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Title: Religious Life of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century - The Faith of Our Fathers
Author: Brydon, G. MacLaren (George MacLaren), 1875-1963
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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The Faith of Our Fathers

Historiographer of Diocese of Virginia



Jamestown 350th Anniversary
Historical Booklet, Number 10



Chapter                                      Page

One   Beginnings                               1

Two   The Colonists at Worship                 6

Three Making Bricks Without Straw             12

Four  Building a Christian Community          22

Five  The Coming of the Negro                 26

Six   Fighting Adverse Conditions             34

Seven The Last Decade                         42

Bibliography                                  46

Appendix A                                    47

Appendix B                                    48


The settlement of Englishmen at Jamestown in 1607 was the outgrowth of
a vision of transatlantic expansion which had been growing stronger
steadily during the preceding generation. It was in the following of
that vision that Queen Elizabeth granted to a group of men headed by
Sir Walter Raleigh the authority to establish a colony upon the remote
shores of the Atlantic ocean, and out of the plans of this group came
the ill-fated colony which was started at Roanoke Island, in what is
now the State of North Carolina, in the year 1585. This colony after a
life of a few years disappeared: whether destroyed by Indian attack, or
by a Spanish fleet which resented the settlement of Englishmen in a
land that was claimed for Spain, or by famine or disease, no one knows
to this day. The one permanent result was the giving of the name
Virginia to their American land in honor of their Queen.

Following the failure of this first effort, a plan was formulated and
established by charter given by King James in the year 1606. Under this
charter companies were to be formed in order to found two English
settlements in America; one to be a colony at some point between the
34th and 41st degrees of latitude, and the other between the 38th and
45th degrees. Both companies had the widespread interest of the English
people, and both made settlements in America in the same year, 1607.
The Virginia Company established its settlement at Jamestown, from
which developed the Colony, and later the Commonwealth of Virginia, as
the first permanent English settlement in America. The Plymouth Company
made its settlement upon the coast of what is now Maine; but this
effort failed and the colonists returned home in the following year.
Permanent settlement of New England began in 1620 with the coming of
the Pilgrims to Plymouth, Massachusetts. From these two first
settlements thus widely separated, but with their common ideal of
English civilization and English concepts of freedom and
self-government, has grown the American nation of today. This nation,
while welcoming all the gifts and values which people of other nations
have brought to the enrichment and broadening of our common life, is
still basically an English or Anglo-Saxon nation.

Many impelling motives animated the men who organized the Virginia
company and labored for the establishment of a colony in America. They
wanted of course the expansion of British trade and a wider market for
British manufactures; and they naturally hoped for financial profit
from their investment in shares of stock in the companies. They
planned, also, not merely trading posts in a foreign land as in India
and elsewhere, but an extension and expansion of the empire of Great

A most important part of their plan was to make colonies the answer to
a problem which was pressing for solution: the problem of what to do
with the increasing overplus of population in many of the cities of
England. The danger of a population too great for the land of England
to support and feed was a real one. A colony to which England could
send her overplus population as part of a greater England was a real
solution, and a better one than would be the raising of grain and
foodstuff by foreign countries to feed the hungry of Great Britain.
That men were thinking along this line appears from the action of
certain large towns in paying the expense of the voyage of young people
by the score or hundred to Virginia, and from the plan soon after the
first settlement, whereby young women of reputable families were sent
to Virginia to become wives of the colonists.

And still another motive was the religious one. The Virginia Company
kept constantly in the forefront their plan to Christianize the
Indians. Their plan as they began to put it into effect included the
establishment of parishes and the selection of fit clergymen to go
overseas; to establish a University with a college therein for Indians,
and to take Indian youths into English families to fit and prepare them
for their college. They secured from both King and Archbishop the
authority and permission to bring the expatriated Pilgrim Fathers back
under the English flag, and give them a settlement in Virginia, a plan
which failed after the Pilgrims had started for their promised new



The men who came to Jamestown brought the ideals and ways of life of
the mother country; its common law, the enactments of Parliament, the
Church of their people; and as shown in the prayer written in England
which the commanding officer of the colony was required to use daily at
the setting of the watch, they hoped also that the natives of the land
might be brought into the Kingdom of God. They made petition for their
own needs, but they prayed also:

     And seeing, Lord, the highest end of our plantation here is
     to set up the standard and display the banner of Jesus
     Christ, even here where Satan's throne is, Lord let our
     labour be blessed in labouring the conversion of the
     heathen; and because thou usest not to work such mighty
     works by unholy means, Lord sanctifie our spirits and give
     us holy hearts that so we may be thy instruments in this
     most glorious work.

It is of real significance that the London Company made its first
settlement a parish after the manner of the Church of England, and
elected as its first rector the Reverend Richard Hakluyt, one of the
most noted clergymen in England, and a man who had captured the
imagination of all with his books on travel in far lands. He was
expected to remain in England and represent the needs of the colonists
and help, perhaps, to select clergymen to go to new parishes which
would be formed as settlements developed. The religious aspect of the
movement was approved by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and he approved
also the selection of the Reverend Robert Hunt who came to Jamestown as
the vicar of the parish and the pastor of the colonists.

The London Company made a provision that each new settlement should
become a parish with its own rector. The first settlements were
established by the Company itself and were called "Cities" after the
ideal and pattern of Geneva. That city, the home of John Calvin and of
the Calvinistic theology which so strongly influenced the Church of
England in the Seventeenth Century, was a self-governing unit in the
Swiss Confederation. It consisted of the city and its suburban
territory and was the prototype from which the "City" or "Hundred" in
Virginia and the "Township" or "town" in Massachusetts were formed.

There were four Cities in Virginia: James City, Charles City, The City
of Henrico, and Elizabeth City. They were boroughs at the time of the
first meeting of the General Assembly of Virginia in 1619, each one
electing its own Burgesses. And as counties now, instead of cities,
each one elects its own Delegates to the Assembly. There were four
"cities," three "hundreds," and four "plantations" represented by
Burgesses in the first Assembly in 1619, and each one was a separate
parish. Official records have long been lost but the names are known of
some six clergymen who were incumbents of parishes in Virginia between
1607 and 1619.

The London Company had a rule that every clergyman who volunteered or
was invited to go to a parish in Virginia was to be investigated as to
character and fitness, and each one of them was taken by a committee to
a church to read the service and preach a sermon as part of the

It is not generally known, perhaps, but plans for the immediate
development of the life of the colonists included the establishment of
a university which would set aside one hall or college for the
education of Indian youth and another for the education of sons of
English families. The London Company in 1618 made a grant of ten
thousand acres of land on the north side of the James River and
immediately to the east of the present-day City of Richmond. That grant
was to be the seat of the University and was to be developed as a group
of tenant farms with the college buildings in the center. So great was
the interest throughout England in the plan that the King as the
temporal head of the Church presented the matter to the whole people of
England. In 1617 he wrote the Archbishops of Canterbury and York:

     Most Reverend Father in God: Right trustie and well beloved
     Counsellor, we greet you well: You have heard ere this of
     the attempt of divers worthy men, our subjects, to plant in
     Virginia, under the warrant of our letters of patent, people
     of this Kingdom, as well as for the enlarging of our
     dominions as for the propogation of the Gospel amongst
     infidells; wherein there is good progress made, and hope of
     further increase: so as the undertakers of that plantation
     are now in hand with the erection of some churches and
     schools for the education of the children of these
     barbarians, which cannot but be to them a very great charge,
     and above the expense which for the civil plantation doth
     come to them, in which we doubt not but that you and all
     others who wish well to the increase of Christian religion
     will be willing to give all assistance and furtherance you
     may, and therein to make experience of the zeal and devotion
     of our well minded subjects; especially those of the clergy.

     Wherefore we do require you, and hereby authorize you to
     write your letters to the several bishops of the dioceses in
     your province, that they do give order to the ministers and
     other zealous men of their dioceses, both by their own
     example in contribution and by exhortation to others, to
     move our people within their several charges to contribute
     to so good a work in as liberal a manner as they may.

Under instructions from the King offerings were to be taken in every
parish four times a year for two years, the money collected to be sent
to the bishops and by them forwarded to the treasurer of the London
Company. The treasurer reported later that more than fifteen hundred
pounds sterling had been sent to him, and later he reported additional
amounts. In that period three bequests aggregating more than a thousand
pounds sterling were reported for the Christianizing of the Indians.
Other gifts included a "communion cup with cover and a plate of silver
guilt for the bread" with communion silk and linen cloths and other
ornaments, all to be placed within a church for Indians to be built
under another bequest. This communion chalice and paten are owned
today by one of the oldest parishes in Virginia, and are in St. John's
Church, of Elizabeth City Parish, at Hampton.

On one of the ships sailing from England to the East Indies an appeal
was made by the chaplain in behalf of the university in Virginia and
gifts were made in such large amount that when they were sent to
Virginia they sufficed for the erection of "a publique free schoole" to
be connected with the university. They named it "The East India
School." The General Assembly, when it first met in July 1619, adopted
a resolution urging English families to take promising Indian youths
into their homes to teach them the fundamentals and prepare them for
the opening of the college.

The work of establishing the university was already proceeding; land
was being cleared; farm houses were being erected; more than one
hundred artisans and workmen had been sent from England and the college
buildings were under construction when on Good Friday, March 22,
1621/22, the great Indian massacre occurred. A full third of all the
English people in Virginia were killed by Indians in one fatal day. The
buildings at the university were burned to the ground, and every
English man, woman and child in every family of the artisans and
workmen was killed. The East India School was burned to the ground.
Indeed the only thing that saved the colony from utter extermination
was that Chanco, an Indian who had become a Christian, had learned of
the plot the night before the massacre and warned the Englishman,
Richard Pace, with whom he lived. Pace crossed the James River and
warned the residents of Jamestown. So it was that Jamestown and some of
the adjoining settlements were warned in time to protect themselves.

The massacre was of course a terrific catastrophe to the whole colony.
Outlying settlements had to be abandoned and the colony was engaged in
war with the Indians for several years. Then a second catastrophe
occurred. King James became dissatisfied with the independent attitude
of the London Company and personally secured its dissolution in 1624.
He then took control of Virginia as a Royal Colony and he himself
appointed the Governor and Council of the colony.

