Virginia Genealogy Trails

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Colonial Churches of Virginia

[Source: "Colonial Churches in the Original Colony of Virginia by Especially Qualified Writers", 1908 - Transcribed by AFOFG]

Jamestown Church
James City VA

The Island (which in its great period was a peninsula) is rich in religious shrines, for, in addition to the tower and ruins of two churches --one of which in the seventeenth century almost became the first of our American cathedrals because of a king's gratitude for the Old Dominion's loyalty--there are: the Robert Hunt Shrine; the Memorial Cross dedicated to those buried (possibly 1609-10) on the "Third Ridge"; countless other graves; various religious objects discovered near the church and now exhibited in the Visitor Center; and the wattle-and-daub church in the reconstructed James Fort at the Festival park on the mainland.
The sole seventeenth-century structure still standing above ground on the island is the tower of the 1639-44 church. This tower is believed to have been built in 1647 or later. It is a separate structure, as most such towers of Virginia's colonial period are. The underground portions of the walls of the church's original doorway are said to have extended under the tower when the latter was built. The rear wall of the tower was apparently joined to the church only at the sides and top of the connecting doorway. The west wall of the church is only 11: from the east wall of the tower. This rear wall of the tower is the only one of the four tower walls on which the mortar joints are not tooled with an incised line, probably because of the narrow space.
The reconstructed church of 1907 seems to rest on the 1639-44 foundations, but is in fact carried by a system of steel beams and concrete piers. The reconstruction was carried out under the architect, Ralph Adams Cram. It derives the details of the ramps of its buttresses, its windows, and its crow-step gables from the former Newport Parish Church in Isle of Wight County; its exterior brickwork comes from that of it's own tower. The pointed arches of its exposed wooden trusses derive from the lancets of the windows. There are now neither aisles nor pews. Instead, the entire name is paved with bricks.
On the walls of the 1907 church are numerous plaques in commemoration of various seventeenth-century figures, including Captain John Smith, the Princess Pocahontas, Chanco, (the young Indian who saved the colonists in the 1622 massacre), John Rolfe, Lord de la Warr, Captain Edwin Maria Wingfield, William Claiborne (treasurer of the colony), John Pott (a physician), and the first poet in America, George Sandys. Although Sandys is better known for his Psalm-paraphrases, his translation of Ovid's "metamorphoses" is considered the first such work accomplished on our soil, ad the Latin inscription placed on the north wall by the Classical Society of Virginia indicates. The introduction of common law is also memorialized on one of the plaques.
The restored furnishings of the chancel include a communion table with a blue velvet covering (extending to the floor), a credence table, a priedieu, three chairs, a lectern, and a pair of silver candlesticks. All of these pieces are of seventeenth-century design, although no specific models were used. On the east wall are two tablets containing the Decalogue; on the west wall above the entrance are the royal arms.
Besides the footings, the most interesting features of the church are two markers that were uncovered in 1901 lying in the bricks of the transverse aisle of the Epistle side. The one found nearer to the south door and lying north and south is known as the Knight's Tomb and is believed to mark the grave of an early governor, Sir George Yeardley (@1627). It is the only memorial of its kind and time in America. It was formerly inlaid with brass tablets that have long been stolen. Represented on this tomb are a shield, a scroll, a knight in armor, and a plate on which there was undoubtedly an inscription. Lying east and west against the north side of the knight's tomb was found another tomb with this inscription: "Here lyeth interred the body of John Clough, minister, who departed this life the 11th day of Janurary, 16__." The missing year is thought to be 1687.


Also discovered in the first decade of this century were two tiers of burials, presumably a tier beneath each of the two chancels and each tier presumably containing ten graves. Several other graves were found under the chancel or partly under it, and a large but indefinite number of other unidentified graves were discovered in the nave on both sides of the center aisle. At present, 21 square white stones are to be seen in the nave, although some of these numbered stones represent two or more burials each rather than but a single one.
Two seventeenth-century cemeteries are now known at Jamestown. The first is that at and around the church, the limits of which are believed to be the "greate road" on the east and north, the low ground to the west, and toward the seventeenth-century shore line on the south. These graves are, of course, principally unidentified and unmarked. The fragmentary marker to Lady Berkeley in the southwest part of the present enclosure as well as several stones within the brick walls are the exceptions. Two graves east of the present cemetery wall were discovered only in 1955; and graves are said to have been disturbed when the Confederate Fort on eh west was built in 1861.
The second cemetery that, like the churchyard, contains graves from the early part (probably from the first quarter) of the seventeenth century was discovered only by accident in 1955. It lies on the "Third Ridge" under the Lu dwell-Statehouse foundations west of the modern Yardley House and apparently once extended from the site of that dwelling westward to the seventeenth-century shore line of the James River. As many as three hundred persons are believed to lie there, most of them without coffins. A large, wooden cross has been recently been raised in their memory.
There are still other known burials on the Island, for many people adhered to the early practice of burying their dead near their own houses. Some burials have also been uncovered in ditches, including several Indian remains. The Travis graveyard of at least sixty-two burials lies one and one-half miles from the church on the returning Island Loop Road and derives its name from an early family on the peninsula. The only four markers in this plot range from 1700 to 1761.
The eighteenth-century graves and markers of the Rev'd Commissary James Blair (@1743) and others as well as the several stones and numerous graves from the preceding century lie immediately southeast of the present church within the existing brick wall. Dr. Blair was the Bishop of London's Commissary for fifty-four years; he was also at one time or another president of the College of William and Mary, rector of the James City and Bruton Parish Churches, president of the Council, and governor of the Colony. His grave and those of his wife's family have formed the basis of a delightful discourse inimitably delivered for countless visitors for many years by the Negro sexton, Sam Robinson. The gnarled sycamore that has become the Mother-in-law tree of his narration is, however, not destined to live many more years if one may judge from its present mutilated condition, although split tombs it certainly has.
The present graveyard wall was erected around 1800--some reports say 1793, others 1803 or later--by a Mr John Ambler of Jamestown (who also had at the benefit of a bequest for this purpose from a Mr Ludwell Lee of "Green Spring") to protect the graves of their families. The west wall (1 1/2' thick) was, indeed, built across the old church itself, entering the church's south wall 16.8' from the east and its north wall 13.1' from the east. This angle was apparently assumed to include the priest's and knight's tombs. The graveyard wall was built of bricks derived from the 1639-44 church itself. About two thousand of the church's bricks were also used to renew the old Newpart Parish Church in 1890-94. How many of the church's bricks were taken as souvenirs by tourists and vandals in the nineteenth century-- and even in the twentieth century, is not known.
The 1639-44 church was burned in Bacon's Rebellion of 1676, but was rebuilt and the brick aisles that were in situ in the early 1900's are believed to have been laid in this rebuilding (about 1680). The capital was moved to Williamsburg in 1700, but the church seems to have continued in use until around 1758. Contrary to rumor, the island was never abandoned despite its lack of salubrious qualities, for even as late as 1781 there were no fewer than twenty houses still in use. By 1807 the church was a ruin, however. It remained for its foundations and the surviving portions of its tower to be saved from loss after the turn of the century. The APVA owns and administers it jointly with the National Park Service.

James City Parish and County

James City Parish (which, except for the first decade if that long, never included all of James City County within its bounds) lost Lawne's Creek Parish in 1640 and Southwark Parish in 1647, both on the south side of the James River; and Harrop Parish (below Jamestown) was cut off in 1646. Harrop Parish later formed part of Middletown parish and ultimately (1674) of Bruton Parish. In 1720 the eastern part of Wallingford (originally Chickahominy) Parish was annexed to James City Parish, and in 1725 the lower part of Wilmington parish was also added. About 1750 a new parish church was erected on he mainland, two miles north of the last church on the Island, and this church stood until the 1850's. Although the parish no longer has an active congregation, it cannot, because of the Tower Church and the Robert Hunt Shrine, be considered exactly dormant.
The Jamestown communion silver-chalice and paten-cover (c.1660); alms bason (1739-40); and footed paten (1691-92)-- is now at Bruton parish Church in Williamsburg, although a baptismal bowl (1733-34) from the Jamestown parish church is at Monumental Church in Richmond. What is believed to be the seventeenth-century font of the James City Church is also at Bruton parish Church. Included in the collection at the National Park Service Visitor Center are coffin handles, tacks, book hinges, lead cames, fragments of glass, iron frames, and pieces of charred timber that were all uncovered in or near the site of the present church in 1900-02. Also on display are a New Testament (1609, Geneva Bible) and a Bible (King James Version) combined with the Prayer-Book that derives from 1622, although neither of these particular copies is known to have been used at Jamestown.

The Robert Hunt Shrine

In the old Confederate earthwork of 1861 stands the Robert Hunt Shrine, which was built in 1922 as a memorial to the first clergyman at Jamestown. The titular rector for James City in 1607 was the Rev'd Richard Hakluyt, a prebendary of Westminster Abbey and a noted geographer, but Parson Hunt was his vicar and it was he who sailed with the Founders and conducted the first worship at Cape Henry and Jamestown Island. It is sometimes forgotten--even by Episcopalians--that it was from the first little church in James Fort of 1607 that Anglicanism in America developed. The Robert Hunt Shrine and the Tower Church are still within the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Bishop of Southern Virginia. The shrine is really an outdoor chancel of brick and stone, for in addition to the stone altar, there are protecting side walls and a canopy of brick construction, a reredos with a bas-relief (commemorating Parson Hunt's celebration of the rail for communicants. The shrine was moved a short distance in 1960 in order that celebrants and congregations might worship without the early morning sun shining in their faces, although the present location lacks the appeal of the original site of an eminence almost at the river's edge.

