanish Board of War declared, in protest, that "This 
country which they call Virginia is contained within the limits of 
the Crown of Castille," and that "according to this and other consid- 
erations which were of special importance, it was thought proper that 
with all necessary forces, this plan of the English should be prevented, 
and that it should not be permitted in any way that foreign nations 
should occupy this country, because it is, as has been said, a discovery 
and a part of the territory of the Crown of Castille, and because it» 
contiguity increases the vigilance which it is necessary to bestow 
upon all the Indies and their commerce — and this all the more so if 
they should establish there the religion and the liberty of conscience 
which they profess, which of itself already is what most obliges us to 
defend it even beyond the reputation which is so grievously jeopardiz- 
ed, and that His Majesty (of Spain) should command a letter to b& 
written to Don Pedro de Zuniga (the Spanish Ambassador in Lon- 
don), ordering him to ascertain with great dexterity and skill how far 
these plans of which he writes, may be founded in fact, and whether 
they make any progress, and who assists them, and by what means; 
and that when he is quite certain he should try to give the King of 
B^gland to understand that we complain of his permitting subjects- 
of his to disturb the seas, coasts and lands of his Majesty (of Spain), 
and of the rebels being favored by his agency, in their plans, the rebels 
of the Islands and of other nations (the Netherlands) ; and that he 
should continue to report always whatever he may hear, charging him 
to be very careful in this matter, because of the importance of pro- 
viding the necessary remedies, in case he should not have any by~ 
those means." 

This was the attitude of Spain towards Virginia in the outset, and 
as the work progressed the opposition increased. Never was there a. 


more observant diplomat than Don Pedro de Zuniga, and in his obser- 
vations we have the very best reflection of the spirit of the times, and 
especially of the deeply religious feeling and purpose which he recog- 
nized in the movement. 

In March, 1609, he writes to the King of Spain: "There has been 
gotten together in twenty days a sum of money for this voyage which 
amazes one. Among fourteen Counts and Barons they have given 
40,000 ducats; the merchants give much more, and there is no poor 
little man nor woman who is not willing to subscribe something to 
this enterprise." "They have printed a book, which I also send your 
Majesty, ♦ ♦ ♦ in which they publish that for the increase of their 
religion, and that it should extend over the whole world, it is right 
that all should support this Colony with their person and their proper- 
ty. It would be a Service rendered to God that Your Majesty should 
cut short a swindle and a robbery like this, and one that is so very 
important to Your Majesty's royal service." 

And the next month, April, 1609, he writes again: "Much as I have 
written to Your Majesty of the determination they have formed here 
to go to Virginia, it seems to me that I still fall short of the reality, 
since the preparations that are made here are the most energetic that 
can be made here, for they have actually made the ministers in their 
sermons dwell upon the importance of filling the world with their re- 
ligion, and demand that all make an effort to give what they have to 
such a grand enterprise. Thus they get together a good sum of money, 
and make a great effort to carry masters and workmen there to build 
ships. Your Majesty will see the great importance of this matter for 
your Royal service and thus, will give order, I hope, to have these 
insolent people quickly annihilated." 

Such was the testimony of their enemies as to the spiritual enthu- 
siasm and devotion which marked the leaders of the movement; and 
also as to the violence and intensity of the opposition which their 
greatest enemy felt towards the Colony. Philip would have acted as 
he was warned to do; but mindful of the losses he had sustained in 
the past, and fearful lest the sea-dogs should be again let slip upon 
his treasure ships, he restrained his actions, and confined himself to 
threats and protests. These were little regarded. With due caution 
and with unfailing determination the work was pressed on, and the 
liberties and the Protestant Church of England were brought to Amer- 
ica, and established in Virginia, never to be lost to this land. 


A most important characteristic of the Ck>lony of Virginia is that it 
was founded before those divisions, polilical and religious, arose which 
brought on the great civil war in the reign of Charles I. The Colony 
was shaped and directed by the most liberal and advanced statesmen 
of their day; and as it developed they sought and gained for Virginia 
more liberty than James I. finally approved; and on this account he 
revoked the liberal charter granted in 1612. But the character of the 
Colony remained that of a representative English Colony, and, from 
the first, Englishmen of all opinions allowed in England came naturally 
to Virginia, and they continued to do so. It represented the integrity 
of Old England and not a sect or faction of any sort, civil or ecclesi- 
astical. They brought no grievance, they nursed no bitter memories, 
they were infected with no morbid tendencies, but only such as are 
common to men. It was a genuinely representative piece of Old Eng- 
land set down in the New World — ranging in rank in the first com- 
pany of colonists from "(Jentlemen," like "Master Edward Maria 
Wingfleld" and the "Honorable George Percy," a brother of the then 
Earl of Northumberland, down to "Nat Peacock" and "Dick Mutton," 
"boyes," as we still call our nondescript young servants. And among 
them all moved that man of Grod, their minister, the Rev. Robert 
Hunt, whose unselfish fortitude and endurance, as well as his "good 
doctrine and exhortation," more than once reconciled them in their 
difficulties among themselves; "chiefiy by his own devoted example, 
quenching those flames of envy and dissension." 

It is true, a great proportion of the first planters and the early sup- 
plies of men were of poor material; and they and the colonists suffered 
according; but the lines on which the Colony was laid down were as 
broad, at least, as those of the English nation; and so, as experience 
taught and opportunity offered, the quality of the colonists improved. 
And coming as they did in fullest sympathy with all that was best 
behind them, to an environment which inspired and developed all that 
was best within them, they built on through the years their new build- 
ing on the old foundation principles. 

Certain it is, that of all the colonists from the Old World, Virginia 
has had least occasion to depart from her original lines. Puritan New 
England, Dutch New York, the Quaker settlements of Pennsylvania, 
the Swedish settlements of the Jerseys, the Romish Colony of Mary- 
land and the French elements of Carolina and Louisiana, while con- 
tributing, no doubt, most valuable constituents to our New World, 


liave all needed to be readjusted and altered, not alone In government, 
but in the spirit and atmosphere of their life and civilization, until 
they are far removed from what they began to be; while the Old Do- 
minion, beginning with no special eccentricity, has assimilated what 
has come to her from every quarter, herself least changed of all. Her 
Influence in this particular has been none the less real for having been 
wrought with the unobtrusive quietness of a truly natural force. She 
has been the Mother of States in more respects than one. 

In the celebration of the three hundredth anniversary of the begin- 
ning of English civil and religious life in America, it should be borne 
distinctly in mind that this work from which our national life began 
was no mere private or commercial venture. For years life and treas- 
ure were poured out in Virginia without stint and without reward. To 
accuse the founders of Virginia of making money their first aim is to 
accuse them of the greatest folly. Such a man as Sir'Thomas Smith, 
the Treasurer, and the most influential man in the practical manage- 
ment of the Colony, who was also Governor of the East India Company, 
and one of the most successful merchant princes of his age, would 
never have persevered in such a bootless venture as was the Colony in 
Virginia, if money had been his chief aim. 

Not money, but the planting of the English race in the New World, 
and with it the seeds of civil and religious truth as the English race 
held the same — this they aimed at, and this they accomplished. 

Dei gratia Virginia condita. 


WHEN it shall please God to send you on to the coast of Vir- 
ginia, you shall do your best endeavors to find out a safe 
port in the entrance of some navigable river, making choice 
of such an one as runneth farthest into the land« and if 
you happen to discover divers portable rivers, and among them any 
one that hath two main branches, if the difference be not great, make a 
choice of that which bendeth most towards thee northwest, for that 
way you shall soonest find the other sea.** 

What an insight into the situation of those who first came to Vir^ 
ginia we have in this first item of the "Instructions by Way of Advice,'* 
given by the Virginia Council, in London, to the outgoing colonists! 
Virginia was little more than a name for«a vast unknown region, ex- 
tending from South Carolina to Canada. 

Truly these voyagers "Went out, not knowing whither they went.** 
Where they will land, what they will find, what coasts, what bays and 
rivers; how broad the land will be, how far away, when they land, it 
will still be to the long-sought "other sea,*' all is unknown. 

This was in December, 1606. 

The two companies which had undertaken to colonize Virginia were 
enthusiastic in their work. Already the Northern Company had sent 
out one ship in the previous August (1606), and of course she had not 
been heard from. In fact, she never reached Virginia at all, but fell 
in with a Spanish fieet in the West Indies and was taken, and most of 
her officers and men were even then in Spanish prisons. Also, in the 
following June two other ships were sent out by the Northern Com- 
pany. They reached * 'Virginia,** away up on the Kennebec river, in 
Maine, where, after much suffering and many deaths, the colony was 
frozen out, those who survived returning to England. 

The three ships which came to Jamestown came out between these 
two disastrous ventures, being sent out by the First, or London Com- 
pany. On December 19, 1606 (O. S.), they set sail with between one 
hundred and forty and one hundred and fifty colonists; and with the 
exception of short stops In the Canaries and in the West Indies, they 
were In the ships until April 26, 1607 (O. S.). For six weeks they 
wfere held by unprosperous winds in sight of England; and then it 
was that we first hear of the character and Influence of their pastor, the 
Reverend Robert Hunt. 


As we have seen in the last paper, the far-eighted Christian states- 
men and patriots who planned and sustained this first permanent Eng- 
lish colony in America were most careful to make full provision for the 
religious status and spiritual needs of the oolony. There could be no 
question as to the religion. 

The recent Romish Gunpowder Plot to blow up the King and the 
Protestant House of Parliament was yet fresh in all memories. Eng- 
land was enthusiastically Protestant, and Protestantism was practically 
undivided, and united in the Church of England. 

For their pastor Smith records that the Archbishop (Baiicroft) of 
Canterbury appointed the Rev. Richard Hakluyt, the historian of Eng- 
lish voyages of discovery, to be minister to the Colony, and that by tha 
authority of Hakluyt the Rev. Robert Hunt was sent out 

"Master Edward Maria Wingfield" speaks as if the choice of Hunt 
to be their minister had rested with him. "For my first work (which 
was to make a right choice of a spiritual pastor) I appeal to the re- 
membrance of my Lord of Canterbury, his Grace, who gave me very 
gracious audience in my request. And the world knoweth Whom I 
took with me [i. e.. Hunt]; truly, in my opinion, a man not any waie 
to be touched with the rebellious humors of a Popish spirit nor blem- 
ished with the least suspicion of a factious scismatic, whereof I had a 
speciall care." 

Whoever chose him, all agree in praising him. Smith calls him 
"an honest, religious, courageous divine; during whose life our fac- 
tions were oft qualified, and our wants and greatest extremities so 
comforted that they seemed easie in comparrison of what we endured 
after his memorable death." 

Again it is recorded of him that during the six weeks the ships were 
kept i]& sight of England, "All which time Master Hunt, our preacher,, 
was so weake and sick, that few expected his recovery. Yet, althouglT 
he were but twentie myles from his habitation (the time we were in 
the Downs), [from which we infer that his home must have been in 
Kent], and notwithstanding the stormy weather, nor the scandaloua 
imputations (of some few, little better than Atheists, of the greatest 
ranke among us) suggested against him, all this could never force fron^ 
him 80 much as a seeming desire to leave the business, but preferred 
the service of God in so good a voyage, before any affection to contest 
with his godlesse foes, whose disastrous designes (could they have pre- 
vailed) had even then overthrowne the business, so many discontents 


did then arise, had he not, with the water of patience and his godly 
exhortations (hut chiefly through his true devoted examples) quenched 
those flames of envie and dissention/' 

We cannot follow the long and trying voyage (they were eighteen 
weoks and two days on the way). But after they had left the West 
Indies "in search of Virginia," they were caught in a "vehement 
tempest/' and driven helplessly on heyond their reckoning, so that 
S')me e\en "desired to bear up the helme and return to England than 
make further search." ♦ ♦ ♦ "But God, the guide of all good actions, 
forcing them by an extreme storme to Hull [drive helplessly] all night, 
did drive them by His providence to their desired port beyond all ex- 
pectation, for never any of them had seen that coast." 

On Sunday morning early, the 26th of April, corresponding to the 6th 
of May, as the calendar is now corrected, they entered Chesapeake Bay, 
and landed on the southern shore. 

Our first sight of Virginia, through the eyes of these storm-tossed 
and cabin-bound colonists, is like a dream of fairyland. It was our 
mrpt charming season — the early days of May. They wandered on the 
shore of what is now Princess Anne county, and found, as young Per- 
cy, of Northumberland, records, "faire meddowes and goodly tall trees, 
with such fresh waters running through the woods as I was almost 
ravished at the sight thereof." 

It was the Third Sunday after Easter, and if on the ships or on the 
shore that day the service was read, as it is probable that it was, the 
appropriateness of the Epistle for the day, beginning with 1 Peter 2: 
11, and warning them "as strangers and pilgrims," to practice self-dis- 
cipline, to submit to authority, and live in love, must have impressed 
those who heard it. 

To this same point they returned three days later, on Wednesday, 
April 29th, the day after they had found the channel at Old Point, and 
knew that they could enter the river. Then, after the revered fash- 
ion of old Christian explorers and discoverers, they set up a cross at 
the spot of their first landing, and called that place Cape Henry. 

After two weeks of exploration and examination, of which an inter- 
esting account is given by. George Percy, they finally determined upon 
an island adjacent to the north bank of the river and forty miles from 
its mouth. This was selected as their "seating place," and for three 
very good reasons: It was sufficiently removed from the sea, and so less 
liable to attack from outside enemies; it was an Island, (and large 


enough for their purposes, being two and three-quarter miles long), 
and so afforded better protection from the natives; and there was a 
channel of six fathoms of water near enough to the shore for their 
ships to be moored to the trees, thus affording additional protection 
and an easy landing. 

To this place they came on May 13th, and the next day, Thursday, 
14th, all hands were brought ashore and set to clearing ground for 
their settlement and making ready timber for their stockade fort. This 
stockade was triangular, "having bulwarks at each comer like a half- 
moon, and four or five pieces of artillery mounted in them." The 
side next the river was 420 feet long and the two other sides each 300 
feet long. A road ran all around on the inside next the stockade, and 
next to the road and facing inwards were the cabins occupied by the 
colonists. In the open space in the middle of the triangle stood the 
guard-house, the store-house, and when it was built, which was within 
a few weeks, the church. The settlement was at the upper or west- 
ern end of the island. 

"Now," to quote Captain Smith, "because I have sx>oke so much of 
the body, give me leave to say somewhat of the soule; and the rather 
because I have been demanded by so many how we began to preach 
the Gospel in Virginia, and by what authority; what churches we had, 
our order of service, and maintenance of our ministers; therefore, I 
think it not amisse to satisfle their demands, it being the mother of all 
our Plantations, intreating pride to spare laughter to understand her 
simple beginnings and proceedings. 

'^When we first went to Virginia I well remember we did hang an 
awning (which is an old saile) to three or four trees, to shadow us 
from the sunne; our walles were rales of wood; our seats unhewed 
trees till we cut plankes; our Pulpit a bar of wood nailed to two neigh- 
bouilng trees. In foule weather we shifted into an old rotten tent; 
for we had few better, and this came by way of adventure for new. 

"This was our church till we built a homely thing like a bame, set 
upon cratchets, covered with rafts, sedge and earth; so was the walls. 
The best of our houses [were] of like curiosity; but the most part far 
much worse workmanship, that neither could well defend [from] wind 
nor raine. Yet we had daily Common Prayer, morning and evening; 
every Sunday two sermons; and every three months the Holy Coni- 
munion, till our minister died; but our prayers daily with an Homily 
on Sundaies we continued two or three years after till our preachers 


came/' — that is, the next preacher to come after the death of Mr. 

Here is a true picture of the beginning of Church life in America. 
The pioneers, working in the summer heat, building a fort, clearing 
ground, planting corn, getting out clapboard and specimens of timber 
to send back to England, with sassafras roots and other crude pro- 
ducts of the land. 

Sunday comes, and they leave their tools, but still taking their arms, 
they gather under the "old saile" to shadow them from the sun while 
they hear the familiar words of Common Prayer, and the cheering 
exhortations of their man of God. 

There, doubtless, the first celebration of the Holy Communion was 
held on Sunday, the 21st of June, 1607, corresponding to July 1st in 
our calendar. It was the Third Sunday after Trinity; and the next 
day the ships were going back to England. Note again the appropri- 
ateness of the Epistle — ^1 Peter 5: 5, etc.: "All of you be subject one to 
another, and be clothed with humility, for God resisteth the proud and 
giveth grace unto the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under 
the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time. Cast- 
ing all your care upon him, for he careth for you." 

This probably continued for some weeks, and then was built the first 
church building of the Church of England in America — ^the "homely 
thing like a barne, set upon cratchets, covered with rafts, sedge and 

Soon the sickly season of August and September was upon these 
unacclimated men, and they died like sheep. Twenty-one deaths are 
recorded between August 5th and September 6th alone. Provisions 
were also already running short. There were but two gallons of wine 
left, and this the President reserved for the Communion Table. Mr. 
George Percy describes this wretchedness: "There were never English- 
men left in a foreigne countrey in such miseries as we were in this 
new discovered Virginia. Wee watched every three nights, lying on 
the bare cold ground, what weather so ever came, and warded all the 
next day; which brought our men to be most feeble wretches. Our 
food was but a small can of barlie sod In water to five men a day. 
Our- drink cold water taken out of the river; which was at a fiood 
yerie salt, and at a low tide, full of slime and filth; which was the 
destruction of many of our men. Thus we lived for the space of five 
months in this miserable distress, not having five able men to man our 


bulwarkes upon any occasion. If it had not pleased Ood to put a terrour 
in the Savages' hearts we had all perished by those wild and cruell 
Pagans." Such was the first church and congregation at Jamestown. 

This poor little building of logs, covered with turf and sedges, lasted 
only about six months. Early in January, 1608, Just after Newport's 
return from England, bringing supplies of men and provisions, the 
town caught fire and the reed thatching of the huts and church made 
a fire "so fierce as it burned their pallizadoes (although 10 or 12 jrarde^ 
distant) with their armes, bedding, apparel and much private provi 
sion. Good Master Hunt, our preacher, lost all his library, and all 
that he had but the clothes on his backe, yet [did] none ever see him 
repine at his losse." Newport came to their help, and while the men 
were repairing the storehouse and other buildings, Newport's mariners 
rebuilt the church, probably on the site of the old one; and this is 
the second church built, and like the first, it was a hurriedly-construct- 
ed and poor affair. 

Just about a year from the time it was built this church witnessed 
the first marriage in Virginia, which took place about Christmas, 1608, 
or January, 1609, when John Laydon, a laborer, who had come over in 
1607, married Anne Burras, the maidservant of Mistress Forrest They 
had arrived about October, 1608. This lady and her maid are the first 
women whose names are mentioned in the lists of emigrants. This 
little church must also have seen the last offices performed for that 
faithful man of God, "Good Maister Hunt." The time of his death is 
not recorded, but it can hardly have been later than the winter of 
1608-9. Doubtless his remains rest in the bosom of Old Virginia at 
Jamestown, among the hundreds and hundreds whose lives were laid 
down in her foundation. 

These two churches are the only ones which Captain John Smith 
knew in Virginia, for he returned to EIngland in October, 1609. Hunt 
had then been already some months dead. 

It witnessed the horrible "starving time" of the winter and spring 
of 1609-10, and saw the abandonment of Jamestown in June, 1610, when 
Sir Thomas Gates and Sir George Somers found the Colony at the last 
gasp, and took them aboard their ships to carry them back to Eng- 
land—a bitter trial after all that had been endured. And evidently 
It was God's will that Virginia should be tried, but it was not His will 
that she should be abandoned. When the ships were actually going 
down the river, word came to them that Lord De la Warr was lying 


at Old Point Comfort with abundant reinforcements and supplies. Vir- 
ginia was not abandoned, but rescued in the nick of time. With the 
coming of Lord De la Warr and a well-selected company of emigrants, 
a new and more hopeful era opened for the Colony. As for the church, 
although only two and a half years old, it was already in very bad 
condition. But De la Warr,. a deeply pious man, took much pains in 
repairing it Strachey gives a bright picture of the church and its 
worshippers: "The Captaine General hath given order for the repair- 
ing of [the church] and at this instant many hands are about it It 
is in length three score foote, in breadth twenty-foure, and shall have 
a chancell in it of cedar, with faire broad windowes, to shut and open 
as the weather shall occasion, of the same wood, a pulpit of the same, 
with a font hewen hollow like a canoa, with two bels at the West end. 
It is so cast as to be very light within, and the Lord Govemour and 
Captaine General doth cause it to be kept passing sweete, and trimmed 
up with divers flowers, with a sexton belonging to it; and in it every 
Sunday we have Sermons twice a day, and Thursday a sermon, having 
true (two?) preachers which take their weekly turns; and every morn- 
ing at the ringing of a bell about ten of the clocke each man address- 
eth himself to prayers, and so at foure of the clocke before supper. 
EiVery Sunday when the Lord Governour and Captaine General goeth 
to church he is accompanied with all the Counsailers, Captaines and 
other Officers, and all the Gentlemen, with a guard of Halberdiers, in 
his Lordship's Livery, faire red cloakes, to the number of flfty, both 
on each side, and behind him: and being in the church his Lordship 
hath his seat in the Quier, in a green velvet chair, with a cloath, with 
a velvet cushion spread on a table before him on which he kneeleth, 
and on each side sit the Counsel, Captaines and officers, each in their 
place, and when he returneth home again he is waited on to his house 
in the same manner." 

Here is great punctilio and formality; but withal De la Warr, Somers 
and Gates were men of profound piety. Religion was not a matter of 
ceremonies and services with them, but was the foundation of their 
lives. They were of the sort that "next to God loved a good fight," 
but they loved both truly, and G}od was ever first. 

As for the two ministers who took their turns at Jamestown in those 
days, one was the Reverend Richard Buck, who had come with Sir 
Thomas Gates. He was an Oxford man and "an able and painful 
preacher." He served the church at Jamestown at least eleven years, 


and maybe longer, and died in Virginia. He seems to have been of a 
Puritanical turn of mind, for he called • his children, successiyely, 
Mara, Gershom, Benoni, and Peleg. The other minister must have 
come with Lord De la Warr, and his name is not given, but he is 
thought to have been the Rev. William Mease, who came at this time^ 
and was in Virginia a number of years, being in Elizabeth City par- 
ish in 1615. This church, which Newport built and Lord De la Warr 
renovated, was of course built of wood; and in it, in April, 1614, 
Pocahontas was married to John Rolfe, probably by Mr. Buck. It is 
more probable that Pocahontas was baptized at Henrico by the Rev. 
Mr. Whitaker, as she seems to have lived there with Sir Thomas Dale 
at the time of her conversion. 

In 1617 Captain Argall arrived in Jamestown, and served as deputy 
governor. He found the church which De la Warr had renovated 
again in ruins, and services being conducted in a storehouse. Some 
time during his tenure of office — i. e., between 1617 and 1619, a new 
church was built at Jamestown, "wholly at the charge of the inhabi- 
tants of that cittie, of timber, being fifty foot in length and twenty 
foot in breadth"; and this time the site was removed, and the new 
church was placed to the eastward of the old stockade (outside of 
it) and in the midst of or adjacent to the rueful graveyard, where so 
many victims of hunger, heat, cold, fever, and massacre lay buried. 
It was erected upon a slender cobblestone and brick foundation, only 
the length of one brick in thickness. This foundation was discovered 
by the careful explorations of the Association for the Preser- 
vation of Virginia Antiquities in 1891, and lies within the foun- 
dations of the next building, that is, of the one the tower of which 
is now standing. This slender foundation of the church, built between 
1617 and 1619, is the oldeet structure which has been discovered at 
Jamestown. It was within this little building that the first House 
of Burgesses met in July, 1619 — the first representative body of ESnglisb 
lawmakers to assemble in America. And "forasmuche as men's af- 
faires doe little prosper where God's service is neglected, all the bur- 
gesses stood in their places, until a prayer was said by Mr. Bucke 
that It would please God to guide and santifie all our proceedings to 
His own glory and the good of the Plantation." Then the small, but 
august body of Burgesses was organized, and the first laws passed 
in America by a representative body were then enacted for the regula 
tion both of the Church and of the State. 


How long: this little building, the third church, lasted and was used, 
we do not know, but in 1639, January 18th, the statement is made in 
a letter from the Grovernor, Sir John Harvey, and the Council in Vir 
ginia, to the Privy Council in London, that "Such hath bene our In 
devour herein, that out of our owne purses we have largely contribut- 
ed to the building of a brick church, and both masters of ships, and 
others of the ablest Planters have liberally by our persuasion under 
writt to this worke." As this letter was dated January 18th, it may 
be that the church was finished that year, but there is no definite 
statement as to this. 

The same letter makes mention of the first brick house at James- 
town, which was the residence of Secretary Richard Kemp. It was 
but sixteen by twenty-four feet in dimensions, but Governor Harvey 
speaks of it as ''the fairest ever known in this country for substance 
and uniformity." This fourth church, built by Governor Harvey, 
stood and was used until September, 1676, when it was burned along 
with the rest of Jamestown by Nathaniel Bacon and his men. But 
it is most probable that the tower and walls stood, and that when 
Jamestown was partially rebuilt between 1676 and 1686, that the origi- 
nal tower and walls built by Harvey about 1639, were repaired and 
used. Thus repaired, the church continued to be used for many years. 
After 1699 the meetings of the House of Burgesses were no longer held 
in Jamestown, but removed to Williamsburg, and the residents at 
Jamestown became very few, and the congregation of the church at 
Jamestown was correspondingly diminished. In 1724 the Rev. William 
Le Neve reported to the Bishop at London that James City parish was 
twenty miles long and twelve broad, and that there were seventy-eight 
families in the parish. He held services at Jamestown two Sundays 
in three, there being about 130 attendants, and his salary was £60. 
One Sunday in three he preached at Mulberry Island, where there 
were about 200 attendants, and his salary was £30 per annum. Every 
Sunday afternoon he lectured at Williamsburg to about 100 people, 
his salary being £20. Holy Communion was celebrated four times 
a year to twenty or thirty communicants. The population was gradu- 
ally drifting away from Jamestown, and the minister at Jamestown 
would serve other churches also. The fire of 1776 doubtless destroyed 
priceless church records, and the names of the clergymen who served 
James City parish can only be gathered here and there from other 


records. I have gathered twenty-seven names, but the evidence of 
their connection with the parish is not satisfactory in all cases. 

The last minister in the old church was certainly Bishop James 
Madison, who served the parish from 1785 to 1812. The old church 
was in ruins before 1812, and the last services in the parish were held 
in a brick church a few miles off on the road to Williamsburg, called 
"The Main" Church — that is, the church on the main land as distin- 
guished from the island. This church has now disappeared. 

The font of the old church and its interesting communion vessels 
were taken to Bruton church, in the new Colonial capital at Wil- 
liamsburg, where they are still carefully preserved. 

The old tower has kept its lonely watch for more than an hundred 
years. After long and inexcusable neglect it is now strengthened 
and guarded. Long may it stand. The principles, the heroic perse- 
verance, the sufferings, which the very ground of Jamestown brings 
to mind, together with the imperishable fruits and blessings which 
went out to the New World from this first English settlement, have 
their fittest monument in the tower of the church which, in the provi- 
dence of God, was appointed to bring the everlasting Gospel to these 

The following is a list of ministers who are recorded by-»several 
authorities — ^Bishop Meade, Dr. D ashiell, E. D. Neill and others — to 
have served in James City Parish between 1607 and 1800: 


1. Robert Hunt, 1607-08. 

2. Richard Bucke, 1610. 

[He was afterwards minister of the church at Kecoughtan in 1615.] 

3. Lord De la Warr's minister, probably William Mease, 1610. 

4. David Sandys, E. D. Neill. Virginia Colonial Clergy, page 7, at 
Captain Sam Matthew's, in James City, 1625. 

5. Thomas Harrison, Chaplain to Governor Berkeley, Neill, page 
14, 1644. 

6. Thomas Hampton, Henning, 1644, Neill, p. 15; Bishop Meade and 
Dashiell, Digest of the Councils of the Diocese of Virginia, 1645. 

7. Morgan Godwin, Neill, pp. 18 and 20, 1665. 

8. Rowland Jones, Neill, p. 21; Senate Document, p. 103, 1674-88. 

9. John Gouch, buried at Jamestown, 1683. 


10. John Clayton, in letter to Dr. Boyle, signs himself parson at 
James City; Neill, p. 21, 1684. 

11. James Sclater; Dashiell, 1688. 

12. James Blair, Bishop Meade, Vol. I., p. 94, 1694-1710. 

13. Solomon Whateley, Dashiell, 1700. 

14. Hugh Jones, Neill, p. 27, previous to 1724. 

15. Sharpe Bromscale, Dashiell, 1721. 

16. William Le Neve, sent report to Bishop of London, 1724. 1722-1724. 

17. Wm. Dawson, Commissary, 1734-1751. 

18. Thomas Dawson, Commissary, 1752. 

19. William Robinson, Dashiell, 1744. 

20. William Yates, Dashiell, 1754. 

21. William Preston, Perry's Historical Papers, p. 429, 1755. 

22. Rev. Mr. Berkeley, Bishop Meade, Vol. I., p. 95, 1758. 

23. James Horrochs, Dashiell, 1762. 

24. Mr. Gwatkin, Dashiell, and State Papers, 1771-76. 

25. J. Hyde Saunders, ordained for James City 1772. Bishop Meade, 
Vol. I., p. 95, 1773. 

26. Mr. Bland, Bishop Meade, p. 113, note Main Church. 

27. James Madison, Bishop Meade, Vol. I., p. 95. 

The Church in Virginia in . the Days of 

the Colony. 


THE two principal sources of authority in regard to the Colonial 
Church of Virginia are Hening's Statutes and the old vestry 
books of the different parishes. During the period of her sa- 
cendency in Virginia the Church needed no defender nor apolo- 
gist, and after the Revolution, when her organization was shattered, 
her property taken from her, and her clergy scattered, the Church was 
left helpless. 

The Church had always been a part of the organic life of the Colony, 
but never a part of its politics. She was not organized for political 
€nds, nor did she have any political traditions nor training. She 
was never a party in the Colony. To understand her downfall, it is 
necessary to understand the position th'3 Church held in the community 
during the Colonial period. This position has never been fairly stated. 
Dr. Hawks, in the preparation of the History of the Virginia Church, 
was dependent for his materials in matters relating to the Church upon 
the works of the Baptists, Presbyterians and Methodists, the men who 
together wrought the destruction of the Church. Bishop Meade ac- 
cepts the thesis of Dr. Hawks, borrowed as it is from the political 
briefs of the enemy of the Church, and though he had access to the 
vestry books of the early Church, he uses them to defend the thesis. 
His work is rather that of an annalist than a historian. 

The history of the Church in Virginia reflects fully and accurately 
the life of her people; and the reckless condemnation of that Church 
has made incomprehensible the lives of her public men, who were in 
most cases devoted Churchmen. If we accept the thesis of the Church's 
enemies, then Washington, Mason, Nelson and the Lees were all excep* 
tions to the rule of a corrupt and reckless gentry. This supposition 
is so preposterous that one Baptist historian attempts to explain 
Washington on the supposition that he was at heart a Baptist. 

The Church in Virginia was from the first the Church of the people 
rather than the Church of the clergy. The churches were built by the 


people, and the demand for clergy was always greater than the supply. 
As the people built the churches, purchased the glebes and furnished 
and stocked them out of their own means, they naturally contended 
that they were the owners thereof. The spirit of independence ex- 
Libited in the Virginia Assembly was the spirit of the people, and 
found expression in the vestry meeting as in the halls of legislature. 
The people of Virginia identified themselves with the Church as they 
Identified themselves with the government. They were the Church 
as they were the State. In the patent which gave to the Bishop of 
London the spiritual oversight of the Colony the right of induction 
was expressly reserved to the Governor of the Colony. The vestries 
did not fight the letter of this law, but they made it inoperative by 
persistently asserting that they, as the representatives of the people, 
were the patrons of the livings; and that neither the king nor the 
governor, as the representative of the king, could claim the right of 
presentation, which was an inalienable right of the people themselves. 
The vestry was elected by the people and held office for an indefinite 
period. In most cases the vestry was a self-perpetuating body, filling 
vacancies in their number by their own choice; and yet the people 
never wholly surrendered their authority; for in some cases, upon de- 
mand of the people themselves, the vestry was dissolved by an Act of 
Assembly. The vestry were generally the most conspicuous and in- 
fluential members of the community. Their duties were not wholly 
ecclesiastical, for to them was entrusted the care of the poor of the 
parish and the holding of all trust funds for such purposes. They 
appointed the procession-masters, and to them was made the report of 
the processioning. As these processionings established the bounds of 
every free-holder's property, the business was of great importance. 
They fixed the rate of taxation for tithes, and to them all tithes were 
paid. The long tenure of office and the importance and prestige at- 
taching to the position of a vestryman inevitably produced an aris- 
tocratic and autocratic spirit in the men who composed the vestry. 
This august and closely organized body were in very truth "The 
twelve lords of the parish." 

The status of the clergy was no less clearly fixed. The parson was 
the duly appointed officer in the Church, whose duties were well marked 
out, and whose authority was carefully defined. The minister was 
chosen by the vestry, and they were responsible to the people for the 
character and efficiency of their appointee. The vestry made earnest 


eftort that the parish might he always supplied with a minister, hut 
every church and chapel was provided with a salaried clerk, who 
read the services regularly, and the lack of a minister did not prevent 
the people from attending the services of the Church. No vestryman 
could hold the office of clerk. Wherever a sufficient number of citizens 
settled in any portion of the Colony, a chapel was immediately pro- 
vided by the vestry and a clerk appointed. 

The taxes for maintaining the Church establishment were called 
tithes. These tithes went for the minister's salary, the salary of the 
clerk and the maintenance and building of churches and chapels and 
for the support of the poor. Every male inhabitant over sixteen was 
tithable, and the tithe varied from thirty to sixty pounds of tobacco 
per poll, according to the immediate needs of the parish. 

The Church was the People, and the People the Church; but the 
attitude of the people towards dissenters was expressed not by the 
Church as an ecclesiastical establishment, but by the represenuitlves 
of the people in their legislative and executive capacity. So far from 
being a persecuting Church, the Church as a Church did not attempt 
to control these matters, which were everywhere deemed a part of the 
civil order. The expulsion of the Puritan preachers and the breaking 
up of the Puritan congregations in Nansemond and Norfolk counties, 
a few months before the execution of Charles I., were acts not of the 
Church, but of the Governor's Council, and the charge against the 
Puritans was disloyalty to the Government and to the King. The 
famous and oft-quoted statute against the Quakers, expelling them 
from the Colony and providing that if they returned the second time, 
they should be proceeded against as felons, takes on a very different 
color when the statute is given in full, and not in the garbled form 
in which it appears in the partisan histories of the sects. The statute 
closes with these words: "Provided, always, and be it further enacted, 
that if any of the said persons, Quakers or other separatists, shall, 
after such conviction, give security that he, she or they shall for the 
time to come forbear to meet in any such unlawful assemblies as 
aforesaid, that then and from thenceforth such person or persons shall 
be discharged from all the penalties aforesaid, ansrthing in this act 
to the contrary notwithstanding." (Hen., Vol. 2, p. 183.) The statute 
was directed against organized opposition to the laws and institutions 
of the Colony, and no attempt is made to deprive the Individual of 
his liberty of thought and utterance, so long as he with others did not 
attempt to overthrow the civil law. 


The fact that there was no Episcopal authority within the Colony, 
and that the make-shitt of a commissary was never accepted either by 
the clerg^y or the people, forced the vestries to assume functions prop- 
erly belonging to ecclesiastical courts. In the event of the bad be- 
havior of any of the clergy, he was summoned before the vestry and 
tried; and if the charges were proven, he was expelled, or if by any 
chance he had been inducted into the living, he was prosecuted before 
the authorities at the seat of government. That the vestry, as the 
representatives of the people, did demand a high standard of life and 
character on the part of the clergy is evidenced by the fact that 
in some cases, even though it brought open reproach upon the Church, 
they turned the offending minister out of his office. The fidelity of 
the vestries in this matter was one day to furnish to the enemies of 
the Church material for a bitter arraignment of the Church itself. 

The Church, in its parish organization, reflected the life and social 
standards of the Virginians. Birth and position were among the ac- 
knowledged requisites for membership in theHouse of Burgesses, and the 
like requirements were considered essential in the choice of a vestry- 
man. The government of the Colony and the government of the Church 
in Virginia were both alike democratic, but it was the democracy of 
Athens, not of Rome. The landed gentry both in the Assembly and in 
the vestry were the representatives of the people, and till the middle of 
the eighteenth century no one questioned the established order. One 
class in this social order was gradually crystallizing in its hatred of the 
aristocratic form of government. This was the class of overseers. This 
class was, in fact, the only element in the Colony which had ever been 
subjected to persecution, though the persecutors were apparently ob- 
livious of the fact of any injustice on their part. The "overseer legis- 
lation" in the Colony was all of a kind to breed a deep and abiding 
hatred of the established order in the hearts of those affected by it It 
was provided by law that the overseer should live in a house adjacent 
to the negro quarters; he could own only one horse, and he was not 
allowed to attend muster, which was the great event of the year in 
country life. These overseers were, in the very nature of things, the 
most skillful farmers, and accustomed to exercise authority, and yet, 
by a curious twist of legislation, they were practically pariahs. 

The very church building itself, with the best pews reserved for the 
magistrates and their families, and with the private galleries erected 
at their own cost by the rich men of the parish, gave an added em- 


pnasis to the aristocratic nature of State and Church. When the Bap- 
tists commenced their efforts they found plenty of inflammable mate- 
rial, especially among the large class of overseers; and in the days of 
agitation and unrest that preceded the tremendous social upheaval of 
the Revolution, the discontented found a golden opportunity. The 
Church of England in Virginia became the target for abuse on the lips 
of these iivho were proclaiming their hatred of all things English. The 
first Baptist Association, which was professedly, in its inception, in 
1770, a political organization, was sworn to the destruction of the 

Suddenly the Church found herself attacked by a host of men, who 
maligned her clergy, ridiculed her institutions and fought her with 
weapons new even to that kind of warfare. The Church was taken 
by surprise. She had no weapons with which to flght vulgar abuse, 
nor would she be embroiled in what she conceived to be a social rather 
than a religious quarrel. Sometimes the agitator, when he became in- 
sufferable, fell into the hands of the constable, and straightway the 
Church was painted as a bloody persecutor. In none of these so-called 
persecutions does the Church appear as the prosecutor. The charge 
brought against the victims was "breach of the peckce," and the arrest 
i^as made by the sheriff or magristrate. The offender was set at lib- 
erty when he furnished a peace bond. The persecuted martyrs of Vir- 
ginia were offenders against civil law, and were victims not of the 
Church's hate, but of the justice of a magistrate's court before which 
they were tried for intemperate speech and creating a disturbance. At 
the very time when these supposed persecutions were going on, the law 
of the land gave them the right to apply in court for licensed houses 
for the worship of God according to their own conscience. The offend- 
ers, failing to comply with the law, were, like other offenders against 
the law, punished by the courts. 

The forces that led to the final overthrow of the Church were in part 
religious and political, but still more, perhaps, were they social and 
economic. To destroy the Establishment meant to dethrone the twelve 
lords of the parish, to humiliate the aristocrats, and last, but not 
least, to do away with parish dues. By depriving the vestry of its 
powers and the Church of its property, and then by raising hue and 
cry against clergy and Church as English In name and sympathy, the 
Church was first despoiled and then overthrown. 

When the Revolution was over, the new State presented a strange 


condition of affairs. A large element of the population that had for- 
merly taken but little interest in public affairs had, during the long 
years of turmoil, come into prominence. The Baptists, especially, were 
organized as a political party. The spirit of the age was against con- 
servatism and aristocracy. The traditions of the Church in Virginia 
forbade her to enter the political arena The legislature was flooded 
with petitions from the enemies of the Church, demanding her destruc- 
tion. The Church had but one reply, and that was to beg that the 
questions at issue be submitted to the people of the State to decide. 
This request was denied her. The new religio-political parties were 
well organized and very active, and the public men of Virginia found 
a strong instrument ready for use. Political power was still m the 
hands of the aristocracy, but a new party, zealous with religious en- 
thusiasm, was clamoring for recognition. The men who had put forth 
the Bill of Rights found that keen instrument turned upon its authors. 
They did not flinch from the ordeal. The committee appointed to re^ 
vise the laws of the Commonwealth reported an act establishing Re- 
ligious Freedom. That committee was composed of flve men — .Jeffer- 
son. Pendleton, Wythe, Mason and Lee. All except Jefferson were ac- 
tive members of the vestries of the Established Church, and Jefferson's 
name also was in the list of the vestrymen of St. Anne's Parish, though 
there Is no record that he exercised the function of his office. When 
thA Church was dis-established, the deed was wrought by the sons of 
the Church. There was no compulsion resting on them to do this thing, 
for tne question had not been submitted to the people at large. These 
men deemed it a political necessity and a necessary corollary of the 
Bill of Rights, and they, without a dissenting voice, signed the war- 
rant for the dissolution of the Church of their affections. Such was 
the spirit of the laymen who, from the beginning, had guided the 
councils and controlled the destiny of the Church in Virginia. 

But cnis act was fraught with consequences undreamed of by Its au- 
thors. The enemies of the Church deemed that they had won a great 
victory, and they never rested till the Church was despoiled of Its pos^ 
sessions. For the first time In history there was a persecuting Church 
in Virginia. The campaign of hostility and invective was unrelenting 
and ruthless. The Church, for nearly twenty years, was despaired of 
even by those who loved her. The spirit of her despoilers did not win 
the allegiance of Churchmen to the only organized religious life in the 
State. A period of religious depression followed the overthrow of the 


Church. Many of the gentry of Virginia were without a Church; and 
love of State became the only religion with many of this class. Bishop 
Meade's description of the low ebb of religious life among the upper 
classes in Virginia at the beginning of his ministry is doubtless a 
faithful picture. The cause of this condition is likewise apparent 
That the character of the men still remained high in spite of religious 
apathy, or even hostility, is due to that social code, in obedience to 
which the Virginian gave a fuller and richer meaning to the name of 
gentleman. They were for a quarter of a century irreligious in their 
lack of recognition of the duty of accepting organized and systematized 
Christianity, but some of what we now call the Christian graces were 
beautifully exemplified in their daily intercourse with fellows. 

During the long years of war the clergy became scattered. There 
was no possibility of obtaining ministers except from England, and it 
was no time for an Englishman to begin his labors in Virginia; and 
there was no security for his support, even if he were brave enough to 
make the venture. On the other hand, the ministers of the denomina- 
tions multiplied indefinitely. It was not until the effects of the Revo- 
lution began to die out that the old aristocratic order of society began 
to assert itself again. The hatred of all things English was the lever 
used to overthrow the Church and to keep her in the dust. The feeling 
against the mother country was. not allowed to die out, as it was too 
valuable a political asset to let slip. So strong and so lasting was the 
feeling that Benjamin Watkins Leigh, in the Virginia Constitutional 
Convention of 1829-'30, exclaimed: "I know it is the fashion to decry 
everything that is English, or supposed to be so. I know that, tn the 
opinion of many, it is enough to condemn any proposition in morals 
or in politics, to denounce it as English doctrine." This statement of 
Senator Leigh is a luminous commentary on the history of the Church 
in Virginia. 

History presents no more striking example of a Church of me people 
than is found in the Church of Colonial Virginia. The people not only 
maintained the Church as established, but extended it to meet the 
needs of a growing population. They voluntarily assumed the care 
and support of all the poor in the community. They not only clothed, 
but educated the orphan and the waif. They demanded of their clergy 
that they lead exemplary lives, and expelled them from office when 
they fell short of this ideal. They held loyalty to God and to His 
Church not an accident, but an essential of good citizenship. They 

The Rt. Bev. James Madison, D. D., 

First Bishop of Virginia. 




. '■■! 

•••• • 
• • • • 


appointed from among themselves clerks to read the services and ser- 
mons in the absence of an ordained minister, and the Church was their 
home. The Colonial Church of Virginia produced the largest breed 
of men yet seen upon this continent. This Church was overthrown in 
a social cataclysm, but even in the hour of her dissolution she was 
true to her traditions. She had preached good citizenship and obedi- 
ence to law; and when her enemies despoiled her of her property and 
made her splendid lineage the ground of an accusation of shame, she 
raised no voice in protest Her property was taken away by law, and 
she submitted to that law, never claiming the halo of martyr nor call- 
ing legislation persecution. Even to the end she persistently refused 
to become embroiled in the bitter strife of words. Her story has never 
been told, and her children to-day know her only from the partisan and 
libelous screeds of her destroyers. The Church, in her actual adminis- 
trative life, was aristocratic, but so was the life of the people whom 
she served. It was the aristocracy of birth, it is true; but it was also 
the aristocracy of worth, and its creed of noblesse ohlige kept her si- 
lent even when men maligned her and robbed her under forms of law. 

The Fall and Rising Again of the Church 

in Virginia. 

An Essay, Read Before the Alumni Association of the Theological 

Seminary in Virginia, June 20, 1907. 




THE year 1907 will be marked as that in which a re-study was 
made of the beginnings of the history of Virginia, and espec- 
ially of the Church in Virginia. All eyes are turned this year 
to Jamestown, and many minds are seeking to reconstruct the 
scenes enacted there three hundred years ago. Orators and writers 
are telling the story anew, and with a new realization of its import; 
and we are very sure that one result will be a fairer estimate of the 
purpose and character of the founders of the State, and a new demon- 
stration of the good providence of God in planting and preserving on 
these American shores this vine of His Church, which has grown and 
filled the land. 

I venture to take as the subject for the essay to-day another epoch 
in the history of the Virginia Church, which we must know if we would 
truly trace our descent from the Church of Jamestown and understand 
the lessons of our long past. Our theme is, "The Fall and Rising 
Again of the Church in Virginia." The story would cover, for its 
complete telling, a period of about a century of her life, or, say, from 
1740 to 1840. At the beginning of this period we see the Church sit- 
ting as a queen upon her throne, supported and protected by her lord, 
the State, apparently the most stable institution among this new peo- 
ple. In the midst we see her dethroned, distrusted and disqualified, 
vainly striving to save from the wreck of her fortunes some remnants 
of her former possessions, if not of her power. At its end she appears 


revived, chastened and purified, girded with humility and grace as one 
who doth serve, and entered upon the holy work in the doing of which 
she has outlived all calumny and been honored of Qod and men. 

That the Church which was founded with the Colony of Virginia 
should be an Established, or State, Church was inevitable under the 
conditions existing. No other form of Church was known or conceived 
of, and as the Ehiglish government went with her Colonies as the mould 
of her civilization and law, so the English Church would go as the 
outward embodiment of her Protestant religion. Just what was to be 
the permanent form and theological complexion of that Church was 
still a question of controversy at home. It seems to have given the 
colonists very small concern either now or later; and it is singular 
how little echo of the theological strifes of HIngland was heard in Vir- 
ginia. The Church established here was the English Church of 1607 
and thereabouts, and that has been the norm of Virginia Churchman- 
ship ever since. The colonists wanted simply good men like Hunt and 
Whittaker and Buck and their immediate followers, selected and sent 
out by the London Company, to read the old prayers in their rude 
churches, to preach to them and to administer the sacraments as they 
had been accustomed to have them at home. They worshipped ac- 
cording to the forms of the big Prayer Books in their churches, and 
they and their children learned the catechism out of them, and they 
obeyed as far as possible the '^Constitutions and Canons Ecclesiasti- 
cal," which were bound with them at the end, after the Psalms in 
metre. When these Canons failed to meet their particular wants, they 
made other Canons by their Burgesses, under the guise of Acts or Or- 
ders of Assembly, and the county lieutenants and churchwardens saw 
that they were proclaimed and duly followed. Those curious Church- 
men called Puritans were perfectly welcome in Virginia so long as 
they obeyed the laws. Those queer non-Churchmen called Quakers, 
(by no means the Quakers of a later day), were not welcome because 
they would not obey the laws, and taught men so. 

Among the Canons ordained by the General Assembly were those 
creating in each parish a Select Vestry, as it would be called in Eng- 
land. A vestry was originally the whole body of parishioners, met to 
order their parochial affairs; the model, by the way, of the New Eng- 
land town meeting. But this was not convenient in Virginia, and the 
reatry was ordered to be composed of "the most sufficient and selected 
men" to be chosen by the parishioners; the origin of our vestry elec- 


tlons, dating back to 1642. LAter the number was fixed at twelve, and 
most unfortunately they were made a self-perpetuating body. These 
administered parochial affairs, as that term was understood in the wide 
meaning of English law. 

The Church thus established, and supported by parochial taxation, 
seems fairly well to have met the religious wants of the people of that 
day. Perhaps under no other conditions could she have done so well 
when both the Ck)lony and the Church were in their infancy, and she 
was in the position of a Mission Church, but with no missionary so- 
ciety or agency behind her to look to for direction and support. 

But when a century and a quarter had passed, conditions were differ- 
ent The Colony had grown tremendously in every way; in numbers 
and wealth, in political vigor, in the intellectual and economic progress 
of the great body of her people. It was practically no longer a Col- 
ony but a Commonwealth. The Church, meanwhile, had grown in size 
only; but in vitality, in adaptiveness, in capacity for self-support, self- 
government or self-discipline, in ability to meet her altered and in- 
creased responsibilities, not one whit! She was rather growing infirm 
in her swaddling clothes. She was tied and bound, and all but stran- 
gled by the very bonds on which she leaned. Her weakness and in- 
ability to meet new conditions as they arose was not inherent in the 
Church, but lay in outward and artificial circumstances, which she had 
not the power, even if she had the wisdom, to change. What she might 
have done and become, undebilitated by State patronage and unham- 
pered by political control, none can tell. What she failed to become 
and to do, being thus handicapped, is patent enough now. 

I lay stress upon this one fatal condition, because it is the sufficient 
explanation of all her weakness and her woes. The system of Church 
government in Virginia was, I believe, without parallel in history. It 
was not Episcopal, nor Presbyterian, nor Congregational, nor yet a 
compound of the three. It was a government by a political, local, lay 
aristocracy, which was a branch of the civil government of the Colony. 
The Church herself was without power to act, to provide for her es- 
sential heeds or to perpetuate or develop her life. 

Among the secondary causes of the weakness of the Church, and the 
one which has been almost exclusively insisted upon, was the scarcity 
of her clergy and the unworthiness and inefliciency of many of them. 
The root of this difficulty lay further back — in her incapacity to pro- 
duce a native ministry sufficient and suitable for her needs. She had 


no power of mission. Ckscasionally a young Virginian would go to ETng- 
land and there seek the ministry, but he would do it of his own initia- 
tive. Sometimes awestry would find a man of sufficient education and 
proper character whom they would Induce to take orders and accept 
their living. The process of securing ordination for such an one was 
not difficult. They had but to supply him with their own letter of 
recommendation and a title to their parish, to which the Governor and, 
perhaps, the Commissary would add their endorsement Armea with 
these, the candidate would set out on his pilgrimage to the palace of 
the Bishop of London, where, for the first and only time in his life, he 
would come in touch for a moment with a source of ecclesiastical order 
and authority. If he escaped the dangers of the sea and the ravages 
of small-pox in ia London tavern, he returned within a twelve-month 
in priest's orders, and fully equipped with Tillotson's Sermons and, per- 
haps, half a dozen other books, which would constitute his theological 

These few native ministers were by far the best, I believe, in the 
Colony. Other vestries ordered ministers to be selected and sent from 
England by their friends or their factors in London, much as they or- 
dered Prayer Books or Communion plate; while others consulted the 
Commissary, and took what applicant for a living he might have on 
his hands; or they employed from time to time whatever clerical dere- 
lict might drift their way and apply for the place. These last, as 
might be supposed, were usually the worst. Yet the vestries were 
really concerned in trying to get good men for their parishes, and in 
being rid of those who proved otherwise. In spite of their efforts, 
many unworthy men, and a few impostors who were not in orders at 
all, held livings of which they could not be dispossessed. But such 
cases were much less frequent than has been represented, and the 
great majority of the Colonial clergy were godly, faithful and, in many 
cases, able men. 

My heart goes out to the memory of these servants of God in those 
earlier and less auspicious days of the Virginia Church, who did their 
work with patience with so little to animate or encourage them. They 
wrought alene and almost unheeded, each in his own isolated field of 
labor, wide as the wilderness in territory, but narrow almost to the 
vanishing point in all that could give inspiration, impetus or promise 
to their work. They had no great Church life behind them or around 
them; no standard to live up to, no competition to rouse their energies. 


They had no Bishop, no Conyentions or Ck>nvocation8, or clerical asao- 
ciations. They had no missions or missionary societies to stir their 
zeal; no guilds or choirs or Sunday-school to uphold their hands in 
the work of their parishes. They had no books^ no papers, no mail. 
No Southern Churchman — think of that! No missionary in the re- 
motest foreign field to-day is so completely cut off from the manifold 
expressions of religious life and activity as were these men. What- 
ever atmosphere of this sort there was around them was of their own 
creation. And yet, for a century and three^iuarters, these ministers 
kept the religion of Christ and of the Mother Church alive here in Uie 
wilderness. If the old parish registers, wherein alone their work 
found earthly record, had been preserved to us, the names of those 
whom they baptized and catechized and married and buried would form 
an almost complete roster of the souls in Virginia during that period. 

Wherein they failed to gain and hold for the Church the love and 
reverence of the common people, a sufficient explanation may be 
found in the conditions of the Establishment The clergyman was, in 
common estimation, identified with and the creature of the vestry, and 
the vestry was a close corporation of real or would-be aristocrats. So- 
cial lines were closely drawn, with the usual unhappy result In 
church the common people sat in pews assigned them down by the 
door. If they did not come to church the churchwardens occasionally 
presented them to the grand Jury, and they were fined, as they were 
also for racing horses or hunting.on Sunday and other offenses against 
morality and Church discipline, and the vestry got the money. Their 
little tobacco crop was taxed heavily for parochial purposes. True, 
the twelve vestrymen probably paid one-half the tithes of the parish, 
but they laid the levy and the small planter did not. As a contribu- 
tion he might have given his sixty pounds of tobacco willingly. As a 
tax he paid it grudgingly. If he took up land further back in the wil- 
derness, the parish system followed him, with new churches to build 
and a new parson, living, perhaps, forty miles away, to be paid his 
16,000 pounds of tobacco. The Church was fast becoming unpopular 
with the masses whom it not did reach, or at least reached but im- 
perfectly and with small power to win their affection. 

The rise of the Dissenters in Virginia and the beginnings of their 
inroads upon the legal preserves of the Church dates practically from 
about the year 1740, though it was nearly twenty years later before 
their opposition was seriously felt, and still another decade before 


they began to attack the Establishment with deadly determination. 
Their progress, however, among the plain people of the country was 
rapid Xrom the beginning, and the reasons are not far to seek. Many 
of the dissenting preachers, however ill-equipped in knowledge and 
narrow in creed, were men of earnest piety and burning zeal. They 
brought religion to the doors of the people who, before, could hardly 
reach its exponent by a Sabbath day's journey. They presented it in 
such guise as they could understand, appealing to the feelings rather 
than the understanding, but touching the hearts as the long sermons 
and lifeless services of the parish churches had never touched them. 
Moreover, these preachers were men of strong native sense and shrewd- 
ness, and they understood their congregations very thoroughly. Their 
very weaknesses they turned into elements of strength. Their lack of 
education, their being without regular orders, the sporadic «nd demo- 
cratic organization of their churches, the very small expense attaching 
to their support and the maintenance of this native and homely form 
of religion, as contrasted with that of the Established Church — they 
made all these things weigh in their favor. "Free Religion" proved 
to be a harp of many strings, and they played upon them all. When 
at last the magistrates began, in a few instances, to seek to curb their 
zeal or reprimand their excesses, they courted prosecution with the 
devotion of the martyr combined with the shrewd wisdom of the po- 
litical agitator. Fines they did not like to pay, but there was no such 
pulpit as the grated window of the county Jail. This appealed to the 
popular sympathy as possibly nothing else could. The crime of perse- 
cution was now added to those ascribed to the Church; and presently 
a still more serious charge began to be laid at her doors, and one more 
potent to fire the public heart. It was the English Church! The pop- 
ular indignation aroused by the Stamp Act grew apace until it burst 
into the patriotic flame of Revolution, and the odium which began to 
attach to England was not slow to be directed toward the Church which 
bore her name. 

Meanwhile the Baptist and Presbyterian voter had become an ele- 
ment to be reckoned with. As early as 1759 an act was passed de- 
claring that a vestryman joining a dissenting congregation thereby va- 
cated his office. But few Dissenters as yet found their way to the 
House of Burgesses, but they were helping to elect those that did. The 
perfectly just, but unwise, course of the clergy who protested and ap- 
pealed to the courts against the Option or Two-penny act of 1758, which 


allowed their tol>acco salary for that year, when tobacco was particu- 
larly high, to be compounded to them at the miserable rate of sixteen 
shillings and eight pence a hundred, and their practical defeat, con- 
trary to law and justice, but in obedience to the will of the people, did 
much to strengthen the prejudice against the Church and embolden her 

The boon of Disestablishment came to her, however, from the wis- 
dom and convictions of her own sons. Many of the old vestrymen 
must have been long ago persuaded that not only the cause of religion, 
but the influence and vitality of the Church which they loved were 
being hampered and jeopardized by its connection with the State; that 
the whole system, however venerable, was false and vicious, and that 
the principles of religion as well as the logic of events demanded that 
her service should be perfect freedom.* For the first time in the his- 
tory of Virginia, if not of the English race, an opportunity for declar- 
ing and carrying into effect these convictions presented itself in 1776. 
Before that time the Church in Virginia had no more power to free 
herself from the control of the State than has the Department of Jus- 
tice, for instance, to decline its allegiance to the government of which 
it is a part But when the people of Virginia met in Convention to 
face the question of Revolution and to proclaim their Declaration of 
Rights, the occasion offered, and the promptness with which it was 
seized upon to pronounce the principle of Religious Liberty shows that 
the conception had long found lodgment in their minds. When that Con- 
vention, composed of Churchmen almost to a man, unanimously adopt- 
ed the sixteenth article of the Bill of Rights they knew perfectly that 
it would lead, and was meant to lead, to the disestablishment of their 
Church, though few, perhaps, saw as clearly as did George Mason, its 
author, and the father of Religious Itiberty, the full extent to which it 
would go in guiding further legislation. 

Almost immediately after the adoption of the new Constitution, the 
General Assembly proceeded to put into effect the principle announced, 
by an act declaring null and void in this Commonwealth all acts of 
Parliament which limited the right of maintaining any religious opin- 
ions or exercising any mode of worship. The same act exempted Dis- 
senters from the payment of parish levies for the support of ministers; 
and, lest such levies should now fall too heavily upon those who still 
adhered to the Established Church, if required to pay the ministers 
their fixed salaries, the act providing for such levies was suspended 


for one year. All glebe lands, churches and chapels, church plate, &c„ 
were, however, expressly reserved and saved for the church in each 
parish for all coming time. The act for the support of the clergy con- 
tinued to be suspended from year to year until it was finally repealed 
in 1779. 

The passage of this act of October, 1776, was the crucial test for the 
Church. The prop which had been her temporal support, the parish 
levy, was removed in a moment and without warning. It came at the 
most inopportune time, at the beginning of the Revolution, when the 
distractions of war filled the land, when taxation was heavy and prop- 
erty depreciated, and when the principal men of each parish wen) ab' 
sent on public duty or absorbed in the stirring events and doubtful 
issues of the day. What steps were taken in the different parishes to- 
ward supporting the Church by the new system of voluntary contri- 
butions we have little or no means of knowing. In the great majority 
of cases probably nothing was done, the matter, being deferred until 
more peaceful times. The ministers, if they stayed in their parishes, 
had their glebes, and from these and such alms as they might receive, 
gained their meager living. Some turned to secular pursuits for sup- 
port; others drifted out of the State; several entered the army as ofli- 
cers or chaplains. At the outbreak of the Revolution, or, say, in 1775, 
there were, as nearly as we can gather, about ninety-five parish •minis- 
ters in the Colony. Bishop Meade, following Dr. Hawks, says that at 
its close, or in 1785, "only twenty-eight ministers were found laboring 
in the less desolate parishes of the State." But Dr. Hawks' figures are 
not accurate, for we can find at least fortj^tioo whose names reappear 
after the Revolution, and there may have been others whom age or dis- 
tance prevented from coming to the Conventions, and of these at least 
thirty were still in their old parishes. During the ten years certainly 
as many as twenty-three would die or become disabled, which would 
leave only thirty to be accounted for after a decade of upheaval and 
war, when the very foundations on which they had rested were oveiv 
turned. We cannot, therefore, justify Bishop Meade's hasty conclusion 
that "had they been faithful shepherds, they would not have thus de- 
serted their flocks." 

With the first return of peace the Church people began to cast about 
for means for rehabilitating and maintaining their Church. And here 
another source of weakness, due wholly to their former condition as 
an Established or State Church, manifested itself in a way that, to us. 


seems perfectly amazing. The Idea of a Church supported by the free- 
will ofTerings of her people was one that was absolutely foreign to 
their minds. Whether such a condition would be desirable or not was 
not at all the question at issue. To the minds of the very great ma- 
jority of the leading Churchmen such a scheme was visionary and im- 
practicable. It meant that religion would die out in the land, or degen- 
erate into they knew not what form of ribaldry and free-thinking. In 
a few places, like Alexandria, for instance, a number of wealthy men 
from one or two parishes might unite and maintain the services of the 
Church by pew rents, and this Washington took the lead in doing there; 
but elsewhere the light of the Church would be extinguished forever. 
Such was their firm conviction, and why? Because the duty of giving 
had never for one moment been taught, nor an opportunity for its ex- 
ercise been offered, in the Colonial Church! I suppose that on Com- 
munion occasions an offertory was taken to be distributed by the min- 
ister among the poor, a purely formal proceeding. Beyond this I doubt 
whether an offering had ever been taken in a Colonial church, or that 
the people had ever been asked to give a penny for her support or ex- 
tension. The vestry paid all the bills out of the parish levy. The peo- 
ple were asked and expected to give nothing, only to pay the tithes 
assessed upon them as the law demanded. And so they had never 
learnctfl to give, nor to imagine the Church and her ministry being 
maintained in any such uncertain and unbusinesslike fashion. 

When the law of 1776 was passed, suspending the parish levies, the 
question of whether the support of ministers and teachers of the gospel 
should be left to the voluntary contributions of each religious society 
or be provided for by a general legal assessment, was professedly left 
open for future determination. In 1784 the Churchmen in many coun- 
ties, with a few others, petitioned the General Assembly for a law re- 
quiring all persons to contribute to the support of religion in some 
form or other; and a bill was introduced entitled "An Act for estab- 
lishing a provision for teachers of the Christian religion," and known 
as the General Assessment Bill. It provided that each taxpayer should 
declare, when giving in his list of tithables, to what religious society 
his assessment should be appropriated; but its payment was obligatory. 
The bill was opposed by three parties in the State, holding very diverse 
views. There was an element, influential, if not large or open, who 
were Indifferent, If not inimical, to the existence of any Church or re- 
ligion at all. Secondly, there were the Dissenters generally, but chiefly 


the Baptists, whose Church methods required little for their mainte- 
nance, but who were quick to see the advantage the measure would 
afford to the Church of larger requirements upon whx>se destruction 
they were avowedly bent. And lastly, but in effectiveness chiefly, there 
were a small number under the leadership of James Madison, who saw 
that the whole thing was wrong in principle and contrary to the doc- 
trine of ];>erfect liberty in matters of religion. It was advocated by 
some Presbyterians at least and by Episcopalians generally, under the 
skillful leadership in the Assembly of Patrick Henry, aided by such 
men as Edmund Randolph, Richard Henry Lee, John Page and Edmund 
Pendleton; while George Washington was an avowed believer in the 
principle, to quote his own words, of "making people pay for the sup- 
port of that which they profess." It is strange to us to-day that such 
great statesmen and devoted Churchmen should have contended so vig- 
orously for such a measure. But the traditions and custom of many 
centuries are hard to overcome. The maintenance of religion without 
the sanction and support of the government in some form was to them 
an untried experiment, and one of more than doubtful promise. They 
were opportunists because of their fears for religion and the Church. 

When Madison saw that the bill would certainly pass if brought to a 
vote, he succeeded in having it laid over until the next session. In the 
meantime, at the solicitation of Mason and Nicholson, he prepared his 
famous ''Memorial and Remonstrance," which was widely circulated. 
It received so many signatures, and was probably itself so effective as 
an argument, that at the next session the bill was defeated with little 
difficulty. This victory paved the way for the passage, one year later, 
of Jeffersoa's Statute of Religious Freedom, which had been reported 
in 1779 by a committee composed originally of Jefferson, Wythe, Mason, 
Pendleton and Thomas Ludwell Lee, but which had hung fire in the 
Assembly for seven years. 

The real act by which the Church was disestablished, however, was 
that for "Incorporating the Protestant E}piscopal Church," passed at 
the session of October, 1784, upon the petition of the Episcopal clergy. 
It made the minister and vestry of each parish a body corporate to 
hold its property, repealed all former acts relating to vestries or minis- 
ters and their duties, or to the doctrines and worship of the Church, 
and provided that the Church, in Convention, should regulate all its 
religious concerns. The act, as we shall see, was repealed two years 
later, but in the meantime the Diocese of Virginia was organized under 


its provisions on the ISth of May, 1785. In that first Ck)nyention sixty- 
nine parishes were represented by thirty-six clerical and seventy-one 
lay delegates. It was by no means a small or insignificant body, and 
as one reads the names of the laymen who chiefiy composed its mem- 
bership, he sees that it represented, to a large degree, the foremost peo- 
ple of the State in substance, position and character. They were 
trained legislators, and every page of their proceedings shows their 
skill in this regard and the patient and thorough consideration they 
gave to the matters before them. Not one of these delegates had ever 
sat in a Church Legislative Convention before, except Dr. Griffith. 
Their ecclesiastical training had been gained as vestrymen solely. They 
met to organize a Church under conditions never before existing. They 
had no precedent to guide them, no mo<iel to which to conform. Their 
work under such circumstances was truly remarkable. In their re- 
sponse to the overtures from the North in regard to forming a Greneral 
Convention, and in the body of Canons which they enacted under the 
title of "Rules for the Order, Government and Discipline of the Prot- 
estant Episcopal Church in Virginia," so admirably adapted to the 
peculiar conditions in which they stood, they manifested that genius 
for Constitution-making which seemed to be inherent in the Virginian, 
of that day. In these respects they knew clearly what they wanted, 
and spoke with plainness and confidence. But in another direction 
their work seems to us to leave much to be desired. In view of the 
vitul needs of the Church, not as an organization but as a living work- 
ing body, they lacked comprehension. Initiative and the foresight of 
faith. In the face of the actual situation confronting them in each 
parish, of the problems and demands of the hour calling for practical 
solution and aggressive eftort, they seemed almost powerless, and can 
only recommend to the several vestries to take the most effectual meas- 
ures for the support of their ministers, and issue an address to the 
members of the Church, mildly reviewing the advantages of religion, 
explaining the present situation, and exhorting them in this crisis "to 
co-operate fervently in the cause of our Church." "Of what is the 
Church now possessed?" they cry in plaintive accents, and answer, 
"Nothing but the glebes and your affections." This was the sum-total 
of her estate, real and personal. One can hardly fail to see the longing 
backward glance at the fleshpots of Egypt made while taking the in- 
ventory. The glebes seemed to them much the more tangible and de- 
pendable asset of the two. It was of the sort they had been accustomed 


to look to and to estimate. Tkey did not realize yet by what an un- 
certain tenure even that was held, as their Baptist friends would show 
them after awhile, or what a source of weakness these same glebes 
would prove, in exciting the opposition of their enemies and diverting 
their own energies for their defence. Still less did they understand 
the mine of wealth and spiritual power that was latent in that other 
item of her possessions, the affections of the people for the -Church 
From that source the Church in the Virginias draws now an income of 
half a million dollars annually. At that day these affections had never 
been taught how to express themselves; nor would they until, by sore 
travail, the Church should learn not to lean upon the arm of flesh, and 
discover the true source of her strength and wherein was the hiding 
of her power. 

In two years the Act of Incorporation was repealed, the other de- 
nominations continuing to protest against it and refusing the offer of 
the Legislature to have a similar act passed in favor of their own 
Churches. The real injury done the Church by this repeal was small. 
But as a sign of her loss of prestige, and of the continued persecution 
to which she would be subject, it added much to her depression and 
discouragement. Yet she still failed to see the lessons of Providence, 
and to devote herself to her development from within rather than to 
saving the sad remnants of her former estate. After five years, and 
after one failure due to her own disgraceful lethargy, she had obtained 
a Bishop and was now fully organized. A few new clergymen were 
being ordained or were coming in from elsewhere, though not enough 
to take the places of those who died, much less to fill what should have 
been the demand. The defection of the Methodists made large in- 
roads in the ranks of her adherents. The pestilential spread of infi- 
delity still further sapped her strength. The clergy of the old school 
seemed impotent to cope with dissent or skepticism, or to adapt them- 
selves to a new order of things. One by one the parishes gave up the 
hopeless struggle and passed into the inanition of seeming death. The 
Conventions grew smaller and smaller. The one hundred and seven 
members in 1785 became but thirty-seven in 1799, in which year, by the 
way, the General Assembly passed an act repealing specifically and by 
nasne all previous acts in any" way touching upon "the late protestant 
episcopal church." The reason given was that they tended toward the 
re-establishment of a national Church. The real animus is doubtless 
seen In the confiscation of the glebes which followed three years later. 


For many years the Convention had been trying to defend her right to 
this property, so solemnly confirmed to the Church by legislative ac- 
tion. Not only were the glebes now seized, but the right was asserted 
to confiscate the Church buildings also; but this they forbore doing so 
long as they remained in possession of tneir present owners. Doubtless 
^the general expectation was that in a short time the few churches still 
in use would be abandoned and fall into irrevocable decay, and so the 
last vestige of the despised and discredited Church would pass away in 
the land. 

This expectation seemed in every way likely to be realized. The 
very hand, of Providence was interposed to prevent the Convention 
from successfully defending her claims or continuing the hopeless 
struggle. The supreme Judiciary to which she appealed stood, after 
the death of Judge Pendleton, hopelessly deadlocked, and to this day 
her cause remains without formal decision by the Court of Appeals. 
Doubtless it was most fortunate that it was so. 

Several Conventions were held between 1799 and 1812. Others, per- 
haps, failed for lack of a quorum. We have the journal of but one. For 
several years none was held, though the number required to form a 
quorum had been gradually reduced from forty to fifteen, and was later 
brought down to twelve. The Bishop and most of the clergy had given 
up in despair. Death was annually reducing their ranks, and hope- 
lessness, if nothing worse, paralyzed the efficiency of those that re- 
mained. For twenty years they had tried to uphold the old Church 
as they had known and understood her, the formal, automatic^ Church 
of the old Colonial parish, and it was in vain. 

And now it was time for the Lord to work. The Lord always has a 
remnant that remains according to the election of grace, and through 
these He has performed the wonderful things in the Church's history. 
The remnant of the old Church remained in Virginia in numberless 
homes, where the Prayer Book was still read and pondered, its cate- 
chism taught, its precepts followed and its services longed for. An 
extract from an autobiographical sketch, which has come into my hands, 
written by an aged saint lately gone to her rest, will illustrate this. 
She is telling of her grandmother, who lived in the days of which we 
are speaking, and says: "She was devotedly pious and a great reader. 
The Prayer Book was her daily companion, and she paid much atten- 
tion to the festivals and faithfully observed the fasts. She was my 
godmother. I shall never forget an Easter night, when she took the 


Bible and read with me the story of the passion and resurrection from 
the beginning. As she pointed out the consequences of sin, and the ne- 
cessity of Christ's death for our salvation, our tears mingled together, 
and for the first time the reality of it was impressed upon my mind. I 
do not know how old I was, but the scene has never faded from my 

Hundreds of similar records could be gathered from the annals of our 
old families. The Church still lived in the homes, in the affections, in 
the traditions, in the very blood of her children. About one year before 
the death of Bishop Madison, when the Church was at the lowest ebb of 
her fortunes, he ordained to the ministry a son of one of these homes, 
and in the Convention which was called after the Bishop's death in 1812, 
among the fourteen clerical and the same number of lay delegates that 
assembled, the Rev. William Meade took his seat for the first time. 
The next day the Rev. William H. Wilmer, lately come to Alexandria 
from Maryland, sat by his side, and the human instruments who were 
to move for the revival of the Church were prepared. 

Bishop Meade was one of the great Virginians. In the work that he 
accomplished and its abiding results, in his capacity for leadership, in 
genius, wisdom and character, he stood, if not in the very first rank, 
then among the foremost in the second. Perhaps he was lacking in & 
certain breadth of mind, for his convictions welre very deep. Doubt- 
less he was cast in a somewhat stern Cromwellian mould; his work de- 
manded that. But he accomplished great things. Men trusted him, 
and he led them aright to high and righteous ends. He was a re- 
former, an upbuilder, a restorer of paths to dwell in. He had all the 
qualities of a great commander, and in a lesser degree those of a states- 
man, and they were consecrated without reserve to a single definite 
end in the hand of God. Bishop Moore was the E^ra, but Bishop 
Meade was the Nehemiah of the Restoration, who built the walls and 
planted the towers of our Jerusalem on sure foundations. 

I need not remind you how conspicuously the Divine Providence 
wrought in bringing Bishop Moore to Virginia as her second Bishop. 
With that event the revival of the Church began. Dr. Hodges, misinter- 
preting a statement of Bishop Meade's, says there were but five clergy- 
men then at work in Virginia; but at no time were there less than thir- 
teen ministers in charge of parishes in the Diocese, though some of them 
were now old men, and there were doubtless but five young ministers 
qualified for the task before them. Very slowly at first the number 


increased, and with it the number of parishes which began to take on 
new life. But under a Bishop who had had no part in her late woes, 
and who would not know an old glebe if he saw one, the Church turned 
her back upon a painful past and her face to the sunrise. 

Time would not admit, nor does need require, that we should follow 
the onward course of the Diocese under the new order. The Church 
had learned her lesson — "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, 
saith the Lord of Hosta" And He clothed her with change of rai- 
ment, and set a fair mitre upon her head, and caused her iniquity to 
pass from her. And He set her feet in a large room. 

"In every parish which I have visited," said Bishop Moore in his 
first Convention address, "I have discovered the most animated wish 
in the people to repair the waste places in our Zion, and to restore 
the Church of their fathers to its primitive purity and excellence. I 
have found their minds alive to the truths of religion, and have dis- 
covered an attachment to our excellent liturgy exceeding my utmost 
expectations. I have witnessed a sensibility to divine things bordering 
on the spirit of gospel times. I have seen congrregations, upon the 
mention of that glory which once irradiated with its beams the Church 
of Virginia, burst into tears, and by their holy emotions perfectly elec- 
trify my mind." 

The good Bishop's experiences at that time were but limited Indeed, 
and his observations had been made under the most favorable conditions. 
But so long as he could speak thus the Church was not dead, nor had 
the affections of her people failed. To restore the Church to far more 
than her pristine glory and prosperity, to meet her spiritual needs, 
and to equip her for future ministrations of righteousness, her nurs- 
ing fathers of that day and their followers laid stress upon four points, 
whicii I shall do little more than enumerate. 

First: They depended upon the power of the gospel of Christ cru- 
cified, preached with what, alas! we now call old-fashioned evangelical 
simplicity and fervor. They were not concerned about propping up 
the cross, but were Intent on holding it up before the heart and con- 
science. Their theology had a strong tinge of Calvinism, no doubt, 
but it was remarkably free from any weaker dilutions. This was their 
remedy for the Church's ailments, their instrument for her upbuilding, 
and their protest at first against the latitudlnarianism of a former 
age, and afterwards against the sacerdotalism of the tractarian move- 
ment. We of to-day may well consider whether any better remedy. 



or more effective instrument, or more emphatic protest, has yet been 

Secondly: They gave themselves to restoring the grace of Disci- 
pline in the Church, a revival which God grant may never be as greatly 
needed again! It was not without significance that the Canon, "Of the 
Trial of a Clergyman," for so many years stood first in the code of 
Virginia Canons. It had to be revised, sharpened up and fortified at 
least twelve times after 1785, when the nucleus of it was first enacted. 
Bishop Meade and a few others fought doggedly for many years for 
the constitutional amendment requiring delegates to Convention to 
be communicants, and only carried the point in 1835. The old Canon 
XIX was another monument of their not ill-directed zeal for purity 
of life in the Church, and was needful for those times. Strong meas- 
ures were required to restore the confidence of the people in the stan- 
dards of personal piety upheld by a Church which had been so long 
discreditefd by her sons and vilified by her enemies. 

Thirdly: With long patience and by many experiments they 
taught the duty, and gave opportunity for the exercise, of liberality 
and devotion in the support of the Church and its extension by mis- 
sionary effort. The leaders themselves had everything to learn of a 
practical sort in this direction, and not a few expedients were adopted 
and tentative efforts made before our numerous Diocesan institutions 
and funds were placed on their present foundations, and especially 
before the Diocesan Missionary Society was evolved, and the people 
taught to love it and to be partakers in its work as a personal obliga- 
tion and privilege, as they do to-day. It was no small part of the good 
foundation laid by those fathers of the Virginia Church that, by slow 
degrees and prawerful effort, they taught her people to give of their 
substance to the Lord, not only in the support of their own parishes, 
but in furthering the holy enterprise of missions. 

And lastly: Out of what was felt to be the greatest need of the 
revived Church grew her crowning glory and her richest gift to the 
cause of religion. Of the ministers under whom the restoration of 
the Church began, but a few comparatively, certainly not as many as 
half, were native Virginians. For many years her ministry was re- 
cruited from beyond the borders of the State, and indeed throughout 
her history a surprisingly large proportion of her most distinguished 
and useful rlergymen were but adopted sons of the old Commonwealth. 
The fact has been overlooked because they uniformly became such 


intense Virginians in loyalty and sentiment as to be proudly reckoned 
among the very elect. But from the beginning the need of a ministry 
'^native and to the manner born/' and well trained and equipped for 
their work, was felt to be imperative. The standard of ministerial 
fitness was placed very high by our early bishops, and it has never been 
lowered. They purposed that the future of the Church should be 
committed to faithful men trained according to those standards, ground- 
ed enad settled in the faith of the simple, positive and unadulterated 
gospel in which they believed and of which they were not ashamed. 
From this purpose, under singular displays of divine blessing, grew 
the TheoJogical Seminary in Virginia, from which has gone forth 
streams to make glad the City of God in all lands. 

God help us to be worthy successors of such men — to learn the les- 
sons and to keep the charge which the history of the Virginia Church 
lays upon all her sons! 



TfJ7E3NRICO Parish was formed in A. D. 1611, only four years after 

rn the settlement of Jamestown. Sir Thomas Dale in that year 
c^ cA founded Henricopolis, on the Peninsula, in James River, now 
insulated by Dutch Gap canal. Here he built a church before 
he laid the foundation of his own residence. Not long after a more 
handsome brick church was built. It stood near the line of the present 
Dutch Gap canal. The parish at first included what are now the 
counties of Chesterfield and Powhatan, on the south of James River, 
and Goochland and Henrico, on the north of the river. 

Rev. Alexander Whittaker, called "the Apostle of Virginia,'* was the 
first rector of Henrico Parish. He was the son of Dr. William ^iThit- 
taker, master of St. John's College, Cambridge. Alexander Whittaker 
was a graduate of Cambridge. For some years he served a church 
in the north of England, "beloved and well supported by his people." 
"He had a handsome heritage from his parents." He came to Virginia 
under the influence of the highest missionary spirit. His friends op- 
posed his coming. A contemporary says of him: "He did voluntarily 
leave liis warme nest; and to the wonder of his kindred and amaze- 
ment of them that knew him, undertook this hard, but, in my judg- 
ment, heroicall resolution to go to Virginia, and helpe to beare the 
name of God unto the Gentiles." 