This ended all plans for the opening of the university. The King died
in the following year and his son, King Charles I, was not interested
in a university in Virginia. Nor was he or anyone else interested in
sending ministers to the colonial parishes.

The London Company, with a membership including representatives of the
Church and the universities, and of business interests and the higher
social classes, had the confidence of the people. The King did not. He
had their loyalty as their sovereign, but the spiritual and cultural
welfare of a colony overseas carried little weight amid the political
cross-currents and the self-seeking of a royal court.


The Colonists at Worship

There are several first-hand accounts of religious worship in the
earliest days of the Jamestown colony. Captain John Smith wrote of the
men at worship in the open air until a chapel could be erected. He
describes the scene of a celebration of the Holy Communion, with the
Holy Table standing under an old sail lashed from tree to tree, with a
bar of wood fastened between two trees as the pulpit, and men kneeling
on the ground before their first altar. Services were held daily,
according to the rules of the _Book of Common Prayer_ which they
brought with them: morning prayer and evening prayer everyday, and
sermons twice on Sunday and once during the week. The law of the Church
required the Holy Communion to be celebrated at least three times
during the year; on Christmas, Easter, and Whitsunday; and
unquestionably this law was observed at Jamestown. Many clergymen
celebrated that sacrament oftener. There can be little doubt that the
first celebration of the Holy Communion at Jamestown was on Whitsunday,
May 24th (old style) 1607, although the first one of which a record
remains was held on the third Sunday after Trinity, June 21. That was a
special celebration, held for a two-fold purpose, one, that Mr. Hunt
had been able to reconcile serious differences between certain elements
among the colonists who had been in angry strife with each other, and
second, because two of the ships which brought the colonists to
Virginia were to set sail on the following morning upon their return
trip to England.

William Strachey, writing in a report of the colony in 1610 after Lord
De la Warr had arrived as the new governor presents the following

     In the midst of the market-place, a store-house, a
     "Corps-du-Garde", and a pretty chapel, all which the Lord
     Governour ordered to be put in good repair. The chapel was
     in length sixty feet, in breadth twenty-four, and the Lord
     Governour had repaired it with a chancel of cedar and a
     communion table of black walnut; all the pews and pulpit
     were of cedar, with fair broad windows, also of cedar, to
     shut and open, as the weather shall occasion. The font was
     hewen hollow like a canoa, and there were two bells in the
     steeple at the west end. The Church was so cast as to be
     very light within, and the Lord Governour caused it to be
     kept passing sweet and trimmed up with divers flowers. There
     was a sexton in charge of the church, and every morning at
     the ringing of a bell by him, about ten o'clock, each man
     addressed himself to prayers, and so at four of the clock
     before supper. There was a sermon every Thursday and two
     sermons every Sunday, the two preachers taking their weekly
     turns. Every Sunday when the Lord Governour went to church
     he was accompanied with all the Councillors, Captains, other
     officers, and all the gentlemen, and with a guard of fifty
     halberdiers, in his Lordship's livery, fair red cloaks, on
     each side and behind him. The Lord Governour sat in the
     choir in a green velvet chair, with a velvet cushion before
     him on which he knelt, and the Council, Captains and
     officers sat on each side of him, each in their place; and
     when the Lord Governour returned home he was waited on in
     the same manner to his house.

Reverend Alexander Whitaker, the first rector of the City of Henrico
from its foundation in 1611 until his death by drowning in 1617, and
who is still remembered as the clergyman who baptized the Indian
princess Pocahontas, after her conversion to the Christian faith,
described his services as follows:

     Every Sabbath we preach in the forenoon and catechize in the
     afternoon. Every Saturday at night I exercise in Sir Thomas
     Dale's house. Our Church affaires be consulted on by the
     minister and four of the most religious men. Once every
     month we have a communion, and once every year a solemn

This method of daily and Sunday services, as the regular rule of the
Church of England, was adopted in Virginia as far as colonial
conditions would permit. But apart from Jamestown itself, and the
schools which came into existence, there would not be many parishes in
which daily services would be feasible. The people lived too far apart
on their farms. They might drive or walk three or five miles to Church
on Sundays, but could not give the time for that on work-days. The same
objection worked against having two services on Sunday. So the custom
became general of having a single service in every church and chapel
every Sunday. The statement made by Rev. Alexander Whitaker, that he
"catechized" every Sabbath afternoon, is illustrative of the usual
method of instructing young people of the parish in the Church
Catechism as preparation for admission to the Holy Communion. Such
"catechetical classes" might be held as frequently on Sunday afternoons
as the needs of the parish children, both white and Negro, might
require: or perhaps sometimes, as frequently as the zeal, or lack of
zeal of the incumbent minister might determine. When in 1724 the Bishop
of London sent a questionary to every Anglican clergyman incumbent of a
parish in America, one of the questions was, "At what times do you
Catechize the Youth of your Parish?"

       *       *       *       *       *

     They have builded many pretty villages, faire houses and
     chapels which are growne good benefices of 120 pounds a
     yeare besides their own mundall [mundane] industry.

So wrote Captain John Smith a number of years after his return to
England. There may have been an excess of imagination in describing new
and raw settlements as "faire villages," but the salary which was to be
paid to the ministers was a provable fact. Tithes from the culture of
the land by the parishioners amounted to as much as £120, and the
minister had a glebe of 100 acres from the cultivation of which his
tenants and servants through "mundall industry" might greatly increase
his income.

The London Company had carried to Virginia and fixed for the whole
duration of the colonial period the parish system of the Church of
England. Under that system each community became a parish and the
people of the parish, as the land-owners of the community, supported
the church and paid the salary of the minister by tithes from the
produce of the land. There was, however, one change from the custom in
England. There the tithes of a parish might produce a salary for the
incumbent in any amount from ten pounds to hundreds of pounds per
annum. In Virginia the amount of the salary was fixed by the General
Assembly as a definite quantity of tobacco. There was also a glebe farm
and a residence. Those who came to Virginia brought with them their
Bible and their _Book of Common Prayer_ and the Established Church of
England became the Established Church of the Colony.

The all-pervading fact to be kept in mind in connection with the
development of religious organization in Virginia is that the Church of
England itself, during the period from 1600 to the Cromwellian era
1645-1660, was in a turmoil on account of two diverse schools of
thought. One school within the Church desired to retain all the ancient
forms of creed and worship from past centuries except those which had
been perverted under the centuries of Roman Catholic domination. The
other school within the Church desired to cast out all liturgical forms
and the surplice, and also all power of the bishops. They wished to
reduce worship to the forms of Calvinistic theology. There were also
many who desired to make the Church broad enough to include both
schools. The Calvinistic party was already forming dissenting

The Brownists, later to become the Pilgrim Fathers of New England, had
already been driven out of England; and under King James, who had
turned against the Calvinists to support the "high church" party,
ecclesiastical courts were being formed to mete out severe punishment
to leaders of dissent.

King James had declared he would "harry the dissenters" and force them
to conform to the Established Church or be driven from the country.
England's answer to that threat was to establish the colonies of
Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Hampshire; and the
constantly growing power of dissent resulted in civil war, in
execution of King Charles I, in the era of the Commonwealth; and in the
abolition of _Prayer Book_ worship for fifteen years from every church
and chapel in England.

In 1606 when the Virginia Company was organized the Calvinistic party
was in power in England, and there were many Calvinists, or Puritans,
as they were then called, in the universities and elsewhere. The
Virginia Company itself was under the influence of Puritan leaders; so
much so, indeed, that this fact was one of the reasons which impelled
the King to abolish the Virginia Company. He knew the freedom of
self-government which the Company had established in Virginia and he no
longer trusted its loyalty to the Monarchy.

From the first settlement in 1607 the policy in Virginia was to let no
question arise between high-churchman and Calvinist. The earlier laws
required the minister of a parish to question every newcomer as to his
religious beliefs, but there is no record of any Protestant dissenter
or any Calvinist having been presented for trial before an
ecclesiastical court. It is of course known as an historical fact that
Sir Edwin Sandys labored long to secure from the King and the
Archbishop permission to bring the Pilgrim Fathers from Holland, under
the British flag again and establish them as a "hundred" in Virginia.
It is of record also that such permission was obtained and that the
Pilgrim Fathers set forth for the Chesapeake Bay but were diverted from
their course by storms that carried them to a place which they named
Plymouth. It is of record furthermore that the Reverend Henry Jacob,
who founded the first Independent or Baptist congregation in London,
was later forced out and came to Virginia where he found a home and
peace until his death.

Reverend Alexander Whitaker, rector of the two adjoining parishes of
Henrico and Charles City from 1611 until 1617, was the son of a famous
Puritan divine. In a letter discussing conditions in Virginia he said:
"I marvaile much--that so few of our English ministers that were so
hot against the surplis and subscription come hither where neither are
spoken of." Whitaker was rector of two parishes because William
Wickham, the minister of one parish, was not of Anglican ordination and
could not lawfully celebrate the Holy Communion. After the death of
Whitaker the Governor of Virginia requested the London Company to ask
the Archbishop of Canterbury to authorize Mr. Wickham to celebrate the
Sacrament, "there being no one else." Such authorization to a clergyman
of Presbyterian ordination could have been given by the Archbishop at
that time as it was permitted then by law. Wickham was not the only
minister of Presbyterian ordination who served as incumbent of a parish
of the Established Church in Virginia. In a report made to London in
1623 it was stated that in Virginia in 1619 "There were three ministers
with orders and two without." The "two without" were unquestionably of
Presbyterian ordination.

Among the first laws enacted in Virginia was one requiring every
minister who came into the colony to take the oath of "conformity" to
the Church of England. The law did not include laymen; it was the
minister only who was required to take the oath. Later, the laws
enacted by the General Assembly required every clergyman coming into
the colony to subscribe to the Articles of the Christian Faith
according to the Church of England and to be of Anglican ordination. By
reason of sheer inability at times to provide sufficient Anglican
clergymen for the parishes, clergymen of Presbyterian ordination were
permitted to serve in Virginia parishes; and that was true throughout
the whole seventeenth century. The last Presbyterian clergyman to hold
an Anglican parish in Virginia, Rev. Andrew Jackson of Christ Church
Parish, Lancaster County, died in 1710. Throughout the century the law
required every citizen to attend the parish church, but there was never
an ecclesiastical court in which a layman could be tried, convicted or
punished as a dissenter.