Merchant's Hope Church
Prince George County, VA

Merchant's Hope Church lies on the north side of route 641 in Prince George County, .5 miles west of that road's intersection with route 10, which in turn is 6.5 miles east of Hopewell. The church derives its name from a plantation of the same title. A seventeenth-century ship called "Merchant's Hope" is also thought to have been named for the plantation. The "Merchant" in the title is believed to have been originally Martin, as in Martin's Brandon plantation and parish. The confusion seems to have arisen from the fact that words like Merchant and Merbecke were in earlier times pronounced as Marchant and Marbeck, just as clerk is still pronounced in many lands as clark.
The traditional date of the building's erection, 1657, is cut into one of the beams of the roof trusses. The church was built to serve as the parish church of Jordan's Parish, but became a chapel of ease of Westover Parish in 1688 and the upper chapel of Martin's Brandon Parish in 1720. Jordan's Parish was created by 1655 out of the western portion of Westover Parish that lay south of the James River. All of the parishes of Prince George County (except Bristol Parish) were united with Martin's Brandon Parish in 1720. Martin's Brandon Parish was a plantation parish in 1618 and its final establishment as a separate parish occurred in 1655.
The building, which measures about 60' x 25' on the inside, is of brick laid in Flemish bond with glazed headers above the beveled water table and in English bond below the water table. Both gables are marked by a line of glazed headers along the barge board. The walls (22 1/2" thick) are remarkably well preserved. In fact, the walls of no colonial church in Virginia, regardless of its age, are in better shape than Merchant's Hope's walls.
The original tiles (18" square) of Portland stone still remain in the aisles (6' wide), although the shape of the aisles has at some time, for some reason, been changed from a liturgical T to an L. Also believed to be original are the stairway to the west gallery and the hand rail across the front of the gallery.
The church was abandoned after the Disestablishment and is said to have been used as a picket station in the War between the States. The building was restored for use in divine Service in 1870.
The Church owns a Bible (a folio edition of 1639) that was left to Martin's Brandon Parish in a will executed in 1658. The Bible is now kept in the Bank of South side Virginia at Prince George Courthouse. Bishop Andrews's sermons, which were also left to the Church in the same will, have long been lost. The communion silver (chalice and paten-cover) that was bought according to this legacy is in the possession of the present Brandon Church at Burrowsille, as is a baptismal bowl that was given to the parish in 1731. All three pieces are inscribed to the parish. The chalice derives from London in 1659-60, whereas the paten-cover is unmarked. The baptismal bowl was made by Thomas Farrer of London in 1731-32. Such bowls were preferred to fonts during Cromwell's rule.
There are no churchyard walls around Merchant's Hope Church and there was no cemetery nearby in colonial times.

Newport Parish Church (St. Luke's),
Isle of Wight County, VA

Four miles southeast of Smithfield on route 10, is the Newport Parish Church (St. Luke's). The building is situated just northwest of the junction of route 10 and the highway that leads to Newport News over the James River Bridge
In colonial times this church was known as the Newport Parish Church, but from 1828 it became known as St. Luke's Church. The use of the "Newport Parish Church" name is complicated today by the fact that the building ceased to be the parish church of the nineteenth century. Vestry records in the last century referred to it also as "The Isle of Wight Church" and "The Brick Church". This last has been used despite the fact that it is hardly distinctive in Virginia where there are approximately forty other colonial churches constructed of brick.
Warrosquyoake County was one of the original shires of 1634. The name was derived from the Indian tribes that lived in the area, but was replaced with Isle of Wight in 1637, after the earliest settlement in the area.
The only recorded mention of the church's interior occurs in 1746 with the assignment of a corner pew of the chancel for wives of justices and vestrymen and their former pew for the young women of the parish.

York-Hampton Parish Church (Grace)
Yorktown VA

The parish church of York-Hampton Parish stands on the bluff of the York River in historic Yorktown on the east side of a dead-end lane named for itself, Church Street. Colonial antecedents of the present parish are manifold. A Chiskiack parish in York County had it's own clergyman as early as 1635 and included the plantation (Middle Plantation) that was to become Williamsburg. In 1643 Chiskiack Parish's name became Hampton. York Parish was a plantation parish with its own parson by at least 1638. York and Hampton Parishes were joined together in 1706, and six years later, Martin's Hundred Parish in James City County became a part of York-Hampton Parish.
The site of the first York church of around 1642, is believed to be the same as that of the second church (around 1667), which is located at the old York settlement, now within the Coast Guard Reserve Training Center about two miles below Yorktown. This spot may also be seen the second oldest (1655) legible tombstone in Virginia.
The present building is believed to be the third parish church of York Parish and the only parish church in the long history of York-Hampton Parish. The existing structure is also believed to have been built as early as 1697.
The church lost its windows and pews in the Revolution when it became a magazine for Lord Cornwallis. It was burned in 1814 along with much of Yorktown in a fire caused by accident rather than by the British. The church was not rebuilt and restored to service until 1848. The name of Grace Church was first used at this time. During the War between the States, a signal tower was erected for the Federal forces on the church's roof.
The bell that is still in use is inscribed "County of York, Virginia, 1725". Still in use in the church is the second oldest set of communion silver in Virginia. It is a chalice and a flagon of 1649-50 and both are inscribed to Hampton Parish in York County. A silver paten (1698-99) that was apparently given to Martin's Hundred Parish before it joined York-Hampton Parish in 1712 is now at St. John's Church in Hampton.
There are a few tombs from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (including the handsome Nelson tombs) in the south portion of the churchyard. The tombs from 1674 and 1696 were originally placed in a graveyard elsewhere in the village. They were found when repairs were being made on the roads and were moved to the churchyard in 1931.
The first confirmation service ever held in Virginia is believed to have been conducted in 1791 at old York Church. The parish register (1648-1789) of another colonial York County parish, Charles (originally New Poquoson) Parish, has been published and the original manuscript is on loan at the State Library in Richmond from the vestry of Grace Church, Yorktown.

St Peter's Parish Church
New Kent County, VA

St Peter's Parish Church in New Kent County is completely surrounded by forests. It can be reached from route 33 (between West Point and Richmond) by going about a mile north of Talleysville on route 609 and about .5 farther on route 642. The approach through the woods is beautiful.
St. Peter's Parish was created out of Blisland Parish in 1679. In 1704 St. Paul's Parish, which became Hanover County in 1720, was cut off and before that in 1691, that part of St. Peter's lying north of the Pamunkey River was annexed to St. John's Parish. In 172 St Peter's Parish received part of Wilmington parish.
The first Lower Church of the parish has been called the "Broken-Back'd" Church because of its structural weakness and was, perhaps, erected as early as 1685. Its location is not known. Speculation places it in different locations: near the present route 33 east of the junction of that highway with route 608 (leading to Providence Forge), and southeast of Black Creek, east of the Tunstall Station and near "Mt. Prospect". This church seems to have been used for an indefinite period after the erection of its successor (1701-03) and the creation of St. Paul's Parish. Two churches were in existence in St Peter's Parish in 1685, but the second Upper Church (1690) as well as a frame chapel (1702-04), also in the upper area, were cut off from St. Paul's Parish. A wooden belfry was built in 1722.
It has been said that St Peter's Church and Yeocomico Church eminently represent the transition in Virginia's ecclesiastical buildings from late Gothic to Classical.
The church was abandoned after the Disestablishment and used by the Presbyterians from around 1810-20 to 1843, and from 1843 to 1856 by the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians on alternate Sundays. During the War between the States the building was desecrated through use as a stable by Federal troops. Major repairs have been made on the church in 1810-20 and 1872 and the recent restorations have included at various times the talents and labors of two architects, J. Ambler Johnston and Harden deVoe Pratt, and two ecclesiastical historians, the Rev'd Dr. Brydon and George Carrington Mason (1885-1955), the last of whom lies buried not far from the present gates.
St. Peter's vestry book (1684-1758) and register (1685-1786) have been published twice, in the latest instance (1937) in a single volume. The originals are on loan at the State Library in Richmond.
It is possible that the marriage of our first president and first "first-lady" was solemnized in St. Peter's Church or at a nearby house called "The White House", but the church is becoming widely known as "The First Church of the First First-Lady".

Yeocomico Church
Westmoreland County, Virginia

Yeocomico Church lies at the top of a wooded slope about a half mile west of Tucker Hill post office and can be reached easily from the hamlet of Lyells. This is at the junction of routes 3 and 203 that is itself three miles north of Warsaw.
The current building is the only surviving colonial church in Westmoreland County or Cople Parish. This county and Nominy Parish were both created in 1653. The upper part of Nominy Parish became Appomattox Parish around 1661 and the upper part of Appomattox County was divided into three parishes, although the middle parish seems never to have been organized. The lower parish apparently went unnamed at first, but was soon called Nominy and before 1668 became known as Cople Parish, after an English parish of that name.
The existing second Yeocomico Church was built in 1706 as the second Lower Church of Cople Parish and is constructed of bricks made in a nearby kiln.

Ware Parish Church
Gloucester County, VA

The second Ware Parish Church stands in a grove of trees on the south side of routes 3 and 14, about one and one-half miles east of Gloucester Courthouse. The parish is named for the Ware Rive. The date of the present building's construction has never been definitely established. A historical marker near the county seat gives 1693 and this is an assumed date, as is 1710-15, which more recent guesses are given. The church was built during the rectorship of Rev'd James Clack (1679-1723).
The first Ware Church was built on the opposite side of the river near the road leading into Ware Neck, and was probably standing by 1660.
Gloucester County was formed from York County around 1651 and has been reduced in area only at the formation of Mathews County in 1791. The four parishes of the county (Abington, Kingston, Petsworth, and Ware) were formed around 1656, apparently out of territory belonging to York Parish, which had been one of the early plantation parishes. None of these four parishes of Gloucester County were ever in colonial times reduced in area. Kingston Parish became coterminous with Mathews County at the latter's creation. Petsworth Parish ceased to exist in 1797, but it is still listed in records as a dormant parish.
American infantrymen camped at the church in the Revolution. After the Disestablishment, the parish was inactive and the building somewhat abandoned until the church was repaired for worship again in 1827. The Methodists also used the building from time to time during this period. Ware Church was "modernized" in 1854, and this involved the extension of a wooden floor over the entire church, the removal of the flagstones and the box-pews, the addition of a new pulpit in a new location, and the re-arrangement of the seating plan. Federal troops also camped in the yard in the War between the States, and this required another set of repairs, which were not undertaken until 1878. In 1902 a new slate roof and a plastered ceiling were installed; and in the 1930's considerable redecoration took place. A single devotional tablet is now located on the reredos and is said to have come from an old Baltimore church in 1878, but this tablet is not likely to be of colonial origin. The parish also owns other tablets of this set.
A row of tombstones lies under the present cross aisle. Represented among them are the graves of at least colonial rectors (@1735 and @1758) and the wife (@1725) of one of these. The tomb of Parson Clack lies four feet east of the chancel wall.
The oldest part of the churchyard is enclosed by a brick wall that is of colonial origin. In the northwest portion there are now a number of tombstones that have recently (1924, 1927, 1939) been removed from various plantations in the county by the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities. Among them are markers from 1703-69.
The vestry books of Petsworth (originally Petsoe) parish for 1677-1793 and Kingston Parish for 1679-1796 have both been published. The original of the former book is kept at the clerk's office in Gloucester Courthouse and the original of the latter is on deposit at the State Library in Richmond, as is the Register (1749-1827) of Kingston parish.