He is spoken of as the "purest of men," "truly pious," and "most 
zealous in missionary work, especially among the Indians, to which 
he had devoted himself." He and Dale were co-workers for the con- 
version of Pocahontas. He baptized her under the name of Rebecca. 
It is highly probable that he married her to John Rolfe. Rolfe owned 
a plantation at Henricopolis, and here they lived till she went to 
England. Whittaker resisted the temptation to return to England 
in 1616 with his devoted friend. Dale. But he wrote, exhorting others 
to come over and help, and saying: "Though my promise of three 
yeeres* service to my countrey be expired, will abide in my vocation 
here untill I be lawfully called hence." 

He was accidentally drowned in James River in the spring of 1617. 


The Glebe of the parish, consisting of 100 acres, on which Dale built 
a r«ctory, was situated on the south side of the river. Whittaker also 
served a church at Bermuda Hundred, near City Point Some years 
later the Glebe was on the north side of the river, near Varina. Mr. 
William Wickham assisted Mr. Whittaker, and it would seem he was 
only in deacon's orders, for, after Whittaker's death, there was no 
one to administer the sacraments. 

Rev. Thomas Bargrave became rector in 1619. It was during his 
administration that the parish of Henrico was chosen as the site of a 
great university; 15,000 acres of land, between Henrlcopolis and 
where Richmond now stands, was set apart as college lands by the 
Virginia Company. King James, through the Archbishop of Canter- 
bury, appealed for and obtained large subscriptions in Ehigland. Rev. 
Mr. Bargrave, the rector, donated his library. The Rev. Mr. Copland 
was appointed president, but he was still in England when the great 
Indian massacre of 1622 swept away Henrlcopolis and many other 

For the next hundred years the annals of Henrico Parish are frag- 

The Rev. James Blair was rector from 1685 to 1694. In 1689 he 
was appointed commissary of the Bishop of London. He resigned 
the parish to become founder and first president of William and Mary 

Rev. George Robinson is said to have been rector in 1695. In 1724 
the Bishop of London called upon the clergy of the colony for a 
report. "The name of the incumbent of Henrico Parish has been 
torn from the manuscript of his report," but there is evidence that 
he was Rev. Jacob Ware. He mentions that he had been in the parish 
fourteen years. Its bounds were 18 by 25 miles. It contained two 
churches and one chapel. There were 400 families. 

The oldest extant record book of the vestry of the parish begins on 
October 28th, 1730. This book was found in 1867 among the old 
records of Henrico county, and was given to the vestry. When this 
book was begun the principal church of the Parish was Curie's church, 
situated a few miles below Richmond, on the north side of the river. 
The Rev. James Keith was rector when this vestry book begins, and 
continued his services till 1733. 

In 1727 Goochland and Powhatan were cut off from Henrico; and 
Dale Parish, in Chesterfield, was established in 1735. In 1735 the 


vestry arranged with Rev. David Mossom to preach at the church 
every fifth Sunday, for which service he was to be allowed 400 pounds 
of tobacco. 

Mr. Mossom was rector of St. Peter's, New Kent, for 40 years. He 
married General Washington; and he was the first native American 
to be ordained a Presbyter in the Church of England. In 1736 Rev. 
William Stith became rector of the parish. He was a native Vir- 
ginian, educated at William and Mary College and in England. While 
rector of this parish, he wrote his history of Virginia. It was during 
his ministry that St. John's church was built. 

There was a difference of opinion as to where the new church should 
be located. It was finally decided that it be built "on Indian Town, 
at Richmond." The two lots given by Colonel William Byrd, "the 
father of Richmond," constitute half of the present St. John's burying- 

St. John's church was built in 1741. The original building was 60 
feet long and 25 feet wide, situated due east and west In 1772 an ad; 
dition was made on the south side, of 40 feet in length and 40 feet 
in width. The Rev. Miles Selden was rector when the Virginia Con- 
vention met in the church, thus enlarged, on March 20th, 1775. He waa 
chaplain of the convention. Edmund Pendleton was the president. 

(It will be recalled that "the first General Assembly, the earliest 
legislative body in America, sat in the church at Jamestown, on July 
30th, 1619.") 

Here, in a short speech, Patrick Henry "fiashed the electric spark" 
which fired the colony to rebel against the king. 

"In 1781, when Richmond had fallen into the hands of Arnold, 
this sacred edifice was made a barracks for his British soldiery." 

The first record in the second vestry-book is of an election of twelve 
vestrymen, "holden on March 28th, 1785, at the court-house in the city 
of Richmond." Their names were: Edmund Randolph, Jaquelin Ambler, 
Bowler Cocke, Miles Selden, Jr., William Foushee, Hobson Owen, John 
Ellis, Turner Southall, Nathaniel Wilkinson, Daniel L. Hylton, Thomas 
Prosser, William Burton. 

"On the 10th of May, 1785, the Rev. John Buchanan was unani- 
mously chosen by ballot incumbent for the parish. He was to preach 
every other Sunday at 'Richmond church,' and on the intervening 
Sunday at Curie's and Deep Run, alternately." 
On the 15th of June, 1785, the first convention of the reorganized 


Diocese of Virginia was held in Richmond. The business sessions were 
probably held in the Capitol, but the convention attended divine ser- 
vice in "the church in this city" by resolution of the convention. "It 
was a correspondence between the Rev. David Griffith and Rev. John 
Buchanan, the rector of this parish, that led to the resuscitation of 
the Caiurch in Virginia." 

Mr. Buchanan was prominent in this first convention of the Diocese. 
He was elected Treasurer of the Diocese, and faithfully served as 
such for nearly thirty years. 


Edmund Randolph was lay delegate of this parish. He was on a 
committee "to prepare an address to the members of the Protestant 
Episcopal Church of Virginia, representing the condition of the Church, 
and exhorting them to unite in its support" 

Mr. Randolph also reported for a committee, declaring the willing- 
ness of the Virginia Convention "to unite in a general ecclesiastical 
convention with the members of the Protestant Episcopal Church." 
. Edmund Randolph was afterwards Governor of Virginia, and Attor- 
ney-General and Secretary of State in Washington's Cabinet 

Mr. Buchanan's rectorship extended from 1785 to 1822. The most 
fraternal relations existed between him and the Presbyterian minister. 
Rev. John D. Blair. For a time there were alternating services with 
the Presbyterians in the church. In 1790 the vestry gave permission 
to any regular minister of any Christian denomination to use the coun- 
try churches of the parish, when not used by Rev. Mr. Buchanan, or 
any other minister of the Protestant Episcopal Church. 

During part of Mr. Buchanan's ministry services were held in the 
Capitol, as being more convenient to most of the congregation; but 
the church was used "on Christmas, Blaster and Whit Sunday, when 
the Holy Communion was administered and confirmations were held." 

This faithful and much beloved pastor died in 1822, mourned by the 
whole community. He was buried beneath the chancel, to the right 
of the communion table. 

Rev. William H. Hart, who had been Dr. Buchanan's assistant for 
seven years, was rector for the next six years. Under his ministry the 
church prospered. Bishop Moore speaks of preaching in the church 
to large congregations, and of "the present prosperous state of the 

Rev. William F. Lee was the next rector. To him we probably owe 
the name "St John's Church." The building had had many names — 


"The New Church," "The Upper Church," "The Richmond Church," "The 
Town Church," "The Church on Richmond Hill," "Henrico Church on 
Richmond Hill," "The Church," "The Old Church," etc. The following 
entry is found in the vestry-book shortly after Mr. Lee became rector: 
"At a meeting of the veetry of Henrico Parish, at the lecture-room of 
St John's Church, Richmond, Saturday evening, April 25th, 1829," etc. 

In the convention journal of that year this church is entered as 
St. John's Church, Richmond, Henrico Parish. 

In 1830 the church was enlarged by an addition to the nave. The 
tower was probably built a few years later. The church passed through 
many vicissitudes during the next f orty-flve years, under the rectorsMp 
of the Revs. Edward W. Peet, 1830; Robert B. Croes, 1833; William H. 
Hart, 1836; J. H. Morrison, 1843; Henry S. Kepler, 1848; J. T. Points, 
1859; William C. Butler, 1860; William Norwood, 1862; Henry Wal^ 
1868. In 1875 Rev. Alex. W. Weddell became rector. During his min- 
istry the church was repaired and made more comfortable. By his 
untiring energy and zeal, large numbers were added to the com- 
munion, and the church again took rank with the first in the Diocesa 

Rev. L. W. Burton, now Bishop of Lexington^ succeeded Dr. Weddeli 
as rector in 1884. The church continued to prosper, and its member- 
ship was largely increased during his earnest and faithful rectorslflp 
of nine years. During his ministry Weddell chapel and the Chapel oi 
the Good Shepherd were built. 

Dr. Burton was succeeded in 1893 by the present rector. 

The old mother church, including Weddell chapel, has the largest 
communicant list in the Diocese. St. John's is the successor of Curlers 
church, and that church succeeded the church of Whittaker at Hen- 

The bowl of the baptismal font of St John's is a precious relic from 
Curie's church. It was found in 1826 in the cellar of a house some 
miles from the church. It had been used as a mortar for beating 
hominy. Being much mutilated, it was reduced in diameter, but thB 
original shape was preserved. Dr. John Adams presented it to the 

In 1905 a commodious chancel, organ chamber, vestry-room and other 
improvements were built on the south side of the old part of church. 
The church is now cruciform, and points directly to the four points 
of the compass. Standing in the middle of the old graveyard, shaded 
by magnificent trees, surrounded by the busy city, the old church 



stands as a connecting link with the earliest civil and ecclesiastical I 

history of our Commonwealth and nation; and as a witness to what 
the Church of England and the Protestant Episcopal Church have done 
for the upbuilding of this people in liberty, brotherly love and "the 
faith once delivered to the saints." 

The Bishop of Southern Virginia, in an address delivered in St. 
John's church on its 150th anniversary, June 10th, 1891, states this very 4 

remarkable fact: Speaking of Richard Randolph, who superintended 
the building of St. John's church in 1741, and Edmund Randolph, who 
represented the church in the first convention of the Diocese, both 
of them vestrymen, he says: "These men were great grandsons of 
one of the earliest members of your parish. A simple, strong, true 
man he must have been; out of his loins sprang three great men. He 
was the ancestor of Chief Justice Marshall, the greatest Jurist of 
America. He was the ancestor of Thomas Jefferson, the greatest po- 
litical thinker of America. He was the ancestor of Robert E. Lee, 
the greatest soldier of America." 

The ancestor of these three men lived in this parish, on the river. 
Just below Richmond. 

The writer of this sketch gratefully acknowledges his indebtedness to 
Rt Rev. L. W. Burton, D. D., for much of the information contained 




THE forefathers of our English Christianity came to this country 
April, 1607, and landed first upon that point of land at the mouth 
of the Chesapeake Bay, which is now so familiarly known aa 
Cape Henry, to which also they gave the name. After their 
long voyage they revelled in the beauty of the verdure and in the 
vastness of the wooded glory about them, feeling that they had come 
upon a goodly land, while they dreamed of the wealth which should 
come to them from so rich a soil. There they would have continued 
and planted the first colony upon so favorable a spot had not their 
leader been enjoined to seek further inland for a more permanent 
settlement, as the danger from their near neighbor and rival in the 
scheme of American Colonization was imminent anywhere upon the 
coast; a danger which might be escaped by sailing further up the 
great body of water which came from the interior. They therefore 
set sail in their three tiny ships and landed at a small village or 
settlement of the Indians, called in their language Kecoughtan. "The 
town," says one of the authorities, "containeth eighteen houses, pleas- 
antly seated upon three acres of ground, upon a plain half environed 
by a great bay of the great River, the other part with a Baye of the 
other river falling into the great baye, with a little isle fit for a castle 
in the mouth thereof: The town adjoining the maine by a necke of 
land sixty yards." 

Captain John Smith gives a quaint yet interesting description of 
the place: "The houses," says he, "are built like our arbors — of small 
young springs (sprigs) bowed and tiede and so close covered with 
moss or barks of trees, very handsomely, that notwithstanding either 
wind, rain or weather, they are warm as stoves, but very smokey, 
yet at the top of the houses there is a hole made for the smoke to 
go into right over the fire." After this time the town was again 
visited by the whites. He writes for instance of the year 1608: "Six 
or seven days the extreme wind, frosts and snows caused ujs to keep 
Christmas among the salvages where we were never merrier or fedde 


on more plente of good oysters, fish, flesh, wilde fowl and good bread, 
nor never had better fires in England than in the warm smokie houses 
of Kecoughtan." It has "a convenient harbour for fisheries, boats 
or small boats, that so conveniently turneth itself into Bayes and 
Creeks that make that place very pleasant to inhabit Their corn- 
fields being girded thereon as peninsulars. The first, and next the 
mouth, are the Kecoughtans, who beside their women and children, 
have not pass twenty fighting men." Such a goodly place could 
hardly escape the cupidity of the early settlers, and so we find them 
1610 in possession of the mouth of the river, where upon either point 
they built a fort and entered into permanent occupation. 

With regard to the fruitfulness of the place, we find Sir Thomas 
Dale writing from Jamestown in 1612: ''To Kecoughtan we ac- 
counted it fortie miles, where they live well with half that allowance 
the rest have from the stores, because of the extraordinary quantities 
of fish, fowls and deer." Under this view of the place, it is much 
to be regretted that the Colonists did not settle here when they first 
touched the land in 1607, instead of going on to the malarial, marshy, 
sickly spot which they did select. Their early history might have 
been spared the ghastly record of famine, fire, starvation and death, 
which well-nigh brought the settlement at Jamestown to extinction. 
At any rate, a permanent location was made at Kecoughtan in 1610, 
and from that moment dates the history of the Church in Hampton. 

It seems that the Indians, who dwelt upon the east side of the 
South Hampton river or creek, which runs through the present town 
<it is now called Hampton creek) were guilty of some serious depre- 
dations that year, and had killed a prominent member of the Colony, 
Humphrey Blunt by name. This so incensed the Governor that he 
drove the tribe away, built the two forts mentioned at the mouth 
of the river and named them, respectively, Henry and Charles, after 
the sons of his Most Worshipful Majesty, King James I. 

The Colonists evidently occupied the site of the ancient Indian 
Tillage and became heirs of all their possessions, where without doubt 
the first church was built. There is left not a trace of this first 
building in which the forefathers of the hamlet worshipped, except 
a small clump of trees on what was once the glebe land of the 
parish, now part of the estate of the Tabb family, just north of the 
road which leads from Hampton to Old Point Comfort. The building 
was supposedly of wood, as most of the Colonial houses were at first. 


yet it answered the purposes for which it was erected and in which 
the Colonists rejoiced to hold their services for many years. The 
Rev. William Mease was the worthy rector from 1610 to 1620, when 
he was almost immediately succeeded by other like-minded godly men 
in the rectorship. 

We hear very little about either village or church until 1619, 
except that Mr. John Rolfe states that in 1616 it was a place of twenty 
inhabitants, who seemed to be more industrious than those who re- 
mained at Jamestown, and were as a consequence reaping more of the 
fruits of their labors. In the year 1619, when William Tucker and 
William Capps represented it in the House of Burgesses, they were 
commissioned to sue that body for a change of name. Says an old 
chronicler of that event: "The year in the House of Burgesses when 
Jamestown was twelve years old, I guess, some people in pious frame 
of mind, took a spite at Kecoughtan name, and said a name so heathen 
should not be for a people so pious as we, and suggesting some other 
names, they made their grudges to old King James, and so the king 
a new found, for this fine section and all around." We quite indorse 
the sentiment immediately following in this statement and could 
well wish that the pious scruples of our excellent first citizens might 
have been shown in some less objectionable way; "but," says the record, 
with a fine touch of humor, "I will leave it to any man, was not 
musical Kecoughtan, if not pious, as pretty as the name Elizabeth 

This is interesting at least from the circumstance that it may fur- 
nish a clue for the substitution of so many common-place English 
names for the more beautiful designations employed by the savages. 
James, for instance, as a name for the mighty stream which runs 
through the country close at hand, is dear to us all from the asso- 
ciations of these old days, when the English settled upon its banks, 
and the stirring events of later fuller years; but these associations 
would not have been the less dear had the earlier name Powhatan 
been retained, while doubtless the present generation would have 
known more of those doughty warriors whom the English replaced. 
These ancient names will, in all probability, be brought to light in 
the revival of historic interest now arisen concerning this section. 
Will it be altogether too Quixotic for us to hope that some of them 
at least will be restored to their original places and the meaningless 
names now in use banished? The name Kecoughtan does not appear 


regularly in legal documents from this time, but the common people 
used it constantly in their speech and writings. The new name, Elizar 
beth City, was called after the daughter of King James I. 

At that time the whole number of settlements was included in four 
great corporations, of which Elizabeth City was one. This corpora- 
tion was co-extensive with the parish. Among the .early ministers 
was one Jonas Stockton, who enjoyed the distinction of being, says 
President Tyler, of William and Mary College, "the earliest exponent 
of the idea that the only good Indian Is a dead Indian." Stockton 
had warned the settlers of the impending massacre of 1622, and it was 
possibly while sufTering from the panic of the times that he ad- 
vanced the famous idea, for otherwise, from all accounts, he was a 
godly and humane man 

At this time, 1623, there lived within the bounds of the parish the 
first English couple married in , Virginia, John Layden and Anna, 
his wife, with their children, Virginia, Alice and Kathlene. It is also 
to be noted that Virginia Layden was the first English child bom 
in America after Virginia Dare, bom on Roanoke Island, Raleigh's 
Colony, whose history ends with her birth. In 1624 another child 
was born to these parents. Layden is listed as a carpenter, and his 
wife, Anne Buras, as a ladies' maid. 

The corporation of Elizabeth City developed into Elizabeth City 
county in 1634, when, for the convenience of the inhabitants of Vir- 
ginia, the whole country was dii^ided into eight counties. The county 
of Elizabeth City, however, is now much smaller than it was at that 
time, since it has lost large portions of its area to Norfolk, Nansemond 
and Warwick counties, respectively. It is interesting to note when 
Harvey became Governor, on January 18, 1636-7, he read his new com- 
mission in the church at Elizabeth City. 

The town of Hampton, where the present St. John's church is lo- 
cated, was founded by an act of the Legislature in 1680, though that 
act was suspended and re-enacted in 1691 and again in 1705, whence 
the legal existence of Hampton is dated. What became of the old 
church in the meanwhile is problematical, since a writer in 1716. 
while recording that it was a ^lace of some hundred houses, said 
that it was without a church. Services were held at the court-house 
with more or less frequency, first in the old, then in the new. This 
might lead us to believe that the old church of Kecoughtan had dis- 
appeared. That was probably the case at the time. The settlement 


had changed, had been removed to the opposite side of the river, and 
the old building, being disused, as was natural, went to decay. There 
was a church, though, at Pembroke farm, about one mile west of the 
present site of St. John's, where are the tombs of some of the older 
inhabitants; among them "the tombs in black marble of Admiral 
Neville, erected. in 1697; of Thomas Curie, 1700; of Peter Hayman, 
1700, and of the Rev. Andrew Thompson, 1719." This church was 
new in the year 1667, while the old church on the site of ancient 
Kecoughtan was still standing. It was built of wood, the brick foun- 
dation of which was thoroughly identified under the leadership of 
the Rev. John C. McCabe In 1856. 

It may be of interest to state that tae site of this church, together 
with a plot of ground adjoining and surrounding it of about nine acres 
in extent, is now owned by Elizabeth City Parish. This may have 
been part of a glebe, though there are at present no available records 
in evidence of this statement. It is the intention of the present 
vestry to hold this property for a burial ground for the parish, and 
to use it for that purpose when the present St. John's Cemetery has 
no more available plots for interment. The records in the county 
clerk's office show that in 1667 a certain Mr. Nicholas Baker was 
buried in the new church at Kichotan, according to the terms of 
his will, while a Mr. Robert Brough was buried in the old church 
at Kichotan. This not only shows a curious revival or retention of 
the Indian name, long discontinued as an official title, but also that 
there were two churches in the parish at that date. What became of 
the o]d church must, we suppose, be forever a mystery. Bishop 
Meade, it seems, knew nothing of it. While he identifies the new 
church at Pembroke with the present old St. John's church, it is need- 
less to say that he is mistaken, as records now at hand abundantly 
show Whether this was in ruins in the year 1706, when it is said 
of Hampton "that it had no church," we do not know. At any rate, 
it was at a distance too remote for the inhabitants of the then 
thriving borough to attend. So there speedily arose a desire for a 
new church more conveniently located. Unfortunately, there was some 
difference of opinion with reference to the location, and the matter 
being referred to the governor, it was decided by him that the church 
should be built within the precincts of the town of Hampton. It is 
of record that at a "Court held Jan. 17, 1727 — Present James Walker, 
Joshua Curie, James Wallace, Wilson Cary, justices; Mr. Jacob Walker 


and Mr. John Loury were appointed to lay off an acre and a half of 
ground at the upper end of Queen street for the building of a church 
thereon." This land joined the lot of one Proswells. and is the same 
lot upon which the present church building stands. The minister and 
church wardens of the parish, together with the aforesaid court, 
entered into a contract with a Mr. Henry Gary to furnish him with 
wood from the school gn'ounds "at tha rate of sixpence per load to 
burn bricks for the church." The bricks were to be English bricks; 
that is to say, of the shape and character of those made in England. 
Hence we suppose arose the fiction long indulged in that the church 
and other early colonial buildings '^ere built of bricks brought from 
England. Until a few years ago there was a large hole in the church- 
yard, wherein it is said the bricks were made and burned. 

The parish henceforth increased gradually in strength and numbers 
until the war of the Revolution, when the church met with such ir- 
reverent use as befell many of our buildings during that sad time. 
But after a short interval the services were renewed, and the sound 
of the church-going bell was heard in the place, with few intermissions, 
until the war of 1812. The bell just mentioned was purchased for the 
church from funds received from the sale of lands given by Mr. 
Alexander Kennedy, in 1760, the parisii having entered into the con- 
ditions made by Mr. Kennedy that the vestry and church wardens 
should build a suitable belfry after his decease. This belfry was 
struck by lightning during the period of the Revolution and the royal 
coat of arms was hurled to the ground. Happily, only the tower was 
damaged, but we can imagine the patriots shaking themselves with 
glee over what many gathered to be an act of divine approval of 
their cause. But the tower was again struck by lightning in 1844. 
Was that, too, significant of later events? When Hampton was sacked 
and plundered in 1812 by the British under Admiral Cockburn, the 
church was desecrated and turned into a barrack. Great indignity 
was offered to the Inhabitants by the troops, while the most un- 
speakable crimes were wrought in the streets. Says Dr. McCabe: 
"The Church of God was not spared during the saturnalia of lust and 
violence. His temple was profaned and desecrated. It became a 
refuge for the owls and the bats, while cattle roamed in the yard, 
which was used as a slaughter ground for the butcher and the arena 
for pugilistic contests. Thereafter a strange lethargy seems to have 
settled upon the people. The church was gradually permitted to go 


to decay, until, in 1824, there was nothing left of it but the bare 
walls and a leaking roof. A most pathetic recital of the ruinous con- 
dition of the building is given in a letter to Bishop Meade (see 
Old Churches, etc.. Vol. 1, p. 226) by one who saw this Zion in/the 
time of her humiliation. There were few loyal souls remainii^who 
longed and prayed for the restoration of the church which they were 
to see again rise and become a blessing to the community. In 1824 
Bishop Moore gave them the inspiration of his presence, and held a 
service in the ruins, whereupon the work of restoration immediately 
be|;an, and was prosecuted vigorously to its completion. The happy 
result occurred in 1827, when by action of the vestry the church 
was named St. John's. Bishop Moore consecrated the building in 

Under a succession of worthy ministers the church prospered until 
1861, when it again fell on evil days. The Civil War had begun, when, 
on the night of August the 7th and 8th, 1861, upon the approach 
of the Federal forces, the inhabitants, under the command of General 
Magnider, set flre to their own homes, in attestation of their loyalty 
to the State and their confidence in the cause of the Confedei;acy, 
and to prevent it falling into the hands of their enemies. In the 
general conflagration the church was burned — only the walls were left 
standing — ^when again it became a refuge for the owls and tne bats. 
Squatters, who quickly seized upoi^ the land, built their shacks iagainst 
the walls and used the interior spaces to shelter their cattle; Only 
a few houses in the town escaped the flre, and of these only one 
stands to-day, but so altered as to be unrecognizable. Services were, 
however, held In the parish at Old Point, when the town itself was 
rebuilt, in the court-house and other such other places as were avail- 
able. Then the lower story of Patrick Henry Hall, situated on the 
west side of the court-house, was secured and fitted up as a chapel. 
As soon as the people were able, after the rebuilding of their own 
homes, in their poverty, yet in their faith, they set aoout the restorsr 
tion of the fire-scarred church. The walls were intact, though the 
roof and tower were gone. In 1869, under the ministration of the Rev. 
Mr. McCarthy, a retired chaplain of the United States Army, who 
freely and generously gave his services for two years, the church 
was finally completed, and again the walls that had passed through 
so many vicissitudes rang with the songs of Zion. The church has 
since greatly prospered in membership and good deeds, until now it 


its one of the stronger parishes in the Diocese, itself a mother of 
churches and fruitful of good works. 

During the rectorship of the Rev. John J. Gravatt, who came to the 
parish fresh from the Seminary in 1876, work was started in the 
neighboring town of Newport News, which has developed into the 
noble and vigorous church of St. Paul's, Warwick Parish, and of which 
the Rev. A. O. Sykes, D. D., is the present rector. Under Mr. Gravatt, 
also, vigorous work was prosecuted in Phoebus, although the present 
beautiful chapel was completed under the rectorship of his imme- 
diate successor. The parish greatly prospered under Mr. Gravatt's 
leadership; the church was renovated, while a splendid stained glass 
window was erected to the memory of Pocahontas, who worshipped, 
no doubt, ta the old church at Kecoughtan, while the commodious 
parish house adjoining the church lot was conceived and completed 
and the rectory was built. Mr. Gravatt resigned in 1893 to becom? 
rector of Holy Trinity church, Richmond, Va., and was immediately 
succeeded by the Rev. C. Braxton Bryan, D. D., who took up the 
work vigorously and intelligently, and continued it with great success 
until 1905, when he resigned to become rector of Grace church, Peters- 
burg. Mr. Bryan being an archaeologist of tried capacity and train- 
ing, became at once interested in the history of so ancient a parish. 
Among other important ventures in this direction, he caused to be 
erected a window in the church to the memory of the Colonial clergy, 
at a place near where the pulpit formerly stood. It was during his 
incumbency that the present square tower was built at the southeast 
corner of the chancel, without injury to the original walls; an organ 
chamber added, in which was placed a new organ and a vested choii 
installed. Special work among the negroes of the town was begun 
by Mr. Gravatt in 1889 and renewed by Dr. Bryan in 1904, and has 
continued with such success ever since that a chapel will soon be 
commenced for those people's use. 

In 1905, with the help of his capable assistant, the Rev. George F. 
Rogers, Church work was begun In East Newport News, and now, 
as the result of that endeavor, a building called Grace church is rapidly 
approaching completion. The Rev. Henry J. Geiger is now the worthy 
assistant of the parish in special charge of this work and the chape? 
in Phoebus. In the year 1877 a very successful and unique work was 
started among the Indians at the Hampton Normal School by the 
Rev. J. J. Gravatt, and faithfully carried on by the successive rectors 


of the parish; thus reviving in these late days the original design 
of the Colonists of instructing the natives in the principles of the 
doctrine of Christ. 

Thus has the parish prospered and grown under the blessing of 
Providence. It has passed through three wars; fire, water and 
rapine have fed upon it, but it remains to-day in the renewal of its 
worth a strong and developing force for God and righteousness. There 
is in keeping of this parish and in constant use a Communion service 
which was made in London in 1618; its history and description by 
the Rev. Dr. Bryan is from an account furnished by him to the 
Churchman, as follows, namely: 


"They have been in longer use than any other English Church 
vessels in America. They were given by Mrs. Mary Robinson, of 
London, to a church endowed by her in Smith's Hundred in Virginia, 
which lay in the part between the Chickahominy and the James, and 
was later called South Hampton Hundred. This church was endowed 
especially with the hope of converting the Indians, but the settlement 
was almost completely destroyed by them in the great massacre of 
1622, when these vessels were carried by Governor Yeardley to James- 
town, and afterwards given to the parish of Elizabeth City. Here 
they have survived many changes and chances, and as if in answer 
to the prayer of her who gave them, ttey are now constantly used In 
the administration of the Holy Communion to the many young Indian 
communicants who attend St John's from the Hampton Normal 

We subjoin a list of Colonial rectors and their successors from 1610 
to tlie present time: 

William Mease, 1630-1620; George Keith, 1617-1625; Mr. Cisse; 
Francis Bolton, 1621-1623; Mr. Fenton, 1624; Jonas Stockton, 1627; 
William Wilkenson, 1644; Philip Mallory, 1661; Justinian Aylmer, 
1665-1667; Jeremiah Taylor, 1667; William Harris, 1675; John Page, 
1677-1687; Cope D'Oyle, 1687-1691; James Wallace, 1691-1712; Andrew 
Thompson, 1712-1719; James Falconer, 1720-1724; Thomas Peader, 
1727; William Fyfe, 1731-1755; Thomas Warrington, 1756-1770; Wil- 
Ham Hubbard, temporary supply, 1770; William Selden, 1771-17835 
William Nixon, 1783; William Bland, 1786; Henry Skyrin, 1795; John 
Jones Spooner, 1796-1799; Benjamin Brown, 1806; Robert Seymour 


Symms, 1806; George Holson, 1810; Mark L. Cheevers, 1827-1843; 
John P. Bausman, 1843-1845; William K. Goode, 1845-1848; John C. 

McCabe, 1850-1856; Mr. Harlow, ; William F. M. Jacobs, 1858- 

1861; John McCarthy, 1869-1871; John J. Norwood, 1871-1872; William 
Jarrett, 1873-1875; J. W. Keeble, 1875-1876; John J. Gravatt, 1876 
1893; C. B. Bryan, 1893-1905; Reverdy Estill, July, 1905. 

Of the Colonial clergy it is but fair to state that only one of the 
whole number was reported for evil behavior, and I take it that this 
is a fair sample of the lives of all such clergy in the Colonial days. 
They have been, as a class, held up by ^lartial historians for all sorts 
of crimes and misdemeanors, but such charges will not stand for a 
moment before the light of Aiodern historical criticism. The Colonial 
clergy are shown to be, not monsters of vice, or seekers after worldly 
pleasure; they were with rare exceptions gentlemen, scholars, leaders 
of the people in righteousness, and living clean, upright lives them- 
selves. The slander has gone too long unrebuked; we have let our 
enemies write our histories, and we have calmly submitted to their 
misleading statements. The lives of our brethren of the past cry 
out for vindication. Such lists as this in part furnish that vindica- 

It is of interest to note that the oldest free school in the country 
still exists in this parish, without a break in its history since the 
year 1634. It is called the Symms-EIaton Free School, in memory 
of Benjamin Symms, who left an estate for its founding in 1634, and 
Thomas Eaton, who added to its endowment in 1634; it Is now a 
part of the public school system of the country, while a handsome 
building bears the name of the original donors. It has been pointed 
out that the Communion service is the oldest in this country; it 
must also be said that the parish of Elizabeth City is the most ancient 
in continuous existence, while Hampton itself is the oldest English set- 
tlement in America, and has earned because of its struggles and vicis- 
situdes the soubriquet "The Gamecock Town." 

The following list of known vestrymen who served the parish from 
1751 to 1855 will doubtless be of interest to a large number of their de- 
scendants. The records of those who served before have been long 
since irrevocably lost: 

From 1751 to 1771 — Colonial Period. — Merritt Sweeny, Robert Armis- 
tead, John Allen, Anthony Tucker, Baldwin Shepherd, Thomas Latimer, 
John Westwood Armistead, John Moore, Jacob Walker, William Par- 


sons, William Wager, John Tabb, Jr., James Wallace, William Latimer, 
Charles Ward, Booth Armistead, George Wray, Henry King, Wilson 
Miles Cary, William Mallory, Joseph Seldon, Miles King, Gary Seldon. 

From May, 1771 to 1784 — ^Revolutionary Period. — Robert Armistead, 
William Wager, Henry King, Joseph Seldon, James Wallace, Miles 
King, John Tabb, Gary Selden, William Armistead, William Latimer, 
William Mallory, Wilson Miles Gary, Worlich Westwooil, Francis Mal- 
lory, George Latimer, W. W. Gurle, John Wray, William Armistead 
Bagley, Robert Bright. 

From November 27, 1806, to 1810. — Gharles Jennings, Robert Armis- 
tead, John Gooper, James Latimer, Thomas Watts, Samuel Watts, Miles 
Gary, Thomas Jones, Jr., John Shepard, Thomas B. Armistead, William 
Lowry, Benjamin Phillips, William Armistead, Thomas Latimer, Jr., 
Robert Lively, John Qarey. 

From August 19, 1826, to 1855. — ^Robert Lively, Samuel Watts, 
Thomas Latimer, Dr. William Hope, John W. Jones, William Jennings, 
Giles A. Gary, Thomas Hope,, John Herbert, Dr. Richard G. Banks, John 
F. Wray, Richard B. Servant. 




THE Exposition which is to commemorate the three hundredth 
anniversary of the first settlement of the English at Jamestown 
is located at Seweirs Point, in Norfolk county, Va. This was 
the site of one of the earliest of our Colonial churches, the par- 
ish church of Elizabeth River parish. The beginnings of the nation cor- 
respond with the beginnings of the Church in America, and the place 
where the opening scenes in the life of the nation will be commemo- 
rated will be full of associations connected with the first planting of the 

The settlement in what is now Norfolk county must have been very 
soon after the permanent establishment of the Colony at Jamestown. 
The records of Norfolk county show that in 1637 there were two well- 
organized churches, one in the lower part of the county, on Lynnhaven 
Bay, and the other at "McSewell's Point." This served as the parish 
church until late in the seventeenth century. Before 1638, however, 
the settlement at Elizabeth River, the site of the present town of Nor- 
folk, had so largely increased that the inhabitants found it difficult 
to attend the parish church, a distance of eight miles. As seen by 
the following order this inconvenience was sought to be remedied by 
the erection of a chapel of ease at Elizabeth River: 

(BYom Record of Norfolk County.) 

"At a Court holden in the Lower County of New Norfolke 21 of 
November 1638. 

"Capt. Adam Thorowgood, Esq., Capt. John Sibsey, Mr. Willie Julian, 
Mr. Edward Windha, Mr. Francis Mason, Mr. Henry Seawell. 

"Whereas there hath beene an order of Court granted by the Gov- 
ernor and Counsell for the Building and erecting of a Church in the 
upper ♦ ♦ ♦ of this County with a reference to the Commander 
and Commissioners of sd County for appointing of a place fitting and 
convenient for the situation and building thereof, the sd order being 
in part not accomplish. But standing now in elsortion to be voyde 


and the work to fall into mine. We now the sd Commissioners tak- 
ing it into consideration doe appoint Captain John Sibsey and Henry 
Seawell to procure workmen for the finishing of the same and what 
they shall agree for with the sd workmen to be levied by the appoint- 
ment of us the Commissioners." 

The building of this chapel of ease did not progress rapidly. The 
Rev. John Wilson was rector of the parish in 1637. Several orders 
of the court mention him as such, one requiring him to pay certain 
debts he had contracted, and another directing that certain provision 
be made for the payment of tithes due him. It is evident from this 
that the parson was as much sinned against as he was a sinner in 
respect to indebtedness. John Wilson died before the 25th of May, 
1640. On July 6, 1640, there is an order of court directing his debts 
to be paid out of the uncollected tithes due his estate. 

This is all that we know of him. There is nothing to indicate that 
he was not faltnful in his ministry in those difficult days of early 
civilization, though he seems to have been an inexperienced financier. 
In Judging such men from the scanty records which are left, we 
ought to be careful to weigh our judgments by the standards of their 
day and generation, and to remember that of them it may be especially 

"The evil men do lives after them. 
The good is oft interred with their bones." 

After the death of John Wilson steps were taken to secure another 
minister, and also to finish the long-needed "Chappell of Ease," as 
seen in the following order. It will be observed with what seeming 
recklessness, as in all contemporary records, capitals were used, God 
being spelt with a little g, and inhabitants with a big I: 

"At a Courte houlden att Wm. Shipps the 25th day of May, 1640. 

Captain Thomas Willoughbie, Esq., Capt. Jno. Sibsey, Ueftent ffians 
Mason, Mr. Hennie Sewell, McWm. Julian. 

"Whereas the Inhabitants of this Parishe beinge this day convented 
for the findinge of themselves an able minister to instructe them 
conceminge their souls health, mr. Thomas Harrison tharto hath ten- 
dered his srvice to god and the said Inhabitants in that behalf, wch 
his said tender is well liked of, with great approbacon of the said 
Inhabitants, the prshoners of the Parrish churce at mr. Sewell's Pointe, 
who to certifie their zeale and willingness to pmote god's service do 
hereby pmise (and the Court now sittinge doth likewise order and es- 


tablish the same) to pay one hundreth pounds sterlinge yearly to the 
8d mr. Harrison, so Ijonge as he shall continue a minister to the said 
Parrishe, in recompence of his paines, and in full satisfaccon of his 
tytes, within his Limitts wch is to be payed to him as ffoUoweth." 

Here follow amounts to be paid by the inhabitants of the different 
parts of the parish; and then comes this entry, which is the first in- 
formation in regard to the building of a church in Elizabeth River: 

"Whereas there is a difference amongst the Inhabitants of the flore- 
said Pishe, concerninge the employinge of a minister beinge now 
entertayned to live among them. The Inhabitants from Dauyell Tan- 
ners Creeke and upwards the three branches of Elizabeth River (in 
respect they are the greatest number of tithable persons) not thing- 
inge it fitt nor equall that they should paye the greatest pte of one 
hundred pounds wit is thaffore sd order allotted for the ministers an- 
nuall stipend unless the sd minister may teach and Instruct them 
as often as hee shall teach at ye pishe church siytuate at Mr. Sewells 
Pointe. It is therefore agreed amongst the Sd Inhabitants that the 
sd minister shall teach evie other Sunday amongst the Inhabitants 
of Elizabeth River at the house of Robert Glascocke untill a convenient 
church be built and erected there for gods Service witt it is agreed 
to be finished at the charge of the Inhabitants of Elizabeth River be- 
fore the first of May next ensuenge." 

The work of building went along slowly. The workmen were 
abused by one Mr. Hayes as "a company of Jackanapesses/' for not 
making greater progress. Lillie, who was the builder, sued for slan- 
der and testified that his work could not go forward for want of nayles 
and other iron work. 

The following order shows that the church was nearing completion: 

"At a Court held May 2nd, 1641, Whereas there was an order of 
Court granted by the Govr and Councell & derected to the Commander 
of this County that theire pishe Church should be erected & built at 
Mr. Seawells poynt, at the cost & charges of the Inhabitants, and was 
also agreed on by the said Inhabitants that a Chappell of Ease should 
be built in Elizabeth River at the charges of pticular famalies sittu- 
ated in the Aforesaid River by Reason of the Remote Plantations 
from the aforesaid pishe Church. It is therefore ordered that at noe 
time after the date heire of theire shall be any vestry chossen nor helld 
at the aforesaid Chappell, but that the said Chappell shall be accompted 
a Chappell of ease, but no pishe Church, and that the vestry shall 


ever hereafter be chossen & held at the aforesaid pishe Church: pro- 
Tided that theire priveledge in the ministracion be a like and the 
charges in the ♦ ♦ ♦ Minister every other Sunday until the aforesaid 
pishe Church be equally levied upon every tithable pson and inhabl- 
tinne in this the aforesaid pishe." 

An entry of October, 1641, shows that at that time the Chapel of 
Ease was fully completed. As an order was issued directing that a 
certain person should make amends for scandalous conduct by sitting 
upon a stool at the head of the aisle for two successive Sundays. 

There is every indication that this first church was on the site of 
the present St. Paul's, as the place was a cemetery long before the 
erection of the later building in 1739. E\>r nearly a century it served 
as the church house to the citizens of the earlier Norfolk. Who shall 
tell how far its services and ministrations to holy things went into 
the making of our forefathers for three generations; how far they 
helped to give the tone to that earlier civilization, to fit the men of 
that day for the service of their God and their country? 

Of the ministers of the seventeenth century we know of John Wil- 
son, who was rector in 1637, but how long before we do not know. He 
died in 1640 and was succeeded by the Rev. James Harrison. His 
ministry lasted until 1644. The name of his successor is not given, 
but he proved unworthy of his holy oflElce, though as set forth in an 
order of court 10th November, 1649, he openly acknowledged that he 
had committed the grievous sin of adultery. He was ordered to make 
public confession in both churches two several Sundays. In 1654 the 
parish is without a minister, and steps are taken to secure one, a 
vestry being ordered for Thursday after Christmas. He was to re- 
ceive 10,000 pounds of tobacco. The Rev. William Wem was rector 
In 1680, but when he took charge is not known, Mr. Wem ia the last 
minister of whom we have the record in the 4«fv«nteenth century. In 
1682 Captain Samuel Boush gave a chalice to thT> church in Norfolk. 

We know but little of the history of St. Waal's in the beginning of 
the eighteenth century. The first ministei mentioned is the Rev. 
James Falconer in 1722. How long he had been in charge we do not 
know. He was succeeded in 1724 by the Rev. Mr. Garzia, who came 
with very high recommendations to the Governor of the Colony, and 
who is always highly spoken of. The Rev. Moses Robertson was rec- 
tor in 1734. 

In 1739 the present church was erected. The church which pre- 


ceded was probably built of bricks, for in 1749 an order in the vestry 
book directs that the bricks and timber of the old church be given to 
Jamee Pasteur for the erection of a school-house. The present building 
Is very pleasing in its proportions, following, except for the ceiling 
of the interior, which was changed, the simple Norman lines of many 
ot the village churches of the i>eriod in Old England. The date 1739 
appears in raised brick on the south wall, and below are the letters 
S. B., supposed to designate Samuel Boush, who is said to have given 
the land for the church. Father and son of that name were vestry- 
men of the church. About this time the church bears the name of the 
Borough of the Parish church. It may be that the church at Sewell's 
Point had passed into disuse, and that the chapel of ease had entered 
upon the full dignity of the parish church. In 1749 the Rev. Charles 
Smith is rector, and probably was for several years before. The re- 
cords of the vestry only dated from 1749 to 1761, when the parish was 
divided. Mr. Smith seems to have been a man of piety and good 
character. On the division of the parish he took charge of Ports- 
mouth, and died as rector there 11th January, 1773, after a faithful 
and godly ministry of thirty years. In 1761 the parish was divided 
fcito Norfolk, St. Bride's (Berkeley) and Portsmouth. The first minis- 
ter after the division whose name has been preserved was the Rev. 
Thomas Davis — 1773 to 1776. At the breaking out of the war he was 
one of the most ardent patriots, president of the Sons of Liberty. 
Despite the statement of the historians, a careful study of the records 
win show that the large majority of the clergymen in charge of the 
Episcopal churches in Virginia at the breaking out of the war were 
true to the American cause, and that a bare handful were loyalists. The 
contrary is one of the flagrant mistakes of history which the facts 

With the opening of the year 1776 there came sad days to St Paul's. 
The bombardment of the town by the fleet of Lord Dunmore, and the 
firing of the homes left the place in ruins. St. Paul's did not escape. 
The interior was burned out, but the walls, built strong and true, re- 
mained Intact save for the scar of a ball from the frigate Liverpool, 
which can be seen to-day cemented in the indenture it made. With 
the church were lost the ancient records and many things that linked 
ft with the past The church was partially restored after the disaster 
to the town, and the Rev. Walker Maury was minister from 1786 to 
1788. He was of the French Huguenot stock, connected with the Fon- 


taines; a man of pure life and earnest zeal. He died of yellow fever, 
October 11, 1788. 

From 1789 to 1791 the Rev. James Whitehead was rector of Elizabeth 
River parish. He was an excellent man, esteemed for his earnestness. 
Unfortunately the claim to the rectorship was disputed by the Rev. 
William Bland. The latter was an ardent patriot, but a man of in- 
temperate habits. The two parsons had separate vestries and held 
alternate services in the old church. At last, in 1800, Mr. Whitehead 
and his numerous friends withdrew and left Mr. Bland in possession 
of St. Paurs, whilst they built on Church street the First Christ church, 
at a cost of $16,000. 

Soon after this Mr. Bland seems to have left Norfolk, and the old 
church was used by the Baptists for a while, and then by the colored 
people of that church, and finally abandoned. In 1832, however, in 
response to a call from a number of prominent Episcopalians, the con- 
gregation was reorganized, the church repaired, and solemnly conse- 
crated by the name of St. Paul's, by Bishop Moore. In the same year 
it entered upon a new life. 

The first rector after the restoration was the Rev. Ebenezer Boyden, 
honored and revered for a long life of godly service in the Diocese of 
Virginia. It was a day of small things, of struggle with financial prob- 
lems, but the work went bravely on. Mr. Boyden meekly asked per- 
mission of the vestry to wear the surplice in the performance of divine 
services. They gave permission with the proviso that its use should 
be discontinued if objection were made. Mr. Boyden served from 1833 
to 1835. The Rev. Thomas Atkinson, afterwards the distinguished 
Bishop of North Carolina, was in charge from 1837 to 1838. During a 
part of 1838 the Rev. Joseph P. Wilmer, afterwards Bishop of Louisi- 
ana, served as rector. After diflaculty in securing a rector, the Rev. 
Benjamin W. Miller, of the Eastern Shore, came to St. Paul's, and 
until 1849 did faithful service. His ministry made a good impression 
and the church strengthened. The Rev. Leonidas T. Smith was in tem- 
porary charge in 1845, when the Rev. David Caldwell came. He was a 
man of fine intellect, of gentle nature, strong as a preacher and loving 
as a pastor. His health, however, was feeble, and he left the congre- 
gation who loved him so well, to seek health in a more Southern cli- 
mate. His memory is still held dear by the older generation. 

In 1 849 the Rev. William M. Jackson began a faithful ministry, which 
ended with his death, as a martyr to duty, during the yellow fever epi- 


demic of 1865. His ministry was effectual, and when the time came 
that tried men's souls, he gave himself day and night to the care of the 
sick and the burying of the dead. He did his work with a courage 
and devotion which seemed inspired, and then succumbed to the dread 
disease. He was laid to rest by his faithful brethren, the Rev. Aris- 
tides Smith and the Rev. Lewis Walke. 

It was no easy task to make the church once more a power for good 
in the community. But a man of Ood was sent, whose consecrated 
faith was only equalled by the unflinching courage he brought to the 
task, and with which he met the still greater trials the near future had 
in charge for old St. Paul's — ^Nicholas Albertson Okeson, a man of 
strong Individuality, unsparing in his Judgment of sin, but full of wo- 
manly sympathy and tenderness for the poor and sinful. As a preach- 
er he was strong, original, incisive, blunt at times, like Latimer. He 
took such hold of the people, not only of his own congregation, but of 
the community, that it will not soon lose the impress of his character. 
Blessed with such a minister, the church was beginning to revive and 
flourish, when war once more thundered in Norfolk harbor, and the 
flock was again scattered. 

After the capture of Norfolk by the Federals, the church was 
taken possession of by the military forces, and Dr. Okeson was asked 
by the congregation of Christ church, then vacant, to take temporary 
charge. He went with the remnant of his people, and the two congre- 
gations worshipped together during those trying times. 

The following ofiQcial orders tell the story of the seizure and the 
restoration of the church: 

Headquabtebs Norfolk and Pobtsmouth, Oct 29, 1863. 

To the Wardens of 8t. PauVs Church, Norfolk: 

Gents, — I am directed by the General commanding to notify you 
that it is necessary for the public service that he should provide a suit- 
able place for the performance of religious service for the benefit of 
the officers and men under his command. 

He has selected for this purpose St. Paul's, in this city, and shall re- 
quire it immediately. The service will be according to the ritual of the 
Protestant ETpiscopal Church of the United States. I am also directed 
to state that the commanding General will hear you, should you desire 


to confer with him on the subject, at 12 o'clock M. to-morrow at these 

I am, gentlemen, very respectfully, your obdt. servt, 

Geoboe H. Johnston, Capt and A. A. Gen. 
Special Order No, 46. 

Norfolk, Va., Nov, 1, 1865. 

St. Paul's church, of Norfolk, Virginia, being no longer needed by 
the military authorities, is hereby turned over to the old Presbyterjr^ 
and congregation. 

By order of Brevet Major-Gen. A. A. Torbert. 

John L#. Warden, Jr., Asst. Adj. -Gen. 

When the war was over, the minister and congregation bent their 
energies to the work of restoration and repair. Money had to be raised 
to make the church habitable, and money in such a community was 
scarce; but love for the old church and devotion to the Lord accom- 
plished much, and a few years saw the parish prosperous as it had 
never been before. Dr. Okeson resolved to make the churchjrard, 
which comprises nearly two acres, equal to the fairest he had seen in 
the mother country. The grand old elms and willows were there al- 
ready; but it is to his skill and labor that we owe the wealth of ever- 
green, the preservation of the monuments, whose scars he taught the 
kindly ivy to hide, and the flowers and shrubbery which make St 
Paul's churchyard so fair and restful a place. There, when his work 
was finished, he was laid to rest, by special consent of the city au- 
thorities, among the dead whose graves he had saved from desecra- 
tion, and under the shadow of the wall which echoed to his faithful 
preaching of the gospel of Christ. 

In December, 1882, the Rev. Beverley Dandridge Tucker succeeded 
Dr. Okeson, coming from Lunenburg and North B^rnham parishes, 
Virginia. The devotion and zeal of the congregation has enabled him 
to carry on the work so faithfully done by the godly man who pre- 
ceded. The election of Dr. Tucker as Bishop-Coadjutor of Southern 
Virginia terminates a ministry of twenty-four years. 

The interior of the church, which had been much changed, was re- 
stored in 1892, and the detached tower built in 1901. The church has 
the beginning of an endowment, and is well equipped to continue its 
work for the cure of souls, and to the glory of God. 

The following notes may be of interest in connection with this 
sketch of old St. Paul's: 


Rev. M. B. Wlllig was the Federal chaplain whilst the church was 
in the possession of the military authorities. Rev. Dr. Okeson, of St 
Paul's, acted through that period as rector of Christ church, Norfolk, 
ministering to the people of hoth congregations. It is pleasing to re- 
cord that during the past year the Federal government, through the 
Court of Claims and Congress, reimbursed St. Paul's church for the 
losses incurred hy the occupation of the edifice by the military author- 
ities. The amount refunded was |3,600. 

John Hancock's Chaib. 

A highly interesting relic at St. Paul's is the chair in which John 
Hancock sat when he signed the Declaration of American Indepen- 
dence. It is a mahogany arm-chair, upholstered in leather, and upon 
it Is a silver plate bearing the following inscription: 

'This chair was occupied by John Hancock when he signed the Dec- 
laration of Independence. It was bought by Colonel Thomas M. Bay- 
ly, of Accomac county, Va. At his death it became the property of 
his daughter Ann, who subsequently Intermarried with the Rev. Ben- 
jamin M Miller, once rector of St Paul's church, Norfolk, Va., who 
presented it to the parish." 

Comparatively few people know that this chair is in St Paul's. It 
is in the vestry room, and to those who have their attention attracted 
to It, It appeals with great interest. 

The Mabble Font. 

The marble font in the church is a copy of one given by "King" 
Carter to Christ church in Lancaster county, Va., in 1734. The bowl 
is upheld by three cherubs. The font was carved by a Danish artist 
in New York, and was presented to the church by the late Mrs. Sarah 
F. Pegram. who also gave the Holy Table, which is a copy of one in 
Yorkshire, England, of the date of 1680. The table is of English oak. 

VestbymeN of the Pabish. 

The following is a list of the vestrymen of St. Paul's church, Eliza- 
beth River parish, at certain crucial periods of its history — ^the building 
of the present church, the reorganization in 1832 and in 1865, and the 
improvements in 1892: 

1749— Rev. Charles Smith, Col. George Newton, Col. William Craf- 
ford, Col. Samuel Boush. Capt. William Hodges, Capt Willis Wilson, 


Warden, Capt John Phipp, Warden, Mr. Charles Sweny, Capt. James 
Joy, Mr. Samuel Boush. 

1832 — ^William H. Thompson, Treasurer, Richard B. Maury, Secre- 
tary, George Rowland, Alpheus Forbes, Alexander Gait. 

1865— Rev. N. A. Okeson, William W. Lamb, William H. Smith, Dr. 
Robert B. Tunstall, William T. Harrison, Alfred L. Seabury, RJchard 
H. Baker, Jr. 

1892 — Rev. Beverley D. Tucker, Richard H. Baker, Warden, James 
Y. Leigh, Warden, Caldwell Hardy, Registrar, Walter F. Irvine, Treas- 
urer, B. Atkinson Marsden, Capt. Robert B. Pegram, Richard B. Tun- 
stall, Adam Tredwell, Dr. Herbert M. Nash. 

The Old Cannon Ball. 

One of the most interesting features of the church is the cannon 
ball fired by Lord Dunmore, the last Colonial Governor of Virginia, 
during his bombardment of Norfolk in 1776. The ball, after striking 
the church, fell to the ground beneath, and was covered up there for 
many years, remaining buried in the earth till 1848. The Daily South- 
ern Argus, a newspaper published in Norfolk, gave, in its issue of 
Saturday, May 13, 1848, an account of *'the recent finding" of the ball 
in the earth beneath the indenture which it had made in the wall 
of the church where it first struck. This account says the ball was 
found about two feet below the surface of the ground immediately 
under the indenture in the wall. The ball was replaced in the inden- 
ture and there cemented, where it now attracts much attention and 
interest from tourists, thousands of whom visit the church every 
year — being located on tne south side of the church, just at the corner, 
near Church street. It is marked by a plate on which is the inscrip- 

Fired By. 

Lord Dunmore, 

Jan. 1. 1776. 

This plate was placed there in 1901 by Great Bridge Chapter, Daugh- 
ters of the American Revolution. The bombardment above referred to 
occurred between three and four o'clock in the afternoon of Monday, 
January 1, 1776, the first gun being fired by the warship "Liverpool." 
The ball which struck the church is reputed to have been fired by the 



Memcnual Windows. 

In the church are four beautiful windows, two in the rear of the 
chancel and two on the north side of the nave. Those back of the 
chancel are inscribed as follows: 

"To the glory of God and to the memory of the Reverend William 
Myers Jackson. Born Oct 19th, 1809. Died Oct 3d, 1855. (On this 
window is a representation of St. John on Patmos receiving the revela- 
tion from an angel.) 

"To the glory of God and to the memory of the Reverend Nicholas 
Albertson Okeson. Born Nov. 5th, 1819. Died Sept 16th, 1882. (On 
this window is a representation of St. Paul on Mars Hill.) 

The Old Tombs. 

At St. Paul's is a book containing the record of inscriptions on the 
tombstones in the yard of the church. This book was gotten up by 
the Bishop Randolph Chapter, Daughters of the King, 1902. It is in- 
dexed and is very handy. It shows that there are 265 tombs in the 
churchyard. Many others have disappeared. 

The oldest tomb in the churchyard is on the south side of the church, 
and bears the following inscription: "Here lies the body of Dorothy 
Farrell who deceased the 18th of January 1673." 

Another of the older and most striking tombs is inscribed as fol- 
lows: "Here Lyeth The Body of John Taylor Merchant in Norfolk. 
Born In The Parish of Fintrie In The County Of Stirling In 1694. And 
Died On The 25th Of October 1744 In The 51st Year Of His Age." 
Coat of Arms cut with motto, "Fide et Fiducia," This inscription 
was restored by his great-great-grandson, F. S. Taylor, of Norfolk, 
in 1892. 

The latest tomb in the churchyard is inscribed as follows: "Nicholas 
Albertson Okeson. Born Nov. 1819. Died Sept 16, 1882. An earnest 
and zealous minister of the Gospel of Christ and for 26 years the 
faithful and beloved Rector of this church. 'They that turn many to 
righteousness shall shine as the stars forever and ever. Hold fast 
the form of sound words which thou hast heard of me in faith and 
love which is in Christ Jesus.'— 2d Tim. 1: 13." 

On the urn at the foot of Rev. Dr. Okeson's grave is the following 
inscription: "Affection's Offering From The Children's Aid Society 
of St Paul's Church to the memory of their late beloved pastor Rev. 
N. A. Okeson, D. D." 


In the churchyard is an old tombstone that does net mark a grave. 
It is inscribed as follows: 

Coat of arms. "Here lyeth the body of Elizabeth, the wife of the 
Honorable Nathaniel Bacon, Esq., who departed this life the second 
day of November One Thousand Six Hundred and Ninety-One, in the 
Sixty-Second year of her age." This tomb was brought from King's 
Creek, James River, at request of Rev. N. A. Okeson, D. D. Elizabeth 
Bacon was the wife of Col. Nathaniel Bacon. He was President of 
the Virginia Council and a cousin of young Nathaniel Bacon, the 
patriot of 1675. She was a daughter of Richard Kingswell, gent, and 
was married first to Capt. William Taylor, also member of Virginia 

Some Old Recobds. 

The following are some interesting entries in the old vestry book 
of 1749: 

1751 — Received into the vestry, of Capt. Geo. Whitwell, commander 
of his Majesty's ship Triton, a silver plate as a compliment for his 
wife, Mary Whitwell, being interred in this church. 

Ordered Mr. Matt. Godfrey, Mr. William Nash, Capt. Trimigan 
Tatem, and Mr. William Ashley shall have leave and are hereby em- 
powered to build a gallery in the church in Norfolk Town reaching 
from the Pulpit to the School Boys Gallery equally between them and 
their heirs forever to have and to hold. 




THE Indian name for the county of Isle of Wight was Warros 
quyoake, spelt in some sixteen or seventeen different ways. 
The first English settlement of this county was made by Cap- 
tain Christopher Lawne and his party in April, 1619. He landed at 
Jamestown, on the 27th of that month. They settled at the point of 
land In Isle of Wight, then and ever since known as "Lawne's Point" 
(eleven miles from Jamestown), which is separated from the county 
of Surry by a creek still called "Lawne's Creek," and the Point is 
bounded on the north and west by Lawne's Creek, and on the east and 
south by James river. 

"Sir Richard Worsleep, Knight Baronet, Nathaniel Basse, gentlemen, 
John Hobson, gentleman^ Antho: Oleuan, Richard Wiseman, Robert 
Newlan, Robert Gyner and William Wejls" were "Associates and fellow 
Adventurers with Captain Christopher Lawne." Captain Christopher 
Lawne and Ensign Washer represented "Captain Lawne's Plantations" 
in the first General Assembly of Virginia, held on the 30th day of July, 
1619. They had, in human probability, gained their military reputa* 
tion in the war in the Netherlands, when and where the Protestant 
forces of Elizabeth aided those of Netherlands in repelling the Catholic 
forces of Spain. 

Captain Lawne was nobly worthy of larger mentlom than was made 
of him by William Wirt Henry, in his splendid description of that first 
General Assembly of Virginia, which is published in the Virginia Mag- 
azine of History, July, 1894. 

Captain Lawne was as distinguished In letters as he was In arms. 
Kis two books (1) "The Profane Schism of the Brownists," or Separa- 
tists; "with the impiety, dissensions, lewd and abominable vices, of 
t?iat impure sect," In 1612; and (2), "Brownism Turned the Inside 
Outward. Being a Parallel between Profession and Practice of the 
Brownist Religion," in 1613; both being a description of the "Ancient 
Exiled Church at Amstradam," which they bitterly assailed but could 
not refute, attest his great literary ability and his devotion to the 
Church of England. 


• ft • * 


Christopher Lawne did not live long enough to make any decided im« 
pression on the Colony. He died in less than a year, probably, after 
Ms arrival; for at a General Quarterly Court held in London on the 
28th day of June, 1620, there was a petition fromi his executors to be 
relieved of some freight "on 800 weight of tobacco," because of "the 
great charge and loss the said Mr. Lawne hath been putt unto and sus- 
tfyned in his private Plantation." 

There has been a determined and persistent effort made by E. D. Nei) 
and his sympathizers to represent the first settlers in this county as 
Puritans. They are perfectly welcome to all of the consolation they can 
get out of the books of Lawne, and out of the Acts of that first General 
Assembly of Virginia in 1619. 

Upon the petition of Sir Richard Worsleep, Knight Baronet, Nathan- 
iel Basse and others presented to the Court at London on the 4th day 
of November, 1620, permission was given them to call the plantation 
'The Isle of Wight Plantation, provided that the heirs of the said 
Christopher Lawne be in no wajr prejudiced thereby." Notwithstand- 
ing this petition, the county retained its Indian name until it was 
changed to Isle of Wight by the General Assembly in 1637. 

Any one who has sailed up Southampton river and has seen the 
high clialk clifTs of the Isle of Wight, England, and has sailed up the 
James and has seen the high cliffs of Isle of Wight at Day's Neck, will 
see a very striking resemblance between the two, and will see a strong 
physical reason for the name. Besides this, the Worsley family Just 
above mentioned lived in the Isle of Wight, England. Sir Richard 
Worsley was knighted at White Hall on the 8th of February, 1611. On 
the highest point of the Park of Appuldurcombie, is a granite obelisk, 
70 feet high, partly destroyed, erected to the memory of Sir Robert 
Worsley, the author of a complete history of the Isle of Wight, ESngland. 
Newport, the capital of Isle of Wight, lies on the Medina, which is 
navigable to that point. The bearing of this will be shown after 

Upon the 24th of October, 1621, a patent was granted to Edward Ben- 
nett, "a gentleman who had deserved singularly well of the company 
before he was a member thereof," who now joins with Robert Bennett, 
his brother, Richard Bennett, bis nephew, Mr. Wiseman, Mr. Ayers, and 
divers other associates, and they engage to transport one hundred per* 
sons to Virginia. They came ever in the Sea Flower, in February, 1622, 
with one hundred and twenty settlers, among whom were the Rev. 


William Bennett and George Harrison, relativea of EJdward Bennett, 
and Ralph Hamor, one of the Council. 

The Plantation of Christopher Lawne and his successors extended 
from LAwn's Point along the Fhore of James river for six miles to Bur- 
well's Bay; thence along the same shore for four miles to "The Rocks." 
The Plantation of Edward Bennett extended from "The Rocks" along 
the shore of the same river for two miles including all of the land now 
known as Day's Neck. In this Neck, made by the waters of the James 
river on one side and Pagan creek on the other, and on that portion 
of Pagan creek called now Tormentor's Bay, was "Basse's Choice," then 
and now the choice portion of that Neck of some twenty-five hundred 
acres. Population increased in the county so rapidly between May, 
1619, and March the 22d, 1622, that it extended from "Lawne's Point" to 
and inclusive of "Day's Neck," a distance of twelve miles. On that day 
there was killed in the Indian massacre of March, 1622, on Edward 
Bennett's Plantation alone, fifty-four people, among whom were Ensigme 
Harrison and Mistress Harrison. How bravely they all defended them- 
selves may be seen in the thrilling narrative in Captain Smith's Gen- 
eral History. 

The Massacre checked but it did not stop emigration. By 1632 it had 
fiowed on across Pagan creek, Jones' creek, down to Chuckatuck creek 
which divides the county of Isle of Wight from Nansemond on the 
south; up that creek by Brewer's creek to the Nansemond line on the 
west. In the last section of the county, most probably, lived one Joseph 
Bridger. His son, General Joseph Bridger, died on his White Marsh 
farm, on the 15th day of April, 1686, aged 58 years. This farm is lo- 
cated on Brewer's creek, and Captain James T. Davis, who now owns 
the farm, sails his vessels regularly from his wharf on that farm to 
Norfolk and elsewhere. 

It was Joseph Bridger, the father of General Joseph Bridger, who 
superintended the building of the Old Brick Church, distant only some 
four or five miles from Smithfield, and right on the main county road 
to Suffolk. 

In 1781, when the Court-House of the county was in the town of 
Smithfield, Nathaniel Burwell was clerk, and Francis Young was his 
deputy. As Nathaniel Burwell was not in the county, and Francis 
Young was in the regiment of General John Scarsbrook Wills, his wife, 
hearing that Tarleton intended to make a raid on Smithfield to destroy 
the county records, took them and buried them on that portion of the 
farm now belonging to John F. Scott, which lies nearest to the mill- 


pond, In a trunk which is now in the clerk's o£Bice of this county. When 
these hooks were exhumed some of them were very damp. One of these 
was the vestry hook, known as Vestry Book No. 1. It finally went all 
to pieces. Nathaniel Burwell never returned to the county. Francis 
Toung succeeded him as clerk, and Nathaniel Toung, his son, hecame 
his deputy. Nathaniel P. Young was his son, and the late Dr. John R- 
Purdle was his nephew. They both stated to me time and time again, 
verbally and in writing, for publication in 1891, that Nathaniel Toung, 
the son of Francis, frequently saw Vestry Book No. 1 before it became 
illegible and crumbled into dust; and frequently read the statements 
In it that the Old Brick Church was built in 1632. Vestry Book No. 2 
beginning in 1724, in a damaged condition, is still in existence. It has 
many allusions in it to the Old Brick Church; and the vestrymen here- 
inafter mentioned were the vestrymen of that Old Church. Colonel 
Joseph Brldger, a great-grandson of the Joseph Bridger who superin- 
tended the construction of the church, was a vestryman of the Old 
Brick Church from 1757 to 1769. His widow married Colonel Josiah 
Parker on the 17th of June, 1773. Their daughter, Anne Pierce Par- 
ker, married Captain William E. Cowper, of the United States Navy, 
and died in March, 1894. She was the custodian of the Bridger papers, 
and she frequently told the late Dr. John R. Purdie, her physician, 
that the Old Brick Church was built in 1632, and Dr. Purdie frequently 
published that fact. Her son, Captain Frederick P. P. Cowper, fre- 
quently told the same thing to me, and I published it as far back as 
1891. It has the corroboration of every one of her descendants. 

The roof of the Old Brick Church fell in in June, 1887, and that 
brought down nearly the whole of the eastern wall. Mr. Emmet W. 
Maynard, then recently from Surry county, was engaged to clear up 
and remove all of the debris caused by this fallen roof and these fallen 
bricks. Whilst engaged in this work he came across a brick that 
looked like it had something unusual on it. With a sharp-pointed 
stick he carefully removed the mortar, until at first dimly, and then 
afterwards clearly, he saw the figures 1632 on it. He did not know 
the significance of those figures; but when told of it, he made a careful 
search for any other suggestive brick, and finally found part of a brick 
inside of the church with a figure 1 on it, and on the outside of the 
church he found another piece of brick with a figure 2 on it. On put- 
ting these two pieces together they fitted perfectly, but the intervening 
figures 6 and 3 were gone — ^broken out by the force of the fall of the 
roof and the eastern wall. The whole brick with the figures 1632 on it 


is now firmly imbedded in the wood work of the chancel of the church. 
The two pieces of broken brick were, without my knowledge and against 
my instructionB, allowed to be carried out of the church. 

Warrosquyoake existed as a county until 1637, when the name of the 
county was changed by an act of the (General Assembly to Isle of Wight. 
Of course the county was one parish, and the parish was called Warros- 
quyoake; and so it continued to be called until March, 1642-3, when 
the county was divided into two parishes, to be called, respectiyely. 
The Upper and The Lower Parish. The Upper Parish "was to extend 
from Lawne's creek to the creek dividing the plantation of Sam Davis 
and Joseph Cobb** (Pagan creek). The Lower Parish "was to extend 
from Pagan Point to the plantation of Richard Hayes" (Chuckatuck 

This division and legal nomenclature continued until 1734, when 
population had crossed the Black Water and had extended into what is 
now called Southampton county to, at least, the Nottoway river. It 
seems from the Act of 1734 that the Upper Parish was sometimes 
called "Warwicksqueak" ; and that the Lower was sometimes called 
"Newport." But, by the Act of that year, so much of the said parish 
as was on the north side of Black Water was made one parish, and 
was to be called "Newport Parish"; and so much of it as was on the 
south side of Black Water "was to be made one parish," and "was to 
be called Nottoway Parish.' And thus they have been known ever 

In 1752 Southampton county was cut off from Isle of Wight. The 
parish of Nottoway is coextensive with that county; and the parish 
of Newport is coextensive with this county. There is the city of 
Newport, in Isle of Wight, England, and so there is the parish of New- 
port, in Isle of Wight, Virginia. We loved Old England then, and 
we love her now. 

The roof of the Old Brick Church fell in, in June, 1887, and it dragged 
down a very large part of the eastern wall. It was restored in 1894, 
and dedicatory services were held upon the 13th, 14th and 15th days of 
November, 1894. 

The ministers of the Church of England and of the Protestant Epis- 
copal Church officiating in the county of Isle of Wight, as shown by 
offclal records, are: 

Rev. Mr. Falkner, in 1642; Rev. Mr. Otis; Rev. Robert Dunster, 1651 
to 1656 (Will dated May 17, 1656); Rev. Robert Bracewell, died in 


1667; Rev. William Housden (now spelled Hudsdan), 1680; Rev. Mr. 
Parke, 1680; Rev. Andrew Monroe, 1700 to 1719; Rev. Alexander Forbes, 
1710 to 1724; Rev. Thomas Bally, 1720 to 1724; Rev. John Reld, 1724; 
Rev. John Barlow, March 30, 1726, to December, 1727; Rev. John Gam- 
mill, March 29, 1729, to November 25, 1743; Rev. John Camm, March 
4, 1745, (for a few months only); Rev. John Reid, March 8, 1746, to 
April, 1757; Rev. John Millner, February, 1766, to May 3, 1770; Rev. 
Henry John Burgess, 1773 to 1776; Rev. Samuel Butler, occasionally 
in 1780; Rev. William Hubard, to 1802 (died at The Glebe); Rev. Wil- 
liam G. H. Jones, 1826 to 1832; Rev. Mr. Hedges, 1831 to 1833, under 
whom Christ church, Smithfield, was built; Rev. Thomas Smith, 1834 
to 1841; Rev. John Downing, 1847; Rev. John C. McCabe, 1847-1851; 
Rev. H. T. Wilcoxen, 1851; Rev. C. Colton, 1855; Rev. P. G. Robert, 
1858 to May, 1862; Rev. E. T. Perkins, May, 1862, and 1865 to June, 
1867; Rev. S. C. Roberts, 1867, missionary S. B. Convocation; Rev. Wil- 
liam Hoxton, 1870; Rev. F. A. Meade, 1873; Rev. Edwin W. Wroth, 1876 
to September 2, 1877; Rev. F. A. Meade, 1878 to September, 1883; Rev. 
David Barr, 1884 to May 29, 1889; Rev. F. G. Scott, January, 1892, to 
September, 1900; Rev. R. S. Carter, June 30, 1901, to May 1, 1908. 

List of vestrymen, as shown in Vestry Book No. 2, from 1724 to 1776: 

Lawrence Baker, 1724 to 1757; William Bridger, 1724 to 1730; Thos. 
Woodley, 1728 to 1755; Major Joseph Bridger, 1735 to 1747; Arthur 
Smith, 1736 to 1740; Thomas Smith, 1745 to 1751; Jordan Thomas. 
1746 to 1755; Robert Tynes, 1746 to 1777; William Hodsden, 1746 to 
1757 (descendant of the Rev. William Housden, of 1680); Joseph 
Bridger, 1746 to 1749; Colonel Joseph Bridger, 1757 to 1769; Nicholas 
Parker, 1760 to 1777; Richard Baker (clerk of county), 1760 to 1777; 
James Bridger (clerk of county), 1766 to 1777; Richard Hardy, 1769 
to 1777; John Day, 1777. 

The tradition of the building of the Old Brick Church in 1632 has 
been traced through every one of these families. 

The names of the other vestrymen appearing in that old Vestry Book 
No. 2 are: Samuel Davis, Matthew Jones, Thomas Walton, William 
Kitchen, William Crumpler, James Day, George Riddick, Matthew 
Wills, Reuben Procter, Nathaniel Ridley, John Groodrich, George Wil- 
liamson, James Ingles, John Porson, John Davis, James Simmons, Wil- 
liam Wilkinson, Joseph Godwin, Henry Llghtfoot, John Monroe, Thomas 
Parker, Hardy Council, Henry Pitt, Richard Wilkinson, Henry Apple- 
whaite, Thomas Day, John Lawrence, Hugh Giles, Thomas and John 


Applewhaite, Thomas Day, John Lawrence, Hugh Giles, Thos. and John 
Applewhaite, Thomas Tynes, John Eley, John Darden, Dolphis Drew, 
John Wills, William Salter, Robert Barry, Charles Tilghman, Robert 
Burwell, Miles Wills, Edmund Godwin, and John Scarsbrook Wills. 

I was bom in this county a little more than seventy-one years ago, 
and I have yet to meet any descendant of any of these vestrymen, or 
any other countjrman, "native and to the manner born," who doubted 
the accuracy of the tradition of the building of "The Old Brick Church." 
This is its old historic name. I have heard that the Rev. William G. 
H. Jones (who came here as deacon in 1826), in some letter or report 
to the Episcopal Convention in 1828, spoke of the ancient and venerable 
old church as St. Luke's; and some have been foolish enough, and ig- 
norant enough, to imitate him. It is very charitable to suppose that 
neither he nor they knew the rarity and the nobleness of any brick 
building from 1607 to 1700. If they did, they would not attempt to 
despoil the church of its great honor. Tou had just as well, just as 
properly, and just as sensibly go and re-christen Bruton church, Bland- 
ford church, Pohick church, Old Falls church, Vauter's church, or any 
other church that had a grand old historical name, as to give a new 
name to the oldest building of English construction in America. 

I once went through St. Peter's, Rome, with a small party of people; 
then through the Sistine chapel; and was going up the steps to the 
Vatican galleries, when one of the party sat down upon the steps and 
said: "Oh! pshaw! I don't want to see those old things; show me 
something new." The guide did not say a word, but turned around 
and gave her a look of withering contempt. 

Just such contempt ought to be felt by anybody towards those who 
ruthlessly and needlessly tread upon venerable asociations and histor- 
ical accuracy. 




RUTON Parish Church bears witness to the continuity of the 
life of the Church established at Jamestown in 1607. The 
history of its beginning and early life lies in that period of 
obscurity occasioned by the destruction and loss of the writ- 
ten records of the Church and the county courts of Virginia. Prom 
what remains we learn that in 1632 Middle Plantation (subsequently 
Williamsburg) was "laid out and paled in" seven miles inland from 
Jamestown in the original county of James City, and shortly there- 
after a parish bearing the plantation name was created. In 1644 a 
parish in James City county, called "Harrop," was established, which, 
on April 1, 1648, was united with Middle Plantation parish, forming 
the parish of Middletown. In 1674 the parish of Marston (establish- 
ed in York county in 1654) and Middletown parish were united under 
the name Bruton parish. The source from which the name was de^ 
rived is suggested by the inscription on the tomb of Sir Thomas Lud- 
well, which lies at the entrance of the north transept door, which states 
that he was born "at Bruton, in the county of Summerset, in the King- 
dom of England, and departed this life in the year 1678." 

There was a church building in Williamsburg in 1665, which In 
1674 had come to be known as the "Old Church." This fact is es- 
tablished by an entry in the vestry book of Middlesex parish, which 
directs that a church be built in that parish, "after the model of thB 
one In Williamsburg." How long this building had been in use is 
not known, but it had grown old in 1674, at which time the new vestry 
book opens with the order under date, "April ye 18th," that a "new 
church be built with brick att ye Middle Plantation." Land sufficient 
for the church and church-yard was given by Col. John Page, together 
with twenty pounds sterling to aid in erection of the building. ThB 
beginning of Church life in this building, the foundations of which 
were unearthed during the excavations made in 1905, is noted in the 
quaint entry under date "November ye 29th, 1683: Whereas, ye Brick 


Church at Middle Plantation is now finished, It is ordered yt all ye 
Inhabitants of ye said Parish do for the future repair thither to hear 
Divine Service and ye Word of God preached; And that Mr. Rowland 
Jones, Minister, do dedicate ye said Church ye sixth of January next, 
being ye Epiphany." 

The records of this period tell of the "old Communion Table/' which 
is to be removed to the minister's house and there remain; of the pur- 
chase of a "Ring of Bells"; of fees paid in tobacco for registering offi- 
cial acts, and for digging graves in the church aisle and chancel, and 
of "ye sum of Sixteen Thousand Six Hundred and Sixty Six pounds 
of Tobacco and Caske," to be paid annually to Mr. Rowland Jones, 
minister. Colonel John Page has accorded to him "the privilege to sett 
a pew for himself and family in the Chancell of the New Church," 
while the rest of the congregation is made subject to the order "that 
ye Men sit on the North side of the Church and ye Women on the left." 
Later on it is ordered that "Ye Gallery be assigned for the use of the 
College Touth" of William and Mary, to which gallery there is to be 
"put a door, with a lock and key, the sexton to keep the key." Here 
the students sat and carved their names, which may be seen to-day, 
and doubtless indulged in incipient reasoning relative to religious 
liberty. Thomas Jefferson was among them. In the long records rela- 
tive to the conflict as to the "right of Induction" we see the evidence 
of the spirit of liberty and the demand for self-government The 
vestry, the representatives of the people, in these conflicts were gain- 
ing experience in the science of self-government. Their contention 
that the civil authority should not impose ministers upon the congre- 
gation without the consent of the people, led to struggles which were 
prophetic and preparatory to the part which the vestrymen of the 
Church were subsequently to take in the House of Burgesses as cham- 
pions of the liberties of the people of Virginia. 

Bruton Parish church, upon the removal of the seat of government 
from Jamestown to Williamsburg in 1699, succeeded to the prestige 
which pertained to the Church of the Capital of the Colony. B^om 
this time there grew about the church an environment of ever-in- 
creasing interest, and about it gathered an atmosphere which, with the 
passing years, has caught and reflects the light of other days. 

The county road which ran by the churchyard, marking the inward 
and outward march of English civilization, now rose to the dignity 
of the Duke of Qloucester street. The newly-designed yard and gar- 

* V » 

* <■ M 

» 4> 


dens of the Govemor's palace swept down along the east wall of the 
church. In spacious yards adjacent rose the stately homes of the 
Virginia gentry who had resorted to the capital. Nearby towered 
the walls of the - College of William and Mary and the halls 
of the Virginia House of Burgesses, and facing each other on the 
open green stood the Court of Justice and the octagon Powder Horn. 
The church had become the Court Church of Colonial Virginia. His 
Excellency, the Governor, attended by his Council of State, and sur- 
rounded by the members of the House of Burgesses, gave to the church 
an official distinction and a position of unique importance. 

The old brick building of 1674 soon became inadequate to the needs 
of the situation, and in 1710, during the rectorship of the Reverend 
Commissary James Blair, D. D., it was determined that a new church 
should be built Plans were furnished by Governor Alexander Spots- 
wood, who proposed that the vestry should build the two ends of the 
church and promised that the Government "would take care of the 
wings and intervening part." The House of Burgesses, in addition, 
was pleased to state that they "would appropriate a Sufficient Sum of 
Money for the building pews for the Governor, Council and the House 
of Burgesses," and appointed Mr. John Holloway, Mr. Nicholas Meri- 
wether and Mr. Robert Boiling a committee to co-operate with the 
vestry in the undertaking. 

This building, which was completed in 1715, has remained continu- 
ously in use and has well withstood the rough usages of war and the 
devastating touch of time. Its ministers, as shown from contem- 
poraneous records, were, without a single exception, men of superior 
culture and godly piety. Most of them were Masters of Arts from the 
Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, or full graduates of the Col- 
lege of William and Mary, and that they served the cause of Christ 
with devotion and fidelity is attested in every instance by resolutions 
of the vestry. 

Official distinction was recognized and emphasized in the church. 
To His Excellency the Governor and His Council of State was assigned 
a pew elevated from the floor, overhung with a red velvet canopy, around 
which his name was emblazoned in letters of gold, the name being 
changed as Spotswood, Drysdale, Gooch, Dinwiddle, Fauquier, Lord 
Botetourt and Lord Dunmore succeeded to office. In the square pews 
of the transepts sat the members of the House of Burgesses, the pews 
in the choir being assigned to the Surveyor-General and the Parish 


Rector, while in the overhanging galleries in the transepts and 
along the side walls of the church sat the Speaker of the House 
of Burgesses and other persons of wealth and distinction, to whom the 
privilege of erecting these private galleries was accorded from time 
to time. 