Making Bricks Without Straw

The colony of Virginia, after the protective and guiding influence of
the Virginia Company was taken away, found itself in an almost
impossible situation so far as religious organization was concerned.
The leaders of colonial life realized all the more clearly as time
passed that King Charles I, who succeeded his father King James I in
1625, was not the least interested in the religious welfare of the
colony. America was entirely outside the bounds of any diocese or
province in England, and consequently there was no bishop of a diocese,
or archbishop of a province with any personal responsibility for the
guidance or help of the parishes which were being organized in the
colony. The Church in Virginia was left to itself to live or to die. It
believed, according to the teachings of the Church, that bishops were
necessary for the ordination of men to the ministry and for the
performance of the spiritual rite of confirmation, whereby alone under
the law of the Church of England baptized Christians could be admitted
to the sacrament of the Holy Communion. A bishop was also necessary for
the organization and leadership of a diocese, which was the governing
body to which every parish and congregation must belong. But no bishop
was ever sent by the Church of England to Virginia or to any other part
of America throughout the entire colonial period.

The lack of a bishop left the Anglican Church, which was the
Established Church of the whole colony, unable to organize for the
enactment of its own laws or the management of its own affairs. There
being no diocesan organization the clergymen in charge of parishes had
no ecclesiastical authority over them. That fact tended to have the
effect of making each incumbent clergyman a virtually free lance with
no responsibility to an ecclesiastical superior nor community of
fellowship with other clergymen in the colony. This condition continued
until near the end of the century.

The General Assembly of Virginia followed the example of the Parliament
of England and asserted legislative authority by laws for the temporal
government of the Church. It divided the occupied territory of the
colony into parishes and it established new parishes as settlement
extended steadily to the westward. Because of this fact there was never
any section which was not part of a parish, and the usual rule when a
new county was to be created was to establish a new parish covering the
territory of the proposed county before the county was created. Church
buildings might be far apart in new parishes, but no section of
Virginia in which English people were settling was without the
established forms of religious worship.

The General Assembly enacted laws directing the election of laymen in
every parish as the governing body of the parish in temporal affairs.
That group was called the "Vestry." It had authority to buy land for
churches, churchyards and glebe farms, to erect church buildings and to
build glebe-houses as residences for ministers. It was also charged
with the care of the poor and the destitute sick, and orphaned children
within the parish, with the duty of providing new homes for these
children in responsible families. The money to pay for the land, the
buildings, the care of the sick and needy, the salary of the minister,
and other parish needs was collected from the parishioners through an
annual "tithe" of so many pounds of tobacco per poll. The vestry upon
occasion also had certain civil duties not within the scope of
religious organization.

The setting up of a vestry of laymen as temporal head of the Church in
a parish or congregation was first developed in Virginia. It was
extended later to other colonies as the Anglican Church spread through
them all, and it came over into the life of the Protestant Episcopal
Church in the United States. Great as the value of the vestry has been
to the whole Episcopal Church, the vestry in Virginia was of still
greater value, for by its extension to other colonies and states it has
given one of its most distinctive features to the Church of today.

In England, with the exception of some few parishes formed within the
past century or so, no parish has the right to elect its own rector.
The rector is usually appointed by some institution or individual
vested with that authority which is called "the advowson of a parish."

Moreover, no diocese in the Established Church of England has the power
to select its own bishop. The King as temporal head of the Church
appoints the bishops of all dioceses, and that power is exercised for
the King by his prime minister. And during the colonial period in
America the Governor of every colony other than Virginia and
Pennsylvania appointed the rector of every Anglican parish and inducted
him into office.

In Virginia the vestries of the parishes fought Governor after Governor
until they won the right for the vestry itself to choose the minister
to serve in its parish. That right has extended throughout the
Episcopal Church today and has gone further so that today the laity of
the Church have the right to representation in all diocesan conventions
and councils, and in the general convention of the Church. Thus the
laity have their part in every election of a clergyman to become the
bishop of a diocese.

In the seventeenth century the General Assembly also put into effect in
Virginia the constitutions and canons of the province of Canterbury "as
far as they can be put into effect in this country." The General
Assembly thereby made the "doctrine, discipline and worship" of the
Anglican Church of England that of the Church in Virginia as far as it
could be done without a bishop.

That was as far as the General Assembly could go. Throughout all the
seventeenth century the Established Church of Virginia consisted of a
group of parishes without connection with each other and without
central spiritual authority. There was therefore no actual power of
discipline, either of clergymen or laymen.

The situation was made all the more difficult because there was no sure
way to secure ministers. When a parish became vacant some layman in the
parish would have to write to his business agent in England, or to some
friend or relative there and ask that he find a clergyman who would
come to Virginia. Parishes, when they became vacant, remained vacant as
a rule for a year or more; sometimes very much more. The vestries early
adopted the custom of appointing godly laymen as readers whose duty it
was to assist the minister by leading the congregation in the responses
in the Church service, and in raising tunes for the singing of metrical
version of the Psalms. Later, when it was found desirable to erect
chapels of ease in populous parishes, enough readers were appointed in
every parish to permit one of them to hold morning service each Sunday
in each place of worship throughout the parish, while the minister went
his usual round of service in each church or chapel upon regular
schedule. Except in remote chapels the custom was to have service each
Sunday in every church or chapel.

The reader was authorized to conduct morning and evening prayer and to
read a printed sermon, or a "homily." He could not celebrate the
sacrament of Holy Communion. Rather frequently, and especially during
the era of the Commonwealth and the reign of Charles II, several
adjoining parishes would be vacant at the same time; and at one time
about the end of the Commonwealth period the statement was made that
there were only some ten clergymen in Virginia to serve fifty parishes.
Under such circumstances the reader was called upon to perform many
duties. He might baptize a dying child, conduct a funeral, or perform a
marriage ceremony.

There was also in those early days no way of screening out unworthy men
who appeared occasionally as clergymen in the colony; men who perhaps
had been forced out of parishes in England because of immorality or
drunkenness; and occasionally men with forged credentials. Such men
were occasionally appointed to parishes by vestries who had no way of
learning their true status; and if the man was thenceforth morally
decent and had no great fault except occasional drunkenness, he would
be allowed to stay on because of the need of a priest to celebrate the

The vestries protected their parishes from unworthy clergymen by the
uncanonical appointment of a minister as incumbent of a parish for a
year at a time, rather than present him canonically to the Governor of
the colony for induction into the rectorship of the parish. Under the
law of England, and under the law of the Church of England, no rector
could be forced out of a parish after induction except after an
ecclesiastical trial by the bishop or his commissary.

In 1656 John Hammond published a pamphlet entitled _Leah and Rachel_,
extolling the attractiveness of Virginia and Maryland as places of
residence at that time. He described vividly the difficulties which the
older colony had suffered in the earlier years of Charles I. He wrote:

     They then began to provide and send home for Gospel
     ministers, and largely contributed for their maintenance.
     But Virginia savouring not handsomely in England, very few
     of good conversation would adventure thither, (as thinking
     it a place wherein surely the fear of God was not), yet many
     came, such as wore black coats, and could babble in a
     pulpet, roare in a tavern, exact from their parishioners,
     and rather by their dissolutenesse destroy than feed their

     Loath was the country to be wholly without teachers, and
     therefore rather retain these than to be destitute; yet
     still endeavours for better in their places, which were
     obtained, and these wolves in sheeps cloathing, by their
     Assemblies questioned, silenced, and some forced to depart
     the country.

Another problem which the Church faced in Virginia resulted from the
character of the immigrants who came to the colony. It is a well
established fact that the men who came in three ships to Jamestown in
1607 were from various strata of society in England. They all entered
James River on equality of opportunity and of danger. Some at least had
come from the higher classes of society; younger sons, perhaps, or
relatives of stockholders in the London Company, attracted to Virginia
because of the newness of the adventure and the spice of danger; sons
of professional men and men of business, intrigued by a new business
life and opportunity; men from the laboring classes and the peasantry
of rural sections. But it is extremely doubtful that the Jamestown
settlement, after its tragic first years, continued very long to be
attractive to young men seeking adventure only. Many of the families of
today who boast of their generations of ancestry in Virginia descend
from or married into the families of the men and women who came to the
colony in these earliest years of settlement, and have ancestors buried
among the unknown dead of the Jamestown cemetery and churchyard.

There were three sources from which the settlers came; and these
sources were more or less in effect throughout the whole of Virginia's
first century. First and foremost in numbers and importance were the
sons of small farmers and tenant farmers, and younger sons of the
laboring classes and small merchants. No matter how large the
population may be, always there are positions of employment with a
normal wage; but when the younger sons of a mechanic or other working
man grow to maturity where there is only one wage-producing employment
available to the family, the younger sons must seek a living from other
sources. Farms cannot be reduced below the number of acres required to
support one family. When that has been done and there are several sons,
one of them must inherit the farm and the others must seek a living

The broad acres of Virginia and its equable climate attracted thousands
of such younger sons, and also others who had not been successful and
sought opportunity in a new land. The settlers came from every section
of England, and from the bleak hills of Scotland; from Wales and also
from Ireland. The English were mostly from the Anglican parishes of the
Established Church. The Scottish new-comers were accustomed to
membership in the Established Church of Scotland and they found little
difficulty in living within the Established Church of Virginia. Indeed
there is no recorded effort to establish a Presbyterian congregation in
Virginia until the last quarter of the seventeenth century. So friendly
was the feeling between the Anglicans and the Scottish Presbyterians in
the Norfolk section that Rev. James Porter of Presbyterian ordination
was the incumbent minister of the Anglican Lynnhaven Parish prior to
1676 and until his death in 1683.

A second source, certainly in the early years, was the rapidly
increasing population of the cities and towns of England. It is of
record that in the days of the London Company one town appropriated
funds sufficient to pay the expenses to Virginia of a large number of
its unemployed, and probably the same thing was done by other towns for
their unemployed. Doubtless a little "pressure" was applied in the case
of young men who had no occupation and no visible means of support. And
shanghaiing, to use a modern term, was not unknown.