Bruton Parish Church
Williamsburg VA

Bruton Parish Church occupies the northwestern corner of the Duke of Gloucester Street and the Palice Green in Williamsburg. In colonial times, up until 1880, Bruton Parish Church was located on the York County side of the line (which ran down the middle of the Duke of Gloucester Street at that point). From 1880 to 1884 all of Williamsburg was included in James City County. In the latter year, the town became an independent city. Williamsburg was known as Middle Plantation (midway between the James and York Rivers until 1700, when it succeeded Jamestown as our capital and was renamed in honor of William III (of William and Mary).
Around 1660 a church was built for Middletown Parish and in 1674 this building became the first Bruton parish Church. It is possible that it was built upon the site of the present church, for traces of an earlier foundation were found in 1905. The second Bruton Parish Church of 1683 was a Gothic brick structure with buttresses, the foundations of which were excavated in 1939, in the center of the present churchyard to the northwest of the existing building. This 1683 church was probably modelled upon the Jamestown Church and is remarkably similar in design and time to the Isle of Wight Church.
The original portion of the present (third) Bruton Parish Church was completed in 1715 under the rectorship of the Rev'd Dr. James Blair, who was for many years not only the Bishop of London's commissary for Virginia, but also the president of the College of William and Mary.

Tombs and Graves

On the southside of the Tower interior are now four marble tombstones. One (from 1692) has been moved there from the churchyard; the others (from the first half of the eighteenth century) were moved to the Tower in 1906 from a plantation on the York River. There are six persons represented by these stones in the Tower, in addition to Nathaniel Bacon sr. (the councillor rather than the leader of the rebellion) (@1692), whose stone was moved to the north side from another York River plantation in 1938-40.
In the nave are four graves, two of which are of unknown persons and are unmarked, one of which derives from 1742, and the fourth of which is marked only by "P.G.AE. 61". In the north aisle is Governor Francis Fauquier (@1768); and just north of this grave lies that of the patriot, Edmund Pendleton (@1803), whose remains and stone (as well as the remains of his two wives and a child) were moved to this spot from the Caroline County around 1906. The only original colonial slab in the aisles of the nave or trancepts is that of Henry Hackler (@1742). Under or near the choir aisle are Dr. William Cocke (@1720) and Governor Edmund Jenings (@1727) as well as six others (only one (@1694) of whom is known and marked). The Rev'd Dr. Goodwin was also buried in the chancel aisle in front of the pulpit in 1939.
Further in the Chancel are four stones and eight burials ranging from 1719 to 1744, all of which except one ("R.P. 1730 AE 32") are known. These stones were undoubtedly put there while their graves were yet in the churchyard (before the church was extended and included them in 1752), for they lie east of the boundary stone of the 1715 church. The widow of one of the parish's early rectors was moved to the chancel from New Kent County in 1905. Also east of the boundary stone lie twelve graves of unknown persons as well as the stone of the Rev'd Mr. Rowland Jones (@1688) on the north and the grave and stone of the Rev'd Mr Wilmer (@1827) on the south. Mr. Jone's stone with its Latin inscription was moved into the chancel in 1905 from the yard. Those graves found by Dr. Goodwin under the chancel were re-interred under the floor of the then new crypt. The only colonial stones in the chancel that are still their original locations are those of Orlando Jones (@1719), the Blair children, and Mrs Monzo (with two other Blair children). Old mural tablets include those for Daniel Parke (@1679) and Dr. Cocke.
Within the church there are no fewer than 35 burials that still lie in or close to their original locations (although nine or more of these were originally made in the churchyard east of the 1715 chancel). These are in addition to the five that have been moved to Bruton Church in this century from elsewhere in Virginia.
In the large church yard are at least eight seventeenth-century graves and at least thirty-one eighteenth-century graves that are both identified and marked, as well as countless others from the colonial period that lie unknown or unmarked or both (and four colonial graves that have been removed from other places and reburied in this yard).
Among the tombs of the greatest sculptural interest are those of Governor Edward Nott (@1706), David Bray (@1731) and his wife (@1734), and Edward Barradall (@1743). The first two of these monuments are in the center of the yard (at the site of the 1683 church) and the last is to be found in the southeast corner. The tomb of Colonel Page (@1692), who gave the present site to the parish, is now to be seen in the tower and a recent tomb marks his grave in the yard, northwest of the tower and near the center of the yard. Despite the large number of identified colonial graves in the yard probably four times as many known burials date from 1776 to recent times, including those of Confederate soldiers (along with a Confederate monument). The yard has built up noticeably along the north wall of the nave. Concrete bases were built under all the tombstones in the yard and the markers themselves thoroughly repaired in the 1938-39 renewal. A few people have been buried in the Breton yard in recent decades, even as late as 1856 (ashes have been interred as late as 1862), and a few other people apparently still have burial rights there. A sundial has been erected between the south wall and the tower: the shaft by Thomas T Waterman in 1932 and the present gnomon by Colonial Williamsburg in 1962.
The George Wythe House served as the parish house from 1926 to 1938, when a new parish house was put into use.

Christ Church
Middlesex County, VA

The second parish church of Christ Church Parish in Middlesex County stands at the village named for it (Christchurch), about 2 1/2 miles east of Saluda and the same distance southeast of Urbanna. The church and Christchurch School lie on the north side of route 33, not far south of the Rappahannock River.
The first parish church of 1666-67 also stood on this site. Christ Church Parish was formed in 1666 by the union of Lancaster (upper) and Peanckatanck (lower) Parishes. The united parish became coterminous with the county when the latter was established in 1669. The two earlier parishes had themselves been parts of still older parishes before their separate establishment.
The date of the existing building's erection is 1714. This date is to be seen on three bricks now placed in the tympanum of the modern vestibule on the west. On one of the bricks, "IH" (probably standing for John Hipkins who did carpentry, plumbing and glazing) is associated with the numerals; on the other there is added "EC". A fourth brick has "W. Johnson" on it. Mr. Hipkin's plumbing may have involved such lead fixtures as gutters and drainspouts and even "Lead putty" for the windows. Alexander Graves, who did the masonry, seems not to be memorialized in his own handwork.