With the approach of the American Revolution the services in Old 
Bruton assumed a tone of tenderness and thrilling interest, unique 
in character and fervent with power. Men, as they listened to the 
proclamation of the Gospel of Redemption, saw clearer the vision 
of liberty and felt a deeper need of the guidance and help of God. 
Washington makes mention in his diary of attending services here, 
and adds, "and fasted all day." A contemporaneous letter, writ- 
ten by one of the congregation to a friend in London, tells of the in- 
tensity of grief and the depth of feeling manifested in the service held 
by order of the Government when news reached America that Parlia- 
ment had passed the "Stamp Act." The Church, it was said, would 
not begin to hold the people who thronged to attend the service. 
These people loved old England, and were bound to her by material 
interests and by ties of blood. They wanted to continue to honor and 
obey the civil authority, and to pray for their King, and they thronged 
to these services in old Bruton to express their faith and devotion and 
the passionate longing of their lives for justice, liberty and 
peace, and to-day the old church is hallowed by the memory of these 
prayers which rose from bleeding hearts to our fathers' God and our 
God, through the Liturgy which we use and love the more for these 
associations by which it is hallowed and enriched. In the eventide, 
when the parting glory of the day falls like a benediction and lingers 
in the old church, the old scenes come like a vision before the illumin- 
ed imagination. Upon bended knee we seem to see that noble band 
of patriot legislators — Nelson, Wythe, Harrison, Braxton, the Lees, 
Cabell, Cary, Carr, Carrington, Carter, Nicholas, Norvell, Richard 
Bland, George Mason, Edmund Pendleton, Peyton Randolph, Patrick 
Henry, George Washington and the rest, and the walls seem again to 
echo back their supplication to the King of kings — "We beseech Thee 
to hear us. Good Lord." 

The old Prayer Book, which bears the inscription, "Bruton Par- 
ish, 1756," bears witness through erasures and marginal insertions 
to answered prayers. The Prayer for the President is pasted over 
the Prayer for King George III., while the prejudice engendered by 


the passions of men is evidenced by a line run through the words 
"King of kings," and the marginal insertion, "Ruler of the Universe." 
The Bible of this period is also preserved, together with the old Par- 
ish Register, containing the name of George Washington eleven times, 
and telling of the baptism of 1,122 negro servants within a period of 
twenty-five years, with many pages of the record of this period missing. 

Besides th«se the church is the inheritor and custodian of other sa- 
cred memorials of the past The old Jamestown baptismal font and 
Communion silver are still in use at Bruton Parish church, together 
with a set of Communion silver, made in 1686, given by Lady Gooch to 
the College of William and Mary, and a set bearing J;he royal arms of 
King George III. These memorials will be preserved in the future 
in the fireproof crypt built beneath the chancel of the church. 

It seems almost incredible that the need of a Sunday-school room 
should have led the congregation in 1840 to yield to the spirit of in- 
novation and destroy, as they did, the interior form and appearance 
of the church, but at this time a partition wall was built across the 
church; the high corner pulpit, the colonial pews and the fiag-stone 
chancel and aisles were removed; the chancel, which enshrined the 
graves of Orlando Jones, progenitor of Mrs. Martha Washington; the 
graves of the Blairs and Monroes, and of Rev. Dr. William H. Wilmer, 
was removed from its ancient place in the east end of the church and 
affixed to the wall of partition, and the interior of the building fur- 
nished and decorated in modern style with money secured by a church 

The work of restoration inaugurated on May 15, 1905, by a sermon 
preached by Rev. Beverley D. Tucker, D. D., since consecrated Bishop- 
Coadjutor of the Diocese of Southern Virginia, has been planned and 
executed with absolute fidelity to Colonial type and historic verity, with 
the endeavor to reproduce the form and feeling of the past. Over $27,000 
has been spent for the structural preservation and restoration of the 
building. The foundations and roof timbers have been renewed; a 
shingle tile roof covers the building, and an iron and concrete floor 
safeguards it from dampness and fire. The tower woodwork, together 
with the clock originally in the House of Burgesses, have been restored, 
and the bell, engraved, "The gift of James Tarpley to Bruton Parish, 
1761," again rings out the passing hours. The high pulpit with over- 
hanging sounding boards stands again at the southeast comer and is a 
memorial to the Rev. Commissary James Blair, D. D., and the other 


clergy of the Colonial period. The chancel has regained its place in the 
east, and with the aisles, is paved with white marble in which are set 
tombstones appropriately inscribed to mark the graves discovered 
during the process of excavation. Of the twenty-eight graves found in 
the aisles nine were identified by letters and dates made by driving 
brass tacks in the wood of the coffin, ^mong the graves thus marked 
with marble slabs are those of Governor Francis Fauquier, Governor 
Edmund Jennings, and Dr. William Cooke, Secretary of State, and re- 
cently the body of the Hon. Judge Edmund Pendleton has been removed 
from Caroline to be interred in the north aisle of the church. The pews 
restored in Colonial style are all to be made memorial; those in the 
transepts to twenty-one of the patriots of the Revolution; those in 
the choir to the Surveyors-General and the Presidents of the College 
of William and Mary, and those in the nave to the vestrymen of the 
pariah during the Colonial period. Each pew has upon the door 
a bronze tablet, inscribed with the name of the person memorialized. 
Over the Governor's pew has been placed a silken canopy, emblazoned 
with the name of Governor Alexander Spotswood, and affixed to the 
wall is a bronze tablet inscribed with the names of the Colonial 
Governors who worshipped here. 

The Bible given by King Edward VII. and the lectern presented by 
the President of the United States, are in memory of the three hun- 
dredth anniversary of the establishment of the English Church and 
English civilization in America. 

Preserved and restored the old church is typical of the strong 
and simple architectural designs of the Colonial period, and a witness 
to the faith and devotion of the Nation Builders. Rising from amid 
the sculptured tombs of the honored dead who lie beneath the shadows 
of its walls, old Bruton stands, as the Bishop of Southern Virginia 
has said, "The noblest monument of religion in America.' 


"A link among the days to knit 
The generations each to each." 




THE whole Of the Eastern Shore of Virginia was called Accow- 
make, then changed to Northampton, then divided into North- 
ampton and Accomac. Soon after this, in the year 1762, the 
county of Accomac was divided Into two parishes by a line 
running from the bay to the sea, the upper being called Accomac Parish, 
and the other St George's. The dividing line runs about three miles 
north of Drummondtown. 

From a record in the clerk's office in Northampton there is reason to 
believe that the church at Pongoteague was built before the division 
of the Eastern Shore into two counties, and was the first erected in Ac- 
comac. The next was that which stood a few miles from Drummond- 
town, and was, until the year 1819, called the New Church. At that 
time the name of St. James' was given to it. It was subsequently re- 
moved to Drummondtown, and now forms the church at that place. In 
the year 1724 there were three churches in the upper parish (Accomac), 
about ten miles distant from each other. The first minister of whom 
we read in the parish was the Rev. William Black, who, in the year 
1709-10, wrote to the Bishop of London that he had taken charge of it, 
that there had been no minister there before for fifteen years. In the 
year 1724 he is still the minister, and in answer to certain questions 
by the Bishop of London, writes that he preaches at these churches, has 
two hundred communicants, four or five hundred families under his 
charge, instructs the negroes at their masters' houses, has baptized two 
hundred of them, catechizes the children on Sunday from March to 
September, has no Communion service or anything decent in his 
church, receives a salary of forty pounds per annum (that being the 
value of his tobacco), rents his glebe for twenty shillings per annum, 
has a school in his parish, endowed by one Mr. Sanford, of London, and 
which is still in existence. 

How long the pious labors of Mr. Black continued after the year 1724 
is not known. In the year 1755 we find, from an old list of the clergy 
of Virginia, that the Rev. Arthur Emmerson, afterwards well known 
in other parishes, was the minister. In the year 1774 the Rev. William 


Vere is set down in the Virginia Almanac as the minister of Accomac 
Parish. He was doubtless the last minister of this parish. In the year 
1785, when the first Convention after the Revolution met in Richmond, 
there was no clerical delegate from either of the parishes of Accomac. 
Mr. Jabez Plttis was the lay delegate from Accomac Parish, and Mr. 
Levin Joynes and Tully Wise from St George's. 

The churches in AccoYnac were a brick one, at "Assawaman," on the 
seaside; a wooden one, on the Middle or Wallop's Road, about five miles 
from the southern line of the parish, and another of wood, at Poco- 
moke, near the Maryland line, called the New Church. None of them 
now remain. About thirty years past, says Bishop Meade, the over- 
seers of the poor took possession of the Communion plate, and sold the 
same to a silversmith, who intended to melt It, but being advised that 
it was doubtful whether they had any authority to sell the plate under 
the law directing the sale of glebe lands, and there being a tradition 
that the plate was a private donation, the sale was rescinded. 

As to the ministers of St George's Parish, in Accomac, our records 
before the Revolution fail us altogether. It is probable that some of 
the ministers of Hungars Parish rendered service here for some time 
after the division of the Eastern Shore into the counties of Northamp- 
ton and Accomac, especially Mr. Teackle. The Teackle records say 
that the Rev. Thomas Teackle preached there for over fortv years, and 
family tradition states that he was the first rector of St. George's. He 
died in 1696. This would date the church somewhere about 1656. In 
Northampton county records Mr. Teackle is frequently mentioned as 
"Minister of ye Upper Parish." He was born in 1624, in Gloucester- 
shire, E}ngland, and his father was slain in the army of Charles I. His 
son, fleeing from the persecutions of the Cromwellites, first went to 
the Bermudas, and thence came to Northampton at the instigation of 
his cousin. Colonel Obedience Robins. St. George's is considered, in 
the Teackle records, to be the fourth church In Virginia in point of age. 

The first minister on any of our lists was the Rev. John Lyon, from 
Rhode Island, who was in the parish in the year 1774, and continued 
there during and some time after the war. Being more of the English- 
maii than the American in his feelings, his time was very uncomfort- 
able during the Revolutionary struggle; but, being married into a re- 
spectable family, his principles were tolerated and his person protected. 
While as a faithful historian, we shall truthfully admit whatever of 
Toryism there was among the clergy of Virginia, we shall as faithfully 


maintain that there was a large share of noble patriotism in the clergy 
of Virginia. Mr. Jefferson declares this most emphatically. No ele- 
ment was more often invoked in the earlier history of Virginia than 
the influence of ministers of the* gospel in producing a feeling of re- 
sistance to the oppressions of England, and no class from whom the 
Henrys, Jeffersons and patriot politicians of that day received greater 
aid in opening the eyes of the people and preparing them for severance 
from Great Britain. Mr. Jefferson himself acknowledges this in his 
works (Vol. I., pp. 5-6). 

In the year 1786 the Rev. Theopolus Nugent was present in the Con- 
vention as the rector of St George's Parish, Accomac. But nothing more 
is known of him. The following is a list of the clergymen from the 
time of Mr. Nugent to the present day: The Revs. Cave Jones, Ayrs, 
Reese, Gardiner, Eastbum, Smith, Chase, Goldsmith, Carpenter, Adams, 
Bartlett, Winchester, Jonathan Smith, William G. Jones and Zimmer. 

The Rev. Cave Jones was a native of Virginia, probably a descendant 
of one of the three of that name who ministered to the early Church 
of Virginia. He was a man of talents and eloquence, which, after some 
years, attracted attention beyond the bounds of our State, and led to a 
call to Trinity church, New York. He was so popular in that situation 
as to become a formidable rival to Dr. Hobart, afterwards Bishop of 
New York. 

Another name in the above list is that of Rev. Mr. Eastbum, worthy 
of more than passing notice. James Wallis Eastburn, a brother of 
Bishop Eastburn, of Massachusetts, M. A. of Columbia College, of New 
York, was a native of that State, and from every account we have of 
him, must have been one of the most interesting and talented young 
men of our country. He was ordained by Bishop Hobart in October, 
1818; commenced his ministry in Accomac county almost immediately, 
and after a short but truly glorious ministry of about eight months, 
returned, broken in health, and expired in December, 1819, on his way 
to the West Indies. He had only reached the age of twenty-two, but 
was mature in mind and a "burning light" in the Church of God. The 
hymn — 137 — ^beginning, "Oh, Holy, Holy, Holy Lord," was composed by 
bim at eighteen years of age. 

Some years since, the Rev. Ambler Weed, of Richmond, undertook 
the revival of the Church in the lower part of St. George's Parish, and 
by great diligence caused a new church by the name of St. Michael's 
to be erected near Belle Haven. In this and in old Pongoteague church 


he officiated for some years with great diligence and self-denial and 
with some success. 

Old Pongoteague, the first house of prayer erected in Accomac, and 
probably not much less than two hundred years old (1857), still stands 
a remarkable monument of former days, among some old trees, perhaps 
as ancient as itself. It was a brick building in the form of a cross, 
with a bow window in one arm of the cross and the vestry-room in the 
other. The floor was of brick and the pews had high backs. The pul- 
pit was circular, with a flight of steps leading to it The brick floor 
having become uneven, a plank floor was laid over it, and the pew 
backs were lowered. The Parish Register was lost, but the old Bible 
and Prayer Book, together with t;he old Communion service, have been 
preserved. The goblet and paten, it is believed, were the gift of Queen 
Anne, and bear this inscription: "Te Parish of Accomack.'' 

In 1861 the church was used as a stable by the Federal troops, and 
at the end of the war the building was a complete wreck. Thus it re- 
mained untenanted for a number of years, until the Church people of 
the neighborhood determined to restore it as a place of worship. After 
many sacrifices and trials and much hard work, they succeeded in re- 
building the time-honored and sacred edifice. The arms of the cross, 
being cracked and unsafe, were taken down, the main pc^t of the cross 
being rebuilt with the old bricks, and services were resumed after an 
interval of twenty-five years. The first rector of the restored church 
was the Rev. Mr. S. H. Wellman. Since then the rectors have been as 
follows: The Revs. John Anderson, F. M. Burch, John McNabb, Henry 
L. Derby, Cary Gamble, John S. Meredith and W. Cosby Bell. Among 
its rectors, too, was the Rev. Benjamin Bosworth Smith, who served 
at its altar in 1819, and was afterwards first Bishop of Kentucky and 
Presiding Bishop of the Church in the United States. 

I am sorry to be unable to give a list of the ancient vestrymen of 
Accomac. The only document of which I have heard from which to de- 
rive such list and other particulars perished during the last year. 
Would that all the friends, members and ministers of the Church of 
Virginia, and any others who have any care for her past history, would 
but inquire for such documents, and search for them among the ne- 
glected papers of old family mansions and clerks' offices! How much 
might still be rescued from destruction and oblivion which is worthy 
of preservation in some permanent form! 



In place of a list of vestrymen of the parish^ I subjoin the following 
of the families which, from the earliest period to the present time, have 
ceionged to the Episcopal Church in Accomac. It has been furnished 
me by a friend, with the qualification that it is imperfect, and that 
tnere are others who might be added: 

••Bowman, Cropper, Joynes, West, Satchell, Smith, Wise, Finney, 
Scarbrough, Robinson, Custis, Bayly, Snead, Parker, Stratton, Bagwell, 
Andrews, Arbuckle, Stokely, Poulson, Downing, Bell, Upshur, Para- 
more, Teagle, Hack, Seymour, Kellam, etc." 




THE history of the Eastern Shore of Virginia begins with Cap- 
tain John Smith's visit of exploration, recorded by himself. 
He says: 
"Leaving the Phcenix at Cape Henry, wee crossed the bay 
to the Eastern Shore, and fell in with the isles called Smith's Isles. 
First people encountered were two grim, stout savages, upon Cape 
Charles, with long poles, javelings headed with bone, who boldly de- 
manded who and what we were. After many circumstances, they 
seemed kind, and directed us to Accomack, the habitation of their 
Werowance, where we were kindly treated. This Rex was the come- 
liest, proper, civill salvage we encountered. His country is pleasant, 
fertile clay soyle; some small creeks, good harbours for barques, not 
ships. They spoke the language of Powhatan." 

The largest of this group is still known as "Smith's Island." It 
formed a very insignificant part of the patrimony of Mrs. Robert E. 
Lee, inherited through many generations from her ancestor, John 
Custis, of Arlington, Northampton county, Va. From this first Ameri- 
can home of the Custis family, the famous Arlington, Mrs. Lee's 
home until the outbreak of the Confederate War, received its name. 

The home of the "Rex," whom John Smith visited (in 1608), was 
on what is called "Old Plantation" Creek, which name commemorates 
the fact that the oldest "settlement" on the Eastern $hore was made 
on this beautiful tidal inlet, probably on the farm at the head of the 
creek, also called "Old Plantation." No trace of this first settlement 
can now be found, and I have met with no reference to it prior to 
the account given by John Rolfe, who, having returned to England, 
taking with him his wife, Pocahontas, was desired by the Virginia 
Company in London to furnish them with information concerning 
the Virginia Colony. He tells them of six "plantacons," one of them 
at "Dale's Gift," on the Eastern Shore, where Lieutenant Craddock, 


with about sixteen men, had been established for the purpose of mak- 
ing salt, of which all the settlements were in need.* 

A few years later, in 1620, a second settlement was made on the 
farm now called "Town Fields," which lies between Cherrystonef and 
King's Creeks, divided by the latter from the very new town of "Cape 
Charles City," about fourteen miles from the real Cape Charles. 
The English called this second "towne" Accomack — probably in 
compliment to the "Laughing King of Accomack" (John Smith's 
"Rex") — which name was applied not only to the town and to 
the royal residence, but by the Indians to the whole peninsula. The 
new town seems to have absorbed the earlier one at Old Plantation, 
which is heard of no more. Perhaps the Colonists found it more 
convenient and comfortable to have th3 "King's Cieek" between them 
and their Indian neighbors. 

As usual in the early Virginia settlements, the building of a church 
was one of the first duties to be performed. In the same year (1629) 
one was built "neare the ffishinge poynte." Its exact location cannot 
be identified, for all "poyntes" in that highly favored land may be 
made "ffishing poyntes." It was perhaps at the point made by the 
Junction of the two creeks. That it was called ^'the Ffishinge Poynte" 
seems to indicate that, at that time, the few inhabitants, for mutual 
protection, did all their fishing in ono place. The church was "of 
insignificant dimensions," constructed of rough logs, connected loosely 
with wattle, the whole enclosed with Tallysadoes' for protection against 
*ye Indian tribes, an ever present menace to peace and safety.' " I 
believe, however, there Is no record or tradition to indicate that the 
tribes on the Eastern Shore ever Invaded the "peace and safety" of 
the English, possibly because of their prudent measures of self- 
protection; but the massacres on the Western side of the Chesapeake, 
and more especially the "Great Massacre" of 1622, made men cautious, 
and this seems to have turned the tide of immigration to the other 
8hore,t where climate and soil were good, food supplies unusually 
abundant, and where the Indians were kind and friendly. 

♦This Report, dated 1615 or 1616, is in one of the early volumes of 
the Va. Hist. Mag., or the Va. Hist. Register; an ante-bellum number. 
I read It some years ago, and have neither "Magazine" nor "Register" 
to refer to. 

tOrlginally Cheriton; the unmeaning Cherrystone being a corruption. 

tBlshop Mead9, Vol. I, p. 85, says; "Such was the effect, both in Vlr- 
irinla and England, that a commission was sent over to the Gov., Sir 
George Yardley, to seek for a settlement on the Eastern Shore of 
Virginia for those who remained. That plan, however, was never put 
Into execution, though steps were taken towards It." , ,.. 


The first rector of this first church — ^which, though unnamed, should 
never be forgotten — was the Rev. Francis Bolton. A manuscript record 
in the Congressional Library gives this statement concerning his 
salary: "It is ordered by the Governor and Council that Mr. Bolton 
shall receive for his salary this year, throughout all the plantations 
on the Easteru Shore, ten pounds of tobacco and one bushel of com 
for every planter and trader above the age of sixteen, aiive at the 
crop.** A clergyman coming to Virginia could not have been In- 
fluenced by any prospect of emolument; but, paltry as these items 
seem, a bushel of corn and ten pounds of tobacco was probably a 
larger contribution in proportion to income than we can always show 
in these days. In 1630 Thomas Wamet (?), "principal merchant and 
devout Churchman," bequeaths to Mr. Bolton the following useful 
articles: "A firkin of butter, a bushel of salt, six pounds of candles, 
a pound of pepper, a pound of ginger, two bushels of meal, a rundlet 
of ink, six quires of letter paper, and a pair of silk stockings." 

The second rector was the Rev. William Cotton, who officiated from 
1632 to about 1645. The second church, about ten miles from the 
first and lower down the peninsula* was built near the place after- 
wards called Arlington, the home of John Custis, immigrant, of whom 
many anecdotes still linger in local traditions, and whose tomb, with 
the singular epitaph composed by himself, is still at Arlington. This 
church was known as the "Magothy Bay Church." Presumably, it 
was another log building, in no way superior to that at the "Ffishinge 
Poynte"; and as there seems to be no record of any rector, it may 
be assumed that Mr. Cotton had charge of both. Proof of its existence 
in 1645 is found in an early county record, which ordered that all 
citizens should carry "arms and fixed ammunition." Such as were 
caught without these were to be "punished" by being required "to 
clear paths to the new church," "enclosed by a stockade." 

It must have been at the "Fflshinge Poynte" church that Marie 
Drewe stood up and asked "forgiveness of the congregation" for some 
"ugly words" she had used towards Joane Butler. It is evident that 
Church and State in Virginia were as essentially one as in the Mother 
Country. The "Act" for suppression of gossip was passed September, 
1634; its enforcement was left to the Church, as this extract shows. 
'ITie two women had quarreled, and reviled each other in no choice 
language. Joane was arrested, triedi convicted and sentenced. 

"Upon dew examination, it is thought fltt by the board that s'yd 
Joane Butler shall be drawen over the King's Creek at the stame of 


a boat or canoux; also, the next Sabbath day in the tyme of devyne 
(divine) servis, between the first and second lesson, present herself 
before the minister, and say after him as followeth: % Joane Butler, 
doe acknowledge to have called Marie Drewe h , and hereby I con- 
fess I have done her manifest wronge; wherefore I desire before this 
congregation that the s'yd Marie Drewe will forgiv me; and also 
that this congregation will joyne (join) me in prayer, that GJod may 
forgive me.' " 

Marie Drewe was then arrested, and received the same sentence. 
She retracted, asked "forgiveness" in the church and escaped the 

The name of the peninsula was changed from ''Accowmake" to 
Northampton in 1642. Various traditions give various reasons for 
the selection of this name. The best authenticated seems to be that 
it was a compliment to the Earl of Northampton. At this date there 
were few settlers in the upper part, and Hungars Parish is not yet 
mentioned. In 1662 the peninsula was divided, the upper county 
resuming the original name, Accomac, the lower retaining that of 

The first formally organized vestry was in obedience to an order of 
the Court at James City." 

"At a court holden in Accawmacke the 14th day of Sept., 1635"; 
[the peninsula being then called Accomack]. 

"At this court Mr. Wm. Cotton, minister, presented an order of 
the court from James Citty, for the building of a Parsonage ordered by 
the vestry and because there have heretofore been no formal vestry 
nor vestrymen appointed, we have from this present day appointed 
to be vestrymen those whose names are underwritten: 

"Wm. Cotton minister, Capt. Thomas Graves, Mr. Obedience Robins, 
Mr. John Howe, Mr. Wm. Stone, Mr. Burdett, Mr. Wm. Andrews, Mr. 
John Wilkins, Mr. Alex. Mountjoy, Mr. Edw. Drew, Mr. Wm. Beniman, 
Mr. Stephen Charlton. 

"And further we do order that the first meeting of the syd. vestry- 
men shall be upon the feast day of St. Michael the Arch-Angel, being 
the 29th day of September." 

In accordance with that order of the court, the vestry meeting was 
held and record entered of the same as follows: 
'A vestry heald, 29th day of Sept. 1635. 
'Capt. Thomas Graves, Mr. John Howe, Mr. Edward Drew, Mr. Obe- 



dience Robins, Mr. Alex. Mountjoy, Mr. Wm. Burdett, Mr. Wm. An- 
drews, Mr. Wm. Stone, Mr. Wm. Beairoan." 

At this meeting an order was made providing for building the 
parsonage house. 

As the parsonage here mentioned was for the use of Rev. Mr. 
Cotton, it must have been built in the Magothy Bay section of the 
county, near his two churches. It was ordered to be built of "wood" — 
presumably sawed lumber, not logs — forty feet wide, eighteen feet 
deep, and nine feet "to the valley," with a chinmey at each end, and 
beyond the chimneys a small room on each side — "one for the minister's 
study and the other for a buttery." 

"Mr. Cotton seems to have had considerable difficulty in collecting 
his tithes, despite the fact that good buildings began to be erected," 
and every home had its garden and orchard. Suit was brought in 
1637 against Henry Charleton for nonpayment of dues. 

"John Waltham, Randal Revel and John Ford deposed on oath that 
they heard Henry Charlton say that if be had had Mr. Cotton without 
the churchyeard, he would have kict him over the Pallysadoes, calling 
of him Black catted (coated) raskall. Upon the complaynt of Mr. 
Cotton against the said Charlton and the depositions as above ex- 
pressed, it is ordered that the said Charleton shall for the s'yd offence 
buyld a pare of stocks, and set In them three severall Sabouth days 
in the time of Dyvine Servis, and there ask Mr. Cotton forgiveness." 
The punishment was doubtless salutary and conducive to proper re- 
spect for clerical dignity. 

There seems to have been no legal title to the ground upon which 
the Magothy Bay church was built prior to 1691, for in that year 
William Willett conveys, in consideration of 20,000 pounds of tobacco, 
600 acres of land to William Baker,* reserving "one acre of land, on 
which church now stands," "to remaine for that use as long as the 
parish 'mindes' to continue the same." This land had been granted 
by Francis Morrison, Governor of Virginia, to Edward Douglas, and 
was confirmed by another patent from Governor Andros "to me, 
William Willett," nephew and heir to said Edward Dcwglas. This 
deed of conveyance is a curiosity of superfluous verbiage, and much 
too long for quotation. It gives the boundaries with great minute- 
ness, mentions "a spring neare the Church or Chappell," and is dated 
"30 May Anno Regis X, Anno Domini, 1698." 

•Book of Deeds and Wills, No. 12, page 198, Northampton Records. 


It is probable that successive churches had taken the place of the 
original structure (as at Jamestown and elsewhere) long before this 
conveyance of title. The latest built upon this site was still in use 
in the early years of the nineteenth century, but in 1826 it was pro- 
nounced unsafe, torn down and the old materials sold at auction.t 

CJhrist church in Eastville was built about this time, and the old 
silver service for Holy Communion has been used in this church ever 
since. The pieces have an inscription showing that they were the 
gift of "John Custis, Esq'r, of Williamsburg," to the lower church 
of Hungars Parish, 1741. The plate is marked "Ex dono, Francis 
Nicholson, Esq'r." Date of this gift must have been 1690 to 1693. 

Mr. Cotton died in 1645. He is called in the Records, "the godly 
son of Joane Cotton, widow, of Bunbury, Cheshire, England." Wil- 
liam Stone, first Protestant Governor of Maryland, was his brother-in- 
law. Stone resided on Hungars Creek. 

Rev. John Rozier (Bishop Meade says Rogers) succeeded Mr. Cotton. 
An old colonist, in his will, speaks of this gentleman as "Deare and 
respected friend," and I>r. John Holloway bequeaths to him a foHo 
Greek Testament 

In 1639 Nathaniel Eaton, first principal of Harvard, came in Nele's 
barque to Virginia, where he married "Anne Graves, daughter of 
Thomas Graves, a member of the Dorchester church, who emigrated 
to Virginia, and died of climatic Infiuence, leaving his daughter a 
fair patrimony." Eaton became Rozier's assistant, but fied to England 
in 1646. By the Assembly's Act of 1639-40, ministers of the gospel 
"were allowed ten pounds of tobacco per poll to pay their clerk and 

In 1642 the parish was divided. All south of King's Creek was one 
parish, called Hungars; from King's Creek to Nassawadox was to be 
known as Nassawadox Parish. In this latter was built a temporary 
church. On December 23, 1684, Major William Spencer gave to the 
church wardens of Hungars Parish the land on Hungars Creek, on 
which "the frame of a church" now stands, and one acre of land 
surrounding it, being a part of Smith's Field. So we learn that this 
first Hungars church, like that at Magothy Bay, was built upon land 
for which no title was obtained, until years had gone by. This 
church was, perhaps, not abandoned until the "Brick Church," the 
present Old Hungars, was built. 

Hungars Creek Is one of those beautiful tidal inlets which give to 

tThe foundations may still be seen near the Arlington gates. 


Cha Chesapeake counties of Virginia and Maryland such exquisite 
views of land and water, and upon which, even in those early times, 
charming homes began to cluster; for the earliest colonists settled 
along these creeks, and their descendants and successors have not 
been able to improve upon the sites they selected. 

Hungars Creek lies between Church Neck, its northern boundary, and 
Hungars Neck, on the south. The church is in a grove of pines, at 
the head of this creek. Approaching from the south, the county 
road passes over a little bridge, which crosses one fork, and from 
which the little village of Bridgetown ("at which courts were held in 
early years") takes its name. 

In 1691 the parishes were again made one, and from that time 
until the present, county and parish are the same in extent. 

Old records in the Clerk's Office: 

"Att a council held att James City, Apr. the 21st, 1691. 

"Present — ^The Rt. Hono'ble Francis Nicholson Esq. Lt Gov. ft coun- 

"Major John Robins and Mr. Thomas Harmanson, Burgesses of the 
County of Northampton, on behalf of the County of Northampton, by 
their petition setting forth that the said county is one of the smallest 
In the colony, doth consist of a small number of tithables, and is 
divided in two parishes, by reason whereof the Inhabitants of both 
parishes are soe burdened that they are not able decently to maintain 
a minister in each parish and therefore prayed the said parishes might 
be Joyned in one and goe by the name of Hungars parish, not being 
desirous to infringe any gift given to Hungars parish, and more 
especially one by the last will of Stephen Charlton, which parishes 
soe joined will not only be satisfactory to the inhabitants but make 
them capable to build a decent church and maintain an able divine; 
On consideration whereof Itt is the opinion of this board and accord- 
ingly ordered that the whole County of Northampton be from hence- 
forth one parish and goe by the name of Hungars parish, and that 
the same shall be noe prejudice to the gift of the aforesaid Charlton 
to the said parish of Hungars and it is further ordered that the 
Inhabitants of the sd. parish shall meet at such time and place as the 
court of the said county shall appoint and make choice of a vestry 
according to law. Cop. vera, test, W. Edwards, cl. cou." 

Then, in accordance with the appointment of the court, at a meet- 
ing of the inhabitants of the said county of Northampton, at the 


courthouse thereof, the 22iid day of June, 1691, the following vestry- 
men were elected: 

Major John Robins, Capt. Custis, Capt. Poxcroft, John Shepheard, 
Benj. Stratton, Preeson Davis, Benjamin Nottingham, John Powell, 
Jacob Johnson, Thomas Eyre, John Stoakley, Michael Dickson. It 
was evidently soon after this step was taken that the Hungars church 
building was erected. 

I have been unable to find the origin or meaning of the name Hun- 
gars, nor when it was first applied to the parish. "Hungars Creek" 
occurs in the records in 1649, possibly earlier. Whether the parish 
gave name to the creek or the reverse has not been ascertained, nor 
any convincing explanation of the name itself offered. It has been 
said that a parish in Northamptonshire, England, bears the same, but 
the lists of English parishes in the Peabody Library, Baltimore, does 
not contain a Hungars in any shire. So many of the Indian names 
were retained that in default of tracing to any English source, I am 
inclined to believe this a survival of Indian nomenclature, especially 
in view of the fact that most of the Eastern Shore creeks still keep 
their original names, somewhat modified. 

Thomas Palmer, clericus, succeeded Rozier; John Armourier was 
the next minister of the parish, and was followed as early as 1651 
by the Rev. Thomas Higby, who married the widow of John Wilkins, 
vestryman. In 1656 Francis Doughty, brother-in-law of Governor 
Stone and non-conformist, is noted as "Minister and Preacher of Ye 
Word in this parish, now in Northampton county," and was exhorted by 
one Ann Littleton in her will to rear "My children in ye most Chris- 
tian falih." Rev. Thomas Teackle was officiating in the Upper parish 
(St George's, Accomac,) during Mr. Higby *s service in the Lower; all 
of his predecessors served but a short time, and the records show many 
suits for their salaries. "Mr. Teackle had his difficulties also, and to the 
end of his life sought his dues in a legal way."* He had, besides, diffi- 
culties not financial. His moral character was fiercely attacked (in 
one instance by Col. Scarburgh), but he retained the confidence and 
afTection of the people. It is on record in the county that, "on April 
28th, 1663, one John Stockley was ordered to give bond for good be- 
havior and to recant in presence of the congregations of Hungars and 

•Rev'd Mr. Teackle acquired considerable land. A farm called 
Craddock, situated in Craddock's Neck (not far from Old St. George's 
church, Accomac), remained in possession of descendants of his own 
name until a few years ago. Many descendants on the Eastern Shore 
and in Baltimore. 


Nassawadox parishes the next time that the Rev. Thomas Teackle 
preached in the church, because said Stockley had said that the vesiry 
"was 'illegal and unfair' because not chosen by a majority of the 
people." Mr. Teackle officiated at old St. George's much longer than 
in Hungars parish; he probably ministered to both at the same 
time, for the supply of clergymen was seldom equal to the demand, 
and, fav;te de mieux, non-conformist divines were sometimes permitted 
to officiate, *'80 far <i8 the laws of England and of this colony permit;" 
but that these loyal Churchmen accepted their services with reluctance, 
and dispensed with them as soon as practicable, is shown by the fol- 

"Whereas, Mr. Daniel Richardson, o'r late minister, for want of 
orders, was found not Orthodox, and therefore hired him from yeare 
to yeare (to supply the place of minister so farr as the Lawes odF 
Bngland and this country could make him capable) until we could 
supply ourselves with an able Orthodox devine. And forasmuch as 
Mr. Isaac Key did present, whom we find very able and worthy, wee 
of the Vestry and subscribers hereof, doe certifye unto Your Honor 
that at a vestry, the 8th day of May last past, did discharge the 
said Richardson from his said ministry, and have since made choice 
of the said Mr. Isaac Key for o'r minister, who hath accepted and 
most willingly promised to serve; Wherefore we hereby request your 
Honor's confirmacon by Inducting him into this o'r parish as min- 
ister. And your Supplycants shall ever pray. John Stringer, William 
Kendall, William Walters, John Robins. James Pigot." 

To this appeal Governor Berkeley assented in these words: 
"This worthy, learned Gent., Mr. Key, is soe well knowne to me, 
that I am most certaine you will be happy in haveing soe deserving 
a person to officiate to you and advise and comfort you in all yo'r 
spirituall wants and necessityes, & I doe require that he bee immedi- 
ately Inducted. William Berkeley. 
Nov. 18. 1676. 

It will be observed that these Churchmen used the word "Orthodox" 
as applied to a "minister," to signify that he had been regularly 
ordained by an English Bishop. Bishop Meade says, "Such was the 
use of the word orthodox at that time." 

Prior to the induction of Mr. Key (in 1671), the "Commissioners 
of Plantations" had sent over this query to Governor Berkeley: 
"What coorse is being taken about instructing the people within your 


government in the Christian religion, and what provision is there 
made for the paying of your ministry?" Which elicited the following 
reply from Berkeley: 

"The same coorse that is taken in England, out of towns, every 
man according to his ability instructing his children. We have fforty< 
eight parishes in Virginia, and our ministers are well paid, and by 
my consent should be better, if they would pray oftener and preach 

In or about the year 1653 Col. Stephen Charlton, a wealthy and very 
prominent citizen, bequeathed his Home-place (situated in Church Neck. 
at no great distance from Hungars church) to his daughter, Bridgett, 
for her life, and to her heirs; but if she had no child, then the land was 
to go to the church wardens, Argall Yardley and John Michael, and to 
the vestry of Hungars Parish for the support of a rector. It was stipu- 
lated that the church was to be open for divine service a certain num- 
ber of times in every year. Bridgett Charlton married, but had no 
child ; and at her death the parish inherited it. It became the home of 
many successive rectors. The last resident was the Rev. John Ufford, 
-who became rector in 1843, and resigned in 1850. In his time the church 
was dispossessed of the property — "robbed" of it, the Church people con- 
sidered. Bishop Meade says with regard to this act of spoliation : 

"The peace and happiness of the Episcopal congregation in North- 
ampton has been much marred for many years by a painful and pro- 
tracted controversy with the overseers of the poor concerning the glebe. 
More than two hundred years ago the wealthy and pious Charlton, in 
Tlew of his approaching dissolution, and in the event of one of his two 
daughters dying childless, left a portion of that earth which is all the 
Lord's for the perpetual support of the Church of his fathers, and of 
that religion which had been his happiness in life, and was now to be 
his consolation in death. He did this in the exercise of a right recog- 
nized by God Himself in the law of His Word, and secured to men by 
the laws of every government upon earth — the right of disposing of our 
property by will. ♦ ♦ ♦ The Legislature of Virginia, both under the 
Colonial Government and since our independence, has, by several acts, 
ratified the Church's claim. But, after a long period of acquiescence in 
the Church's right, the overseers of the poor, under that act of the Leg- 
islature, which had never before been suspected of embracing this 
case, determined to claim it, and actually did sell it at public auction, 
conditionally. The question was brought before the Legislature, and a 
sanction for the sale sought for; but it was dismissed as unreasonable. 


The question was taken before a court of law, and twice decided in be- 
half of the Church. An appeal has been taken to a higher court Years 
have already been passed in painful controversy. Great have been the 
expenses to the Church, and much the loss in various ways. * * * 
The peace of the county has been much impaired by it Political ques- 
tions and elections to civil offices have been mixed up with it, and Chris- 
tians of different denominations estranged from each ather. Surely, 
when our Legislature reserved all private donations from the operation 
of the law which ordered the sale of glebes» if this case could have been 
presented to them, and they had been asked whether it could come un- 
der the sentence of it, the bitterest enemies of the Episcopal Church, 
and the most unbelieving foes of our religion, would have shrunk with 
horror from the suggestion." 

To complete the story of this transaction, I will only say that the 
glebe was eventually lost to us. The very fact that the "lower glebes," 
and the servants and other appurtenances of l>oth glebes were sold soon 
after the passage of that Act, while the right of the Church to the 
Charlton Glebe was not even questioned, shows conclusively to fair- 
minded people how the law was understood at the time. The farm is 
still known as the Glebe, and is a lasting witness against an injustice. 

No sketch of Hungars Parish, however slight, could be complete with- 
out this story of our Glebe and its loss; but it is more pleasant to go 
back to the church itself. Concerning it, however, I have very scant in- 
formation. About 1750 "Richard Allen conveyed to John Haggoman and 
his family all his interest in and to a pew which he (the said Allen) had 
built in Hungars church." In 1759 Thomas Preeson, in his will, speaks 
of "the new church on Hungars Creek," for which he had deeded to the 
church wardens an acre of ground, and, in return, they had deeded to 
him "a Pew marked T. P.," in 1751; and in the deed (signed in 1752) it 
is stated that the church was "a brick church." The land he conveyed 
was not that on which the church stands, but on the opposite side of the 
county road, and was, I believe, intended for a burial place. In 1695 
the Rev. Samuel Palmer was rector. In 1712 the Rev. Patrick Falconer 
is minister. He died in 1718, "and after having given much to the 
poor, he left his property to his brother James, in London, and desired 
that his body should be buried before the pulpit in old Hungars church." 
This was done; the sexton's fee for such interments being 300 pounds 
of tobacco. 

Rev. Thomas Dell was the minister until 1729; John Holbroke. until 


1747. Rev. Edward Barlow succeeded and died in 1761; Rev. Ricliard 
Hewitt died in 1774; and in that year Rev. Mr. McCoskey became rector, 
remaining until his death in 1803, succeeded by Revs. Gardiner, rOavis, 
Symes and Stephen Gunter. Rev. Simon Wilmer was rector as late as 
1836. In that year Rev. W. G. Jackson was elected. After a very severe 
illness he resigned in 1841, and obtained a chaplaincy in the Navy. Rev. 
J. P. B. Wilmer (son of Dr. Simon Wilmer, and eventually Bishop of 
Louisiana,) was rector from 1841 to 1843, succeeded by Revs. John Uf- 
ford, James Rawson and J..M. Ghevers, elected in 1855. Of his succes- 
sors I have not an accurate list, but Revs. C. Colton, A. S. Johns, Craig- 
hill. Ware, Easter, William Nelson Meade, Randall, Carpenter and 
Thomas are among them. 

Prior to the Revolution the interior furnishings of Hungars church 
were very handsome — all of them brought from England, and most, if 
not all, of them gifts from Queen Anne. I have seen fragments of the 
chancel draperies; dark crimson velvet of Superb quality, with gold em- 
broidery and bullion fringe, all of which had defied time and retained 
a brilliancy I have never seen surpassed. Alas! only fragments remain- 
ed; for in the antagonism to everything English, which followed the 
Revolution, the Church — still the "Church of England," and without 
Bishops of her own, fell upon evil times, and was pillaged and dese- 
crated, with none able to protect her. Most of the clergy ,*being Elnglisb- 
men, returned to their own country. The deserted churches, still be- 
loved by the faithful, could not be preserved from vandalism, under the 
name of patriotism. The large pipe organ was taken from the church 
and destroyed. Tradition says the fishermen in the neighborhood used 
the metal as "sinkers" for their nets. The beautiful hangings were cut 
to pieces; doors and windows suffered to fall from their hinges, and 
nothing left in the church which was coveted by any chance intruder. 
I have known persons who remembered to have seen cows grazing on 
the grass growing in the brick-paved aisles of St George's, in Accomac, 
and Hungars church, doubtless, fared no better. The silver and the 
altar linen — given by Queen Anne — were, however, carefully kept, and 
are still in use, I believe; that is, the silver is used, and the altar cloth 
kept as a priceless relic, for occasional use. 

The unhappy condition of the Church throughout Virginia in the 
years following the Revolution, and extending into the nineteenth cen- 
tury, is well known, and need not here be dwelt upon. The extracts 
which follow, from a letter written many years ago, will show how 


Hungars parish suffered. The writer, a most devoted Churchwoman, 

"The Episcopal Church in Northampton has heen small and feeble, to 
the grief of all the 'friends of Zion. I became a communicant on Christ- 
mas day, 1813. The communicants were Mrs. Jacob, Mrs. E. Satchell, 
Mrs. L. Stratton, Mrs. L. Evans, Mrs. H. Parker, Miss Anne Savage and 
myself. My inestimable friend, the Rev. Mr. Davis, was pastor. Seven 
other ladies soon after Joined the little band. After Mr. Davis' death, 
the Rev. Mr. Symes, from Norfolk, became rector. Hungars and Ma- 
gotty Bay churches (the latter, that near Arlington) were both deserted, 
and worship was conducted in the Courthouse at Ejastville. Mr. Symes 
toiled with untold difficulties for a very short time; removed to South 
Carolina, and there died. 

"Not coming immediately to the rectorship, the Rev. Herbert Mar- 
shall, of Rhode Island, officiated for six months. 

"Mr. Wilmer's ministry was much blessed. The communicants increas- 
ed to tv^nty-two in 1821; and among them were Mr. James Upshur, Mr. 
Wyatt, Dr. Winder and Mr. John Harm'anson. This was a strong acces- 
sion; truly we thanked God and took courage. And here allow me to 
say, the want of male strength and co-operation has ever been the cause 
of the slow growth of our Church in Northampton. The four gentlemen 
named above died in quick succession, and the church was again left to 
the women — 'last at the cross and earliest at the sepulchre.' In 1827 
Dr. William G. Smith joined the church, and has been its consistent and 
valuable friend. With our subsequent additions and circumstances you 
are well acquainted. Our ministers have all been choice and faithful; 
the responsibility is our own. Being the oldest living member, per- 
haps *the oldest inhabitant,' I have made these imperfect 'jottings' for 
your information." 

My own recollections begin with the Rev. Simon Wilmer, but the 
memory is very vague, for I was not three years old at the time of his 
death. He was very absent-minded, and his wife equally so. Many 
memories of them lingered in the parish, and they were always spoken 
of with great affection. Here is a story often told, which exhibits 
their absent-mindedness: They had made a visit, their infant child be- 
ing with them; and when taking leave were at great pains to see that 
all their belongings were put into their carriage. Half-way down the 
avenue leading to the county road they heard a call, and stopped to see 
what was wanted. "Can we have left anything?" asked his reverence. 


Kis wife answered, "Everything that I can think of Is here, even the 
baby's bottle! But there miist he something r The "something" was 
the baby himself, fast asleep on a sofa. This baby became the Bishop 
of Louisiana, and was said to have been as absent-minded as his 
parents. The Rev. Stephen Gunter was Dr. Wilmer's predecessor. 

I do not know at what time old Hungars was put in decent repair, and 
the services resumed, nor under which rector this was accomplished; 
but long before 1840 it was opened fortnightly for morning service, al- 
ternating with Christ church, Eastville. Many of the families in and 
near Eastville attended both churches regularly. The members of Hun- 
gars church living in the upper part of the parish also frequently at- 
tended the other church, for the parish was a harmonious unit. 

The exterior of the church remained unchanged, but the interior never 
regained its Colonial splendor, and the chancel furniture and draperies 
were very simple and inexpensive. There was only one aisle; the pews 
were large and nearly square, with benches on three sides. Children 
sat on the front benches, facing their parents. The pulpit was at the 
side of the church, near a door. 

Before 1850 the old church was pronounced unsafe, cracks having ap- 
peared in one of the gables, and the walls being slightly out of plumb. 
An attempt was made, by means of iron rods, to draw the walls back 
into position, but proving unsuccessful, the cracked gable was pulled 
down and a portion of each, side wall, reducing the length by about one- 
third. It is, however, more than large enough for its present congrega- 
tions. The interior was altered in various particulars; two aisles took 
the place of one, thus reducing the size of the pews, while increasing 
their number; the pulpit was removed to the chancel. 

Bishop Meade gives the following list of vestrymen for Hungars 
church since 1812: 

Peter Bowdoin, John Eyre, Nathaniel Holland, John Addison, John 
Goffigan, John Upshur, John Windee, Littleton Upshur, George Parker, 
William Satchell, Thomas Satchell, S. Pitts, Jacob Nottingham, Isaac 
Smith, John T. Elliott, J. H. Harmanson, James Upshur, Abel P. Upshur, 
W. Danton, Charles West, W. G. Smith, John Leatherbury, Severn E. 
Parker, John Ker, T. N. Robins, N. J. Windee, Major Pitts, G. F. Wil- 
kins Simkins, Fisher, Evans, Bell, Adams, Nicholson. 



ABOUT fourteen miles from Petersburg and half that distance 
from Prince George Court-house, stands Merchant's Hope 
church, at a point two miles inland from James River, on 
what is known as the Church Road. The building, of ancient 
brick, is sixty feet long and thirty feet wide, with walls twenty-two 
inches thick, and rafters of such unusual size that their weight proved 
a menace even to those sturdy walls which were, some fifty years 
ago, braced by iron rods to prevent threatened damage. On one of 
these rafters the number 1657 was found. It was taken to be the 
date of the erection of the church, and this date is now painted on 
the outside cornice of the building. Of the credibility of the inference 
antiquarians must Judge. The aisles, passing from both doors and 
meeting at the chancel, are six feet wide and are paved with the 
original flag stones, practically in perfect preservation after all these 
years. They are eighteen inches square, and were doubtless im- 
ported, as others of that day are known to have been. On replacing 
one of these tiles which had become loosened, it was found to bear 
on its under surface a crown cut in the stone as a sort of stamp or 
trademark. Across the end of the church, opposite the chancel, runs 
a gallery. Passing under this, the west door is reached, on one side 
of which is a small vesting room, lighted by a tiny window into the 
church. On the other side a stairway leads to the gallery. The ceil- 
ing, following a low curve, was until recently of white plaster, like 
the finish of the walls, but owing to the difficulty of keeping its 
arched surface in repair, it is now ceiled in wood. The old lines were 
preserved and the acoustic properties of the church are said to owe 
their excellence to this form of roof. The old square pews remained 
in use till the Civil War, and are now replaced by the modern kind, 
while the chancel, destroyed at the same time, has never been restored. 
The original rail and gate are replaced by a curved walnut rail. The 
necessary furnishings are the simplest. Within the memory of the 
father of the present senior warden the high pulpit, with its sounding- 


board, stood midway down the church, the minister leaving the chancel 
and traversing half the length of the aisle to enter it The upright 
beam to which the sounding board was affixed is detected beneath 
the plaster now. The church's jewel is an old Bible of great beauty 
and interest. The title pages are gone, but expert testimony affirms 
it to be "the New Testament of 1639, which is appended to the Old 
Testament of 1640." There seems no reason to doubt that it is John 
Westhrope's "great Bible/' left to the parish in 1658. 

The church yard, lying beside the little church, contains no tomb- 
stones, nor is there a tradition that any ever existed. In that part of 
the world the plantations were large and the distances great, and the 
custom of interment in private burying grounds to a great extent 
prevailed. The church yard is carefully fenced, and is still occa- 
Eionally used as a place of burial. No monument or tablet nor trace 
of such marks the church walls. No old register exists, no new one 
has been begun. The spot is mute as to its own history, and one who 
would learn the story must glean far and wide and at last bring 
home but a small sheaf. 

The church takes its quaint and suggestive name from the old 
plantation on which it stood. No part of the tract retains the name 
to-day except God's Acre. The small farms into which it was dividjBd 
long ago have well-known names of their own. A bark called Ye 
Merchant's Hope was plying between England and Virginia In 1634. 
In 1635, under West, William Barker, Mariner, Richard Quoynlng 
(Quiney) and John Sadler, Merchants, and their associates and com- 
pany, received a grant of "1,250 acres of land in the county of Charles 
City, and extending into the woods from a seat or grant of lands 
called Merchant's Hope, formerly granted to the said Barker his 
Associates and Co." This tract, enlarged by the purchase from his 
heirs of Captain Powell's holdings, already historic ground by reason 
of his tragic end here in the Massacre of 1622, was repatented under 
Harvey in 1638 as "Merchant's Hope, formerly known as Powle Brook.^' 
Barker received further grants, and bought other lands in the nelgh^ 
borhood. Sadler and the company were granted some portion of Mar- 
tin's Brandon in 1636 and other tracts in 1649, and the holdings of 
these men now formed two plantations of great size, the home of a 
considerable colony. 

In 1655 we hear for the first time of court being held at Merchant's 
Hope. Barker must have sold his interest in the two places, leaving 


Quiney and Sadler joint owners. Quiney, whose brother Thomas had 
married Judith Shakespeare in 161&-16, died in London in 1655. Sadler, 
Who was, I believe, his father-in-law, died in 1658. Of his will we 
shall have occasion to speak later. 

In 1711, under Spotswood, the Sadler and Quiney heirs repatented 
Merchant's Hope, now 2,208 acres. In the meantime that part of 
Charles City county lying along the south bank of James River had 
been made into a new county and called Prince Greorge, no doubt in 
honor of Queen Anne's Danish consort. There is a deed among the 
Prince George county records, executed in 1720, conveying, on the part 
Of Quiney's heirs, one-half of Merchant's Hope and Martin's Brandon 
to Nathaniel Harrison, who doubtless bought the other half of both 
plantations from the heirs of John Sadler. He thus became the sole 
owner of a magnificent tract, which in part remains in the Harrison 
family to-day. 

Court was transferred from Merchant's Hope in 1726. A field two 
miles from the church is now known as "Court-house Jamb." We 
can not doubt that it is the site of the court-house. As the building 
tell into ruin, perhaps some upright for door or window outlasted 
its fellows, and so gave a name to the spot, which clings to it still. 

The parish of Martin's Brandon, in which Merchant's Hope church 
lies, was, says Meade, "a very early parish in Charles City." From it 
Bristol parish was cut ofT in 1642. Bishop Meade mentions that Mer- 
chant's Hope and old Brandon were the only churches in the parish. 
Their history he dismisses with very few words. 

Probably the site of the oldest church of the parish is to be found 
at Brandon. The suggestive name of Church Pastures clings to a 
small farm on the estate, where there is a churchyard with a few 
still decipherable tombstones. Here are buried some of the Tookers 
(or Tuckers), of Devonshire, and John Tirrey, Gent., who died in 
1700. Near here is the grave of John Westhrope's wife. The will of 
John Westhrope, of London, Merchant, made in 1655, after his return 
to England, and proved in 1658, leaves "to the church of Martin 
Brandon, in Virginia, 2,000 lbs. of Merchantable Tobacco and Caske, 
toward the Repairing or the building up of a new Church; provided, 
always, the said church be built upon the same ground or place the 
said church now stands on; also 1,000 lbs. of Tobacco and Caske to 
contain the same, to bye a Communion Cupp, also my great Bible and 
a book called Bishop Andrew's sermons." "The Communion Cupp" 


is a cherished possession of the present church at Brandon. It was 
doubtless used by both churches as long as they remained in the 
same parish, for after the separation in 1857 we find an appropriation 
of $70 at Merchant's Hope for a Communion service, which is the one 
now in use there. 

Another will of this period which contains a mention of the parish 
is that of John Sadler, above referred to. He leaves a portion of his 
cattle on "his plantations in Virginia in parts beyond the sea ♦ ♦ ♦ to 
the minister and parish there, and £20 worth of goods to be delivered 
to Master Charles Sparrowe and the chiefest of the parishioners of 
the parish of Martin's Brandon, to repairing the church and par- 
sonage." Of course, this church, about whose repair Sadler and Wes- 
thrope were concerning themselves, could not be a recently built brick 
edifice, but must refer to the earlier church of Brandon. 

If the date 1657 is assignable to the present Merchant's Hope church, 
we may imagine its erection undertaken under the law passed in 
1655, reiterating former decrees of Assembly and urging the laying 
out of parishes, the building of churches and the buying of glebes. 
In 1667, under Berkeley, there was granted to "the Parish of Martyn's 
Brandon 200 acres for a Glebe belonging to their church in the County 
of Charles City, between Captain Johnson's land and the 'Merchants.' " 
A farm still called the Glebe, and lying midway between the two 
churches, would seem to correspond to this grant No other mention 
of it has come to my notice. It is a matter of record when the sale 
of many glebes was allowed at the request of the parish vestries, but 
no such request is to be found in the case of Martin's Brandon. 

The first minister in the parish whose report we find is John Warden, 
who states that he came to Virginia in 1712. "In six months went to 
Waynoak and Martin Brandon, both which parishes were hardly suffi- 
cient to maintain a minister, therefore I removed to Lawn's Creek. 
Surry, January 30, 1717." In the meanwhile Peter Fontaine had come 
to the colony in 1716. He "preached at Weyanoke and Martin's Bran- 
don; some time after at Wallingford and Jamestown, all belonging 
to distinct parishes." After 1720, when changes were made in many 
parish lines, Fontaine was given the charge of Westover, which now 
lay- entirely on the north side of the river, and we hear of no one at 
Martin's Brandon till the time of Alexander Finnie, in 1754-55. Bishop 
Meade mentions Coutts as incumbent from 1773-76. Ten years later 
Blagrove was rector, followed after an interval by Rev. John Jones 


Spooner. Then follows a silence in the parochial reports. Bishop 
Meade tells us that these were not lost years, however. 
A consecrated man from Rhode Island worked among the people 
during this time, ably assisted by lay helpers. In 1828 Bishop Moore 
reports his intention to send a missionary to Prince George and Surry, 
"through whose labours I hope for a revival of the Church and the 
restoration of her excellent form of worship." Rev. John Cole was the 
man selected, but in 1830 we find him in Gloucester, and no report 
of Martin's Brandon reaches the Convention for another seven years. 
Then the Rev. R. E. Northam, rector of Brandon and Cabin Point 
(Surry) took charge of Merchant's Hope, repaired the church and 
formed a vestry. This is the beginning of more prosperous days, con- 
tinuous services and good attendance, with occasional visitations and 
confirmations. Rev. Aristides S. Smith came to the church in 1843. 
A parsonage was built, and work among the blacks received a new 
impetus He reports a chapel built by two proprietors of adjoining 
estates for their slaves. He was followed in the rectorship by Rev. 
Henry Denison. The communicants now numbered thirty-four. His 
earnest energies were directed to the work among the slaves, and 
he reported encouraging prospects and large congregations. He was 
followed by Rev, Charles Minnigerode, under whose ministry the 
flock abundantly prospered. He was succeeded by the Rev. E. C. 

Then came the formal division of the parish. Brandon church and 
Cabin Point became united in a parish, to be known as Martin's 
Brandon and Southwark. The parsonage was ceded to Merchant's 
Hope, and Rev. R. L. Johnson was called. He was followed by Rev. 
John S. Hansborough. The war came on, and the church building 
suffered desecration. It was used as u stable, while the high pews 
were torn out to furnish flooring for the enemy's tents. For these 
damages the Court of Claims has now allowed satisfaction, and the 
vestry is about to receive indemnity. After the war Mr. Hansborough 
returned to the desolated parish, and ministered there till 1870, fol- 
lowed by Rev. Wm. F. Gardner and E. Valentine Jones. During a 
ministry of eleven years Mr. Jones saw his charge prosper greatly. 
The old places near by still sent their representatives whenever the 
church doors were opened — the CockeS, of Tar Bay; the Blands, of 
Jordan's Point; the Willcoxes, of Flower de Hundred, and the Ruffins. 
of Beechwood. 


The last rector to serve the church was Rev. F. G. Ribble, now of 
Petersburg. During his stay of a few months last spring and summei- 
the Bishop visited the parish twice and confirmed twenty persons. Un- 
fortunately the church has been closed since last September. The field 
is full of promise. Whenever the doors are opened the church is filled 
with eager, interested listeners, but it is impossible for the congrega- 
tion, in existing circumstances, to support a minister. The building 
is in perfect repair, due to the untiring zeal of its small congregation. 
It has stood in its integrity through all these years witnef^sing to thf 
undying religion planted in our land by its early settlers. After years 
of prosperity the Civil War came, working ruin to the whole region. 
The tide of life swept out and left it stranded. No county in the State, 
perhaps, has felt changed conditions more iceenly. In some portions 
the solitude is wonderfully like desolation, and the pines in the old 
corn rows have almost reached maturity. Perhaps the awakening will 
some day come. When it does it will find the living Church of Christ 
standing to testify that, in the arrestment of material progress and the 
long sleep which looked like death, her influence went out unfalter- 
ingly, whereby many hearts have been quickened. 




THERE is no parish in Virginia more interesting, nor bearing 
more distinctly the mark of antiquity than Westover. The 
oldest church plate in the United States is a Communion cup 
presented in 1619 to "St. Mary's Church in Smith's Hundred 
in Virginia/' by Mrs. Mary Robinson. The cup is still preserved by 
the church at Hampton and bears the hall-mark of 1617, with the 
inscription above mentioned. 

Smith's, or Southampton Hundred extended from Weyanoke to the 
Chlckahominy river; was located in 1617 and abandoned after the 
Indian massacre of 1622. If "St. Mary's Church/' for which the plate 
was designed was actually built, it was contemporary with the Argali 
church at Jamestown, and older than any other in the Colony. The 
county of Charles City, in which it was located, was one of the original 
shires or counties into which the Colony was partitioned in 1634, and 
extended over a broad area on both sides of the James river. West- 
over Hundred, Weyanoke (or Weyanoake) Hundred, Shirley Hundred, 
and Charles City Hundred were early settlements on James river, 
within its bounds, and we read of a school being, or to be established 
"at Charles City Hundred in aid of the proposed college at Henrico." 
Weetover Parish followed the original county lines; was thirty miles 
long and, extending to the other side of the river, included Charle? 
City Hundred (now City Point) and a section of country extending 
to Martin's Brandon. Bishop Meade states that there were originally 
In Charles City county the parishes of Westover, Weyanoke and Wal- 
lingford, which extended to the Chickahominy river; all three after- 
ward uniting into one, taking the name of Westover Parish. 

At Weyanoke, generally accepted as the next settlement after 
Jamestown, there long remained foundations of an ancient church, 
and a pamphlet in the possession of Mr. Graves, of Maryland, states 
authoritatively that an assembly was held at the church at Weyanoke 
early in the 17th century. There are still traces of the old graveyard, 
and one of the tombs from there was carried to St Paul's, Norfolk, 
(by the Rev. Dr. Okeson) where it may still be seen. Apparently 


after the destruction of the church at Weyanoke the "county was 
divided into Westover and Mapsco. The part above the courthouse 
was called Westover, and the part below called Mapsco, from an In-*, 
dian name given the creek near where the original Lower church 

The parish took its name from the Westover tract, which was 
granted to Captain Francis West in 1619, for Henry West, the son 
and heir of Lord Delaware, Governor of Virginia; Westover gaining 
its name from the West family. 

Owing to the unfortunate loss or lack of early parish records, it 
is impossible to fix the age of the present Westover church. Ths 
original Westover church stood near the Westover house, about a 
quarter of a mile up the river bank. Its location is established by the 
existence of very interesting tombs at that point. The earliest is that 
of Walter Aston, who patented in 1642 a tract on Kimage's creek. 

Next in point of antiquity is that of Theodoric Bland, who in 1666 
purchased Westover: 

S. M. - 

Prudentis & Erudite Theodorici 
Bland Armig Qui Obijt Aprilis 

23rd A. D. 1671. Aetatus 41 
Cujus Vidua Maestissima Anna ■ 

Fillia Richardi Bennt Armig 
Hoc Marmor Posuit. 

Here are the highly interesting Byrd monuments, that of Mary Byrd, 
wife of one, and mother of another of the distinguished William Byrds: 

Here lyeth the Body 
of Mary Byrd, Late Wife of William 
Byrd, Esq. Daughter 
of Warham Horsemander Esq. 
Who died the 9th 
Day of November 
1699. In the 47 year 
of Her Age. 

Nearby lies that fair heroine of romance, Evelyn Byrd: 

Here in the sleep of peace. 
Reposes the Body of Mrs. Evelyn Bjrrd, 
Daughter of the Hon. William Byrd Esq. 


The various and excellent endowments 

of Nature 
Improved and perfected by an accomplished education formed her 
for the happiness of her friends, for an ornament of her county. 

Alas Reader, 

We can detain nothing, however valued, 

from unrelenting Death. 

Beauty, fortune or exalted honour 

See here a Proof, 

And be reminded by this awful Tomb; that every worldly comfort 

fleets away, excepting only, what arises from imitating the virtues 

of our friends and the contemplation of their happiness. 

To which 

Ood was pleased to call this Lady 

On the 13th day of November, 1737, 

In the 29th year of her age. 

In the adjacent garden lies Col. William Byrd, by long odds the 
most accomplished man of his day in America — statesman, scholar 
and fellow of the Royal Society. He built the present noble brick 
mansion at Westover, ran the Virginia and North Carolina line, and 
founded the city of Richmond. His monument is very elaborate and 
bears the following inscription: 

"Here Lieth 
The Honorable William Byrd, Esq., being born to one of the amplest 
Fortunes in this Country, he was sent early to England for his Edu- 
cation; where under the Care and direction of Sir Robt Southwell, 
and even favored with his particular Instruction, he made a happy 
Proficiency in polite and various Learning. By the means of the same 
noble Friend he was introduced to many of the first Persons of the 
Age, for Knowledge, Wit, Virtue. Birth or high Station, and particularly 
contracted a most intimate and bosom Friendship with the learned 
and illustrious Charles Boyle, Earl of Orrery, he was called to the Bar 
of the Middle Temple, studied for some time in the Low Countries, 
visited the Court of France, and was chosen Fellow of the Royal 

On the opposite side of the tombstone Is inscribed: 
"Thus eminently fitted for the Service and ornament of his country, 
he was made Receiver-General of his Majesty's Revenues here, was 
thrice appointed Public Agent to the Court and Ministry of England. 


and being thirty-seven years a member, at last became President of 
the Council of the Colony, to all this were added a great Elegancy 
of Taste and Life, the well bred Gentleman and polite Companion, 
the splendid Economist and prudent Father of a Family, was the 
constant Enemy of all exorbitant Power, and hearty Friend of the 
liberties of his Country. 

"Nat. March 28th, 1624. Mort. Aug. 26th, 1744. An Etat 70 years." 

There is no trace of a monument to the third Villiam Byrd, whose 
prominence in military life was such that he was seriously considered 
instead of General Washington as leader of the Virginia forces in the 
Revolutionary War. 

In the old churchyard we find also the tombs of Benjamin Harrison, 
of Berkeley, and his wife Elizabeth Burwell, this being the third 
Benjamin Harrison, father of Benjamin Harrison, Speaker of the 
House of Burgesses, grandfather of Benjamin Harrison, one of the 
signers of the Declaration of Independence, great-grandfather of Wil- 
liam Harrison, President of the United States in 1841, who was born 
at Berkeley in 1773, and great-great-great-grandfather of Benjamin 
Harrison, President of the United States in 1889. 

The only other decipherable tomb is that of Charles Anderson, the 
first known minister of this parish. 

There is no record of the date of the removal of the church from its 
original site, only that it was removed brick by brick by "Mrs. B3rrd 
to her land Evelyngton," about two miles away. The last interment 
in the old churchyard of which we have evidence was that of Mistress 
Evelyn Byrd, 1737. The oldest monument in the present churchyard 
remaining unbroken is "Erected by Richard Weir, To the dear mem- 
ory of his pupil and friend. ♦ ♦ ♦ He died the 17th of June, 
1748.' It looks therefore as if the move were made in the interval 
between 1737 and 1748. If, however, the Mrs. Byrd who caused the 
removal was, as has been supposed, the widow of the third William 
Byrd, it would have been a little later. 

Bishop Meade says of the present building: 

"The old Westover church still stands, a relic and monument of 
ancient times. It is built of the glazed-end bricks, generally used in 
Colonial structures. It has been subject to terrible mutilation, having 
been used in the days of general depression in the Episcopal Church 
in the beginning of the 19th century as a barn. Repaired then by the 


families of Berkeley and Shirley, and again repaired just prior to the 
war, it was used by the Federal troops as a stable. 

"In 1867 the Westover church was opened and used again for the first 
time since the close of the war. Not a door, window, or floor was 
left; but by the blessing of good God and kind friends, we have re- 
paired it." (Parish Register). Now, 1907, q, considerable sum is in 
the hands of the Ladies' Aid Society for the restoration and beauti- 
fying of the church. 

Of the Lower church in the parish, we are told that "the Old Brick 
church, called Mapsco, stood about seven miles below the court- 
house and immediately on the road to Sandy Point, the old seat of 
the Lightfoot family, also convenient to the Chickahominy neighbor- 
hood." A note written about 1850 says: "Mapsco church was on the 
road to Barrett's Ferry, near the fork of the road, four miles below 
where the new church stands. The ruins are still visible. The 'New 
Church' is first alluded to in the Parish Register in 1841 as St Thomas', 
and on Christmas, 1854, St Thomas' church was destroyed by fire. 
Rebuilt in 1856, it was consecrated by the Assistant-Bishop Johns at 
Mapsco church." 

Of the parish glebes we are told there were two in the day of 
Parson Fontaine, 1724, neither having homes on them. The glebe 
house now standing bears distinct evidence of antiquity. The land is 
said to have been the grant of the crown; the house is built of the 
Colonial glazed brick, and it was the residence of early ministers down 
to Parson Chapin. 

After the disuse of the glebe, Parson Norris (1833) lived with Dr. 
Willcox at River Edge. 

On the revival of CJhurch life in the parish, a rectory was secured 
on the outer part of Weyanoke, in 1841. From that point the rectory 
was removed in 1888, to a tract adjoining Westover church, probably 
the same "Westing, belonging to the Westover estate, across the 
creek from the Westover house, once occupied by Parson Dunbar." 

Of the ministers of this parish we are told by Bishop Meade: "We 
have no means of ascertaining the name of a single minister of this 
ancient shire for nearly a century after its establishment." The 
earliest on record was Rev. Charles Anderson, to whose tomb we have 
referred, who died in 1718, having been for 26 years minister of this 
parish. He preceded the first mentioned by Bishop Meade, that 
godly man. Rev. Peter Fontaine, who served the parish faithfully 
for forty years and died in 1755. He was followed in 1758 by Rev. 


William Davis; in 1776 Rev. James Ogilbie; in 1786 Rev. John Dunbar, 
the fighting parson, who married a daughter of the House of Byrd, 
and of whose wild doings there is many a sinister tale. He is various- 
ly reported to have fought a duel behind Westover and old Mapsco 
church, and is said to have vainly tried to stir up strife between the 
cousins Benjamin Harrison, of Berkeley and Brandon, making the offer, 
which was declined, to the bearer of a challenge from one to the other. 
Next came, 1793 or earlier. Rev. Sewell Chapin, last occupant of the 
glebe. Parson Chapin baptized John Tyler, tenth President of the 
United States, who was born at Greenway, Charles City county, in 
1790. An oil painting of old Parson Chapin hung in the Tyler home- 
stead, "Sherwood Forest," until it was taken during the war to 
Richmond, with other portraits, for protection, and burned there the 
day of evacuation. Mr. Chapin died at "Weyanoke," the residence 
of F. Lewis, and was buried in the aisle and under the present chancel 
of Westover church. 

Now follows the period that the "Churches mouldered away," in 
which time, tradition tells of Parsons Black and Blagrove. 

In 1833 Rev. Charles Farley acted as missionary in Charles City, 
Chesterfield and King William. In the same year, 1833, Rev. A. 
Norris took charge of the parish, followed in 1835 by Rev. William 
Thomas Leavell, and in 1853, Rev. N. K. Okeson. In 1856 Dr. Ander- 
son Wade followed, and was for upwards of twenty years beloved 
rector of the parish. In 1880 came the Rev. W. B. Everett, and in 
1886 Rev. K. S. Nelson. In 1888 the Rev. J. Poyntz Tyler followed, 
and in his day there was a distinct increase of interest and enthu- 
siasm in the parish. He was succeeded in 1891 by Rev. John C. Cor- 
nick, who is still the faithful rector of the parish. 

Among the early vestrymen of the parish we hear the names: 
"Lightfoots, Minges, Byrds, Carters, Harrisons, Tylers, Christians, 
Seldons, Nelsons, Lewises, Douthats and Willcoxes," many of the 
same being on the Vestry Books of to-day. The present vestry — E. C. 
Harrison, registrar; J. M. Walker, senior warden; J. A. Ruffin, treas- 
urer; William L. Woods, J. A. Gentry, J. B. Brockwell, T. W. Willcox, 
junior warden; D. G. Tyler, F. L. Douthat, W. L. Harrison. 

The Communion plate of both churches is extremely interesting — 
that of Westover church, "Ex Dono Sara Braine." The massive alms 
basin belonging to this set has passed into the possession of St. 
John's church, Richmond. The plate at Mapsco church was presented 
by "Fran. Lightfoot, Anno 1727." 


During the last twenty years a third church has been added to the 
parish — Grace chapel, Granville, in Shirley neighborhood. The Shirley 
mansion, standing on the original "West and Shirley Hundred," is 
one of the oldest and most interesting in Virginia. Patented in 1664 
by Edward Hill, it has remained in unbroken line in the hands of 
his descendants — Hills and Carters — many members of both families 
rising to distinction. 

The mother of Gren. Robert E. Lee, was Miss Carter, of Shirley. 
At the "Forest," Thomas Jefferson was married to the widow Shelton. 
There are a number of private graveyards throughout the parish, 
containing interesting monuments, notably those at Sandy Point, 
with the tombs of the Lightfoots; at Green way, with the tombs of 
the Tylers, notably Governor, afterwards Judge John Tyler, con- 
temporary and friend of Jefferson and Henry; and the oldest of all 
at Bachelor's Point with William Hunt, 1676, and another William 
Hunt, 1694. 

God's word and worship seem nowhere to have formed a more 
important part in the early history of our country than in this old 
parish of Westover. 

For information in this paper we are indebted to Bishop Meade's 
"Old Churches and Families in Virginia"; Dr. Lyon G. Tyler's "Cradle 
of the Republic," and the only register of Westover Parish in ex- 
istence, dating from the year 1833. 




THE small county of York held within its narrow bounds the nu- 
cleus of early Colonial life and strength. Very near the first 
seat of government at Jamestown and afterwards halving with 
James City county, the new business home of Governor and 
Burgesses, it numbered among the planters those who influenced the 
destinies of all the other counties. 

There were three disJnct Church parishes within its bounds. Charles 
Parish a* New Poquoson, on Poquoson river, was in the lower, part of 
the county and was called New Poquoson, in contradistinction to Old 
Poquoson or Elizabeth City. It was ordered by the House of Burgesses, 
Dec. 11, 1692, that "upon the peticon of ye pishioners of New Poquoson 
in ye county of Yorke yt from henceforth forever hereafter ye old 
pish Church shall be called and named Charles Church. And ye river 
formerly called New Poquoson river shall from time to time and all 
times hereafter be called and written, Charles river." The parish be- 
came known as Charles Parish, but the river is Poquoson river. This 
parish as New Poquoson had alreauy existed over forty years. 

In the north of the county were the other two parishes, Kiskyache, 
settled in 1630, Yorke in 1632. In 1633 the seventh of the stores for 
receiving and shipping purposes ordered to be built in the different 
plantations were built on Charles river for the inhabitants of Kis- 
kyache and Yorke. Kiskyache was made a parish in 1642, and when 
Charles river county was changed in name to York, the name of 
Kiskyache was changed to Hampton Parish. 

The first rector of Yorke and Hampton parishes was Rev. Anthony 
Panton, in 1639-40. He became involved in an undignified squabble 
with Richard Kempe, secretary of the Colony, whom he spoke of as 
a 'jackanapes" and criticized the untidiness of his personal appearance. 
Richard Kempe took his revenge by having him deprived of his charge. 
Anthony Panton appealed to England, bringing serious charges against 
Kempe of mismanagement in public affairs. Kempe was recalled 
«nd the charges against Panton were ordered to be inquired into, and 


if innocent of them he was to be reinstated in his parishes of Yorke and 
Hampton, which latter is described as being between Williamsburg 
and Yorke. (Neill's Virginia Carolorum.) 

"Parson Cluverius was rector of Yorke-Hampton in 1644." (Virginia 
Historical Magazine.) Bishop Meade states that an old tombstone in 
Yorke county reads, "Rev. Thomas Hampton, rector of Yorke in 1647." 

In 1642 a contract was made to build a church in Yorke. (Yorke Re- 
cords.) The so-called "Temple Farm" was the site of old Yorke 
church and there is r. deed recorded in Yorktown about 1769 which calls 
the field in which the so-called temple stood, "The Church Field." 
What is pointed out as a temple ruin is old Yorke church, described 
in early patents. (William and Mary Quarterly.) 

The old Yorke church was abandoned when Yorktown was estab- 
lished, and before 1700 a new church was built there. "To this once 
busy emporium of trade, the courthouse and church were transferred — 
the courthouse from the half-way house on the road to Martin's 
Hundred, and the church from the old forgotten plantations of Martin 
Baker and George Menifee. ♦ ♦ ♦ Near the half way house kept by 
the Hansfords are the ruins of old Hampton church, formerly Chisiack 
church. When Yorke and Hampton united into Yorke-Hampton the 
Communion service belonged to Hampton." (William and Mary 
Quarterly, Vol. I.-II.) 

From the different accounts given in the two Historical Magazines in 
Virginia, taken directly from Yorke county records and from the old 
register, all of which can easily be verified, it appears that up to 1642 
the parishes of Yorke county were perfectly distinct; only Yorke and 
Hampton were often under the same minister. Judging by the old 
register, which begins long before 1692, when the name was changed 
from New Poquoson to Charles Parish, this parish was large and 
flourishing, containing many well known names. 

The flrst entry concerning a rector was in 1687: "Ye Rev. Thomas 
Finney, rector of this parish, died and was buried in the chancel of 
New Poquoson Church." The next clergyman came in 1688, Rev. James 
Sclater. He died in 1723, after a quiet ministry of 35 years, leading us 
to hope, from the length of his pastorate, that he was one of the few 
inducted ministers. 

It was during the very short interregnum after his death that Charles 
Parish was reported to the Bishop of London as vacant. The next 
rector was called from Old Poquoson or Elizabeth City; Rev. James 
Falconer, who died in 1727. Rev. Theodosius Staige was then called 


from Fredericksburg. He died after a pastorate of 20 years, m 1747. 
In 1749 the Rev. Thomas Warrington is mentioned as rector. In 1756 
he was called to Old Poquoson. The last name given was Rev. Joseph 
Davenport, who was still rector when the register closed. The very 
last entry was by Kev. Samuel Shields in 1789, who would seem to 
have combined Charles and Yorke-Hampton parishes under the same 
charge. Thus we see that in 140 years Charles Parish had only had 
six ministers. 

In our review of Yorke-±iampton up to 1647 it had already had three 
clergymen. Throughout its history it is marked by constant change 
among its clergy. Probably on account of its nearness to the restless 
Church element in Williamsburg it would be apt to be Influenced more 
or less by the disputes between the Governor and the vestries, and 
later oetween the Governor and the Commissary. 

Old Yorke church was, according to early patents and records, at 
Temple Farm or "the Old Church Field," two or three miles from 
Yorktown. The foundations still existing measure 60 feet east and 
west, 46 feet north and south. Hampton church stood in Kiskyache, or 
Chisiack, between Williamsburg and Yorktown. "Col. Edward Digges 
owned a plantation in Hampton Parish, of 1,250 acres, near the Indian 
town of Kiskyache." (William and Mary Quarterly.) After some 
time the parish was united to that of York and called York-Hampton. 
The family seat of the Digges was eight miles from Williamsburg and 
was called "Belfleld." 

Rev. William White was rector of York in 1658, Rev. James FoUiott 
in 1680, Rev. Stephen Fouace came from England in 1688, returned and 
died there in 1702. He was rector of York-Hampton and witnessed 
a written promise from Governor Nicholson to give the sum of £20 
towards the building of a church in Yorktown if built within two 
years, to be built of brick. This was in 1696. Documentary proof like 
this ought to settle the date of the building of the present church. In 
1695 Governor Nicholson gave 3% acres of land in Yorktown for a free 
school. In 1860 Yorktown was laid out on land belonging to Mr. Ben- 
jamin Reade, inherited from Captain Nicholas Martian, who was Bur- 
gress for Kiskyache. The courthouse was ordered built in 1691 and all 
county business was moved there. The next clergyman we know of 
was Rev. Mr. Goodwin, 1714. 

Then comes a break in our information until 1724, when the Rev. 
Francis Fontaine makes a report to the Bishop of London, in which he 
speaks of his parish thus: "There are two churches in this parish 


(Tork-Hampton), one in Torktown and the other eight miles distant. 
My parish is twenty miles in length and four miles broad. There are 
two hundred families in it. In my church at Yorktown there are three 
score communicants, at the other church about twenty." 

It certainly seems as if the weight of evidence puts Hampton church 
In the twelve miles more or less between Williamsburg and Yorktown, 
rather than in the lower part of the county, where it would conflict 
very decidedly with the large and well-cared for Charles ParisL. 
Bishop Meade himself takes this view. He says (Vol. I., p. 197) : "Theri» 
was at an early period a small parish between Williamsburg and York- 
town called Kiskyache or Chescake. The church which still stands 
a few miles from Williamsburg on the road to York belonged to that 
parish." The Bishop also says that the Virginia Oazette for March, 
1746, says that the plate given the church by Nathaniel Bacon had 
been stolen. (This was not the Nathaniel Bacon of notorious mem- 
ory, but a near kinsman.) This was the plate of York-Hampton 
church; perhaps that is the reason that in 1748 Philip Lightfoot in his 
will leaves £50 to buy a 'silver flaggon and challice,' to be engraved 
with his arms, for York-Hampton Church." Be that as it may the ola 
Communion service of Hampton Parish has been transferred to York- 
town, where it is still in use. It is engraved "Hampton Parish in 
Yorke County, Virginia." The hall-mark shows it was made in 1649. 
The service has one flagon 10^ inches high and one cup 8^ inches. 
The plate is modern, not solid silver. 