A third source from which settlers came developed from the custom which
grew up in England of sending to Virginia, and later to all the
colonies, persons who had been convicted of law-breaking. At that time
there were some hundred felonies in the English code of jurisprudence
for which the sentence of death by hanging could be imposed. These
felonies included such offenses as stealing a pig or anything of
greater value than a shilling. The ruling classes of England had long
realized that punishments were too severe for offenses which today
would be misdemeanors; and in the fifteenth century an effort had been
made to mitigate the severity of punishment by an amendment of the law
of "benefit of clergy." This law was a law of Parliament which had
come down from earlier ages of the Church. Under that law an
ecclesiastical person, either priest or monk, who was charged with a
felony could not be tried by a civil court but was delivered up to the
bishop of his diocese for trial in an ecclesiastical court.

By the end of the sixteenth century Parliament had amended the benefit
of clergy law so that every free male who could read and write, upon
conviction of a first offense of felony might plead "benefit of
clergy", and upon showing that he could read a verse of Scripture, have
the penalty remitted. He was then burned in the hand with a hot iron so
that the scar thereby made would be evidence against him if he should
plead benefit of clergy a second time.

The benefit of clergy law was early written into the Virginia code and
continued in that code until after the Revolution. Harsh as was the law
it showed a real effort to ameliorate still harsher laws, and it saved
the lives in England and America of many thousands of first offenders.
The first verse of the fifty-first Psalm was so frequently presented to
be read by some convicted man or boy that it became known as the "neck
verse" because it saved a life; and many a kindly official taught a
'teen-age boy that verse so that he could "read" it when it was
presented to him.

One of the earliest records of the General Court of Virginia contains
the following entry under date January 4, 1628/29:

     William Reade, aged thirteen or fourteen years, convicted of
     manslaughter, when the verdict was read, and William Reade
     asked what he had to say for himself, that he ought not to
     die, demanded his clergy, whereupon he was delivered to the

There were many such instances. In Virginia the Governor was the
Ordinary and as such had authority to accept the boy's plea, have him
read the "neck verse," and thereby permit him to go free "after the

The severity of the laws influenced the courts in many parts of England
to permit or sentence an offender to escape death by going to one of
the American colonies, and it became the custom to sentence convicted
criminals to serve for a period of years in an American colony as an
indentured servant. A great number of such "convicts" were sent to
Virginia because of the constant demand there for indentured servants
to cultivate the fields and for other duties.

Many of the convicts became useful citizens of the colony after their
terms of servitude ended; but many did not reform and in time became
such a menace that for a period after 1670 the General Assembly forbade
that any more convicts be brought into the colony.

It can be seen therefore that from the beginning the population of
Virginia grew by immigration from various sources and that not all who
came to the colony were of the best type. The New England colonies had
the advantage that their immigrants came in large part from dissenters
from the Established Church of England. They came for "conscience
sake," however, and with their concept of theocratic government the New
England colonists could make it difficult indeed for immigrants they
did not welcome. After Roger Williams had been exiled to Rhode Island
and a few Quakers had been hanged on Boston Common, it was made clear
to Baptists and Quakers, to Anglicans and to witches that Virginia was
a more favorable climate for them than Massachusetts.

In contrast to New England, Virginia was founded and developed as a
cross-section of the whole life of the British Isles, with its evil as
well as its good; with ideals of freedom of thought which made no
attempt to control a man's conscience; and with an ever growing concept
of self-government and human freedom as already developed during nearly
a thousand years and set out by the common law and the statute law of
the race. Virginia was not founded upon any theocratic concept of
government under the influence of a priestly class.

The life and community consciousness that developed in Virginia into
the distinctive customs and ways of a well organized and firmly
established commonwealth were necessarily different from those of the
colonies in New England because of the differing conditions under which
men lived. In the township system of New England a village normally
became the township center and the people lived near enough to each
other to enable them to meet frequently; to work and play together; to
transact business; and to gossip of neighborhood affairs. In Virginia
it was otherwise. In Virginia families lived on separate farms and each
farm was of necessity a community within itself. Life was geared to the
basic fact that tobacco was the money crop, and also was the real
source of the financial strength and stability of the colony. Each
family required a farm of sufficient acreage to raise tobacco as well
as food-stuff and cattle; and throughout the whole colonial period the
genius of Virginian life opposed the development of towns of greater
population than was required for a shipping point and a warehouse, for
the storing and grading of tobacco, and for a few agents of English and
Scottish merchants.


Building a Christian Community

John Hammond, in his pamphlet _Leah and Rachel_ sketched briefly
conditions which existed in Virginia between the "starving time" of
1609-10 and the year 1656. His attempt was to correct an opinion widely
held in England of the lawlessness of colonial life. He interpreted the
great massacre of 1622 as the end of one phase and the beginning of
another. He showed that in each phase there was an inevitable period of
laxity of life and disregard of moral and legal conventions which was
overcome finally by the better element of citizenry. His writing
presents a dark picture of conditions, possibly too dark in some
phases; but his picture of the power of the growing colony to establish
and maintain general concepts of decency of life and conduct is

Of the period following the great massacre he wrote:

     Receiving a supply of men, ammunition and victuals out of
     England, they again gathered heart, pursued their enemies,
     and so often worsted them, that the Indians were glad to sue
     for peace, and they, (desirous of a cessation) consented to

     They again began to bud forth, to spread further, to gather
     wealth, which they rather profusely spent (as gotten with
     ease) than providently husbanded, or aimed at any public
     good; or to make a country for posterity; but from hand to
     mouth, and for a present being; neglecting discoveries,
     planting orchards, providing for the winter preservation of
     their stocks, or thinking of anything stable or firm; and
     whilst tobacco, the only commodity they had to subsist on,
     bore a price, they wholly and eagerly followed that,
     neglecting their very planting of corn, and much relyed on
     England for the chiefest part of their provisions; so that
     being not alwayes amply supplied, they were often in such
     want, that their case and condition being relayted in
     England, it hindred and kept off many from going thither,
     who rather cast their eyes on the barren and freezing soyle
     of New-England, than to joyn with such an indigent and
     sottish people as were reported to be in Virginia.

     Yet was not Virginia all this while without divers honest
     and vertuous inhabitants, who, observing the general neglect
     and licensiousnesses there, caused Assemblies to be call'd
     and laws to be made tending to the glory of God, the severe
     suppression of vices, and the compelling them not to neglect
     (upon strickt punishments) planting and tending such
     quantities of corn, as would not onely serve themselves,
     their cattle and hogs plentifully, but to be enabled to
     supply New-England (then in want) with such proportions, as
     were extream reliefs to them in their necessities.

     From this industry of theirs and great plenty of corn, (the
     main staffe of life), proceeded that great plenty of cattle
     and hogs, (now innumerable) and out of which not only
     New-England hath been stocked and relieved, but all others
     parts of the Indies inhabited by Englishmen.

     The inhabitants now finding the benefit of their industries,
     began to look with delight on their increasing stocks; (as
     nothing more pleasurable than profit), to take pride in
     their plentifully furnished tables, to grow not onely civil,
     but great observers of the Sabbath, to stand upon their
     reputations, and to be ashamed of that notorious manner of
     life they had formerly lived and wallowed in....

     Then began the Gospel to flourish, civil, honourable, and
     men of great estates flocked in; famous buildings went
     forward, orchards innumerable were planted and preserved;
     tradesmen set on work and encouraged, staple commodities, as
     silk, flax, pot-ashes, etc., of which I shall speak further
     hereafter, attempted on, and with good success brought to
     perfection; so that this country which had a mean beginning,
     many back friends, two ruinous and bloody massacres, hath by
     God's grace out-grown all, and is become a place of pleasure
     and plenty.

It may possibly be worthwhile to compare the life of Virginia during
its first two generations with the far west of the United States from
the gold-rush days of 1849 to the end of the nineteenth century. There
again, as in the Virginia of 1607, bona fide settlers of moral ideals
and stability of life prevailed in the long run and developed
self-governing states which maintained the moral code.

But Virginia had an advantage which the far west of the gold-rush days
lacked. Virginia had an Established Church which in spite of its own
problems and difficulties created a parish in every section, and
provided clergymen as far as they could be obtained. It is granted that
some at least of the clergymen were unworthy. The vestries themselves
ejected men of that kind and services could be maintained by readers.
And so the Word of God was read and prayer was offered regularly; and
every man who could read had the Ten Commandments staring him in the
face from the tablets on the wall behind the Holy Table. The individual
might scorn and sneer but in the end the Law of God became the law of
the community.

Men came to church in those early days. For one reason, the law of the
colony required it and there was the threat of punishment if absence
from church was reported to the grand jury. But there was another
reason also, even though men and women were compelled to walk five or
six miles to attend. That other reason was the loneliness of farm life
in the early days of colonial Virginia. The churchyard on a Sunday
morning was then the meeting-place of the whole community, and the only
place where all could meet on the same level. The only other meetings
were when elections were held at the Court House, every three or four
years. And men might attend the meetings of the county court; but women
could not vote, and they did not go to elections; nor were they apt to
attend meetings of the county court except in rare instances when they
were engaged in litigation. And the amount of hard liquor consumed on
election days and county court days was also a deterrent.

Before the day of parish aid societies and women's guilds, the church
service of a Sunday morning was moreover the only meeting to which
everybody might come as of right; and while at church the women
discussed affairs and neighbors within the church building the men
outside walked about or sat on stumps or logs and held their
discussions before and after the service hour.

The church with its churchyard was the public forum at which matters of
public policy and public interest were discussed. It was here also
that business was transacted; and it was here that community spirit of
fellowship, of sympathy and of understanding was developed. The
colonial government recognized all this by directing that every public
communication which had to be brought to the attention of the people as
a whole be read to the congregation of every church or chapel in the
colony. And the Church recognized the same thing by providing that such
announcements should be made immediately after the reading of the
second lesson or New Testament lesson in the morning service. The
approaching worshipper never knew what interesting announcement might
be made at that time; so there was always an element of expectancy and
suspense; perhaps an announcement of the banns of matrimony; perhaps
the reading of a new law, or of some proclamation by the Governor and
Council; perhaps the baptism of a baby, or even a marriage.

So it was that men and women of all classes came under the influence of
Christian teaching whether they would or no; and the constant teaching
and stressing of moral and Christian ideals of life had their effect in
changing and improving the character of the community life.