The county of Middlesex is a narrow peninsula, lying between the Rappahannock and Piankatank rivers. Its eastern boundary is washed by the waters of the historic Chesapeake Bay, and it was therefore easily accessible to the earliest settlers of the country.
Originally, Lancaster county embraced the territory on both sides of the Rappahannock for many miles. From this Middlesex was formed on the southern shore. Records in the Virginia Land Office in Richmond show that this division occurred as early as 1669. The original county-seat of Lancaster was located in what is now Middlesex.
The settlement of this section was probably as early, or even earlier, as it is nearer the ocean, than the present county of Lancaster. Many of the original settlers coming from Middlesex, in England, transferred the name of the old home to the new, thus bringing the mother land closer to them. The county is one on which nature has smiled benignly. Rich soil, salubrious climate, beautiful scenery, in which the water forms a very attractive feature, and every facility known in Virginia for living comfortably. Some of the best people in our land in early days established their homes in this county. And some of the old-time mansions are still to be seen, retaining vestiges of former grandeur and reminding the contemplative of the attractiveness of old-time Virginia life.
Until separation of the territory into two counties, one minister served the whole, though there were two parishes on either side of the river. Those on the south side were called Lancaster and Piankatank, and in 1666 they became one again, under the name of Christ church, Lancaster County.
Very fortunately the original Vestry Book has been preserved, and from it much valuable information has been obtained in reference to the early Church history of the county. This book Bishop Meade had access to when preparing the article on the Parishes in Middlesex, in his "Old Churches, Ministers and Families of Virginia," and for most of the information in this article the writer is indebted to the matter which he obtained therefrom.
In 1650 the churches in the district now covered by the two counties were in charge of the Rev. Samuel Cole. In 1666 the name of the Rev. Mr. Morris appears as minister. It was during his rectorship, or a short time thereafter, that some dissensions arose as to the bounds of the two parishes, which led to their reunion.
The first entry in the old Vestry Book states that Mr. Henry Corbin had been appointed to keep the register of the parish, according to a late act of Assembly.
The vestry oath is an item of great interest. It is as follows: "I, A. B., as I do acknowledge myself a true son of the Church of England, so do I believe the Articles of Faith therein professed, and oblige myself to be comformable to the doctrine and discipline therein taught and established, and that as a vestryman of Christ church, I will well and truly perform my duty therein, being directed by the laws and customs of this country, and the Canons of the Church of England, so far as they will suit our present capacity; and this I shall sincerely do, according to the best of my knowledge, skill and cunning, without fear, favor, or partiality; and so help me God."
In 1666 the vestry resolved to build a mother church, after the model of that at Williamsburg, the glass and iron to be imported from England. This was done at a point midway between Brandon and Rosegill, the seats of the Grymes and Wormley families, not far from the Rappahannock. This was used until 1712, when a new one was built in the same place.
On the 29th of January, 1666, it was resolved to continue the Rev. Mr. Morris as minister, but that he be not inducted. On the next day he was paid his salary and dismissed, probably because of a natural objection to the terms of his call.
In the same year a glebe was purchased and the Rev. John Shephard called as minister for six months. At the expiration of that time he was called for twelve months, and then permanently. Mr. Shephard was evidently a man of piety and ability, for at his death the following minute was recorded in the Vestry Book:
"It is ordered by this present vestry, that whereas it has pleased Almighty God to take out of this life Mr. John Shephard, our late Worthy minister, and this vestry and the whole parish desiring to have his place supplied with a gentleman of good life and doctrine and a true son of the Church of England; and they knowing of none such at present in this country, but have benefices- it is therefore unanimously agreed by the vestry that the Hon. Ralph Wormley, Esq., and Mr. Robert Smith be desired and empowered to write, in the name of this vestry, to the Hon. the Lady Agatha Chichely, and Major General Robert Smith- who, it is hoped, are now safe in London- to request them, or either of them, that they will please to take the trouble to procure a fit minister in England to come over and supply the place of Mr. Shephard."
In this resolution the vestry pledged themselves not to employ anyone except temporarily until the clergyman came from England, whom they agreed to accept as their minister, offering for his support the use of the glebe lands, which contained four hundred acres, and an annual allowance of sixteen thousand pounds of tobacco and caske, besides all perquisites and other profits.
During the vacancy the parish was supplied by the Rev. Superiors Davis.
In November of that year Major General Robert Smith returned from England with the new rector, the Rev. Deuell Read. Mr. Read served the parish seven years, and proved a worthy successor to Mr. Shephard. He arranged for a monthly administration of the Blessed Sacrament of the Lord's Supper in the mother church. "And, moreover, that this great solemn mystery might as well worthily as frequently be observed, he did frankly and freely promise a sermon at the said church monthly, that is to say, on the Saturday in the afternoon, for the guiding the Communion- Not doubting that all parents and masters of families, who ponder the everlasting welfare of souls committed to their charge, would readily comply, and allow convenient liberty to their children and servants to repair to church at such times, there to be instructed and prepared for this religious duty."
This act was a very important step in religious growth, inasmuch as by act of Assembly, which was a renewal of one of the Canons of the Church of England, it was only required that the Sacrament be administered twice a year, and in this case it was proposed to have it in the mother church, which was but midway of a parish forty miles in length. There were two other churches, at either end of the county. At a later date, however, the communion was administered in all of them.
After his resignation Mr. Read returned to England, and there is an entry in the Vestry Book as follows:
"I, Deuell Read, late of Middlesex in Virginia, having lived in the county for at least seven years past, and received divers kindnesses from the parishioners thereof, and Almighty God in His great goodness, having preserved me through many dangers in my return to England, and being most kindly received by my Right Honorable and Right Rev. Henry, Lord Bishop of London, do, in point of gratitude to Almighty God, and in honour for the Church of England, freely give and bestow, for the use of my successors in the said parish, four milch cows and calves, four breeding sows, a mare and colt, to be delivered on the glebe of said parish to the next incumbent, he to enjoy them and their increase for his own use, and leaving the like number and quality on his death to his successors; humbly requesting my aforesaid Right Rev. Diocesan to give charge to his Commissary there to take care herein, and to settle it in such manner as to him shall seem fit, according to the true intent hereof. Witness my hand in London, this 12th day of November, in the second year of our Sovereign Lord and Lady King William and Queen Mary, etc. Deuell Read."
In imitation of this act, another entry states that: "The following gentlemen, Vestrymen of the parish, viz.: Henry Corbin, Richard Perrott, Abraham Weeks, John Hastewood, Richard Cock, Robert Chewning, agree, each of them, to mark one cow-calf with a crop in the right ear, to be kept, as well as their own cattle, until they be two years old, then given to the vestry as stock for the parish." In 1692 the Rev. Matthew Lidford was chosen minister, and died after a rectorship of one year. He was succeeded by the Rev. Samuel Gray, who in 1698, after serving the parish most unworthily, agreed to resign on the payment to him of a certain amount of tobacco. His career was a dark cloud in the history of the church.
It may be stated here, however, that the ministry of the Church in these early days, as shown by the records of this parish, will compare favorably with that of any period and of any religious body. Bad men there were then, as there are now, among all Church bodies, but they were the exception.
In 1669 the Rev. Robert Yates became rector, and continued so until about 1704, when ill health compelled his return to England. His record was evidently that of a good and true man, for his vestry continued his salary for some time in hope of his return. The Rev. Bartholomew Yates (supposed to be his son) succeeded him. He served the parish as minister for eighteen years, when he was called to York-Hampton Parish. His vestry increased his salary to two thousand pounds of tobacco, in order to retain his services, and on the Vestry Book is the copy of a petition to the General Assembly, signed by John Robinson, to take measures to have him remain where he was so highly esteemed. He continued in Middlesex, therefore, until his death, which occurred in 1734, thus completing a rectorship of thirty years.
Mr. Yates had sons in England at college, and the vestry decided to wait two years until his son, Bartholomew, was ordained. In the meantime the parish was served by the Rev. Messrs. John Reade and Emmanuel Jones, from parishes nearby. Rev. Bartholomew Yates 2d was rector for twenty-five years, serving the parish until 1767.
Nine years before this date, the Rev. William Yates and the Rev, Robert Yates were ministers in the adjoining parishes of Petsworth and Abingdon, in Gloucester County, and they were either grandsons or great-grandsons of the Rev. Robert Yates, the family thus contributing great strength to the Church in its early days in
A large tombstone was placed over the grave of the Rev. Bartholomew Yates in the churchyard. It is still in its place, and bears the following inscription: "Here lie the remains of the Rev. Bartholomew Yates, who departed this life the 26th day of July, 1734, in the fiftyseventh year of his age. He was one of the visitors of William and Mary College, as also Professor of Divinity in that Royal Foundation. In the conscientious discharge of his duty, few ever equalled him, none ever surpassed him. He explained the doctrine by his practice, and taught and led the way to heaven. Cheerfulness, the result of innocence, always sparkled in his face, and, by the sweetness of his temper, he gained universal good will. His consort enjoyed in him a tender husband, his children an indulgent father, his servants a gentle master, his acquaintances a faithful friend. He was minister of this parish upwards of thirty years; and to perpetuate his memory, this monument is erected at the charge of his friends and parishioners."
The descendants of Mr. Yates are many and honored in different parts of the State.
In 1767 the Rev. John Klug became rector, and, it is thought, continued so until his death, in 1795. His ministry was also marked by deep piety and earnestness, and his works lived after him. He was succeeded by the Rev. Mr. Heffernon, whose ministry was one of shame and dishonor. He was rector for eighteen years, the Church suffering from his presence. At the time of his death, in 1813, the condition of the church was depressing in the extreme; indeed, as Bishop Meade says, "Its prostration was complete." This was brought about largely by political conditions, the Church generally having suffered greatly at that period, but an unworthy minister is responsible for much of the sin and carelessness among his people.
The respect of some of the people of Middlesex for the matters of the higher life, in those old days, is illustrated in an extract of the will of Mr. William Churchhill, in 1711, in which he bequeathed one hundred pounds sterling to the vestry of Christ Church Parish, Middlesex, to be placed at interest, the proceeds to be given the minister, provided he preached four quarterly sermons each year against the four reigning vices, viz.: Atheism (meaning living without God in the world) and irreligion; swearing and cursing; fornication and adultery and drunkenness.
Twenty-five pounds were put at interest and the interest money was to be given the clerk or sexton attending such sermon.
From 1813 to 1840 there is little record of Church work in Middlesex, though the parish was represented in the Diocesan Council of 1821 by Mr. James Chewning as lay delegate, and in 1840 the old mother church was a ruin, the walls alone standing. At this date Bishop Meade thus strikingly refers to its sad condition:
"And what has become of the mother church- the Great Church as she is styled in her journal- standing in view of the wide Rappahannock, midway between Rosegill and Brandon?
"More, perhaps, than fifty years ago it was deserted. Its roof decayed and fell in. Everything within it returned to its native dust. But nature abhors a vacuum. A sycamore tree sprung up within its walls. All know the rapidity of that tree's growth. It filled the void. Its boughs soon rose above and overspread the walls.
"In the year 1840, when it pleased God to put it into the hearts of some in whom the spirit of Old Virginia Episcopalians still remained, to seek the revival of the Church's dry bones in Middlesex, that huge overspreading tree must first be removed piecemeal from the house, and the rich mould of fifty years' accumulation, to the depth of two feet, must be dug up before the chancel floor and the stone aisles could be reached- faithful workmanship of other days. These were uninjured, and may still remain, while generations of frail modern structures pass away. The house is now one of our best country churches. The graves of our ancestors are all around it. In scattered fragments some of the tombstones lie; others too substantial to be broken, too heavy to be borne away, now plainly tell whose remains are protected by them. These blessed improvements were wrought largely through the energetic interest of Mrs. Kemp (Barbara Minor) Gatewood, who started the movement which resulted in the restoration of the old church. Others assisting prominently in the work were Dr. Rowan, Dr. Nicholson, Mr. Boswell Roy, of Rosegill; the Blackburns and Segars and Mr. Gatewood.
In the original arrangement of the parish there were two churches in addition to the parish church. These were situated in the upper and lower ends of the county, respectively. The three were known as the Upper, Lower and Middle churches. All were of brick, and are now standing, but the Upper church is occupied by the Baptists, who have named it "Hermitage," and the lower by the Methodists, and is still known as the Lower church.
The Rev. Mr. Carraway, rector about 1845, writing to Bishop Meade, thus speaks of them:
"The Upper and Lower churches or chapels are still standing. One of them is about to be repaired by the Baptists. The Lower chapel retains some appearance of antiquity, in spite of the effort to destroy every vestige of Episcopal taste and usage. The high pulpit and sounding-board have been removed, and the reading desk placed within the chancel, before which is the roughly carved chest which formerly held the plate and other articles for the decent celebration of the Holy Communion.
"There were three sets of plate in the parish. A descendant of one of the earliest families, now the wife of one of the Virginia clergy, on removing from this county, took with her, in order to keep from desecration, the service belonging to the Lower chapel. She lent it to a rector of one of the churches in Richmond, with the understanding that, upon the revival of the parish, it must be restored. Application was accordingly made in the year 1840, and the vestry received the value of the plate in money, which was given at their suggestion, they having a full service in their possession.
"The plate owned by Christ church was presented by the Hon. Ralph Wormley. It numbered five pieces. But for the inscription, bearing the name of the donor, it would have shared the fate of much that was irreligiously and sacreligiously disposed of. It was deposited in the bank in Fredericksburg, where it remained for more than thirty years. It was afterwards in regular use, but was at one time almost destroyed by fire. Enough was rescued, however, for the use of church. The set belonging to the Lower church was sold by the overseers of the poor."
The old Glebe house, a large square brick building, is still standing at the head of Urbanna Creek, which is near Christ church.
The Rev. W. Y. Rooker was in charge of the work in Mathews and Middlesex a few years after 1840. He was succeeded by the Rev. G. S. Carraway. As to the people who lived in Middlesex in the old days, under the ministrations of the Church, much could be said. They represented some of the most distinguished of the early citizenship of the State, and their descendants have figured prominently in the history of the country. Such names as the following were among them: Corbin, Perrott, Chewning, Potter, Vause, Weeks, Willis, Cock, Curtis, Smith, Dudley, Thacker, Skipwith, Beverley, Wormley, Jones, Miller, Scarborough, Woodley, Whitaker, Robinson, Warwick, Gordon, Chichester, Midge, Churchill, Burnham, Kemp, Cary, Daniel, Price, Mann, Segar, Reid, Eliot, Miles, Montague and Nelson. The names of Sir Henry Chicheley, Baronet and Knight (once Deputy Governor of Virginia), and Sir William Skipwith, Baronet and Knight, appear always at the head of the vestrymen, as written in the vestry books, these titles giving them precedence. They appear to have been active and liberal, giving land and plate to the churches. John Grymes and Edmund Berkeley appear to have been church wardens for a longer period than any others. The Thackers and Robinsons were also constant attendants and church wardens for a long time. So also were the Smiths, Churchills, Corbins, Curtises and Beverleys. Many of these were members of the Council, and held other offices in the Colonial government. The first Beverley on the list was the celebrated Robert Beverley, so noted in the early history of Virginia as a martyr to the cause of liberty. He was clerk of the House of Burgesses and father of Robert Beverley, the historian of Virginia, and ancestor of the other Beverleys.
There were always three lay readers in each of the churches. The names of Chewning, Baldwin and Stevens appear among these. They were required not only to read homilies, but to catechise the children, and see that everything about the church was orderly. By express act of the vestry it was required that these lay readers be sober and reputable men.
The office of vestryman was that of an active worker for the uplift of the people, those holding it being guardians of the poor and destitute, and at the same time supervisors in business matters of the parish and county. There was one very important duty which vestries had to perform and which occasioned differences between them and the Governor of Virginia, namely: To maintain their rights as representing the people in the choice and settlement of ministers. In the English Church the congregation have no part in the choice of their ministers. Patrons appoint them and livings support them. In Virginia the salary being drawn immediately from the people by the vestries, the latter sometimes claimed the right, not only to choose the ministers, but to dismiss them at pleasure. In the absence of Bishops and canons to try ministers, the temptation on the part of the vestries to act arbitrarily is evident. The Governor, therefore, claimed to be the Ordinary, to act as Bishop in reference to this point. Appealing to the English canon, he allowed the vestries the right to call the ministers and present them for induction. Being inducted, the minister could not be displaced by the vestry. He had a right to the salary, and could enforce it by an appeal to law, unless, indeed, for misconduct, he could be deprived by a process under the direction of the Governor. Should a vestry not appoint a minister after a vacancy of six months, the Governor might send one, and induct him as the permanent minister, not to be removed by the vestry.
In the old churchyard rest the remains of many of the people who have figured prominently in the affairs of Church and State. Three of these inscriptions on the tombs are of particular interest. One is the epitaph of Mr. John Grymes, and reads as follows: "Here lies interred the body of the Honorable John Grymes, Esq., who for many years acted in the public affairs of this Dominion, with honor, fortitude, fidelity to their majesties, King George I. and III. Of the Council of State of the Royal Prerogative, of the liberty and property of the subject, a zealous asserter. On the Seat of Judgment, clear, sound, unbiassed. In the office, punctual, approved. Of the College of William and Mary, an ornament, visitor, patron. Beneficent to all, a pattern of true piety. Respected, loved, revered. Lamented by his family, acquaintance, country. He departed this life the 2d day of November, 1748, in the fifty-seventh year of his age."
Another epitaph reads: "This monument is erected to the memory of Ralph Wormley, Esq., of Rosegill, who died on the 19th of January, 1806, in the sixty-second year of his age. The rules of honor guided the actions of this great man. He was the perfect gentleman and finished scholar, with many virtues founded on Christianity."
Mr. Wormley was a member of a number of Episcopal Conventions after the Revolution. After his death the descendants of Colonel Edmund Berkeley appear to be almost all that remained of the church.
This family preserved the Vestry Book from which all of the information gathered by Bishop Meade was obtained.
On the tomb of the wife of Mr. Wormley are these words: "Beneath this marble lies interred the remains of Mrs. Eleanor Wormley, widow of Ralph Wormley, Esq., of Rosegill, and sister of Colonel John Tayloe, of Mount Airy, who died the 23d of February, 1815, in the sixtieth year of her age. Few women were more eminently distinguished for correctness of deportment, and for the practice of all the Christian virtues. As a wife she was conjugal, as a widow exemplary, as a mother, fond and affectionate, as a neighbor charitable and kind, as a friend, steady and sincere."
There are also tombs of Lucy Berkeley, who died in 1716, and Sir Henry Chicheley, Knight and Deputy Governor of Virginia; the Rev. John Shephard and the Hon. Lady Madame Catharine Wormley, wife of the Honorable Ralph Wormley (the first Ralph Wormley), in the year 1685.
Rosegill, the grand old house of the Wormleys, still stands. It was bought about fifty years ago by Captain John Bailey, a man of great heart, who did much good for the Church in modern years. The old mansion was restored to much of its former grandeur under his ownership.
After his death his widow lived there many years, and it was the privilege of the writer to visit and enjoy her hospitality, and view the house, one of the most interesting relics of a bygone age. Its situation is ideal, in full and beautiful view of the broad river, about two miles from the town of Urbanna. Since Mrs. Bailey's death it has been bought and beautified by a gentleman from Pennsylvania.
The modern history of Christ church is similar to that of most Virginia Colonial churches. After being a long time asleep, it has awakened to a new life, with hopes and aspirations which are well founded. Though sometimes in a feeble condition, it has weathered the storms of war and other trials. The ministers who have served it since 1850 are the Rev. Joseph R. Jones, the Rev. John McGill, the Rev. Claudius R. Haines, the Rev. J. Hervey Hundley, the Rev. John Moncure (for a brief time), the Rev. Frank Stringfellow, the Rev. E. B. Meredith, the Rev. H. J. Beagen and the Rev. R. C. Cowling, the present incumbent. Special mention should be made of the Rev. J. Hervey Hundley, through whose energy and interest, largely, the church in Middlesex was kept alive for many years. Dr. Hundley was originally a Baptist minister in Lower Essex. He came over to the Church, bringing his congregation with him. He served Christ church as a rector for several times, being recalled time and again as the church became vacant. He went to his reward about four years ago, and, like all of the blessed dead, his works live after him.
Among the faithful laymen of modern days was Mr. Oliver J. Marston, of Saluda. He, too, has gone to his rest, but his active, whole-souled interest in the old church and its affairs will long remain in the hearts of the people.
The parish is now in good condition. The old church building has been improved by extensive repairs and adornments. It has been enriched by some fine memorial windows, and is now a place of beauty as well as of sacredness. The present vestry is as follows: Mr. F. M. Eastman, senior warden; Mr. J. C. Gray, junior warden; Mr. Gordon Taylor, register, and Messrs. William Seagar, Marion Walters, William T. Perkins, W. C. Walker and Benjamin Upton.
[Colonial Churches in the Original Colony of Virginia by Especially Qualified Writers, 1908 - Transcribed by AFOFG]