The present church of Yorktown, probably the same one to which 
Governor Nicholson subscribed in 1696, stands upon an elevation about 
60 feet above the river and about z50 or 300 feet from the water. It is 
built of a sort of marl stone taken from the hills overlooking the river. 
When it was burnt in 1815 the action of the flre made the stone still 
firmer, so that it was easily rebuilt. The old church was in the shape 
of a T situated east and west. When it was rebuilt the wings of the 
T were left off, making only a nave 60 by 30 feet. The foundations of 
the wings have been filled up with rubbish and are distinctly visible, 
the walls being 2% feet thick. 

In 1758 the Rev. John Camm was rector of York-Hampton. He 
brought the parish into prominence by the strong stand he took with 
regard to the payment of the clergy in money; the paper currency 
which was good only in the Colony, allowing the small sum of only 
two pence a pound for the tobacco, which had formerly been the 
medium of pay between the vestry and the minister, thus depriving the 



clergy of the benefit of any fluctuation in the price of that commodity. 
Mr. Camm not only resented this for himself, but he determined to 
fight it out for his brother clergy, making his the test case. He fought 
it first before the home government, then carried it to England. He 
gained his point there, the Royal Commission ordering the annulment 
of the law; but there was such bitter feeling against the royal decision 
tliat when the case came up before the Virginia Assembly he was award- 
ed one penny damages. The second time it was referred to England, 
and the King and his officers refused to interfere again. 

Twice in the history of the Church in Virginia did vital interests 
depend upon individual action. The two Nelsons, the president and sec- 
retary, refused to sit upon the board because they belonged to Mr. 
Camm's parish and were opposed to the measure, thus leaving a mar 
iority of one for instead of against it. If they had consented to serve 
It would have been a majority of one against it and probably it would 
have dropped. 

When the question of taking away the glebe lands came up years 
later Judge Pendleton had written his decision against the legality 
of the act, carrying with him the weighing vote. Dying suddenly, hB 
had not signed the paper, and his successor rendering an adverse dfi- 
cision, the great injustice was an accomplished fact. 

In 1785, when the Convention was held in Richmond, Torktown 
church was represented by Rev. Robert Andrews, and Charles Parish 
by Rev. Joseph Davenport. The church in Yorktown had seen sad 
days, alternately in the hands of British and Continental troops and 
many of its best men in the service of their country in other parts oi 
the Colony, it had been almost defenceless. In 1781 "The windows 
and pews having been broken and destroyed and the Church used as a 
magazine, the damages were valued at £150. The destruction was 
wrought by Lord Cornwallis." (York Co. Records.) Lord Cornwallis 
surrendered and the Articles of Capitulation were signed at Temple 

In 1786 and for many years Rev. Samuel Shields represented both 
Charles Parish and York-Hampton at the Conventions. In 1793 Rev. 
James Henderson represented them. From 1799 to 1815 all parish t%- 
ports were irregular and Charles and York-Hampton are absent from 
the printed Convention reports. The church in Yorktown had probably 
not been rebuilt after it was burnt in 1815, because Bishop Moore vis- 
ited Torktown in 1825 and preached in the morning at the courthouse 
and in the afternoon at Mr. Nelson's house. 


In 1825 the Rev. Mark Chevers, rector of Elizabeth City, reports: "At 
the request of a few families in Charles Parish, York county, I have for 
tfome months past performed divine services and preached from house 
to house every fortnight on Saturdays, and it gives me great satis- 
faction to state to the Convention that the services have heen well 
attended and a vestry has recently been chosen and exertions are 
making. The hope is entertained that the love of the Church may 
yet revive in the parish. Communicants 32; baptisms 40; marriages 5; 
funerals 9." It is evident from these last two items that the whole of 
York county was without a useable church building. 

A careful perusal of the Convention reports edited by Dr. Hawks 
shows a greater desire in the two Bishops, Moore and Meade, to start 
missions and churches in the new counties constantly forming than to 
revive the old churches on the coast. 

Tradition says that the bell was given by Queen Anne. When the 
church was burnt the bell was broken and the fragments were laid 
aside in the vestry room. After the Civil War those pieces were found 
in Philadelphia by Rev. Mr. Nicholson, afterwards Bishop Nicholson, 
and being attracted by the words "Yorktown, Virginia, 1725," he wrote 
to Rev. Mr. Bryan asking the history of the bell. It was then recast 
by tae Hook Smelting Company in 1882, and on July 11, 1889, was re- 
hung on a rude scaftold in the churchyard, and rung for service after 
a silence of 75 years. 

The church suffered again during the Civil War. Standing as it did 
on the brow of a hill commanding the wide sweep of water, it was 
an Important point of view; and a signal tower was erected on top of it. 
The brick wall was taken away and the church dismantled. It is 
hoped that damages will be obtained for this military destruction also. 

After the war the late Dr. Wharton was very much interested 
in the restoration of the church and worked hard to keep the build- 
ing from falling into the hands of some other denomination which 
would gladly have paid for repairing it for the sake of possessing a 
historical church. 

The ministers who have served there since 1835, probably in connec- 
tion With some other charge, are: Dr. Minnigerode, Rev. Thomas 
Ambler, Dr. L. B. Wharton, Rev. A. Y. Hundley, Rev. F. M. Burcli, 
Rev. William B. Lee, 1877-99. Rev. Floyd Kurtz, 1899-1901. In 1901 
Rev. William B. Lee resumed charge of the parish, in connection with 
the churches in Gloucester county. Hampton church and that of 
Charles Parish have disappeared from the face of the earth; and tbe 


long roll of their communicants is called now in the hearenly courts. 
Grace church alone in its dual character of York-Hampton, stands as it 
has stood for two hundred and seven years. 

This article has already outrun its limits, so space fails in which to 
go over the list of prominent families who once filled these three 
churches. Three generations of Nelsons lie in the graveyard there, 
who by their strong individuality and sterling character impressed 
themselves on the early history of Church and State. The evidence 
of the strong Christian spirit of these ancestors of the Nelson family 
can be seen In the number of faithful clergy who have borne the name 
in the last fifty years. 

In either the first or second volume of the William and Mary Quarter- 
ly is a list of the estatea and families in the county of York during 
the years of its prosperity, which makes you feel as if you were 
riding past plantation after plantation; and some of the names are 
so closely connected with the stirring history of the Colony, that you 
feel as if you personally knew the owners of those well kept places. 
No douDt there are many items of interest that could be added to this 
article, but the main purpose in writing it was to connect the early 
liistory of these three parishes with the imperfect sketch o^ Bishop 
Meade in 1854. That has been accomplished, and also pretty strong 
proof has been adduced to show that York-Hampton was really the 
name of the church at Yorktown itself — ^a hyphenated name for the 
united church of old Yorke and Hampton. 




nN the year 1639, five years after the establishment of Warrasquy- 
oake as a shire, the latter was subdivided into counties, one of 
which was called Upper Norfolk. This name was changed in 
1645-6 to Nansimum^ which subsequently appears under a variety 
of spellings, as Nandsamund, Nanzemund^ Nansemum and Nansemund, 
until finally it assumed its present form of Nansemond. In 1642 the 
county was divided into three parishes to be known as South, East 
and West, respectively. The statute provides that "the gleab and 
parsonage that now is" shall be appropriated to East Parish. As therf* 
was a resident minister in the county before 1642, it is natural to infer 
that there was a church there. No record of the site or character 
of this building is extant. The names of the parishes as South, East 
and West soon gave way to other names, for in 1680 they are referred 
to as Upper (South), Lower (East), and Chicokatuck (West). In 
this year for the first time, we learn the names of the clergy resident 
in the county. Upper Parish was served by the Rev. John Gregory; 
Lower Parish by the Rev. John Wood, and Chicokatuck (Chuckatuck) 
by Rev. William Housden, who served in Isle of Wight also. 

As early as 1635 Nansemond attracted the attention of settlers. In 
that year George West granted to Richard Bennett 2,000 acres on 
Nansemond river, for importing forty persons. Bennett played a con- 
spicuous part in the life of the county and Colony. He was a member 
of the Governor's Council, but he was a Roundhead. He gathered 
about him numbers of the same political and religious creed. In 
1641 he sent his brother to New England to request that some Puritan 
ministers be sent to Virginia. These ministers gained their strongest 
foothold in Nansemond, where a flourishing church numbering 118 
members was soon organized, and they chose as their minister Rev. 
Mr. Harrison, who had formerly been Governor Berkeley's chaplain, 
but had turned Puritan. The rapid growth of the Independents dis- 
turbed the mind of the authorities, and active measures were taken 
to suppress them. Religion and politics were practically synonymous* 
in those days, and independence in religion spelled disloyalty in 


politics. England was in the midst of the fierce struggle between 
King and Parliament, and Virginia was strongly loyalist. 

In 1648, a few months before the execution of Charles I., pressure 
was brought to bear on the Nansemond Independents, and William 
Durand, one of their elders, was banished. Durand was a citizen of 
Lower Norfolk, but was associated with the Nansemond Independents. 
He retired to Maryland. He is frequently confused in the histories of 
Virginia with George Durand, who many years later migrated to 
North Carolina and settled there. Next Rev. Mr. Harrison was expelled 
from the Colony, and then their other teachers were banished; and 
when the congregation stubbornly held to the Church of their choice, 
some of them were Imprisoned. 

So far the Council had been unable to break their spirit, but an order 
to disarm all Independents having been given, the spirit of resistance 
was quenched. 

A number of these dissenters having been invited by Governor Stone, 
Lord Baltimore's deputy, retired to Maryland, and are remembered 
as among the founders of Anne Arundel county in that State. 

Among those who left were Richard Bennett and William Ayres. 
These refugees prospered in their new abode, and others, induced by 
their example, removed thither. It was not long, however, before they 
became dissatisfied with the proprietory government of Roman Catholic 
Maryland, and they were the leaders in the fierce civil war waged a 
few years later in Maryland, between Protestants and Catholics. 

Another body of Dissenters in the county fared better than the 
Puritana This was the Society of Friends. This Society was found- 
ed In 1648. As early as 1656 some of this sect arrived in Boston but 
were sent back to England. In 1657 laws were passed in Massachu- 
setts to prevent the introduction of Quakers, but they flocked thither 
nevertheless. Virginia also strove to keep them out of the Colony. 
In the wild enthusiasm of the first years of their existence many of the 
Quakers were fanatics, courting martyrdom. They made mock of 
established institutions and rulers, interrupted public worship, and 
refused obedience to the law of the land. These fanatics gave to the 
Society a bad name, and beginning with 1660, stringent laws against 
them were passed by the Virginia Assembly. Captains were fined for 
bringing them into the Colony. All of them were to be apprehended 
and committed until they should give security that they would leave 
the Colony. If they returned they were to be punished, and return- 
ing the second time they were to proceeded against as felons. It was 


provided however that if the convicted Quakers should give security 
not to meet in unlawful assembly they should be discharged without 
any punishment whatever. It was only against organized opposition 
to the government and institutions that the law was directed. The 
Colony did not interfere with the individual unless he with others 
combined against the law of th# land. Even when a member of the 
Assembly was accused of being a Quaker, he was not expelled till he 
had refused to take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy. Notwith- 
standing the efforts of the Assembly, the Quakers increased, and con- 
tinued to hold meetings. 

In 1672 George Fox, the founder of the Society, visited Virginia. 
Fox found a fruitful field of labor in Nansemond. He had meetings 
"at Nansemond river, where Col. Dew, of the Council, and several 
officers and magistrates attended, and at Somerton; also at Widow 
Wright's in Nansemond, where many magistrates, officers and other 
high people came." The eftects of Fox*s labors were lasting and a 
large element of the present citizens of the county number Quakers 
among their ancestors. Even the great man of the county, Richard 
Bennett, fell under the spell of Fox; for George Edmondson, the com- 
panion of Fox, wrote of Bennett: "He was a solid, wise man, received 
the truth, and died in the same, leaving two Friends his executors." 

The records of the Chuckatuck meeting-house (1673-1728), a copy of 
which is in the possession of the writer, show that the Quakers were 
numerous and practically unmolested. They had four meeting-houses 
In the county, "built by the highway side." Their martyrology 
is a brief one, the most conspicuous martyr being Thomas Jordan. 
The sketch of this worthy is characteristic. "Thomas Jordan, of 
Chuckatuck in Nansemond county in Virginia, was born in ye year 
1634 and in ye year 1660 he Received ye truth and Abode faithfuU in 
it, and in constant unity with ye faithfull friends thereof; and stood 
in opposition against all wrong and Desateful spirits, having suffered 
ye spoiling of his goods and ye imprisonment of his Body for ye 
truth's sake and continued in ye truth unto the End of his dayes." 
Jordan refused to pay tithes and defied the magistrates in court. He 
was sent on to the Governor's Council, where he was dismissed with 
a reprimand. 

In 1703 Governor Nicholson becfune involved in a quarrel with 
the vestry of Chuckatuck Parish which became so bitter that it 
finally involved most of the prominent men in the country. Nicholson 


sent to all the vestries ^he opinion of Sir Edward Northy, upholding 
the Governor's claim of the right to fill a vacancy of long standing 
in a church; and the right to force vestries to present their ministera 
for induction. The vestry of Chuckatuck recorded, as they were or- 
dered to do, the opinion of the King's attorney, but added this reso- 
lution to it: ''But as to presenting our present or any other ministei' 
for induction, are not of opinion (record is here illegible), but are 
willing to entertain our present minister upon the usual terms, as 
formerly hath been used in this Colony." 

A leading member of that vestry was Capt. Thomas Swann, who 
was a candidate for election to the Assembly. Nicholson was bitterly 
hostile to Swann for his action in the vestry; and tried to bring about 
bis defeat. He carried his hostility even to the friends of Swann. He 
turned out of office Daniel Sullivan, the efficient county clerk, because he 
voted and worked for Swann, and substituted a wholly incompetent 
man in his place. The court refused to accept the Governor's aiH 
pointee, and Nicholson immediately turned six of the eight Justices 
out of office. Four members of the court were vestrymen of Chuck- 
atuck. He went even further. He cancelled the commission of Thomas 
Godwin, colonel of militia. Godwin was also a member of the recal- 
citrant vestry. Nicholson's arbitrary behavior in this matter, for 
in every case he proceeded without consulting the Council, was oub 
of the charges brought against him by Commissary Blair. 

In 1703, Rev. William Rudd resigned the church in Norfolk to be- 
come minister at Chuckatuck. He served there for some years and 
was succeeded by the Rev. Thomas Hassell. In 1728 Colonel Byrd 
passed through the county and notes that he "passed no less than two 
Quaker meeting houses," and adds: ''That persuasion prevails much 
in the lower end of Nansemond county for want of ministers to pilot 
the people a decenter way to Heaven." 

Sometime about 1725 Chuckatuck and Lower Parish were united 
to form one parish and called Suftolk Parish. The name of the parish 
antedates the town of Suftolk by at least seventeen years, and strangely 
enough, Suftolk is not in Suftolk Parish, but in the Upper Parish of 
Nansemond. The union was brought about upon the petition of the 
two vestries, representing their inability separately to support a min- 
ister, but the arrangement was unsatisfactory from the beginning. 
The first evidence of bad feeling is shown in the will of John Yeates, 
dated 1731. This will is a long and interesting document. It provides 
a liberal endowment for two free schools in Lower Parish, already 


built by the testator. He gives £10 In cash "to buy books for the 
poorer sort of Inhabitants In the parish, as the Whole Duty of Man; 
also for procuring Testaments, Psalters, Primers, for my several 

He gives to the church a pulpit cloth and cushion; also a silver 
flagon and silver chalice, and silver plate. He gives to the church for 
the use of the minister. Bishop Hall's works In large folio, and Bishop 
Usher's "Sum and Substance of the Christian Religion;" also a large 
Bible. He bequeaths to "my friends, and gentlemen of the vestry 


living this side of the river, a treat at my house," and to "my worthy 
friends, the worshipful court of Nansemond county, ten shillings to 
drink for my sake." He especially provides that Chuckatuck Parish 
shall not be the beneficiary of his will, for "I never was a gainer, or 
the Lower Parish, by Chuckatuck Parish, but the contrary." 

In 1737 the vestry of Suffolk Parish "upon evident proof of the 
ruinous condition of the church" in Lqwer Parish, gave order for the 
erection of a new brick church, at the place called Jordan's Mill Hill, 
as more convenient than the old site. The members of the vestry from 
the Chuckatuck side of the river refused to assist in the work, and the 
matter was appealed to the Governor In Council, who ordered the 
immediate erection of the building. This order of Council fixes the 
date of the erection of the Glebe church (or Bennett's Creek church, 
as it Is called in the Vestry Book) as 1738. The Council also ordered 
that since Chuckatuck had a majority In the vestry and seemed de- 
termined to maintain It, none of the inhabitants of Chuckatuck should 
be chosen vestrymen until there be an equal number of vestrymen 
from each side of the river. 

The old Vestry Book of the parish begins with the year 1749, during 
the ministry of the Rev. John McKenzle. At his death in 1754 the 
Rev. John Agnew was chosen minister. In 1755 the present church at 
Chuckatuck was built, near the site of "the ancient one. In 1758 the 
vestry of Suftolk Parish was dissolved, by act of Assembly, on peti- 
tion of the inhabitants of Lower Parish. The vestry held in trust for 
the Lower Parish valuable lands and a cash donation from Richard 
Bennett, Thomas Tilly, and Richard Bennett, Jr. According to the 
terms of the bequests, the poor of Lower Parish alone were to bene- 
ficiaries. The vestry of the united parishes allowed the Chuckatuck 
members of their body to colonize the poor of Chuckatuck In Lower 
Parish, and thus receive the benefit of the Bennett and Tilly bequests. 
The vestry, whose life-tenure of ofllce was apt to make them arbl- 


trary in their dealings, were taught that they were the representatives 
of the people and responsible to them for good conduct in office. 

Some of the items entered upon the Vestry Book bring a smile to 
the reader of to-day: The order for the payment of 500 pounds of 
tobacco to the doctor, "for salevating Mary Brinkley and keeping 
her salevated/' is not a record of persecution, but of kindly care for 
one of the parish poor. 

In 1775 the Assembly passed a law that every person receiving aid 
from the parish should, ''upon the shoulder of the right sleeve, in an 
open and visible manner, wear a badge with the name of the parish 
cut either in blue, red or green cloth, and if any poor person neglect 
or refuse to wear such badge, his or her allowance shall be withdrawn 
or the offender whipped not exceeding five lashes for each oftense." 
This law seems to have been a dead letter in most parishes, but it 
was rigidly enforced in Suftolk Parish, at least to the extent of pro- 
viding the badges and making the allowance to the poor conditional 
on their wearing the badge. 

The provision in Yeates' will for "a treat at my house to my friends, 
the gentlemen of the vestry," was not in jest, but a recognition of the 
convivial habits of those gentlemen; for we read in the list of parish 
expenses an order for the payment of 200 pounds of tobacco to William 
Johns "for the use of his house for vestry meeting and for liquor." 

Forty pounds of tobacco is ordered to be paid "to the Rev'd Agnew 
for his wife washing the surplis." 

In 1764 the Assembly passed an act whereby the ministers and people 
should be exempt from ferriage when crossing the river to attend 
service; and that such ferriage be paid by the vestry from the parish 
levy. The vestry sent a committee to Williamsburg and succeeded 
in having this act repealed, except in regard to the minister. 

When the trouble with Great Britain began Nansemond organized 
its County Committee. This committee was very active from the 
beginning. Parson Agnew, the minister, was a zealous supporter of 
the British cause, and open in his condemnation of the growing 
spirit of independence. In the spring of 1775 Parson Agnew was ob- 
served to visit actively among his congregation, urging them to full 
attendance upon a certain Sunday. The ladies, especially, were in- 
vited. On the appointed Sunday the church was filled with women, 
while a crowd of men, numbering 500, stood outside and listened 
through the windows. The minister read the prayer for the King, 
and no word of disapproval was heard. He chose for his text, "Render 


unto Cseesar the things that are Caesar's"; and his hearers pricked 
up their ears, for they knew what was coming. He proceeded to 
decry the sins of disloyalty and rebellion. Suddenly Mr. William 
Cowper, a vestryman and magistrate, left his seat in the magistrates' 
pew, and, mounting the pulpit, ordered the speaker to come down. 
"I am doing my Master's business," said the parson. 

"Which master?" replied Cowper; "your Master in heaven or your 
master over the seas? You must leave this church, or I will use 

"I will never be the cause of breeding riot in my Master's house," 
said Agnew. 

The minister then came down from the pulpit and walked down 
the aisle and through the crowd at the church door, which parted to 
make a passage for him. He entered his carriage and drove away. 
The congregation quietly dispersed and Parson Agnew never again 
entered the church that he had served for so many yearsu The parson, 
though driven from his pulpit, continued his activity against what he 
deemed a great wrong. He was warned by the County Committee, 
but he still persisted. The matter grew so grave that he was finally 
arrested. The aftair caused a great deal of talk in the county and 
throughout the Colony. In some quarters the people were much 
criticized for their treatment of the minister. In order to justify their 
action, the committee, through its secretary, Mr. John Gregory, sent 
to the Virginia Oazette a recital of the charges against Agnew. 

Virginia Gazette, April 8, 1775. — "Charges against Parson Agnew: 
He asserted that it was no hardship to be carried beyond sea for 
trial of crimes committed here. He declared, when speaking of the 
Congress, that all such combinations and associations were de- 
testable; that the Congress did not know what they were about; that 
the designs of the great men were to ruin the poor people, and that 
after awhile they would forsake them and lay the whole blame on 
their shoulders, and by this means make them slaves. He likewise 
informed Mr. Smith there was an association of the other party up 
the county and the people were signing it fast; that they had dis- 
covered their error in signing the present one. Upon the whole, the 
public will plainly discover the principles this Reverend Gentleman 
entertains and in what light he views the general resolutions adopted 
and* entered into for our relief from the oppressive hand of power. 
Had this zealous advocate for despotic rule been as assiduous in the 


discharge of the several duties of his function, as he has been indus- 
trious in propagating false and erroneous principles, not only in private 
discourse, but in blending detestable tenets in his angry orations 
from the pulpit, in order to gain a party in opposition to the common 
cause, and thereby lending his aid to seduce the very people that gave 
him bread, to a state of wretchedness, this committee had not been 
at the trouble to examine the 11th article of the Association, and open- 
ing his conduct to the censure of the world. 

"John Gregobib (C. C.)" 

The vestry also appointed a committee to wait upon the Convention 
"with a true representation of the conduct and behavior of the Rev. 
John Agnew." Agnew appealed from the sentence of Court of Com- 
missioners for Nansemond county, and his appeal was heard by the 
Committee of Safety on April 10, 1776. The minutes of the Committee 
of Safety from April 10th to April 20th are lost, so we have no 
knowledge of the result of the appeal. He left the county sometime 
during 1776 and entered the British service, becoming chaplain of 
the Queen's Rangers, in which troop his son. Stair Agnew, was 
a captain. He and his son were taken prisoners during the Revolu- 
tion and carried to France. In the Virginia Convention of May, 1776, 
which gave to the State its first Constitution, William Cowper, who 
had won popularity by his action in expelling Agnew from the church, 
was chosen to represent the county. 

In September, 1777, Rev. William Bland was elected minister of the 
parish, but there is no record that he ever served. In October, 1778, 
Rev. Henry John Burges was received as minister. Just before the 
arrival of the Rev. Mr. Burges an event occurred which figures prom- 
inently in Baptist martyrology. In 1778 David Barrow, pastor of the 
Mill Swamp Baptist church, in Isle of Wight, which had existed for 
many years previous, and Mr. Mintz, another Baptist minister, preached 
by invitation at the house of a gentleman on Nansemond river, in 
Lower Parish. A platform was erected and a crowd assembled. The 
preaching of the two Baptists stirred up ill-feeling, and a number of 
young fellows determined to break up the meeting. They jeered and 
sung songs. This behavior naturally brought on them a stinging re- 
buke from the preacher. There is no record of what he said, but in 
the end about twenty men leaped upon the platform and captured 
the two preachers and carried them down to the river, near at lEand, 
and ducked them. Barrow was the chief sufferer, as they thrust his 


face down into the mud. Mintz, who had given less occasion for ill- 
feeling, was let off more easily. The affair was evidently the outcome 
of the reckless spirit of a crowd of youths, who resented the criticism 
of themselves and their class; and only the fevered imagination of a 
pious chronicler could make it appear as a part of a systematic per- 
secution by the Established Church. Attention is called to this in- 
cident, for it is a characteristic example of that persecution by the 
Church of which we read so much in the political briefs against the 
Colonial Church. The concluding words of the record of this event 
in the Baptist Book of Martyrs is medieval in its flavor: ''Before these 
persecuted men could change their clothes they were dragged from 
the house and driven off by these enraged Churchmen. But three or 
four of them died in a few weeks in a distracted manner, and one 
of them wished himself in hell before he had joined the company." 

The ministry of the Rev. Mr. Burges was very acceptable to the 
people. Six months after he entered upon his office a committee of 
the vestry is appointed "to see if it would be any disadvantage to 
build one or two small galleries in the Chuckatuck church, as the 
church is much crowded and there is so large a congregation commonly 
attending the church that there is not room in the « pews for their 

In 1779, Asbury, the great leader of Methodism, labored in Nanse- 
mond county. He mentions in his diary of that year that he preached 
in "the great preaching house in Nansemond." This preaching house 
had been converted from a store into a church. 

In 1784, the Rev. Arthur Emerson was elected minister. In 1786, 
one hundred and forty-six names of the inhabitants of Suffolk Parish 
are signed to a petition to the Legislature protesting against the re- 
peal of the law incor];>orating the Protestant Episcopal Church. 

There is no entry in the Vestry Book from 1784 to 1825. 

The act of Legislature requiring all glebe lands to be sold and the 
proceeds turned over to the overseers of the poor, made exception in 
case of those glebes which had been a private donation. The overseers 
of the poor claimed the glebe in Suffolk Parish, but the Rev. Jacob 
Keeling, minister of the parish at the time, fought the case in the 
courts and won his case. The valuable glebe farm is still held by the 
trustees of the parish. 

Rev. Mr. Keeling was minister for many years, but there is no 
record covering the time of his service. 


In 1827 Rev. Mark L. Chevers was chosen minister. 

After about 1840 Suffolk Parish was served for many years by the 
minister of Upper Parish, who lived in Suffolk. 

In 1845 Chuckatuck church is referred to for the first time as St. 

The Glebe church, in Lower Parish, is now under the care of Rev. 
E3. P. Miner, of Norfolk. St John's, Chuckatuck, has no minister at 




THE Eastern Shore chapel, built In 1754, is the last of three brick 
Colonial churches, which once stood in Princess Anne county. 
The old parish of Lynnhaven takes its name from the Lynn- 
haven river, famous for its oysters; which, in turn, probably 
took its name from the town of Lynn, near the mouth of the river 
Ouse, in the county of Norfolk, In England. Lynnhaven Parish was set 
off from Elizabeth River Parish in 1643« and Its bounds covered the 
area now represented by the county of Princess Anne; but it was at 
that time a parish in Lower Norfolk county. Princess Anne county^ 
with its parish of Lynnhaven, was set off from Lower Norfolk county 
in 1691. The bounds of this old parish remained unchanged for 252 
years, but in 1895 Blast Lynnhaven Parish, in which the Eastern Shore 
chapel lies, was set off from Lynnhaven Parish, for reasons which ap- 
pear scarcely necessary. This paper will take account of old Lynn- 
haven Parish, covering Princess Anne county. 

To one who loves the lower country and the salt water, and to whom 
the earliest traditions of Virginia life are dear, there are few more 
interesting localities in the State. It is pre-eminently a Tidewater 
county; washed by the broad Atlantic on the east, with a long range of 
sand dunes from north to south on its shore; penetrated by the waters 
of Currituck Sound on the south, with the best duck shooting in the 
country; cut up by branches of the Elizabeth river on the west, with 
charming old homes scattered along its banks, and by Lynnhaven river 
on the north; and with Chesapeake Bay lying on its whole northern 
side, it is a land rich in all the scenes, and life, and products of our 
sea and rivers, and it soon attracted the early settlers in Virginia. The 
soil is a deep loam, covered, where not cleared, with forests of pine and 
oak and holly on the higher parts, and in the extensive swamps with 
huge gum trees, cypress and junipers, and with a tangle of many kinds 
of vines and climbers. The red cedars love the banks of the river 
shores, and here and there great live-oaks, ages old, are landmarks In 
the neighborhoods. The long gray moss swings from the forest trees. 


and the undergrowth is fragrant with its green myrtle and with many 
rare plants, not often found in Virginia north of Lynnhaven Parish; 
conspicuous among these are the yellow jessamine, wreathing the fence 
rows in spring, and in the summer the gorgeous yellow flowers of the 
great lotus, or water chinquapin (wanquapin, the Indians called it), 
with its cone-shaped seed vessels and its hard nuts, standing in the 
fresh water ponds near the seashore. 

On the northeast point of the Parish of Lynnhaven, at Cape Henry, 
our English ancestors first touched and claimed our land. And from 
the settlements on the northern side of James river they began at an 
early period to settle the southern shore opposite Old Point. In 1620 
one John Wood, a shipwright, received a patent of land on Elizabeth 
river because of the excellent ship timber and good shores for launch- 
ing there. The earliest settlements on the southern shore of the bay 
w^re at first included in the corporation of Elizabeth City, now Eliza- 
beth City county, from which direction the settlers came; and in 1629 
Adam Thoroughgood (a progenitor of our bishop-coadjutor. Dr. TucK- 
er) lived in what is now Lynnhaven Parish, but was a representative 
of the Borough of Elizabeth City in the House of Burgesses. His 
quaint house, still standing, is, perhaps, the oldest residence in tho 

The Church followed these early settlers before any separate county 
organization was eftected. And here, as in many cases, the parish is 
older than the county. EHizabeth River Parish, whose earliest record- 
ed church was in existence as early as 1635, is older than Lower Nor- 
folk county, which was set off from Nansemond in 1649; while Lynn- 
haven Parish, which was set off from Elizabeth River Parish in 1643, 
is forty-eight years older than Princess Anne county, the oldest records 
of which are of 1637. 

The early days of the Church in Lower Norfolk county were troubled 
by a Puritan element, which had come into Virginia in 1641, during 
that political and ecclesiastical upheaval whicli was convulsing the 
mother country. 

A prominent clergyman, the Reverend Thomas Harrison, who had 
been chaplain to Governor Berkeley, turned Puritan in 1644, was 
obliged to leave Jamestown, and went, first to Nansemond, where the 
Puritans were strong, and then Into Lower Norfolk county. 

Whether he had charge of both parishes in the county, I cannot 
state, but certain it is that the vestry of Elizabeth River Parish pre- 


sented him before the Governor and Council "for not reading the booke 
of Common Prayer and for not adminstring the sacrament of Baptisme 
according to the Cannons and for not catechising on Sunnedayes in 
the afternoone according to the act of Assembly/' with the result that 
he was obliged to leave the Colony, which he did, going to Maryland. 
Such was the loyalty of the people of Lower Norfolk county to the 
Church in 1645. 

The vestries were no less careful of the morals of the people, and 
the same year which records the presentment of Mr. Harrison for 
nonconformity records the presentment by Edward Hill and John Mar- 
tin, church wardens of Lynnhaven, of parties for immorality; and in 
1674, another party guilty of slander was condemned to be flogged, 
"and shall stand three Saboath dayes in the parish church of Lynn- 
haven, the congragacon there being present, with a paper on his head 
written with these words following with Capitall letters, (vizt) I 

als yeoman doe Stand here to acknowledge the great wrong 

I have done in the slandering Mrs. Hall with my tongue. And the 

gaid als yeoman shall pay the Court charges als execucon, 

and the church wardens of Lynhaven parish or eyther of them are to 
see the due performance of this order as they will answer the con- 
trary to theire perrills." 

In 1648 the Reverend Robert Powis, who had been minister of the 
churches in Lower Norfolk ever since Parson Harrison deserted the 
ministry of the church, was inducted minister of both Elizabeth River 
and Lynnhaven Parishes. 

In 1649, on the petition of Parson Powis, it was ordered by the court 
that the parish of Lynnhaven shall call a vestry on Easter Monday 
next and choose church wardens. Lancaster Lovett was one of the 
church wardens chosen, and, in 1650, it was recorded that he presented 

unto the court "for a common blasphemer and swearer, 

both at home and abroad, and for a most impudent and shameful car- 
riage towards a widow woman, being her servant. It is therefore 

ordered that a warrant issue forth for the for 

his personal appearance at the next court to make answer for his 

In 1649 Parson Powis was minister of Lininhaven alone, another min- 
ister being now in charge of Elizabeth River Parish, and it is most 
notable as illustrating the unflinching discipline administered by the 
wardens and courts of the county, that when this minister of Eliza- 
beth River Parish was himself found guilty of immorality, the court 



promptly took his case in hand, and on November 10th, 1649, ordered 

that "whereas Mr. ■ , minister of Elizabeth River 

Parish, hath acknowledged to have committed the grievous sin of 

— ; now upon ye hearty contrition of the said Mr. 

concerning his said foul offense, presented to the Cort in writing 
under his own hand, it is therefore ordered, that he do make the 
same confession in both churches by reading the said writing to the 
people two several Sundayes Vizt Sunday next Come Senight at ye 
parish Church & ye Sabboath day following at ye Chappell." 

It must not be imagined from these presentments that this section 
was notoriously immoral, although the case of the clergyman was 
certainly exceptional. The records of the mother country and of ths 
Colonies north and south of Virginia show that this period was marked 
by a general laxity of morals. But what the records of these courts 
and parishes indicate is a conscientious and unflinching discharge of 
their duty • on the part of the church wardens and county courts. 

The Reverend Robert Powis died between the 2d of December, 1651, 
and the 21st of December, 1652, when an inventory of his estate was 
reported. It is most interesting to notice what this old parson died 
possessed of. It was as follows, and the values are given in pounds 
of tobacco: 

Lbs. Tob. 

Imprimis Seaven Milch Cowes at 3500 

Itm six Calves of a yere ould apeece & ye advantage att HOD 

Itm Two Steeres of fower yeres ould apeece or thereabouts att. . . . 090j) 

Itm Three steeres of two yeres ould apeece 105.0 

Itm two younge Sowes & and one barrowe'shott at ,. . 02QD 

Itm two Barrowes & two Sowes at 080D 

Itm: one feather bedd, one boulster, & one ould blankett 040D 

Itm two paire ot ould Canvas sheetes & one holland sheete 0160 

Itm two ould pillow beeres, five to wells, two paire fustaln draw- 
ers one ould shirte five ould bands, two paire of Cuffes 0060 

Itm three Coates, three Cassukes, two suits of cloathes two paire 

of stockings all ould att 0250 

Itm two & thirtye bookes at 0500 

Itm one chest, one box 2: cases & two ould tables, one couch, 

& one Chaire 0350 

Itm 3: ould Iron potts, 3 old skilletts one fryinge pann one drip- 
pinge pan one fire shovell, two paire of tonges, one chaffing 
dish 02T)0 


Itm Six pewter dishes, one pewter salt, one pewter Candlesticke 
one drinkinge Cupp, one dram cupp, one hatchett, one hammer 

all att O070 

Itm Six barrens of Come O480 

Itm one boate, fower oares, ft two skulls 0600 

Itm one pestle, one brasse kettle ft five ould trayes 0080 


five bills amoun tinge to ye Some of 320 

Received of Coll: Yeardley with Caske 600 


Totall some is 11620 1 tob 

Leift Keelinge 
Henery Snayle 
Appraisers Owen Hayes their markes :/" 

John Martin 

What light an inventory like this throws upon the life of the country 
parson in Virginia in the early Colonial period! After the death of 
Parson Fowls, there appears to have been no minister in Lower Nor- 
folk county until December, 1654, when the grand jury made presentment 
of "the general breach of the Sabbath throughout the whole county, 
which we conceive is most chiefly occasioned through want of a godly 
minister among us in the county, wherefore we humbly pray and 
desire yt some speedy course may be taken to secure an able minister, 
and some employed for yt purpose, lett the charge be what it will. We 
for our parts (and hope all ye rest of ye county) shall be verry 
willing and ready to undergo." 

Vestries were accordingly ordered to be held in the several parishes, 
and a committee composed of Colonel Francis Yeardley, Major Thomas 
Lambert and others were authorized to appoint a minister of God*s 
word for the parishes of Lower Norfolk. The committee made Captain 
Thomas Willoughby their special agent in this matter. 

The next minister mentioned in Lower Norfolk is Mr. Mallory, who, 
we conclude, was employed by the committee empowered to procure 
a minister. He received a bill of tobacco in 1657. Next Mr. George 
Alford is mentioned as minister in 1658, and Symon Barrowes received 


a thousand pounds of tobacco for dieting the minister for half a year. 

During the latter half of the seventeenth century several accusations 
of witchcraft were made against unfortunate persons in Lower Norfolk 
and Princess Anne county. In May, 1655, at a court held at the house 
of Mr. Edward Hill, in Lynnhaven, commissioners were appointed to 
investigate "divers dangerous and scandalous speeches raised by some 
persons conserning several women in this county, terming them to be 
witches, whereby their reputations have been much impaired and their 
lives brought in question." The result of this investigation we do not 
know. Later, in 1675, Captain William Carver, who afterwards lost 
his life in Bacon's Rebellion, gave information "against lone the wife 
of Lazarus Jenking, concerning her being familiar with evil spirits 
and using witchcraft/' etc. Her case was also ordered to be investigated, 
with what result does not appear. Again, in 1699, in Princess Anne 
county, John Byrd and his wife, Anne, brought suit against Charles 
Kinsey for defamation of Anne's character, declaring that she was a 
witch, and that she had ridden him along the seaside and home to his 
house, and that they, John and Anne, were in league with the devil; 
in which suit the defendant professed that in his thought and appre- 
hensions, and to the best of his knowledge, they did serve him so. 
The whole matter being put to a jury, they brought in a verdict as 
follows: "We the jury do find for the defendant. Hugh Campbell, 
foreman." So John Byrd and Anne, his wife, had no remedy, but re- 
mained suspected of witchcraft. 

But the unique trial for witchcraft in Lynnhaven Parish was that of 
Grace Sherwood. James Sherwood and Grace, his wife, were 
very poor and ignorant people, as the pitiful inventory of 
their goods plainly shows. But in spite of her pleasant name, 
Grace got the reputation of being a witch. In 1698 one of her 
neighbors said she had bewitched their cotton; another said she had 
come into her at night and rid her, and went out of the keyhole or 
crack of the door like a black cat; and on these accusations poor Grace 
was brought before the justices of the county, which cost her heavily, 
not only in reputation and distress of mind, but in heavy expenses. 
The family became poorer than ever. Seven years passed, during 
which James Sherwood died, and Grace became a widow. And now she 
was again accused by one Luke Hill, and again brought into court; and 
after suffering the law's delay, her house and every suspicious place 
about it was ordered to be searched carefully for all images and such 
like things, which might in any way strengthen the suspicion. And 


further, "a jury of Anciente and knowing women" was summoned to 
search Grace herself bodily for suspicious indications, and their find- 
ings were not favorable to Grace. This time she narrowly escaped 
ducking, the weather being bad. The case and the evidence was laid 
before the Council Board of the Colony; but Mr. Attorney General said 
the charges were too vague; and the matter was referred back to the 
county. After more delay and costs, Grace was ordered to be tried in 
the water. Now, the approved way of trying a witch in the water re^ 
(Quired that she should be "stripped naked and cross bound, the right 
thumb to the left toe, and the left thumb to the right toe," and so cast 
into deep waters. Whether these requirements were complied with in 
Grace's case we do not know. 

The spot on Lynnhaven river whither she was carried, and where 
she was bound and put in above man's depth, that they might ''try her 
how she swims," is still called Witch Duck. It is a very pretty spot. 
If Grace was a witch, she must have been a water witch. For when 
thus tried, she was seen to be "swimming when therein and bound, 
contrary to custom and the judgment of the spectators." So she was 
tal^en out and again searched by more Anciente and knowing women, 
who brought in the condemning report that "she was not like them, nor 
like any other women that they knew." 

It is gratifying to note, in connection with this one witch ducking 
in Virginia, that the sherift was instructed "therein always to have a 
care of her life to preserve her from drowning." What was to be done 
with such a woman? The good people of Princess Anne were not pre- 
pared to kill her. So she was again put in jail to be brought to future 
trial. As there is no record of a further trial, it is likely she was re- 
leased. She lived a good many years. Her will is dated 1733, and was 
recorded in 1740, in which year it is probable that she died. The com- 
mon tradition is that Grace Sherwood brought rosemary across the sea 
in an egg-shell to Princess Anne, where the fragrant shrub still 

It must be remembered that at that period only a few people were 
brave enough to declare their disbelief in witchcraft As late as 1758 
John Wesley wrote: "The English in general, and indeed most of the 
men of learning in Europe, have given up all accounts of witches 'as 
mere old wives' fables. I am sorry for it, and I willingly take the op- 
portunity of entering my solemn protest against this violent comple- 
ment which so many that believe the Bible pay to those who do not 
believe it." The last trial for witchcraft in New England was in 1692. 


As in the case of Elizabeth River Parish, the earliest church was 
situated on the northern shores of the parish, which were the first to be 
settled. It was doubtless, at first, a wooden church, but in 1723 a brick 
church had been built. This brick church lay within about a mile of 
the Chesapeake, on the west side of Lynnhaven river, and just where 
that river ran into a long estuary, which extended east and west, con- 
necting Linkhorn Bay, Broad Bay, Lynnhaven River, and at that time 
emptying into the Chesapeake at Iiittle Creek, the dividing line be- 
tween Lynnhaven and Elizabeth River Parishes. This topography has 
been strangely altered by a circumstance which will be mentioned later. 

In 1723 the Reverend James Tennant was minister of the parish, 
Mr. Maxmillian Boush was church warden and Colonel Edward Mosley, 
Capt John Mosley, Capt. Henry Chapman, Charles Sayer, Mr. William 
Elgood and Capt Francis Land were vestrymen. Charles Sayer was 
clerk of the vestry, Mr. James Nimmo was clerk of the church and of 
one chapel, there being at that time two chapels in the parish besides 
the church. The roof of this brick church was found in 1724 to be 
too rotten to be repaired, which, considering the quality of shingles 
used in those days, indicates a very considerable age. A new roof was 
ordered to be put on, and the roof was ordered to be tarred, a practice 
still sometimes resorted to in old Princess Anne. It does not produce 
a thing of beauty, but comee near lasting forever. 

At the same time Captain Hillary Mosley was given leave to gratify 
himself by the erection, at his own cost, of a pew for his family over 
the chancel door, taking up as little room as possible. These family 
gallery pews were a highly esteemed feature of our Colonial churches. 

The Reverend James Tennant continued minister until 1726, but 
after November, 1726, when his salary of 16,000 pounds of tobacco was 
recorded in the year's accounts, nothing more was heard of him; per- 
haps he had died. On November 2d, 1726, Mr. Nicholas Jones, minister, 
was employed temporarily to preach at the Brick church, and at each 
of the chapels once every month, and -for each sermon he preached 
he was to receive 400 pounds of tobacco in cask, to be levied for him in 
the next parish levy, which might be something like a year later. One 
of the embarrassing difficulties which Colonial parsons had to contend 
with, was pay long deferred. This paucity of sermons was to be 
supplemented by Mr. James Nimmo reading every Sunday in the Brick 
church, and John Dawley reading in the Eastern Shore chapel, Mr. 
Peacock reading in the Upper chapel, sometimes called Pungo or Machi- 
pungo. This continued through the years 1727-'28. 


In 1728, while trying to secure a minister, the vestry had a curious 
difficulty with the Reverend Thomas Baly, "who contrary to the desire 
of this vestry insisted on being our minister." The vestry sent Mr. 
James Nimmo as their representative to the Governor to secure his 
assistance in this awkward case, and as might be expected, the Rev- 
erend Thomas Baly was removed. 

In 1729 the Reverend John Marsden was employed on the same terms 
that Mr. Jones had been, and on November 14, 1729, the Reverend 
Henry Barlow was regularly employed as minister of the parish at a 
salary of 16,000 pounds of tobacco in cask. 

There were in the parish at this time, a church and two chapels, 
that is, the old Brick church on the bay shore, an old wooden chapel, 
standing where the Eastern Shere chapel now stands, about three 
miles from the sea, which old chapel was replaced by a new frame 
building not long afterwards, and the Pungo chapel, already referred to, 
about four miles southeast of Princess Anne courthouse. There 
were also two reading places, one on Knot's Island, in the southeast 
part of the parish, and one in the Black Water District. The old 
Brick church on the bay shore was found insufficient and badly lo- 
cated. It was given up as a church in March, 1736, and turned into a 
schoolhouse. How long it was used as a schoolhouse is not known, 
but it came to the following curious end: some of the parishioners 
were engaged in the fishing business, and had their fishing shores on 
the bay shore north of the estuary running east and west, on the 
southern shore of which the church was situated. This made it neces- 
sary for them to cross this estuary, or else follow it westward several 
miles and so reach the bay shore, and then come back to the fishing 
points, opposite their homes. To avoid this detour they determined 
to cut a short and narrow waterway from a point opposite where the 
Lynahaven river ran into the estuary, out to the Chesapeake. It was 
a considerable undertaking, but they accomplished it with conse- 
quences far greater than any one at first imagined. The winter storms 
from the northeast opened the new Inlet more and more until it be- 
came a broad, deep current; the sands encroached upon the old outlet 
and practically filled it up; but most serious of all the waters of the 
new inlet cut closer and closer to the church grounds until most of the 
graveyard was submerged, and the tombs and bones of many of the 
dead found their last resting place in the bottom of Lynnhaven river, 
at a point still called Church Point. 


Bishop Meade reports a communication to the above effect, and the 
present writer heard it repeated and substantiated about 1879, by the 
venerable Mr. Solomon Keeling, whose family had owned land for 
generations on Lynnhaven river, and who said that some of his an- 
cestors had assisted in cutting the ditch which is now represented by 
the deep, strong mouth of Lynnhaven river. The Bishop's informant 
added as a finishing touch, that "in 1819 Commodore Decatur and an- 
other eminent person still living (i. e., when the Bishop wrote) were 
bathing there, and in the middle of the river were enabled, by feeling 
with their toes, to decipher the names of those they (the tombstones) 
had covered before the waters of the bay had carried away the church- 

In 1736, when the old church was turned into a schoolhouse, a new 
church, larger and more centrally located, was built on one acre of 
ground at the Ferry Farm. This came later to be known as the Dona- 
tion church, from its being near a donation of land given by a subse- 
quent rector, of whom we shall hear. It was ordered to be sixty-five 
feet long, thirty feet wide on the inside, the walls to be fifteen feet 
high and three bricks thick from the ground to the water table, and 
two bricks thick above the water table to the top. This church was 
received by the veetry from Peter Malbone, the builder, on June 25. 
1736. In the same year the glebe house was repaired and added to. 
The new church was evidently a matter of pride in the parish, and the 
wardens had to take extra care to get the congregations properi/ 
located and settled in the church. Therefore it was ordered by the 
vestry, July 10, 1736, that "For preserving order and decency, peace 
and hairaony in the new church 'tis resolved and the vestry do hereby 
assign and appoint the two opposite great pews for the Magistrates and 
their wives; the next adjoining pew on the north side of ye Church 
for the family of the Thoroughgoods as their privilege in considera- 
tion of the gift of our glebe by that family; the third great pew on 
ye north side for ye Vestrymen and their wives; prd ye pew on ye 
north side of ye Communion table is consigned to tno family and name 
of the Walkes-as a benefit formerly granted them in consideration of 
gifts and services made and done by Col. Tho. Walke dec'd, and CoL 
Antho. Walke, Sen'r; the next great pew on the south side for the 
elder women of good repute and magistrates* daughters; the other 
great pew on ye same side for such women as ye church wardens with 
the approbation of the Vestry shall think -fit to place there." 

'Resolved, That Mr. Patrick Hackett is a fit person to sit up in the 



gallery to keep everybody in order, and if the boys or any other person 
will be not restrained but do any indecency, he is hereby required to 
report the same to the church wardens, who are desired to take proper 
measures to punish such disorderly person: Likewise Mr. Francis 
Mosely is appointed to look out of doors and if any person or persons 
are sitting and talking or committing any indecency during divine ser- 
vice he is hereby empowered to commit them to the care of the con- 
stable, and inform the church wardens thereof, to be dealt with as the 
Jaw requires — Char. Sayer, CI. Vestry." 

But it was easier for the vestry to pass these resolutions than to gel 
them accepted and complied with. Some of the congregation seem to 
have resented the manner in which they were disposed of, and Mr. 
Hackett in the gallery, Mr. Walke the church warden, and Mr. Mosely, 
who was "appointed to look out of doors," found their offices no sine- 
cures when they undertook to arrange and settle the congregation; and 
act their next meeting on October 16th the vestry had to resolve further 
that "Whereas several of the inhabitants of this parish has not thought 
fit to accept off, and others to keep to the seats the church wardens 
have assigned to and placed them in the new church lately built to the 
great disturbance and disorder of ye congregation; to prevent which 
disorder in ye said church for the future, we, the vestry of ye said 
church, have met at ye parish church, and after due consideration have 
assigned and Registered the adjacent persons and familys according to 
their several stations, ye most proper seats or pews; do hereby publish 
and declare that who or whatsoever person or persons shall assume to 
themselves a power or take the liberty to place themselves or others 
in any other seats or pews in ye said church, shall be esteemed a dis- 
orderly person, and may expect to be dealt with according to law: 
and we do further itopower and appoint ye church wardens for the 
future to place all persons in the church of ye said parish. Teste, 
Char. Sayer, CI. Vestry.'* 

Evidently the parish was in a ferment, and the vestry was exerting 
its utmost authority. But with what results we are not told. But 
now one visiting the spot sees the walls of the old Donation church 
standing in their plaintive dilapidation in the lonely woods, with the 
big trees growing up within its walls, where the coveted "great pews" 
used to be, and the disputants of former days lie about it in unmarked 
graves. Let us hope that in another world their spirits are at peace. 

The accounts kept by these old vestries of their many and various 
duties are most interesting, and often they were beautifully kept. The 


salary of the rector was generally 16,000 pounds of tobacco. In Lynn- 
haven, Mr. Ezra Brook, clerk of the church, received 1,000 pounds for 
his services; Mr. William Keeling, clerk of the Eastern Shore chapel, 
also 1,000 pounds; and Mr. Andrew Peacock, clerk of the Upper chapel, 
a like 1,000 pounds. 

The care of the poor was especially the vestry's charge. They seem 
not to have been kept in a poorhouse but scattered in households 
here and there in the parish, the householder receiving from 250 to 600 
pounds of tobacco a year, according to the age and condition of the 
child or person. Every four years the parish had to be processioned 
under the direction of the vestry. For this purpose it was divided into 
precincts, Princess Anne being divided into ten. The precinct repre- 
sented a neighborhood. The processioners at the time appointed went 
around the metes and bounds of every farm in the precinct, and set- 
tled all disputes about boundaries upon the spot. This having been 
twice done in any case by the processioners without an appeal being 
taken from their decision, gave a title from which there was no fur- 
ther appeal. 

The doctor of the parish frequently appears in the church accounts, 
and in Pi-incess Anne he not infrequently brought in bills for sali- 
vating some poor patient, which cost the parish 1,000 pounds of to- 
bacco, and perhaps cost the patient his teeth. 

The tobacco with which these various expenses were defrayed was 
raised by a yearly levy laid by the vestry upon the "tithables" in the 
parish; a "tithable" being a person from whom tithes or levies might 
be collected. At this period in Virginia, the tithables consisted of all 
male servants (white servants being intended), all negro servants, 
male or female, above the age of sixteen, and all Indian servants, maie 
or female, above the age of sixteen. The levy varied according to the 
requirements of the year. Sometimes it was as much as 50 pounds 
of tobacco from each tithable, sometimes much less. 

In 1739 a new chapel was ordered to be built to take the place of the 
old Puiigo chapel. It was to be of brick, but it does not appear to 
have been done; at least, it is not recorded as having been received. 

The Reverend Henry Barlow, who became minister in October, 1729, 
continued in charge of the parish until some time in 1747 — eighteen 
years. During his ministry many improvements were made; the 
Donation church was built and various additions were made to the 
glebe house and property. 

In 1748 Mr. Barlow was succeeded by the Reverend Robert Dickson, 


who first appeared as minister of the parish in July of that year. He 
continued in charge until 1776, nearly twenty-eight years. During 
Mr. Dickson's ministry, in 1754, the present Eastern Shore chapel 
was built, the third church to be built at that spot The second 
wooden chapel was still standing when the present brick chapel was 
built in 1754. In the order for its construction it is described as 35 
feet long, 25 feet wide in the clear, with a convenient large gallery 
at the west end; the walls to be 18 feet high, with three windows on 
each side, two at the east end, and one in the gallery. "The Com- 
munion to be railed and ballusttred"; the walls to be two bricks and 
a half thick from the foundation to the water table, and two bricks 
thick upward; the windows to be of good crown glass, eight by ten 
inches, six lights by three beside the arch. The middle aisle to be 
five feet wide, with four wainscot pews, with two on the north and two 
on the south side thereof. The whole church to be completely painted, 
where it is requisite, a sky color. It was to be covered with heart 
cypress shingles. 

In October, 1753, Mr. Joseph Mitchell, of Norfolk, contracted to build 
the chapel and undertook to finish it by Christmas, 1754, for 324 
pounds, 10 shillings sterling. It was actually finished and received 
by the vestry March 12, 1755. 

In 1772, 23,000 pounds of tobacco were raised for the purpose of 
building Pungo Chapel. 

The long and uninterrupted ministry of the Reverend Thomas Dick- 
son or Dixon, as his name was sometimes spelled, came to an end 
some time between the 25th of February and the 26th of November, 
1776. The Register of the parish was then lodged with Mr. Edward 
Mosley, clerk of the Brick church (afterwards called Donation), that 
he might register all the births of the parish until fuii:her orders. The 
will of Mr. Dickson was admitted to record February 14, 1777. By it 
he made provision for the support of his widow, and then left his land 
and slaves in trust to the vestry for the purpose of establishing a free 
school for the education of orphan boys. 

The vestry undertook to carry out the will, and after several at- 
tempts to secure a teacher, on December 8, 1780, they employed Mr. 
George Stephenson to keep the Dickson Free School, giving him the 
use of the plantation on easy conditions; among them that he should 
teach six poor children assigned him, and seventeen children on his 
own account, who would pay for their schooling. 

The Church was now in troublous and revolutionary times, and 


Lynnhayen suffered accordingly. The Reverend Mr. Dickson had died 
in the great year 1776, when the full force of the spirit of the Revo- 
lution was abroad in the land, and nothing felt that force more dis- 
astrously than the Church. Not that the Church was opposed to the 
Revolution, for the Revolution was begun, sustained and consummated 
by the most prominent Churchmen in Virginia. In Princess Anne 
county, as in all the other counties, the vestrymen and officers of the 
church are found upon the county committees, who guided and sus- 
tained the Revolution throughout the country. Fourteen of the twenty- 
five names of that committee in Princess Anne in 1774-75 are found 
among the vestry and officers of the church. 

But not only was the whole country distracted and absorbed by the 
disturbances of the Revolution, but the men who were its avowed pro- 
moters, felt that there was much growing out of the connection be- 
tween the Churcn and the State, which must needs be modified by the 
Revolution which they were advocating. It was at this period also 
that the Church was violently attacked by the Dissenters in Virginia, 
who were Revolutionists^ not only as concerned civil questions, but 
still more violently in their hatred and opposition to the Church. They 
very naturally took advantage of the disturbances incident to the Rev- 
olution and of the difficulties growing out of the connection between 
the Church and the State, which difficulties the leaders of the Revolu- 
tion, who were themselves Churchmen, were contending with and 
seeking to solve in the way which would involve least disturbance and 
loss to the religious interests of the country. 

The Dissenters, however, were not at all concerned to avoid dis- 
turbance, but rather courted it; not to prevent any loss that might 
befall the Church, but did all in their power to destroy it; and by agi- 
tation and opposition in the parishes, as well as by appeals with which 
they flooded the Convention of the patriots, the large majority of 
whom were Churchmen, they hampered and weakened the influence of 
the Church in all directions, little regarding the invaluable work that 
the Church had done for the moral and religious civilization of the 
land, under unspeakable difficulties, from the very foundations of the 

The weak point in the Church system in Virginia from the first, con- 
sisted in the fact that, while it was an Episcopal Church, it was at 
once without a Bishop and dependent upon an uncertain and scant 
supply of clergy. Naturally it fell into the hands of the vestries, and 
the records of the work of the vestries show what in the circumstances 


must be regarded as admirable faithfulness and efficiency on the part 
of these laymen. Especially do the records show devotion to the 
Church of their fathers, and a genuine effort to advance the moral and 
spiritual welfare of the country; but they worked as laymen, and their 
work was rarely balanced or sustained by sufficient clerical force. 
Their duties were manifold, covering the work of a number of sala- 
ried officials in our present county system, and this work they did 
without other compensation ihan the honor and satisfaction of serv- 
ing the community. But the most marked characteristic of a Virginia 
vestry was the Jealousy with which these men regarded their rights 
and liberties. They resented, and generally successfully, everything 
that they regarded as an encroachment upon their rights, whether 
made by the local parson, whom they generally managed to keep quite 
at their mercy, or by the Bishop's commissary, or by the Governor, or 
even if it was a decision fortified by the Attorney-General of the Eng- 
lish Crown. 

This spirit of independence which they had cultivated for many a 
year, was now bringing fruit in the Revolution; and they were more 
absorbed in the question of civil liberty than in any other. It is not 
surprising, therefore, that the set of men in Virginia, who composed, 
at once, the vestries in their several parishes, and who were also the 
magistrates, Justices, burgesses, and from whom the Council Board 
of the Commonwealth was taken, were found in those days of political 
upheaval to be somewhat neglectful of what they regarded as the minor 
matters of the parish. Thus it was that for two full years after 1780 
there was no vestry meeting in Princess Anne. This was complained 
of to the General Assembly, and in May, 1783, an act was passed dis- 
solving the vestry of Lynnhaven, and ordering the election of another 
vestry. The sheriff acted as directed by the Assembly, and on Novem- 
ber 7, 1783, made return of the new vestry, which consisted of twelve 
men, all but two or three of them vestrymen of the past, so that the 
affairs of the parish were still committed by the freeholders to the old 

The same Assembly which dissolved the vestry of Lynnhaven parish 
In 1783 established Kempsville, in princess Anne county, to be a town. 

In October, 1784, the General Assembly passed an act by which the 
minister and vestry of any parish became a corporation, or in the ab- 
sence of a minister the vestry became incorporate. This act was to go 
into effect on Monday in Easter Week, being March 28, 1785, on which 
day all existing vestries were declared dissolved, and new vestries 

- 157 

ordered to be elected on that Easter Monday, 1785, or else on the next 
fair day, in case that proved a foul day. 

It may be noted that the same Greneral Assembly of 1784 made it law- 
ful for an ordained minister of any Christian society whatever to cele- 
brate lawful marriages in Virginia, provided such minister received 
the license of the* county so to do. And for even the Quakers and 
Menonites to solemnize their own marriages, either with or without a 
ceremony, only provided it was done publicly. This Assembly also 
declared certain marriages to be legal, which had been performed by 
laymen in the absence of any minister, or by others who had no legal 
right to perform marriages. So the Church parson was not nearly so 
essential after 1784 as he had been. 

Acting in accord with this direction of the Assembly, an election 
for vestry to take place on Monday in Easter Week, 1785, was adver- 
tised. When this meeting was approaching, the vestry, which had been 
elected in Lynnhaven, in 1783, employed the Reverend Charles Petti- 
£:rew to be minister of the parish and teacher of the Dickson Free 
School, telling him of the election, of a new vestry, which was to take 
place on the 28th of March on this same month. Mr. Pettigrew ac- 
cepted, but did not come in time to fulfil his engagement, and was not 
accepted as minister. 

The new vestry, under the act of its corporation, was elected on 
April 14, 1785, and subscribed to be conformable to the doctrine, dis- 
cipline and worship of the Protestant Episcopal Church. All of them 
were old vestrymen. As the property now became incorporated in 
their own hands, the following account of the parish was recorded and a 
copy ordered to be sent to the next County Court. 

An Account of Pbopebty Belonging to Lynnhaven Pabish, April 

14, 1785: 

About 200 acres of land as a glebe, with an old dwelling-house and 
a few outhouses, all in bad order; about 50 acres of land, with an 
old house built for the reception of the poor and a kitchen, both want- 
ing repair. 

Belonging to the Mother Church: A large silver tankard and a silver 
salver; a cup washed with gold; three pewter plates; one pulpit cloth 
and broadcloth covering for the Communion Table; three sets of 
Seeker's sermons, seven volumes each; volume of Tillotson's sermons; 
three good Bibles and two old ditto; three Common Prayer books, large. 

Belonging to the Eastern Shore Chapel: A silver tankard; a silver 


cup and a small silver salver; three pewter plates and one pewter 
basin; one draper tkble-cloth and one napkin for the Communion Table. 
Belonging to Pungo Chapel: A pewter tankard, two glass tumblers, 
two pewter plates, one table-cloth and two napkins for the Com- 
munion Table, a few old cushions at the mother church and the Eastern 
Shore chapel. 

Revenue: Rent of glebe land in 1785, £8; rent of parish land in 
1785, £7, 5. 

Anthony Walke, 
John Ackiss, 
Edwd. Hack Moseuiy, 
James Henlet, 
John Cobnick, 
Joel Cobnick, 
Fbancis Land. 

On May 6th, 1785, the Reverend James Simpson was inducted min- 
ister of the parish and appointed master of the Dickson Free School. 

The Rev. Mr. Simpson and Mr. Anthony Walke were appointed 
delegates to the First Episcopal Convention, which met that same 
month in Richmond. Mr. Simpson attended, but Mr. Walke's name 
does not appear among the delegates in attendance. 

This same year — 1785 — is notable because in October the General 
Assembly passed its great act for establishing religious freedom. After 
a noble preamble, that act which was drawn up by Churchmen reads 
as follows: 

"II. Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be 
compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place or min- 
istry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested or bur- 
thened in his body or goods, nor shall other^se suffer on account of 
his religious opinions or belief, but that all men shall be free to 
profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of 
religion, that the same shall in no wise deminish, enlarge, or affect 
their civil capacities." 

The large majority of the House which passed this action were 
vestrymen of the Church. And In the Episcopal Convention which 
met in Richmond in May, 1785, appeared the names of many dis- 
tinguished patriots of the Revolution, the Convention being presided 
over in its first meeting by Carter Braxton, a signer of the Declaration 
of Independence. 


Returning to Lynnhaven Parish: although the connection between 
the Church and the State was now almost whoHy broken, the vestry 
are still found charged by the County Court with the important duty 
of processioning the lands in the precincts of the county, and many 
entries in their records indicate their active interest in the affairs 
of the Church in this year, 1785. 

Among other steps, they ordered account to be made of the mem- 
bers of the Eipiscopal Church in the parish above the age of sixteen, 
with a view to providing, through subscriptions, a due financial sup- 
port of the parish. 

In closing the connection between the Church and the State, the 
vestry ordered their wardens to make a statement of their accounts 
to the overseers of the poor, which was done in 1786; and the tran- 
sition period is noted in the form in which the vestrymen signed their 
next act qualifying as vestrymen, which was as follows: 

"At a meeting held at Kempsville the 27 December, 1787, we, the 
underwritten, having been fairly elected vestrymen and trustees ac- 
cording to an act of assembly, as well as an ordinance of the Conven- 
tion of the Ptotestant Episcopal Church, held in Richmond on the 16 
day of May, 1787, do agree to be for ever conformable to the doc- 
trine, discipline and worship of the said Episcopal Church, and to 
use all rational and just means in our power to advance the true 
interest thereof." Then follow the names of the vestrymen. 

On December 27, 1787, the Reverend J. Simpson "agreed to resign 
his office of Lynnhaven Parish on the sixth day of May, 1788, when an 
election of minister shall be held." 

Mr. Simpson, being an inducted minister, could not be forced to 
resign without due process; he therefore "agreed to resign," and 
in doing so, he said that three years of experience had proven to him 
that the emoluments of the said parish were not adequate to the 
trouble. It appears, however, that one of the gentlemen of the parish, 
Mr. Anthony Walke, was looking forward to the ministry and to being 
called to the parish, which may well have influenced the action of Mr. 
Simpson. Accordingly, on the 29th of March, 1788, Mr. Anthony Walke 
was formally recommended to the Right Reverend William White, 
Bishop of Pennsylvania, to receive orders, and on July the 3d, 1788, 
Mr. Walke, having been in the meantime ordained (the record does 
not say whether he was ordained both deacon and priest, but only 
that he had returned to the parish and desired to be inducted), was 
inducted minister of the parish. 


Four years later, while Mr. Walke was still minister of the parish, 
the following interesting declaration was made by one John McClennan, 
a Romanist, who desired to enter the Episcopal Church. 


"I John McClennan having been educated in the Principles of the 
Roman Church and having been convinced that, since the Rise of 
the Pope's temporal Power, the members of the said Church have been 
cruelly imposed upon by their Priests, who vainly pretended that they 
could grant Absolution for Sin, and Dispensations for Sums of money, 
thus usurping an Authority over the Consciences of Men, and who 
have supported the Doctrine of the real Presence at the Administration 
of the Eucharist, do now solemnly abjure the Supremacy of the Pope» 
and hereby renounce all the superstitions of the Church of Rome and 
declare that I will be a member of the reformed Church, holding the 
Faith of a Protestant from this Day, being the 22 of July 1792." 

"This is to certify that the above Declaration was publickly, made 
by John McClennan at the Altar, in the E^astem Shore Chapel, of the 
Parish of Lynnhaven and County of Princess Anne, on Sunday the 
22d of July Anno Domini 1792 

Anthony Walke, Minr." 

On October 10th, 1800, the Reverend Anthony Walke resigned the 
parish, and on the 1st November the Reverend Cornelius Calvert was 
inducted as minister of this parish. 

Until July, 1797, the vestry held unquestioned right to the Dickson 
donation. In that year the question to their right was raised, possi- 
bly by the dissenting element in the county, who were pressing in 
many directions to obtain possession of Church property, or it may 
be by some heirs, relatives of Mr. Dickson. In December, 1800, the vestry 
took council of John Wickham, E!sq., the distinguished lawyer of Rich- 
mond, who advised them that, in his opinion, the vestry could, with 
perfect safety to themselves and with propriety, continue the direc- 
tion of the charity as hitherto, and no person had any right to dis- 
turb in this duty. 

That if they were obstructed in the management of the property 
a court of chancery might interfere and appoint other trustees, and 
that, in view of the testator's will, he thought that the vestry would 
be reappointed. 

Lastly, he declared that the heirs of Mr. Dickson could certainly not 


support a claim to the land whether under the management of the 
vestry or not. 

At this time not only had the right of the church to the Dickson 
donation been questioned, but in July, 1801, it was found that certain 
dissenters were seeking to force an entry into and take possession of 
one of the churches. 

The Reverend George Holston was put in charge of the free school 
In 1803, and in August of the same year he was inducted minister of 
the parish. 

As late as April, 1813, the vestry and trustees of the parish were 
still in lawful possession of the Dickson Free School property, but had 
become involved in a troublesome suit with some of Mr. Dickson's 
relatives in Scotland. 

After this date there Is a gap in the record of the vestry covering 
eight years and six months — the next record is of a general meeting 
of the members of the parish in November, 1821. The parish had 
sufitered much, both by neglect and otherwise, in this interval. At this 
meeting Mr. Thurmer Hoggard was chairman, a vestry was elected, 
and the Reverend Mr. Prout was called to be minister of the parish, 
at a salary of $500, and soon afterwards took charge. 

In March, 1822, the vestry ordered the Donation church and the 
Eastern Shore chapel to be put in repair, which was done at once, at 
a cost of $386. 

In 1824 delegates were elected to the Episcopal Council, and also 
Pungo chapel was ordered to be repaired. Mr. Prout left the parish 
In 1824, and the Reverend Mark L. Chevers was employed to give 
some services. 

In 1825 the church was again destitute of services, and the Reverend 
John H. Wingfield was employed, and after him the following min- 
isters served the parish on and after the dates given with their 

The Reverend David M. Packler, 1838; Rev. B. F. Miller, occasional 
services, 1841; Rev. John G. Hull, 1842; Rev. Henry C. Lay, 184e; 
Rev. Edmund Withers, 1847; Rev. Lewis Walke, 1848; Rev. Robert 
Gatewood, 1865; Rev. A. A. McDonough, 1873; Rev. E. A. Penick, 
1877; Rev. C. B. Bryan, 1878; Rev. C. J. McCollough, 1881; Rev. 
Richard Anderson, 1883; Rev. W. R. Savage, 1884; A. W. Anson, 1891. 

In 1895 the eastern half of the parish, containing the Eastern Shore 
chapel, was set off as a separate parish. The following ministers 
continued to serve one or both of the parishes: Rev. W. R. Savage, 


1896; Rev. W. F. Morrison, 1896; Rev. Henry L. Liancaster, 1898; Rev. 
J. £. Wales, 1898; Rev. Frank Stringfellow, 1906. 

After the final declension of the old Donation church, which suffered 
much from the isolation of its position, that congregation built a 
church called Emmanuel church, about 1850, in Kempsville. 

Of recent years many members of the Episcopal Church have removed 
from the county to live in Norfolk. On the other hand, quite a settle- 
ment of Church people have gathered at Virginia Beach, where a con- 
venient chapel has been erected. Through the efforts of the Reverend 
Mr. Savage, a chapel was built for the benefit of the life-saving crew 
on the shore at and below Virginia Beach, and thus, while weakened 
at some points, the Church has been strengthened in others, and 
still has an abiding hold upon the hearts of the people of Princess 
Anne county. Certainly no one building in the county is so gen- 
erally revered as is the old Eastern Shore chapel, and it is pleasant 
to hear from its present minister, the Reverend Mr. Wales, that the 
church is in an encouraging and growing condition. The western end 
of the county has suffered more on account of its nearness to Norfolk, 
but it is blessed in a faithful company of workers and in the devoted 
service of one who, while not a clergyman, has for years done a 
minister's work in all things that were within his power, Mr. R. J. 
Alfriend, of Norfolk. 

These parishes still retain their beautiful communion vessels. Those 
which formerly belonged to the old Donation and the churches which 
preceded it now belong to Emmanuel church, Kempsville. The cup 
is marked with the date letter for 1705, the paten, which was the 
gift of Maximilian Boush, and bears his arms, has the date letter 
for 1711, and the fiagon, the date letter for 1716. These pieces, 
with the old Vestry Book, dating from 1723, have long been in the 
keeping of the Hoggard family at Poplar Hall, on Broad Creek. The 
Communion vessels of the Eastern Shore chapel, consisting of a hand- 
some cup, paten and fiagon, all bear the date letter of 1759. 




THE General Assembly of Virginia at the session X)f March, 1642- 
'43, enacted that "for the conveniency of the inhabitants on both 
sides of Appomattock River being farr remote from the parish 
church of the said plantation upon Appomattock be bounded 
into a parish by themselves as followeth, to begin at Causon's fCeild 
within the mouth of Appomattock River on the eastward side, and at 
Powell's Creek on the westward side of the river, and so to extend 
up the river to the falls on both sides, and the said parish to be called 
by the name of Bristol. (Hening's "Statutes at Large," Vol. I., p. 251). 
This was the genesis of Bristol Parish. 

At the same session of the General Assembly a Church-government's 
Act was passed, one of whose provisions was "That there be a true & 
perfect register kept in a booke .... of all weddings, christenings & 
burialls and that the clerke of every parish shall present to the com- 
mander of every monethly court a list of all weddings,, christenings & 
burialls within their parish the present moneth." If, in compliance 
with this enactment, Bristol Parish did from the beginning possess 
(:uch a "booke," it must have disappeared a long time ago; absolutely no 
trace of it remains to-day. With it, and the companion Vestry Book — 
If any such ever existed — ^were lost the records of the first seventy-sev- 
en years of the parish's history. But for the period beginning with 
the year 1720 and coming down to the present time the contemporary 
sources for a history of the parish are ample. To these original sourc- 
es, and to one or two works, like Slaughter's "History of Bristol Parish" 
and Bishop Meade's "Old Churches, Ministers, and Families of Vir- 
ginia," based in part upon them, reference will be made from time to 
time during the course of this article. 

In the year 1720 Bristol Parish contained about a thousand square 
miles. It lay along the Appomattox river on both sides, extending 
westward forty miles from the junction of the Appomattox with the 
James. There were 848 tithables in the parish, and two places of wor- 


ship, a church and a chapel. (See Perry's "Papers Relating to the His- 
tory of the Church in Virginia, A. D. 1650-1776," pp. 266-268. Queries of 
the Lord Bishop of London, answered hy George Robertson, Minister of 
Bristol Parish; also "The Vestry Book and Register of Bristol Parish, 
Virginia, 1720-1789," pp. 34.) 

In regard to the situation of the Church, there has been some di- 
versity of opinion. Bishop Meade says ("Old Churches," etc., Vol. I., p. 
439): "Within the bounds of this parish," i. e., Bristol, "was the old 
settlement of Sir Thomas Dale, in 1611, called Bermuda Hundred, at the 
Junction of James River and Appomattox. Settlements were from time 
to time, formed along the river up to the Falls, where is now the town 
of Petersburg. The mother or parish church was at Bermuda Hundred, 
opposite to City Point, and it was desirable to organize a parish and pro- 
vide for those who were settling higher up the Appomattox or Bristol 
River. That the mother church was at this place is evident from an early 
entry in the vestry book, where, for the first and only time, the mother 
church is mentioned; and there in connection with the ferry at the 
Point (City Point) which is directed to be kept in good order for per- 
sons, on Sunday, going over to the 'mother-church' called, in the Act 
of Assembly, the Parish Church." 

According to Bishop Meade, then, the mother church of Bristol Parish 
was at Bermuda Hundred. Was this the case? Let us examine first 
his own testimony. That examination discovers errors of fact in his 
account. Bermuda Hundred was never within the bounds of Bristol 
Parish. The parish church referred to in the Act of Assembly was not 
the "mother church" of which occasional mention is made in the Bristol 
Parish Vestry Book dating from 1720. At the time that Act was passed 
(i. e., March, 1642-'43), Bristol Parish was not in existence, and the parish 
church therein referred to was of course the church of that older parish 
of which the territory on Appomattox river, to be cut oft and made 
into the new parish of Bristol, was the outlying portion. Whether the 
parish church mentioned in the Act of Assembly of 1642-'43 was situated 
at Bermuda Hundred or not is a matter which does not concern us. 
That it was not the "mother-church" of Bristol Parish referred to in 
the vestry book, is certain. In his endeavor to confirm his argument 
by an appeal to the vestry book Bishop Meade falls into numerous 
errors. The mother church is mentioned in the Vestry Book not once 
only, but several times, though not always, under that name — ^never, 
however, in connection with the ferry at City Point, "which is direct- 
ed to be kept in good order." 


The following entry in the Vestry Book (printed volume, page 59, 
manuscript volume p. 42), under date of October 21st, 1731, is the one 
to which Bishop Meade refers: "Order'd that a Ferry be Keept at the 
Point and that it be attended when the sermon is at the Mother Church 
and that the Min'r pass when he hath Occation/' It is to be noted 
that this entry was made eighty-eight years after the establishment of 
Bristol Parish, and eleven years after the first entry in the book, that 
there is nothing said in it about t?ie Ferry being kept in good order; but 
merely that a Ferry be kept — proof positive that at this place no ferry 
had previously been operated — and that the place itself is referred to aa 
the Point simply^ not as City Point. Bishop Meade's theory in regard 
to the location of the mother church of Bristol Parish is untenable. 

Where, then, was the Mother Church situated? First, let the records 
speak for themselves. In the Vestry Book under date of November 
10th, 1726, there is the following entry: "It is ord'red that henry tatam 
be Clerk for the ferry Church and Chapell and y't he be Allow'd two 
thousand pounds of tob'co by the parrish P'r annum.'' Again under 
date of November 16th. 1727, the following: "To henry tatam Clerk of 
the Mother Church and ferry Chappie." These two entries taken in 
connection with the following, under date of October 21st, 1731: "Ordi- 
er'd that a Ferry be Keept at the Point and that it be attended when 
the Bermon is at the Mother Church and that the Min'r pass when he 
hath Occatioh," make so much at least plain, that the Mother Church 
and the Ferry Chapel were on opposite sides of the river, and that the 
two places of worship were not so far apart as to prevent one man's 
acting in the capacity of clerk at both of them. 

The question now is. Where was "the Point" where, in the year 
1731, a ferry was ordered to be kept? That it was not at the 
place now known as City Point has been already shown. There 
must have been ferries at City Point as far back as a hundred years 
before 1731, and we know from the Vestry Book that as early as 
1720 there was a ferry still higher up the river, at Conjurer's Neck, 
between City Point and the falls, kept by Mrs. Elizabeth Kennon. 
With every year the population moved farther and farther toward 
the west, and keeping pace with the movement in the population, 
ferries were continually being established higher and higher up the 
rivers. Everything, then, tends to confirm the supposition that 
"the Point" referred to in the minutes of the vestry meeting held 
Oct. 21, 1731, was Peter's Point, afterwards Petersburg, at the falls 


of the Appomattox. If any doubt remained as to its truth, it would 
seem to be set at rest by the following Independent witness, taken 
from Col. Wm. Byrd's diary of his "Journey to the Land of Eden," 
in the year 1733: "When we got home, we laid the foundation of 
two large Citys. One at Shaco's, to be called Richmond, and the 
other at the point of Appomattuck River, to be nam'd Petersburg." 
("The Writings of *Col. William Byrd, of Westover in Virginia, Esqr.* 
Edited by John Spencer Bassett, New York, 1901.) 

The records, finally, do not leave one in doubt as to which church 
was on the north, and which on the south side of the river. By 
act of the Assembly, Bristol Parish lost, in the year 1735, all that 
part of its territory lying north of the Appomattox. After that year 
the Vestry Book makes no further mention of the mother church, 
while references to the Ferry Chapel are as frequent as ever. A 
thorough knowledge of the existing records, then, tends to confirm 
Dr. Slaughter's opinion, held in opposition to Bishop Meade, that 
the indications that point to old "Wood's Church," five miles from 
Petersburg, in Chesterfiedd county, built in 1707, as the mother church 
referred to in the Vestry Book of Bristol Parish. 

The site of the Chapel, or Ferry Chaple, as it is frequently called 
In the Vestry Book, has never been a matter of serious investigation. 
Bishop Meade erroneously supposed that it "stood near the falls, and 
not far from the old Blandford church, which took its place in the 
year 1737 or 1738." (Bishop Meade's "Old Churches," etc.. Vol. I., 
p. 439). But, as has been shown, the ferry at "the Point," that is at 
what is now Petersburg, was not established until 1731, while the 
Ferry Chapel was being used as a place of worship in 1720, and 
doubtless it had been in existence for some time when the first en- 
tries in the Vestry Book were written. The ferry from which the 
Chapel took its name, and hence at, or near which it was situated, 
was without the least shadow of a doubt that kept by Mrs. Elizabeth 
Kennon, who lived at Conjurer's Neck (the Brick House) in what was 
then Henrico, now Chesterfield, county, on the Appomattox River, 
between City Point and the falls. The Chapel was located on the 
south side of the river in Prince George County. 

During the fourteen years between 1720 and 1734 the number of 
tithables' in Bristol Parish more than doubled. In the latter year 
there were returned 2084. The places of worship too had increased 
from two to five. Besides the mother church and the Ferry 


Chapel there were now chapels on Namozine, Sapponey, and Flat 
Creeks, all south of the Appomattox. 

Some time during the session of 1734 the General Assembly of 
Virginia passed an act creating the parish of Raleigh, and another 
creating the parish of Dale. The former act was to go into effect 
on March 25th, 1735, the latter, on May 31st of the same year. 
The creation of these new parishes very much reduced the area of Bris- 
tol. The number of tithables, too, which in the meantime had increas- 
ed to 2,305, was cut down to 1,349. Of the five places of worship for- 
merly in the parish only two were left, the Ferry Chapel, and the 
chapel on Sapponey Creek, both frame buildings, the former being in a 
half-ruinous condition. 