[Illustration: Old Church Tower, Jamestown, Virginia

Photo by Flournoy, Virginia State Chamber of Commerce]

[Illustration: Jamestown Church Communion Service

Chalice and paten given by Governor Francis Moryson, in 1661. Both
bearing the inscription: Mix not holy things with profane. _Ex dono
Francisco Morrison, Armigeri Anno Domi, 1661._

Large paten at the right given by Sir Edmund Andros, Governor, 1694.
Inscribed: _In usum Ecclesiae Jacobi-Polis. Ex dono Dni Edmundi Andros,
Equitis, Virginiae Gubernatoris, Anno Dom. MDCXCIV._

Alms basin, London, 1739. Second on the right. Inscription: For the use
of James City Parish Church. Given by the old church at Jamestown in
1758 to Bruton Parish Church.

Courtesy Miss Emily Hall]


This three piece communion service now at St. John's Church, Elizabeth
City Parish, Hampton, Virginia, has the longest history of use in the
United States of any church silver. The set, a gift to the church
founded in 1618 at Smith's Hundred in Charles City County, was made
possible by a legacy in the will (date 1617) of Mrs. Mary Robinson of
London. Smith's Hundred renamed Southampton Hundred, 1620, was
practically wiped out in the Indian Massacre of 1622. This communion
set delivered in 1627 to the Court at Jamestown for safe keeping,
supposedly, then was given to the second Elizabeth City Church built on
Southampton (now Hampton) River. The inscription in one line on the
base of the Chalice is: _The Communion Cupp for Snt Marys Church in
Smiths Hundred in Virginia_. Hall marks on all three pieces bear London
date-letters for 1618-19.

Courtesy Mrs. L. T. Jester and Mrs. P. W. Hiden]

[Illustration: The Glebe House, Charles City County, Virginia

Courtesy Valentine Museum, Richmond]

[Illustration: Glebe House, Gloucester County, Virginia

Photo by Flournoy, Virginia State Chamber of Commerce]

[Illustration: Christ Church, Middlesex County, Virginia

Photo by Flournoy, Virginia State Chamber of Commerce]

[Illustration: Merchant's Hope Church, Prince George County, Virginia

Photo by Flournoy, Virginia State Chamber of Commerce]

[Illustration: Saint Lukes Church, Isle of Wight County, Virginia

Photo by Flournoy, Virginia State Chamber of Commerce]

[Illustration: Saint Peters Church, New Kent County, Virginia

Photo by Flournoy, Virginia State Chamber of Commerce]

[Illustration: Robert Hunt Memorial Plaque

Altar-piece. A bronze bas-relief representing the administration of the
first Anglican communion in America, June 21, 1607. George T. Brewster,
sc. Gorham Co., founders.

Courtesy Cook Collection, Valentine Museum]

[Illustration: Robert Hunt Memorial Shrine

Erected by the National Society of Colonial Dames of America in the
State of Virginia. Presented to the Diocese of Southern Virginia of the
Protestant Episcopal Church, June 15, 1922. It was placed in the
perpetual care of the Association for the Preservation of Virginia

Courtesy Cook Collection, Valentine Museum and National Park Service]


The Coming of the Negro

A new element came early into the life of Virginia, with permanent and
continuous hurt to the welfare of the colony and later to the
Commonwealth; an element to which the colony was compelled to adapt
itself because it did not have the power to eradicate it after men
perceived its danger. It was the element of human slavery.

The first Negro captives were brought into the port of Jamestown in the
year 1619. They were brought by a foreign ship then described as a
"Dutch" ship, but presumably a Portuguese slaver seeking the
enlargement of his market. The Portuguese had developed a market for
Negro slaves in the Spanish colonies in the Caribbean where the
enslaved Indians proved unable to perform the hard work demanded of
them. Unhappily the slavers succeeded in widening their market to
include Virginia and the other English colonies of the American
continent and in the West Indies.

The first Negroes were brought to Jamestown in 1619 and sold to English
masters as indentured servants. As such they were required to serve for
a definite number of years and after that they would become freemen
entitled to all the benefit of Virginia law. The goal set before them,
as before immigrants from France and the Netherlands, was eventual
freedom and naturalization as full citizens.

The tragedy of the Negro was that he had been procured by the
Portuguese as a captive taken in war between the native Negro tribes,
and he came into the life of Virginia utterly ignorant of every British
ideal of human freedom and government under constitutional law. He knew
nothing of the English language. The indentured Englishman or Scotsman
who was sold into service came with inherited knowledge of Anglo-Saxon
ideals of civil government and Christian faith; and the one great goal
set before him was that he could become a legal citizen of Virginia
after he completed his years of servitude. The Negro knew nothing of
all this.

There would have been little difficulty if the few Negroes in the first
ship had been all who came. The government could have provided for
their care and for their instruction in English ideals and the
Christian faith. But they were not all who came. The first indentured
Negroes proved useful as hewers of wood and drawers of water, and they
were capable of far more work in the fields than many of the
Englishmen: and so the agrarian needs of the community where all men
were farmers made the governmental authorities willing to admit more

The authorities must have realized at once that if Negroes were brought
into the colony in great number they could not be permitted to become
freemen after any period of indenture. That would have brought into the
life of Virginia a steadily growing population of men and women who
knew nothing of English institutions, or of the English language, or of
the Christian religion. The welfare of the colony required that if they
were to be admitted at all, they could be admitted only as servants
under a permanent status of servitude. So slavery was introduced into
the British empire; and in America the enslavement of the Negro was
permitted in New England as well as in Virginia, the Carolinas and in

That was the first act in the great tragedy of Negro slavery in
America. The second was that the enslavement and sale of Negroes proved
so profitable that the people of England entered into it by chartering
the Royal African Company, with authority to purchase captive Negroes
throughout a large portion of Africa which was assigned to the Company
for that purpose. At one time at least the King of England owned stock
in the Company; and he gave his instruction to the royal Governors of
American colonies that they should not permit the passage through a
colonial legislature of any act which would interfere with the right to
import Negroes and sell them into slavery within the colony.

The third act in the tragedy was that after Virginia and perhaps other
colonies had made many unavailing efforts to check or forbid by
legislation the bringing of more Negroes from Africa, the War of
American Independence was fought and won. In the Constitutional
Convention of the new sovereign states called to create a Federal Union
of them all, the representatives of Virginia and other states fought
bitterly for an immediate prohibition against further importation of
Negro slaves, only to be defeated by the cotton-growing interests of
some states and the shipping interests of others who demanded that the
trade be continued for a period of years. And so the Constitution of
the United States when first put into effect in the Federal Union
permitted for twenty years the importation of captive Negroes from
Africa and their sale into slavery.

The increase in the number of Negro slaves in those states where their
labor proved profitable brought with it the constant fear of a Negro
insurrection; a fear that continued until the ending of slavery in this
country. The presence of the Negroes and of English convicts sold into
servitude made it impossible upon any large plantation for the women
and children of the master's household ever to be left without the
protection of a slave-master who had the power of gun and lash to
protect them from harm.

The preaching of the Christian faith to the heathen Indians, which was
so strongly present in the purposes of the London Company at the first
settlement of Virginia, must have been considered when the custom of
admitting Negro slaves began but there is no recorded evidence bearing
upon that subject. If there had been a bishop in the colony he could
have made the conversion of the Negro to Christianity an important part
of a diocesan program; but without a bishop nothing could be done in
an organized way. The matter was perforce left to the consciences of
the incumbent ministers of the several parishes.

It must be remembered that every first generation of the slaves had
come to America as captives taken in war of one tribe against another.
Their languages and dialects included perhaps every language in central
and southern Africa; and their unfamiliar languages made it almost
impossible for the average citizen or his parson to do much in the way
of preaching the Christian faith; except perhaps in the observance of
the universal law of kindness.

The birth of slave children, however, removed the barrier of language,
for the children were taught English as their native tongue. The
children therefore could be taught. All teaching of children, whether
children of the master and mistress or those born as their slaves, was
considered the duty of the whole family. And the teaching of the
catechism and the duties of a Christian life to the slave children was
as important a part of the family responsibility in a Christian home as
the teaching of the children of the family itself. No clergyman of the
Church would be willing to baptize a slave child unless there were
responsible sponsors present who would assume the obligation to give
steady Christian teaching. So it became a rule of the clergy, or most
of them, that the master and mistress in the case of each such baptism
must assume the obligation to give the child Christian training. The
baptized children could then in early youth be permitted to attend the
instruction classes which were held by the incumbent minister for them.
The slave child and the master's child would share the privilege of
admission to the Sacrament of the Holy Communion when each one had
shown sufficient knowledge and understanding of right and wrong, and
had been sufficiently instructed in "the things which a Christian
should know and believe." No one knows how many or what percentage of
slave children in Virginia or elsewhere were baptized, or how many
became communicants because no record was kept. But there were enough
baptisms to create a new problem.

There was no Negro slavery in England, and it was generally understood
that when a Negro slave set foot upon the soil of England he became a
free man. Somehow that concept of freedom became linked in common
thinking with the concept of baptism into the Christian faith; and
there arose in practically every slave-holding section of the English
colonies a question whether the very act of baptizing a slave child did
not set him free from slavery. Because of that question many
slave-owners declined to permit the baptism of their slaves until the
question was settled, and consequently in every slave-owning colony it
became necessary to secure a legislative enactment establishing the
legal status of a baptized slave. The question arose in Virginia, and
in 1667 the following act was adopted by the General Assembly:

    Whereas some doubts have risen whether children that are
    slaves by birth, and by the charity and piety of their owners
    made partakers of the blessed sacrament of baptisme, should
    by virtue of their baptisme be made free; _It is enacted and
    declared by this Grand Assembly and the authority thereof_,
    that the conferring of baptisme doth not alter the condition
    of the person as to his bondage or freedom; that diverse
    masters, freed from this doubt, may more carefully endeavour
    the propagation of Christianity by permitting children,
    though slaves, or those of greater growth if capable to be
    admitted to that sacrament.

The question was settled likewise throughout all the slave-holding
colonies of England, and human slavery was written into the laws of the
various colonies of the British empire, there to remain until the
ideals of the nineteenth century eliminated it from the constitution
and the laws of every English-speaking nation.

The following incidents, although they occurred in the first half of
the eighteenth century, outside the period covered by this booklet, are
yet of such interest in the continuing story of Negro slavery as to be
worth recording here.

In 1724 the Bishop of London, Edmund Gibson, sent a questionary to the
incumbent minister of every Anglican parish in the American colonies.
Among the questions he asked were two; one inquiring how many
"infidels," either Indians or Negroes, there were in each parish; and
two, what efforts were being made to convert them to the Christian
faith. The answers revealed a serious situation, and the need of more
definite and better organized efforts to convert the Negroes.