Lower Chapel
Middlesex County VA

This church occupies the same site as the first Lower Chapel (c 1665-66) of the parish. The first chapel also possibly served as the Peanckatanck Parish Church until that parish united with the upper parish of Middlesex County (aka Lancaster Parish) in 1666. The Methodists have recently adopted the name of the Piankatank Parish for their circuit of churches served by the minister of the present Lower Church. The spelling of this Indian name occurs in over a dozen forms in the colonial vestry book.

The date of the church's completion is 1717. A dating brick on the left side of the west doorway is marked 17A15" and is taken to indicate the completion of the walls to that height by 1715. The "A" possibly represents a Mr. Armistead, the builder. Another brick, on the opposite side of this doorway, is marked "I:W" (possibly for James Walker, an overseer for the vestry), although the first part of this inscription is not clear. Mortar remains in the part of these carvings, which are similar in style to those at the Mother Church at Christchurch. Other initials at the chapel include "B" on the east and "IG" and "TG" on the north.

Vauter's Church
Essex County, VA

Vawter's Church stands in Essex County on the north side of route 17, .5 mile west of the hamlet of Loretto and about 12.5 miles southeast of the junction of routes 17 and 301 near Port Royal. Vawter's Church is the second Upper Church is the second Upper Church of St. Anne's Parish, which was created in 1704 out of Sittingbourne Parish. This latter parish and Farnham Parish were formed in 1661 and, like Old Rappahannock County each of them included territory on both sides of the Rappahannock River. Out the western portion of Sittingbourne Parish was created, about 1677, St. Mary's Parish. The name remaining on the north side, but in 1732 it ceased to exist when its upper part was combined with Hanover Parish in King George County and its lower section became part of the new Lunenburg parish in Richmond County. Rappahannock County also ceased to exist when it was divided into Essex and Richmond in 1692.

The first Upper Church of St. Anne's Parish was probably in existence sometime between 1704 and 1711 and was undoubtedly of frame construction. There were two Lower Churches in the parish in colonial times. A frame church that was standing on Occupacia Creek as early as 1664 or 1665 became the first of these Lower Churches of St Anne's in 1704, and was replaced sometimes between 1721 and 1739 by the second Lower Church. This latter church was known as Sale's Church and because the land represented a donation from Cornelius Sale.
The original portion of the church near Loretto is believed to have been built around 1719 and the south wing was added in 1731, as a brick above and to the right of the south doorway shows. The name, Vawter, is derived from that of a family whose land adjoined the site of the church when it was built, but just when this name was first used with the church, seems to be uncertain.
In 1713 the name of St. Mary's was retained by the southside parish when the parish was divided at the river and the northside parish became known as Hanover Parish. St Mary's Parish lay entirely within Caroline County when this county was formed in 1728 from the uppermost portions of Essex, King William, and King and Queen counties. The second parish church (1748) of St Marys Parish was known as the Mount Church (named after a nearby creek) which from 1810 to 1835 housed the Rappahannock Academy. The site of the Mount Church and the academy lies five miles west of Port Royal on route 17.