The passage of the acts in regard to Raleigh and Dale parishes 
placed the vestry of Bristol in an embarrassing situation. Before 
that time, namely, at a vestry meeting held March 11th, 1733, it 
was "Ordred that a niew Church be built of Brick on Wellses Hill 
for the Conveniency of this Parish Sixty foot long and twenty-five 
foot Wide in the Clear Eighteen foot Pitch with Compass Sealing 
and Compass windows the Isle Bight foot wide Laid witl\ Portland 
stone or Bristol marble Sash Glass Covered first with Inch Plank 
Ciphir'd and a Coat of hart Cipruss or pine Shingles % of an inch 
thick at the lower Bind nailed on foalding Shutters of windscut 
for the windows" 

In November of the next year (i. e., 1734,) in spite of the fact that 
in the meantime the creation of the two new parishes had been 
determined upon by the General Assembly, it was ordered "that 
Colo Robert Boiling, Capt William Stark and Majr William Poyth- 
res agree with workmen for Building a new Church according to 
the former Order made March ye 11th 1733." At the laying of the 
levies for that year 25,000 pounds of tobacco was levied toward 
building the new church. This caused trouble, for those tithables 
whose affiliation with Bristol parish was to come to an end in 
March and May, 1735, objected to being made to contribute toward 
the building of a church with which they would never have any of- 
ficial connection. An echo of the protest they made is heard from 
Williamsburg. At a vestry meeting held on August 12th, 1735, it 
was ordered "In Obedience to the Governors order that the Church 
warden do desire the workmen to delay going forward with the 


building the Church on Well's Hill till the Governors pleasure is 
further known." 

Evidently the Governor's prohibition was soon removed, for at 
the next vestry meeting, held at the Ferry Chapel September 15th, 
1735, it was ordered "That the Church wardens pay the remaining 
part of the Parish Money in their hands to Colo Thomas Ravens- 
croft upon his giving bond to compleat the Church upon Well's 
Hill pursuant to agreemt made May 4th 1735 Between himself and 
members of this Vestry appointed for that purpose." The agree- 
ment referred to in this order appears in the Vestry Book, pages 
72 & 73, as follows: 

"Order'd that a Church be built of Brick on Wellses Hill to be 
60 foot by 25 foot in the Clear and 15 foot to the spring of the Arch 
from the floor which is to be at least 18 Inches above the highest 
part of the ground 3 Bricks thick to the water table and 2^ after 
wards to the plate, the roof to be fram'd according to a Scheme now 
before us, the Isle to be 6 foot wide Lay'd with white Bristol Stone, 
galerey at the west end as long as the peer will admitt a window 
tn the same as big as the pitch will admit. 7 windows in the body 
of the Church of Suitable dimensions glaz'd with sash glass the 
f.oors to be well lay'd with good Inch ft % plank the Pews to 
be fram'd the fronts rais'd pannil & % round with a decent pulpit 
and type a decent rail and Ballistor round the altar place and a 
table suitable thereto as usual, the roof to be first cover'd with 
plank and shingled on that with good Cypress Hart Shingles Cor- 
nice Eves large board eves and Suitable doors as usual the whole 
to be done strong and workmanlike in the best plain manner to 
be finished by the last of July 1737. Stone Steps to each door 

Colo Thomas Ravenscroft has agreed to build the above Churcn 
for £485 Curr't Money to be paid at three Several payments." 

Col. Ravenscroft must have kept his agreement to the letter 
for it appears from the parish records that a meeting of the Vestry 
took place at the "Brick Church on Well's Hill" August 13th, 1737. 
This is the building locally known to-day as Old Blandford Church. 

Upon the completion of the new church, the Ferry Chapel was 
abandoned. No further reference to it is to be found in the Vestry 
Book. The parish still had but two places of worship, the Brick 
Church on Well's Hill, and Sapponey Chapel. But the number of tith- 


ables in the parish continuing to increase, it was found necessary to 
put up too more chapels, the one, for the convenience of the in- 
habitants in the lower part of the parish, on Jones' Hole Creek, the 
other on Hatcher's Run. 

In the meanwhile, during the year 1739, or early in 1740, the 
Rev. George Robertson, who had been minister of the parish since 
1694, died, and the Vestry proceeded to take steps to secure another 
minister. Their first choice was an unfortunate one, as the records 
sufficiently show. We will let them speak for themselves. 

"At a Vestry held at the Brick Church on Wells's Hill May 26th, 1740. 

Present. Colo Robert Boiling, Capt Wm. Stark, Capt Peter Jones, 
Mr. John Banister, Majr Wm. Poythress, Capt Willm Hamlin, Mr. 
Theo. Feild, Mr Theok Bland, Capt Charles Fisher. 

Order'd That Mr. Richard Heartswel be received Minister of this 
Parish dureing the approbation of the Vestry he haveing agreed to 
accept thereof on these terms." 

"At a Vestry held at the Brick Church on WeJls's Hill May 27th 
1740. . 

Present. Colo Robert Boiling, Capt Wm Stark, Mr. Theo. Feild, 
Capt. Charles Fisher, Majr Wm. Poythress, Mr. Theok Bland, Capt 
Peter Jones. 

Mr. Richard Heartswel haveing in company with Several of the 
Vestry yesterday Evening declared that he did not understand the 
order of Vestry that day made for receiving him as Minister of this 
Parish on the Terms therein mentioned altno entered in his pres- 
ence & with his approbation & now insisting on Twenty Pounds p 
Ann in lieu of a Glebe which he with some warmth, said he thought 
he merrited; & without such Allowance would not stay, thereupon 
the Church wardens convlend this Vestry who upon the representa- 
tion of the matter by several of their own Members, Orders that 
the said Richard Heartswel be discharged as Minister of this Parisa 
on the Terms by him & the Vestry agreed to on the 26th Instant or 
on any other whatsoever. 

Test John Woobank Clk Vestry" 

In this connection the following extract from a letter of the Rev. 
James Blair, Commissary, at Williamsburg, to the Bishop of London, 
dated May 29, 1740, will be of interest: "There is a clergyman, one Mr. 
Richard Hartwol came into this country from Liverpool about a year 
ago, only in Deacon's orders. He was ordained by Joseph. 


Bishop of Rochester, Sept 21, 1735. He brought no letters of 
recommendation, and came very unprovided of books or any- 
thing else. The Governor befriending him, he preached in 
several churches, ft has a taking way of delivery, but no 
parish seems desirous to have him for a minister chiefly 
because he is not capable of administering the sacrament of 
the Lord's supper, which they are very pressing for, especially on 
their death-beds. The Governor has vej-y lately recommended him 
to some gentlemen of that parish which was Mr. Robertson's, and 
he is gone thither, but as I hear, meets with great opposition. I 
want your Lordship's directions about him for I am somewhat 
diffident of his character in England, by reason of his coming away 
so suddenly and abruptly, and that he has been so long since ne 
was Deacon without receiving Priest's orders, and seems aver&e to 
repairing to England for compleat orders." (Perry's "Papers Re- 
lating to the History of the Church in Virginia 1650-1776" pp. 

That is the last word that history has to say of the Rev. Richard 
Heartswel in connection with Bristol Parish. The Vestry finally 
secured the services of the Rev. Robert Fergusson, who remainea 
minister of the parish until his death in 1749. 

In the year 1742 Bristol Parish was divided (Heningb "Stat- 
utes at Large," Vol. V., p. 212). At the time* of the division there 
were 1,668 tithables in the parish. With the formation of the new 
parish (Bath) Bristol parish lost 897 tithables and two out of the 
four churches. The Brick Church and the chapel on Jones Hole 
Creek remained to Bristol. Sapponey and Hatcher's Run Chapels 
went to Bath parish. Out of this division and the expenses In- 
cident thereto arose a dispute between the two parishes which lasted 
until 1745. 

In March, 1750, Rev. Eleazer Robertson was appointed minister 
of the parish "for Twelve Months on Tryal" as the Vestry Book 
expresses it. Evidently his "Tryal" proved satisfactory to all par- 
ties, for at the Vestry meeting in March, 1751, he was regularly re- 
ceived as minister of the parish. 

Either the eloquence of Mr. Robertson's discourses or the natu- 
ral growth of the parish — there were now 1081 tythables — ^was 
responsible for the following order of the Vestry made June 22nd, 
1752: "That an Addition be made on the South Side the Brick 

• 171 

Church, Thirty feet by Twenty five in the Clear and fifteen feet 
from the Spring of the Arch to the Floor which is to be the same 
height with the present Church three Bricks thick to the Water 
Table and two and a half thick to the plate, the Roofe to be Framed 
as the present Roofe, the Isle Six Feet wide laid with white Bristol 
Stone. Two windows of the Same dimentions as the present on 
Each Side of the Addition, and Glazed with Sash Glass, the Floor 
to be laid with Inch and Quarter heart plank, the pews to be Framed 
as those now in the Church, the Roofe to be first Covered with plank 
and Shingled on that with Good Cypress heart Shingles, a Cornish 
the Same as the present. Square Ceiling, a Door in the South End of 
the Addition, the present South Door to be shut up, and another 
Window and a pew Added In its place. The whole to be done 
Strong, and workmanlike in the Best plain manner, to be finished 
by the First day of July 1754. Also the Church to be walled in 
with a Brick Wall of one and a half Brick thick Five Foot from the 
highest part of the Ground to the Top of the Copeing, Length from 
East to West One hundred and Sixty Feet, from North to South 
One hundred and Forty Feet in the Clear, One Gate at the West 
End and One on the South Side the Church and the Church War- 
dens are to give publick Notice when it is to be Let." In November 
of the same year the Vestry ordered "that the Addition to the 
Church be built on the North side thereof. This day being the day 
Advertized in the Virginia Gazette for Letting the Addition to the 
Church, and Walling it in, Collo Rlcnard Bland being the Lowest 
Bidder agrees to do it for four hundred pounds Current money." 
Originally the church had been a simple rectangular building, sixty 
feet by twenty-five facing east and west. The addition above re- 
ferred to made a radical change in its appearance. Its form was 
now that of a squat T shaped cross. From the completion of this 
addition — it was not finished until the year 1764 — ^until the aban- 
donment of the building the Brick Church remained practically 

The Rev. Eleazer Robertson left Bristol parish in 1753. It was 
during the incumbency of his successor Rev Thomas Wilkinson, that 
the matter of a poor-house for the three parishes of Bristol, Mar- 
tins Brandon, and Bath began to be agitated. The first action in 
regard to this business was taken at a Vestry meeting held No- 
vember 27th, 1755. It culminated in December of the year fol- 

172 • 

lowing in the appointment of a committee, consisting of Messrs. 
Stephen £>ewey, Alexander Boiling, Theoderick Bland, and William 
Eaton, to "meet the persons appointed by the Vestry's of Brandon 
& Bath Parishes to agree in settleing the Terms of the Poors House." 
The result of the conference held by the representatives of the 
three parishes was embodied in the following report taken from the 
record of the minutes of the vestry meeting held at the Brick Church 
February 23rd. 1757: 

"At a meeting of the members appointed by the Respective 
Parishes of Bristol, Martins brandon and Bath as a Committee to 
Consider of the best and most proper method for Building a Poors 
House at the Joint Expence of the said Parishes — 

It is the opinion of this Committee that a Convenient House 
ought to be Rented for Entertaining the poor of the said Parishes, 
if to be had. But if not, that then Land ought to be bought & Con- 
venient Houses to be built for the joint use of the said Parishes 
in proportion to the number of Tithables In each of the said Parishes. 
This Committee having taken under their most serious Considera- 
tion the unhappy and indeed miserable Circumstances of the many 
poor Orphans and other poor Children, Inhabitants of the said 
Parishes whose parents are utterly unable to give them any Edu- 
cation and being desirous to render the said House as Beneficial as 
possable & that such poor Children should be brought up in a Re- 
ligious, Virtuous ft Industrious Course of Life so as to become 
useful members of the Community, Have Resolved earnestly to rec- 
ommend it to their Respective Vestries that they should join in a 
petition to the General Assembly to procure an Act to enable the 
said Parishes to erect a FREE SCHOOL for Educating the poor 
Children of the said Parishes in Reading, Writing and Arithmetic 
at the joint Expence of the said Parishes, and Uniting the same to 
the said Poorshouse Under such Rules, Orders and Directions as 
shall be most just and proper for perfecting so useful and Chari- 
table a Work, And in Order to facilitate the obtaining such Act to 
propose that the said Vestries should unite in opening Subscriptions 
that the Rich & Opu-lent & all other well disposed people may have 
an opportunity of Contributing towards so pious a design out of that 
STORE which the FATHER of Bounties hath bestowed on them. 

It is the opinion of this Committee that Four of the Members of 
each of the said Vestries ought to be appointed as a Committee to 


Petition the General Assembly in the name and on behalf of the 

said Vestries in Order to obtain such Act as aforesaid And also to 

put the said resolutions into Execution. 

It is the opinion of this Committee that these Resolutions be 

Communicated to the respective Vestries as soon as possable for 

approbation or Descent. 

Signed According to the Directions of the Committee By 

Jany 19th, 1757. RICHARD EXPAND." 

In spite of this very excellent report nothing seems to have come 
of the Poor-house plan. At the Vestry meeting held November 15th, 
1757, jt wa* ordered "That the Churchwardens at the most Conve- 
nient place put up the poor of this Parish to the lowest Bidder." 

If the Vestry of Bristol Parish proved incompetent to influence leg- 
islation In the matter of providing for the poor, they showed a very 
commendable and fairly successful zeal in the suppression of vice. 
The credit side of tne parish's yearly balance sheet exhibits frequent 
entries like the following: 

"By Richd Harrison & Rd Harrison Junr and Peter Aldridge for 
profane swearing 5/Each 15. 

"By mary Jones fine for a bastard child pd by Nat Rains £2 : 10. 

"By a flne from Tho. Whitmour for Profaning the Sabbath Day. 5. 

"By Henry Delony Gaming flne £5: 

"By Cash Reed of Richd Booker A flne of Some Person Sold Oat3 

by false measure at ye Bridge ^1 • " 

That the vestry was disposed to class non-church going among the 

vices to be rooted out appears from the following credit entry in the 

balance-sheet for the year 1754: 

"By 3 fines fpr not going to Church 15/" 

As Thomas Whitmour's flne for Profaning the Sabbath Day was 5 
shillings, it is probable thaat the profanation of which he was found 
guilty was that of absenting himself from divine service. 

On November 22d, 1762, the Rev. Thomas Wilkerson resigned the 
parish. The same day he was succeeded by Rev. William Harrison. 
The flrst twelve years or so of Mr. Harrison's incumbency seem to 
have been uneventful enough; then came the troublous times of the 
war with England. /Under date of October 19th, 1775, occurs the fol- 
lowing entry in the vestry book: 

"Whereas, The callamitous State of the Country renders it Doubtfull 


whether a Sufficient Sum Can be Collected from the people, for pay- 
ment of the Parochial Debt, in Money. And by the Restrained Laid 
on Exports, By publick Consent, The Parishoners are Precluded of the 
Election which the Law Had Giveing them, in paying their Due's in 
Tobo or Money. It is Determined by Vestry That the Ministers Sal- 
ary Shall be Estimated at One Hundred And Forty four Pound's, to 
be Collected as Nearly as Possible in Money Unless the prohibition on 
Exports Should be Removed, And in that Case the People to be at 
Liberty to pay in Tobo at Eighteen Shillings Per Hundred, In Lieu 
of Money, According to there Own Choice. And it's further to be Un- 
derstood that the Revd Mr. Harrison shall wait for the Ballance, After 
the Collection is made, three Years without Interest, unless, it should 
Please HEAVEN to Put an End before that time, To the Troubles of 
our Country, And then it is understood that the Encumben [t's] Sal- 
ary shall be Demandable in the usual and 'accustomed way.' 


Poor Mr. Harrison! One is hardly surprised at finding the follow- 
ing entered on the minutes of a vestry meeting held February 4, 1780: 
'*This day the Late Recter, the Revd. Mr. Harrison, wrote in his Resig- 
nation of his Cure of this Parish, which is accepted." 

After lying vacant four years the parish secured the services of the 
Rev. John Cameron. He is the last minister of the parish of which 
the vestry book speaks, as he was still living and serving the parish 
in the capacity of rector when the closing entry of the volume was 
written. This was on April 18, 1789. Dr. Cameron resigned his 
charge in 1793, and was succeeded the next year by the Rev. Andrew 
Syme, who served Bristol parish faithfully for forty-five years. 

He was the last rector of the parish that regularly held services and 
preached in the Brick church, on Well's Hill. With him, then, the 
references in this article to the history of the parish, as such, may well 

What remains of the history of the old church is soon told. After 
the Revolution the town of Blandford, which lies between Wells's Hill 
and the river, rapidly declined in importance as a tobacco port, while 
the new town of Petersburg, to the west, grew steadily. Between the 
years 1802 and 1808 the new St. Paul's church, Petersburg, was built 
This sealed the fate of the old Brick church, on Wells's Hill, though 
for awhile services were still held within its walls alternately with the 
church in Petersburg and the outward church. Finally the services 


at the Brick church were discontinued absolutely, and the old building 
was left alone in its glory. Thus abandoned, it gradually fell into 
ruins. Writing in 1879, a short while before the Brick church under- 
went its first "restoration," Dr. Slaughter says, quoting in part Charles 
CJampbell: " 'Blandford is chiefly remarkable for the melancholy charm 
of a moss-velveted and ivy-embroidered, ante-Revolutionary church, 
(whose yard is the Petersburg cemetery), at present in the most pic- 
turesque place of dilapidation.' And we add that it is the pride of 
Petersburg, and the most attractive of all her historical surroundings. 
The pilgrim and the stranger who tarry but a night is sure to wend his 
way and pay his homage at this shrine. Time, too, in its revolvings, 
'brings in other revenges.' The children, and the children's children, 
of the scattered worshippers who were baptized at this font or knelt 
at this shrine, when they have finished their course on earth, are borne 
back in solemn procession and laid in the bosom of old Mother Church, 
which invests her with a charm, in the eyes and hearts of the whole 

A few years after the above was written it was found necessary, in 
order to preserve the ruins from utter destruction, to have the building 
re-roofed. The writer thinks that he is not mistaken in saying that 
this work was undertaken and paid for by the city of Petersburg. How- 
ever much to be regretted, inasmuch as the new slate roof has given 
a rather incongruous air of smartness to the venerable building, these 
repairs done by the city were unavoidable. 

Not so, however, the recent "restoration" of Old Blandford, through 
the efforts of the Ladies' Memorial Association, aided — one is tempted 
to say also, and abetted — by the Petersburg chapter of the Daughters 
of the Confederacy, by which this relic of the Colonial period has been 
converted into a Confederate memorial chapel. A monument of the 
early eighteenth century converted into a memorial of the events of 
1861-'65 — could no better way than this have been found to honor the 
Southern cause? It is always so, however. The past is ever being for- 
gotten in the interests of the present, and history shows many such 
glaring instances of robbing Peter to pay Paul. But the day will come 
when the intelligent people of Petersburg will regret having allowed 
this piece of utter vandalism to be perpetrated. 

A visit to Blandford church recalls many memories of the historic 
past. Here preached in days long gone by the ministers whose names 
have already been given; the Robertsons — George and Eleazar — Robert 


Fergusson, Thomas Wilkerson, William Harrison, John Cameron and 
Andrew Syme. Occasionally, too, the walls of the old church rang 
with the voice of some famous divine like William Stith, the Virginia 
historian; Devereaux Jarratt, the stirring preacher of Bath parish, or 
George Whitfield, the great English evangelist As one wanders about 
among the tombstones outside, stopping from time to time to decipher 
some half-obliterated inscription, the ancient glory of the church is 
brought vividly to the mind. Here worshipped with their families, in 
that to us dim pre-Revolutionary time, James Munford, William Poy- 
thress, Robert Boiling, Peter Jones, William Stark, Theophllus Field, 
Charles Fisher, Francis Foythress, William Hamlin, Theoderick Bland, 
David Walkef, Thomas Short, Stephen Dewey, William Epes, George 
Smith, Samuel Gordon, James Murray, Hugh Miller, James Boisseau, 
Alexander Boiling, Anthony Walke, Thomas Williams, William Eaton, 
Roger Atkinson, George Nicholas, Sir William Sklpwith, John Ruffin, 
John Bannister, Theoderick Bland, Jr., Nathaniel Raines, Nathaniel 
Harrison, William Call, Richard Taylor, Thomas and Joseph Jones and 
many others — truly an array of worthy names of which any Church 
might well be proud. 

From the churchyard one sees about two miles off to the north the 
hills on the Chesterfield side of the river, from which Lafayette, in 1781, 
standing by his guns, must have watched the bombardment of the Brit- 
ish in Petersburg — that bombardment that is said to have disturbed 
the last hours of the English General Phillips, as he lay dying in the 
house on East Hill. Tradition has it that the dead general was laid to 
rest in the southeast comer of Blandford churchyard. 

Less than a mile away to the east and south are the remnants of 
the earthworks held by the Confederate forces during the memorable 
siege of Petersburg, which lasted from the 9th of June, 1864, to the 2d 
of April, 1865. The fighting was at times so near the church that 
the building itself and the surrounding tombstones did not escape en- 
tirely the rain of shot and shell directed against the town and its de- 
fenders. To this day bullets are not infrequently found in the ceme- 
tery, and, indeed, close up to the old churchyard wall. 

It is scarcely necessary to add, in closing, that Blandford church, so 
rich in associations that appeal to cultivated minds, possesses a litera- 
ture of its own, the natural outgrowth of the thoughts and emotions 
which it has itself inspired. One can do no more here than refer the 
reader to Dr. Slaughter's valuable "History of Bristol Parish," where 
the greater part of what is best in that literature may be found. 





Qq l/^ pN^ HE' history of the Episcopal Church of Virginia has been, 
j I from the very beginning, a most interesting and eventful 
ii one beyond that of any other diocese in the Union." 
We refer the reader to Bishop Meade's "Old Churches and 
Families of Virginia," from which the foregoing quotation is 
made. In attempting to write articles on Ware and Abingdon 
Parishes and their churches, I am embarrassed by finding the 
county and church records almost wholly destroyed up to the year 
1830. Many valuable documents were burned at Jamestown In 
1676, when Nathaniel Bacon kindled the first fires of rebellion In 
the Colony. Again at Williamsburg, in 1776 — the War of the Revo- 
lution — many precious documents were consumed by fire. In 1820 
the clerk's office at Botetourt, which is now called Gloucester, the 
county's old seat, was burned with its contents. A further fire at Rich- 
mond, on April 2, 1865, destroyed all of Gloucester county records. As 
a precautionary step, Gloucester being in the lines of the enemy, thB 
records had been carried to Richmond. A mutilated register of Abing- 
don Parish, from 1677 to 1761, and a like uninjured vestry book of 
Petsworth Parish, in that county, is all that remains from the fires 
prior to and including that of 1820. From these old books and other 
fragments of history we get a dim light of Colonial Church work in 
Gloucester, telling what our fathers did to perpetuate the religion of 
our Lord Jesus Christ, as the Church of England received and planted 
it in America. 

In the absence of her burned and lost records, Gloucester point? to 
the names and history of her families, to the character of their homes 
and family graveyards, to the remaining Colonial churches, Abingdon 
and Ware, and to remnants of foundations where Kingston and Pets- 
worth churches and earlier old chapels stood when the State was 
almost a solid forest. These are monuments to the culture and piety 
of her people. 

In 1608 Capt. John Smith, with his hardy followers, first visited what 
is now Gloucester county. It is here Pocahontas saved the life of 



Smith. Here also our forefathers In the Church found the first fruits 
unto Christianity among the Indians, In the person of Pocahontas, the 
daughter of the Indian king. Her numerous offspring In Virginia and 
elsewhere occupy positions high in Church and State, and trace their 
ancestry beyond Jamestown even to Gloucester, when It was the seat 
of an Indian empire. 

Weworocomico, the chief home of Powhatan, is distinctly lo- 
cated on the map of Captain John Smith, and also on the map of 
Tyndall, fixing the locality on Purton bay, York river, as the spot 
where Pocahontas saved the life of Smith. 

In the food borne from Gloucester by Smith to the starving people 
at Jamestown, this county became, as it were, a foster-mother to the 
stricken colony 

Gloucester lies on the north side of York river, about fifteen miles 
from Jamestown. York river and York county were first called Pa- 
munkey river and Pamunkey shire. Afterwards they bore the name of 
Charles river and Charles shire. (One of the original eight shires 
mentioned In Hen. Stat., Vol. I., page 224.) 

In like manner the county bordering on the north side of York river, 
being once a part of York county, sh«\red the names successively Pa- 
munkey shire, Charles River shire, York county; and finally Glouces- 
ter. I mention these chianges of names, which together with land 
grants, to be referred to, will throw light upon the genesis of Glouces- 
ter county and her parishes. 

What is now called Gloucester Point, just across the York river from 
Yorktown, was first called TyndalPs Point. Subsequently It was called 
Gloucester Town, which name It bore up to about 1850. liike York- 
town, it has an Imperishable history. Gloucester county was cut out 
of York county about 1651. Land grants were located in York county 
on the north side of York river until April, 1651. (See York County 
Land Book.) Prior to this date, between 1630 and 1644, a considerable 
white population had settled on the north side of York river. In the 
absence of history to the contrary. It is probable that public worship of 
God was first conducted in Gloucester at Tyndall's Point. When the 
geographical and other advantages of Gloucester became known to the 
English settlers, they were eager to avail themselves of them. The 
unusual extent and nature of its water front, the enduring wealth of its 
land, and the mild, salubrious climate have been well and long known. 
King Powhatan showed his wisdom by making his permanent home 
there. It was at a strategic locality. 


A study of the long Gloucester water front and country back of 
Gloucester town,^and also up and down York river shores develop some 
very interesting features and history that, very likely, controlled the 
direction of the first farmers' settlements outside of Gloucester town. 
The "War Path," or "Indian Road," well known in Gloucester, crossed 
York river at Page Rock, in order to reach the "Indian Field," the red- 
man's settlement in York county. The "War Path" also ran northward 
from Shelly, in Gloucester, passing to the west within a few miles of 
the present site of Abingdon church, and on to within half a mile of 
where Ware church now stands; then onward to the Piankitank and 
Rappahannock rivers. 

Shelly, about eight miles above Gloucester town, is noted for the 
great bank of oyster shells left there from Indian feasts in the long 
past. Timber Neck and Carter's Creek plantations are both close to 
SheJly, and like the latter place their waters are celebrated for oysters 
that could be easily taken and were abundant. The Indian needed 
shallow, quiet waters for oyster gathering. The red warrior would be 
slow to give up these delightful haunts of his ancestors, and to aban- 
don the "war trail" that led to his neighbors' wigwams, south and 
north, in the kingdom of Powhatan. The ruins of what is known as 
Powhatan's chimney, on the east side of Timber Neck creek, and addi- 
tional oyster shell mounds on the west side of Carter's creek, at Rose- 
well, indicate a long-standing and large Indian settlement upon these 
waters. Therefore it is not probable that the first settlers on Glouces- 
ter shores spread up the river. What is more likely, they settled east- 
ward, on the shore line of York river and along Sarah's creek, and an 
arm of this river close to Gloucester town. Guinea, a very favorably 
protected peninsula about five miles long, is surrounded by wide waters 
on three sides, north, south and east The west side is partly cov- 
ered by Sarah's creek. This neck, cut off from the Indians, offered ex- 
cellent pasturage all the year long on its extensive marshes for horses, 
catt]^ and hogs of the whites. The pines, wild myrtle and horse 
bushes protected the stock in bad weather. This peninsula, unique in 
its location and advantages, was doubtless, with Tyndall's Point, the 
earliest section of Gloucester settled by the whites. With few excep- 
tions it has been the home of small farmers and fishermen. Ministers 
located in KIskyacke Parish likely visited and administered to these 
hardy citizens, as Tyndall's Point was at first in that parish. 

Abingdon church Colonial register preserves the names of many fam- 


ilies that have lived in Guinea since 1677. Her people were among 
the earliest worshippers at Tyndairs Point and at Abingdon, and they 
probably came to church in their boats and arfoot in the early days. 
Later on the better conditioned drove in the carryall, sulky and stick- 
gig. The bodies of many of them sleep in Abingdon churchyard, leav- 
ing the story told of the mother church upon the hearts of the people. 

Water courses and the divides of water-sheds most frequently mark 
the metes and bounds of State, county and parish. As the white set- 
tlements advanced into the interior, county and parish areas, under 
the multiplication of settlers, became more contracted and defined. 
The changes that Gloucester Parish lines underwent, in over two hun- 
dred years, it is impossible to follow clearly. Settlers had moved into 
what is now Gloucester county before the second attempted Indian 
massacre of 1644. In making this second attack the Indians were mind- 
ful of the struggle between the Roundheads and King Charles I., and 
took advantage of the disturbed state of affairs. (See Smithey's Hist, 
of Va., page 68.) From 1640 to 1650 was a most trying period to the 
settlers in what is now Gloucester county, and doubtless had a retard- 
ing influence upon the Church development. Settlers were summoned 
by the Burgesses to return to the south side of York river. After this 
the country north of the York and on the Rappahannock was not open 
for settlement until September 1, 1649. (See Acts of House of Bur- 
gesses, Hen. Stat., Vol. I.) 

As early as 1623 the House of Burgesses ordered, "There shall be in 
every plantation where the people meet for the worship of Crod, a house 
or room sequestered for that purpose." . A court was held in York coun- 
ty in a private home, before a courthouse was built, so we may conclude 
the same people habitually assembled in private houses for worship of 
God before a church could be built. 

There was a place of worship at "Temple Farm," about two miles 
below (east) Yorktown. Doubtless hardy spirits, seeking God at that 
time, from Gloucester town crossed the wide, boisterous river, with its 
sweeping tides, to worship at the locality where, over one hundred 
years later. Lord Cornwallis was to ask terms of surrender for his 
"red coats." 

The plantations were at first all on the river (or bay) shore. Farms 
were patches cut out among the trees. Communication was mostly by 
boat. (See Men, Women and Manners, Fisher, Vol. I.) It is then 
not surprising (Gloucester abounding in rivers) that in 1648 (See Hen. 


Hist., Vol. I, page 353), the settlers petitioned the House of Burgesses 
to allow them to return to Gloucester. 

Having called attention to the direction in which the settlers of 
Gloucester, seeking best natural living advantages and greater security 
from the Indians, I think the chosen locality for a chapel or church 
would be at Gloucester town or near it, and overlooking the placid 
waters of Sarah's creek. 

Charles I. was beheaded in 1649. With his downfall many Cavaliers 
flocked to Virginia and not a few settled in Gloucester. Three years 
later — November, 1652 — Gloucester for the first time appears as a 
county of the Colony, represented in the Houae of Burgesses by Col. 
Hughe Gwynn and Mr. Francis Willis. (See Hen. Stat, Vol. I., page 

Having no church records as to when the Gloucester Parishes of 
Abingdon, Ware, Petsworth and Kingston (the latter now in Mathews 
county) were formed, I turn to the Gloucester book of Land Grants. 
There I find a grant to one John Chapman for four hundred acres of 
land in Kingston Parish in 1657. Grants wore located in Petsworth, 
Abingdon and Ware Parishes in 1665 and 1666. There la nothing in 
the York records about these parishes. I think they were established 
about 1652, because Gloucester being nearer Williamsburg than Lan- 
caster county, where court records reported two parishes in 1654, one 
of them bordering Gloucester on the north. 

Abingdon Parish lies in the southeastern part of Gloucester county, 
fronting on York river and Mobjack bay. It is bounded on the north 
and west by Ware and Petsworth Parishes. The area is between thirty 
and forty miles in circumference. The church, stands in a walnut 
grove near the road leading from Gloucester Courthouse to Gloucester 
Point, and is six miles from the latter. This is the second known 
church at this place. The foundations of the first church, close beside 
the present building, show that it was much smaller than is the church 
now in use. This first building, which the Rev. Charles Mann said 
"had been enlarged," is supposed to have been built in early days of 
this parish, and upon ground donated by Augustine Warner. 

The foundations of an old wall that enclosed the Warner gift of half 
an acre of land for this church and cemetery in which the church 
stood, are still to be traced. This cemetery was enlarged in Colonial 
days and enclosed by an excellent brick walk. The sight of these an- 


cient miiig should awaken profound interest In every true-hearted 
American. Here Mildred Warner, daughter of Col. Aug^ustine Warner, 
must have worshipped and received her early religious training. She 
married Lawrence Washington, of Westmoreland county, Virginia, 
and was the grandmother of George Washington. 

This church was used about one hundred years, when it became un- 
safe and steps were taken to build the present beautiful Abingdon. 

The present church is in the form of a square or maltese cross, 
Ironting the west, the main entrance being at that end. The two out- 
side faces of the western and eastern ends of the cross are each thirty- 
six feet wide. The faces of the northern and southern outside ends 
of the arms of the cross are each thirty-flve feet wide. The extreme 
length of the building from west to east is eighty-one feet. The ex- 
treme width of the building from north to south is seventy-six feet 
six inches. The walls are two feet thick. I was unable to measure the 
height of walls and angle of roof, but both are in fine proportion . with 
the width. I think the walls were built of brick made in Gloucester 
(from an excavation near the church), and according to the Flemish 
bond, and with glazed heads. The bricks framing the entrances are 
of different sizes, color and clay from those in the body of the church, 
suggesting the probability of their having been imported. But few 
bricks were imported in the colonies. 

I nm of the opinion that this structure was completed about 1755, 
and for these reasons: First, the late Mrs. Robert C. Selden, of Sher- 
wood, who was born in 1815, and died April, 1906, told me that in her 
childhood, she remembered her aged aunt Innis, of Warner Hall, say- 
inia qhe attended services in the first church when she was a little girl; 
second, high in the church wall is a brick which I have carefully ex- 
amined, dated 1734; third, the Williamsburg Oazette of February 14, 
1751, has the following: 

**Notice is hereby given, on Wednesday, 27th day of this month, a 
vestry will be held at Abingdon church, in the county of Gloucester, in 
order to contract with workmen for building a new church in said 

There is still another brick in the southwest corner of the wall, 
three feet from the ground, with 1755 neatly cut in it, which I think 
gives the date of its completion. The high Colonial pulpit stood at the 
southeast re-entrant angle to the right of the chancel. 


The beautiful pentagonal reredos is accurately described by Mrs. 
Fielding l^ewis Taylor, as follows: 

"It represents the facade of a Greek temple in the bas-relief, about 
twenty feet in height and extending entirely across the back of the 
mancel. it is handsomely carved and painted snowy white. Straight 
across the lintel of the facade runs the first line of the Te Deum, 'We 
praise Thee, O God.' The roof of the reredos dividing at the apex, sup- 
ports a pineapple, both in high relief. Between the four fluted pilas- 
ters of the reredos are set four long black tablets, framed and lettered 
in gold. These contain the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten 
Commandments. Alas! the breath of time has dimmed the beautiful 
words. The light from the great arched windows (in the head of the 
cruciform building, on either side of the chancel) shines full ifeon 
these four foundation pillars of the Faith once delivered to the saints. 
The efPect of the whole is simple, but beautiful, full of deep spiritual 
earnestness." Above the apex of the reredos is a gilt cross painted on 

Abingdon church, within and without, is exceedingly impressive and 
beautiful. The main and cross aisles were formerly laid in flagstones, 
a step below the level of the pew floors. They were probably imported. 
The pews were large and with high sides, according to Colonial style, 
with benches on three sides. The chancel occupies the east end of the 
cross. There are galleries in the arms of the cross, still furnished with 
the same high pews. In early days the Thruston and Lewis families 
are said to have occupied the south gallery, and the Burwells and 
Pages the north gallery. In the rear of these pews benches were placed 
for servants. There was no flue nor other evidence, nor is there any 
tradition that the church was heated in any way. As far as I have 
learned, this condition at Abingdon is not an exception in the first 
plan of Virginia Colonial churches. The fathers brought from Eng- 
land the custom of not providing the churches with stoves, but certain 
families, no doubt, brought heating boxes, charcoal braziers, hot 
bricks and abundant wraps. In later times stoves were introduced, in 
which wood was burned, the stovepipes passing out through a per- 
forated sheet of tin substituting a pane of glass. The stoves were in- 
effectual for heating, and delicate persons were provided with bricks 
heated on the stove and wrapped in woollens. Uncle Guy, the old 
negro sexton, did this. A modern furnace is now in use. 

In the Colonial section of the cemetery graves are so numerous 


that it is impossible to find space for an interment in unoccupied 
ground. The vestry have forbidden the interment in the old cemetery 
as a burying-ground. There are numbers of sunken stones that have 
no lettering or date& There are three well preserved tombs with 
legible inscriptions. Two of these have coats-of-arms. A few years 
ago the late Mr& Robert Colgate Selden, a descendant of Augustine 
Warner, gave an acre of ground adjoining the cemetery, for enlarging 
the graveyard. Recently Mr. Joseph Bryan enclosed the whole ceme- 
tery, about two and a half acres, with a substantial brick wall. The 
tendency to use the new section of the cemetery is increasing. 

The plantations in this and the adjoining parishes of Gloucester 
generally have family burying-grounds. In the burying-grounds are 
haiMsomely inscribed gravestones — ^at "Timber Neck," "Carter's 
Creek," "Roeewell," "Warner Hall," "Wareham," "Toddsbury." "High 
Gate," "Violetbank," and other homes, along with destroyed Petsworth 
and its abandoned churchyard. FYom these were gathered some history 
of our Church. 

For many a holy text around she strews 
Which teach the rustic moralist to die. 

In many instances, where these old estates have passed into other 
hands, the family graveyards have become overgrrown with shrubs, 
trees and briars. 

There is no record of ministers that I can find who served Kiskyacke 
or York-Hampton Parishes, in York county, when their lines em 
braced what is now Abingdon Parish, Gloucester. Doubtless ministers 
from these parishes served in private houses or at a chapel of ease, 
at or near Tyndall's, now Gloucester Point. Neither can a list of 
ministers be given who have served Abingdon from its beginning as 
a parish until 1674, when the Rev. John Gwynn removed there from 
Ware Parish, and continued in charge through Bacon's Rebellion until 
1688. (See Court records.) 

With him we begin the list of known ministers in the parish, al- 
though it is almost certain one or more preceded him, as I find from 
Dr. Hawks' Ecclesiastical History that "in 1659 there were fifty parishes 
in the Colony of Virginia, and the number of ministers about the num- 
ber of the parishes." 

Since Bishop Meade's day, an Abingdon Parish register, dating from 
1677 to 1761, has been found, a copy of it has been made and placed 
with the Virginia Historical Society. The original is in the charge of 


the officers of Abingdon Parish. From this record we find the Rev. 
Gvy Smith served the parish from 1702 until his death in 1718. Dur- 
ing his ministry the Rev. George Keith, missionary of the S. P. G., 
preached in the first Abingdon church, June 13, 1703. This year was 
also notable as being the time that Major Lewis Burwell, of Carter's 
Creek, presented the handsome communion service, still used in the 
parish. It consists of a fiagon, a cup and two patens, engraved, '"The 
Gift of L. B. to Abingdon Parish." According to maker's mark, the 
set was made in London in 1702. The fiagon is 13% inches high and 
8^^ across the base. The cup is nearly 8 inches high and 5^ across 
the mouth. Diameter of the large paten is 11^ inches, and of the 
smaller 6 inches. 

According to the report of the Rev. Thomas Hughes to the Bishop 
of London, made in 1724, he succeeded Rev. Mr. Smith in 1719, and was 
still in the parish in 1744, when he baptized a member of the Thrus- 
ton family. (See Thruston Bible.) In 1724 Mr. Hughes reported 
about 300 families in the parish; that services were held every Lord's 
Day, Good FYiday and Christmas, in the forenoon; that there were 
sixty OF seventy communicants; that the Holy Communion was admin- 
istered three times a year, and that about 200 Christians generally at- 
tended the church. Mr. Hughes said the surplice had never been 
used in the parish. (I suppose he used the black gown.) He reported 
his salary was 1,600 pounds of tobacco. He also reported a glebe, 
which he occupied, to be in good condition. This glebe house which he 
mentioned is in existence in the limits of Ware Parish, and is one of 
the most interesting brick Colonial houses in the county, and is now 
owned by Mr. William S. Robins. The glebe buildings and lands were 
confiscated by legislative act in 1802. 

Mr. Hughes also reported a free school endowed and 500 acres of 
land for the benefit of the poor children of Abingdon and Ware Par- 
ishes. This grant was made by Mr. Henry Peasley, of Robins' Neck, 
in 1675. (See Hen. St., Vol. VII., p. 441.) Some years ago this bequest 
was changed by the Virginia Legislature to benefit the poor of Glouces- 
ter county. I think equity demands that it should be applied accord- 
ing to the will of the testator. 

Referring again to the Thruston Bible, there being no reference to 
the Rev. Wm. Yates in the old Parish Register, I gather he was in 
charge of the parish in 1750 and 1759. In this latter year he became 
rector of Bruton Parish and president of William and Mary College. 


Reference is made to him in Bishop Meade's book as rector of Abing- 
don, though the printer calls him "Gates." 

In the absence of other records, I again turn to the Thruston Bible, 
and I find the Rev. Richard Hewett was in the parish in 1772. The 
Rev. William Hubard in 1773, and Rev. Thomas Price in 1778, each of 
these ministers having baptized members of the Thruston family. 
Bishop Meade says Mr. Price was in the parish 1773, 1774, 1776. After 
this there is no record of ministers for several years. 

Abingdon was the third church in the diocese to receive an Episco- 
pal visitation — possibly in the early part of 1791. (See Bishop Madi- 
son's report to the Convention of that year.) 

Rev. James Maury Fountaine is said to have had charge of the par- 
ish in 1784. It is probable that about that time he preached in all the 
churches in Gloucester. In April, 1791, his name appears as presiding 
at a vestry meeting in Pets worth Parish. He was then unanimously 
asked to continue as "lecturer" of the parish, for the year to end the 
eleventh (11th) of April, 1792. May 11, 1792, he was again present 
at the Fetsworth vestry meeting, and chosen "lecturer" for the next 
twelve months, with this addition: "Mr. FV)untaine is at liberty to at- 
tend the Church of Abingdon at least three times a year." He is re- 
corded as declining. July 2d of the same year he wrote to Bishop 
Madison from Ware, endorsing Mr. Armistead Smith, of Kingston Par- 
ish, for holy orders. From the foregoing, it seems he served the three 
parishes for a time. 

Mr. Armistead Smith's name next appears in connection with Abing- 
don Parish. It is recorded in the Thruston Bible that on "December 
22, 1804, at Bell F^rm, Rev. A. Smith united Robert Thruston and 
Sarah Brown in "holy matrimony." Mr. Smith entered the ministry 
from Kingston Parish, Mathews, 1792. He was ordained priest in 
Abingdon church by Bishop Madison in 1793. He died in 1817. Fur- 
ther note will be made of him in the Ware article. 

m 1827 the Rev. James Cames became rector of Abingdon, in con- 
nection with Ware, and served in both parishes until 1829. He was 
followed in both charges by the Rev. John Cole (deacon), who contin- 
ued rector until 1836. He was succeeded ii^ both parishes the next year 
by the Rev. Charles Mann, who continued his joint ministry until 
1867, when he resigned Abingdon Parish. B\irther note of Mr. Mann 
will be made in the article on Ware Parish. 

The Rev. S. H. Phillips became rector in 1868 and was in charge 


until 1872, when he was followed by Rev. Alexander T. Hundley, who 
continued in charge until 1883. He was greatly beloved by many 
within and without the church and drew many to the church. 

In 1884, the present rector began his ministry in the parish, first 
temporarily, then permanently, in June, 1885. 

During the late Mr. Hundley's ministry a mission was established 
in Robins' Neck, about five miles from the church, upon what is known 
as the "Free School Tract," the land formerly donated by Henry Pea- 
body to Abingdon and Ware Parishes. From this beginning, in 1888, 
the present rector was able to build the Holy Innocents chapel, not 
where the mission started, but upon a piece of land given by the late 
Mr. Robert C. Selden, of Sherwood — a devout Churchman and vestry- 

In connection with this chapel I wish to make special mention of 
my friend and parishioner, the late Mr. Joe Deal. He owned a part 
of the "Free School Tract/' and lived and died in the original Peas- 
ley house, built about 1655. He was a liberal subscriber to the chapel, 
and, according to his request, he was buried with his parents and 
other members of his family at Abin^gdon church. 

In October, 1904, Rev. S. R. Tyler assisted in Abingdon and Ware 
Parishes until July 1, 1905, when he left to take charge of Hamilton 
Parish, Va. He was at once followed by the Rev. R. Y. Barber, who left 
at the end of a year for Texas. 

Having given, as far as I could, a list of the ministers of Abingdon 
Parish, it will be interesting to add the names of officers and of ves- 
tr>men as far as they are known. There are no known records prior 
to 1785 that give information on this subject. In Dr. Dashiell's Digest 
of the CJouncils of the Diocese of Virginia, I find Governor John Page, 
of Rosewell, represented Abingdon Parish In the Diocesan Council In 
the years 1785, '86, '87, '91 and '97. Thomas Lewis in 1787 and Warner 
Lewis m 1794. 

In 1785 I find Governor Page chairman of a committee in the Con- 
vention to prepare an address to the members of the Protestant Epis- 
copal Church of Virginia, representing the condition of that Church. 

In 1854 Bishop Meade says Governor Page had seven descendants in 
the Episcopal ministry. 

The first recorded vestry meeting in Gloucester county was held at 
Gloucester Courthouse, July 31, 1830. It represented the joint parishes 
of Abingdon and Ware. Present, Rev. John Cole, Dr. William Talia- 


ferro, Sr., Colonel Catesby Jones, Captain William Robins, Dr. William 
O. Wiatt, Phillip B. Tabb, William P. Smith. On motion being made, 
Colonel Catesby Jones and Dr. William Taliaferro, Sr., were unani- 
mously elected wardens for Ware church. Mr. Archibald Taylor, St., 
and Captain William Robins were in the same manner nominated and 
appointed wardens for Abingdon church. 

On April 30, 1832, we have a list of the joint body of vestrymen: 
"The following members are appointed for Ware parish vestry: Colo- 
nel Catesby Jones, Rev. John Cole, Dr. William Taliaferro, Sr., W. T. 
Taliaferro, William P. Smith, Philip B. Tabb. For Abingdon Parish: 
Colonel William Jones, George B. Taliaferro, Thomas Smith, John R. 
Bryan, William^ Smart and A. L. Davies. Dr. William Taliaferro and 
Colonel Catesby Jones, wardens for Ware. George B. Taliaferro and 
John R. Bryan, wardens for Abingdon.** 

That same vestry met December 31, and passed the following: 

"On motion b^ng made and seconded, the resignation of the Rev. 
John Cole was accepted, and it is further resolved that the vestry, 
through their secretary, do express the high sense they entertain of 
Mr. Cole's services, and their entire approbation of his conduct during 
the whole time he has officiated as minister of the parishes above men^ 
tioned, embracing a period of aoout seven years." 

Again the Vestry Book is missing to the year 1868. 

Abingdon vestry May 4, 1867: Colonel J. Lyle Clarke, Charles Selden, 
Captain R. M. Page. At this period both church edifice and its officers 
had to be re-established. The vestry for 1868: Colonel J. Lyle Clarke, 
Dr. Charles Selden, Captain R. M. Page, Mr. John Backhouse, Captain 
J. B. Brown, Captain John T. Perrin. 

Abingdon and Ware were represented in the Council in 1827 by Aug. 
Lk Dabney, and again in 1831. Abingdon was represented in the Con- 
ventions of 1827 and '31 by Augustine Li. Dabney; in 1836 and '40, '50, 
'54, '57, by John R. Bryan. 

The following are vestrymen of Abingdon and Ware conjointly from 
1865 to 1867, when relationships were dissolved: Warner Taliaferro, 
William Patterson Smith, Wyndham Kemp, Dr. Francis Jones, Dr. Sam- 
uel Cary, Gen. William B. Taliaferro, Colonel William T. Robins, Col- 
onel J. Lyle Clarke, Captain Richard M. Page, Dr. Charles Selden, Mr. 
Richard P. Jones, Major William K. Perrin. 

From 1867 to 1885 the following were added to the vestry: Messrs. 
Robert 0. Selden, John W. C. Catlett, Daniel C. Hopper, M. J. Musson, 


John Backhouse, T. J. Meredith, Captain Joseph S. James, Burnet 
Brcwn, Judge Fielding Lewis Taylor, Captain J. M. Nicholson. Since 
1885 the following have been added: Richard W. Jones, Joshua G. 
Bray, Walter Harwood, J. Curtis James, Ashton Sinclair, Joseph Bryan 
and John Lewis Bouldin. 

The present vestry consists of Judge Charles Catlett, senior warden; 
J. Curtis James, junior warden; J. L. Bouldin, treasurer; Judge F. L. 
Taylor, register; Messrs. Joseph Bryan, J. G. Bray, Walter Harwood 
and Ashton Sinclair. 

It is worthy of note that the future historian of the parish will re- 
joice when he comes across the minute and complete records that 
Judge Taylor has kept of the proceedings of the vestry. 

Abingdon has been repaired three times — first in 1841, when the 
Rev. Charles Mann, Messrs. John Tabb, J. R. Bryan and Richard Coke 
were appointed a committee to attend to the same. About that time, 
it is probable, the present beautiful reredos was placed in the chancel, 
on which are the tables of the Commandments, the Creed and the 
Lord's Prayer. 

In 18G7 the church having been much injured by the Federal troops, 
who occupied it at times during the war, was repaired at a cost of 
$1,500. Some of the Colonial pews had been destroyed and others were 
used as stalls for horses. The floor was raised and modern pews re- 
placed the original ones. 

It is interesting to note that while the church was closed to divine 
services, the words, "We praise Thee, O God," remained high on the 
reredos from the Christmas dressing of 1861. When the church was 
repaired these words were painted on the reredos in golden letters. 

Colonel J. Lyle Clarke was leader in this second repairing of the 
church. There is a claim for damages done the church pending in the 
CnHed States court 

In 1897 the heavy timbers in the roof were found to be unsafe, and 
for the third time repairs had to be made. 

Mrs. Charles H. and Mrs. William C. Dimmock were indefatigable 
in their efforts to again repair the beautiful old church. Indeed, every 
member of the congregation and many friends outside contributed to 
the same. It was necessary to remove the woodwork down to the walls 
and build over again; to put in two chimneys and a furnace; to change 
the chancel, placing it and the pulpit in their former places, and to 
make a vestry room. All this involved an expense of about $3,000. 


The work was executed according to the plans of Mr. Marion Dimmock, 
of Richmond, and under his charge. It was begun ^nd finished in the 
year 1897. That November the Rev. C. B. Bryan preached the re- 
opening sermon, this being the church of his childhood. 

It would be an imperfect sketch of Abingdon church without the men- 
tion of some of the families who, in all their history, have been identi- 
fied with the work. Such were the Warners, Robins, Lewises, Tay- 
lors, Thrustons, Manns, Seawells, Perrins, Carys, Thorntons, Burwells, 
Pages, EiUnes, Roots, Tabbs, Deans, Bryans, Seldens, Sinclairs, Catletts 
and Harwoods. Doubtless from among these and others were found 
early vestrymen, who attended to the efTairs of the church. 

I shall reserve certain conclusions as to the work of these worthies 
until I speak of families in Ware, as these two parishes were closely 
united and many of the same names were in both. 

A careful count has been made by Mr. St George T. C. Bryan of the 
recorded baptisms in the old register, 1677 to 1761, as follows: Infant 
male, wliite, 1,384; infant female, white, 1,422; adult white, 12; negrroes, 
950. Total. 8.768. 

It is to be noted that the registration of the baptisms of the colored 
persons was made in regular order along with the registration of white 
persons, and without distinction in place. There were also found, and 
an alphabetical list made of 572 different surnames of white families, 
some of which occurred very often in the registration. Each surname 
is recorded but once. This list appears, below. 

Refiect, that more than 150 years ago, 572 white families in Abing- 
don Parish alone received Christian ministrations at the hands of the 
Church of England. Had our forefathers been godless in this new 
land what would have been their fate, and that of their children and 
children's children? 

I wish to express my thanks to Mr. St George T. C. Bryan, Dr. and 
Mrs. William C. Stubbs and other friends for valuable aid in material 
and otherwise in this and the Ware article. 


Below are seen the surnames of 570 resident families of Abingdon 
Parish, Gloucester county, Virginia, from 1677 to 1761. This alpha- 
betical list was taken from the parish records of births, marriages and 
deaths during eighty-four years. There may be repetition in a few 
instances, due to difference in spelling these family names: 


Adams, Albin, Alloway, Anderson, Ashington, Augustln, Arnold, 
Abney, Allman, Ames, Antony, Ashley, Austin, Arnall, Absalom, Allen, 
Ambrose, Archibald, Atkins, Allberson, Tylestock, Alcomb, Allard, Am- 
mon, Armstrong, Angur, Andrews, Babbs, Barbary, Barrow, Best, 
Berkeley, Boswell, Briggs, Brown, Broadbent, Burrison, Buchanan, 
Burton, Baker, Barkley, Barnet, Botts, Beddos, Bourk, Breeding, Broad- 
ley, Brunner, Burrows, Burwell, Barth, Bates, Baden, Beveridge, Black- 
burn, Bowry, Brockley, Broach, Bryan, Burford, Burnett, Barlow, Bay- 
lor, Bartlet, Berryman, Bolton, Boloine, Bradley, Buck, Butler, Bishop, 
Barnes, Barton, Belvin, Bew, Booker, Boutwell, Brooks, Bromfield, 
Buckstone, Busbie, Broderick, Catrine, Cane, Cannifack, Cawdle, Cham- 
berlain, Clare, Cole, Correll, Cocker, Crittenden, Crow, Caker, Cannon, 
Cannaday, Chance, Chandler, Clover, Collins, Cottrell, Compton, Crane, 
Creedle, Callingerne, Carter, Call, Chapman, Christian, Cleveland, 
Cocke, Comwell, Cooper, Critchfield, Crawson, Camp, Carr, Caul, 
Churchill, Clayton, Clement, Cooley, Coleman, Couchman, Crutchfleld, 
Curry, Campbell, Cary, Cawdell, Charwell, Clerk, Cluverius, Corriwell, 
Cowper, Coward, Creswell, Culley, Daniel, Davies, Day, Dennis, De 
Jamette, Dorton, Dudley, Dennaby, Dalton, Dearing, Dens, Dickson, 
Druth, Dunbar, Danney, Dawson, Deal, Dent, Dixon, Drewett, Dyer, 
Darnaly, Dandy, Dodenharn, Densborow, Dobbs, Drummond, Davis, 
Dawzey, Deneson, Dew, Dobson, Dunford, Bames, Blliser, Erborough, 
Earne, Elvidge, Earning, Ellis, Edwards, Ellenor, Bbbit, Elkin, Fai- 
cher, Figg, Frawer, Firnice, Barrier, Finley, Freeman, Farril, Fitzhar- 
rls, B\ilcher, Forsythe, E\)x, Furbet, Fletcher, Foster, Fuller, Gawin, 
Gibbs, Gower, Gorman, Green Gromley, Gaines, Giles, Goswell, Gravit, 
Grixon, Guttery, Gascoigne, Goodman, Goreing, Graves, Groves, Gut- 
teridge, Gardner, Goram, Gough, Granley, Greenwood, Gwathmey, Gillet, 
Gordon, Golsher, Grawson, Griswit, Hall, Harrington, Heam, Hill, 
Hockett, Howell, Hopdon, Huff, Hunley, Haley, Hartwell, Heywood, 
Hinch, Hogg, Holies, Howell, Hughes, Hale, Haswell, Hemmingway, 
Highland, Hobday, Hollinger, Humphrey, Huggins, Harvey, Hatch, 
Hilery, Higgens, How, Holyfried, Hunt, Hugsey, Harwood, Haynes, 
Hllliard, Holt, Howard, Houch, Hudson, Hussy, Hupsey, Isabel, James, 
Jobbln, Janson, Jock, Jeffries, Jennings, Jones, Johnston, Jenkins, 
Keaton, Keyes, King, Keek, Klbby, Kendrick, Knight, Kerbie, Knowles, 
Keymer, Kemp, Lacey, Lanier, Lee, Lively, Levett, Langhinghouse, 
Lashadoe, Leek, Lithgoe, Lodge, Latsrlnghouse, Lawyer, Lowlynn, 
Lighgo, Loyal, Lane, Lewyllin Lenford, Lobb, Lucas, Latter, Ledson, 


I/ester, Love, Lutrldge, Major, March, Mannisher, McKendrie, McWil- 
liams, McClary, Marstick, Marriner, Mattocks, Mead, McDaniel, Mas- 
toak, Mason, Mathews, Megrah, Michniel, Mamix, Marca, May, Meyer, 
Mapp, Mannoz, Martin, Mayo, Megson, Meriday, Minor, Moody, Morrei, 
Murrell, Millicint, Mitchel, Moore, Morris, Murfey Mills, More, Morrow 
Mynne, Millward, Mizon, Moring, Moxen, McCoUister, Miller, Moein, 
Momey, Mumford, Neatby, Neuman, Nochols, Nelson, Newman, Noden, 
Nevel, Neving, Nolton, Newell, Newcomb, Norman, Nernie, Nicholls, 
Nowell, Okey, OrriU, Olliway. Ozenbridge, Oliver, Olive, Orgin, Paddi- 
Bon, Parala, Pate, Perry, Pierce, Powell, Pritchett, Page, Partridge, Pat- 
terson, Perkins, Pointer, Pomeroy, Prince, Pallet, Pargison, Peat, Pey- 
ton, Pollard, Powers, Prosser, Pallison, Parsola, Peage, Pippin, Poore, 
Popham, Purcell, Parry, Paston, Parrin, Plesey, Pollet, Potter, Pur- 
chase, Quales, Quarles, Rachford, Redd, Rider, Rolf, Ruggles, Ryland, 
Ralph, Reed, Robins, Rose, Rup, Ruglass, Ramsey, Reiheson, Roberts, 
Ross, Rupie, Ran, Richeson, Robinson, Rowe, Rupel, Rawbottom, Rice, 
Rogers, Robeson, Russell, Sadler, Sares, Scriven, Shackleford, Simmons, 
Smith, Spiller, Street, Stoaks, Swift, Saches, Sargison, Scriviner, Sher- ' 
ift, Skelton, Soals, Speed, Stanton, Stone, Sykes, Salisbury, Savage, 
Seawell, Sherwin, Slater, Spann, Spratt, Steevens, Stubbs, Sympson, 
Sanders, Sawyer, Serwiner, Shilling, Slatterwhite, Spencer, Stafford, 
Stevens, Sumer, Saunders, Sharras, Shools, Simpson, Slave, Spruce, 
Straghan, Stevenson, Surles, Tarleton, Temple, Thompson, Tillage, 
Tomson, Tomstram, Tyler, Tarrant, Terrill, Thornton, Todd, Tool, Tug- 
den, Tate, Terry, Thrift, Tombies, Tomson, Turner, Tawell, Thomas, 
Throckmorton, Tomkeys, Trancham, Twails, Teagle, Thorogood, Thrus- 
ton, Tomkins, Trawer, Twine, Ueding, Upton, Vest, Voluntine, Vaughan, 
Vines, Vincent, Villine, Waddle, Wafers, West, Whiting, Williams, 
Woodfolk, Walker, Wormley, Waterfleld, Westborn, Wilson, Whitaker, 
Woodfult, Wafer, Watkins, Wheeler, Willsborn, Wingate, Wood, Wel- 
lington, Wave, White, Wiley, Witrong, Wyatt, Washington, Watts, 
Whitehead, Willis, Woodfork, Wynn, Yarborough, Young, Yates. 




WARE Parish was established between 1652 and 1654. It em- 
braces the southeast section of Gloucester county, and is 
between thirty and forty miles in circumference; bounded 
on the east and north by Mob jack bay; North river and 
Mathews county on the west, and south by Petsworth and Abingdon 

Tradition says there was a former church or chapel in the parish, 
located about one and a half miles from the present church, on Glen 
Roy estate, formerly the home of William Patterson Smith, now owned 
by Dr. William R. Jaeger. A clump of trees and one or two tomb- 
stone mark the spot. Mrs. Isaac H. Carrington (nee Smith) says that 
her father protected this old site from encroaching cultivation. When 
she was quite a young girl she made copies of the inscriptions on 
two old gravestones for Bishop Meade, and sent them to him, at his 
request. Then there were a good many broken bricks on the spot. 
The field where this graveyard is, has long been known as the "Church 
Field," and Bishop Meade speaks of it in "Old Churches and Families 
of Virginia." On the same farm is Glebe Point, suggestive that part 
of the forgotten glebe lands of Ware Parish may have been there- 
about. This first church is supposed to have been built soon after 
Ware Parish was established. 

In 1680 a petition was made before the Colonial Court and Council 
for permission to build another church in Ware Parish. (See records 
in Virginia Historical Society.) In the absence of early parish re- 
cords, I conclude that this petition was for the building of the present 
Ware church, and that it was erected within the next ten years. The 
ground on which it stands is said to have been donated by the Throck- 
mortons, who once owned the adjoining estate, it being a part of 
"Mordecai Mount," the original seat of the Cookes. I believe, however, 
the church was built before the estate passed into the Throckmorton 
family, as Gabriel Throckmorton did not marry Frances Cooke until 
1690. (See descendants of Mordecai Cooke, by William C. Stubbs, 
Ph. D.) 


The present church is of brick, with glazed heads; is rectangular, 
80 feet by 40 feet; walls three feet thick. It is surrounded by a brick 
wall that confines a cemetery of half an acre of land, shaded by a 
grove of cedars and walnuts. Six acres of land, recently acquired, 
adjoin the old churchyard. 

Three doors. "North," "South" and "West." give entrance to the 
church. The chancel occupies the east end. The space direcUy in 
front of the chancel Is covered by Inscribed horizontal gravestones. 
There were— before the change of the Interior plan— four rows of 
medium high pews; a row along the north and south walls, respect- 
ively, and a double row, end on end, extended through the body of 
the church. Two longitudinal flagged aisles ran between the lines 
of wall-pews and the opposing central rows; a cross aisle between 
the north and south doors and an aisle at the west end, under the 
^servants* gallery, each made connection with the two longitudinal 
aisles. The tall pulpit stood near the south door. It was a strik- 
ing and handsome Interior. Much objection was raised at the^ time 
when modern pews were substituted in 1854. 

The church Is lighted by twelve large windows. Of these, two 
double ones are In the chancel, and each describes an arc above. 
There appears to have been the same absence of provision, as at 
Abingdon, for heating the church. It was left, doubtless, in early days, 
to each family or person to come prepared or else worship regardless 
of the cold. Under the best conditions In winter the churches were 
very cold. One devout lady, of whom I have heard, while riding to 
church in her high swing "C" spring carriage on wintry days, sang 
herself into a fervent mood, and on arrival she found nothing so warm- 
ing to her in church as a sermon from the Rev. John Peyton McGuire, 
of Tappahannock, who occasionally visited Ware and Abingdon. 

The earliest minister I have record of was Rev. John Gwynn, who 
served this parish from 1672 to 1674, when he went to Abingdon. I 
can hardly think that the parish was without ministerial services 
from Its beginning to 1672. 

In an old Root family paper it is said of Rev. John Gwynn: "He was 
a cavalier parson, turned out of his parish in England by Parliamen- 
tary authorities during the Civil War." He doubtless came to this 
country prior to 1660. 

Possibly the next minister in Ware Parish was Rev. Wadding. 
Dashiell reports him in Gloucester in 1676. The other parishes were 
supplied in 1677. 


The next known minister was Rev. James Clack, who served 
from 1679 until his death in 1723. His tomb is four feet from the 
east wall, outside the church with this inscription: 


"Here lyeth the Body of 
James Clack, the Youngest Son 
5 of William and Mary Clack— 

^ Born in the Parish of Harden, 

© miles from Devizes, 

S — ^the county of Wilts, 

^ came out oi England August 18. 

Arrived in Virginia upo^ New Year's day following. Came into this 
Parish of Ware at Easter, where he Continued Minister near forty- 
five years, till he Dy'd. He departed this life on the 20 day of Decem- 
ber, in the year of Our Lord God 1723, in hopes of a joyfull Resurrection 
to Eternal Life, which God Grant him for his Blessed Redeemer's 
Sake. Amen." 

Under his ministry the present church was built. His descendants 
are still in the parish and have done much to maintain the gracious 
mission of the ancient church. Among them Mrs. Eliza A. Cary and 
her son, Mr. Charles E. Cary, vestryman for thirty-nine years and now 
senior warden. 

After Mr. Clack's death, according to reports of Rev. Emmanuel 
Jones, of Petsworth, and Rev. Thomas Hughes, of Abingdon, to the 
Bishop of London, In 1724, they each held services in Ware church 
on alternate Sundays In the afternoon. This, however, was not long 

On May 14, 1724, Rev. John Richards left England for the Colony 
of Virginia. (See Emigrant Book to America.) He was minister in 
Ware church the following year, as seen from the inscription on 
his wife's tombstone in the church, which reads: 

"Underneath this stone lyeth interred the body of Amy Richards, the 
most dearly beloved wife of John Richards, minister of this parish, 
who departed this life 21st of November, 1725, age 40." 

Also: "Here lyeth the body of Mary Ades, her faithful and beloved 
servant, who departed this life the 23rd of November, 1725, aged 28 

Rev. Mr. Richards was rector until his death in 1735, as seen from 
the following inscription on his tomb in Ware church: 


"Underneath this stone lyeth the body of Mr. John Richards, late 
rector of Nettlestead, and vicar of Teston, in the county of Kent, in 
the Kingdom of England, and minister of Ware, in the county of 
Gloucester and Colony of Virginia, who, after a troublesome passage 
through the various changes and chances of this mortal life, at last 
reposed in this silent grave, in expectation of a joyful resurrection to 
eternal life. He died the 12th day of November, in the year of our 
Xx)rd 1735, aged 46." 

The next minister in the parish may have been Rev. Reid J. Ford, 
as Dashiell's Digest of Councils of Virginia locates him in Gloucester 
county in 1740. Then Abingdon and Kingston Parishes were supplied 
and Petsworth vacant, waiting the arrival of Mr. Yoak. Mr. Ford's 
ministry must have been very brief, as another tombstone in the church 
shows Rev. John Fox as rector in 1742. 

"Here lyeth the body of Isabel, daughter of Mr. Thomas Booth, wife 
of Rev. John Fox, minister of this parish, who, with exemplary- pa- 
tience, having borne various afflictions, and with equal piety discharged 
her several duties on earth, cheerfully yielded to mortality, exchanging 
the miseries of this life for the Joys of a glorious eternity on the 13th 
day of June, in the year of our Lord 1742, of her age 38." 

Bishop Meade speaks of Mr. Fox as having been in the parish in 
1754 and 1758. 

About 1764 the parish was vacant and Rev. James Maury Fountaine, 
of Petsworth, accepted a call to fill the same. (See record in Pets- 
worth Vestry Book for 18th day of November, 1764): 

"As the Rev. James Maury Fountaine, who was minister of Petsworth 
Parish has left to go to Ware, this parish is without a minister, the 
vestry hath thought proper to recommend Mr. Chas Mynn Thruston to 
his lordship, the Bishop of London, to be ordained a minister of the 
Church of England." 

It ikppears from the same record that in 1762 Mr. Fountaine had 
been recommended by the vestry to the Bishop of London for ordin- 
ation. Thus, two men were sent from Gloucester to England to be 
ordained about the same time. Captain Charles Mynn Thruston 
was a member of that vestry. 

Mr. Fountaine seems to have ended his days as rector of Ware. He 
was in charge in 1792, when he signed testimonials for Mr. Armistead 
Smith's ordination. One of his descendants, Mr. Francis Maury 
Wyatt, reports he was stricken with apoplexy on his return from 
Ware church and died March 13. 1795. 


There are those now living who have heard from their forefathers 
what a good man Mn Fountaine was. In "Old Families and Churches 
of Virginia," Mrs. Page, of Shelly, gives a description of Petsworth 
church, and alludes to Mr. Fountaine's death. She says: "Child as I 
was, I thought Mr. Fountaine must have been the best and greatest man 
In the world, except my father." Her father was General Nelson, ol 
Yorktown. He has descendants in the county who have been baptized 
in the church of their forefathers and have great regard for the same. 
Rev. Mr. Mann says Mr. Fountaine taught a school near Ware. There 
is a house known as the old schoolhouse, not far from the church, 
and supposed to have been Mr. Fountaine's schoolhouse. 

From what was said in my article on Abingdon, Mr. Fountaine had 
served all the churches in the county. His Bible, which I have seen, 
is still preserved by Mr. Francis Wyatt, and bears his name as 
"minister of Ware, Abingdon and Petsworth." 

At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, Bishop Meade states 
that Virginia had 91 clergymen officiating in 164 churches and chapels. 
At its close, he says, only twenty-eight ministers were found labor- 
ing in the less desolate parishes of the State. This accounts for Mr. 
Fountaine having to divide his services in these three parishes. 

In 1795 Rev. B. L. Talley seems to have followed Mr. Fountaine in 
the charge of Ware Parish. The Petsworth preserved record closes 
in 1792, and there is none of Abingdon; so there is no way of telling 
whether he served in those churches. Mr. Talley probably came to 
Gloucester from St. Paul's, Hanover, where he once ministered. He 
seems to have been an unworthy minister. He gave trouble to the trus- 
tees of Ware Parish glebe in 1795. When or how he left Ware I cannot 
say. In 1805 he was expelled from the order of Masons for unworthy 
conduct. Bishop Meade makes but little mention of him. He says: 
"Rev. Mr. Talley became a Universalist, and died a drunkard." 
About that time there was a Rev. Mr. HefFerman in Middlesex, of ill 
report. These two men did the Church much harm. How needful, in 
all ages, is the prayer appointed for Matthias Day: "O Almighty God, 
who, in the place of the traitor Judas, didst choose Thy faithful ser- 
vant Matthias to be of the number of the twelve Apostles; grant that 
Thy Church, being alway preserved from false apostles, may be ordered 
and guided by faithful and true pastors, through Jesus Christ, our 
Lord. Amen." 

As noted in the Abingdon article. Rev. Armistead Smith served 


Ware In connection with the other parishes of Gloucester and Mathews, 
I think, from the time the unfortunate Mr. Talley left until the death 
of Mr. Smith in 1817. 

Mr. Thomas A. Smith reports his father, Mr. Patterson Smith, as 
saying that the Rev. Armistead Smith generally rode a trotting horse 
from his home, "Belleview," in the lower part of Mathews, to his 
appointments at Ware and Abingdon. He lived about thirty miles 
from Abingdon church. He did a good work and left a sweet memory 
behind him. His son, Mr. W. P. Smithy was a most active vestryman 
and supporter of the parish for many years, until his death. He 
trained his family in the ways of the Church. I am told that when 
he and they could not attend church, he held the Church's service with 
his children in his home, and read a sermon. This excellent custom 
was and is still jlracticed in families in the two parishes, and is worthy 
of emulation and perpetuation. 

Mr. Armistead Smith was a native of Mathews county. He was 
recommended by the vestry of Kingston Parish, as well as by Mr. 
Fountaine, for holy orders. He served as deacon in Kingston Parish 
and was ordained priest in Abingdon church by Bishop Madison in 
1793. He entered the ministry when the Episcopal Church was in her 
most depressed period, after her disestablishment in this land. It 
took, indeed, a true, wise, strong and faithful man to exercise the 
ministry she had received from the Lord Jesus. Her depressed and 
scattered children were as sheep going astray. Such was Mr. Smith 
to his people. He attempted to fix their hope in God; to calm their 
fears; to rekindle their devotion to their Church and to encourage 
them to labor to rebuild her waste places. To this he gave his 
heart and life. He died in 1817 and was buried at Toddsbury, the 
home of his daughter, Mrs. Thomas Tabb, in Ware Parish. 

Inscription on the tomb of Rev. Armistead Smith, "Toddsbury," 
Gloucester county, Va: 

"Sacred to the memory of The Rev. Armistead Smith, of Mathews 
Co., who after having faithfully served God in the Gospel of His Son, 
departed this life Sept. 12th, 1817, aged 60 years, 9 months and 12 days. 

"If sincerity in friendship, a heart glowing with true piety, benevo- 
lence and charity have a claim to lasting regard, the memory of the 
deceased will be fondly cherished." 

He was the son of Captain Thomas Smith, of Beechland, Mathews 
county (then Gloucester), and Dorothy Armistead, of Hesse. Among 


his descendants in Gloucester are Messrs. Thomas A. Smith, William 
A. Smith and Miss Marian S. Smith, the Tabbs of "Newstead" and 

After Rev. Armistead Smith's death Ware, like Abingdon, was 
without a minister for about ten years. During a part of this 
period, I am told, the doors were left open, and passing persons and 
beasts found shelter from storms under its roof. About 1826 God 
stirred the hearts of the people to think upon His Church, and about 
their spiritual needs. 

Bishop Meade makes mention "of old Mrs. Vanbibber and Dr. 
William Taliaferro, Sr., two of the props of the Church in the days 
of her adversity, in this wise: "I need not speak to the present gen- 
eration in Gloucester, as there are still some living who knew their 
religious worth, and continue to dwell upon the same to the younger 
ones." Of Mrs. Vanbibber some Interesting notices appeared many 
years since In one of our religious papers. Of Dr. Taliaferro I may 
say, from personal knowledge, that it is not often we meet with 
a more pious and benevolent man or more eminent physician." So 
wrote Bishop Meade. 

Other kindred spirits came forward to the help of this holy cause, 
which resulted in the call of Rev. James Games to the parishes of 
Ware and Abingdon; which he accepted, and was rector about two 
years, from 1827-1829. 

In 1829 Rev. John Cole became joint rectpr of Ware and Abingdon, 
and so continued for about seven years, when he resigned and moved 
to Culpeper Courthouse, Va. 

It will be interesting to note the efforts of the vestry to obtain 
another minister: "At a meeting of the joint vestry of the parishes 
of Ware and Abingdon churches, convened at Gloucester Courthouse, 
on the 4th of February, 1837, for the purpose of inviting a Pastor, 
to take charge of the above Parishes — On motion being made, and 
seconded by Mr. W. T. Taliaferro, Mr. G. Booth Taliaferro and Mr. 
J. R. Bryan were appointed a committee to correspond with the 
Rev. Thomas Atkinson, and failing in the application to Mr. Atkinson, 
they are then authorized to correspond with Mr. Bowers or Mr. Wilmer 
to fill the vacancy having occurred by the resignation of the Rev. 
John Cole." 

Being unsuccessful, a call was extended to the Rev. Charles Mann, 
who was a former rector of Christ church, Alexandria, Va., and at 
the time of this call filled the chair of Pastoral Divinity at the Vir- 


ginla Theological Seminary. Mr. Blann came to the parish in Novem- 
ber , 1837. 'He continued his long and faithful ministry for forty years, 
antll his death. January 16, 1878. His grave is just east of the church 
wall and close by that of Rev. Mr. Clack, the first minister of the 
present church. 1 quote from Mr. Mann's letters to one of the mis- 
sionary societies, perhaps the last he wrote: "The aid of your society 
Is now more needed than ever before in this parish* as in consequence 
of my age (85) and Infirmity (being lame), I have been obliged to have 
an assistant. This parish has never been in so Uiriving a condition 
as it now is. Of the seven i>ersons confirmed, four were among the 
most influential men in the parish, and there are several others who 
wish to be, as soon as the Bishop can visit us; and as the church in 
the adjoining parish has been closed for want of a rector, the con- 
gregations are increased in size though the salary paid is smaller than 
ever; but I do not complain, as I believe it is the beet this impov- 
erished people can do. Through the generosity of Mr. Charles Bruce, 
of Charlotte county, by money given from the Bruce fund, the church 
has been thoroughly repaired and is now a really handsome building. 
The people are so scattered that we cannot have a Sunday-school 
at the church, but there several scattered about in the parish, which 
are all taught by pious and intelligent members of the church." 

Mr. Charles E. Cary, a member of Mr. Mann's vestry says: "I knew 
the Rev. Charles Mann from my earliest recollection to the time of 
his death in 1878. He was one of the godliest men, as well as one of 
the most intelligent and best informed, that I ever knew; and one 
of the most thoroughly practical. He was full of faith, in consequence 
of which he was always bright and cheerful. I remember on one oc- 
casion, when there was some fear of dissension in the Church, on ac- 
count of the High and Low Churchmen, that he remarked to me: 
'There Is no cause for fear; it is God's Church, and He will take care 
of it' " 

In the dire days of 1864-'5, when the Northern soldiers had stripped 
Gloucester county of what would feed the citizens, a young Confederate 
soldier carried to Rev. Mr. Mann, in the dead of winter, a liberal 
quantity of flour for those times, and several joints of pork. This 
young man was the son of one of Mr. Mann's parishioners, then in the 
Confederate lines. When the aged minister was shown the provis- 
ions he said: "I did not think God would have sent you. I trusted 
Him and I knew I should be taken care of, though we were almost 
out of food." 


He had three servant men. Spencer he trained as a missionary, 
and sent him to Africa to preach to his benighted race. The other two 
servants. Will and George, proved their good training and devotion 
to their old master and his helpless family by resisting every temp- 
tation and offer made them by the Northern enemy. They worked the 
little farm and helped keep the wolf from the door so long as the 
war lasted. Mr. Mann fell on sleep, as he had prayed should be his 
earthly end, passing painlessly through the gates of eternal life at 
night, while his family slept^and so they found him in the morning. 
His favorite hymn was, "Lord, Forever at Thy Side." 
There is in Ware church, in the east wall, to the left of the chancel, 
a tablet Inscribed: 


by a loving congregation 

to the memory of 

a ^aithful friend and pastor 

Rev. Charles Mann 

More than 40 years rector of this parish 

Died Jany. 16, 1878, 

in the 87th year of his age 

and the 60th year of his ministry. 

He showed forth the praise of God not only with his lips, 
but in his faithful giving himself to his service and walking 
before Him in holiness and righteousness all his days. 

The memory of the just is blessed. 

Rev. William Munford became Mr. Mann's assistant In 1876 and in 1878 
succeeded him as rector. He resigned the parish in 1879. 

I became rector of the parish June 12, 1881, in connection with 
Kingston Parish, Mathews county, Virginia. In June, 1885, I re- 
signed the Mathews churches to accept a call to Abingdon Parish. 
Thus Abingdon and Ware became reunited under one minister. 

As stated in my Abingdon paper. Rev. S. R. Tyler assisted me in 
both parishes from October, 1904, to July 1, 1905. At that date Rev. 
R. Y. Barber followed Mr. Tyler and continued his aid for one year. 

Although the list of the clergy for the parish is incomplete for want 
of early records, still Ware, with Abingdon, was, I think, fairly well 
supplied with ministers in the Colonial period. 

Beverley, in his History of Virginia, speakng of the whole Colony, 
says: "They have now several vacant parishes." And again, "There 


are no Benefices whatever in the Colony that remain without a min- 
ister if they can get one, and no qualified minister ever yet returned 
from the country for want of preferment" 

From a careful examination of the Register of Abingdon Parish 
from 1677 to 1761, it appears there was a minister generally at hand 
to administer baptism and other rites of the Church. 

When I turn to the Petsworth vestry book, from 1677-1792, I find 
that vestry, when the parish was without a minister, was prompt to 
call another, and usually obtained one in reasonable time. 

I infer from the foregoing that Ware was generally supplied with 
ministers, who did a faithful work. 

I believe if we had the records the baptisms would compare favor- 
ably with those in Abingdon, where, for the eighty-five years prior — 
from 1677 to 1761 — 2,806 infants, 12 adults, and 950 negroes were bap- 

In Petsworth Rev. Emmanuel Jones reports to the Bishop of London: 
"Masters afforded the ministers every opportunity to instruct the ne- 
groes." I believe the same was granted in Ware. Members of the con- 
gregation recall the colored people occupying the gallery and the pews 
under the gallery. 