The first effort made by the Bishop of London was as strong a pastoral
letter as he could write upon the need of more earnest effort to bring
the Negro slaves into the Christian faith. He also prepared a pamphlet
to be used for the instruction of Negroes. His pastoral letter and his
pamphlet were sent to every incumbent minister, and copies were given
to the heads of families.

Another effort was the organization in England in 1723 by the Rev.
Thomas Bray of a company called "Dr. Bray's Associates." Dr. Thomas
Bray was the bishop's commissary to the province of Maryland. The
purpose of Dr. Bray's Associates was to establish in the colonies
schools for the education and Christian instruction of Negro children,
and it did a useful work. It did a notable work in the City of New
York, and it conducted schools in other places; one of them at
Williamsburg, in Virginia.

There was another and most unusual development in Virginia. Under the
urge of the Bishop of London's pastoral letter there came a great
increase in the number of baptisms of adult Negroes; so sudden an
increase as to cause concern to Commissary Blair and to Governor Gooch.
In some way a report had spread among the Negroes that ex-Governor
Alexander Spotswood, upon his return from a voyage to England, had
brought with him an order from the King directing that all baptized
Negro slaves be set free. The story, improbable as it was to English
ears, was believed implicitly by the Negroes and it brought many of
them to their parish clergy seeking for baptism. Time passed and there
was no movement to set the baptized Negroes free. They became
indignant, for they believed the colonial authorities had ignored the
King's order. A plot for a Negro uprising was formed; but the plot was
discovered and the ringleaders were punished.

Another incident occurred two years later. A woman slave who had been
baptized was convicted of manslaughter in the Gloucester County Court
which sentenced her to death. She thereupon plead the benefit of
clergy. Her plea brought a new problem to the courts of Virginia for
until that time no woman and no slave in the colony had ever been
permitted to plead benefit of clergy. The County Court considered the
plea and the vote was a tie between granting the plea and enforcement
of the sentence. The County Court referred the matter to the General
Court of the colony; and there again the vote resulted in a tie. The
General Court therefore referred the case to the Attorney General of
England. Meanwhile, the General Court ordered that the woman's plea be
granted, and, in order not to set a precedent in an unsettled question,
directed that she be sold out of the colony. At a subsequent meeting of
the General Assembly the matter was settled so far as Virginia was
concerned by enactment of a law that all persons convicted of a first
offense of felony, whether male or female, bond or free, might plead
benefit of clergy.

Slavery existed in the American colonies from Massachusetts and
Connecticut to Virginia and the Carolinas at the end of the seventeenth
century. It was alien to English ideals of human freedom. Yet out of it
all one tremendously important fact has come to pass. The Negro came to
America from almost every Negro tribe and dialect in central and
southern Africa; he came without any connection except his connection
with other slaves when more than one were sold to the same master. He
came into a highly developed civilization with great organized power of
leadership and government; and through the generations of slavery the
Negro in America wrought for himself a national and racial
consciousness within the sphere of American life. The American Negro
today is the most highly educated and the most advanced Negro in the
world. As such he has the opportunity to make his own contribution to
the culture and the civilization of the world. This their centuries of
slavery and repression have brought them.


Fighting Adverse Conditions

The political conditions in England throughout the middle of the
seventeenth century bore heavily upon Virginia in religious as well as
in civil matters. The period of civil war which began in 1642 lasted
until the King was captured by the parliamentary forces, and Archbishop
Laud, the hated persecutor of dissenters, was beheaded. After an
imprisonment of four years the king was beheaded and Oliver Cromwell
reigned as Protector of the Commonwealth. The civil war had lined up
the dissenting bodies in England, and the Presbyterian Church in
Scotland, against the King and the Church of England.

On the American scene the Puritan colonies in New England were in
hearty sympathy with the dissenters in England. In Virginia the
government and the great body of the people were in equal sympathy with
King Charles and the Established Church. It is true there were in
Virginia the goodly number of several hundred Puritan settlers. In the
Church also there was some Puritan sympathy among a small group of the
clergy. One of these, indeed, the Rev. Thomas Harrison, who became
minister of Elizabeth River Parish (Norfolk) in 1640, was presented for
trial in the county court in April 1645 "For not reading the Book of
Common Prayer, and not administering the sacrament of baptism according
to the canons and order prescribed, and for not catechizing on Sunday
in the afternoon, according to the Act of Assembly." He was banished to
Massachusetts in 1648, where he remained for two years and married.
Afterward he returned to England and was given official position in the
Commonwealth under Cromwell.

In the heated atmosphere of the times the Puritan group in Virginia
took occasion to apply to the Puritan church government in
Massachusetts to send three ordained Puritan "missionaries" to their
fellow religionists in Virginia, but upon the arrival of the
missionaries their ship was met by government officials; the three
missionaries sent back to Massachusetts; and the master of the ship was
fined for bringing them to the colony. No one in official position in
Virginia could escape the conviction that the sending of Puritan
ministers to Virginia at such a time, whether upon request of the
Nansemond River group or upon suggestion from Boston, was for any
purpose other than to foment and organize Puritan opposition to the
King. For that reason Puritanism in Virginia came under suspicion, and
the Governor, Sir William Berkeley, with the full support of the
government and public opinion, treated all Puritans as enemies. He made
their situation so intolerable that the entire group accepted an
invitation from the proprietor of the Province of Maryland and migrated
to that colony. There, given land on the Severn River, they gained
control of the provincial government within a few years. The forcing of
the group out of Virginia was a political act of defense and was not
religious persecution.

The English Parliament in 1645 enacted a law abolishing the Church of
England as an active organization. The law enacted by Parliament drove
every bishop from his diocese, and forbade the use of the _Book of
Common Prayer_ in any church or chapel in England. The rectors of over
two thousand parishes were forced out and their places were filled by
Presbyterian and Independent or Baptist ministers.

The General Assembly of Virginia, upon learning the action of
Parliament, adopted an act in 1647 requiring the use of the _Prayer
Book_ in every church and chapel in Virginia each Sunday in the regular
forms prescribed in the _Prayer Book_. The Act made further provision
that in every parish in which the incumbent minister disobeyed the law
and continued disuse of the _Book of Common Prayer_, his parishioners
were thereby absolved from paying him any further salary.

In England marriage was held to be a religious service to be performed
by no one other than a priest of the Church; and Parliament, after
abolishing the Prayer Book and the canons of the Anglican Church, was
compelled to enact another law making provision for the performance of
the marriage ceremony as a civil contract. The new law directed that
justices of the local courts perform marriages and record them, if
desired, in the court records. The people of Virginia paid no attention
to this law except, as far as is known, in one case in Northumberland
County. In the year 1656 a man and woman in Lancaster County, instead
of going to the minister, if there were one, or to the reader of the
parish, went to a county official of Northumberland and were married
according to the Act of Parliament. Their marriage was recorded in the
court order book and there nine months later the new incumbent, Samuel
Cole of Lancaster, found it. He thereupon declared openly that the law
of Virginia was in effect in his parish and not the Acts of Parliament.
The affair ended when the parson required the wedded couple to consider
themselves unwed until he could announce the banns of matrimony for
them on three separate Sundays and then perform a Christian marriage.
He then took occasion to go to the Northumberland county court and
record his certificate of marriage of the couple in the court order
book. The two certificates still appear in the order book of the county
court of Northumberland County in the following words:

    Certificate of Marriage, 11 Sept. 1656. John Merryday [i.e.,
    Meredith] and Mrs. Ann Nash, als. Mallet, were married by
    Coll. Jno. Trussell, according to Act of Parliament, 24
    August, 1653. Witnesses Geo. Colclough, Leonard Spencer and
    Jno. Carter. Rec. 20 Sept. 1656.

    To all such whom it may concern. These are to certifie that
    John Meredith & Ann Nash, being three times Published
    according to Law, were married at Currotomon on the 14th of
    this instant July, 1657 per mee, Samuel Cole, minister,
    _ibidem_ 20th July 1657 this certificate was recorded.

The colony of Virginia in affairs of both church and state exercised
more independence of action under the Commonwealth than it ever
exercised before or afterward until the Declaration of Independence in
1776. The General Assembly, after it made a treaty of peace with
Cromwell's commissioners, elected the several governors of the colony
until the Restoration of Charles Second in 1660 took that authority
from them. The Burgesses had agreed to discontinue the use of prayers
for the King and the royal family in public services, and the General
Assembly enacted a law directing each parish to decide for itself
whether it would continue or discontinue the use of the _Book of Common
Prayer_. All questions of parish administration were left to the
several vestries. If a parish did not wish to use the old form of
worship it might use such form as it desired.

A number of ministers of Presbyterian ordination, and some openly
acknowledged Puritans thereupon came into the colony and these became
incumbent ministers of parishes. The last known one was the Rev. Andrew
Jackson, incumbent of Christ Church Parish in Lancaster County from
some years after 1680 until his death in 1711. He was a godly and
devout minister, beloved by his parishioners. Tradition says that he
"stood up to read the Psalms, but remained seated when they said the

For twenty-five or thirty years prior to 1675, to the distress of the
Church and the people as a whole, there was a desperate lack of
ordained ministers, and inability, to get clergymen from England. Some
few, driven out of parishes in England by the Parliamentary victors,
did come to Virginia, but never in sufficient number to supply the
need. Then, after the restoration of Charles, II, in 1660 and the
return of the Anglican Church to active life, there were so many
parishes in England from which non-conforming ministers were removed
because of refusal to use the _Book of Common Prayer_, that for nearly
a decade there were almost no clergymen to send overseas. Conditions
did begin to improve, however, before the end of the decade.

The improvement increased more rapidly after a new bishop of London
came into that diocese in 1675 and manifested active interest in the
affairs of the parishes in America.

During the decade 1660-70, shortly after King Charles had been received
and crowned King of England, the General Assembly of Virginia made
earnest effort to call the attention of the Crown and the people of
England to the needs of the Church in the colony. A committee of
clergymen was sent from Jamestown to London to present the matter to
the King. The committee published a pamphlet telling of the great need
and urging a definite programme to help improve religious conditions.
Three things ought to be done: first, a bishop should be sent at once
to visit the parishes and ordain as deacons devout laymen who had been
serving as readers so that there would be at least a deacon in every
parish; second, fellowships ought to be established at the universities
of Oxford and Cambridge for the support and training of men for the
ministry who would agree to serve the Church for a term of years in the
parishes of Virginia; third, and most important, a bishop ought to be
consecrated to organize a diocese in Virginia and bring the parishes
there into the full life of the Anglican Church.