Of all the magnificent river views in Tidewater Virginia few excel that from the summit of Chimborazo hill, in upper Essex County. Commanding on one side long stretches of the beautiful Rappahannock, flowing through its fertile plains, it displays, on the other, thickly-wooded uplands in ascending terraces of richly blended verdure. But the most prominent object in the foreground is old Vauter's church, standing in its ancient grove of oak and walnut. It is approached by the "Church Lane," considerably elevated above the fields on either side, from the accumulation of soil washing down from the hills, and is bordered by dense hedges of growth so characteristic of the country, and in spring so exquisitely fragrant with the bloom of the wild grape and the eglantine.
The church is a brick building of cruciform shape, with its three high, sharp gables supporting a shingle roof, cut close to the edges of the wall. Its high and narrow windows are guarded by heavy solid wooden shutters, and there are two entrances to the church by double doors, in the south and the west ends. The present chancel, raised one step from the stone-paved aisles, is furnished now with two modern stands or lecterns for the service and sermon, but back against the wall there still stands the old reading desk and pulpit above It. The latter is reached by a stairway from the chancel floor, and this stairway is guarded by a hand-rail. Both pulpit and reading desk are draped in crimson hangings. The pews are the same old box stalls, with benches of uncompromising rigidity, and furnished with clanging doors, which announce the retirement of the occupants; but they have been cut down to nearly half of their former height. A vestibule partition crosses the western end of the church, forming a vestryroom, and supporting a gallery reached by steps in the vestibule. Another gallery over the southern door is the organ loft. Formerly the chancel and pulpit stood in the eastern end of the church, and pews and pulpit were so high that both minister and congregation could enjoy deep seclusion.
Bishop Meade tells us in his book- Old Churches and Families of Virginia- that when visiting these old Colonial churches he frequently had to hasten his arrival, to erect temporary platforms of bricks or stones in the pulpits, to enable him to see the congregation; but the sermons of those days were so long and closely written that the minister had to be more engaged in the scrutiny of the manuscript than in the observation of the audience. In fact, from the shape of the church, the pulpit could be only visible from some points of the building. To complete the description of this venerable building, there is only to be added that its walls are covered by the most luxuriant mantle of English ivy, which is with difficulty restrained from invading and decaying the wooden roof.
The early history of St. Anne's parish and its two churches is veiled in much obscurity, and rests more upon dim tradition than actual fact. Rappahannock County, formed from Lancaster County, about the middle of the seventeenth century, contained Littlebourne parish. Littlebourne parish, lying on both sides of the Rappahannock River, was divided into North Farnham parish, in Richmond County; South Farnham parish, in lower Essex, and St. Anne's parish, in upper Essex; as both Richmond and Essex counties were formed from Rappahannock County.
St. Anne's parish contained two churches. One of these churches, now destroyed and even its name lost, but of which the foundation is visible, stood near the present St. Matthew's church, one-fourth of a mile above it, on the road leading to Lloyd's. When St. Matthew's church was begun in 1860, its location was selected by its members, and specially recommended by Colonel Wm. Beverley, of Blandfield, because of its neighborhood to the old church which had been the regular place of worship of the Blandfield family and other Episcopal families in that vicinity. This old church fell into the possession of an owner named Sale, from which fact it was known as "Sale's Church." Legend tells us that its material was taken away, and applied to such practical uses that its chancel rail was made into a chicken coop. About two miles from this old church, and on a branch of Occupacia creek, stood the rectory, called "The Glebe," later sold to the Rowzie family, and was known as Clover Field. An old colored man named Frederic Robb, and owned by the Rowzie family, delighted in narrating his reminiscences of this old church, and the assembling of its congregation, conspicuous in that day by the rare possession of coaches, and by the English style of costume- knee breeches and boots worn by the gentlemen.
About eight miles farther up in the county of Essex, and situated upon or near Blackburn's creek, stands Vauter's church, and Mr. Richard Baylor, of Kinloch, writes the following interesting sketch for Bishop Meade's above-mentioned work: "The first thing that I recollect as connected with the old sanctuary is that my father used to keep the old English Bible at Marl Bank, and when the casual services of a passing Episcopal minister were to be held there a servant took the old Bible on his head and accompanied the family by a near walking way across the same Blackburn's creek, and after service brought it back. I still have the old Bible at Kinloch, valued for its antiquity, and on its blank leaves are numerous references in my father's handwriting. I remember when the church doors always stood wide open, if indeed they could be closed, and have taken refuge myself from a storm in the body of the church, leading my horse in with me."
Mr. Baylor relates the occurrence of a duel between two gentlemen before the south door of the church, of which he says he was informed by Mr. R. B. Starke, of Norfolk, who attended as surgeon. Mr. Baylor continues: "We are indebted to the firm friendship of a lady that Vauter's church did not share the same fate of other sanctuaries, as, for instance, the church at Leedstown, just across the river. So soon as Mrs. Muscoe Garnett heard that persons had commenced carrying away the paving stones of the aisles, and perhaps some of the bricks, she claimed the church as her own, and threatened prosecution to the next offender. The ground on which she placed her claim was that the church stood on her land, or that of her family."
Mr. James Garnett, the father of Mrs. Muscoe Garnett's husband, did purchase lands adjacent to the church from the Vauter family before the middle of the 18th century, but we must ascend the stream of time higher than this, to trace the origin of Vauter's church. The date, 1731, is marked on a brick in the southern wall of the church, and this has led to a popular belief that the church was built in 1731; but this date may have been that of some alteration or repair. At any rate, the following facts seem to contradict the idea that the church was built in 1731: It has been the legend for years that Vauter's church was endowed with a communion service by Queen Anne of England, and the old cup of the church service was lost. A few years ago a gentleman in New Jersey was shown a communion cup in the collection of a friend, and marked "St. Anne's Parish, Essex County, Virginia." The new owner had purchased it in a New York shop to add to his collection as an antiquary. Now, no doubt, this was the missing cup presented to St. Anne's parish by the Queen, and as she died in 1714, the presentation must have been prior to 1731, when the church was supposed to have been built. This fact alone, however, may not be conclusive, because of the possibility that there was an earlier church in this parish; but in an old land survey, made by John Vauter for Buckingham Brown, who owned land on Blackburn's creek close to Vauter's church, there is a "road leading to the church" on the plot, and this plot is dated 1722; and in another survey, made for John Hawkins (who also owned land on this same creek), by John Vauter, surveyor, there is shown as a boundary the "church land," and this plot is dated 1719. Blackburn's creek (formerly Lucas' creek), is the starting point in tracing many contiguous properties at the date of the earliest mention of Vauter's church; and as we find Vauters taking up "King's lands" on this creek close to Vauter's church, very early in the 18th century, it seems probable that the church was built upon "King's land," by order of vestry empowered by the Governor of Virginia, and took the name of "Vauter's" from propinquity to lands occupied by Vauters. However this conjecture may be, it seems certain that Vauter's church was standing in 1719, and possibly considerably earlier. Church and glebe lands in existence at that remote date are difficult to trace, as the vestries of the parishes seem to have been empowered to buy or sell property and to levy taxes for the maintenance of the church, often getting into difficulties with the Governor of the Colony, and administering their prerogative with great irregularity and little record of their proceedings. The combination of ecclesiastical and secular affairs was indeed so remarkable that in an old deed conveying land from Gaines to Garnett in 1766, there is the statement that it was "published in the Parish Church of St. Anne's."
Bishop Meade, in speaking of the earliest Church conventions after the Revolution, says: "In 1814 Thomas Matthews and Hon. James Hunter were, delegates from St. Anne's Parish; in 1817 Hon. James M. Garnett; in 1820 Mr. Robert Beverley;" making this statement in connection with his narrative of the complete disorganization of the church for years previously, and its faint revival about the date of these conventions. While there is a notice of the first vestry in Rappahannock Parish under a minister named Francis Doughty, we do not hear of any minister of St. Anne's Parish before Rev. John Bagge in 1724. He seems to have died soon after he took charge of the parish, and to have been succeeded by the very remarkable Rev. Robert Rose. Mr. Rose appears to have enjoyed the great confidence of his people, both as a minister and a business man, and to have been a universal counsellor to his friends scattered over the wide territory of his ministry, reaching to Nelson County. He died while attending the laying out of Richmond city, in 1751, and was buried there. Mr. Smelt succeeded Mr. Rose. In 1774-76 "Parson John Matthews" was minister of St . Anne's. Then, after a long interval, Rev. John Rennolds was minister in 1822, succeeded in 1825 by Rev. John P. McGuire, after whom were the following successors: Rev. Edward B. McGuire, 1852 to 1867; Dr. Charles Goodrich, in 1869; Rev. Alexander Overby, 1873 to 1880; Rev. W. S. Campbell, 1881 to 1884; Rev. J. C. Koon, 1885 to 1888; Rev. D. T. C. Davis, 1890 to 1899; Rev. E. W. Cowling, 1900 to 1902; Rev. J. F. Burks, 1902.
The early history of St. Anne's Parish, in the immediate vicinity of Vauter's church, is strikingly illustrative of the transitoriness of human affairs. Even the names of families, which for generations were prominent land owners and influential citizens, have completely disappeared. Cornhill, Lucas, Gaines, Hawkins, Brookings, Shipp, Meadows, Vauter and many others have left no trace, except in tattered deeds or records of land transfers, dating nearly or quite two centuries in the past. And yet it is still remarkable that for at least one century this old church has been supported by the same small band of hereditary members: Saunders, Dishmans, Pilkingtons, Baylors, Warings, Sales, Rowzies, Bairds, Beverleys, Brookes, Hunters and Garnetts. Nearly all of these families furnish the same congregation for the two churches of St. Anne's parish, Vauter's and St. Matthew's.
[Colonial Churches in the Original Colony of Virginia by Especially Qualified Writers, 1908 - Transcribed by FOFG]

Upper Church, Stratton Major
King and Queen County, VA

The third Upper Church of Stratton Major Parish in King and Queen County stands on the southwest side of route 14, about 5 miles northwest of Centerville, and 8.6 miles south of King and Queen Courthouse. It likely was built between 1724 and 1729, just south of its immediate predecessor. Remains of this earlier church were uncovered by a bulldozer. The site of the first Upper Church is either identical with or very close to that of the present Mattaponi Church in the northern part of the county.
Stratton Major Parish was formed from Blisland parish in 1655 and King and Queen County was created out of New Kent County in 1691. The origin of the parish's name is obscure, although one authority has attributed it to a Major family in the county in early times who may possibly have come from one of the many Stratton parishes in England. It is also possible that Major (meaning "Greater") may have been part of an English parish's title.
The vestry book (1729-83) of Stratton Major Parish has been published and the original manuscript is on deposit at the State Library in Richmond.