It will be interesting to note the first Episcopal visit to Ware church. 
Bishop Madison reported to the Convention which met in Richmond 
May 3, 1792, that he had visited the following parishes: York-Hampton, 
Elizabeth City, Abingdon, Ware. Christ Church (Middlesex), St. Anne, 
St. Paul's (King Qeorge), Berkeley, Westover, Blisland, Bruton, James 
City, Henrico and Lunenberg, and is happy to assure the Convention 
that in most parishes the conduct of the ministers appeared to be such 
as merited the highest commendation. The congregations were gen- 
erally numerous and attentive to the form of worship established by 
the Church; and though he had too much reason to lament that suf- 
ficient regard was not paid to the decent support of the clergymen in 
many of the parishes, yet the diligence with which most of the min- 
isters continued to discharge their sacred functions, while it afforded 
the highest proof of their zeal and piety, yielded at the same time 
a pleasing hope that the Church would gradually revive.. 

"In the five parishes of Abingdon, Ware, Christ Church (Middle- 
sex), Berkeley (Fredericksburg), and Bruton, upward of six hundred 
persons have been confirmed," reports Bishop Madison. 

The Ware communion service consists of two plates, 8^ inches in 
diameter, two cups, 7% inches high and 4^ Inches across the mouth 


and base. The original flagon is not with the set. A small one was 
given to the church some years ago. 

I see in Bishop Meade's book that Hon. Augustine Warner gave Pets- 
worth church a service, consisting of one silver flagon, two silver 
bowls and two silver plates. I have heard, when Petsworth church 
went down, this service was divided between Ware church and another 
church, unknown to me. If the above is true. Ware has the four 
smaller pieces. Can anyone give a clew to the missing flagon of the 
service reported by Bishop Meade, the gift of Augustine Warner? 

Having told the beginning of the parish and church and given a list 
of the ministers, as far as known, it will be well to note the glebes 
and rectories that have belonged to the parish. 

In 1680 Mr. Zachariah Crips left 300 acres of land in Ware Parish 
for the support of the minister. This became the glebe and was sold 
in 1769, because the vestry found one much better for the incumbent, 
containing 378 acres. To efCect this sale (See Hen. Stat. Vol. VIII, p. 
435), the House of Burgesses appointed Rev. James Fountaine, Robert 
Throckmorton, Francis Tomkies and B^ncis Whiting, Gentlemen, to 
hold in trust said land; that they may "sell and by good and sufficient 
deeds convey, for the best price that can be got for the same." 

During the ministry of Rev. Mr. Talley he and the trustees of a 
tract of 352 acres of land, commonly known as the Glebe, had some 
trouble to arise between Mr. Talley and the committee, growing out 
of the question of its sale. I cannot say whether this was a part of 
the 370 acres or not. 

The trustees were Philip Tabb, Thomas Baytop, Christopher Pryor, 
Matthew Anderson, Richard Baynham, Morgan Tomkies, Mordecai 
Cooke, Peter Beverley Whiting, William Hall, Philip Sansum, and 
John Dixon. It is possible some or all of these may have been ves- 
trymen. The further history of glebes in Virginia is too well known 
to be reviewed In this article. They were abolished in 1802. 

During the ministry of Mr. Cole there was no ref^tory in either 
parish. He was a single man, and I understand lived with his par- 
ishioners — a good portion of his time with Mr. George B. Taliaferro, 
Edge Hill, near Gloucester Courthouse. His last home was with Mr. 
John R. Bryan, at Eagle Point. 

In April, 1837, there is this item from the vestry book: "Resolved, 
That Geo. B. Taliaferro be authorized to collect subscriptions for the 
parsonage for the two parishes of Ware and Abingdon." The place 
purchased was a little more than forty acres of land, with a house 


and outbuildings, secured from Mr. Chiswell Nelson, and located ou 
the "Indian Road," between "Church Hill" and "Campfleld" estates 
and about a mile from Ware church. 

I have described its location because I find it impossible to locate 
the 370 acres and the other parcel or parcels of land just mentioned. 

Mr. Mann came to the parish in November, 1837. He and his 
family spent several months with parishioners while the rectory 
was repaired and enlarged. There he spent the rest of his long and 
useful life. He and his family made it a home of sunshine — a place of 
Joy and welcome to his parishioners, friends and strangers. 

I never occupied the old rectory. About the year 1883 it was sold, 
and the funds were divided between the two parishes. Ware vestry 
purchased a house and forty acres of land for a rectory, near Glou- 
cester Courthouse, which I have since occupied. 

I learned from Dr. and Mrs. William C. Stubbs that in June, 1752, 
there was stolen from Ware church the communion table, pulpit cloth 
of crimson velvet double laden with gold; a surplice and gown. A 
reward of ten pounds was offered for the apprehension of the thief. 

In 1724 Rev. Thomas Hughes, in his report from Abingdon to the 
Bishop of London, said: "Surplices had never been used in the parish." 
In the Petsworth vestry book, 1733, I find an item of expense, "Wash- 
ing surplice twice " These items are mentioned as showing when 

and where the surplice was used, and when and where it was not used. 

It will be interesting to note some of the vestrymen who have served 
the parish — namely: John Throckmorton was church warden in 1679, 
and Henry Whiting church warden 1674. (See General Court Records, 
p. 374.) William Hall represented the parish in Convention in 1790 
and again 1795; Peter ''Vhiting in 1797; Richard Baynum, 1805; Thomas 
Smith, 1821; Augustine L. Dabney, Ware and Abingdon, 1827; John 
S. Dixon, 1832; Catesby Jones, 1833; Warren T. Taliaferro, 1834 and 
again in 1839; G. Booth Taliaferro, 1840; J. R. Bryan, Abingdon and 
Ware, 1843; Dr. J. R. Page, 1857; Dr. Samuel Carey, 1871; Joseph S. 
James, 1872; Samuel B. Taylor, 1875; Charles B. Cary, 1876; Dr. M. 
Miller, 1854. (See Dashiell's Digest.) 

It is noted in my article on Abingdon that the vestries of Ware and 
Abingdon met together, and they so continued until 1867, when their 
relationships were dissolved. 

Prior to 1830 Mr. Thomas S. Dabney was a vestryman. In 1841 the 
Ware half of the vestry consisted of Dr. William Taliaferro, Sr., 
W. T. Taliaferro, William Patterson Smith, Philip E. Tabb and Charles 


Curtis. Those since added were Dr. J.' Prosser Tabb, Dr. M. Miller, 
Dr. John R. Page, Wyndham Kemp, Sr., Dr. Francis Jones, Dr. Samuel 
Gary, Col. William T. Robins, Maj. William K. Perrin, Samuel D. Puller, 
Maj. Tazewell Thompson, Charles E. Cary, Maj. Powhatan Ellis, 
John Tabb, John N. Tabb, T. Todd Dahney, George W. Morgan, 
Thomas L. Benton, James L. Taliaferro, William S. Mott, N. S. Hop- 
kins, Walter C. Perrin, Lewis M. Byrd, Isaac Slingluff, Gen. W. B. 
Taliaferro and Frederick Bayton Jones. 

The last eight, with Mr. Charles E. Cary, compose the present vestry. 
Among the family names prominent in the history of the parish 
are Curtis, Cooke, Booth, Jones, Lewis, Willis, Todd, Whiting, Throck- 
morton, Kemp, Tabb, Yateman, Corbin, Wiatt, Page, Ware, Montague, 
Byrd, Reade, Cary, Baytop, Dabney, Tompkins, Vanbibber, Tomkies, 
Nelson, Dixon, Davies, Taliaferro, Smith, Field, Roy, Smart, Camp- 
field and others. 

Before closing this article it will be well to note the times Ware 
church has been repaired. The first we have knowledge of was in 
1827, when under the brief ministry of Mr. Carnes, Mr. Thomas Tabb, 
Col. Thomas Smith, Dr. William Taliaferro, Sr., and others, had it 
put in order for divine service. (See Bishop Meade's book.) 

Mr. Mann, in 1836, was authorized to have chimneys placed in 
Ware church. Evidently they did not give satisfaction, as they were 
removed and stovepipes again projected through the walls. 

In 1854 the church was again repaired, reroofed, and this time al- 
tered, the floor of the chancel being extended over the tombs in the 
east end of the church. The flagstone floor of the aisles was removed 
and laid with boards to the level of the pew floor, and two modern 
blocks of pews put in. The space under the gallery was partitioned 
off from the church and made into a vestibule; the old high pulpit 
removed from its position near the south door and substituted by a 
modern one placed within the chancel. 

In 1902 a new slate roof was put upon the church, the former chim- 
neys were reopened and extended and have proved satisfactory. 

It is worthy of note that in removing the old roof the timbers were 
found in excellent condition. 

There have probably been few counties in Virginia where a larger 
number of long rectorships have existed than in Gloucester. Mr. Clack 
served nearly 45 years; Mr. Gwynn, 16; Rev. Guy Smith, 18; Rev 
Emmanuel Jones (in Petsworth) 39; Rev. Mr. Hughes, 25; Mr. Poun- 


talne, 31; Mr. A. Smith, in Mathews and Gloucester, 25 years; Mr. Mann, 
40, and the present pastor, 25' years. 

Prom what I can gather of the condition of the church in the Colonial 
period from private letters, from extracts of wills, from references in 
sermons and wills, and from epitaphs on tombstones, there were many 
exalted Christians who loved God and His Church, and tried to live 
godly lives. They endeavored to instill spiritual teachings and prin- 
ciples in the hearts of tneir children. 

In my Abingdon article I spoke of Mildred Warner, ancestress of 
General Washington, as having received religious instruction and 
training at Abingdon church. Colonial Gloucester and her churches 
seems to have been one of the seed-beds for raising up great men 
in the Church and State. As an example, Petsworth Parish gave back 
to the mother Church Beilby Porteus, Bishop of London; our own 
Bishop Meade's ancestry goes back through a single line to Gloucester. 
At Carter's creek, in Abingdon Parish, there once lived and is now 
buried Lucy Higginson, widow of MaJ. Lewis Burwell, after wife of 
Philip Ludwell, and ancestress of that illustrious Churchman, patriot 
and statesman, Richard Henry Lee. Another Gloucester Parish, 
''Kingston" (now in Mathews county), had the honor of training 
Judith Armistead in the ways of the Church of England to Christian 
womanhood. She became the wife of Robert Carter, of I^ncaster 
county, Virginia, and thus the ancestress of that Christian gentleman 
and soldier — a star of the first magnitude in the Church Militant, 
General Robert Edward Lee. 

Such was the work that was being done by "The Old Church in this 
New Land," in former days, that the enemy of all righteousness sowed 
seed about and within her to injure her usefulness. Though the Church 
in Gloucester and throughout Virginia and in the other Colonies was 
prostrate after the Revolution, God, as of old, was watching over her, 
abiding His time to raise her up and send her forward upon her great 
commission to aid in the evangelization of mankind. Let us, then, 
cease casting aspersions upon her and upon our forefathers within her 
fold, and instead, pray for her greater cleansing and labor for her up- 

Note. — The Communion Table was stolen from the church a second 
time. See Act of Vestry November 11, 1865: "The rector, Mr. Mann, 
is requested to take up a collection, after proper notice, for purchas- 
ing a Communion Table, to supply the place of the one stolen from the 
church during the war." 




F all the magnificent river views in Tidewater Virginia few 
excel that from the summit of Chimborazo hill, in upper Essex 
county. Commanding on one side long stretches of the beau- 
tiful Rappahannock, flowing through its fertile plains, it dis- 
plays, on the other, thickly-wooded uplands in ascending terraces of 
richly blended verdure. But the most prominent object in the fore- 
ground is old Vauter's church, standing in its ancient grove of oak 
and walnut. It is approached by the "Church Lane," considerably 
elevated above the fields on either side, from the accumulation of soil 
washing down from the hills, and is bordered by dense hedges of growth 
so characteristic of the country, and in spring so, exquisitely fragrant 
with the bloom of the wild grape and the eglantine. 

The church is a brick building of cruciform shape, with its three 
high, sharp gables supporting a shingle roof, cut close to the edges of 
the wall. Its high and narrow windows are guarded by heavy solid 
wooden shutters, and there are two entrances to the church by double 
doors, in the south and the west ends. The present chancel, raised 
one step from the stone-paved aisles, is furnished now with two modem 
stands or lecterns for the service and sermon, but back against the 
wall there still stands the old reading desk and pulpit above it. The 
latter is reached by a stairway fropi the chancel floor, and this stair- 
way is guarded by a hand-rail. Both pulpit and reading desk are 
draped in crimson hangings. The pews are the same old box stalls, 
with benches of uncompromising rigidity, and furnished with clanging 
doors, which announce the retirement of the occupants; but they have 
been cut down to nearly half of their former height. A vestibule 
partition crosses the western end of the church, forming a vestry- 
room, and supporting a gallery reached by steps in the vestibule. 
Another gallery over the southern door is the organ loft Formerly 
the chancel and pulpit stood in the eastern end of the church, and pews 
and pulpit were so high that both minister and congregation could 
enjoy deep seclusion. 

Bishop Meade tells us in his book—Old Churches and Families of 
Virginia—that when visiting these old Colonial churches he frequently 


had to hasten his arrival, to erect temporary platforms of bricks or 
stones in the pulpits, to enable him to see the congregation; but the 
sermons of those days were so long and closely written that the 
minister had to be more engaged in the scrutiny of the manuscript 
than in the observation of the audience. In fact, from the shape of 
the church, the pulpit could be only visible from some points of the 
building. To complete the description of this venerable building, there 
is only to be added that its walls are covered by the most luxuriant 
mantle of English ivy, which is with difficulty restrained from in- 
vading and decaying the wooden roof. 

The early history of St Anne's parish and its two churches is veiled 
in much obscurity, and rests more upon dim tradition than actual 
fact Rappahannock county, formed from Lancaster county, about 
the middle of the seventeenth century, contained Littlebourne parish. 
Littlebourne parish, lying on both sides of the Rappahannock river, 
was divided into Nprth Farnham parish, in Richmond county; South 
Famham parish, in lower Essex, and St. Anne's parish, in upper Essex; 
as both Richmond and Essex counties were formed from Rappahan- 
nock county. 

St Anne's parish contained two churches. One of these churches, 
now destroyed and even its name lost, but of which the foundation 
is visible, stood near the present St. Matthew's church, one-fourth of a 
mile above it, on the road leading to Lloyd's. When St. Matthew's church 
was begun in 1860, its location was selected by its members, and spe- 
cially recommended by Colonel Wm. Beverley, of Blandfield, because 
of its neighborhood to the old church wbich had been the regular place 
of worship of the Blandfield family and other E3piscopal families in 
that vicinity. This old church fell into the possession of an owner 
named Sale, from which fact it was known as "Sale's Church." Legend 
tells us that its material was taken away, and applied to such prac- 
tical uses' that its chancel rail was made into a chicken coop. About 
two miles from this old church, and on a branch of Occupacia creek, 
stood the rectory, called "The Glebe," later sold to the Rowzie family, 
and was known as Clover Field. An old colored man named Frederic 
Robb, and owned by the Rowzie family, delighted in narrating his 
reminiscences of this old church, and the assembling of its congrega- 
tion, conspicuous in that day by tbe rare possession of coaches, and 
by the English style of costume — ^kiiee breeches and boots worn by the 




About eight miles farther up in the county of EJssex, and situated 
upon or near Blackburn's creek, stands Vauter's church, and Mr. 
Richard Baylor, of Kinloch, writes the following interesting sketch 
for Bishop Meade's above-mentioned work: 

"The first thing that I recollect as connected with the old sanc- 
tuary is that my father used to keep the old English Bible at Marl 
Bank, and when the casual services of a passing Episcopal minister 
were to be held there a servant took the old Bible on his head and 
accompanied the family by a near walking way across the same Black- 
burn's creek, and after service brought it back. I still have the old 
Bible at Kinloch, valued for its antiquity, and on its blank leaves are 
numerous references in my father's handwriting. I remember when 
the church doors always stood wide open, if indeed they could be 
closed, and have taken refuge myself from a storm in the body of 
the church, leading my horse in with me." 

Mr. Baylor relates the occurrence of a duel between two gentlemen 
before the south door of the church, of which he says he was informed 
by Mr^ R. B. Starke, of Norfolk, who attended as surgeon. Mr. Baylor 

"We are indebted to the firm friendship of a lady that Vauter's 
church did not share the same fate of other sanctuaries, as, for in< 
stance, the church at Leedstown, Just across the river. So soon as 
Mrs. Muscoe Garnett heard that persons had commenced carrying away 
the paving stones of the aisles, and perhaps some of the bricks, she 
claimed the church as her own, and threatened prosecution to the 
next offender. The ground on which she placed her claim was that 
the church stood on her land, or that of her family." 

Mr. James Garnett, the father of Mrs. Muscoe Gamett's husband, 
did purchase lands adjacent to the church from the Vauter family 
before the middle of the 18th century, but' we must ascend the stream 
of time higher than this, to trace the origin of Vauter's church. The 
date, 1731, is marked on a brick in the southern wall of the church, 
and this has led to a popular belief that the church was built Va 
1731; but this date may have been that of some alteration or repair. 
At any rate, the following facts seem to contradict the idea that the 
church was built in 1731: It has been the legend for years that 
Vauter's church was endowed with a communion service by Queen 
Anne of England, and the old cup of the church service was lost. 
A few years ago a gentleman In New Jersey was shown a communion 


cup in the collection of a friend, and marked "St. Anne's Parish, 
Essex County, Virginia." The new owner had purchased it in a New 
York shop to add to his collection as an antiquary. Now, no doubt, 
this was the missing cup presented to St Anne's parish by the Queen, 
and as she died in 1714, the presentation must have been prior to 
1731, when the church was supposed to have been built This fact 
alone, however, may not be conclusive, because of the possibility that 
there was an earlier church in this parish; but in an old land survey, 
made by John Vauter for Buckingham Brown, who owned land on 
Blackburn's creek close to Vauter's church, there is a "road leading 
to the church" on the plot and this plot is dated 1722; and in another 
survey, made for John Hawkins (who also owned land on this same 
creek), by John Vauter, surveyor, there is shown as a boundary the 
"church land," and this plot is dated 1719. Blackburn's creek (for- 
merly Lucas' creek), is the starting point in tracing many contiguous 
properties at the date of the earliest mention of Vauter's church; and 
as we find Vauters taking up "King's lands" on this creek close to 
Vauter's church, very early in the 18th century, it seems probable 
that the church was built upon "King's land," by order of vestry 
empowered by the Gtovemor of Virginia, and took the name of "Vau- 
ter's" from propinquity to lands occupied by Vauters. However this 
conjecture may be, it seems certain that Vauter's church was standing 
in 1719, and possibly considerably earlier. Church and glebe lands in 
existence at that remote date are difficult to trace, as the vestries of 
the parishes seem to have been empowered to buy or sell property and 
to levy taxes for the maintenance of the church, often getting into 
difficulties with the Governor of the Colony, and administering their 
prerogative with great irregularity and little record of their proceed- 
ings. The combination of ecclesiastical and secular affairs was indeed 
so remarkable that in an <91d deed conveying land from Gaines to 
Garnett in 1766, there is the statement that it was "published in the 
Parish Church of St. Anne's." 

Bishop Meade, in speaking of the earliest Church conventions after 
the Revolution, says: "In 1814 Thomas Matthews and Hon. James 
Htinter were delegates from St. Anne's Parish; in 1817 Hon. James 
M. Garnett; in 1820 Mr. Robert Beverley;" making this statement in 
connection with his narrative of the complete disorganization of the 
church for years previously, and its faint revival about the date of 
these conventions. While there Is a notice of the first vestry in Rap- 


pahannock Parish under a minister named Francis Doughty, we do 
not hear of any minister of St. Anne's Parish before Rev. John Bagge 
in 1724. He seems to have died soon after he took charge of the 
parish, and to have been succeeded by the very remarkable Rev. 
Robert Rose. Mr. Rose appears to have enjoyed the great confidence 
of his people, both as a minister and a business man, and to have 
been a universal counsellor to his friends scattered over the wide 
territory of his ministry, reaching to Nelson county. He died while 
attending the laying out of Richmond city, in 1751, and was buried 
there. Mr. Smelt succeeded Mr. Rose. In 1774-76 "Parson John 
Matthews" was minister of St Anne's. Then, after a long interval. 
Rev. John Rennolds was minister in 1822, succeeded in 1825 by Rev. 
John P. McGuire, after whom were the following successors: Rev. 
Edward B. McGuire, 1852 to 1867; Dr. Charles Goodrich, in 1869; Rev. 
Alexander Overby, 1873 to 1880; Rev. W. S. Campbell, 1881 to 1884; 
Rev. J. C. Koon, 1885 to 1888; Rev. D. T. C. Davis, 1890 to 1899; Rev. 
E. W. Cowling, 1900 to 1902; Rev. J. F. Burks, 1902. 

The early history of St. Anne's Parish, in the immediate vicinity 
of Vauter's church, is strikingly illustrative of the transitoriness of 
human affairs. Even the names of families, which for generations 
were prominent land owners and influential citizens, have completely 
disappeared. Cornhill, Lucas, Gaines, Hawkins, Brookings, Shipp, 
Meadows, Vauter and many others have left no trace, except in tat- 
tered deeds or records of land transfers, dating nearly or quite two 
centuries in the past. And yet it is still remarkable that for at least 
one century this old church has been supported by the same small 
band of hereditary members: Saunders, Dishmans, Pilkingtons, Bay- 
lors, Warings, Sales, Rowzies, Bairds, Beverleys, Brookes, Hunters and 
Gametts. Nearly all of these families furnish the same congregation 
for the two churches of St. Anne's parish, Vauter'o and St. Matthew's. 



TO the question. When was St. Peter's Parish established? the 
student of Hening's "Statutes at Large" is surprised to find 
that that work gives no direct answer. It is, perhaps, to this 
omission on the part of Hening that Bishop Meade's discreet 
silence upon the subject is due. His "Old Churches, Ministers and 
Families of Virginia" has much to say about the parish of St Peter's 
and its people, but not a word in regard to its establishment. To the 
writer of the present article it seems probable that the parish — if not 
co-eval with New Kent county, which was formed from the county of 
York in 1654 — was created shortly after 1656, in which year the General 
Assembly of Virginia passed the following act: 

"Whereas, there are many places destitute of ministers, and like 
still to continue soe, the people content not payinge their accustomed 
dues, which makes them negligent to procure those which should teach 
and instruct them, soe by this improvident saveing they lose the great- 
est benefltt and comfort a Christian can have, by hearing the word and 
vse of the blessed sacraments. Therefore he it enacted hy this present 
Orand Assembly. That all countys not yet laid out into parishes 
shall be divided into parishes the next County Court after publication 
hereof, and that all tithable persons in every parish within this colony 
respectively, in the vacancy of their minister, pay 15 lb. of tobacco 
per poll yearly, and that tobacco be deposited in the hands of the com- 
missioners of the several counties, to be by them disposed of in the 
first place for the building of a parish church, and afterwards the sur- 
plusage thereof (if any be) to go towards the purchaseing of a gleab 
and stock for the next minister that shall be settled there: Provided, 
that the vestrys of the several parishes be responsible for the said to- 
bacco so lea vied." 

This act, with some slight verbal changes, was re-enacted by the 
General Assembly in March, 1657-8. 

For the period between its foundation and the year 1684 — ^the date 
of the first complete minutes In the published "Vestry Book of St 


Peter's" — ther© are no extant records from which a history of the 
parish could be written. For the period subsequent to 1684, however, 
and coming down to 1857, the materials^fflcial documents and other 
sources — for such a history are ample. 

Between 1684 and 1700 Church life in St. Peter's parish was not of 
the most active sort — that is, judged by modem standards. There is 
no good reason to suppose, however, that it compared unfavorably with 
the life in many another parish in Virginia at the time, notwithstand- 
ing a statement to the contrary made once by one of its own 
ministers, of which more later on. Vestry meetings were held two or 
three times in the year — some years there were even four meetings, 
but this was not often the case. These gatherings were mostly of a 
business nature, and business matters of all sorts in regard to the 
parish were brought forward, discussed and settled. Whether it were 
&imply the election of a vestryman or Church warden in the room of 
another, resigned or deceased, or a quarrel with the neighboring parish 
of Blissland; whether it were the appointment of a vestryman to serve 
as the representative of the parish in a law suit, or the determining 
of the parii^ levy for the year — ^whatever the matter might be, it did 
not go unrecorded in the minutes-book of the vestry. 

For example, the dispute with Blissland, in regard to the location 
of the dividing line between the two parishes, furnished the vestry- 
book of St. Peter's with material for frequent entries like the follow- 

"At a Vestry hold at St. Peter's parish Church on ye behalf of ye 
s'd parish this 3rd day of Sept., 1688. Present: Gideon Macon, Corn. 
Daberni, Geo. Smith, Hen. Wyatt, Mr. Thom. Mitchell, James Moss. 

"Mr. Jno. Roper, Mr. Will. Bassett, Church wardens. , 

"It is ordered by this present vestry that Mr. Gideon Macon do ft is 
hereby impowered to appear before his Excelansy Francis Lord How- 
ard, Baron of Effingham, his Majes' Left. Gen'l of Virgr. ft ye Hon'l 
Counsoll of States upon ye 10th day of ye next Gen'l Court in obedience 
to an order of his Excell. to y't purpose to answer ye complaint of Mr. 
Lanselott Bathurst, attorney of ye vesrry of Blissland parish, concern- 
ing dividing line to be run between ye parish of Blissland ft ye parish 
of St Peter's, according to an agreement ft conclusion of twelve men 
Elected by an order of vestry of ye whole parish of .Blissland before 
ye same * and this present vestry hath Ratified and confirmed all 
whatsoever ye Mason shall act or do in ft about ye premises above s'd." 


The minutes of these old meetings, however, show that the vestry 
did not confine its attention to matters of a purely material nature. 
At this time there were two churches in the parish. The vestry was 
careful that the spiritual needs of the inhabitants in both neighborhoods 
should be looked after. It was provided for that services be held at 
both churches regularly. Under date of November 25, 1686, the vestry- 
book contains the following entry: "* * ^ This vestry taking into 
consideration the present want of ye parish and desirous of the ad- 
vancement of Qod's Glory and ye continuance of ye sacred funciion 
In this parish do consent and agree with ye said Mr. Jno. Ball Minis- 
ter to officiate as minister in this s'd parish of St Peters * * * at ye 
two churches, at ye lower Church one Sunday ft at ye upper Church 
ye other for this ensuing year from ye date of these presents, at ye 
rate of one thousand pr month." 

The ordinary morality of the community was a matter with which 
the vestries of the Colonial period had to concern themselves generally. 
The records of St Peter's Parish show that its vestry was at least 
fully awake to a sense of its duty in this respect. E^ntries like the 
following, under date of October 6, l*yS7, are not infrequently met 
with in the vestry-book: "It is ordered that Mr. Thomas Mitchell do 
prosecute ye woman servant belonging to Capt Jo. Forster for having 
a bastard child." In St Peter's Parish, too, as elsewhere, the care of 
the poor, the lame, the maimed, the halt, and the blind devolved upon 
the vestry, and the vestry-book shows that, outwardly at any rate, 
this obligation was not neglected. 

In spile of all that has been said, however, one is hardly warranted 
in maintaining that at this period religion was flourishing in New 
Kent county. During the sixteen years from 1684 to 1700, St Peter's 
Parish had no less than nine regular ministers, and the times— often 
months in duration — when there was no minister at all, were frequent 
enough. One of these nine ministers was the Rev. Nicholas Moreau, 
who, to quote the vestry-book again, had "been recommended by his 
Excell. and Mr. Camesery unto this parish." What Mr. Moreau thought 
of his parish, of the people, and of the state of affairs and religion 
generally in the community can be seen in the following extracts from 
a letter of his, dated April 12, 1697, written to the* Lord Bishop of 
Lichfield and Coventry, His Majesty's High Almoner: 
"My Lord, 

"After my dutiful respects presented unto your Lordship, I make 


bold to acquaint you that being landed in these parts of Virginia in 
August last, and being ready to go for Maryland, wherein your charity 
hath vouchsafed to recommend me to his Excellency Nicholson, I heard 
such great talk among the Gentlemen of this Country that the said 
Governor was to come here to be Governor, that I did resolve to settle 
here if I could. And his Excellency Nicholson being here, would say 
nothing of the contrary. His Grace of Canterbury has recommended 
me to Mr. Blair, Commissary, but to no purpose, because the said 
Commissary has cast an odium upon himself by his great worldly 
concerns, so that I was forced to make use of the commander of the 
fleet who did recommend me to this parish wherein I live now. ♦ ♦ ♦ I 
don't like this Country at all, my Lord, there are so many inconven- 
iences in it with which I cannot well ag^ree. Your clergy in these 
parts are of a very ill example, no discipline^ nor Canons of the Church 
arf; observed * * * Several Ministers have caused such high scandals 
of late, and have raised such prejudices among thepeople, that hardly 
can they be persuaded to take a minister in their parish. As to me, 
my Lord, I have got in the very worst parish of Virginia and most 
troublesome. Nevertheless I must tell you that I find abundance of 
good people who are very willing to serve God, but they want good 
Ministers; ministers that be very pious, not wedded to this world, as 
the best of them are. God has blest my endeavors so far already that, 
vith his assistance, I have brought to Church again two families, who 
had gone to the Quakers' meeting for three years past, and have bap- 
tized one of their children three years old. This child being christened 
took my hand and told me: 'You are a naughty man, Mr. Minister, 
you hurt the child with cold water.' His father and mother came to 
church constantly, and were persuaded by me to receive the Holy Com- 
munion at Easter day; which they did perform accordingly with great 
piety and respect. I have another old Quaker 70 yeais of age who left 
the Church these 29 years ago, and hope to bring him to church again 
within few weeks. Lucere et non ardere parvum: ardere et non lucere, 
hoc Imperfectum est: lucere et ardere, hoc perfectum est: saith St. 
Bernard. If ministers were such as they ought to be, I dare say there 
would be no Quakers nor Dissenters. A learned sermon signifies next to 
nothing without good examples. Longum Iter per praecepta, Breve 
Qvtem per Exempla: I wish God would put in your mind, my Lord, to 
send here an eminent Bishop, who by his piety, charity, and severity in 
keeping the canons of the Church, might quicken these base ministers, 


and force them to mind the duty of their charge. Thou^ the whole 
country of Virginia hath a great respect for my Lord Bishop of London, 
they do resent an high affront made to their nation, because his Lord- 
ship has sent here Mr. Blair, a Scotchman, to be Commissary, a coun- 
cellor, and President of the College. I was once in a great company 
of Gentlemen, some of them were Counsellors, and they did ask me, 
'Don't you think there may be in E^ngland amongst the English, a 
clergyman fit to be Commissary and Counsellor and President of our 
College?' I have wrote all these things, my Lord, freely, but have said 
nothing by myself. It was only to acquaint your Lordship how the 
things are here. The Governor is very well beloved by the whole 
country, but because his time is over they think of another Governor, 
and do desire earnestly to have his Excellency Nicholson, who indeed 
is a most excellent Governor; and as fit (as said to me, once, your 
Lordship) to be a Bishop as to be a Governor. ^ • • When I do think 
with myself of Governor Nicholson, I do call him the Right band of 
God, the father of the Church, and more, a father of the poor. An 
eminent Bishop of that same character being sent over here with him, 
will make Hell tremble and settle the Church of England in these parts 
forever. This work, my Lord, is God's work and if it doth happen 
that I see a Bishop come over here I will say as St. Bernard said in 
his Epistle to Eugenius Tertius hie dicitur Dei est. I have been very 
tedious to your Lordship, but God's concerns have brought me to that 
great boldness. I wish God give you many years to live for the good 
of his Church, over which that you might preside long will be the con- 
stant prayers of, my Lord, 

Yrs, Ac, Nich's Moreau." 

[Perry's "Papers Relating to the History of the Church in Virginia, 
A. D. 1650-1776," pp. 29-33.] 

So much for the Rev. Nicholas Moreau and his impressions. It is 
to be regretted that he was never given the opportunity to air his 
latinlty before a Bishop of Virginia. Mr. Moreau did not continue at 
his post longer than the average minister at this time. He left at the 
end of the year 1697 or the beginning of 1698, whether driven away by 
discouragement or not, history does not say. 

The first reference in the Vestry Book to the present St. Peter's 
church is found in the record of the minutes of the vestry meeting 
held August 13, 1700: "Whereas the Lower Church of this parish is 
Tery much out of Repair and Standeth very inconvenient for most of 


the inhabitants of the said parish. Therefore ordered that as soon as 
conveniently may be a new Church of Brick Sixty feet long and twen- 
ty fower feet wide in the cleer and fourteen feet pitch witb a Gallery 
Sixteen feet long be built and Erected upon the maine Roade by the 
School House near Thomas Jackson's; and the Clerk is ordered to 
give a Copy of this order to Capt Nicho Merewether who is Requested 
to show the same to Will Hughes and desire him to draw a Draft of 
the said Church, and to bee at the next vestry and Mr. Gideon Macon 
and Mr. Thomas Smith are Requested to treate with and buy an acre 
of Land of Thomas Jackson whereon to build the said Church and for 
a Church yard." 

The fact that the old church is spoken of as being very much out 
of repair and that brick is mentioned distinctly as being the material 
out of which the new church is to be constructed, lead one to infer 
that this new church was the first one in the parish to be built of 
brick. This inference is confirmed by the way in which the new 
church is, with one exception, always referred to in the vestry-book. 
It is called invariably the "Brick Church." 

Work on the new church was not begun until about the spring of 
the year 1701. By July, 1703, the work was so far advanced that ser- 
vices could be held in the building, for the vestry-book shows that a 
vpstry was held for St. Peter's Parish at the Brick Church on the 13th 
of that month. While this brick church was in process of erection 
the vestry, upon petition of the upper inhabitants of the parish, order 
"that a new Church or Chapell be built upon the upper side of Me- 
chanips Creeke adjoining to the King's Roade forty-feet long and 
twenty-feet wyde, framed and planked in every respect like to the 
upper Church." St. Peter's Parish now had three places of worship, 
besides the old frame Lower church building, which was much out of 
repair — namely, the new Lower church, called the Brick church; the 
old frame Upper church, and new frame chapel. 

On April 3, 1704, the vestry of the parish agreed upon a division, 
by which what was afterwards known as St. Paul's parish was cut ofE 
This new parish contained the two frame upper churches. St Peter's 
parish had now as places of worship the Brick church and the old 
frame Lower church. Services in this old building were now resumed, 
as appears from an entry in the vestry-book under date of August 18, 
1704 : "Mr. Richard Squire is Requested to preach two sermons in 
every year at the old Church, commonly known by ye name of ye Bro- 
ken back'd Church." 


The ?«ew Brick churcb oi St. Peter's Parish wms a plain rectangular 
8tructure» sixty feet long hy twenty-four wide. For upwards of twenty 
years this building remained unaltered, and nothing was done to 
change the appearance of the place except that in the year 1719 it was 
ordered that a wall of brick be built round the church yard, "s'd wall 
to be in all Respects as well done as the Capitol wall in Williams- 
burgh." Toward the end of the year 1722, however, a belfry was erect- 
ed at the west end of the church, and in the year 1740 an entry in the 
▼estry-book states that "the Minister and Vestry of this Parish have 
Agreed with Mr. Wm. Worthe, of the Parish of St Paul, in the CJounty 
of Stafford, Builder, to Erect and Build a Steeple and Vestry Room 
according to a Plan Delivered into the Vestry drawn by the S'd Walter 
(?) for the Consideration of One hundred A thirty Pounds at times to 
be paid." In the same year "the Summe of Twenty Pounds" is or- 
dered to be paid out for the erection of a "Porch according to 
Agreem't, St white washing St other Repairs of the inside of the 
Church." Such minor alterations and repairs as have been made to 
the old church since 1740 have not changed its outward appearanoo 
to any great extent There is now an attractive mellowness of age 
about the building; in other respects St Peter's looks to-day much as it 
did toward the middle of the eighteenth century. 

Under date of November 20, 1752, there is an entry in the vestry min- 
utes in which the "Brick Church" is referred to as "St Peter's Church." 
So far as known to the writer this is the first time that the name 
"St. Peter's" was ever given to this church. (The fact is not, however, 
to be denied that between the years 1684 and 1698 one of the churches 
in St. Peter's Parish was frequently referred to as "St Peter's Churcii" 
by the then clerk of the vestry. On the other hand it is to be noted 
that he refers to the same church under the names "Christ's Church 
in St Peter's," "ye Church of St Peter's Parish," and "St Peter's 
Parish Church." See Vestry Book in loc.) The church is not again 
referred to as "St. Peter's" in the book. In these times it was always 
known and referred to as the "Brick Church," just as the church of 
Bristol parish, known now as Old Blandford, which was erected be- 
tween 1734 and 1737, was always spoken of in Colonial times as the 
"Brick Church." Perhaps some one better informed than the writer 
can say whether Christ church, Lancaster county, [See Southern 
Churchman for December 1, 1906,] was not also always referred to 
in early days as the "Brick Church," and whether its present name 


of "Christ church" was not a creation of comparatively modern times 
and derived from the name of the parish. In the opinion of the writer 
the names of Christ and the Saints as officially applied to churches in 
Virginia was practically unknown before the American Revolution. 
St. Paul's church, Norfolk, erected in 1739, was long known as the 
**i:orough" or "Parish" church. [See Southern Churchman for No- 
vember 3, 1906.] St John's church, Richmond, was not called by that 
name before 1818. [See Southern Churchman for November 17, 1906], 
while St. Luke's church. Isle of Wight county, was known as the "Old 
Brick church" until 1827 or 1828. [See open letter, "Colonial Churches 
and Clergy," Southern Churchman for February 16, 1907.] 

But enough of this digression. Let us return to the subject of St 
Peter's, in New Kent county, and in the next place learn something 
about Mr. Mossom, its most famous minister. 

The Rev. David Mossom, or Parson Mossom, as he was generally 
called, is well known in the annals of the Colonial Church in Virginia 
— though by no means on account of the eloquence of his discourses. 
Many things have conspired together to keep Parson Mossom's memory 
green. In the first place, he ministered to St Peter's church for 
nearly forty years — ^a circumstance extraordinary enough in itself to 
cause some surprise, when it is recalled that the length of the average 
tenure of office in the parish before his time was less than two and 
a half years. Then, too, his irascible temper was against his being 

In his "Autobiography," Parson Jarratt, of Bath Parish, another of 
Virginia's famous divines of the period, tells a good story on Mr. Mos- 
som. It seems that one day the minister of St Peter's had a quarrel 
with his clerk, and assailed him from the pulpit in his sermon. The 
sermon over, the clerk, nothing daunted, gave out from his desk the 
2d Psalm, containing the lines, 

"With restless and ungovern'd rage, 

Why do the heathen storm? 
Why in such rash attempts engage. 

As they can ne'er perform?" 

a method of revenge as humorous as it wa^ pointed. 

Bishop Meade evidently thought that the Rev. Mr. Mossom's anger 
was to be classed rather with the venial than among the mortal sins, 
for after relating the incident just given, he writes: "He (i. e., Mr. 


MoBSom) waa married four timeSp and much harrassed by his last 
wife, as Col. Bassett has often told me» which may account for and 
somewhat excuse a little peevishness." 

Rev. David Mossom officiated at the marriage of Oeorge Washington 
and the Widow Gustis. Some persons have thought that the ceremony 
was performed at St Peter's church. Bishop Meade, however, is au- 
thority for the statement that the marriage took place at the "White 
House/' the home of Mrs. Gustis, on the Pamunkey river, several miles 
from the church. Mr. Mossom died on the 4th of January, 1767. His 
monument, still to be seen in St Peter's church, within the chancel, 
bears the following inscription: 

**Reverendus David Mossom prope Jacet, 

Collegii St Joannis Cantabrigiae obiti, Alumnus, 

Hujus Parochlae Rector Annes Quadraglnta, 

Omnibus Ecclesiae Anglicanae Presbyteriis 

Inter Americanos Ordine Presbyteratus Primus; 

Llteratura Paucis secundus. 

Qui tandem senis et Moerore Gonfectus 

Ex variis Rebus arduis quas in hac vita perpessus est 

Mortisq: in dies memor ideo virens et valens 

Sibi hunc seulpturae locum posuit et elegit 

Uxoribus Elizabetha et Maria quidem juxta sepultis 

Ubi requirescat dones resuscitatus ad vitam Etemam 

Per Jesum Christum salvatorem nostrum 

Quails erat, indicant illi quibus benenotus 

Superstiles Non hoc sepulchrale saxum 

Londini Natus 25 Martii 1690 

Obiit 4 Janii 1767. 

Bishop Meade followed by the writer of an article in the "William 
and Mary College Quarterly," Vol. V., p. 81, interprets the epitaph 
as saying that Mr. Mossom was an American by birth. But to the 
writer of this article "Londini Natus" seems to point unmistakably 
to England as Mr. Mossom's native land. 

After giving so much space to St. Peter's famous minister it seems 
unfair to dismiss with a word the people who "sat under" him. But 
nothing more can be done here, for in this case, as always, history, 
dealing leniently with all save those in public life, has preserved but 
a memory of them — the name — and of many of them not even a 


memory. However, the following list, containing the names of vestry- 
men of the parish in the period between 1685 and 1758 will not be 
without interest: 

George Jones, William Bassett, Stephen Carlton, Henry Wyatt 
Thomas Mitchell, John Parke, William Paisley, John Rever (?), Cor- 
nelius Dabney, Gideon Macon, Matthew Page, George Smith, John 
Roger, David Crawford, James Moss, John Lydall, Joseph Forster, 
John Lewis, Nicholas Merriwether, John Parke, Jr., Richard Little- 
page, Thomas Butts, Thomas Massie, William Waddell, Henry Childs, 
Robert Anderson, Richard Allen, Samuel Gray, Ebenezer Adams, 
Charles Lewis, Charles Massie, Walton Clopton, William Macon, John 
Netherland, William Brown, William Marston, David Patterson, Wil- 
liam Chamberlayne, Michael Sherman, John Dandridge, Daniel Parke 
Custis, Matthew Anderson, George Webb, William Hopkins, Jesse Scott, 
Bdmund Bacon, William Vaughan, William Clayton and John Roper. 

On the inner wall of the chancel of St. Peter's, opposite the memorial 
tablet to Parson Mossom, is another to William Chamberlayne, vestry- 
man, and for many years one of the church wardens of the parish. 
The inscription reads as follows: 

M S 

Near this place lyes interred ye 

Body of Mr. William Chamberlayne 

Late of this Parish Mercht. 

Descended of an ancient & Worthy Family 
in the County of Hereford. 

He married Elizabeth ye eldest Daughter 
of Richard Littlepage of this County, 
by whom he has left issue three Sons, 

Edward Pye, Thomas & Richard. 
& two Daughters, Mary & Elizabeth. 

Ob: 2 Augt. 1736 Aetat 36 

Hoc Marmor exiguum summi amoris 

Monumentum posuit Conjux moestissima. 


Also Ann Kidly Born Sense 
Her Father's Decease. 

M. Sidnell Bristol fecit. 


From Bishop Meade one learns that Rev. Mr. Mossom was succeeded 
In office "by the Rev. James Semple, who continued the minister of the 
parish for twenty-two years. The Rev. Benjamin Blagrove was the 
minister in the year 1789. The Rev. Benjamin Brown was the min- 
ister in the year 1797. 

"After a long and dreary interval of nearly fifty years, we find the 
Rev. E. A. Dalrymple the minister from 1843 to 1845. (The Rev. 
Farley Berkeley officiated some time before this as missionary at 
Bt Peter's church.) Then the Rev. E. B. Maguire, from 1845 to 1851. 
Then the Rev. William Norwood, from 1852 to 1854. Then the Rev. 
David Caldwell, from 1854 to 1856." [Bishop Meade's "Old Churches, 
Ministers and Families of Virginia. Philadelphia," 1872, Vol. I., p. 

Bishop Meade finished writing his book in May, 1857. Four years 
later the Civil War broke out A correspondent, writing in the South- 
ern Churchman for February 9, 1907, gives the following account of 
affairs at St Peter's immediately before, during, and after the war: 

"Just before the Civil War, St. Peter's had a large and prosperous 
congregation. During the war the church was abominably defaced 
by the Federal soldiers, who stable(f their horses in the church, and 
seemed to take great pleasure in ruining it. A company of soldiers 
from Hartford, Conn., wrote their names on the inner walls of the 
parte cochere, and left many other marks of their occupancy. Those 
of the congregation who were not killed either never returned with 
their families, moved away, or had all they could do to live in any 
instance. Among all these things the people devotedly set to work 
to renew and repair the church. The rector, the Rev. Mr. Kepler, 
was largely instrumental in this, and received large contributions 
from wealthy gentlemen living at the North. After some years, he 
and his people succeeded In having the church thoroughly repaired, 
and it has been kept so ever since, chiefiy by the faithful few Epis- 
copalians to whom the church Is very dear and very sacred." 

The interior of St Peter's church as it appears to-day demands at 
least a passing notice. The high, plastered walls, marked off in blocks 
and colored a soft grey, the but partially carpeted fioor, the simply 
designed benches painted a sober brown, finally the large, deep-set 
windows, filled with plain glass, make together a not unpleasing pic- 
ture — a picture somewhat severe in its simplicity, but not without the 
advantage of offering little to distract the worshipper's attention from 


service or sermon. The two mural tablets, whose inscriptions have 
been given, are the only objects approaching to the ornamental to 
be seen in the church, and they are completely hidden by thin wing- 
like partition walls, cutting off a part of the sanctuary space on either, 
side the communion table. These walls ar« modem. The object had 
in view in building them was rather that of adding attractiveness to 
the chancel than to provide robing space for the clergyman, a pur- 
pose which the somewhat closet-like rooms so made but imperfectly 

St. Peter's church is within easy driving distance of Tunstall's 
Station, on the York River branch of the Southern Railway. This 
station is distant just about twenty miles each from Richmond and 
West Point, the two terminals of the line. 

In the autumn of 1898 Bishop Whittle issued to the son and 
nephew of the then Bishop Coadjutor of Virginia licenses to read the 
service in St Peter's. Since that time the doors of the old church 
have been open for divine service with more or less regularity. The 
last rector, the Rev. Charles J. Holt, tiled during the year 1906. He 
had been connected with the parish which he held along with West 
Point, only since 1904. At present a lay reader, with headquarters 
at West Point, holds service in St. Peter's on one Sunday in the 

To-day, after more than two hundred years of authenticated history, 
St. Peter's church stands, to all intents and purposes, as good as 
new, a monument to those who built and worshipped in it. 




THE section of country In which this venerahle building is sit- 
uated is identified with the very early history of Virginia. 
The county of Westmoreland was cut off from Northumber- 
land in 1653, and extended along the Potomac as high as the 
Falls above Georgetown. This large territory was subsequently divided, 
and In time the country was included in a narrow strip of land be- 
tween the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers. There were two par- 
ishes in the county; the upper, Washington, and the lower, Cople 

Bishop Meade states in his ''Old Churches and Families of Virginia," 
that there were originally two churches in this latter parish — one on 
the Yeocomico creek, from which it takes its name, and the other 
about ten miles distant, on Nominy creek, from which it also is named. 
The latter was destroyed by fire soon after the late war with England, 
and has been replaced by a brick one of more modern style. The 
plate belonging to this was carried away by Admiral Cockburn and his 
party, when they were on a pillaging expedition along the Potomac. 
Concerning the subject of the sketch. Bishop Meade says: "Yeoco- 
mico church is one of the old churches, being built in the year 1706. 
The architecture is rough, but very strong, and the materials must 
have been of the best kind. Its figure Is that of a cross, and situated 
as it is, in a little recess from the main road, in the midst of some 
aged trees and surrounded by a brick wall, now fast mouldering away, 
it cannot fail to be an object of interest to one whose soul has any 
sympathy for such scenes. The old church has suffered, as have many, 
others, in the stormy times of the nation's history. During the last 
war with Great Britain, it was shamefully abused by the soldiers 
who were quartered in it while watching the movements of the 
British on the Potomac. The communion table was removed into the 
yard, where it served as a butcher's block, and was entirely defaced. 
Being of substantial materials, however, it admitted of a new face 
and polish and is now restored to its former place, where it will an- 
swer, we trust, for a long time to come, the holy purposes for which 


it was originally designed. Nor was the baptismal font exempt from 
profanation. It was taken some miles from the church and used as 
a vessel in which to prepare the excitements of ungodly mirth. This, 
however, was not long permitted, for in the absence of every member 
of our communion, none being left to do it, a venerable man of the 
Presbyterian connection, mortified at the dishonor done to religion, 
took pains to regain it and restore to its proper place." 

It is a large and beautiful font, and by its side the Bishop took his 
station while he heard the renewal of baptismal vows from the lips 
of those who were confirmed. 

Bishop Meade also mentions the fact that the canvas on which the 
Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, and Creed were impressed, 
was so torn by the soldiers that it was necessary to remove it, and 
that some necessary repairs had been put upon the church by a worthy 
gentleman of New York. It deserves mention that the good friend 
who restored the font was Mr. Murphy, of Ayrfield, and the other 
worthy gentleman was Mr. W. L. Rogers, of Princeton, New Jersey, 
who, as a member of the 36th Regiment of United States Infantry, 
was stationed with his company in the vicinity of the church, in the 
spring of 1814. 

Mr. Rogers states, in an interesting letter to Bishop Meade, that In 
1820, being on a visit to Westmoreland, and the old church being still 
in ruins, he proposed to Mr. Murphy to undertake its repair, with the 
result that active measures were taken, and in connection with other 
friends, the work of renovation was accomplished. 

Other repairs and alterations have been made from time to time. 
The original pews have been replaced by more modern ones, and the 
old-fashioned pulpit, with sounding board, is gone. In its place are a 
reading desk and pulpit of recent design. 

The baptismal font and communion table alone remain of the 
original furQiture. • 

The old brick wall around the church and burying-ground, which, 
in many places, was pushed by the growing trees from the original 
foundation, was partially restored under the rectorship of the Rev. 
A. R. Walker, and neat and substantial iron gates were hung at the 
three entrances. 

The old sun dial, which bears on its face the name of Philip Smith 
and the date 1717, has been removed from its post before the church 
and is now kept in the rectory. Itp face has been but little marred 


by exposure to the elements^ and It will soon be restored to its fonner 

At the foot of the hill is a limpid spring, where thirsty worshippers 
have been wont to refresh themselves by aid of an iron, ladle placed 
Uiere many years ago by kind-hearted Presley Cox, whose initials are 
Impressed on the bowl. 

In a recent history of the church, published by the committee having 
the bicentennial exercises in charge, and from which much of tliis 
article is prepared, is the following interesting statement: 

**Thi8 quaint relic of Colonial Virginia has stood through two 
centuries of changing scenes, and has experienced a variety of usages, 
little contemplated by those whose pious hands laid its foundations. 
For three quarters of a century, loyal subjects of his Britannic Majesty 
were required to assemble here each Sunday, and attend divine ser- 
vices, under penalty of the forfeiture of a goodly quantity of tobacco. 

"With the rise of Republicanism, the sins of the fathers of the 
Church were visited upon it, and it fell into neglect and decay. In 
turn, it became a soldiers' barrack, a school house by day, the nightly 
resting-place for the beasts of the field, the roosting-place of birds 
of the air, and the habitat of all creeping things — its sun-warm bricks 
the striped lizards' paradise. Later, it was the scene of the conflict 
between rival sects that fought for the right of exclusive occupancy; 
and during the Civil War it afforded shelter for the home guard.'' 

The church, though very old, was not the earliest known as Teo- 
comico church. 

This statement is made by the Rev. G. W. Beale, of Hague, Va., 
a gentleman well versed in its history. The earliest vestrymen of 
the parish were Nicholas Jurnew, John Powell and Richard Holden, 
who were chosen August 22, 1655. Mr. Beale gives a long list of names 
of heads of families who were Immigrants to Westmoreland and wor- 
shipped at Yeocomico, between the years 1655 and 1706, among whom 
are the following: 

Col. Isaac Allerton, Dr. John Gerrard, Captain John Newton, Samuel 
Rust, Col. George Eskridge, William Payne, William Wigginton, Sam- 
uel Bonum, Richard Lee, Daniel McCarthy, Presley Cox, Daniel Tibbs; 
and of later date, Dr. James Steptoe, Rev. David Currie, Gawin Corbin, 
George Lee, Robert Carter and Nicholas Minor. 

The old Parker home, "Springfield," was near the church, and here, 
no doubt, worshipped General Alexander Parker, a soldier of the 
Revolution, who also fought with "Mad" Anthony Wajme in the 


Indian wars. In the churchyard is the grave of Daniel McCarthy, who 
represented the county in the Assembly of Burgesses in 1715, and 
was Speaker of the House. The Southern Churchman, in 1888, pub- 
lished the following: 

"Close to the base of the right and east gable is the rocky founda- 
tion of a vault, in size 15x18 feet; it is now a grassy mound with 
several cedar trees growing upon it. Near the center of this mound is 
a gray stone tablet, much defaced by time, and it was only afte** 
repeated efforts that I have finally succeeded in making out the in 
scription, which is as follows: 'Here lyeth the body of Daniel McCarty, 

who departed this life the fourth of 1724, in the forty-fifth year 

of his age. He was endowed with many virtues and good qualifica- 
tions, but the actions proceeding from them bespeak their praise. Here 
also lyeth the body of Thaddeus McCarty, youngest son to Daniel 
McCarthy, Esq., who died the 7 of February, 1731, in the 19 year of 
his age. 

"Near this place likewise is the body of Penelope, wife to Daniel 
McCarty, second son of Daniel McCarty, Esq., and daughter to 
Christine Higgens, Gent, who departed this life the 26 of March, 1732, 
In the 19 year of her age, with one child." 

In more modern times the list of honored names among the worship- 
pers at Yeocomico are great, many being those of descendants of the 
good and true of other years. 

Special mention is to be made of Mr. John E. Crabbe, of the last 
g^eneration, who, after a successful career as a member of a Baltimore 
firm, returned to Cople Parish. His son, Mr. Walter Randolph 
Crabbe, has been for many years registrar of the parish. 

Mr. James Arnest, Dr. Watt H. Tyler, father of the Diocesan Arch- 
deacon, Col. Robert H. Mayo, Mr. E. C. Griffith, and others, figured 
prominently in the later history and growth of the old church. 

In reference to the rectors and vestries of Yeocomico, the early re- 
cords have not been preserved, and it is Impossible to give an accu- 
rate list of the successive clergymen who had charge. From Bishop 
Meade it is learned that the' first minister of whom there is record was 
the Rev. Charles Rose — 1754-*58. It is stated unauthoritatively that 
the Rev. Mr. Bricken preceded Mr. Rose. The Rev. Thomas Smith 
-was minister 1773-'76. He was probably preceded by the Rev. Augus- 
tine Smith. In 1779, the name of the Rev. James Elliot appears, and the 
next minister of whom there Is record was the Rev. Washington Nel- 
son in 1835. In 1842, he was succeeded by the Rev. William N. Ward, 


and he. In 1849, by the Rev. Theodore N. Romney, afterwards rector 
of St Peter's church, Qermantown, Philadelphia. The Rev. Edward 
McOuire succeeded Mr. Rumney in 1850, and in 1852 and 1854, the rec- 
tors were, successively, the Rev. William McGuire, the Rev. T. Grayson 
Dashiell. During the Civil War, the Rev. Charles J. Rodefer was in 
charge of the parish. 

Within the present generation, the following clergymen have officiated 
in the order named: Rev. John J. Lloyd, Rev. Pendleton Brooke, Rev. 
Robert A. Castleman, Rev. David F. Ward^ Rev. Austin B. Chinn, Rev. 
Albert Rhett Walker, Rev. Frank Ridout and Rev. Charles H. Gross. 

Besides the vestrymen elected in 1655, mentioned by Mr. Beale, there 
is record of an election held in 1755, when the following were 
chosen: John Bushrod, Daniel Tebbs, Richard Lee, Benedict Middle- 
ton, George Lee, John Newton, Willowby Newton, Robert Middleton, 
Samuel Oldham, Robert Carter, Fleet Cox, and James Steptoe. 

At an election immediately following the Revolution, the following 
vestry was chosen: Vincent Marmaduke, Jeremiah G. Bailey, John A. 
Washington, Samuel Rust, John Crabb, Richard Lee, Creorge Garner, 
George Turberville, Patrick Sanford, John Rochester, and Samuel Tem- 

The exercises commemorative of the 200th anniversary, were deeply 
interesting. They began on Sunday, July 15, 1906, and were in charge of 
the Bishop of the Diocese. The congregation was larg-e, people coming 
from far and near to attest their regard for the old church, surrounded 
with so many associations sacred to them all. 





THE most perfect example of Colonial church architecture now 
remaining in Virginia is Christ church, Lancaster county. It 
is now, with the exception of some minor details, almost as it 
came from the hands of its builders in 1732. Every other 
church in the State has suffered more or less alteration. Even beauti- 
ful old Bruton is just being restored, after a long interval, to what 
Christ church is now and always has been. 

While Christ church has never been out of the possession of those 
of the faith of the founders of the parish, the congregation was for a 
number of years so small that only occasional services were held in it. 
During an era of bad taste, and a lack of intelligent interest in the 
past, when more crowded churches were altered, ruthlessly sometimes, 
to meet the supposed needs of the worshippers, there was not only no 
call for any alteration in this venerable building, but, owing to econo- 
mic changes and the building of other churches in the county, it was 
almost abandoned. 

We know but little of the civil or religious history of the country at 
the mouth of the Rappahannock before the formation of Lancaster 
county in 1652. By an act of Assembly in 1641 the settlement of that 
part of the Colony was authorized to begin during the following year, 
and when the county records commence in 1652, there was evidently 
a considerable population along the rivers and inlets thereabout. 

A vestry book, beginning in 1654, was once in existence and was 
seen by Bishop Meade, but it disappeared during his life, and now its 
contents are only known through his brief extracts. Fortunately ."he 
county records are entire from 1652, and if carefully examined for 
the purpose, would no doubt afford much more information as regards 
the Church history than the writer has had time to gather during 
visits to Lancaster county. 

Before a parish was formed there was doubtless a minister of the 
Church of England in the community. Rev. Thos. Sax, "an unworthy 
servant of God'' (as he styles himself in his will), who died in 1654, 


was doubtless this first minister. He was probably followed by John 
Ctorsuch, "Proffessor in Divinity." Mr. Gorsuch, who died before April 
1, 1657, was one of the many Cavaliers who fled to Virginia during the 
civil wars in England. He had been rector of Walkholme, Hertford- 
shire, and married a sister of Richard Lovelace, the poet Through his 
descendants, the Todds of Gloucester county, he has had many staunch 
representatives in the Church. 

At the formation of the county, in 1652, it included both sides of the 
Rappahannock river for an indeflnite distance to the west, and contain- 
ed two parishes, known, from their location, as North Side and South 
Side. The court records have an entry of the selection, on April 1, 
1652, of William Clapham, Jr., as sidesman, and John Taylor and Ed- 
mund Lum as wardens for North Side. In 1654 the county was again 
divided into two parishes; but in a different manner. The Lower 
parish contained the present Lancaster and Middlesex, and the Upper, 
the present Essex and Richmond. 

Meade states that about this time there were four parishes in the 
county — Lancaster and Piankitank on the south side, and White 
Chapel and Christ church on the north. The history of these little 
parishes is vague, and no attempt need be made to go into it at 
all thoroughly. The genesis of the large parish from several small 
ones is a familiar feature of our early Church history. 

The division of 1654 was made after the surrender of Virginia to 
Parliament. By the terms of the surrender, dated March 12, 1651-2, 
the use of the Prayer Book was permitted for one year longer, with 
the consent of the major part of the parish, provided that the portions 
relating to the King and the royal government should not be used 
publicly. It is probable that the latter provision was observed, but 
there is no evidence that, otherwise, the public use of the regular form 
of worship of the Church of England was ever abandoned. Th? As- 
sembly could not (without a conflict with the Parliamentary authori- 
ties) uphold the King's religion; but the same end was reached by 
leaving the parishes to manage their own affairs. This meant that the 
old faith would be retained. 

The order for the division of 1654 appears in the court records as 

"At a court held at ye house of Mr. Da. Fox, Aug'st ye 7th 1654 for 
ye countye of Lancaster 

"Pres't: Major John Carter, Mr. Toby Smith, Mr. Ja. W'mson, Oapt 

Hen Fleete, Mr. Rich. Lees, Mr. Ja. Bagnall 

Memor'd. ye county of Lancaster is divided into two parishes, 

ye inhabitants being sumoned to hereto giving their votes herein, 
vizt: ye lower parish to begin on ye right'nd side of Moratican river 
& to include ye westward side to ye head thereof, & soe into ye woods 
E. by N. & on ye south side from ye lower marked end of ye land 
of Rich. Bennett, Esq'r, now in the possession of Rice Jones, & thence 
S. W. into ye woods, ye w'ch two places are to be the bounds between 
ye two parishes, ye upp & ye lower." 

The men associated with the making of these early parishes were 
all adherents of the old Establishment, and have innumerable descend- 
ants still well known to the Episcopal Church. David Fox, in his will, 
dated and proved in 1669, gave 20 pounds sterling to the glazing and 
other uses of St. Mary's White Chapel, Lancaster, and his son, Capt. 
William Fox, in his will, dated 1717, directed that "My wife shall send 
tor the Lord's Prayer & Creed well drawn in gold letters & my name 
under each of them, set in decent black frames," as a gift to St. Mary's 
White Chapel, and also left to that church "the font that came in 
this year." Capt. Fox's gifts still remain in old St. Mary's. A contem- 
porary, George Spencer, of Lancaster, by his will dated March 3, 
1691, gave to St. Mary's 10,000 pounds of tobacco, 20 pounds sterling 
tor the purchase of a piece of Communion plate, and also gave a ''Cur- 
plice." It may be noted here that Christ church and St. Mary's were 
so often in the same parish, that though the history of the buildings 
is, of course, different, their parish history may be considered as prac- 
tically the same. 

John Carter, whose name appears first among the members of the 
court, was the immigrant ancestor of that distinguished Virginia fami- 
ly, and the leading man in the parish at this time, while James Wil- 
liamson, through his descendants, the Balls, was ancestor of many 
people well known in the Church. 

Henry Fleet (a man of note in his day) liad a grandson of the same 
name, who left, in 1730, twenty pounds to the poor of Christ church, to 
be distributed by the vestry, while a descendant bearing the family sur- 
name, is, together with a son of the Bishop-Coadjutor of Southern Vir- 
ginia, a Rhodes scholar from Virginia at Oxford. 

On April 1, 1657, appears among the court records an agreement of 
the people of Lancaster with Mr. Samuel Cole to serve as a minister. 


they to pay him 10,000 pouBds of tobacco and cask for the present 
year. Mr. Cole died before September 28, 1659. 

For a time the parishes of Lancaster seem to have had only occas- 
ional senrices from the ministers of other parishes. 

On October 27, 1658, the county court ordered a payment to David 
Linsey, minister, on account of his pains in the performance of his 
duties. Mr. Lindsey, who is stated in his epitaph to have been a 
doctor of divinity, was minister of a Northumberland parish. 

About the same time the Lancaster parishes must have been visited 
by Rev. William White, minister of York parish. Else how, in those 
times of little traveling, could he have met Martha, widow of Thomas 
Brice, gentleman, of Lancaster, whose will was dated April 24, 1657, 
and proved on May 9th following — ^the very same day on which was 
recorded a marriage contract between his widow and William White. 
Bir. White died shortly afterwards, and there is some reason to believe 
that he was a brother of Jeremiah White, Cromwell's famous chap- 

On April 1, 1657 (April 1st seems to have been the regular date for 
such elections), the county records show the choice of church wardens 
for the North Side. 

With the formation of the parishes in 1654 began the vestry book 
referred to by Bishop Meade. It would appear that though there were 
really but two parishes, the Upper and Lower, yet there were separate 
wardens and vestries for the different sides of the river. 

In 1661 the difficulty of obtaining a regular ministerial supply (a dif- 
ficulty doubtless aggravated by the political uncertainty of the preced- 
ing ten years) stirred the county court to action. 

On October 23, 1661, the following order was made: 

"This court, taking into consideration the great want of the ministry 
that hath been in this countie & conceiving it to arise from the small- 
ness of ye p'ishes, not able to give such a competency as may invite 
mynisters to officiate amongst us the Court has therefore ordered that 
the Constables in each p'ishe sum'on the inhabitants unto the usuall 
place of meeting in each p'ishe or where there is no usuall place of 
meeting, unto such place as the Co'ission'rs [justices] in each p'ishe 
shall think meete & there being met to subscribe their resolutions con- 
cerning ye following queries: 

"First whether they will consent until such tymes as they bee able 
to malntaine themselves to unite & joyne with the rest of the p'ishes 
of this countie as one p'ishe to maintayne a minister amongst us to 


officiate at such times & places as shall be thought fit by a general 
vestry chosen by them for that purpose. 

"Secondlie. What three men each p'ishe choose to make up this 
generall vestry to act in all things w'ich Concerns this generall t>'ishe. 

"It is further ordered that Coll. John Carter, Mr. Hen. Corbyn, Mr. 
David Fox & Mr. William Leich doe take the subscriptions of ye 
p'ishon'rs of each plshe & they are hereby impowered to issue out 
warrants to the respective constables for the Conveening of the people 
at such times & places as ye foure p'sons is ordered to issue out 
warrants to the Constables for ye summoning of the inhabitants before 
Mr. Leich. 

"Several Copies hereof ordered to be sent to the p'sons aforesaid." 

The constant and earnest efforts of Virginia legislatures, courts and 
vestries, throughout the Colonial period, to promote religion and 
morals, should alone be a sufficient answer to the ignorant slanderers 
who have tried to besmirch the character of our people at that time. 

This concentration of the strength of the several weak parishes 
doubtless resulted in the building of better churches as well as in a 
more regular filling of the pulpit There had previously been some 
small churches in various parts of the county; but in 1670 the first 
church on the present site of Christ church, of which we 
have any knowledge, was completed. Bishop Meade says that 
it was erected under the care of John Carter, first of that 
name. By the same authority we are told that from the begin- 
ning of the vestry book of 1654 the name of John Carter appeared first 
in the lists, followed by the name of the minister, and that this was 
also the case with his sons, John and Robert. The Bishop was writing 
from recollection after an interval of almost twenty years, and it is 
possible that his memory was at fault. During the numerous meet- 
ings of vestry, when there was no minister present, John Carter's name 
no doubt appeared first because he was a member of the Council; but 
it does not seem likely that his name usually preceded that of the 
minister. Governor Nicholson once assailed Robert Carter, charging 
him with arrogance, &c., and if he could have had such an example 
as Carter's taking precedence of the minister in his own vestry, he 
would certainly have mentioned it. 

Two tombs formerly in the old church retain their places in the 
present. At the side of the chancel is that of Colonel John Carter. 
Much discussion has arisen from the rather confused way in which 
his wives and children are mentioned. The epitaph is as follows: 


"Here lyeth buried ye body of John Carter, Esq., who died ye 10th of 
June Anno Domini 1669, and also Jane, ye daughter of Mr. Morgan 
Glynn, and George her son, and Eleanor Carter, and Ann ye daughter 
of Mr. Cleave Carter, and Sarah ye daughter of Mr. Gabriel Ludlow, 
and Sarah her daughter, which were all his wives successively and died 
before him. 

"Blessed are ye dead which die in the Lord, even soe, saith the 
Spirit; for they rest from Their labors, and their works do follow 

Colonel Carter was actually married five times, one of his wives 
surviving him. 

In the centre of the church, at the intersection of the aisles, is a 
tomb bearing the following inscription: 

"Here lyeth the body of Mr. David Miles, who died the 29th of 
December, 1674, in the 40th year of his age. 

"Hodie mihU eras tibi." 

Rev. Benjamin Doggett, who seems to have come from Ipswich, Eng- 
land, was probably the first minister of any considerable length of 
service in the parish. He died in 1682, and in his will directed that 
his books be collected, packed in a "great chest," and sent to England 
for sale. He is believed to have been ancestor of the distinguished bishop 
of the name in that daughter of the Church of England — the Methodist 
Episcopal Church. The next clergyman who appears in the county 
records is the Rev. John Bertrand, a Huguenot, but a minister of the 
EiStablished Church, who died in 1701. Among his descendants was 
Judge Cyrus Griffin, last president of the Continental Congress, and 
a lay delegate to Virginia Church Councils. 

In a clergy list dated 1702 Rev. John Carnegie appears as incumbent 
of St. Mary's, without any name following that of Christ Church. 
Doubtless he had charge of both. 

The next minister, who bore the historic name of Andrew Jackson, 
and who may have been of the same stock as Old Hickory or Stonewall, 
left, at his death in 1710, his books to Christ church parish for the use 
of the incumbent, and gave £10 sterling to "the meeting-house in 
Caple Square, Dublin." 

Bishop Meade, again writing from memory, says that he made his 
mark in the vestry book, but if so, it must have resulted from some 
temporary injury, for it was certainly not the case when he signed 
papers in regard to secular affairs. The Bishop adds: "He was not 


episcopally ordained, and this lead to a correspondence between the 
vestry and one of the GoTernors of Virginia, at a time when an order 
came from England requiring all holding livings to be episcopally or- 
dained should be enforced in Virginia. They plead that he had been 
serving the parish faithfully for twenty-five years, that he was much 
esteemed and beloved, and had brought up a large family of children, 
and laid up something for them from his industrious culture of the 
glebe (then and now a good farm near the church)." Mr. Jackson 
remained minister of the parish until his death, though, as far as his 
will shows, he left neither wife nor children. He appears to have been 
an emigrant from Belfast, Ireland, and had, no doubt, been a Presby- 
terian minister. 

His successor was Rev. John Bell, who was incumbent until his death 
in 1743. His inventory shows that he owned land in Lancaster and 
Prince William, forty-three slaves, &c. 

The ministry of Rev. David Currie, who succeeded, was only termi- 
nated by his death in 1792. He was a faithful and useful man. Meade 
gives a pleasant letter from Charles Carter, of Shirley, to Mr. Currie, 
in which he tells him that he had put in his will a bequest of 500 
acres of land for life to Mrs. Currie. No doubt a most cheering epistle 
for a minister in the dark days of 1790. 

We have interesting mention of Christ church during Mr. Currie's 
pre-Revolutionary ministry in the diary of Colonel James Gordon, of 
Merry Point, Lancaster. Colonel Gordon was one of the leading men 
of the county and of fervent piety; but he was of the old type of Scotch- 
Irishman, and of what has been called "High-Church Presbyterianism." 
As Mr. Currie sdmetimes preached against the Presbyterian Church, it 
is not surprising that Colonel Gordon did not admire him. How- 
ever, he and the members of his family frequently attended 
"church," as he called it, in contradistinction to the "meet- 
fng-liouse," as he names the place of worship of his own 
faith. On August 26, 1758, he writes: "At home with my wife 
and family, where I have much more comfort than going to church 
to hear the ministers ridiculing the Dissenters." And on October 7th: 
"Went with my wife to White Chapel church, where we heard Mr. 
Currie — a very indifferent discourse — nothing scarce but external 
modes; much against Presbyterians — so that I was much disappointed, 
for it was misspending the Lord's Day." At the same time Colonel 
Gordon was a member of the vestry. 


There were two flourishing Presbyterian churches at that time in 
Lancaster, and no doubt the contrast in preaching between good Par- 
son Currie, who after the old fashion, probably read his sermons with 
(from his nationality) a Scotch accent, and Davies, Whitfield and 
Waddell (afterwards Wirt's famous blind orator), who officiated at the 
"meeting-house," was very strong. 

After Mr. Currie's death the parish was tor many years irregularly 
served. These were the dark days of the Church in Virginia. Be- 
tween 1792 and 1832 appear the names of Leland, Page, McNaughton 
and Low. Bishop Meade says the two latter were unworthy men. 
There is some reason to believe, however, that poor Low suffered from 
some mental infirmity. Born of very humble parents, he early showed 
great talents, and before leaving Scotland was the author of at least 
one song, "Mary's Dream," which was long popular in that kingdom. 

In 1832 Rev. Ephraim Adams took charge of the parish and con- 
tinued its minister for four years. He was followed in 1839 by Rev. 
Francis McGuire, in 1844-1845 by Mr. Richmond, in 1850 and 1852 by 
Mr. Nash, and in 1853 by Rev. Edmund Withers. He was followed in 
succession by Revs. George May, H. L. Derby, E. B. Burwell, Mr. Micou 
and L. R. Combes» the present rector. 

In tracing the series of ministers of the parish, the event which 
makes it pre-eminent among Virginia parishes — ^the erection of the 
fine church, which still stands, unaltered — ^has been passed over. 

The church built in 1670 became too small for the congregation, and 
a larger one, with some change of location, was considered. Robert 
Carter, of Corotoman, even then known as "King Carter," offered, if 
the site was retained, to build one at his own expense. In his will, 
dated August 26, 1728, he made the following bequest: 

"It is my will and I do ordain that whenever the vestry of Christ 
church parish shall undertake to build a brick church in the place 
where the present church stands, that there be paid out of my estate 
by my three elder sons & ex'ors the sum of £200 sterling money; one 
half part of this money to be paid out of my son John's estate, the other 
half is to be equally paid by my son Robert and my son Charles out 
of their part of my estate, this money to remain in my ex'or's hands 
until one-half the work is completed, provided alwaies the Chancel be 
preserved as a burial place for my family as the present chancel is, 
and that there be preserved to my family a commodious pew in the 
new chancel; & and it is my further will that the bricks that are now 
made & burnt shall be appropriated to the building of the said Brick 
church, or as many thereof as will perfect the building, and likewise 



the bricks that shall be made & be there at my decease, and if my son 
John shall have occasion to make use of any of the said bricks, then he 
be oblige4 to make & burn as many more for the use aforesaid. I 
give twenty pounds sterling to be laid out in a piece of plate for the 
use of our church to be sent for ancf engraved according to the direc- 
tion of my son John." 

Colonel Carter not only made this bequest in his will, but when the 
work was undertaken in his lifetime gave largely in addition. The 
vestry book quoted by Bishop Meade (an extract from which is pre- 
served by one of the Carter descendants) shows that he bore the en- 
tire cost of building, reserving one-fourth of the church for hisT ser- 
vants and tenants, besides a very large pew near the chancel for his 
immediate family. Tradition says that the congregation did not enter 
on Sunday until the arrival of his coach, when they followed the 
"King" into church. A map of the great Corotoman estate remains 
in the clerk's office at Lancaster Courthouse. It contained 8,000 acres 
and stretched along the bank of the Corotoman river and far out into 
the country, extending beyond the present Kilmarnock, and including 
the present Irvington. A close set hedge of cedar trees, many of which 
still remain, ran on both sides of a straight road, three miles from 
Corotoman house, on the Rappahannock, to the church. Bishop 
Meade's description of the church, as he saw it in 1838, is worth re- 

"My next appointment was at Christ church, Lancaster, on the 23d 
of June. This was the day appointed by the Convention to be observed 
as a day of humiliation, fasting and prayer on account of the languor 
in the Church, and the sins and troubles in the nation. No temple of 
religion, and no spot in the Diocese could have been selected more in 
accordance with the solemn duty of that day than the old and vener- 
able church in whieh three of God's ministers were assembled. I 
preached a sermon adapted to the occasion, and then proposed that 
those who were minded to spend the day as the Church recommended 
should remain for some hours at that place in suitable religious exer- 
cises. A goodly number complied with the invitation, and after an 
interval of perhaps an hour, which was spent in surveying the building 
and the tombs around this ancient house of God, another service was 
performed, and a second appropriate discourse was preached by the 
Rev. Mr. Nelson, the service having been performed by Mr. Francis 
McGuire, the present minister of the parish. The past history and 


present condition of this hallowed spot and temple deserve a more 
particular notice. This notice is derived from the memorials furnish- 
ed by the house itself, the tombstones around and within, and the ves- 
try book of the parish, kept from the year 1654 to 1770, to which I 
had access." 

The Bishop then describes the building of the earlier church, and 
Robert Carter's offer to build a new one, and continues: "The offer was 
cheerfully accepted, and the present house was completed about the 
time of Mr. Carter's death — that is, about the year 1732 — and exhibits 
to this day one of the most striking monuments of the fidelity of an- 
cient architecture to be seen in the land. Very few, if any, repairs 
have been put upon it; the original roof and shingles now cover the 
house and have preserved in a state of perfection the beautiful arched 
ceilings, except in two places, which have within a few years been a 
little discolored by the rain, which found its way through the gutters 
where the shingles have decayed. The walls of the house are three feet 
thick, perfect and sound. The windows are large and strong, having 
probably two-thirds of the original glass in them. The pews are of 
the old fashion, high-backed and very firm. A very large one near the 
altar, and opposite the pulpit, together with the whole north cross of 
the building, was especially reserved by Mr. Carter for the use of his 
family and dependents in all time to come. 

"It deserves to be mentioned that, in addition to the high backs, 
which always concealed the family and prevented any of them from 
gazing around when sitting or kneeling, a railing of brass rods, with 
damask curtains, was put around the top of the pew, except the part 
opposite to the pulpit, in order, it is supposed, to prevent the indul- 
gence of curiosity when standing. These remained until a few years 
since, and parts of them may probably yet be found in the possession 
of neighbors or relatives. In further evidence of the fidelity with 
which the house was built, I would mention that the pavement of the 
aisles, which is of large freestone, is yet solid and smooth, as though 
it was the work of yesterday. The old walnut Communion table also 
stands firm and unimpaired, and not a round from the railing of the 
chancel is gone or even loosened. The old marble font, the largest and 
most beautiful I ever saw, is still there; and, what will scarce be cred- 
ited, the old cedar dial-post, with the name of John Carter, 1702, and 
which was only removed a few years since from its station without the 
door, where it was planted in the ground, is still to be seen in its place 


of security under the pulpit. In such a house, surrounded by such me- 
morials, it was delightful to read the Word of God and the prayers of 
the Church from the old desk, to pronounce the commandments from 
the altar near which the two tables of the law, the creed and the Lord's 
Prayer are still to be seen, in large and. legible characters, and then to 
preach the words of eternal life from the high and lofty pulpit, which 
seemed, as it were, to be hung in the air. Peculiarly delightful it was 
to raise the voice in such utterances in a house whose sacred form and 
beautiful arches seemed to give force and music to the feeblest tongue 
beyond any other building in which I ever performed or heard the 
hallowed services of the sanctuary. The situation of the church, 
though low and surrounded on two of its sides by woodlands, with 
thick undergrowths, is not without its peculiar interest. A few acres 
of open land, with some very large trees, chiefly spreading walnuts, 
furnish ample room for the horses and vellicles of those who attend it 
An old decayed wall with a number of graves and tombstones around 
the house, add no little to the solemnity of the scene. Among these, 
at the east end of the house, within a decent enclosure, recently put 
up, are to be seen the tombs of Robert Carter, the builder of the house, 
and his two wives. These are probably the largest and richest and 
heaviest tombstones in our land. A long Latin inscription is seen on 
that of Mr. Carter. While the tomb of the husband is entire, those of 
the wives appear to have been riven by lightning and are separating 
and falling to pieces." Writing of the church as it was in 1853, the 
Bishop said: "When a few years since it was repaired, the only re- 
pairs required were a new roof (and but for the failure in the gutters 
that would have been unnecessary), the renewal of the cornices, sup- 
plying the broken glass, and painting the pews, pulpit, &c. All the rest 
were in the most perfect state of soundness. The shingles, except in 
the old decayed gutters, were so good that they were* sold to the neigh- 
bors around, and will probably now last longer than many new ones 
just gotten from the woods. ♦ ♦ ♦ In taking off the roof of old 
Christ church for the purpose of renewing it, the secret of the durability 
of the plastering was discovered. Besides having mortar of the most te- 
nacious kind and of the purest white, and laths much thicker and 
stronger than those now in use, and old English wrought nails, the 
mortar was not only pressed with a strong hand through the openings 
of the laths, but clinched on the other side by a trowel in the hand of 
one above, so as to be fast keyed and kept from falling. 