No one knows what influence the pamphlet had in arousing interest.
Certainly no bishop was sent to ordain readers as deacons; and no
fellowships were established at the universities to train men to serve
in the ministry in Virginia. But a movement did start to organize a
diocese and consecrate a bishop. This occurred after 1670. The movement
won approval and a charter was prepared for the signature of King
Charles as the temporal head of the Church. The charter provided that
the diocese was to be called the Diocese of Virginia, and Jamestown was
to become the see-city where the bishop was to have his "Cathedral." A
clergyman was selected by the King to become the new bishop. He was the
Reverend Alexander Moray who had fled Scotland with Prince Charles and
had gone as chaplain with the ill-fated campaign ending in defeat at
the Battle of Worcester in 1652 in which Prince Charles sought to win
his throne from the Parliamentary conquerors. Mr. Moray then fled to
Virginia and became rector of Ware Parish in Gloucester County.

But something happened in 1672 after the King had announced publicly
that he had selected Mr. Moray to be bishop. Nobody knows what it was,
but the charter was never signed, and Mr. Moray was not made a bishop.
There is some evidence that he died just at that time and possibly that
caused the plan to fall through.

It would seem probable that the failure of the plan in 1672 aroused the
interest of Henry Compton who became Bishop of London in 1675, for in
that same year he secured from the Crown authority to select and
license men to serve as ministers of the parishes in America. And
shortly thereafter a fund called "The King's Bounty" was established,
from which each clergyman licensed to serve in America was given twenty
pounds sterling to pay the cost of his voyage. This plan continued
until the American Revolution. It did great good, for it gave to every
Anglican clergyman in the colonies a bishop whom he felt he knew, and
to whom he could write if necessary. The Bishop of London never at any
time had any authority whatsoever over the laity of the Church in
America, nor over the work of the vestries as temporal heads of the
parishes. But his influence with the clergy was of enormous value to
their morale.

Ten years later Bishop Compton went farther and secured authority to
appoint clergymen as his personal representatives in the colonies; to
confer with the clergy; and, if necessary, to remove from their
parishes clergymen who had proven to be unworthy men. The commissaries
lost their power some sixty years later when a new Bishop of London
appointed in 1748 refused to give his commissaries the authority which
earlier commissaries had exercised.

The first commissaries, James Blair for Virginia and Thomas Bray for
Maryland, made great contribution to the life of the Church of England
in the colonies and in England also. Commissary Bray was the moving
spirit in organizing three missionary societies in England: the Society
for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge; the Society for the
Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts; and, in his old age, the
society of Dr. Bray's Associates for ministry to Negro slaves in all
the colonies. He also instituted a plan for sending libraries of
theological books to parishes in the colonies, an enormous help to
clergymen in far-off places.

James Blair served as Commissary in Virginia from his appointment in
1689 until his death in 1743. His greatest work was the establishment
and development of the Royal College of William and Mary in 1693. He
raised money for its establishment first by asking pledges from all
persons in Virginia who were able to give, and then in England where he
quickly gained the active interest of Queen Mary and King William. He
secured his charter for the College in 1693 and by 1695 the erection of
college buildings was well under way. He served as president of the
college until his death in 1743. He steered it through its early
difficulties; he fought for it against Governor and Council when
necessary; and he brought it to its full status as a College with six
professors and more than a hundred students in 1729. He lived long
enough to welcome Reverend George Whitefield, the first great leader of
the evangelical movement, when he came to Williamsburg in 1740, and had
the happiness to learn that his College had won the admiring approval
of his visitor. Whitefield wrote in his diary an account of what he
saw, and ended, "I rejoiced in seeing such a place in America."

Commissary Blair fought steadily and successfully for the rights and
privileges of the clergy, and secured real increase in clerical
salaries. He fought also for the right of the vestries to elect the
rectors of their own parishes, even as he strove when need was, to
secure the removal of the occasional unworthy clergyman.

The organization of the College of William and Mary in 1693 was indeed
the culmination of the plan of the London Company to establish a
University in Virginia. The first effort went up in smoke in 1622.
There was another effort in the days of Sir William Berkeley after the
Restoration, but the time was not then ripe. But the opportunity came
again. Already there were several endowed schools in Virginia: The Syms
School in Hampton, the Eaton School, also in that parish, the Peasley
School in Gloucester County, and others. Many parish clergymen also
became noted for the excellency of their schools. So the College which
began in 1693 came to head a group of schools which had already spread
through the colony.

From its beginning it held to the ideal of having a School of Divinity
to train men for the ministry of the Church of England, as well as a
school of philosophy or liberal arts as we now describe it, to train
men for secular life and leadership in the colonial life. When the
College reached its maturity it had a School of Divinity with two
professors, and a School of Philosophy with two, in addition to masters
in other departments. It had also a foundation which could support
eight men studying for the ministry. From that time until the
Revolution a steady stream of candidates went from the College to the
Bishop of London for ordination. But that is part of the story of the
next century. The beginning came in 1693.


The Last Decade

The decade 1690-1700 was an era of steady growth in the religious and
cultural life of Virginia. New counties were created as population
spread further and further up the great rivers; and parishes increased
in numbers as the population grew. The first official list of "The
parishes and the clergymen in them" which has survived the wreckage of
time was the list of 1680, and the next is the list of 1702. These
lists show that in 1680 there were forty-eight parishes and thirty-six
clergymen incumbents. In the list of 1702 there were fifty parishes and
forty clergymen.

The one most notable event in the religious life of both England and
Virginia was enactment by Parliament in 1689 of the Edict of
Toleration. That act in the first year of the reign of King William and
Queen Mary was the first incident in the movement of the English people
through their legislature toward freedom of religion. The Act did not
repeal the severe laws against dissent adopted in the reign of King
Charles, II, but it did remove the penalties. It took the first step
along a new roadway into human freedom; and the English-speaking world
on both sides of the Atlantic hailed it as such.

As it was a law of England, the act did not come into effect in
Virginia until it was included within the code of laws of the colony.
That was not done until 1699, although the Council of State had
approved the act in principle early in that decade. By that time
enforcement of law requiring attendance at church every Sunday had been
relaxed for it was impossible of enforcement under the conditions of
Virginian life. The law was not repealed until late in the eighteenth
century and under it every person wherever possible was required to
accept attendance at church as the duty of every citizen. In revisal of
the Virginia law in 1699 it was provided that every person must attend
worship in the parish church at least once every two months. The
General Assembly at the same time enacted a new proviso whereby
dissenters from the Established Church of Virginia, who could qualify
if in England as belonging to denominations or groups permitted under
the Toleration Act, were free in Virginia from any penalty for
non-attendance at the parish Church if they attended their own places
of dissenting worship at least once in the two months period.

In 1699 there were three denominations of dissent in Virginia; the
Presbyterians, the Baptists and the Quakers. The many thousands of
immigrants from Scotland who had belonged to the Established
(Presbyterian) Church of Scotland found little to object to in the
worship of the Established Church of Virginia, and entered into it
without difficulty or objection.

But the Presbyterians from England, as dissenters from the Established
Church of that country, and the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians who began
their immigration to Virginia after the Restoration, brought with them
the determination to organize in America as a Presbyterian
denomination. They were especially strong in the counties of Princess
Anne and Norfolk; and the first Presbyterian congregation in Virginia
was organized in 1692 in that area. It is also of interest to note that
the Reverend Francis Makemie, who organized the first presbytery in
Philadelphia about 1705 and later the first Synod of the Presbyterian
Church in America, lived for many years in Accomac County, Virginia.

There was a Baptist minister in the village of Yorktown during the
decade 1690-1700 but little is known of his work, nor is it known
whether there were then one or more organized Baptist congregations.

The Quakers were the most widely scattered and in numbers probably the
strongest of the three groups. They were especially numerous in Henrico
County and the eastern section of Hanover County and on the Nansemond
river. The Church Attendance Act of 1699 and the Toleration Act of the
English Parliament applied to them as to other dissenters, but they
were still under suspicion as to their loyalty and also because they
continued their early custom of open and violent attacks on the
religion and worship of the orthodox Churches. They gave bitter offense
by their public announcements in time of war between England and France
or between England and Spain that they would give aid and furnish such
supplies as might be needed to any enemy fleet which should come with
hostile intent into the Virginian waters.

While the laws which punished interruption of religious services were
still necessary and were enforced, the adoption of the proviso in the
Virginian Act of 1699 was a real step forward on the way to the
ultimate goal of entire freedom of worship. It made the worship of the
dissenters as truly legal as that of the Established Church, and it
removed from the dissenters the requirement that they attend the
worship of the Anglican Church.

Thomas Story, the noted English Quaker, who wrote and published a
journal of his life and work as a Quaker preacher, gives an interesting
account of his two prolonged visits to Virginia in 1698/99 and in 1705.
In his daily journal for 1705 he comments at every stopping-place, with
manifest pleasure, upon the welcome given him and his friends and the
freedom of public preaching accorded him wherever he went. He was
welcomed and entertained over and again at Anglican homes and he
records occasionally the fact that a county sheriff or constable or
justice of the county court was present at his preaching. He does not
record any instance in which anyone in civil authority in the colony
protested against his preaching or attempted to stop him; and the high
point of his visit came when the Governor of Virginia, learning of his
approach, invited him and his friends to the Governor's mansion,
entertained them and gave them fruit to carry with them on their
journey toward Philadelphia.

So Virginia came to the end of its first century, having fought
through the various adverse conditions which its people found along the
way. The colony had come into an era of opportunity and growth with a
well established government, a seaborne trade which brought prosperity,
and a concept of religion which made room for all forms of the
Christian faith that would remain at peace with each other, and as
citizens be loyal to their government. As the people approached their
first centennial anniversary celebration in 1707 they looked forward
with a confidence born of past experience to the new century upon which
they were to enter.