Elizabeth City Parish Church (St Johns)
Hampton VA

The fourth Elizabeth City Parish Church occupies the northwest corner of West Queen and Court Streets in the city of Hampton. The first church, which was known as Kecoughtan Church, was possibly built as early as 1613-16. Such an early date is thoroughly in keeping with the rate of construction of churches at Jamestown and on the Eastern Shore in the earliest times. The second and third churches were erected in 1624 and 1667. The present walls date from 1728. The actual settlement of Kecoughtan took place in 1610, although Cape Henry where the colonists first landed and planted a cross lay within the original bounds of Elizabeth City County. Kecoughtan, which is named for the Indians of the area, was one of the four original cities or boroughs of 1618. The names of Kecoughtan gave way to Elizabeth City the next year. The parish and the county were named for the Princess Elizabeth, eldest daughter of James I and the grandmother of George I. Both the parish and the town of Hampton have been in continuous existence since the early plantation of 1610. The name of St John's for the present church is first known only from 1827. The fourth church has suffered much from wars and the ravages of time.
Elizabeth City Parish owns English communion silver. The set, marked of London 1618-19, contains a chalice and two patens and was originally given to St Mary's Church at Smiths Hundred in Charles City County, apparently in 1619. After the Indian Massacre of 1622, the silver went to Sir George Yeardley, then to his widow, and then to the court at Jamestown. Elizabeth City Parish Church was located on the Southampton River. Smith's Hundred became Southampton Hundred. The set was later bestowed upon the Elizabeth City Parish. Traces of gilding are still seen on the silver. The parish owns a third paten (marked London 1698-99) that seems to have been originally given to Martin's Hundred Parish in James City County. The Elizabeth City Parish vestry book (1751-1883) is owned and kept by the parish.

Upper Church, St Paul's (Slash)
Hanover County, VA

The present Slash Church is located on route 656 between Peaks and Ashland in Hanover County, a little north of the junction of that route with route 657. In colonial times it was the Upper Church of St. Paul's parish.
In colonial times, Dolley Madison and Patrick Henry are said to have attended Divine Service at the church. Patrick Henry's uncle was rector for four decades. henry Clay was another who frequented .
Sometime after the Revolution and the Disestablishment, the Episcopalians abandoned the building in favor of St. Paul's at Hanover Courthouse. It then became a union Church shared by Methodists and Disciples of Christ, and has been owned by the latter since 1842. It is said to have been used once as a school, and also to have been a hospital in the War between the States. it gave its name to a battle in that war. The third Lower Church (1774-77) of St. Paul's Parish gave its name to the village still known as Old Church. The vestry book (1705-85) of St Paul's Parish has been published and the original manuscript is on loan at the State Library in Richmond.

The Chapel of the College of William and Mary,
Williamsburg VA

Williamsburg possesses two colonial ecclesiastical structures: Bruton Parish Church (1711-15) and the Chapel of the Wren (or Main) Building of the College of William and Mary. An Anglican divinity school was a part of the College of William and Mary until it was abolished in 1779, when the college was re-organized under Governor Thomas Jefferson. Eight presidents of the College have been rectors of Bruton Parish Church and two presidents have been bishops of the Episcopal Church.
The Wren Building has known four forms: 1695 , 1709, 1859, and 1867-69. The causes of these "having been designedly effected by drunken" Federal soldiers. The walls remained standing in each instance and were re-used in each new form, including the restoration to the second form that was accomplished by Colonial Williamsburg in 1928-31. The seventeenth-century plan called for a quadrangle enclosing a courtyard but the first and second forms were built only in the shape of a L; the main range running north to south and the north hall running east to west.

Mangohick Church
King William County, VA

Mangohick Church is at the end of route 638. A short distance south of the village of Mangohick on route 30 in King William County, Mangohick is about 10 miles west of Central Garage and 6 miles east of Dawn. The name, Mangohick, is Indian and is also applied to a nearby creek. The brick church was probably built around 1730 as a chapel of ease for St. Margaret's Parish, but became the Upper Church of St Davids Parish in 1744. St. Margaret's Parish was created out of the upper portion of St. Johns Parish in 1720 and St David's Parish was formed in 1744 out of lower St. Margaret's parish and the (remaining) upper part of St. Johns Parish.
The church was abandoned after the Disestablishment and was then used as a "free" church. Sometime after the War between the States, the building was deeded to an African American Baptist congregation which still owns it.

Lower Church, St. Stephen's (Mattaponi)
King and Queen County, VA

The second Lower Church of St Stephen's Parish in King and Queen County has long been known as Mattaponi Church. It may have been known locally at Mattaponi Church even in colonial times. This has been its name since the Baptists took the building over early in the last century. It can be seen on the west side of route 14, 5.7 miles north of the Courthouse and one-half mile south of Cumnor Post Office.

Westover Parish Church
Charles City County, VA

The second Upper Church of Westover Parish (which is now the Westover Parish Church), in Charles City County, is less than a mile south of route 5, and a little more than four miles east of the junction of routes 5 and 156 (the Hopewell Ferry Road). The church is high above Herring Creek, inside a bunch of trees, and the churchyard is accessed by a lane through open fields.
The church parish is one of the oldest in the country and gained its existence and name from one of the early plantations on the James River. Westover parish was recognized as early as 1625 by governmental authorities. The parish was established sometime before 1652. In the year 1720, the western part of Wallingford Parish and the northern part of Weyanoke Parish were added to Westover Parish, and a couple years later the Western part of Wilmington parish was annexed. The parish's name originated from the West family to whom the West Hundred was originally granted. The present building is dated 1731.The church was for thirty years after 1805, abandoned and used as a barn.There is a blue banner that was used at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey in 1953, displayed in the interior.
The parish owns a paten and chalice made in London in 1694-95. On the cover of the chalice is inscribed the name of the donor, Sarah Braine. A baptismal bowl in this same set was bought from Westover Parish and presented in 1889 to the Henrico Parish Church (St. John's), where it is now used as an alms bason. This bowl is cited in a rector's report of 1724 as "a large Bason instead of a font". Another baptismal bowl from this period is owned by Martin's Brandon Parish in Prince George County. Such bowls came into favor during Cromwell's time in preference to fonts, which were apparently too Angelican for Presbyterians and Independents. Westover Parish also owns a set of silver from London of 1731-32 that originally belonged to the first Lower Westover (Wallingford) Church and presumably came into the custody of the second Upper Westover Church as late as around 1920, when Divine Worship ceased to be held at the fourth Lower Westover (second Mapsico) Church (down below the courthouse). It is possible that George Jones was the maker of this chalice and paten. The chalice is inscribed: "The gift of Col. Francis Lightfoot--Anno 1727."
In the yard, of the colonial graves, a fragment of but a single stone of 1748 remains. The earliest known tombstone in Virginia exists at the probable site of the first Upper Westover Church. This site is just west of Westover house is by the banks of the James River.
The date of the earliest known tombstone (Captain William Perry) is not illegible but was 1637, when the first church was completed. There are eight other colonial tombs here ranging from 1656 to 1737.
The families of neighboring plantations as "Belle Air", "Shirley", :Berkeley", "Westover", "Mt Sterling", "Sherwood Forest", and "Evelynton" have all be associated with the parish from earliest times. Among those who have worshipped in the parish regularly are Presidents William Henry Harrison, Benjamin Harrison, and John Tyler, as well as Colonial William Byrd.
The colonial parish brick house stands on route 615 2 miles north of the junction of routes 5 and 615 (about a mile east of Charles City Courthouse). The house was sold by the state in 1807 and remains in secular hands.

First Thanksgiving

Within the bounds of Westover Parish is the shrine that marks the first recorded American Service of Thanksgiving. The shrine at Harrison's landing by the James River (about a fourth of a mile below Berkeley Plantation), commemorates the Service that was first held there on December 04, 1619 (or November 25 on the new calendar) by colonists who had set sale from Bristol on the Ship "Margaret", the preceding September. It was ordained "that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perputualy kept holy as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God".
Both 1620 and 1621, the service was held again on the appointed day, but the Great Massacre of the settlers by the Indians in the spring of 1622 brought about the temporary abandonment of the village at Berkeley. Such an annual celebration continued in other parts of the Colony. .
The plantation lies 1 mile from the junction of Charles City County's main route (route 5) with route 640. Route 640 leads into 633 and then into the private road of Berkeley Plantation.

Christ Church,
Lancaster County, VA

Christ Church lies on route 646 about half a mile west of the junction of routes 646 and 3, which is also known as Pitman's Corner in Lancaster County. Robert Carter's will, (a well-known public figure, landowner of the time,) dated 1728 and probated 1732, indicated the church was largely completed by 1728. In his testament, the church's patron left the parish only 200 pounds and the provision that the bricks were to come from his estate.
The parish owns several pieces of communion silver: a chalice and paten-cover made by an unidentified London goldsmith who is known to have been working in 1681-82, a flagon from London of 1720-21, a bason from London of 1695-96.

St John's Church,
King William County, VA

The colonial church is in bad condition. It is now known as Old St John's in King William County. It is located about eight miles southeast of King William Courthouse and sixteen miles southeast of Central Garage, and eight miles northeast of West point. It was created in 1680 out of Stratton Major Parish, and St Stephen's Parish, and in 1691 that part of St Peters Parish that lay north of the Pamunkey River was added to St John's Parish.