240 > 

"In all respects the house appears to have been built in the most du- 
rable manner, but without any of the mere trinkets of architecture. 
The form and proportion of the house are also most excellent, and 
make a profound impression on the mind and eye of the beholder. 
Though the walls are three feet thick, yet such is their height and such 
the short distance between the windows and doors, and such the effect 
of the figure of the cross, that there is no appearance of heaviness 
about them. The roof or roofs are also steep and high and take the 
place of tower or steeple." 

Since Bishop Meade wrote, the Civil War and the poverty and dis- 
tress which followed it have come. The venerable old church has suf- 
fered further from vandalism, and on account of the weakened condi- 
tion of the supports of the pulpit, services have been rarely held. This 
noble example, as well of the skill and thoroughness of the mechanics 
of the past, as to its pious liberality, has defied alike time and human 
destructiveness, and stands to-day, needing only a few hundred dollars 
to make it again a perfect example of the Eighteenth Century Colonial 

Though the roof had become leaky, portions of the gallery and pulpit 
stair-railing carried off by relic-hunters, most of the windows broken 
by passing vandals, the Creed and Commandments torn from their 
frames, the tombs in the yard broken into fragments (it is stated in 
the neighborhood that a large piece of the tomb of Robert Carter, con- 
taining the coat-of-arms, was stolen and carried away not many years 
ago by a party who were on the Rappahannock in a yacht belonging 
to a well-known New York man), and even the baptismal font broken, 
the main fabric. of the church within and without remains as when 
built. The high pulpit, with the sounding-board above it, and the 
clerk's desk below; the great pews of black walnut, some of them ca- 
pable of holding twenty people, and the rock-like plaster on the walls, 
remain as they were, only needing comparatively slight repairs and 

Mr. R. S. Mitchell, of Irvington, who has long been a vestryman of 
the parish, and has been indefatigable in his efforts towards the resto- 
ration of the old church, has furnished measurements of the building. 
It is in the form of a Greek cross, the main body of the church and 
the transepts measuring externally sixty-eight feet As the walls are 
three feet thick, the interior dimensions are sixty-two feet. The ceil- 
ing, which forms a groined arch over the intersection of the aisles, is 


thirty-three feet from the floor, and the top of the roof is ten feet 
higher. The flooring of the aisles, of slahs of freestone, is still solid 
and smooth, while the raised plank flooring of the pews is, in most in- 
stances, in fair condition. 

There are three round windows in the gahles, and twelve others, 
which are six by fourteen feet. The high pews, of solid black walnut^ 
with seats running around them, are still solid and strong, but the 
woodwork is dull from age. There are twenty-five pews, twenty-two 
with a seating capacity of twelve each, and three which will contain 
twenty persons each. These latter were for the Carter family and at- 
tendants, and for the magistrates. 

A few years ago the Association for the Preservation of Virginia 
Antiquities gave $500 toward the repair of this venerable church, and 
with this and several hundred dollars raised in the parish and by other 
friends, among whom should be especially noted Mrs. Rosa Wright 
Smith, of Fort Hancock, N. Y., the roof was thoroughly restored, and 
all the lights replaced in the windows, which are now guarded by wire 
screens; a barbed wire fence was put around the churchyard, and a 
person living nearby employed to watch the church. Therefore, there 
is no further danger of the desecration from which the church has so 
often suffered. 

Only a few hundred dollars is now required to restore this most In- 
teresting relic of our past to its original condition. The pews and the 
great double doors, each separate door measuring five by twelve feet^ 
only need oiling and cleaning to be restored to their original color and 
polish. One gate is missing from the chancel rail; most of the railing 
to pulpit and gallery stairs is gone, as is also one foot of the old Com- 
munion table, and, as has been stated, the Creed and Commandments 
have been torn from the frames, which still, however, remain. The 
rays on the sounding-board need regilding, and the font, which Bishop 
Meade said was the largest and most beautiful he ever saw, requires 
a skilled hand to place together the four pieces into which some sav- 
ages (said to have been a party of drunken sailors) have broken it 
With these things done, we will have an unchanged example of a Co- 
lonial church of the first class. 

It Is hoped that all who may feel an interest In this restoratloHi 
whether from an antiquarian, religious or family point of view, will 
aid the good work. 

Such is Christ church, and such, imperfectly told, is the history. It 


is the only Ck>Ioiiial church in Virginia erected by one man, and it is 
the only one of that period which has come down to us unaltered. It 
Is a monument to the pious generosity as well as to the great estate of 
Robert Carter, and the spot was intimately associated with the Carter 
family for four or five generations. The descendants of the founder 
of the church, in his own and hundreds of other names, have spread 
throughout the country, and many of them have prospered greatly in 
worldly affairs. The majority of them still adhere to the faith of their 
ancestor. What a fine work it would be if the descendants of this 
founder would make the old church their own especial charge, make 
the small repairs necessary and endow it so that there might always 
be an assistant to the rector of the parish (now containing three other 
churches), who would regularly officiate at Christ church. The country 
surrounding it is now becoming one of the most prosperous sections 
of rural Virginia, the opportunity for effective work is very great, and 
the fine old church, no longer a mere antiquarian relic, would become 
a potent factor for good in the Diocese and State. Could any man 
have a nobler monument? 




THE county of Middlesex is a narrow peninsula, lying between 
the Rappahannock and Piankatank rivers. Its eastern boun- 
dary is washed by the waters of the historic Chesapeake Bay, 
and it was therefore easily accessible to the earliest settlers 
of the country. 

Originally, Lancaster county embraced the territory on both sides 
of the Rappahannock for many miles. From this Middlesex was form- 
ed on the southern shore. Records in the Virginia Land Office in 
Richmond show that this division occurred -as early as 1669. The 
original county-seat of Lancaster was located in what is now Mid- 

The settlement of this section was probably as early, or even 
earlier, as it is nearer the ocean, than the present county of Lancas- 
ter. Many of the original settlers coming from Middlesex, in Eng- 
land, transferred the name of the old home to the new, thus bringing 
the mother land closer to them. The county is one on which nature 
has smiled benignly. Rich soil, salubrious climate, beautiful scenery, 
in which the water forms a very attractive feature, and every facility 
known in Virginia for living comfortably. Some of the best people 
in our land in early days established their homes in this county. And 
some of the old-time mansions are still to be seen, retaining vestiges 
of former grandeur and reminding the contemplative of the attrac- 
tiveness of old-time Virginia life. 

Until separation of the territory into two counties, one minister 
served the whole, though there were two parishes on either side of the 
river. Those on the south side were called Lancaster and Pianka- 
tank, and in 1666 they became one again, under the name of Christ 
church, Lancaster county. 

Very fortunately the original Vestry Book has been preserved, and 
from it much valuable information has been obtained in reference to 
the early Church history of the county. This book Bishop Meade had 
access to when preparing the article on the Parishes in Middlesex, in 


his "Old Churches, Ministers and Families of Virginia/' and for most 
of the information in this article the writer is indebted to the matter 
which he obtained therefrom. 

In 1650 the churches in the district now covered by the two coun- 
ties were in charge of the Rev. Samuel Ck)le. In 1666 the name of 
the Rev. Mr. Morris appears as minister. It was during his rector- 
ship, or a short time thereafter, that some dissensions arose as to 
the bounds of the two parishes, which led to their reunion. 

The first entry in the old Vestry Book states that Mr. Henry Cor- 
bin had been appointed to keep the register of the parish, according 
to a late act of Assembly. 

The vestry oath is an item of great interest It is as follows: 

"I, A. B., as I do acknowledge myself a true son of the Church ot 
England, so do I believe the Articles of Faith therein professed, and 
oblige myself to be comformable to the doctrine and discipline therein 
taught and established, and that as a vestryman of Christ church, I 
will well and truly perform my duty therein, being directed by the 
laws and customs of this country, and the Canons of the Church of 
England, so far as they will suit our present capex;ity; and this I shall 
sincerely do, according to the best of my knowledge, skill and cunning, 
without fear, favor, or partiality; and so help me God." 

In 1666 the vestry resolved to build a mother church, after the model 
of that at Williamsburg, the glass and iron to be imported from 
England. This was done at a point midway between Brandon and 
Roseglll, the seats of the Grymes and Wormley families, not far from 
the Rappahannock. This was used until 1712, when a new one was 
built in the same place. 

On the 29th of January, 1666, it was resolved to continue the Rev. 
Mr. Morris as minister, but that he be not inducted. On the next day 
he was paid his salary and dismissed, probably because of a natural 
objection to the terms of his call. 

In the same year a glebe was purchased and the Rev. John Shephard 
called as minister for six months. At the expiration of that time 
he was called for twelve months, and then permanently. Mr. Shep- 
hard 'was evidently a man of piety and ability, for at his death the 
following minute was recorded in the Vestry Book: 

"It is ordered by this present vestry, that whereas it has pleased 
Almighty God to take out of this life Mr. John Shephard, our latb 
Worthy minister, and this vestry and the whole parish desiring to 
teve his place supplied with a gentleman of good life and doctrine 


and a true son of the Church of England; and they knowing of none 
such at present in this country, but have benefices — it is therefore 
unanimously agreed by the vestry that the Hon. Ralph Wormley, Esq., 
and Mr. Robert Smith be desired and empowered to write, in the name 
of this vestry, to the Hon. the Lady Agatha Chichely, and Major 
General Robert Smith — who, it is hoped, are now safe in Liondon — to 
request them, or either of them, that they will please to take the trou- 
ble to procure a fit minister in England to come over and supply the 
place of Mr. Shephard." 

In this resolution the vestry pledged themselves not to employ any 
one except temporarily until the clergyman came from England, whom 
they agreed to accept as their minister, offering for his support the 
use of the glebe lands, which contained four hundred acres, and an 
annual allowance of sixteen thousand pounds of tobacco and caske, 
besides all perquisites and other profits. 

During the vacancy the parish was supplied by the Rev. Superiors 

In November of that year Major General Robert Smith returned 
from England with the new rector, the Rev. Deuell Read. Mr. Read 
served the parish seven years, and proved a worthy successor to Mr. 
Shephard. He arranged for a monthly administration of the Blessed 
Sacrament of the Lord's Supper in the mother church. "And, more- 
over, that this great solemn mystery might as well worthily as fre- 
quently be observed, he did frankly and freely promise a sermon at 
the said church monthly, that is to say, on the Saturday in the after- 
noon, for the guiding the Communion — Not doubting that all parents 
and masters of families, who ponder the everlasting welfare of souls 
committed to their charge, would readily comply, and allow convenient 
liberty to their children and servants to repair to church at such times, 
there to be instructed and prepared for this religious duty." 

This act was a very important step in religious growth, inasmuch 
as by act of Assembly, which was a renewal of one of the Canons of 
the Church of England, it was only required that the Sacrament be 
administered twice a year, and in this case it was proposed to have 
it in the mother church, which was but midway of a parish forty 
miles in length. There were two other churches, at either end of the 
county. At a later date, however, the communion was administered 
in all of them. 

After his resignation Mr. Read returned to England, and there is 
an entry in the Vestry Book as follows: 


"I, Deuell Read, late of Middlesex in Virginia, having lived in the 
county for at least seven years past, and received divers kindnesses 
from the parishioners thereof, and Almighty Grod in His great good- 
ness, having preserved me through many dangers in my return to 
England, and being most kindly received by my Right Honorable and 
Right Rev. Henry, Lord Bishop of London, do, in point of gratitude 
to Almighty God, and in honour for the Church of England, freely 
give and bestow, for the use of my successors in the said parish, four 
milch cows and calves, four breeding sows, a mare and colt, to be 
delivered on the glebe of said parish to the next incumbent, he to 
enjoy them and their increase for his own use, and leaving the like 
number and quality on his death to his successors; humbly requesting 
my aforesaid Right Rev. Diocesan to give charge to his Commissary 
there to take care herein, and to settle it in such manner as to him 
shall seem fit, according to the true intent hereof. Witness my hand 
in London, this 12th day of November, in the second year of our 
Sovereign Lord and Lady King William and Queen Mary, etc. Deuell 

In imitation of this act, another entry states that: "The following 
gentlemen. Vestrymen of the parish, viz.: Henry Corbin, Richard 
Perrott, Abraham Weeks, John Hastewood, Richard Cock, Robert 
Chewning, agree, each of them, to mark one cow-calf with a crop in 
the right ear, to be kept, as well as their own cattle, until they be 
two years old, then given to the vestry as stock for the parish." In 
1692 the Rev. Matthew Lidford was chosen minister, and died after a 
rectorship of one year. He was succeeded by the Rev. Samuel Gray, 
who in 1698, after serving the parish most unworthily, agreed to resign 
on the payment to him of a certain amount of tobacco. His career 
was a dark cloud in the history of the church. 

It may be stated here, however, that the ministry of the Church in 
these early days, as shown by the records of this parish, will compare 
favorably with that of any period and of any religious body. Bad 
men there were then, as there are now, among all Church bodies, 
but they were the exception. 

In 1669 the Rev. Robert Yates became rector, and continued so 
until about 1704, when ill health compelled his return to England. 
His record was evidently that of a good and true man, for his vestry 
continued his salary for some time in hope of his return. The Rev. 
Bartholomew Yates (supposed to be his son) succeeded him. He 
served the parish as minister for eighteen years, when he was called 


to York-Hampton Parish. His vestry increased his salary to two 
thousand pounds of tobacco, in order to retain his services, and on 
the Vestry Book is the copy of a petition to the General Assembly, 
signed by John Robinson, to take measures to have him remain where 
he was so highly esteemed. He continued in Middlesex, therefore, 
until his death, which occurred in 1734, thus completing a rectorship 
of thirty years. 

Mr. Yates had sons in England at college, and the vestry decided 
to wait two years until his son, Bartholomew, was ordained. In the 
meantime the parish was served by the Rev. Messrs. John Reade and 
Emmanuel Jones, from parishes nearby. Rev. Bartholomew Yates 2d 
was rector for twenty-five years, serving the parish until 1767. 

Nine years before this date, the Rev. William Yates and the Rev. 
Robert Yates were ministers in the adjoining parishes of Petsworth 
and Abingdon, in Gloucester county, and they were either grandsons 
or great-grandsons of the Rev. Robert Yates, the family thus con- 
tributing great strength to the Church in its early days in Virginia. 

A large tombstone was placed over the grave of the Rev. Bartholo- 
mew Yates in the churchyard. It is still in its place, and bears ths 
following inscription: "Here lie the remains of the Rev. Bartholomew 
Yates, who departed this life the 26th day of July, 1734, in the fifty- 
seventh year of his age. He was one of the visitors of William and 
Mary College, as also Professor of Divinity In that Royal Founda- 
tion. In the conscientious discharge of his duty, few ever equalled 
him, none ever surpassed him. He explained the doctrine by his 
practice, and taught and led the way to heaven. Cheerfulness^ the 
result of innocence, always sparkled in his face, and, by the sweet- 
ness of his temper, he gained universal good will. His consort enjoyed 
in him a tender husband, his children an indulgent father, his ser- 
vants a gentle master, his acquaintances a faithful friend. He was 
minister of this parish upwards of thirty years; and to perpetuate 
his memory, this monument is erected at the charge of his friends 
and parishioners." 

The descendants of Mr. Yates are many and honored in different 
parts of the State. 

In 1767 the Rev. John Klug became rector, and, it is thought, con- 
tinued so until his death, in 1795. His ministry was also marked by 
deep piety and earnestness, and his works lived after him. He was 
succeeded by the Rev. Mr. Heffernon, whose ministry was one of shame 
and dishonor. He was rector for eighteen years, the Church suffering 


from his presence. At the time of his death, in 1813, the condition 
of the church was depressing in the extreme; indeed, as Bishop Meade 
says, "Its prostration was complete." This was brought about largely 
by political conditions, the Church generally having suffered greatly 
at that period, but an unworthy minister is responsible for much of the 
sin and carelessness among his people. 

The respect of some of the people of Middlesex for the matters of 
the higher life, in those old days, is illustrated in an extract of the 
will of Mr. William Churchhill, in 1711, in which he bequeathed one 
hundred pounds sterling to the vestry of Christ Church Parish, Middle- 
sex, to be placed at interest^ the proceeds to be given the minister, 
provided he preached four quarterly sermons each year against the 
four reigning vices, viz.: Atheism (meaning living without Grod in 
the world) and irreligion; swearing and cursing; fornication' and 
lidultery and drunkenness. 

Twenty-five pounds were put at interest and the interest money was 
to be given the clerk or sexton attending such sermon. 

From 1813 to 1840 there is little record of Church work in Middlesex, 
though the parish was represented in the Diocesan Council of 1821 by 
Mr. James Chewning as lay delegate, and in 1840 the old mother 
church was a ruin, the walls alone standing. At this date Bishop 
Meade thus strikingly refers to its sad condition: 

"And what has become of the mother church — the Great Church as 
she is styled in her Journal — standing in view of the wide Rappahan- 
nock, midway between Rosegill and Brandon? 

' "More, perhaps, than fifty years ago it was deserted. Its roof de- 
cayed and fell in. Everything within it returned to its native dust, 
fiut nature abhors a vacuum. A sycamore tree sprung up within its 
walls. All know the rapidity of that tree's growth. It filled the 
void. Its boughs soon rose above and overspread the walls. 

"In the year 1840, when it pleased God to put it into the hearts of 
some in whom the spirft of Old Virginia Episcopalians still remained, 
to seek the revival of the Church's dry bones in Middlesex, that huge 
overspreading tree must first be removed piecemeal from the house, 
and the rich mould of fifty years' accumulation, to the depth of two 
feet, must be dug up before the chancel floor and the stone aisles 
could be reached— faithful workmanship of other days. These were 
uninjured, and may still remain, while generations of frail modern 
structures pass away. The house is now one of our best country 
churches. The graves of our ancestors are all around it. In scattered 


fragments some of the tombstones lie; others too substantial to be 
broken, too heavy to be borne away, now plainly tell whose remains 
are protected by them. 

These blessed improvements were wrought largely through the 
energetic interest of Mrs. Kemp (Barbara Minor) Gatewood, who 
started the movement which resulted in the restoration of the old 
church. Others assisting prominently in the work were Dr. Rowan, Dr. 
Nicholson, Mr. Boswell Roy, of Rosegill; the Blackburns and Segars 
and Mr. Gatcwood. 

In the original arrangement of the parish there were two churches 
in addition to the parish church. These were situated in the upper 
and lower ends of the county, respectively. The three were known 
aR the Upper, Lower and Middle churches. All were of brick, and 
are now standing, but the Upper church is occupied by the Baptists, 
who have named it "Hermitage," and the lower by the Methodists, 
and is still known as the Liower church. 

The Rev. Mr. Carraway, rector about 1845, writing to Bishop Meade, 
thus speaks of them: 

"The Upper and Lower churches or chapels are still standing. One 
of them is about to be repaired by the Baptists. The Lower chapel 
letains some appearance of antiquity, in spite of the effort to destroy 
every vestige of Episcopal taste and usage. The high pulpit and 
Bounding-board have been removed, and the reading desk placed within 
the chancel, before which is the roughly carved chest which formerly 
held the plate and other articles for the decent celebration of the 
Holy Communion. 

"There were three sets of plate in the parish. A descendant of one 
of the earliest families, now the wife of one of the Virginia clergy, 
on removing from this county, took with her, in order to keep from 
desecration, the service belonging to the Lower chapel. She lent it 
to a rector of one of the churches in Richmond, with the under- 
standing that, upon the revival of the parish, it must be restored. 
Application was accordingly made in the year 1840, and the vestry 
received the value of the plate in money, which was given at their 
suggestion, they having a full service in their possession. 

"The plate owned by Christ church was presented by the Hon. Ralph 
Wormley. It numbered five pieces. But for the inscription, bearing 
the name of the donor, it would have shared the fate of much that 
was irreligiously and sacreligiously disposed of. 

It was deposited in the bank in Fredericksburg, where it remained 


for more than thirty years. It was afterwards in regular use, but 
was at one time almost destroyed by fire. Enough was rescued, how- 
ever, for the use of church. 

The set belonging to the Lower church was sold by the overseers 
of the poor." 

The old Glebe house, a large square brick building, is etill standing 
at the head of Urbanna Creek, which is near Christ church. 

The Rev. W. Y. Rooker was In charge of the work in Mathews and 
Middlesex a few years after 1840. He was succeeded by the Rev. G. 
8. Carraway. As to the people who lived in Middlesex in the old 
days, under the ministrations of the Church, much could be said. They 
represented some of the most distinguished of the early citizenship 
of the State, and their descendants have figured prominently in the 
history of the country. Such names as the following were among 
them: Corbin, Perrott, Chewning, Potter, Vause, Weeks, Willis, Cock, 
Curtis, Smith, Dudley, Thacker, Skipwith, Beverley, Wormley, Jones, 
Miller, Scarborough, Woodley, Whitaker, Robinson, Warwick, Gordon, 
Chichester, Midge,. Churchill, Burnham, Kemp, Cary, Daniel, Price, 
Mann, Segar, Reid, Eliot, Miles, Montague and Nelson. The names of 
Sir Henry Chicheley, Baronet and Knight (once Deputy Grovernor of 
Virginia), and Sir William Skipwith, Baronet and Knight, appear 
always at the head of the vestrymen, as written in the vestry books, 
these titles giving them precedence. They appear to have been active 
and liberal, giving land and plate to the churches. John Grymes and 
Edmund Berkeley appear to have been church wardens for a longer 
period than any others. The Thackers and Robinsons were also con- 
stant attendants and church wardens for a long time. So also were 
the Smiths, Churchills, Corbins, Curtises and Beverleys. Many of 
these were members of the Council, and held other offices in the 
Colonial government. The first Beverley on the list was the cele- 
brated Robert Beverley, so noted in the early history of Virginia as 
a martyr to the cause of liberty. He was clerk of the House of Bur- 
gesses and father of Robert Beverley, the historian of Virginia, and 
ancestor of the other Beverleys. 

There were always three lay readers in each of the churches. The 
names of Chewning, Baldwin and Stevens appear among these. They 
were required not only to read homilies, but to catechise the chil- 
dren, and see that everything about the church was orderly. By 
express act of the vestry it was required that these lay readers be 
sober and reputable men. 


The office of vestryman was that of an active worker for the uplift 
of the people, those holding it being guardians of the poor and desti- 
tute, and at the same time supei visors in business matters of the 
parish and county. There was one very important duty which vestries 
had to perform and which occasioned differences between them and the 
Governor of Virginia, namely: To maintain their rights as repre- 
senting the people in the choice and settlement of ministers. In the 
English Church the congregation have no part in the choice of their 
ministers. Patrons appoint them and livings support them. In Vir- 
ginia the salary being drawn immediately from the people by the 
vestries, the latter sometimes claimed the right, not only to choose 
the ministers, but to dismiss them at pleasure. In the absence of 
Bishops and canons to try ministers, the temptation on the part of the 
vestries to act arbitrarily is evident The Governor, therefore, claimed 
to be the Ordinary, to act as Bishop in reference to this point. Ap- 
pealing to the English canon, he allowed the vestries the right to 
call the ministers and present them for induction. Being inducted, 
the minister could not be displaced by the vestry. He had a right 
to the salary, and could enforce It by an appeal to law, unless, in- 
deed, lor misconduct, he could be deprived by a process under the 
direction of the Governor. Should a vestry not appoint a minister 
after a vacancy of six months, the Governor might send one, and induct 
him as the permanent minister, not to be removed by the vestry. 

In the old churchyard rest the remains of many of the people who 
have figured prominently in the affairs of Church and State. Three 
of these inscriptions on the tombs are of particular interest. One is 
the epitaph of Mr. John Grymes, and reads as follows: 

"Here lies interred the body of the Honorable John Grymes, Esq., 
who for many years acted in the public affairs of this Dominion, with 
honor, fortitude, fidelity to their majesties. King George I. and III. Of 
the Council of State of the Royal Prerogative, of the liberty and prop- 
erty of the subject, a zealous asserter. On the Seat of Judgment, 
clear, sound, unbiassed. In the office, punctual, approved. Of the 
College of William and Mary, an ornament, visitor, patron. Beneficent 
to all, a pattern of true piety. Respected, loved, revered. Lamented 
by his family, acquaintance, country. He departed this life the 2d day 
of November, 1748, in the fifty-seventh year of his age." 

Another epitaph reads: 

"This monument is erected to the memory of Ralph Wormley, Esq., 
of Rosegill, who died on the 19th of January, 1806, in the sixty-second 


year of his age. The rules of honor guided the actions of this great 
man. He was the perfect gentleman and finished scholar, with many 
virtues founded on Christianity." 

Mr. Wormley was a member of a number of Episcopal Conven- 
tions after the Revolution. After his death the descendants of Colonel 
Edmund Berkeley appear to be almost all that remained of the 

This family preserved the Vestry Book from which all of the in- 
formation gathered by Bishop Meade was obtained. 

On the tomb of the wife of Mr. Wormley are these words: 

"Beneath this marble lies interred the remains of Mrs. Eleanor 
Wormley, widow of Ralph Wormley, Esq., of RoseglU, and sister of 
Colonel John Tayloe, of Mount Airy, who died the 23d of February, 
1815, in the 'sixtieth year of her age. Few women were more emi- 
nently distinguished for correctness of deportment, and for the prac- 
tice of all the Christian virtues. As a wife she was conjugal, as a 
widow exemplary, as a mother, fond and affectionate, as a neighbor 
charitable and kind, as a friend, steady and sincere." 

There are also tombs of Lucy Berkeley, who died in 1716, and Sir 
Henry Chicheley, Knight and Deputy Grovernor of Virginia; the Rev. 
John Shephard and the Hon. Lady Madame Catharine Wormley, wife 
of the Honorable Ralph Wormley (the first Ralph Wormley), in the 
year 1685. 

RosegiU, the grand old house of the Wormleys, still stands. It was 
bought about fifty years ago by Captain John Bailey, a man of great 
heart, who did much good for the Church in modem years. The old 
mansion was restored to much of its former grandeur under his owner- 

After his death his widow lived there many years, and it was the 
privilege of the writer to visit and enjoy her hospitality, and view the 
house, one of the most interesting relics of a bygone age. Its situa- 
tion is ideal, in full and beautiful view of the broad river, about two 
miles from the town of Urbanna. Since Mrs. Bailey's death it has 
been bought and beautified by a gentleman from Pennsylvania. 

The modern history of Christ church is similar to that of most 
Virginia Colonial churches. After being a long time asleep, it has 
awakened to a new life, with hopes and aspirations which are well 
founded. Though sometimes in a feeble condition, it has weathered 
the storms of war and other trials. The ministers who have served 
it since 1850 are the Rev. Joseph R. Jones, the Rev. John McGill, the 


Rev. Claudius R. Haines, the Rev. J. Hervey Hundley, the Rev. John 
Moncure (for a brief time), the Rev. Frank Stringfellow, the Rev. B. 
B. Meredith, the Rev. H. J. Beagen and the Rev. R. C. Cowling, the 
present incumbent Special mention should be made of the Rev. J. 
Hervey Hundley, through whose energy and interest, largely, the 
church in Middlesex was kept alive for many years. Dr. Hundley was 
originally a Baptist minister in Lower Essex. He came over to the 
Church, bringing his congregation with him. He served Christ church 
as a rector for several times, being recalled time and again as the 
church became vacant. He went to his reward about four years ago, 
and, like all of the blessed dead, his works live after him. 

Among the faithful laymen of modem days was Mr. Oliver J. Marston» 
of Saluda. He, too, has gone to his rest, but his active, whole-souled 
interest in the old church and its affairs will long remain in the 
hearts of the people. 

The parish is now In good condition. The old church building has 
been improved by extensive repairs and adornments. It has been en- 
riched by some fine memorial windows, and is now a place of beauty 
as well as of sacredness. The present vestry is as follows: Mr. P. M. 
EJastman, senior warden; Mr. J. C. Gray, junior warden; Mr. Gordon 
Taylor, register, and Messrs. William Seagar, Marion Walters, William 
T. Perkins, W. C. Walker and Benjamin Upton. 




TAFFORD is the northernmost county of the "Northern Neck," 

or that portion of Virginia lying between the Rappahannock 

and Potomac rivers. It is a part of the very early settled land 

in the new world, its organization being fifty-seven years after 

the settlement at Jamestown. 

Were all of its records at hand, they would doubtless prove of in- 
terest to the lover of American history, second only to those which 
relate to days when Englishmen realized for the first time that there 
was, indeed, a home for them beyond the seas. 

The county organization dates back at least as far as 1664. It was 
originally a part of Westmoreland, and extended up the Potomac river 
as far as what is now Georgetown, or West Washington, and to the 
west as far as the Blue Hidge Mountains, including some of the most 
fertile sections of the State. The counties of Prince William, Fairfax, 
Fauquier and Loudoun were thus within its bounds. What afterwards 
became the homes of Washington, Mason, Fairfax and others wer^ 
part of Staftord. 

The first grants of land in Stafford, which were near the Rappa- 
hannock River, at Fredericksburg, were awarded to Messrs. Gerald 
Fowke, Richard Heaberd and Robert Alexander, on March 23d, 1664. 
From the records in the Liand Office at Richmond it would appear 
that this section of country was rapidly settled. 

FYom 1664 to 1680 the following names appear among the land- 
owners in the county: Meese, Calclough, Wather, Beach, Hatloft, 
Morris, Boris, Hunston, Howison, Gaylard, Anderson, Palmer, Waller, 
Collingwood, Briggs, Bailey, Travers, Buchner, Hall, Walker, Watson, 
Berry, Normansell. 

As Virginia is the mother of States and statesmen, Stafford is a 
mother of counties and distinguished men in Church and State. In 
its original dimensions, it did not touch the Rappahannock River. In 
June, 1666, the county, according to old records, was represented in 
the House of Burgesses by Colonel Henry Meeee. His salary was a 


cask of tobacco a day, with one hundred and fifty pounds for traveling 
expenses, and if traveling by water, one hundred and twenty pounds, 
at the rate of four days each way for his attendance as a member of 
the Assembly. 

As to the history of the first settlers, nothing can be stated with 
definiteness. Some of these may have come immediately from EIngland 
or Scotland, and from names of citizens, about twenty years later, it 
would appear that many were from the last-named country originally. 
The tide of emigration had then set in steadily towards the New World. 
Others of the early inhabitants may have come from Lancaster, West- 
moreland, Northumberland, and lower counties, nearer the coast, which 
was naturally the first settled land. Among the people prominent in 
the history of the county was Mr. George Brent, who came to Stafford 
from Maryland in 1683. He acquired large estates, called Woodstock 
and Brenton. The first of these still exists in the original name. It 
is at the head of Aquia Creek. There was considerable contention for 
this property by the Maryland authorities, the little colony then being 
governed by Lord Baltimore. It was claimed that his possessions ex- 
tended into what is now Virginia, up Aquia Creek, taking in the land 
aforesaid. The claim was not allowed. Mr. Brent was a Roman Cath- 
olic, and although the prejudice against that religion was great, his 
worth was acknowledged, for on May 2, 1683, he was appointed by 
the Governor and Council Receiver-General north of the Rappahannock 
River, and on July 10, 1690, he was made Ranger-General of the 
Northern Neck. The prejudice to his religion, however, was shown 
in 1693, when George Brent and his brother, Robert, were mhibited 
from practicing law, in view of their being Papists, the light of 
religious liberty not having then shone upon the land, or what may 
have been possible, the intolerance of dogma, on the part of those 
who were thus punished, having made itself felt in secular atfalrs; 
both conditions being alike lamentable. These conditions evidently 
changed, even in that age, and the spirit of love became assertive; 
for one of these gentlemen afterwards was associated in practice with 
Mr. William Fitzhugh, and another was joint sponsor with the first 
George Mason at the baptism of an Indian boy, whom they had taken 

George Brent was twice married, his second wife being a daughter 
of Colonel Henry Seawell, of Maryland, whose widow married Lord 
Baltimore. Her tomb is still to be seen In Aquia graveyard, about 


one mile from Woodstock. It bears this Inscription: "She was the 
daughter of Lady Baltimore, by Henry Seawell, Esq., Secretary of 
Maryland; her age 35 years." 

Another Interesting Item of history Is the settlement of Huguenots 
In Stafford In 1700. There Is on record a paper, entitled "French 
Men's Petition from Ettlene Relnbau, Jean Borchbleau, Jean Cabelle, 
Lewis Dlreaubaum, Charles Peraut, Marie Relnmonde, Pere Rouscau, 
Isaac Lafite, Abraham Mlchau, Plere Batle, Anderlc Lebornle and 
John Calvert, stating that they have come to Stafford as strangers, 
reduced to extremity and poverty, and praying to be exempted from 
county levies for what time the court shall think fit." This record 
^s dated March, 1700. These people. It Is thought, afterwards left the 
country, and some joined the French colony at Mannakln Settlement, 
In Henrico, now Powhatan county. 

In the early county organization there are recorded, In 1680, such 
names as George Mason, Matthew Thompson, John Alexander. Philip 
Buckner, Rice Hooe, Richard Fossaker, John Washington, Robert Col- 
ston, James Sumner, John Waugh, Thomas Gregg and Thomas Owsley 
among the officers; and some years later, In the beginning of the 
eighteenth century, are Henry Fltzhugh, Thomas Lunn, John Waugh, 
James Jameson, Rawlelgh Travers, and others, whose descendants are 
numerous at the present day, many having the same names. 

Stafford Courthouse was first situated at Marlboro, on the Potomac. 
The present building, about seven miles west of that site, was erected 
in 1783, two acres of land having been deeded to the county for court- 
house and prison by William Gerrard and William Fltzhugh. 

Many of the places whose names link the past with the present still 
exist Among these are Arkendale, Chappawamslc, Clermont, Somerset, 
Chelsea, Clifton, Dlpple and Woodstock, in the upper end, and Boscobel, 
Argyle, Chatham and Snowden, in the lower end of the county. The 
old homes on some of these estates have passed away. 

The history of the Church is naturally closely interwoven with that 
of the county organization. Some of the very early records of the 
county, which were taken away during the Civil War, were found In 
the New York State Library, and restored to their rightful place within 
late years. BYom these the following interesting facts have been 

"September 7, 1664. Wm. Green, and Vincent Young, sworn wardens 


-c Parish." This was evidently the first Stafford Parish, 
ILL ^daries being the same as those of the county. 

"November 19, 1665. Mr. Hugh Dowding sworn Church Warden." 

"November 28, 1666. Vestry chosen as follows: Captain Jno. Alex- 
ander, Mr. Richard Fossaker, Mr. Richard Heabeard, Mr. Robert Os- 
borne, Mr. John Heabeard, Mr. Wm. Heabeard, Mr. Robert Howson, 
Hr. Vincent Young, Wm. Green, Jno. Withers, Thos. Humphrey, and 
Thos. Gregg. Mr. Robert Osborne and Mr. John Withers Church 

"April 3d, 1667. The Court doth order that the minister preach 
at three particular places in this county — ^vlz.: At the southeast sidB 
of Aquia and at the Court House, and Chotanck, at a house belonging 
to Robert Townshend; to officiate every Sabbath Day In one of these 
places, successively, until further Order." 

"June 12th, 1667. Vestry as follows: Dodman, Meese, Mason, Alex- 
ander, Rd. Heabeard, Mr. Wm. Townshend, Wm. Heabeard, Mr. Wm. 
Greene, John Wiser, Vincent Young and David Anderson." 

"Oct. 8, 1667. Whereas, There is no certain place in the upper pre- 
cincts of this county for the reading of Divine Service, the Court 
doth order that John Withers, Church Warden for these nrecincte, 
agree for a house to read at the most convenient place." 

It will be noted that no minister is named In connection with these 
proceedings, but there possibly may have been one or more. 

The evidences point to a God-fearing people, however, whose strength 
of purpose in the trying days of early settlement was shown in their 
determination to worship and serve the God of their fathers. The 
proud heritage of such righteous example has been cherished by their 
descendants, and assisted in the honorable citizenship of succee(fing 

If there were any church buildings they were probably of wood, the 
traces of which have long since been lost. 

The first minister of whom there is record was the Rev. John 
Waugh. It is not improbable that he was the original rector of 
Stafford county, though he is first brought to notice in 1680. 

There were then two parishes in the county — Stafford and Chotanck. 
Mr. Waugh seems to have been a man of great strength of character, 
as well as of personal infiuence with his people. It is noted that on 
March 11, 1692, there being difficulty in getting some to take charge 
of the ferry over Potomac Creek, he contracted to do it himself. He 


Is said also to have been wise in temporal affairs, having patented 
and purchased considerable land, and he died, leaving a large estate. 
His descendants were prominent in county affairs in the early days, 
but the name has passed from the county, other sections having 
doubtless claimed those bearing it 

During his rectorship there was much fear of the aggression and 
domination of Romanism, James II. being upon the English throne, 
and his views being pronounced Ut favor of breaking down the prin- 
ciples of Protestantism. It is said that Mr. Waugh was very energetic 
in keeping this danger before the people, and great excitement was 
created, and from his addresses and methods of agitation employed 
by others, a very serious state of affairs was threatened. Mr. Nicholas 
Spencer, of Cople, Westmoreland, then Secretary of State in Virginia, 
stated that a rebellion as great as that led by Bacon was imminent 
Happily, all of this was adjusted. William and Mary replacing James, 
peace and Protestantism reigned once more. 

In the year 1700, we find again two parishes in the county — Over- 
wharton and St Paul's; the former, like the county, taking its name 
from the corresponding place in England. The Rev. John Prazier 
was the rector of Overwharton. 

The population of the county can be estimated from the fact that 
in the first-named parish there were 318 titheables, and in the latter 
346. These represented about one- fourth of the population. 

In 1710 the same two parishes appear, with the Rev. Alexander 
Scott as rector of St. Paul's. It would appear that these parishes 
were generally served by one rector, the scarcity of clergy in Vir- 
ginia being one of the regrettable conditions. This was evidently so 
in the early history of the Church, until the latter part of the 18th 

The Rev. Mr. Scott was rector nearly twenty-eight years, and died 
April 1, 1738, aged 52 years. He must have been a useful man in the 
Church, there being many evidences of his earnestness. During his 
rectorship the old Potomac church, situated near the creek of that 
name, was probably the parish church. Bishop Meade speaks of it as 
"one of the largest in Virginia." This venerable building, after dese- 
cration by the soldiers in the War of 1812, and by others who had 
lost the sense of veneration, crumbled into ruins, and even these have . 
been obliterated. This church was situated six or seven miles from i 
Old AQula. ' 


From the report of Mr. Scott to the Bishop of London, noted by 
Bishop Mea4e, it appears that in the parish there were ''six hundred 
and fifty families, eighty to one hundred communicants in attendance, 
one church and several chapels; his glebe was so inconvenient that 
he rented it out and bought one more convenient for himself. His 
church and chapels as full as they couU hold/' 

Mr. Scott is buried at Dipple, his seat on the Potomac. The tomb 
is still to be seen, together with a number of others, representing 
some of the first families of long ago. It is a slab resting on four 
pillars. The epitaph, surmounted by the Scott arms, is as follows; 
"Here lies the body of the Rev. Alexander Scott, A. M., and Presbyter 
of the Church of England, who lived nearly twenty-eight years, Min- 
ister of Overwharton Parish, aid died in the fifty-third year of his age, 
he being born the 20th day of July, A. D., 1686, and departed this 
life the 1st day of April, 1738." Upon the coat of arms is inscribed 
these words: 

"Gaudia Nuncio Magna.** 

A beautiful memorial of Mr. Scott is the Communion service which 
is in the possession of Old Aquia church, and in regular use. 

It consists of three pieces— -chalice, cup and paten of beaten silver, 
and very massive. Each piece contains this inscription: "The gift of 
the Rev. Mr. Alexander Scott, A. M., late minister of this Parish 
Anno 1739.'* The service was eviden^^ly purchased with money be- 
queathed for the purpose, as the date is the year after Mr. Scott's 
death. It has passed through some of the country's most trying 
days, and was buried in the earth for safety during the three great 
wars — of the Revolution, of 1812, and that between the States. It 
was during Mr. Scott's rectorship (in J 730) that some very important 
changes were made in county and parish lines. The county of Prince 
William was formed from the heads of King George and Stafford; 
and Hamilton Parish was organized in the new county. 

Mr. Scott was succeeded by the Rev. John Moncure. He was a native 
of Scotland, but a descendant of the Huguenots, who fled from France 
on the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Mr. Moncure came to 
America and settled in Northumberland county, Virginia, where, after 
two years* private study, he went to England for holy orders, which 
he received at the hands of the Bishop of London. Returning to 
the New World, he became curate to Mr. Scott, and on the death of 
the latter, his successor, as stated. 


He was rector of the parish for twenty-six years. Like his prede- 
cessor, he was a man to whose influence the growth of the early 
Church owes much. 

Mr. Moncure married Frances, the daughter of Doctor Gustavus 
Brown, of Charles county, Maryland, and her sister was tiie wife of 
the Rev. James Scott, rector of the neighboring parish of Dettingen, 
in Prince William. He evidently resided at the Glebe, near Old Po- 
tomac church, but in the later years of his ministry, having by good 
management accumulated money, he purchased an estate in the north- 
ern section of the county, where he made his home. This place is 
called "Clermont." The house is still standing, and is in excellent 
preservation, being the true type of the old-time English home. 

One daughter of Mr. Moncure was the wife of Governor Wood, of 
Virginia. In a letter to a friend, she speaks of the location as ''the 
most beautiful eminence I have ever beheld." It overlooks the Potomac 
River on one side and Chappawamslc Creek on the other. Mr. Moncure 
had a large family, and among his descendants are the Daniels, Con- 
ways, Robinsons, and many other families in Virginia and elsewhere. 

This letter of Mrs. Wood and another from George Mason, of 
Gunston, author of the Bill of Rights, a warm friend of Mr. Moncure 
and kinsman of his wife, which was written to Mrs. Moncure just 
after her husband's death, pays beautiful tributes to him as a man 
and Christian. 

Part of the parish register during Mr. Moncure's rectorship has been 
preserved. It contains over twenty-five hundred names, many, if not 
the greater number, of them being unknown in the county to-day. 
This book was kept for many years by the Hon. R. C. L. Moncure, of 
the Virginia Court of Appeals, and great-grandson of Mr. Moncure, 
and is now in Stafford, and in good preservation 

During Mr. Moncure's rectorship Aquia church was built. A build- 
ing was erected in 1751, which was soon after destroyed by fire. On 
its site the present church stands, having been built in 1757. It 
occupies a commanding eminence near the public road from BYed- 
ericksburg, and is one of the most beautiful of Virginia's Colonial 
churches. Like many of them, it is cruciform and of brick. Unlike 
most of them, it has a bell and clock-tower, the hands of the latter 
having been in existence until the last few years, marking the dead 
past. Over the south door, in white letters on black ground, are these 


words: "Built A. D. 1751. Destroyed by fire 1751, and Rebuilt A. D. 
1757 by Mourning Richards, Undertaker. Wm. Copein, Mason." 

The aisles of the church are of stone, the cross in the center being 
of white marble. At the southeastern angle of the cross is the old 
"three-decker" pulpit, with its great sounding-board. The chancel is 
at the east end of the cross. It contains a handsome reredos, with 
four panels, on which are the Ten Commandments, Apostles' Creed 
and Lord's Prayer. Beneath the chancel rest the remains of Mr. 
Moncure, and under the Communion table is a marble slab, with this 

"In memory of the Race of the House of Moncure." 

The pews are of the old square kind. 

The gallery faces the chancel from the west end of the cross, anc* 
on a panel of it are the names of the first minister and vestry, as 

lohn Moncure, minister; Peter Hedgeman, lohn Mercer, lohn Lee 
Mott Doniphan, Henry Tyler, William Mountjoy, Benjamin Strother 
Thomas Fitzhugh, Peter Daniel, Travers Cook, Church-wardens. lohn 
Fitzhugh, lohn Peyton, Vestrymen. 1757. Mr. Moncure died in 1764. 

In 1777 important changes were again made in both county and 
parish lines. Up to that date, as stated, Stafford lay wholly on the 
Potomac, extending from Westmoreland to Prince William, while King 
George lay wholly on the Rappahannock, extending from Richmond 
county to Fauquier. The Stafford parishes were Overwharton and 
St. Paul and those in King George, Hanover and Brunswick. The 
divide or watershed was practically the dividing line. 

In 1777 the county lines were all changed to run across the Neck 
instead of with the rivers. The parish lines between King George and 
Westmoreland were adjusted to conform to the county lines, but this 
was not done between King George and Stafford. Brunswick Parish 
is supposed to be in King George, because Lamb's Creek, the only 
church in the parish for many years, is in that county. As a fact, at 
least five-sixths of the parish was in Stafford. 

This arrangement has continued to the present day, though the 
hand of time almost obliterated parish lines, and the trials which the 
Church has gone through have made it impossible, in late years, to 
have more than one minister to both parishes, wherever they might 
be situated. 


Tbe ReT. John Honcnre was succeeded in the rectorship by the Rev. 
Clement Brooke* and in 1785. when the American Church was or- 
ganized, the ReT. Robert Buchan was rector of Orerwliarton, and 
the ReT. Thomas Thornton of BrunsiriciL Parish. These were thus 
the last clergymen serving under the Mother Church. 

The following entry in the records in the clerk's office at Stafford 
Court-house relates to this period: 

"At a Testrey held for the Parish of OTerwharton, at the Glebe of 
the same, 20th of August, 1785 — ^Robert Budian, minister; Thomas 
Mount joy, John R. Peyton, Church Wardens; John Mountjoy, Wm. 
Gerrard, Moses Phillips, Elijah Threlkheld, George Burrou^^hs and 
James Withers, Vestreymen. 

"Pursuant to an Act of Assembly, we the minister and Vestrey of 
Overwharton Parish, proceed to value the real and personal estate 
of said parish, do find: 236 acres of land, worth £15 per annum; 100 
ditto for the poor house; chalice and plate of Aquia Church, £5; 
ditto, at Potomac Church, £6." 

The lay delegates at the Convention in 1785 were Mr. Charles 
Carter, representing Overwharton, and Mr. William Fitzhugh, Bruns- 
wick Parish. In 1786 Mr. Fitzhugh again represented Brunswick 

In consequence of absence of records and decline of the Church 
in the years succeeding the Revolution, there are but fitful glimpses 
of parish history until within comparatively late years. 

In 1819 the Rev. Thomas Allen had charge of the work at Aquia 
and Dumfries, the seats of the old parishes of Overwharton and 
Dettingen. The next minister of whom there is record is the Rev. 
Mr. Prestman, and after him the Rev. Mr. Johnson. Both of these 
clergymen labored as missionaries for the revival of the work. 

The old church survived these troublous days, but was almost a 
ruin in 1837. Bishop Meade thus graphically describes it as he 
beheld it when on his regular visitation in later years: "It was a 
melancholy sight to behold the vacant space around the house, which, 
in other days, had been filled with horses and carriages and footmen, 
now overgrown with trees and bushes, the limbs of the green cedars 
not only casting their shadows, but resting their arms on the dingy 
walls and thrusting them through the broken windows, thus giving 
an air of pensiveness and gloom to the whole scene. The very path- 
way up the commanding eminence on which the church stands was 


filled with young trees, while the arms of the older ones so embraced 
each other over it that it was difficult to ascend." 

The darkest hour, however, is before the dawn, as the Bishop's next 
entry proves, though a number of years intervened between this and 
the succeeding visit, the latter being in 1856: 

"Had I been suddenly dropped down upon it, I should not have 
recognized the place and building. The trees, brushwood and rubbish 
had been cleared away. 

"The light of heaven had been let m upon the once gloomy sanc- 
tuary. At the expense of eighteen hundred dollars (almost all of it 
contributed by the descendants of Mr. Moncure), the house had been 
repaired within, without and above. The dingy walls were painted 
white, and looked new and fresh, and to me it appeared one of the 
best and most imposing temples in our land. The congregation was 
a good one. The descendants of Mr. Moncure, still bearing his namB, 
formed a large portion." 

These improvements were made when the Rev. Henry Wall was 
rector of the parish. He was succeeded in 1858 by the Rev. George L. 

Dark days came again to the old church in the troublous years of 
the Civil War, out of which it emerged dilapidated and well-nigh 
ruined. It had been a camping place for soldiers, and the desecra- 
tion of the sacred precincts was lamentable. Again was its existence 
threatened; the plastering fell or hung loosely to the walls, the 
pillars to the gallery began to give way, the doors were open and 
desolation reigned. When the storm passed, however, the remnant 
of the Church people put forth their efforts to reclaim it. The de 
scendants of the good and holy men of long ago, at a distance, com- 
bined their efforts with those of Church people in the county, and 
again, after the lapse of years, the old church renewed its youth. 
Among these friends of tne Church were the Scotts and Robinsons, thB 
former contributing to the immediate needs of the building, and the 
latter, in 1877 and after, in the person of Mr. Moncure Robinson, who, 
by an endowment, looked to its future condition. To this latter gen- 
tleman, now gone to his reward, and his nephews, Messrs Philip and 
Barton Haxall, his administrators in the matter^ and who are also de- 
scendants of the old rector, the church owes much. 

The faithful efforts of those who lived near and worshipped in the 
old church were equally great and effective in the work of restoration. 


and what is best of all, the revival of that which it represented. These 
consisted largely of the descendants of the old rector and his faithful 
supporters in long ago, and their influence has thus been perpetuated 
to the glory of God. 

After the war the Rev. J. M. Meredith became rector of the parish. 
He found a communicant list of eight, which, by his faithful efforts 
and the grace of God, was in a brief time increased to fifty or more. 
By contributing of his personal means the building was reclaimed from 
decay, repaired and beautified, and the pariah greatly benefited. He 
was succeeded by the Rev. Robert S. Barrett. 

Among those who labored most earnestly and effectively for the 
restoration of the old church in later years were Mr. and Mrs. Wil- 
liam EX Moncure and Mr. and Mrs. George V. Moncure. 

These sleep in the family graveyard at Somerset, near "Clermont." 
Others now living are: Mr. R. C. L. Moncure, Mr. Hugh Adie, the fam- 
ilies of Mr. Withers Waller and Mr. Travers Moncure, James Ashby 
and Henry Moncure. 

The Rev. Mr. Barrett was succeeded by the Rev. George H. Apple- 
ton, and he by the Rev. George M. Funsten. Under the rectorship 
of the latter, a new and commodious rectory was built. It was sub- 
sequently destroyed by fire, but has been rebuilt after an improved 
plan. The other rectors in succession are: Rev. T. Carter Page, the Rev. 
J. H. Birkhead, the Rev. J. Howard Gibbons and the present faithful 
and beloved rector, the Rev. E. B. Burwell. 

The old church is in better condition than it has been for yeara 
Its beautiful and imposing appearance at once impresses the beholder 
and quickens the admiration for the church architecture of Colonial 

The communicant list approximates one hundred. Sunday-schools 
and other parish activities are doing much good, and the bright old 
days seem returning, freighted with the blessing of the God of our 
fathers. The venerable and now venerated building thus abides in 
her strength, supported by her children. Having come safely through 
the wars, and having endured the storms of time, she stands in 
majesty, typical of the Word, which has so often been proclaimed 
from the old pulpit, promfslng strength to the cause of righteousness. 




nN King George county, a few miles from the Potomac River and 
ten from the Rappahannock, stands old St. Paul's church, one of 
the most venerable and interesting of the Colonial churches of 
Virginia. Regarding its exact age there is doubt, as the written 
statements concerning it vary, and there seems as yet no way of de- 
termining which is right. We find the parish records, however, run- 
ning bacK as far as the yeaf 1716, with references to still earlier 
records, and furnishing a sort of context to the history of the present 

This building was erected somewnere about the middle of the 
eighteenth century, and is, consequently, now over a hundred and 
fifty years old. It was built for the ministration of the Rev. William 
Stuart, son of the first rector of the parish, the Rev. David Stuart 
The latter, a direct descendant of the royal house of Stuart, came to 
this country from Scotland in 1715, and was soon after given charge 
of St Paul's Parish, though the church building at that time was some 
miles distant from its present site. The two Stuarts, father and son, 
for nearly eighty years fed the flock of Christ in the same field; 
though it was not until the Rev. William Stuart took charge, about 
1750, that the St Paul's of to-day — the brick building now standing — 
was erected. This saintly man left a name that shines almost with a 
halo in the records that follow him. His* goodness and eloquence 
and lovable personality appear to have strengthened and beautified 
the spirit of the parish, and led it into great religious prosperity. 
His letter of resignation, when physical frailty at last compelled him 
to give up the work, is touching in its mingled solicitude and sub- 
"To the Vestry of St Paul's Parish: 

Gentlemen, — I have been curate of this parish upward of forty 
years. My own conscience bears me witness, and I trust my parish- 
ioners (though many of them have fallen asleep) will also witness. 


that until age and infirmities disabled me, I always, so far as my 
infirmities would allow, faithfully discharged my duties as a minister 
of the Gospel. It has given me many hpurs of anxious concern that 
the services of the Church should be so long discontinued on my ac- 
count. The spirit indeed is willing, but the fiesh is weak. I therefore 
entreat the favor of you to provide me a successor as soon as you 
can, that divine service may be discontinued no longer; and at the end 
of the year the glebe shall be given up to him by your aifectionaie 
servant, William Stuabt." 

But with his passing, old St. Paul's fell on evil days. For some 
reason, his successor was never ordained to the priesthood, and here 
we discern what was, perhaps, the first shadow of the darkness that 
followed. A few years after he died we find the grand building in 
ruins, and, as a vestryman of a later day wrote sadly, "The life of 
the church almost gone out" Only the walls remained, of such won- 
derful masonry as to defy all ravages — and these were desecrated. 
The history of this period must be taken either as a record of uur 
precedented poverty among the people, or else as a sharp commentary 
on the coldness and laxity of the time — ^perhaps both. The chronicler 
states that there was occasionally lay reading in the ruins; ana this 
was all, except for "association meetings" at intervals. For the rest, 
beasts of the field roamed through the church, or what was left of 
it; soldiers camped there, and the decaying contents furnished plunder 
for the "ruthless of the land." Bishop Meade's account of his visita- 
tion in 1812 is a vivid pen picture of the desolation that had come 
upon the once prosperous church. He says: 

"St. Paul's was then in ruina The roof was ready to fall, and not 
a window, door, pew or timber remained below. Nevertheless, notice 
was given that we would preach there. A rude, temporary pulpit or 
stand was raised in one angle of the cross, and from that we per- 
formed service and addressed the people. On the night before the 
meeting a heavy rain had fallen, and the water was in small pools 
here and there where the floor once was, so that it was diflacult to 
find a dry spot on which the attendants might stand." ♦ ♦ ♦ 

Truly, things had come to a woeful pass for old St. Paul's. We can 
almost see now the forlorn congregation huddled in one side of the 
building, exposed to all the winds of heaven, with pools of water under- 
foot and a precarious roof overhead. I fancy the old Bishop's face 
was sad enough as he ascended his "rude temporary pulpit." He must 


have felt like crying out with tlie distressed prophet of Israel, "Being 
desolate, it mourneth unto me." 

A few years later we find the Legislature turning the ruins over 
to the citizens of the county, with permission to convert them into 
a sort of academy. This decree was indirectly the means of restoring 
to some extent the place of worship, for thereafter, for a while at 
least, the building was used conjointly as a church and an institution 
of learning. Probably the back part, the upper half of the "cross," 
served for the school, while in the remaining three-quarters services 
were resumed, This arrangement does not seem to have prospered, 
though, for after a time the seminary was neglected and the house 
"became inconvenient for purposes of worship." It was as though 
the spirit of the church could not brook this sharing With the world, 
as it were, precincts that had hitherto been trod by worshippers only. 

Sometime after this the cloud begins to show a silver lining, for 
the neighbors petitioned the Legislature to give the building back 
to its rightful owners and its original purposes. This request was 
complied with, and three-quarters of the edifice was forthwith set 
aside to be used wholly as a church, while the one-fourth in the 
rear, separated from the rest by thick walls, was made the abode of 
the rector. 

In 1816/ the parish had been reorganized by a newly-made vestry 
and between 1822 and 1850 we find various ministers taking the 
oversight of the flock: The Rev. Joseph Clapham; the Rev. Edward 
Feet,, to whom belongs the honor of having done most toward bring- 
ing the church back to its ancient prestige; the Rev. Mr. Goldsmith, 
and others. We fancy that even in the forsaken years, even during 
its time of utter destitution and desolation, there were some who loved 
the old church still, and cared to linger within its walls. It is said 
that an old colored woman who had spent her life near the place — 
having belonged to a family of the congregation — used to go regularly 
every Sunday and sit among the ruins. On being questioned, she 
answered that it did her more good to sit there and "think over the 
old prayers" than it would to go a-praylng in any of the newer churches 
of other denominations. 

After the restoration there may have been times of discouragement, 
of decreasing prosperity and dark outlooks for a while — ^no doubt they 
came; and there was the blow of the Civil War and its attendant 
demoralization; but the tide had turned, the old church — the physical 


I>art — stood firm, and the spiritual iMirt ^ent on from strength to 
stiength. Sunday after Sunday the people gathered in their reclaimed 
temple to join in the prayers and praises of the service. There was 
never any lapse into the old dread state; and the years dealt kindly, 
on the whole, with that which had been recovered by the grace of 
God from such a Slough of Despond. 

St Paul's stands to-day, as it stood a century and a half ago, un- 
changed in form, unaltered in construction, with the self-same bricks 
in its walls that the first builders put there. The shape is cruciform, 
and, as of old, three parts of the cross make up the place of worship, 
while the fourth is a spacious vestry-room, warm and high-pitched. 
Three fiights of stairs lead up to a gallery, which runs around three 
whole sides of the building, and affords of itself room for a congrega- 
tion. Two stories of windows; that is, windows in both gallery and 
lower floor, let in abundant light and air; and an entrance to each 
angle of the cross allows the congregation to enter by different aisles, 
thus making their assembling well-nigh noiseless. An old lofty pulpit, 
draped in deep crimson and approached by a stairway of no mean di- 
mensions, occupies the background of the chancel. The Communion 
rail makes an Immense semi-circle, which accommodates a large num- 
ber; while the entire building would seat five hundred people. 

The plate still used for the service was donated a good deal over a 
hundred years ago by a communicant, and bears the inscription: 

"Given by Henry Fltzhugh, of Stafford county, St. Paul's Parisn, 
Gent., for the use of your church." There is a Prayer Book, also pre- 
sented in 1830 by Miss Jane Parke, a descendant of the first rector; 
and in the old pulpit is to be found a large Bible, the gift of the 
well-beloved Rev. William Stuart, In 1769, and inscribed with his name 
and the date. This volume is a Cambridge edition, appointed by His 
Majesty's special command to be read in churches "cum prlvllegiis,'* 
with the dedication: "To our most high and mighty Prince James, 
by the grace of God King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, De- 
fender of the Faith, the translators of the Bible wish grace, mercy 
and peace, through our Lord Jesus Christ." 

St Paul's holds many precious memories and associations for the 
congregation of to-day. There is scarcely a member who cannot 
claim, "My grandfather was vestryman— or warden — or rector here"; 
or, at least, "My ancestors worshipped in these very walls." It was 


on the doorstep of this church that one of our Virginia Bishops was 
won to Christ. A thoughtless unbeliever, lingering outside at a 
Sunday service, he overheard the sermon being delivered within, and, 
like Saul of Tarsus, saw a great light. And doubtless, to many others 
have come, beneath that roof, during these two hundred years, illu- 
minations across a dark path, sudden moments of falling at the Divine 
feet — revelations too deep for telling. 

One of the treasures of the parish is the ancient church register, 
now in the possession of a direct descendant of tne Rev. David Stuart 
ILs first pages are torn out, and the earliest recorded date is 1716, 
while the lea\os are thinned and blackened by time; but the staunch 
coverings have resisted the wear of two centuries, and the contents 
is remarkably well preserved. The small, cramped handwriting, ornate 
with flourishes and long s's, microscopic, faded, is still legible, and 
cne can trace there the record of a mighty gathering in of souls. A 
remarkable feature is the long list of negro baptisms, hundreds on 
hundreds, exceeding in number the baptisms of the whites. The 
countless entries give the same names that are borne today in the 
congregation: Ashton, Grymes, Fitzhugh, Stuart, Berry, Tayloe, Hooe, 
Washington, with others no longer represented. Received into the 
Church, united in matrimony, committed to the dust "in the hope of 
a glorious resurrection" — ^generation after generation of gentle, God- 
fearing folk — this the age-worn register stands for. The people touch 
it with reverent hands, just as they sit reverently Sunday after Sunday 
in the shadow of the walls that sheltered those very souls. In that 
building one seems indeea to be compassed about by a great cloud of 

To-day old St. Paul's is a landmark, a proud possession. I would 
call it more: A witness to the faith which endures, the religion that 
time and adversity, and destruction itself, cannot overthrow. 




WHEN in the year 1759 Ck)lonel George Washington had re- 
turned from the wars on the frontier, and had married 
and adopted the life of a Virginia planter, he wrote to a 
friend from Mount Vernon: "I am now, I believe, fixed 
in this seat, with an agreeable partner for lite, and I hope to find more 
happiness in retirement than I have experienced in the wide and bust- 
ling world." He was at that time twenty-seven years of age, and was 
already one of the most conspicuous figures in his native Virginia; 
an extensive land-holder of ample means, an experienced man of af- 
fairs, and possessed of the confidence and esteem of his community. 
He would not expect, therefore, nor would his neighbors willingly 
consent, that his retirement would be so complete as to preclude his 
serving his people in the House of Burgesses of the Colony, the Jus- 
tices Court of his county and the vestry of his parish, as his father 
and brother had done before him. 

That Washington, with a fine public spirit, filled all of these posi- 
tions, and that of Road Overseer as well, before he was called upon 
to assume those higher responsibilities under which his name became 
immortal, is well known. That he was a vestryman is mentioned 
by nearly all of his biographers. With an undue zeal, indeed, most 
of them write him down a vestryman in two parishes. But this, with 
a single anecdote and some notice of the churches he attended, ex- 
hausts the information they have possessed. Bishop Meade records 
the few details he was able to gather; and Dr. Slaughter, in three 
pages of a pamphlet, completes what has been published on the sub- 
ject. Some further account, therefore, of Washington's service on 
his parish vestry, drawn from original sources, may be of interest 
and value, and may also serve to illustrate the history of the Virginia 
Church in pre-Revolutionary days. 

Parishes in Virginia which are less than two hundred years old 
can always trace their descent from an ancient and honorable ances- 
try. Except a few of the very oldest on the lower Tidewater, the 


early parishes, while bounded on the north, south and east, had no 
fixed boundaries on the west, but extended in that direction to Uie 
unknown heads of the rivers on which they were situated, or to the 
Blue Ridge, or to "the utmost limits of Virginia." So every foot of 
land in the Colony was in some parish. As the population pushed 
westward these parishes were divided and subdivided, the process con- 
tinuing to this day, and always preserving a distinct family line. 
Truro parish, in which Mount Vernon is situated, is in the line, and 
is almost certainly the great-great-granddaughter of Washington par- 
ish, Westmoreland county, in which George Washington was born, 
and which was named for, as it was founded by, the first of the Wash- 
ingtons in Virginia. The grandmother of Truro was Qverwharton 
parish, in Stafford county. From this was formed, in 1730, Hamilton 
parish, embracing all the territory of the Northern Neck west of 
Stafford. Prince William county, covering the same territory, was 
formed the next year. Truro parish was formed from Hamilton, No- 
vember 1, 1732, and contained originally all that part thereof lying 
above "The river Ockoquon and the Bull Run, and a course from thence 
to the Indian Thoroughfare (Ashby's Gap), in the Blue Ridge of 
Mountains." Just ten years later Fairfax county was formed, "con- 
sisting of the Parish of Truro." These instances illustrate the In- 
teresting fact that, as a rule, as the settlement of the country advanc- 
ed westward, the parish organization preceded that of the county, and 
the churches were far in advance "of the court-houses. 

When Truro was formed It already contained two churches and a 
"chapell," the latter being above Goose creek, in what is now upper 
Loudoun. The exact location of these churches, which were probably 
of primitive construction, is unknown, but the distance between two 
of them could not have been less than fifty miles as the crow flies. 
Besides the original Pohick and Falls churches, a frame church was 
afterwards built near Dranesville, the foundations of which were to 
be seen until recently; another in Alexandria, and possibly another 
at some unknown point, before the present brick churches were erected 
in Washington's day. In 1749 Truro was reduced to about one-fourth 
of its original size by the formation of Cameron parish, and nine years 
after Loudoun county was formed, the county again following the 
parish and the lines being afterward made to coincide. So Truro 
became again coterminous with Fairfax county, which included Alex- 
andria, but extended on the west only to Difficult Run, and a line 


from the head thereof to the mouth of Rocky Run, or about eight miles 
short of its present upper line as established in 1798. The parish 
(and county) was about twenty-two miles square, which was still 
above the average size of parishes in the more thickly settled parts 
of the Colony. It contained three framed churches, the old Pohick, 
the old Falls, and an old church in Alexandria. This was the parish 
when Washington first became a vestryman. Within a decade there- 
after the above churches were all replaced by massive brick buildings, 
which remain to this day; while a fourth, equally substantial but less 
fortunate, was built in a hitherto destitute quarter — of which more 

The minister of Truro from 1737 to 1765 was Charles Green, M. D., 
a gentleman of large landed estate in the county, who was recommend- 
ed to the vestry by Augustine Washington, and by them recommended 
to Lord Fairfax for his letters of recommendation to the Lord Bishop 
of London for orders. This was, perhaps, a recognition of the right 
of Church patronage or presentation granted to the proprietors of the 
Northern Neck by their Letters Patent. Dr. Green was absent for about 
ten months in securing his ordination. He was the friend and pastor 
of Washington and Mason, and for many years they and other good 
men, including his successors, Lee Massey and Bryan Fairfax, sat 
under his preaching, and no word of complaint is on record against 
him. On one occasion Washington mentions in his Journal having 
Mr. Green called in to visit Mrs. Washington, and he prescribed the 
remedies needful for her relief. Upon his death the leading vestry- 
men persuaded Mr. Lee Massey, a young lawyer of high ability and 
character, and a Justice of the county court, to become his successor 
in Truro. The vestry requested not Lord Fairfax this time, but 
Governor Fauquier, to recommend him to the Bishop of London for 
ordination. He became minister in 1767, and served for about ten 

A vestry of that day, after its election by the freeholders of the par- 
ish under order of the General Assembly, was a self-perpetuating body. 
All vacancies occasioned by death, resignation, removal from the par- 
ish, or "dissenting from the communion of the Church of England," 
were filled by the vestry itself; and a vestry could only be dissolved 
and a new election ordered by a special act of the General Assembly. 
Truro only had two vestries from 1732 to 1765. The first was dis- 
solved by the Assembly in 1744. The reasons given in the preamble 

- I- 


of tbe act are that many of the vestrymen were illegally elected, and 
that others were not able to read or write. Several caustic side-notes 
in the old vestry book, written by the Rev. Dr. Green, would seem 
to point to the jealousies of local politics for the true explanation. 
Only one vestryman, and he a Church warden^ used to sign his nama 
with a cross mark, apd he was promptly re-elected when the new 
vestry was chosen. 

"At a Vestry held for Truro Parish October 25, 1762," so the old 
vestry book states, it was "Ordered, that George Washington Esqr. 
be chosen and appointed one of the Vestrymen of this Parish, in the 
room of William Peake, Gent, deceased." And the court records show 
that "At a Court held for the County of Fairfax, 15th February, 1763 

George Washington Esqr. took the oaths according to Law repeated 

and subscribed the Test and subscribed to the Doctrine and Discipline 
of the Church of England in order to qualify him to act as a Vestryman 
of Truro Parish." 

These numerous oaths and subscriptions^ which the law was ex- 
plicit in requiring of every vestryman, are not without interest In this 
connection. The well-known test oath was In these words: "I do 
declare that I do believe there is not any Transubstantiation in the 
Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, or in the elements of Bread and 
Wine at or after the Consecration thereof by any person whatsoever." 
For the subscription to the doctrine and discipline of the Church 
of England there was no formula prescribed by law. The other oathB, 
too long to be reproduced here, are to be found in the Statutes at 
Large of ETngland, First of George I., stat 2, c 13, and may also bee 
seen, with slight errors in transcription, in Bishop Meade's Old 
Churches, &c., Vol. II., p. 4. The first is a simple oath of 
allegiance. The second abjures "that damnable doctrine and 
position that Princes excommunicated or deprived by the Pope — 
may be deposed or murthered by their subjects or any other 
whatsoever," and denies the authority of any foreign Prince, Person, 
Prelate, State or Potentate within this realm. The third is much 
longer, and a more inclusive or stringent protestation and promise of 
loyalty could hardly be devised or formulated In English words. It 
acknowledges and professes, testifies and declares, before God and the 
world, that King George is rightful King of this realm and all other 
his Majesties dominions and countries hereunto belonging; abjures 
the Pretender, pledges support to the succession of the crown in the 


Princess Sophia and the heirs of her body, being Protestants, and 
avows — "that I will bear faithful and true allegiance to his Majesty 
King George, and him will defend to the utmost of my power against 
all traitorous conspiracies and attempts whatsoever which shall be 
made against his person, crown or dignity; and I will do my utmost 
to endeavour to disclose and make known to his Majesty and his suc- 
cessors all treasonable and traitorous conspiracies which I shall know 
to be against him, or any of them — and all other these things do I 
plainly and sincerely acknowledge and swear, according to these ex- 
press words by me spoken, and according to the plain and common- 
sense understanding of the same words, without any equivocation, 
mental evasion, or secret reservation whatsoever; and I do make this 
recognition, acknowledgment, abjuration, renunciation, and promise 
heartily, willingly and truly, upon the true faith of a Christian. So 
help me God." 

By the English statute these oaths were to be taken by all persons 
bearing any office, civil or military, and "all ecclesiastical persons," 
including preachers. In Virginia they were required of burgesses. 
Judges and justices, attorneys, military officers, &c., as well as vestry- 
men. It is a little startling at first blush to remember that these 
oaths were taken, not once only, but again and again, by Washington, 
Mason, Henry, Jefterson and the rest up to the very outbreak of the 
Revolution. Yet the judgment of mankind has never held them guilty 
of violation of troth; and this not because "If it succeeds it is not 
treason," but because the oath implied a corresponding obligation on 
the part of the King to bear himself kingly and to be true on his own 
part. The Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence will be 
read In a new light when it is remembered that they were written, 
adopted and defended by honest men with these solemn avowals vividly 
before their minds and consciences. 

Having thus protested in due form his loyalty and his orthodoxy, 
Washington took his place as one of the "twelve most able and dis- 
creet men of the Parish," whom the old statutes required to form the 
vestry. Both this and the succeeding vestry were composed of men 
who were his political and social peers as well as his friends. A 
number of them sat with hlra in the House of Burgesses or as Gentle- 
men Justices on the County Bench. Several bore or had borne a mil- 
itary commission. Most of them were, like himself, large planters; 
some being his near neighbors on the river and some having newer and 


less pretentious seats in the upper parts of the county. The vestry 
seems to have met statedly twice a year, and at other times as occa- 
sion demanded. The meetings were usually held at one of the churches, 
but occasionally at the house of one or another of the vestrymen; and 
sometimes they lasted two or three days. Attendance upon these 
meetings from Mount Vernon involved a ride, going and returning, 
of from fourteen to forty miles. The vestry records attest, however, 
the regularity with which Colonel Washington was present; and when 
it is remembered how frequently his public duties and private inter- 
ests took him out of the county one is readily convinced that he 
brought to the discharge of the duties of this office the same consci- 
entious purpose and fidelity which marked his career in more con- 
spicuous stations. In his diary, though kept irregularly during this 
period, there are frequent references to his attending vestry meetings, 
such as the following: 

1768. "July 16. Went by Muddy Hole and Doeg Run to the Vestry at 
Pohick church stayed there till half after 3 oclock & only 4 members 
coming returned by Captn. McCartys & dined there." 

"Septr. 9. Proceeded (from Alexandria) to the meeting of our Vestry 
at the new Church (Payne's) and lodged at Captn. Edwd. Payne's." 
"Nov. 28. Went to the Vestry at Pohick Church." 

1769. "Mar. 3. Went to the Vestry at Pohick Church and returned 
abt 11 oclock at night." 

"Sept. 21. Capt. Posey called here in the morning & we went to 
a Vestry." 

1772. "June 5. Met the Vestry at our new Church & came home in 
the afternoon." 

1774. "Feb. 15. I went to a Vestry at the new Church & returned 
in ye afternoon." 

It is pleasant to find George Mason, in writing to his neighbor and 
friend at Mount Vernon on a matter regarding organized opposition 
to the Stamp Act, adding a postscript to remind him that "next Friday 
is appointed for a meeting of the Vestry." 

The duties of the vestry were, first of all, in the fall of each year, 
to estimate their probable expenses and to lay the parish levy of so 
many pounds of tobacco upon each "tithable" of the parish (every 
male white person and every colored person, male and female, above 
sixteen years of age, with a few exceptions, being tithable); and to 
appoint a collector, usually the county sheriff, and to take his bond. 


The levy was to be collected before the following April, and was usu- 
ally paid in warehouse notes or receipts for tobacco. From this all 
parish charges were paid, and first the minister's salary of 1,600 pounds 
of tobacco, with allowance for casl^ and shrinkage, which made over 
1,000 pounds more. As compared with our country clergymen of to- 
day, the Colonial parson was well paid when tobacco brought a fair 
price. Even at the rate of two pence a pound, at which the salaries 
were compounded for the scarce year of 1758, four years' salary would 
build a large brick church. The vestry were required to provide a 
glebe for the minister, with convenient housing thereon, which he had 
to keep in repair. They had also to build sufficient churches and 
chapels for the parish, to provide necessary books and ornaments, 
and keep all in good condition. They employed lay readers, and chose 
their own ministers, their right of "presentation" being assured by 
law for one year after a vacancy occurred, but in practice being unlim- 
ited. They also provided for the poor of the parish and when neces- 
sary built a poor-house or work-house. They ordered out hands to 
work the public roads, and once in four years appointed commissioners 
to overset the "processioning" of the bounds of lands in their parish 
and renewing the landmarks, and put their returns upon record. 

The Church wardens were generally the executive and accounting 
officers of the vestry, having oversight of the church buildings and 
making repairs, and being charged with the relief of the poor and 
binding out orphans and indigent children as apprentices, making care- 
ful provision for their moral training and a meagre education. They 
had also to present to the court or grand Jury persons guilty of Sab- 
bath breaking, of not attending church, or disturbing public worship, 
of drunkenness, profane swearing, and other more serious immoralities, 
and to receive the fines imposed In certain cases for the use of the par- 
ish. Church wardens were elected each year; and in Truro the more 
prominent or more willing vestrymen seem to have served in some 
sort of rotation. Washington held this office for three terms at least 
within ten years. The vestries on which be served were active and 
efficient bodies, doubtless unusually so, and the indications are that 
he bore his full share of their work. Yet one may assume that those 
long vestry meetings were not wholly given to discussion of parish 
afCairs. We can Imagine Washington, newly returned from the As- 
sembly of 1772, telling Parson Massey of the warm and lengthy de- 
bate in the Burgesses on the expediency of an American Episcopate^ 


as he wrote of it to the Rev. Dr. Boucher, of Port Royal. He and the 
farnseelng Mason would, perhaps, be already discussing the possibility 
of disestablishment in case of a break with the Mother Country, the 
latter advocating it, the former maintaining that religion must be sup- 
ported by taxation, but willing that tithes paid by dissenters should 
go to the support of their own churches. And in those stirring days, 
when such men as George Mason, the radical, George Washington, 
the conservative, and George William Fairfax, the staunch loyalist, came 
together, we may be sure there were other matters which received 
grave consideration beside the laying of parish levies and the building 
of churches. 

In the Library of Congress there is preserved, among the Journals 
and other manuscript papers of General Washington, a single 
halfsheet of foolscap written on both sides in his most formal 
and precise hand and style. The paper gives the results of four 
elections of vestrymen held in Fairfax county in the months of March 
and July, 1765. Each page is divided into two columns. The first 
column on the first page is headed, "Vestry chosen for Truro Parish, 
25th March 1765, with the number of votes to each." Below the names 
of the twelve vestrymen elected is the sub-heading, ''Candidates then 
rejected," followed by sixteen more names. The second column has 
the same heading and sub-heading, except that Fairfax (parish) is 
substituted for Truro, and the date is 28th March, 1765. On the sec- 
ond page the two columns are respectively headed in precisely the 
same manner except that the date over the first, for Truro, is 22d 
July, 1765, and over the second, for Fairfax, is 25th July, 1765. The 
four columns contain a total of eighty-nine names, and each name 
is followed by the number of votes received except in the case of the 
rejected candidates in the first election in Truro, and one in the first 
In Fairfax. At the bottom of the second page the total number of 
votes received in each parish in their July election is divided by twelve, 
and the quotient is followed by the words, "Number of Votes." This 
gives the key to the meaning of the paper. Incidentally it also shows 
that on March 28th, Col. George Washington was chosen a vestryman 
of Fairfax parish, being fifth on the list and receiving 274 votes, and 
was not voted for at all In Truro; and that on July 22d of the same 
year he was chosen for the same office in Truro parish, being third 
on the list and receiving 259 votes, and was not voted for in Fairfax. 

This interesting sheet fell into the hands of Jared Sparks, the la- 


borious but not always judicious first editor of Washington's writings, 
who, not understanding its import, published the lists of the two ves- 
tries elected in which Washington's name appears and suppressed all 
the rest; deducing therefrom the fact, "that he was chosen a vestry- 
man in each of those parishes," but adding, "How long he continued 
in that station I have no means of determining." (See his lAfe of 
Washington, p. 518, and Writings of Washington, Vol. XII., p. 400.) 
Following his lead, with an almost unvarying monotony later writers 
who have touched upon the matter (and they are many), have asserted 
that Washington was a vestryman in both Fairfax and Truro parishes. 
Prof. James A. Harrison, in his recent work, is, however, an excep- 
tion. Bishop Meade, evidently puzzled, copies from Sparks without 
comment. (Old Churches, etc.. Vol. II., p. 270.) But even such wri- 
ters as Dr. Slaughter and Dr. J. M. Tunor have fallen into the snare. 
It will be interesting, then, to sift this matter out, and see how far it 
is true that Washington held this office in both parishes, whether at 
the same or at different times. 

For years prior to the final division of Truro in 1765, there had ex- 
isted some dissatisfaction as to the conduct of parochial aftairs, as is 
shown by the fact that as early as 1761 petitions were presented to 
the county court, and ordered certified to the Greneral Assembly, pray- 
ing that the vestry be dissolved, and also that the parish be divided. 
This dissatisfaction may have arisen in the Southwestern section of 
the country, where lived a number of influential gentlemen, who had 
no church in their neighborhood and, apparently, no representation on 
the vestry. At all events we find that in November, 1764, a petition 
was presented in the House of Burgesses praying for & division of 
Truro into two distinct parishes, and it was "Ordered, that a Bill be 
brought in agreeable to the prayer of the said petitioners, and it is re- 
ferred to Mr. George Johnston and Mr. John West to prepare and bring 
in the same." Messrs. Johnston and West were the Burgesses from 
Fairfax, and both lived in what was to be the new parish. It was but 
natural that these distinguished gentlemen should wish their parish 
to be strong, and certainly the Bill which they drew, and which was 
passed within one week, gave to the new parish of Fairfax the lion's 
share of the spoils. The division took effect February 1, 1765, by a 
line running up Doeg creek to Mr. George Washington's mill and thence 
northwesterly to the plantation of John Munroe and on to the Loudoun 
county line. This put Mount Verno9 and several large adjoining plan- 


tations into the new parish, separating them from Pohick, the only 
church left in Truro, to which they naturally belonged, both from 
proximity and association. The act is found in Hening, Vol. VIII., p. 
43. Under it were held the elections of March 25th and 28th, when 
Washington was chosen a vestryman of Fairfax parish, in which he 
was a resident. 