In addition to the titles in the following brief list the reader will
find many references to official papers, and other important and useful
works, in the author's _Virginia's Mother Church_, volumes one and two.
A great many of the statements herein made are based upon these two

  Anderson, James S. M. _A History of the Colonial Church_.
    London: 1843. 3 vols.

  Andrews, Matthew Page. _The Soul of a Nation, The Founding
    of Virginia and the Projection of New England_. New York:
    Doubleday, 1943.

  Brydon, George MacLaren. _Virginia's Mother Church and the
    Political Conditions Under Which It Grew_. Richmond,
    Virginia: Virginia Historical Society, 1947. Vol. I,
    1607-1727; Vol. II, 1725-1814.

  Fiske, John. _Old Virginia and Her Neighbors_. Boston and
    New York: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1899. 2 vols.

  Goodwin, Edward L. _The Colonial Church in Virginia_.
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Morehouse Publishing Company, 1927.

    With appendix giving list of Anglican clergymen who served
    in Virginia in the Colonial period.

  Hening, W. W. _Statutes of Virginia_, 1619-1792. 13 vols.

  Mason, George C. _Colonial Churches of Tidewater, Virginia_.
    Richmond, Virginia: Whittet and Shepperson, 1945.

  Meade, William. _Old Churches, Ministers, and Families in
    Virginia_. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1857. 2 vols.

    This is the old standard work upon this subject, and is
    still of great value, but must be used with the
    understanding that records and other original sources made
    available since his day disprove many of his statements
    about local conditions. This is especially true regarding
    his statements concerning the unworthiness of the colonial
    clergy. His expressed conviction that most of them were
    unworthy morally has been entirely disproved by the evidence
    of records now available.

  Perry, W. S. _History of the American Episcopal Church_.
    Boston and New York: Osgood, 1899. 2 vols.

    --_Historical Collections Relating to America's Colonial
    Church. Virginia_: Privately printed, 1870.

  Swem, E. G. _Virginia Historical Index_. Roanoke, Virginia:
    Stone Printing Co., 1934-36. 2 vols.


The following extracts from the Journal of the Life of Thomas Story,
during his visit to Virginia in 1698 are indicative of the attitude of
the people of Virginia toward religious toleration:

    8th Day of the 12th Month, we landed in Mockjack Bay----

    Next Fourth Day being the 1st day of the 1st month (i.e.
    January, 1698/99) we went again by water to a monthly meeting
    at Chuckatuck, where came our friend Elizabeth Webb from
    Gloucestershire in England, who had been through all the
    English colonies on the Continent of America and was now
    about to depart for England. The meeting was large and the
    Sheriff of the County, a Colonel, and some of others of note
    in that county were there, and very sober and attentive.

    On the 22nd we had a pretty large meeting at Southern Branch,
    at the house of Robert Burgess. He was not a Friend by
    profession, but a Justice of the Peace, and of good account
    in these parts. There had never been a meeting there before;
    yet the people were generally solid and several of them
    tendered; and after the meeting the Justice and his wife were
    very respectful, and treated us to beer and wine, and would
    gladly have had us to have eaten with them and lodged in
    their house that night, but being otherwise engaged in the
    course of the service.

    The next day [several days later] we had a meeting at
    Romancock, which was large and open. Many persons of note
    from those parts were there, as Major Palmer, Captain
    Clayborn, Doctor Walker, and others, all very attentive.


A List of Parishes in Virginia, and the Clergy in them under date of
July 8, 1702.

Parishes and Incumbent Ministers

Charles City County.
  Bristol Parish, (part)
    George Robertson [Robinson]
  Westover Parish
    Charles Anderson
  Martin's Brandon Parish
  Weyanoke Parish
    James Bushell

Elizabeth City County
  Elizabeth City Parish
    James Wallace

Essex County
  South Farnham Parish
    Lewis Latanè
  Sittenbourn Parish (part)
    Bartholomew Yates
  St. Mary's Parish
    William Andrews

Gloucester County
  Petsoe (Petsworth) Parish
    Emmanuel Jones
  Abingdon Parish
    Guy Smith
  Ware Parish
    James Clack

Henrico County
  Bristol Parish (part)
    George Robinson
  Varina als Henrico Parish
    James Ware
  King William Parish
    Benjamin De Joux

James City County
  Wallingford Parish
  Wilmington Parish
    John Gordon
  James City Parish
    James Blair
  Martin's Hundred Parish
    Stephen Fouace
  Bruton Parish (part)
    Cope D'Oyley

Isle of Wight County
  Warrosqueake Parish
    Thomas Sharpe
  Newport Parish
    Andrew Monroe

King and Queen County
  St. Stephen's Parish
    Ralph Bowker
  Stratton-Major Parish
    Edward Portlock

King William County
  St. John's Parish
    John Monroe

Lancaster County
  Christ Church Parish
    Andrew Jackson
  St. Mary's White Chapel Parish
    John Carnegie

Middlesex County
  Christ Church Parish
    Robert Yates

Nansemond County
  Upper Parish
  Lower Parish
  Chuchatuck Parish

Norfolk County
  Elizabeth River Parish
    William Rudd

New Kent County
  Blisland Parish
  St. Peter's Parish
    James Bowker

Northumberland County
  Fairfield Parish
    John Farnifold
  Wiccocomico Parish
    John Urquhart

Northampton County
  Hungars Parish
    Peter Collier

Princess Anne County
  Lynnhaven Parish
    Solomon Wheatley

Richmond County
  Sittènbourn Parish (part)
    Bartholomew Yates
  North Farnham Parish
    Peter Kippax

Surry County
  Southwark Parish
    Alexander Walker
  Lawne's Creek Parish
    Thomas Burnet

Stafford County
  St. Paul's Parish
  Overwharton Parish
    John Frazier

Warwick County
  Mulberry Island Parish
  Denbigh Parish

Westmoreland County
  Cople Parish
  Washington Parish
    James Breechin

York County
  Bruton Parish (part)
  Yorke Parish
    Cope D'Oyley
  Hampton Parish
    Stephen Fouace
  Charles Parish
     James Slater

     James Blair, Commissary to the Bishop of London

     Peregrine Cony, Chaplain to the Governor.

It will be noted that the above list reports fifty-one parishes, or
after deducting three which appear as partly in two counties, a total
of forty-eight parishes. These covered the whole territory in which
English settlers lived. The incumbent clergymen total thirty-five but
some five or six of the parishes for which no incumbent was named were
very small in extent or population, and looked to the minister of an
adjoining parish for services and sacraments. Probably this list
includes five or six parishes which were vacant. Because of the great
length of time required to secure clergymen from England this fact is
evidence of the growing strength and organization of the Church under
the influence of the Commissary.

Most of the clergymen who came to Virginia were graduates of the
English and Scottish universities, and brought an element and influence
of education and culture to the growing life of the Colony. Dr. Philip
Alexander Bruce, in his notable _Institutional History of Virginia in
the Seventeenth Century_, makes the following statement:

If we consider as a body the ministers who performed the various duties
of their calling in Virginia during the Seventeenth Century, there is
no reason to think they fell below the standard of conscientiousness
governing the conduct of the English clergyman in the same age. The
early history of the New World was adorned by no nobler group of
divines than the group which gives so much distinction from the point
of view of character and achievement to the years in which the
foundation of the colony at Jamestown was being permanently laid.

From the middle of the century to the end as from the beginning to the
middle, a large proportion of the clergymen were not only graduates of
English universities, but also men of more or less distinguished social
connections in England. Outside the great towns in England, or the
wealthiest and most populous of the English rural parishes, there was
in the course of the century, perhaps no single English living filled
by a succession of clergymen superior to this body of men, (i.e.,
incumbents at Jamestown) in combined learning, talents, piety, and
devotion to duty. And yet there is no reason to think that the ability,
zeal and fidelity of these ministers who occupied the pulpit at
Jamestown were overshadowing as compared with the same qualities in the
clergymen who, one after another, occupied any of the more important
benefices in York, Surry, Elizabeth City, or Gloucester Counties, or
the counties situated in the Northern Neck, or Eastern Shore.... All
the surviving records of the seventeenth century go to show that,
whatever during that long period may have been the infirmities or
unworthy acts of individual clergymen, the great body of those
officiating in Virginia were men who performed all the duties of their
sacred calling in a manner entitling them to the respect, reverence and
gratitude of their parishioners.

Very little is known of the activities of the clergy outside of their
professional duties beyond the fact that a great many of them conducted
schools at their homes; and these "parsons schools" became a widespread
influence for good upon the youth of their day. In the generations
before the founding of the College these schools became the great
agency throughout the colony for the education of the sons of the
gentry, and of the occasional youth of a lesser privileged family who
was taken free by the parson, or supported by a school endowment given
by some charitable person. In the later days there were many such
parish funds. We read of George Washington, in the following generation
attending the school conducted by Parson Marye in Fredericksburg, and
of his future wife, Martha Dandridge attending another.

It is a notable fact that throughout the whole seventeenth century the
ideal shown by the General Assembly was to provide for the clergy an
adequate salary for the comfortable home of an educated man. In 1695
when the question of increase in clerical salaries was raised, the
House of Burgesses made a report to Governor Andros upon the purchasing
value of salaries paid in tobacco, and stated, "They have duly weighed
the present provision made for the ministers of this country in their
respective parishes together with their other considerable perquisites
by marriages, burials, etc., and glebes,----that most if not all the
ministers of this country are in as good a condition in point of
livelihood as a gentleman that is well seated and hath twelve or
fourteen servants." They had previously stated that the tobacco salary
of the parson would in normal years in the past yield eighty pounds
sterling when sold.

In contrast with this salary of the clergymen in Virginia attention may
be called to the statement made in England in 1714, that there were in
England at that time "5,082 livings under eighty pounds in annual
value, of which more than 3,000 were under forty pounds, and 471 under
ten pounds. This report was made to show the importance of the fund
established by Queen Anne, called Queen Anne's Bounty, for increasing
the endowment of these weak parishes."

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes

Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U. S.
copyright on this publication was renewed.

The Table of Contents was added for convenience.

Page 3: Guilt is an obsolete form of gilt
  (a plate of silver guilt).

Page 16: Changed ecclestiastical to ecclesiastical
  (after an ecclestiastical trial by the bishop).

Page 23: Changed cattel to cattle
  (great plenty of cattel and hogs).

Page 50: Changed priviliged to privileged
  (youth of a lesser priviliged family).

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