That this parish was ever organized, or that this vestry ever met or 
even qualified there is not a line of record to show, and it is in a high 
degree improbable. The next court, the first at which they would have 
to take the oaths, met on the third Monday in April, but its records 
are lost. But the manifestly unfair division was meeting with per- 
sistent opposition. When the House of Burgesses met again on the 
1st of May, petitions and counter-petitions, which must have taken 
some time to prepare, came pouring in from Truro praying for a new 
division on lines therein proposed, and from Fairfax, suggesting still 
other lines if a new division was to be had. On May 14th these were 
referred to the Committee on Propositions and Grievances with In- 
structions to "examine into the allegations thereof, and report the 
same, with their opinion thereupon, to the House." Of this commit- 
tee, Mr. Johnson, of Fairfax, and Mr. Washington, who at that time 
represented Frederick county, were members. The committee on the 
next day reported two propositions, the first of which, based on the 
petition from Truro, was rejected, and the committee were Instructed 
to bring in a Bill pursuant to the second, granting a new division, hut 
on lines asked for by sundry inhabitants of the parish of Fairfax. The 
Bill was presented, recommitted, reported again with amendments^ 
passed May 22d, agreed to by the council, and signed by the Governor 
June 1st, so becoming a law on that date. (See the Journal of that 
Session of the Burgesses, and, for the Act, Hening, Vol. VIII., p. 157. 
But note that the running title at the head of the page in Hening is 
misleading as to ttie date.) The preamble recites that the former act 
"made a very unequal division of the parish, by leaving nearly double 
the number of tithables in the new parish of Fairfax that there are 
in Truro parish," and proceeds to repeal that act in toto, and to pro- 
vide for the formation of a new parish of Fairfax to date from June 
7, 1765; the line to run up Little Hunting creek to the Gum Spring 
thereon, thence to the ford over Dogue Run, where the back road from 
Colchester to Alexandria crosses, thence by a straight line to the forks 
of Difficult, the Loudoun line. By this act which is drawn with un- 


usual minuteness of detail and seems to bear the marks of his own 
hand, Washington and his neighbors seated on the neck between Doeg, 
or Dogue creek, on the south, and Little Hunting creek, on the north, 
were restored to Truro; and at the new elections held under its pro- 
visions, July 22d and 25th. he was again chosen a vestryman for his 
old parish of Truro, in which now he resided, as was also Captain 
John Posey, who had been chosen with him in March for Fairfax 

The purpose of the paper which Washington took such pains to pre- 
pare, showing the results of the March, and afterwards of the July 
elections of the vestry, may now be readily understood in the light of 
the statement in the preamble of the above act that the first division 
was "very unequal." The first page shows at a glance that there were 
about 100 more voters in Fairfax than in Truro at the March elections. 
As these voters were freeholders, and, with their employees and slaves, 
were tithables, this meant a great deal. The second elections, however, 
give a different showing, and the calculation made by himself indi- 
cates a difference of only twenty-one voters in the two parishes. No 
doubt he was gratified to find the new line of division so satisfactory 
in this regard. 

We find, then, that for two months and three days Washington was 
a vestryman-elect of the first parish of Fairfax, the nominal life of 
that parish being exactly four months; that the vestry could not 
have qualified until about three weeks after their election, before 
which time numerous petitions must have been in circulation, making 
it probable that a new parish would be formed and a new election or- 
dered almost immediately, and that within ten days thereafter Wash- 
ington was probably on his way to Williamsburg to take part in the 
accomplishment of this. In the absence of any direct evidence it is 
not probable that he ever qualified or acted as vestryman of that 
parish. • 

That he was never a vestryman in the second, or present, Fairfax 
parish the vestry book Itself is a sufficient witness. The fact that 
when means were lacking to finish Christ church in Alexandria, he 
joined with certain gentlemen, who were vestrymen there, in subscrib- 
ing for pews in the church, has been thought to indicate the contrary; 
but in a letter of February 15, 1773, to Captain John Dalton, a vestry- 
man of that church, he writes indignantly of a proposition he under- 
stands was being considered by "your Vestry" to return these sub- 


scrlptions and reclaim the pews, and "as a parishioner" and ''as a 
subscriber, who meant to lay the foundation of a family -pew in the 
new church/' he protests against it. He, however, attended this 
church frequently before the Revolution and regularly after his re- 
turn to Mount Vernon, Pohick being then closed. 

The new vestry of Truro found much to engage their attention. The 
glebe and buildings and the church plate were to be appraised by cer- 
tain appointed commissioners and their value apportioned between 
the two parishes in proportion to their number of tithables, and also 
fifty thousand pounds of tobacco, which had been collected for build- 
ing churches. Eighteen months after the division they were still ac- 
counting to the other parish for collections made for the rebuilding of 
Falls church, which had been ordered just after Washington first be- 
came a vestryman. As a Churchwarden at this time, he would have 
his full share in this business. But the larger work to which they 
devoted their immediate efforts was the erection of the "Upper 
Church," or Payne's church, as it was long afterwards known from the 
name of its builder, in the western section of the parish, which until 
now had been without a church building. The site of this church is 
two miles south of the present Fairfax Courthouse, immediately on 
the road to Fairfax station, in what was then but a thinly settled part 
of the country. It speaks well for Washington and his fellow-vestry- 
men on the river that they should have taxed themselves heavily to 
build so substantial and handsome a church in what must have been 
almost the backwoods, deferring meanwhile the rebuilding of their 
own Pohick church. The vestry records tell the story: 

"At a Vestry held for Truro parish, the 28th, 29th and 30th days of 
November, 1765. Present, Mr. Edw. Payne, Colo. Geo. Washington, 
Capt. Posey, Capt. Daniel McCarty, Colo. Geo. William Fairfax, Mr. 
William Gardner, Mr. Thos. Withers Coffer, Mr. William Linton, Mr. 
Thomas Ford and Mr. Alex. Henderson. Ordered that the vestry meet 
at Mr. William Gardner's on the first Monday in February next, in 
order to agree with workmen to undertake the building of a brick 
church, to contain 1,600 superficial feet. And that the church wardens 
advertise the same in as publick a manner as may be." 

"At a Vestry held for Truro Parish at Mr. William Gardner's on the 
3d. and 4th. days of February, 1766. Present (as above except Capt 
Posey), who being there met to inquire the most convenient place to 
erect a new church and to agree with the Workmen to Build the same — 


Resolv'd that the new Churcb be built on tbe Middle Ridse near the 
Ox Road, tbe ^ound to be laid off by Mr. Edward Payne, Mr. Wm. 
Gardner. Mr. Thos. Withers Coffer and Mr. Thos. Ford, or any three 
of them on the land supposed to be belonging to Mr. Thomazen Ellzey. 
who. Leing present, consents to the same." (Mr. Ellzey was a yestry- 
man-elcct, but perhaps had not qualified. The remaining member was 
Col. George Mason.) 

"Agreeable to a Plan and Article annexed thereto Mr. Edward Payne 
bath undertaken to build the said Church for the sum of Five hundred 
and seventy-nine Pounds Virginia Currency." 

"Ordered that Mr. Edward Pajne pay to Mr. John Ayres forty shil- 
lings for bis plan and estimate." 

"Ordered that Colo. Geo. Washington. Capt. Daniel McCarty. Colo. 
Geo. Wm. Fairfax. Mr. Alex. Henderson, ft Mr. Tho. Ford, or any three 
of them, do view and examine the said building from time to time as 
shall be required." 

There follows the "Memorandum of Agreement" between Capt. Payne 
and the vestry, which only lack of space forbids publishing in full as 
a model. The building was to be 53^2 1)7 30 feet in the clear, the 
walls 22 feet high; "to be built of good bricks, well burnt, of the ordi- 
nary size, that is. nine inches long, four & an half inches broad & 3 
Inches thick, the outside bricks to be laid in mortar two-thirds lime 
and ^ sand, the inside Bricks to be laid with mortar half lime & half 
sand. The corners of the House, the Windows and the Doors to be of 
rubied brick. The arches and Pediment heads of the Doors and Win- 
dows to be of bricks rubbed, gauged and set in Putty. The Window 
and Door frames to be made with double Archatraves. — The lies to be 
laid with Brick Tyle.— To have an Altar Piece sixteen feet high and 
twelve feet wide, and done with wainscot after the Ionic order. — ^The 
Pulpit, Canopy & reading Desks to be of black Walnut, wainscoted 
with proper Cornish. The Gallery to be supported by Collumns turned 
A fluted, to come out as far as the second window at the West end of 
the Church, to have a wainscoted front, & to have four seats raised 
one behind and above another." The flooring was to be 1^ inches 
thick. Pews to be wainscoted with pine plank 1^ inches thick, "dou- 
ble work on each side of the framing and raised pannel on one side." 
Chancel rail and banisters of walnut. "The roof to be covered with 
inch pine plank, cyp(h)ered & lapt one & an half inches, and to be 
Shingled with good Cypress shingles twenty inches in length, & to 


show six inches." The church could hardly be built at this day, if at 
all, for less than ten thousand dollars. Capt. Payne was given two 
years and eight months to complete it; and it was received. by the 
Vestry three weeks ahead of contract time. Before it was finished a 
"Vestry House" was ordered to be built in the churchyard, to be of 
brick, twenty by sixteen feet in the clear. Later the churchyard was 
ordered inclosed with posts and rails. 

The after history of Payne's church is the same sad story as that of 
so many of its contemporaries. During the dark days which followed 
the Revolution it was used probably very occasionally at first, and was 
finally abandoned, for the lack, as we imagine, of. a minister, rather 
than of a congregation, for dissent does not appear to have been rife 
in this parish. About the beginning of the last century it was occu- 
pied by the Baptists, and upon the division in that denomination about 
1840, the Jerusalem Baptist church (New School), was organized in 
the building and continued to use it until 1862. A faded photograph, 
taken in 1861, shows an attractive church in good preservation, with 
high arched windows and massive hipped roof. In the winter of 
1862-63 a Federal army was encamped in the vicinity, and by them 
the church was torn down, brick by brick, and the material used to 
build chimneys and hearths for their winter quarters. The old grave- 
stones in the churchyard, which was a large and very old burying- 
ground, probably shared the same fate, as only two or three remain. 
A small frame Baptist church now covers part of the site. Of the old 
Payne's church naught remains but a heap of rubbish, from which 
may yet be taken pieces of brick, rough but exceedingly hard and "well 
burnt," with the "mortar, two-thirds lime and one-third sand," still 
clinging to them to attest, after an hundred and forty years, the hon- 
est workmanship of Captain Edward Payne, Churchwarden and Church- 

Unlike many of our Colonial churches which fell into other hands, 
the interior of Payne's escaped alteration or so-called improvement. 
Those who recall the building remember well the square pews, the 
lofty pulpit with its "canopy" or sounding board against the south 
wall, and the reading desk and (probably) Clark's desk below, and the 
chancel and high "Altar-Piece" at the east end. The silver Communion 
service belonging to this church was restored to the Rev. W. F. Lock- 
wood about 1845 by an old lady living in the neighborhood, and was 
presented by him to St. John's church, Centerville, where it is still in 


To return to the old Veetry: No sooner was Payne's church com- 
pleted than the building of a new church at Pohick was undertaken; 
the story of which, and of Washington's large part therein, will doubt- 
less be told by a more capable pen in another paper. Until called to 
the North in the service of his country, Washington continued in ac- 
tive and untiring service as a vestryman, and nominally held the office 
during the Revolutionary war. 

But in a letter to his self-exiled friend. Colonel F&irfax, written from 
New York July 10, 1783, he says: "I have been in the State (Vir- 
ginia) but once since the 4th of May, 1775, and that was at the siege 
of York. In going thither I spent one day at my own house, and in 
returning took three or four days, but I attended to no business." 

During the Revolution the vestry met irregularly and vacancies re- 
mained unfilled. After the war an effort was made to revive it and fill 
its ranks, and in this connection the vestry book states that on Feb- 
ruary 23, 1784, "John Gibson, Gent is elected a Vestryman for this 
Parish in the room of his Excellency General Washington who has 
signified his resignation in a letter to Danl. Mc. Carty Esq." 

But the times were out of joint for the old vestries of the E^stab- 
lishment, and they were soon left without business, without income, 
and worst of all, in most cases, without ministers; in which event the 
revival of the Church seemed hopeless. The church in Alexandria 
survived and gathered in many of the country families, but the old 
Truro vestry held its last recorded meeting at Colchester January 
27, 1785. The next entry in the vestry book is made by the Overseers 
of the Poor, who continued to use it for their records until September, 
1802, and for more than half a century old Truro remained dormant 



S^ ri IDWAY beftween Washington and Mount Vernon there lies a 
yyJn little city of infinite value to lovers of nistiry, and in quaint 
cL V c-S old Alexandria one of the places that claim the greatest in- 
terest is Christ church, being spoken of far and near as the 
church of Washington. His was the first of a long line of names of whom 
the country is so justly proud, to be found in connection with this 
church; his name and but one other are inscribed upon it. Two mural 
tablets, one on either side of the chancel, are placed in memory of the 
two sons of this church, whom Virginia most loves and honors — George 
Washington and Robert Edward Lee, and two pews which they occupied 
are marked by silver plates engraved with their respective names, a ^ao 
simile of their own handwriting. Both lived on the Potomac, one a few 
mil^s north, the other a few miles south, of Alexandria, and although 
their lives were separated by many years, yet this church was a mother 
to them both. 

In 1765 prosperous Alexandria determined to erect for herself a 
handsome church in place of the little chapel that by this time had 
been outgrown. On February 1st of that year the parish of Fairfax 
was created out of Truro, and March 28th Col. George Washington, 
then thirty-three years old, was elected one of the twelve vestrymen. 
In Colonial -days the Government of Virginia was largely controlled by 
the vestry of the parish, holding as it did, in a generous measure, the 
power of civil authority. This close connection between Church and 
State extended the power of the vestry to a variety of duties, and made 
the position no sinecure; for. besides attending to the temporal wants 
of the church and overseeing the needs of the poor, giving the deserv- 
ing ones food and clothing as well as medical attention, it had the 
right to Impose fines for the non-observance of secular laws, and with 
it rested the responsibility of administering justice. 

In order to build the church, the vestry was obliged to impose upon 
the parish a tax of 31,185 pounds of tobacco. From the funds raised 
two churches were to be erected, one at Falls Church and the other 
at Alexandria. The site chosen for the Alexandria church was at the 


head of Cameron street. It was a thick wood then, but the ground, 
shaded by the forest tres, seemed an Ideal spot to set aside as God's 

m 1767 the contract was given to James Parsons for £600 sterling^ 
a large sum or money at that time; but it was to be a handsome build- 
ing, though simple in treatment, as were all Colonial churches. Built 
of brick and roofed with shingles of juniper, since replaced by slate, 
the church now stands in the heart of the city, surrounded by its beau- 
tiful yard and overshadowing trees, and to this day is a delight to all 
visitors who, on their pilgrimage to Mount Vernon, take a little time 
to see this sacred building, the pride of Alexandria. 

The severity of the interior is extreme; "the arches and pediments 
are of the Tuscan order, the altar piece, pulpit and canopy of Ionic 
style;" there are three windows in the chancel, and on either side of 
them are two panels, one containing the Liord*s Prayer with the Creed; 
the other has the Ten Commandments, both done in black lettering 
on a gilt background. The sounding-board or canopy and high pul- 
pit, with its winding stairway, is in the center of the chancel. Di- 
rectly against the window, below that, is the "altar piece," all of 
Ionic style, and immediately in front, by the chancel rail, is the tiny 

The architect selected was James Wren, a descendant, so the story 
goes, of the great Sir Christopher Wren, who, as architect of the 
wonderful Cathedral of St Paul's, in London, has shed glory not only 
on himself, but on his posterity. In 1772 the work of building camf 
to a standstill, and Colonel John Carlyle agreed to complete James 
Parson's unfinished contract for an additional sum of £220. One year 
later, February 27, 1773, the church was placed in the hands of the 
vestry, who regarded It as finished "in a workmanlike manner." The 
same day Colonel Washington purchased for £36 10s., the pew then 
known as Number 5. 

The choice Oronoko tobacco played a prominent part as a commer- 
cial factor of Alexandria, since the church was built with it, the 
clergyman's salary was paid in the same way, and the first rector. 
Rev. Townsend Dade, ordained by the Bishop of Liondon, received his 
salary in the shape of 17,280 pounds of tobacco, and for want of a 
glebe, 2,500 pounds were added to this sum. In 1770 the church was 
able to purchase five hundred acres of land, and three years later was 
wealthy enough to erect on it a glebe house, or parsonage, with dairy. 


meat house, barn, stable and corn house, at a cost of £653. The next 
year, to complete the convenience of the rector's family, a hen house 
was added. Thus steadily the financial condition of the church in- 

That women stood high in the estimation of the vestry is proved 
by the fact that in the selection of a sexton the choice was given to 
Susannah EMwards, who preceded the members of the congregation 
up the aisle, locating each family in their respective pews, according 
S.O dignity. She evmentiy filled the office well, for she was succeeded 
by anothei dame. Mistress Cook, who was most "peculiar in dress 
and physiognomy; had a stately manner of ushering persons into 
their pews and locking the door upon them, and with an almost mil- 
itary air she patrolled the aisles, alert to protect and prompt to sup- 
press any violation of order." 

To the church-goers the great family coach of the Washingtons was 
a familiar sight. Made in England, It was both substantial and ele- 
gant, if somewhat heavy. Four horses were necessary to draw it, but 
wneu the Virginia roads were very bad six were used; ana to eacu 
span of horses there were the liveried postilion riders. After service, 
one Sunday morning in the summer of 1774, surrounded by the con- 
gregation, every one or whom he well knew, Washington advocated 
withdrawing allegiance from King George, and stated that b^ would 
^eht to uphold the independence of the Colonies. No more solemn 
time or occasion could have been chosen. With calmness, in a spirit 
of prayerful deliberation, he announced his momentous decision under 
tne very shadow of the church. Nine years after, when that inde- 
pendence nad been successfully established and the long contested 
dght so bravely won, having resignea his commission at Annapolis, he 
was free to turn his face towards home. His arrival at Mount Vernon 
was on Christmas Eve. The next day found him once more in his 
accustomed seat in tne church at Alexandria to heax the tender mes- 
sage of peace and good-will that was proclaimed like liberty through- 
out the land, and no one bowed in deeper gratitude than ttit> great 
general, who came as humbly as a little child to this, his Father's 
House. In addition to the Christmas service, the rector, the Rev. Da- 
vid Griffith, who served as chaplain of the Third Virginia Regiment 

In the year 1767 it was determined to build a new church at Pohick, 
in the Revolutionary War, read the exultant song of Moses and the 
Children of Israel: "I will sing unto the Lord, for He hath triumphed 
gloriously; the horse and his rider hath He thrown Into the sea"; and 


the sermon he preached was from the 128th Psalm: "Yea, thou shalt 
see thy children's children and peace upon Israel.' The children's 
children of some of those men who composed the congregation in 
Washington's day are still to be found Sunday after Sunday in the old 
church; some in the same old family pews. He greeted after service 
the Wests, the Muirs, the Flemings, the Garlyles, the Custises, the 
Ramsays, the Daltons, the Alexanders, the Adamses, the Wrens, the 
Herberts, the Paynes, the Dulings, the Sanfords, the Frenches, the 
Shaws, the Broadwaters, the Blackburns, the Dames, the Gunnels, the 
Chichesters, the Tripletts, the Coxes, the Browns, the Gilpins and the 
Hooes; and the heritage of friendship has passed on to their descend- 

In the Ck)lonial period, having no Bishops, there was no confirmation 
in the Colonies. The first record of confirmation at Christ church was 
in 1814, by Bishop Moore; probably his first official act as Bishop of 
Virginia. Dr. David Griffith, the chaplain of Revolutionary days, was 
the first Bishop-elect of this Diocese, but owing to lack of funds, Vir- 
ginia could not undertake the expense of his journey to London for 

At the time the church at Alexandria was built it was known as the 
twin church of Pohick, but changes crept on, and they grew apart in 
appearance. The galleries at Christ church were added and the high 
square pews cut down and divided; the Washington pew is the only 
square pew left. In 1808 interments ceased in the churchyard, though 
spacious and by no means filled with graves; the vestry considered it 
best to purchase a cemetery on the outskirts of the city, and long 
stretches of velvety grass, broken only by the flickering sunlight 
through the trees, forms an exquisite setting to the old Colonial 
church. In 1810 an organ was introduced, and In 1812 the chimneys 
were built, no longer foot-stoves were necessary. With the change of 
appearance came the change of name. From 1765 to 1813 it had al- 
ways been spoken of as the Episcopal church; now to future genera- 
tions it was to be known as Christ church, and on June 9th of that 
year it was consecrated by Bishop Claggett, of Maryland. By degrees 
the bell was purchased, the steeple erected, the vestry-room under the 
tower was built, and the porch at the southwest corner constructed. 
Always with adequate means at command, no expense was spared to 
enlarge or beautify, and as the years went on each new improvement 
was easily and happily welcomed. 


In 1815, at the Diocesan Convention of Virginia, it was decided to 
establish a Theological Seminary. A few years later a class was 
formed at William and Mary College, Williamsburg, which, in 1823, 
was transferred to Alexandria, and the first building erected in 1827; 
and from that time until 1855, on every alternating year, the ordina- 
tion services were held at Christ church* The Bishops who officiated 
were Griswold, Moore, Meade and Bedell, and the men who consecra- 
ted their lives to the dark continent of Africa were Savage and Minor, 
Payne and Henning, and Colden Hoffman, while Cleveland Keith de- 
voted his life to China. The rest of the candidates for Orders found 
their work nearer at hand, but for all these men the memory of Christ 
church was very dear. 

During the boyhood of Robert E. Lee his winter home was in Alex- 
andria. Many a Christmas, with the other boys of the neighborhood, 
he brought the evergreen and helped to decorate the church; and in 
the summer of 1853, when he had reached the rank of Colonel, he was 
confirmed here by Bishop Johns, who said to him, after service, that 
if he should make as good a Christian as he had a soldier, the Church 
would be proud of him. The mural tablet is evidence that the hope 
Ji the Bishop was fulfilled. Here, too, in the churchyard, in 1861, 
counting the agonizing cost to his State, he agreed to take command 
of the Virginia forces, seeing only too clearly the first inevitable per- 
sonal sacrifice, the loss of his Arlington home. During the war the 
Federal authorities forcibly held the church, but it was finally restored 
to the vestry in 1866. 

Of the ministers of God who have served at her altar there is a long 
list of men who, inspired by her, have done noble work. Two have 
become Bishops. The first minister was Townsend Dade; then fol- 
-iowed Mr. West, David Griffith, Bryan Fairfax, Thomas Davis, Mr. 
Gibson, Mr. Barclay, William Meade, Oliver Norris, Beuel Keith, Geo. 
Griswold, John P. McGuire, Charles Mann, Charles B. Dana, Cornelius 
Walker, A. M. Randolph, Randolph H. McKlm, Henderson Suter, Ber- 
ryman Green, and the present rector, William Jackson Morton. 

The church to-day is in a state of perfect preservation. Time has 
laid his finger on her, but to soften and to beautify. She still stands 
with open arms and a gracious welcome. She reproves, she warns, 
she cheers and loves. For generations she has been to her sons and 
daughters a source of consolation and of joy, and she still extends the 
promise of a protecting mother love that will cause the children of 
the future to rise up and call her blessed. ' 




THE Falls Chureh, so called after one of the falls of the Po- 
tomac, was built about 1734, enlarged In 1750, and rebuilt as 
now in 1767~'69. The musty archives at Fairfax Ck)urt House 
contain the deed to the church grounds recorded in 1745, many 
years after the original church building had been erected thereon. 
With this yard of about one and a half acres, containing magnificent 
old. trees and ancient graves, consecrated by burial rites and tears 
and by the tread of worshipping feet for near 200 years, this time- 
hallowed sanctuary stands as a venerable, indeed, and most inspiring 
memorial of our far-back Colonial dasrs. 

Truro Parish originally included both the Falls church and Pohick 
church, both being served by the same rector and the same vestry, 
the latter meeting sometimes at one church and sometimes at another. 
In 1764 Truro Parish was divided and a new parish, called Fairfax 
Parish, was formed out of it The Falls church and Christ church, 
Alexandria, were then Joined together to compose this second parish, 
both these churches having one rector and one vestry in common. 

It was after this division the Falls church was rebuilt of brick as 
now. The contract was given out for this church and for Christ 
church at the same time, the Falls church, however, being completed 
first by some years. Both churches were to cost 600 pounds each. 
Mr. James Parsons was to build the Falls church. "A most particu- 
lar contract was made for them," writes Bishop Meade. "The mortar 
is to have two-thirds of lime and one of sand," the very reverse of the 
proportion at this day, and which accounts for the greater durability 
of ancient walls. The shingles were to be of best cypress or juniper 
and three-quarters of an inch thick, and good authorities pronounce 
them in perfect condition to-day, and predict they will last hundreds 
of years to come. The brick is of a very hard kind and peculiar shape, 
and some think were brought from England. 

As is well known, Greneral Oeorge Washington was a member of the 
one vestry that served both the Falls church and Christ church, Alex- 


andria. Mr. John Lynch, now an old man, who once served the 
Falls church as sexton for over forty years, told the writer that in 
his younger days he learned from a number of aged persons that it 
was Washing^n's custom, while giyiAg his regular attendance to 
Christ church, also to visit and worship at the Falls church at least 
four times a year; this being part of his parish. The particular pew 
and place in church he usually occupied were said to have been mark- 
ed and kept for him. This location is still pointed out, though the 
original floor and pews have been destroyed. 

Several residents also of this village now living, whose mother, 
Mrs. Sarah Maria Sewell, died many years since at the age of 97, still 
delight to repeat her descriptions of the great hero, whom in her child- 
hood she had seen worshipping in this church. She remembered, also, 
his dining occasionally at her home near the church, and his taking 
her up in his arms and playfully caressing her. Her father, Mr. John 
West, was then a member of the House of Burgesses, and his name 
appears on the Church Vestry. 

The following entry in the old Truro Parish Vestry Book is a sam- 
ple of its records: 

"March 28, 1763." 

"At a Vestry of Truro Parish held at the Falls Church, March 28, 
1763; present: Henry Gunnell. Wm. Payne, Jr., Ch. Wardens; John 
West, Wm. Payne, Chas. Broadwater, Thos. Wrenn, Abra. Barnes, 
Dan'l McCarty, Robt Boggers, and George Washington; who being 
there met to examine into the state of the said church, greatly in de- 
cay and want of repair, and likewise whether the same shall be re- 
paired or a new one built and whether at the same place or removed 
to a more convenient one. ♦ ♦ ♦ 

"Resolved: it is the opinion of this Vestry that the Old Church is 
rotten and unfit for repair but that a new church be built at the sam» 

George Mason was also a member of this vestry, and at a vestry 
meeting held the following year to complete plans for the rebuilding 
of the Falls church, his name is recorded as present In Washington's 
diary for 1764 is entered a copy of an advertisement for "undertakers 
to build Fftlls Church," showing him to have been on its original 
building committee. 

Running back through its Truro days the Falls Church parish has 
carried on its vestry rolls tbe names of Capt. Augustine Washington, 


his Bon, George Washington, George Mason, George Wm. Fairfax, 
Capt Henry Fairfax and many others. In its yard a portion of Brad- 
dock's ill-starred army is said to have once encamped, and the present 
building also to have been used in the Reyolutionary War as a com- 
pany recruiting headquarters of Col. Charles Broadwater, one of Fair- 
fax county's first patriots. 

From its precincts, too, marched Capt Henry Fairfax, the scholarly 
West Pointer, with his Fairfax volunteers to the M^ican War, his 
tody destined to be borne back and laid to rest by these sacred walls 
he loved so well, and which he himself, at his own expense, had munifi- 
cently restored as an ofTering to his Lord. 

The experience of the Falls church in the Ciyil War is well known. 
It stood throughout in the very forefront of that dreadful strife, in 
the constant pathway of the armies, while about it ebbed and flowed 
the awful tide of blood. Many a sufTering, dying soldier found mer- 
ciful shelter and nursing within its holy walls as a hospital. Later 
it was used, also, by the Federal troops as a stable. One thousand 
three hundred dollars was expended by the U. S. Goyernment in 1865 
on its repairs. Lastly, it was associated with the late Spanish-Amer- 
ican War, a large portion of our American army being encamped and 
trained nearby and many attended Its services. 

About 1787 the Falls Church was deserted as a house of worship 
by Episcopalians. This was the time of popular hatred and general 
decadence of the Church because of its imagined association with 
England and English tyranny. "Since then," wrote Bishop Meade, 
"it has been used by any who were disposed to occupy it as a place 
of worship; and the doors and windows being opened, itself stand- 
ing on the common highway, it has been entered at pleasure by travel- 
ers on the road and animals of every kind. 

Some years since the attention of the professors of our Seminary 
and some of the students was drawn toward it, and occasional ser- 
vices performed there. This led to its partial repair (chiefly at the 
expense of Captain Henry Fairfax, grandson of the Rev. Bryan 
Fairfax, a former rector of this church). The most successful eifort 
in its behalf was made by one of those devoted youths who has given J 
himself to Africa. Young Mr. Minor, of Fredericksburg, then a stu- 
dent at the Seminary, undertook the task of lay-reader, and 
by his untiring zeal and most afTectionate manners soon collected a 
large Sunday-school, aided by some fellow-students of kindred spirit 



In losing Mr. Minor when he went to Africa the children and parents 
thought they had lost their all, but Providence raised up others, and 
doubtless will continue to raise up as many as are needed. Our Sem- 
inary will surely furnish the supply that is called for. 

"The house of which we are speaking has recently been more thor- 
oughly repaired and is now as to outward appearance, strength and 
comfort one of our most desirable temples of religion, bidding fair 
to survive successive generations of those unworthy structures which 
are continually rising up and falling down throughout our land. On 
Saturday and "Sunday, assisted by several of our ministers, I perform- 
ed pastoral and Episcopal duties in this church. On the latter day, 
in the midst of an overflowing congregation, I confirmed six persons 
and administered Holy Communion." Thus wrote Bishop Mead^ in 

But as rich a storehouse of momentous historic names, events, and 
principles as is this ancient sanctuary, it is equally valuable for the 
religious records it preserves. Virginia's progeny of illustrious 
Churchmen has been as noble and as numerous as her statesmen. And 
imbedded in the grounds and walls of this venerable shrine is the 
name and image of many a spiritual prince and hero. Hear but a 
partial roll-call of its rectors: 

Rev. Chas. Green, in 1736, after being nominated to the vestry by 
Capt Augustine Washington and sent to England to receive ordina- 
tion from the Bishop of London, as recorded in the old parish Vestry 
Book; Rev. David Griffith, elected the first Bishop of Virginia, but 
prevented by circumstances from being sent to England for consecra- 
tion; Rev. Bryan Fairfax, Washington's much-revered pastor and 
friend; Rev. Drs. B. C. Lippitt, James May, Joseph Packard, professor 
in the Virginia Theological Seminary; Bishop Horatio Southgate, pre- 
viously Missionary Bishop in Constantinople; Bishop Richard Wilmer, 
Rev. Launcelot Byrd Minor, who died a missionary in Africa; Rev. 
W. H. Kinckle, also Rev. Drs. Churchill J. Gibson, Joshua Peterkin, 
George W. Shinn, and others, who regularly officiated here when stu- 
dents at the Theological Seminary, five miles distant; Bishop Madison, 
Virginia's first Bishop, visited this church to preach and administer 
confirmation; Bishop Meade officiated in and wrote most feelingly 
and admiringly of it in his well known history; Bishop Kinsolving, 
our Missionary Bishop in Bra'iil, there received confirmation; Rev. 
Dr. John McGill was twice its ie<*tor; before him Rev. Templeman 


Brown, and more lately Revs. Frank Page, J. Cleveland Hall, and R. 
A. Castleman were rectors. Many other noble, sainted names also 
adorn and enrich its history. 

Oh, what a perpetual standing sermon is this hallowed fane! What 
glorious truths it ceaselessly proclaims! Long before the Colonial 
Church of England changed its American local title to ''Protestant 
Episcopal/' this building was known only as the Anglican Church. 
A living, visible, tangible, speaking witness indeed it stands in jthe 
identity of our American branch of the Church with the Church of 
EUigland, and through it to cur oneness with the one Holy Historic 
Body of all ages and of all lands. Who can sit beneath its roof with 
out profounder, more thrilling convictions that our worship is Apos- 
tolic; our faith is Catholic; our Priesthood is Divine! Who can tread 
its grounds without feeling the throb and beat and Impulse of our fore- 
fathers' unfaltering faith and their effectual, fervent prayers? Who 
can even in passing behold it without hearing mighty voices calling 
and seeing brave hands beckoning to higher, grander, more enduring 
things than earth's brief, fitful dreams? 

But alas! this precious storied monument that brings down to us 
great messages from the past and is carrying on added tidings from 
ourselves to centuries of posterity to come, is now the prey of decay, 
dilapidation and ruin. For two years the present rector has labored 
strenuously for its restoration. The task and the expense have prov- 
ed far greater than was anticipated. From roof to yard and enclosure 
all has to be renewed or reclaimed. From |8,000 to |10,000 is re- 
quired to put building and grounds in thoroughly worthy ana working 
condition. Of this (including a few hundreds contributed to help 
pay off its parish debt) about $4,000 has been raised and expended on 
the church. The work has had to stop until further fun^s are secured. 
Our Bishop has lately seen and been greatly pleased with what has so 
far been done. The church's prospects for ruture Christian service Is 
simply boundless, if fitted therefor. My only possible hope to com- 
plete the work is with outside help. 

Christians, patriots, Churchmen, remember your sacred landmark! 
Honor Its holy memories. Make it rejoice with renewed strength 
and beauty for the great Jubilee Year of 190'^: 




Qq /f=>N LD POHICK CHURCH," as it is familiarly and affectionate- 
ly called by the people of the vicinity, stands out as one 

of the historical landmarks not only of Virginia, but also 
of the nation. It is pre-eminently the parish church of 
Mount Vernon, and shares the honor with Old Christ church, Alexan- 
\ria, of being intimately associated with the religious life and worship 
of Washington. It was also the parish church of another notable and 
noble figure of the Revolution, the celebrated George Mason, of Gun- 
ston Hall, the author of the Bill of Rights of Virginia. The associa- 
tion of two such immortal names with the history of "Old Pohick" 
justly entitles it to a foremost place among the ecclesiastical edifices 
of this land. 

The present church, a commodious and solid structure, built of brick 
with stone dressings in the style of the Georgian period, so common 
in the churches erected during the last half of the eighteenth century, 
is the second church built in the lower part of Truro Parish. Its 
predecessor was a simple frame edifice, situated two miles nearer Gun- 
ston Hall, on the south side of Pohick Run, from which the church 
derives its name. 

Fortunately for the history of the parish, the late venerable Rev. Dr. 
Philip Slaughter, historiographer of the Diocese of Virginia, recovered 
the old vestry book from some one in the North for the sum of twenty 
dollars, about twenty years ago. The vestry of Pohick gladly paid this 
amount to Dr. Slaughter, and counts this old volume, now deposited 
at Mount Vernon for safe-keeping, as amongst its most valued posses- 
sions. Before the book was acquired by the vestry Dr. Slaughter added 
to his valuable parish histories, already written, the history of Truro 
parish, of course taking this invaluable record of fifty-three years as 
the basis of his work. This is still in manuscript, in the hands of the 
writer of the present article, who confidently hopes that the rapidly 
reviving interest in the antiquities of Virginia may soon give him the 
long-desired opportunity of publishing this important contribution to 
the history of the Diocese and State. 


The first record in the yestry book goes back to May, 1732, when the 
parish of Truro was, by Act of Assembly, formed from Hamilton Par- 
ish, which was coterminous with what was then Prince William coun- 
ty, "extending from Chappawamsick Creek and Deep Run along the 
Potomac to the great mountains." Truro Parish took ofT the part 
bounded by Occoquan Rlyer, Bull Run, a branch thereof (so well 
known during the Civil War), and thence by a line extending to the 
Indian Thoroughfare (Ashby's Gap), thence along the Blue Ridge to 
the Potomac river, and down that river to the mouth of Occoquan. 
This territory now comprises Truro, Upper Truro, Cameron, Fairfax 
and Shelbume parishes. There was a church building already at Oc- 
coquan, in Hamilton Parish, where the earliest meetings of the Truro 
vestry were held until the first Pohick church, the frame building^ al- 
ready mentioned, was built within the limits of Truro Parish, about 
four miles from the town of Occoquan, and four miles from Gunston 
Hall, on the ridge of land between Occoquan River and Pohick Run. 

The first minister of the parish was the Rev. Lawrence de Butts, 
who, however, did not remain long in charge. He was engaged for 
only one year, to preach three times a month at Occoquan church, 
"' then in Hamilton Parish, at the new church (or Mr. Gunwell's), by 
which, I think, was meant Payne's church, near the present town of 
Fairfax, and at the ''chapelle" above Goose Creek, at the sum of 8,000 
pounds of tobacco, clear of the warehouse charges and abatements, 
with the proviso that if he were prevented by the weather, or other- 
wise fails to preach at any of the times or places aforesaid, tobacco 
shall only be levied for him in proportion to his services. It is intei^ 
esting to note that the first lay reader in the parish, elected at a ves- 
try meeting held on the 12th of October, 1733, was Joseph Johnson, 
who was to receive 1.300 pounds of tobacco, provided he did his duty 
in his ofDce. 

On November 18, 1735, Augustine Washington was elected vestry- 
man. He nominated, at a vestry meeting held in 1736, Mr. Charles 
Green, ''as a person qualified to officiate in this church as soon as he 
shall receive orders from His Grace the Bishop of London." The 
vestry then commended Mr. Green to the Right Honorable Lord Fair- 
fax, for his letter of recommendation and presentation to the Bishop 
of London, to qualify him as aforesaid. Mr. Green then proceeded to 
England for orders, and on his return to Virginia, in 1737, it is re- 
corded "that the Rev. Charles Green, M. D., by a letter from the 


Hon'ble Wm. Oooch, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, as by the letter 
of the Honourable James Blair, Commisary, is legally and regularly 
ordained, and it is therefore ordered by the vestry that the said Green 
be received and entertained as minister of this parish, and be pro- 
vided for as the law directs." 

From all we know of the first regularly instituted rector, he was a 
man of high character, faithful to his duties, enjoying the friendship 
and esteem of George Mason, George Washington and other prominent 
members of the vestry and community. He remained in charge of the 
parish until his death, in 1765. 

In the year 1741 Fairfax county was taken from Prince William, and 
the boundaries of this county and Truro Parish became coterminous. 
In February, 1749-50, it is recorded that George Mason was appointed 
church warden in place of Jeremiah Bronaugh, deceased. This is the 
first appearance of the name of the illustrious patriot of Gunston Hall 
on the vestry book. He continued as an active member of the vestry 
until after the Revolution, when all vestries, under the laws of the 
State, were dissolved; but he no doubt remained connected with Po- 
hick church until his death, in 1792. 

The next incident worthy of note is the division of Truro Parish by 
Act of Assembly in 1748, by a line running from the mouth of Difficult 
Run to the head thereof, and thence running across the country to the 
head of Pope's Head Run, and down this run to the mouth thereof, 
and all that part of the parish below this line to retain the name of 
Truro, and that above to be called Cameron Parish. 

On the 4th of June, 1753, it was ordered by the vestry of Truro 
Parish, on the petition of Captain John West, that the Rev. Charles 
Green do preach on every third Sunday in the town of Alexandria. 
This is the first mention of that town in the vestry book, and gives 
us the probable date of the first Church service there, being ten years 
earlier than is generally supposed. In 1755 it Is ordered that the 
church wardens have seats made for the church in Alexandria. 

Then appears a most important entry. On the 25th of October, 1762, 
George Washington were appointed church wardens for the ensuing 
Peake, deceased, and in October, 1763, George William Fairfax and 
George Washington were appointed churchwardens for the ensuing 

By an act of the General Assembly, passed October, 1764, the last di- 
vision of Truro Parish during Colonial times was made, to become ef- 


feotive after February 1, 1765. The line commenced at the mouth of 
Doeg Creek and ran to Mr. George Washington's mill, the ruins of 
which can be seen to this day; thence by a straight line to tlie plan> 
tation of John Munroe» and the same continued to the line that di- 
vides Fairfax and Loudoun; and all southward or that line to the 
Hiver OccoQuan to retain the name of Truro» and all to the northward 
to be called Fairfax Parish, with the old Christ church, Alexandria, 
as the chief church of the latter parish. George Washington, as the 
vestry book states, became yestryman in both parishes by the vote of 
the freeholders and householders in each. 

In this same year, as already note<}, the Rey. Charles Green died, 
and shortly after the Rey. Lee Massey, a lawyer and an inhabitant of 
the parish, was recommended for Holy Orders to the Bishop of Lon- 
don, and on his return from EiUgland, in 1767, was accepted as the 
minister of the parish. He was also held in high esteem, and there 
still linger traditions of his wit and bon homle among the older resi- 
dents of Pohick. Bishop Meade writes **that his sermons evince talent 
and are sound in doctrine, but like most of that day, want evangelical 
life and spirit, and would never rouse lost sinners to a sense of their 
condition." He lived to his eighty-sixth year, dying in 1814, and lies i 
buried at "Bradley," his old plantation, on the slope of a hill over- 
looking the beautiful waters of Occoquan River. 

It has sometimes been doubted whether the surplice was worn in the 
Colonial Church in Virginia, but this doubt is set at rest so far as one 
instance is concerned, by an order of the vestry. In 1766, to Hector 
Rose to pay George William Fairfax, of Belvoir, also a vestryman, the 
sum of £16 17s Od., agreeably to the account lodged for surplices and 
books imported by him for the use of the parish. 

In the year 1769 the plans of the church were drawn up, it Is said, 
as the vestry book states the old building was out of repair. Though 
no record appears on that book verifying the accepted tradition of the 
manner in which Washington determined the central position of the 
present site of the church, and carried his point at a vestry meeting, 
we agree with Bishop Meade as to the evidences of its truth. The 
method adopted is singularly like Washington's practical habits of 
business. When it was proposed to build on a new site, much oppo- 
sition was aroused, especially by "old Mr. Mason," who spoke of the 
spot then occupied as hallowed in the eyes of the people, and conse- 
crated by the graves of their dead. Washington at once made a sur- 


yey of this part of the parish, drew up a map, and marked the resi- 
dences of the parishioners, and presented it at the next vestry meeting. 
This argument was conclusive, and the site on which the church stands 
to-day is an evidence of his careful survey. 

by Washington. The building committee as appointed by the vestry, 
consisted of George Washington, Oeore;e William Fairfax, G^eorge Ma- 
son, Daniel McCarty and Edward Payne. The undertaker, or con- 
tractor was Daniei French, Gentleman, who contracted to build the 
church according to the articles of agreement for the sum o^ £S77. 
We wish that we had space to transcribe these articles in the columd 
of the Southern Churchman, but their best witness is the solidity of 
the walls of the old building to-day. The interior remained practically 
intact up to the time of the Civil War, when, to quote Bishop Johns, 
"the church was shamefully damaged by its military invaders, who 
left it to crumble under the wasting influences of the weather, and to 
be carried oft at pleasure by any one who fancied its material for pri- 
vate use." All that remained of the interior woodwork after this des- 
olation was the cornice around the ceiling. Bishop Meade, as all read- 
ers of his "Old Churches, Ministers and Families of Virginia," will re- 
member, records asvisit made by himself to Pohick church in 1837. He 
speaks of its neglected appearance and the dilapidation of the roof at 
that time. Through his suggestion a new roof was put on the church, 
which protected the interior for many years. 

But to return to the closing days of Its Colonial and its post-Revolu- 
tionary history. "His Excellency" General Washington resigned from 
the vestry in 1782, and shortly afterwards the Rev. Lee Massey ceased 
to conduct the services there, owing, it is said, to physical disability. 
The fortunes of the church appeared to wane, as little is heard of it for 
many years, with the exception of the time that Rev. Mason Locke 
Weems, the author of the famous "Life of Washingto ." was said to be 
its rector. Services must have been infrequent until about the year 1837, 
when the Rev. Mr. Johnson, who also acted as tutor to the children 
of the last Mrs. Mason, who resided at Gunston Hall, discharged the 
duties of rector for a few years. 

Under the direction of Bishop Meade and the fostering care of Dr. 
Packard, of the Theological Seminary, students were sent to keep 
the church open ana revive the decadent Episcopal interest. As was 
80 frequently the case during that period, the church was occupied 
on alternate Sundays by Methodist ministers. The late Rev. Richard 


R. Mason related that as a young man he attended a debating society 
held on week days In the church. 

This state of things continued until the year 18G0 when, as the 
Rev. E. L. Goodwin, the present accurate historiographer of the Dio- 
cese of Virginia, has kindly reminded us, the Rev. R. T. Brown, of 
Zion church, Fairfax Court House, the representatlye of old Payne's 
church, took charge of old Pohick, "with fair prospects of success." 
But the storm of Civil War, already alluded to, swept over the country 
and desolated the churches and homes of Virginia and the rest of 
the Southland. So this fair beginning was nipped in the bud, and this 
old historic House of Prayer was left to its latter desolations until 
in the year 1874, a gentleman from New York became deeply interested 
in its rehabilitation. He collected about $2,400 from prominent men 
in New York and Philadelphia and had the building put in good con- 
dition. Unfortunately no true restoration was attempted. Ordinary 
pews were placed in the body of the church, a great platform ran 
across the whole eastern end, and a vestry room was partitioned off 
on the north end of this platform. The furnishings of the chancel 
were of modem Gothic type, given by a church in the Diocese of New 
York. But the thanks of the community and congregation are due to 
this kind friend in a time of need, for creating a general interest in 
this venerable edifice, and rendering it fit for use. The renovated 
building was consecrated on the first Sunday in October, 1875, by Bishop 
Johns, who also preached the sermon, the morning service being read 
by Drs. Packard and Mcllhenny, of the Seminary. Students of the 
Seminary again served the church, under Dr. Kinloch Nelson, until 
in September, 1881, the writer of this article took charge, as a deacon, 
by the appointment of Bishop Whittle, and remained there thirteen 

On the suggestion of some members of the vestry, shortly before this 
time, the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association began to take an active 
interest in the church, and have for many years rented a pew and at- 
tended service there, on the Sunday falling during the week of their 
Annual Council held at Mount Vernon in the month of May. 

The Rev. Henry F. Kloman became the next minister, and after an 
incumbency of two years was succeeded by the Rev. Everard Meade, 
who is still the earnest and energetic rector of the parish. During his 
rectorship the restoration of the church has been taken in hand and 
is now in progress. In this most worthy undertaking he has been 
ably seconded by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, and Mr. H. H. 


podge, the superintendent of Mount Vernon, and a vestryman of Po- 
nick, together with the other yestrymen and friends of the church. 
Various patriotic hodies and societies for preserving the antiquities 
of the country have undertaken certain portions of the restoration. 
The Mount Vernon Ladies' Association will restore the Washington 
pew, and other pews will be restored by the descendants of the original 
pewholders, or by persons who now own some of the old estates around 
Pohlck. It is hoped that the restoration will be practically completed 
this fall. 

The present property of the church other than the church edifice 
consists of a rectory, a fine parish hall, mainly built through a gener- 
ous contribution from Mrs. Hearst, of California, and forty-three acres 
of land around the church and rectory. Bishop Meade exclaimed in 
a pathetic apostrophe, when he visited the church in 1887: ''Is this 
the house of God which was built by the Washingtons, the Masons, the 
McCartys, the Grahams, the Lewises, the Fairfaxes? — the house in 
which they used to worship the God of our fathers according to the 
venerable forms of the Episcopal Ghurcn — and some of whose names 
are yet to be seen on the doors of those now deserted pews? Is this 
also designed to moulder piecemeal away, or, when some signal is 
given, to become the prey of spoilers, and to be carried hither and 
thither, aud applied to every purpose under heaven? Surely patriot- 
ism or reverence for the greatest of patriots, if not religion, might 
De effectually appealed to in behalf of this one temple of God." 

How would his heart been gladdened if he could have lived to see 
what has been done there now! Notwithstanding the fact that the 
old church did become "the prey of spoilers," as he almost propheti- 
cally intimated, it will soon be clothed in the full similitude of its 
our ancient liturgy have been wafted heavenwards, and the Word of 
God has been continuously preached to attentive congregations; while 
the silent lessons of its history, made illustrious by those imihortal 
names of patriots who bowed in humble adoration at its altars, still 
teach the reverent worshippers, both young and old, to love their 
country and their God. May this venerable temple, replete with such 
holy and noble associations, continue to be a House of Prayer, and a 
living center for the preaching of the Gospel of Christ "as this Church 
has received the same," through the years and centuries ihat are to 




THERE is a record in the county of Louisa, Virginia, according to 
a letter in my possession, a copy of a petition sent by certain 
taxpayers of that newly-formed county to the house of Bur- 
gesses in 1740, praying to have refunded to them a certain to- 
bacco tax that had been levied on them to build a large, new and 
convenient church in St. Martin's Parish, Hanover county. 

That this church was The Fork church, or "The Old Fork Church," 
as it is generally known, is asserted by two eminent Virginians who 
formerly lived in the respective counties of Louisa and Hanover. 

This petition bears date two years before the cutting ofT of Louisa 
from Hanover, and of Fredericksville Parish from St. Martin's Parish, 
which appear from Henning's Statutes (Vol. V., pp. 21 and 208) to have 
been so separated in the year 1742. 

It may add to the value of this paper to state that the boundary be- 
tween the two parishes was a line drawn from the mouth of Gladys 
creek, on the south side of the North Anna river, a course south 20 
degrees west, till it intersects the Goochland line. And when Fred- 
ericksville Parish was divided, that part which adjoined St. Martin's 
was called Trinity (Hen. Sts., Vol. VIL, p. 428). 

St. Paul's Parish in Hanover was divided in 1726, six years after the 
county of Hanover was cut off from New Kent, and to the parish was 
given the name St. Martin's, after St. Martin-in-the-Fielda, London. 
For it was in that very year that that London church was built by 
Gibbs (See Brit. Enc, Title "London"). 

The church was no doubt called St Martin's, but was soon known as 
"The Fork Church," from its position with reference to the two forks of 
the Pamunkey, as the North Anna and South Anna were called in many 
of the legal documents of that time. In the last twenty-five years the 
name has been applied to the neat little church at Doswell, five miles 
away from the mother church. Two other churches in the western end of 
the parish, Allen's Greek and Hollowing Creek, in the memory of the 
oldest inhabitant of the parish, have passed away, and no trace of thair 


existence survives. In the place of these, two other churches have 
been built in the parish, but The Old Fork church survives as a noble 
monument to the Colonial Churchmen. 

Built of the glazed end brick, so familiar in Colonial buildings, its 
birthday is fixed at 1735, two years after that of the courthouse some 
twelve miles to the east, which sheltered the throng assembled there 
in 1763 to hear Patrick Henry in the "Parsons' Cause." It is a matter 
of great satisfaction to all lovers of the history of the community 
to know that both of these noble buildings are in an excellent state 
of preservation. Tradition says that these buildings were built of 
brick brought from England, as it says of many other of our Colonial 
buildings; but, thankless as the task is to destroy such a tradition, 
I am compelled to state that neither these, nor the brick for any other 
of our churches, were brought from England. I am confirmed in this 
statement by the answer of the learned Dr. Philip Slaughter, to whom 
some years ago I propounded the question. 

The Fork church is a solid structure, whose length, 75 feet, is about 
three times its breadth, with a door at the southern end, and another 
on the side, near the northeastern comer. Over each door there is 
a portico on brick columns, whose proportion and entasis are th« 
admiration of lovers of architecture. 

Although the records of Hanover county and of St. Martin's Parish 
have been lost or destroyed, the history of the old church is safe In 
the tradition and life of the people. 

In 1886 the Rev. Dr. Philip Slaughter published in the Southern 
Churchman an account of his recovery of what he called "The Rec- 
tory Book" of St. Paul's Parish, without which, he says, even Bishop 
Meade had been unable to give a full history of that parish. Among 
the names he mentioned as figuring in the vestries in St. Paul's Parish, 
which as we have seen embraced St. Martin's, Trinity and Fredericks- 
ville Parishes until 1726, were the Crawfords, Merewethers, Winstona, 
Henrys, Grymeses, Bickertons, Jones, Andersons, Rylands, Garlands, 
Merediths, Pages, Pendletons, Timberlakes, Lipscombs, Goodalls, Ab- 
botts, Macons, Skeltons, Pierces, Taylors, Darracotts, Chapmans, 
Streets, Crosses and Pollards. 

An entry of some interest is the following: "September, 1708, Mr. 
Thomas Sharpe having offered to be our minister, it is agreed that he 
preach in both churches till the last day of December come twelv* 
months, and if at the end of that time he likes us and we like him, 
to continue. Otherwise each party to provide for themselves." It 


is a Battofaction to know that preacher and people liked each other, 
for he continued to *'be hired" from year to year until 1720, when St 
Martin'B was cut oft as we have seen. 

The Fork church la rich in historic associations. Hither came 
Patrick Henry in his early Infancy, and in later life while liYing at 
''Scotch Town/' the interesting old hipped roofed structure some five 
mU€s away, through whose wide hall, in spite of the stone steps, 
Tarleton and his raiders rode. For Patrick Henry, with all of his 
zeal and enthusiasm for the liberty of his country, and with all of his 
feeling in behalf of the people which burst forth in their defense 
against the Parsons when they demanded more than was thought 
their due, always revered the Episcopal Church in which he was 
baptized and in which his father, John Henry, had been vestryman, 
and his uncle, the Rev. Patrick Henry, for whom he was named, was 
a parish minister for forty years. (Records of St. Paul's Parish ante.) 
To the Fork church from "Scotch Town" came Henry's cousin, 
Dorothea, better known as Dolly, little dreaming, perhaps, as she sat 
in the high-backed pew over which she could hardly see when stand- 
ing on tiptoe on a cushion, that she was one day to be the wife of 
James Madison, President of the United States. 

There preached in this parish, and at a church called The Fork, 
near "Ground Squirrel Bridge," Samuel Davies, the great Presbyterian 
preacher and president of Princeton College, as well as founder of the 
Hanover Presbytery, that virile body, whose staunch stand against 
the Establishment has been well described by Cooke, the Virginia 

St. Martin's Parish still owns the beautiful communion service, 
the paten and chalice inscribed with the following legend: "For the 
use of the churches in St. Martin's Parish, in Hanover and Louisa 
counties, Virginia, 175»." 

The history of this service is lost. There are two traditions about 
it. One that it was presented by St. Martin's church, London, and the 
other that it was presented by William Nelson, president of the Coun- 
cil, and brought over by his son Thomas (afterwards (Governor Nelson) 
upon his return from England that year, upon the completion of his 

The following Incidents are also related of this old service, in each 
of which Mrs. Berkeley, of "Airwell," is the heroine: 1st, that she 
defied General Tarleton and his raiders when they demanded the ser- 
vice; and 2d, that she defied the overseers of the poor who demanded 


It after the glebe lands were taken from the church. Bishop Meade 
is authority for the last statement. (Vol. II., Old Churches, p. 26.) 
It is of interest to note that this same service is now kept at the same 
place by the descendants of that redoubtable Churchwoman. 

Near the Fork church were grants of land made by the crown to 
Thomas Nelson, grandfather of General Nelson, upon a part of which 
his descendants now reside. The Marquis de Chastellux, who served 
in America as Major-General under Rochambeau, describes his visit 
to the "Oflaey," the home of General Nelson, a few miles above the 
Fork church. (Howe's Miscellanies, p. 295.) It was at Mont Air, the 
home of his son Francis, who so long represented the parish in the 
councils of the Church, that General Nelson died; and it was within 
a few miles of the old church at "Springfield" that his widow lived, 
having survived him nearly forty years. Beneath the shadow of the 
old church her remains lie buried along with those of a great number 
of her descendants. It may be safely asserted that from this sainted 
lady the Church has had as many adherents both clerical and lay, 
as have ever sprung from one stock in the same length of time. With 
the aid of one of her granddaughters, I have counted up twenty-four 
clergymen of the Episcopal Church among her descendants. When 
during the war the vestrymen were unable to raise the minister's sal- 
ary, a daughter of hers sent them word that she would guarantee 
it personally. 

Among those ministers furnished by this parish. Bishop Meade 
mentions the Rev. W. N. Pendleton, Washington Nelson, Robert 
Nelson and Farley Berkeley. To these may be added the names of 
the Rev. G. W. Nelson, late rector at Warrenton, and the Rev. Frank 
Page, of Brooklyn. 

It was to this parish, and to the home of Dr. Carter Berkeley that 
Bishop Meade came to choose his second wife, Thomasia Nelson, step- 
daughter of Dr. Berkeley. She, too, is buried at the Old Fork church. 

To the neighborhood of this old church came Lewis Minor Coleman, 
with his Hanover Academy and his influence for good hardly second 
to that of Dr. Arnold, of Rugby, which school and influence were 
well maintained by his successor. Colonel Hilary P. Jones, who had, 
however, to yield to the inevitable, and this great school is now but 
a memory. 

The picture of this old church will recall many recollections to the 
former students at Hanover Academy, many of whose names ro*f now 
be found on the backs or seats of the solid heart-pine pews. 


In the early part of the last century that demon of architecture, 
which Mr. Jefferson said had spread its maledictions over the land, 
broke loose, and the high-backed pews were taken out, and the pulpit 
which had been at the side of the church, was put at the end. 

An old Bible in the parish, that of the Fontaines, shows that in 1787 
the Rev. Robert Barrett was in charge. It was he of whom Bishop 
Meade (Vol. II., p. 43) says he received 320 pounds of tobacco for each 
sermon preached in Louisa county, where he preached twenty-four 
times a year during days of labor. 

The list of clergy who have ministered in the parish since Mr. 
Barrett includes the Rev. Messrs. Peter Nelson, who became a Baptist; 
Boggs, Phillips, Wydown, Cooke, Bowers, Stringfellow, Isaac Gibson, 
Wm. A. Alrich (whose first wife, a lovely woman, the sister of James 
M. Love, Esq., of Fairfax county, lies buried at the Fork church), 
R. Douglas Roller, Edward S. Gregory, R. Roane Claiborne, Curtis 
Grubb, Anselem Buchanan, S. S. Hepburn and Alexander Gait. To all 
these godly men the parish and this church are greatly indebted. Per- 
haps to Mrs. Hepburn more than any other person is due the present 
excellent condition of the Fork church, and the grounds surrounding it. 

The present wardens of the church are Nathaniel Burwell Cooke 
and Joseph F. Grubb. 

Within the last few years two funds of $3,000 and $200, respectively, 
have been established for the benefit of the church, the larger fund 
subject only to the maintenance of the Nelson-Page burying ground. 

Bishop Meade gives the list of the true friends of religion and of the 
Episcopal Church in the parish as Fontaines, Nelsons, Morrises. 
Wlckhams, Taylors, Winstons, Pollards, Robinsons, Pages, Prices, 
Shepherds, having already mentioned the Berkeley family, and made 
note of Dr. Carter Berkeley, "whose name may be so often seen on 
the Convention journals of the last and present century." 

Among the names on the vestry since Bishop Meade's time, in ad- 
dition to those mentioned by him, many of whom are related to those 
so mentioned, are Minor, Noland, Fleming, Hunter, Jones, Cooke, Dos- 
well, Terrell, Thompson, Grubb and Duke. There are many other 
families about the church whose love and affection for it are exhibited 
in the fact that though members of other churches, their attendajice 
is regular, their aid efficient and their pride in the old church as 
marked as if they were members of the Episcopal Church. Thither 
they bring their dead to be buried, and often their young people to 
enter this old church of their forefathers. 


The only monument inside the church is a beautiful tablet to three 
of its faithful sons: • 

"The Rev. Robert Nelson, Missionary to China during thirty years — 
of whom it is alleged, *He followed the Holy doctrine which he taught, 
comforting many.' " 

"William Nelson, late Colonel of Artillery C. S. A., who in this 
parish served God and helped his fellowmen for over sixty years." 

"John Page, late Major C. S. A. who in this parish through a long 
and honorable life did his duty to God and his neighbor.'' 

On the outside of the church lie buried many of those already 
mentioned and not mentioned. Among the latter may be named 
Captain and Mrs. Charles William Dabney, whose names are 
honorably associated with the history of the county and parish, and 
over whose remains a handsome monument has been erected by their 

A strong iron fence surrounds the church grounds, and this noble old 
church, with its massive walls and slate roof, bids fair to stand for 
generations as a lasting monument to the zeal and good taste of its 
builders. That its history should be lost is a great misfortune. It 
is, indeed, one of the pathetic things about our Church's past, no less 
than about many of the cherished possessions of our State, that any 
adequate history thereof is entirely lacking. Nineveh and Karnac 
are hardly less known. 




THE earliest records of Lancaster County Parish, when Lancaster 
and Middlesex were one, go back to 1650. In that year the court 
appointed Rev. Samuel Cole the minister of the whole county, 
on both sides of the Rappahannock river. This minister's name 
appears on a Vestry Book of Middlesex county, Va., in 1664. The court 
also appointed church wardens and sidemen, as in the English Church, 
for each side of the river; they were John Taylor, William Chapman, 
John Merryman, Edmund Lurin, George Kibble and William Leech. 
Other names on the record are Thomas and Cuthbert Powell, Edward 
Digges, William Berkeley, Robert Chowning, Henry Corbin, David Fox 
and John Washington, of Westmoreland county. 

In the year 1661 a general vestry was formed, and John Carter, 
Henry Corbin, David Fox and William Leech were appointed, from 
both sides of the river, to take up subscriptions for the support of 
a minister. Many of our county records and the Vestry Book of St. 
Mary's and Christ churches were destroyed during the war "between 
the States,*' and we find no one who can tell us just the year old St. 
Mary's White Chapel was built; but of this we are sure, that it was 
sometime in the middle of the - sixteenth century. This is assured by 
dates on the Communion plate, still in the church, and on tombstones 
to be found in a good state of preservation in the churchyard. Bishop 
Meade, from whom notes are herein taken, states in his book of ''Old 
Churches, Ministers and Families of Virginia," that "the first church 
wa? torn down and the present one built in 1740." One might infer from 
this that the whole church "was torn down," which was not the case 
at all. It was first built, like her contemporary. Old Christ church, 
in the lower part of the county (or rather Old Christ was built like 
St. Mary's, for we are assured that St. Mary's is the older) in the form 
of a cross, with three galleries, one owned by Major James Ball and 
Mr. Joseph Ball; one by the Downmans, of Belle Isle, and one was for 
the slaves of the Churchmen. 

In 1739 the old church was in great need of a new roof and other 


repairs, and the congregation being at that time unable or unwilling 
to raise the large sum of money required, determined to take down 
two arms of the church and restore the rest. This was done in 1740, 
the contract being awarded Mr. James Jones. The structure was then 
made into an oblong square, 60 feet long, 30 feet broad, walls 24 feet 
to roof, which has an oval ceiling. The pulpit is in one end of the 
long aisle, facing the south door, over which is the one remaining 
gallery. In the center of the long aisle is a broader one leading to 
the double doors facing the west, towards the county road, which is 
the main entrance. These doors are fastened now, as in olden time, 
by an iron thumb latch. 

The high pews and the pulpit, which had a stairway leading up to 
it, with a banister rail, were allowed to stand until prior to the Civil 
War, in the middle of the eighteenth century, when the pews were cut 
down, the high pulpit not being removed until 1882. In that year the 
old tablets were brought down from the gallery, where they had been 
laid in the dust, and restored at a cost of one hundred dollars. Rev. 
H. L. Derby, then rector of the parish, was very active in having 
this done. They are four in number. Two contain the Ten Command- 
ments and were the gift of David Fox in 1702. The other two were 
given by his son, William Fox, and contain the Apostles* Creed and 
the Lord's Prayer. There is no date inscribed on these, but they were 
given in 1717, as shown by the will of Captain William Fox, dated 
1717, and in which he directed: "My wife shall send for the Lord's 
Prayer and Creed, well drawn in gold letters, and my name under 
each of them, set in decent black frames, as a gift to St. Mary's 
White Chapel"; and he also left by his will to that church "the 
font that came in that year." That the wife carried out the will to the 
letter ife proven by the tablets, and font in the church, in splendid 
preservation to this day. The tablets are of solid walnut wood and the 
letters are hand-carved, cut in, and heavily gilded in gold gilt. They 
are oval at the top, with the square base, in keeping with the deep- 
seated windows and oval ceiling. The font, of unpolished marble, 
stands on a square base, which is exceedingly heavy, from which a 
round marble pedestal supports on its top the very large, round marble 
basin, all of which stands four feet six inches. The chalice is a 
solid silver goblet inscribed: "The gift of David Fox, 1669." 

George Spencer, by his will, dated March 23, 1691, gave twenty 
pounds sterling for a piece of communion plate for St. Mary's White 
Chapel, and also a "Curpice." The only other piece of silver in pos- 


session of the church is a small silver salver, which is used with the 
goblet. It is much worn by age and has no inscription or date, but 
we suppose that it is "that piece of plate." 

The old Bible was given by Rawleigh Downman, of Belle Isle, in 
1838. The beautiful circular Communion railing remains as in olden 
days, but the brick aisles have been planked and carpeted, as has the 
chancel, and fitted up with modern furniture. The old Communion 
table is still in the vestry room. It once stood in the chancel, 
and was covered with a green velvet cover with a gilt fringe, 
and in the center was the Ball coat-of-arms in bas-relief and done m 
gilt This was sold years ago to one of the Downmans, whose mater- 
nal ancestor was a Ball. 

In the churchyard are a number of old tombs of massive marble, 
bearing dates in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Nearly all 
of the oldest are inscribed with the name of Ball. The first is David 
Ball, seventh son of William Ball, bom 1686; some of the others are 
Mildred Ball, Juduthum Ball, Mary Ann Ball, daughter of Rev. John 
Bertrand, Jesse Ball, Mary Ball, daughter of Edwin Conway, and James 
Ball, her husband; f^nny, daughter of Rawleigh Downman, of Lettuce, 
third wife of James Ball and daughter of Richard Lee, of Ditchley. ' 

These names show that this church counted among her numbers 
names of the old Virginia aristocrats of the sixteenth and seventeenth 
centuries. Among the Churchmen of the eighteenth century we will 
mention Chinn, Downman, Carter, Ball, Mitchell, Lee, Lewis, Ewell, 
McCarty, Towles, Chowning, Sneade, Pierce, Robinson and Chilton. 
The ministers were Rev. Samuel Cole, died 1659; Revs. William White 
and Benjamin Doggett, died 1682; John Bertrand, died 1701 (he was a 
Huguenot, is buried at Belle Isle, and counted among his descendants 
Judge Cyrus Griffith, last president of the Continental Congress); 
Andrew Jackson, died 1710; John Bell, died, 1743; David Currie, died 
1792; David Ball, died 1791. Then followed Leland, Page, McNorton, 
Low, 1832; Ephraim Adams, 1838; Francis McGuire, 1839; Rev. Bryant, 
1844; Rev. Richmond, 1850; Rev. Nash, 1853; Rev. Edmund Withers. 
These were followed by Revs. George May, H. L. Derby, E. B. Burwell, 
Mr. Micou and the present rector. Rev. L. R. Combs. 

In the corner of the churchyard is an old slab, fiat on the ground 
and much broken, inscribed: "To Rev. Jno. Stritchley, born 1669." 
Then follows a long illegible inscription. We have no record of his 
having served the church. Col. William Ball, who came to this county 
from England in 1650, settled at the mouth of the Corrotoman River, 


bringing his family. He died in 1669, leaving two sons and one 
daughter, Hannah, who married Daniel Fox. William left eight sons. 
Joseph left no male issue, but General George Washington is his 
grandson by his youngest daughter, Mary. Mary Ball, grandmother 
of Washington, lies buried at "Epping Forest," five miles from the 
church, and a handsome oil picture of her adorns the walls of the 
court-room at Lancaster, the county seat. None of Col. William Ball's 
children are buried at the church, but his grandchildren and their de- 
scendants. Joseph Ball married a Miss Ravenscroft, of England, and 
settled in London. He was brother of Mary Ball, who was the mother 
of Washington. His only daughter, Fannie, married Raleigh Down- 
man in 1750. Her children were Joseph Ball Downman, of Morattico; 
Fannie, who married Col. James Ball, of Beaudley, and Mr. Raleigh 
Downman, of Belle Isle. 

Mr. Joseph Ball wrote to his nephew, George Washington, after 
Braddock's defeat, the following letter: 

"Stratford, 5th of Sept., 1755. 

"It is a sensible pleasure to me to hear that you have behaved with 
such a martial spirit, in all your engagements with the French, nigh 
Ohio. Go on as you have begun, and God prosper you. We have heard 
of Gen. Braddock's defeat. Everybody blames his rash conduct. Every- 
body commends the courage of the Virginians and Carolina men, which 
is very agreeable to me. I desire you, as you may have opportunity, 
to give me a short account how you proceed. I am your mother's 
brother. I hope you will not deny my request. I heartily wish you 
good success, and am 

"Your loving uncle, 

"Joseph Bai*l. 

"To Major George Washington, at the Falls of Rappahannock, or 
elsewhere in Virginia. 
"Please direct me at Stratford-by-Bow, nigh London." 
Unlike most Colonial churches, St. Mary's did not suffer by the depre- 
dation of troops during the war 1861-5. The Federal gunboats came 
up the Rappahanock river, near where the church is located, and threw 
bomb shells over and around, cutting off the tree tops, but did not hit 
the church. A company of the Ninth Virginia Calvary, C. S. A., were 
stationed at the church for a tew months in 1861, and had tents all 
around the church. Col. Merriwether Lewis was then captain, with 
Mr. Robert Tunstall Pierce as first lieutenant, and James K. Ball, of 


Beaudley. bm second lieutenant. The three are to-day "sleeping" near 
each other in the churchyard, resting "on the old camp ground/' and 
each has a monument to show the reverence and love the liying bear to 
the honored dead. 

In 1880 the church ladles organized a society called "The Bee Hiye," 
and since that time have raised nearly a thousand dollars, which has 
been spent on the church. To-day both the interior and exterior pre- 
sent a neat and comfortable appearance, and to "the faithful few" who 
worship within her walls she seems 

"A spot of earth supremely blest. 
Dearer, more sacred than all the rest." 




nN this article effort will be made to keep to the church buildings 
and their material associations. 
St. Thomas' was begun in 1734; St. Paul's in 1736. Both were 
substantially built of brick, and the main construction of both re- 
mains unchanged and gives promise of endurance. In both buildings 
the ravages of time have wrought, and human care, reverent and re- 
spectful, if not always so intelligent as that of our day, has restored. 
Tantalizing it is that so insufficient records repay our search. 

When St^ Thomas' was first used does not appear, -but the first oc- 
cupation of St Paul's, as noted in the Minutes of the Vestry, was in 
1760. Both these parishes were organized with vestries in 1701. St. 
Paul's is the oldest organization — the oldest corporation of continuous 
life in North Carolina; and its first church building, begun in 1701 
and finished the next year, was the first church built in the Province. 
But of the now existing buildings, St. Thomas', Bath, has always been 
accounted the older. 

The following measurements will help out our comparison, all being 
outside dimensions: 


Nave length, 51 feet; nave width, 31 feet; nave height, sides, 14 feet; 
thickness of bricks, 3 by 4^ by 9 inches; clay tiles in fioor, 2 by 8 by 
8 inches. 


Nave length, 60 feet; nave width, 40 feet 3 inches; nave height, sides, 
20 feet; dimensions of bricks, 2%, by 4 by 8% inches. 

St. Paul's was formerly tiled, and "intramural" burials were allowed. 
The fioor is now of wood. 

The Minutes of St. Thomas' vestry have disappeared. St. Paul's 
are continuous from 1701 to 1776, when there is a break of some years. 

The beginning of St. Paul's first church was by voluntary subscrip- 
tion; so also of the building now standing. 


Until about a generation ago, St. Thomas' had a wooden belfry, 
standing apart from the church, in which hung a small bell, said to 
have been given by Queen Anne of England. Within the memory of per- 
sons now living the incongruous belfry was removed and the old bell 
was given in part payment for a new and larger bell. 

In aptitude for parting with something purporting to have been 
given by that good "nursing mother of the Church," St Paul's vestry 
has kept pace with St Thomas'; for, about the year 1850 they gave 
away to Holy Trinity church, Hertford, North Carolina, the small old 
marble "Queen Anne font," to have a larger one, now in the church, 
the gift of Mr. John Thompson, a parishioner. Tradition has it that 
a consideration favoring the change was that the new font should be 
large enough for the Rubric for the Immersion of Infants. History 
does not record a test of that capacity. There is no mention In our 
Minutes of the Queen Anne font in its coming or going. 

In a long and dismal letter written to the English Society for the 
Propagation of the Gospel in 1713-14, St. Paul's vestry represent that 
they have "but one sorry church, on the North shore of the Sound; 
never finished, no ornaments belonging to a church, nor wherewith to 
buy any." 

Queen Anne died August 1st, 1714. She may, ere that have been 
moved to give the font and other help to these, her "poor country 
folks," whose letter bears date March ye 2d of the same year. The 
absence of all recognition of any such gift is remarkable. 

In those days this settlement was called "Queen Anne's Town," but 
not in the vestry book. It is "Chowan Precinct," or, more particularly, 
the "North Shore"; and in the minutes of 1722-23, Edenton is first men- 
tioned. It was Just then that the authorities imposed the name in 
memory of Charles Eden, the lately deceased royal (Governor of the 

The parish or precinct was too large to be served by one church 
building, and that "25 feet long!" Therefore chapels were built, of 
which there are in all six mentioned, in the Colonial period; namely: 
Constant's, otherwise spelled Costans and Costen's, Farlees, Sarum, 
Knotty Pine, Indian Town, and on the Southwest Shore. Descriptive 
of them may be read this order of the vestry made in 1741: "to build 
two chappells in Chowan parish, viz., at James Costans or thelrabouts 
as they shall think fitt, and the other at James Braddey's or near thelr- 
abouts, and the Domentions as here mentioned vlzt: Thirty-five foot 
long and Twenty-two foot and a half wide. Eleven foot in the pitch be- 



tween Sill and Plate, and a Roof; workmanlike, near a squear, and to be 
a good fraim Gott out of Good Timber and covered with Good Sipress 
shingles and good Sleepers and flowers of Good plank and seated with 
Good plank, with three Windows suitable, with a pulpit and all things 

These chapels probably hindered the building of the church at Eden- 
ton. Year after year the vestry was composed of men who lived re- 
mote from Edenton, in the upper part of the precinct. There is not in 
the minutes any reference to sectional feeling nor to any rural and 
urban rivalry; but the long unfurnished church building at Edenton and 
the absence of Edentonians from the vestry have seemed signiflcant. 

Surely, if Edward Moseley had remained here after 1736, when the 
church was begun, public spirited and energetic as he was, the digni- 
fied building could not have so dragged its slow length along! 

The first monies for its erection, as is true also of the building of the 
1701 church, came from private subscription, the names and amounts 
being very interesting, and the secretary or clerk being anonymous, his 
entry being "My own subscription 100 £" — equal to the largest, only two 
on the list being for so much. This information is from a separate 
sheet, not the Vestry Book, which is evidently a current account of 
receipts and expenditures for the present St. Paurs building, and its 
first date of a payment is "May 10th, 1736 — To money for clearing lots 

The vestry on May 10, 1736, "Ordered that to contribute towards de- 
fraying expenses of building a church at Edenton, ♦ ♦ ♦ and other 
contingent charges ♦ ♦ ♦ a tax or levy ♦ ♦ ♦ be ♦ ♦ ♦ on 
each Tythable ♦ / ♦ ♦ for the ensuing year." 

At a General Assembly of the Province of North Carolina, held at 
Edenton in 1740, an act was passed whose preamble notes that several 
well disposed persons have voluntarily subscribed ♦ ♦ ♦ to build 
and erect a church in Edenton; that some of the commissioners appoint- 
ed to have the work done had died, and that the vestry refused to assist 
therein. It provided for the prosecution of the work, and "that when 
the said church shall be fit to celebrate Divine Service in, all meetings 
of Vestries ♦ ♦ ♦ should be held at the said church and that no 
other place in the said Parish." 

The vestry's meeting in the church at Edenton in 1760 gives us that 
year for its completion. 

Now as to public sentiment toward taxation for church building, it 
has been pointed out as creditable to the people of Edenton that they 


protested against selling the pews in St. Paul's and petitioned the As- 
sembly to finish it by a tax upon the people, so that all, paying equally, 
might have equal rights in their house of worship. 

There is occasional notice of the vestry's granting the rights to 
build a pew in a chapel. 

Some reference now to the church plate, still in use: 

In the minute of 1703 acknowledgment is made of the gift of Ten 
Pounds to the Parish from Governor Francis Nicholson, of Virginia, 
wherewith, it was ordered, that a chalice be purchased at Boston, to 
be suitably inscribed. 

In 1714 Col. Edward Moseley writes Governor Nicholson that his 
purpose had not yet been fulfilled, and appeals to him to take steps to 
accomplish it. 

In 1714, in the above quoted dismal letter the vestry write the S. P. 
G. that Governor Nicholson's gift had not "yet been expended for want 
of an additiion according to the Intention of the Donor." 

In 1727-28 it is written: "Coll. Edward Moseley made a present to the 
Parish of a Silver Jhalice and Plate with his own name Engraven 
thereon/' and to-day that inscription may be read, the same on both 

"The Gift of Colonell Edward Mosely, for ye use of ye Church in 
Edenton, in the year 1725." 

There is also a larger chalice of silver with this inscription: 

D. D. Johannes Garzia, Ecclesiae Anglicanae Presbyter." 

The only reference to this priest is a minute of the payment to him 
of £5 in 1736. He was an itinerant evangelist for this part of the 
Colony, with his home at Bath. It was probably during his incum- 
bency of St. Thomas', Bath, that that parish acquired its glebe of three 
hundred acres, and its glebe house, the only one ever owned by any 
parish in North Carolina, as Bishop Cheshire states. 

An interesting association of these old parishes is in connection with 
church books and public libraries. St. Paul's Vestry, March ye 2d, 
1713-14, to the Soc. Prop. Gospel say: "The first Library of great value 
sent us by the direction of the Reverend Dr. Bray, through an unhappy 
Inscription on the Back of the Books or the title page, viz.. Belonging 
to the Parish of St. Thomas', of Pamplico, in the then rising but now 
miserable county of Bath, falsely supposed to be the seat of Govern- 
ment, was lodged there and by that means rendered useless to the 
clergy for whose service it was chiefly intended, and in what condition 
we know not, but we fear the worst by reason of the late war.' 


. t" «- c s. 

^ t t> k I. 


One book from that library has come down to us, and it was the 
happiness of a rector of St. Paul's, Edenton, to secure it as a gift to 
the Diocese of East Carolina, the present owner of it. It is a copy of 
Gabriel Towerson's Application of the Church Catechism, London, 1685, 
bound in leather, handsomely stamped on the back, in gold: "Be- 
longing to ye Library of St. Thomas* Parish in Pamlico." 

About the year 1720 Edward Moseley sent bill of exchange to London 
to purchase a library for St. Paul's, Edenton, but there is no record of 
its coming. It is thus mentioned: "Catalogue of Books humbly present- 
ed by Edward Mosely, Esq., to the Honb'le and Most August Society 
for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, towards a Pro- 
vincial Library to be kept in Edenton, the Metropolis of North Caroli- 
na." There are seventy-four volumes. 

Before leaving this old church, taking a last look toward its altar, 
one may recall the inscription at the base of the chancel window, the 
only stained glass in the building, modestly hidden by the English 
oaken furniture: 

"In honour of God, to the memory of 

Josiah Collins, 
by whose efforts mainly this church 

when in 
ruins was restored. Died May 19th, 1819." 

^ift (§ih (Bifwctif, 

What an image of peace and rest 

Is this little church among its graves! 
All is so quiet; the troubled breast. 
The wounded spirit, the heart oppressed. 
Here may find the repose it craves. 

See how the ivy climbs and expands 

Over this humble hermitage. 
And seems to caress with its little hands 
The rough, gray stones as a child that stands 

Caressing the wrinkled cheeks of age. 

Here would I stay and let the world 

With its distant thunder roar and roll; 
Storms do not rend the sail that is furled. 
Nor like a dead leaf, tossed and whirled 
In an eddy of wind, is the anchored soul. 

— ^fl". W. Longfellow,