Old Donation Church (Lynnhaven Parish Church)
Princess Anne County, VA

The third parish church of Lynnhaven Parish in Princess Anne County, was built in 1736. The site of the first church on Church Point on the western shore of the Western Branch of the Lynnhaven River, is still known but has gradually eroded away. The current church's unique name seems to have come from the gift to the parish of adjoining lands. The parish owns a set of English communion silver that includes a paten, a chalice and a flagon. Another set of colonial silver still in use comes from Lynnhaven Parish. This set (chalice, paten-cover, and flagon) was made by William Grundy and is in the possession of the Eastern Shore Chapel. The Eastern Shore Chapen became the parish church of East Lynnhaven Parish in 1895.
The vestry book (1723-1892) of Lynnhaven Parish is on loan at the State Library in Richmond. The Colonial portion (1723-86) has been published and is available from the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond.
The oldest stone in the graveyard at Old Donation Church is also the biggest. It was moved along with others, from surrounding plantations, around 1930. It's the only colonial marker in the yard and there are many other unmarked or unidentified colonial graves in the cemetery.
Also in Princess Anne County is the Cape Henry Cross. The memorial marks the approximate site of the first landing made in Virginia by the founders of Jamestown, on April the 29th. It is recorded that they "set up a Crosse at Chesupioc Bay" and named the cape for Henry, the eldest son of James I. The Cape Henry Cross lies 3 miles north of downtown Virginia Beach.

Blandford Church (Bristol Parish Church)
Petersburg VA

Blandford Church of Bristol parish is named for the colonial town of Blandford, which long ago became a part of the city of Petersburg. It has also been known as the brick church on Wells Hill, and for a time as St Paul's Church. It is on the east side of Crater Road (routes 301 and 460) at the top of the hill. Bristol Parish was named for the seaport on the west coast of England and seems to have been formed out of the plantation parish at Bermuda Hundred. The Brick Church on Wells's Hill is the third parish church of Bristol Parish. The first of these parish churches was built about 1645 near the colonial settlement of Charles City (on the Appomattox River about 3 miles west of Hopewell). The second parish church was Jefferson's Church of 1723, which wasn't far from the junction of routes 1 (and 301) and 10 in Chesterfield County. When it was lost to the new Dale Parish in 1734, the existing building at Blandford had already been ordered. The church was modelled upon Merchant's Hope Church.
The building's long disuse as a church is shown by the fact that the Episcopalians in the Blandford area, and have since the latter part of the last century, been worshipping in another building (the Church of the Good Shepherd), only a short distance north, down Wells's Hill.
The original manuscripts of the vestry book (1720-89) and parish register (1720-92) of Bristol Parish, are kept at St Pauls Church in Petersburg.

Fork Church of St Martin's Parish
Hanover County VA

The Fork Church of St Martin's Parish in Hanover County gets its name from its location between North and South Anna Rivers. The church lies on route 738 about 4.5 miles west of the Gum Tree on route 1, which is 3 miles south of Doswell and 4.5 miles north of Ashland. The present building is the second Lower Church of St Martins Parish. The first Lower Church (around 1722) of the parish was originally erected as the Chapel in the Forks or Fork Chapel of St Paul's Parish.Dolly Madison and Patrick Henry attended services at this church Parson S.S. Hepburn, grandfather of Katherine Hepburn was rector of this parish from 1893 to 1903.

Farnham Church,
Richmond County VA

The parish church of North Farnham Parish is in Richmond county. Unmarked colonial graves lie on the west and south sides of the present, and a burying ground for slaves exists in the thick woods north of the church and its new parish's register (1704-1830). The vestry book (1743-93) of Upper Parish, Nansemond County, has been published and the original is on deposit at the State Library in Richmond. St Paul's Church in Suffolk is said to have two other remnants of this parish from colonial times. One is a 1751 Bible and the other is a hanging, an altar cloth, a pulpit fall, and a funeral pall.

Pungoteague Church
Accomack County, VA

Pungoteague Church was originally in Accomack Parish, but became part of St George's Parish in 1762. The vestry book (1763-86) of St George's Parish is at present kept in the clerk's office at Accomack Courthouse. The churchyard at Pungoteague Church doesn't appear to have any colonial stones.

Borough Church (St Pauls)
Norfolk VA

Also known as St Paul's, the Borough Church of Norfolk was created by a royal charter in 1736. It lies in a large churchyard at the corner of Church Street and City Hall Avenue in downtown Norfolk. The parish museum contains the chair that John Hancock is believed to have used to sign the Declaration of Independence as well as a piece of armor from the "Merrimac" and early photographs of many of Virginia's colonial churches. The parish's colonial silver, now on loan in the Norfolk Museum, consists of a silver-guilt chalice (London 1700-01), another silver-gilt chalice with paten-cover (London 1722-23), an alms bason (London 1750-51) and a flagon (1763064). The chalice and paten cover were made by Thomas Farrer, the alms bason by John Robinson and the flagon by Fuller White. The original manuscript of the vestry book (1749-61) of Elizabeth River Parish is kept at the Seaboard Citizens National Bank in Norfolk.

St. Paul's Church
King George County, VA


In King George county, a few miles from the Potomac River and ten from the Rappahannock, stands old St. Paul's church, one of the most venerable and interesting of the Colonial churches of Virginia. Regarding its exact age there is doubt, as the written statements concerning it vary, and there seems as yet no way of determining which is right. We find the parish records, however, running back as far as the year 1716, with references to still earlier records, and furnishing a sort of context to the history of the present building.
This building was erected somewhere about the middle of the eighteenth century, and is, consequently, now over a hundred and fifty years old. It was built for the ministration of the Rev. William Stuart, son of the first rector of the parish, the Rev. David Stuart. The latter, a direct descendant of the royal house of Stuart, came to this country from Scotland in 1715, and was soon after given charge of St. Paul's Parish, though the church building at that time was some miles distant from its present site. The two Stuarts, father and son, for nearly eighty years fed the flock of Christ in the same field; though it was not until the Rev. William Stuart took charge, about 1750, that the St . Paul's of to-day- the brick building now standing-  was erected. This saintly man left a name that shines almost with a halo in the records that follow him. His goodness and eloquence and lovable personality appear to have strengthened and beautified the spirit of the parish, and led it into great religious prosperity. His letter of resignation, when physical frailty at last compelled him to give up the work, is touching in its mingled solicitude and submission:

"To the Vestry of St. Paul's Parish:

Gentlemen,- I have been curate of this parish upward of forty years. My own conscience bears me witness, and I trust my parishioners (though many of them have fallen asleep) will also witness. that until age and infirmities disabled me, I always, so far as my infirmities would allow, faithfully discharged my duties as a minister of the Gospel. It has given me many hours of anxious concern that the services of the Church should be so long discontinued on my account. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. I therefore entreat the favor of you to provide me a successor as soon as you can, that divine service may be discontinued no longer; and at the end of the year the glebe shall be given up to him by your affectionate servant, William Stuart."
But with his passing, old St. Paul's fell on evil days. For some reason, his successor was never ordained to the priesthood, and here we discern what was, perhaps, the first shadow of the darkness that followed. A few years after he died we find the grand building in ruins, and, as a vestryman of a later day wrote sadly, "The life of the church almost gone out." Only the walls remained, of such wonderful masonry as to defy all ravages- and these were desecrated. The history of this period must be taken either as a record of unprecedented poverty among the people, or else as a sharp commentary on the coldness and laxity of the time- perhaps both. The chronicler states that there was occasionally lay reading in the ruins; and this was all, except for "association meetings" at intervals. For the rest, beasts of the field roamed through the church, or what was left of it; soldiers camped there, and the decaying contents furnished plunder for the "ruthless of the land." Bishop Meade's account of his visitation in 1812 is a vivid pen picture of the desolation that had come upon the once prosperous church. He says:
"St. Paul's was then in ruins. The roof was ready to fall, and not a window, door, pew or timber remained below. Nevertheless, notice was given that we would preach there. A rude, temporary pulpit or stand was raised in one angle of the cross, and from that we performed service and addressed the people. On the night before the meeting a heavy rain had fallen, and the water was in small pools here and there where the floor once was, so that it was difficult to find a dry spot on which the attendants might stand." * * *
Truly, things had come to a woeful pass for old St. Paul's. We can almost see now the forlorn congregation huddled in one side of the building, exposed to all the winds of heaven, with pools of water underfoot and a precarious roof overhead. I fancy the old Bishop's face was sad enough as he ascended his "rude temporary pulpit." He must have felt like crying out with the distressed prophet of Israel, "Being desolate, it mourneth unto me."
A few years later we find the Legislature turning the ruins over to the citizens of the county, with permission to convert them into a sort of academy. This decree was indirectly the means of restoring to some extent the place of worship, for thereafter, for a while at least, the building was used conjointly as a church and an institution of learning. Probably the back part, the upper half of the "cross," served for the school, while in the remaining three-quarters services were resumed. This arrangement does not seem to have prospered, though, for after a time the seminary was neglected and the house "became inconvenient for purposes of worship." It was as though the spirit of the church could not brook this sharing with the world, as it were, precincts that had hitherto been trod by worshippers only.
Sometime after this the cloud begins to show a silver lining, for the neighbors petitioned the Legislature to give the building back to its rightful owners and its original purposes. This request was complied with, and three-quarters of the edifice was forthwith set aside to be used wholly as a church, while the one-fourth in the rear, separated from the rest by thick walls, was made the abode of the rector.
In 1816 the parish had been reorganized by a newly-made vestry and between 1822 and 1850 we find various ministers taking the oversight of the flock: The Rev. Joseph Clapham; the Rev. Edward Peet, to whom belongs the honor of having done most toward bringing the church back to its ancient prestige; the Rev. Mr. Goldsmith, and others. We fancy that even in the forsaken years, even during its time of utter destitution and desolation, there were some who loved the old church still, and cared to linger within its walls. It is said that an old colored woman who had spent her life near the place-  having belonged to a family of the congregation- used to go regularly every Sunday and sit among the ruins. On being questioned, she answered that it did her more good to sit there and "think over the old prayers" than it would to go a-praying in any of the newer churches of other denominations.
After the restoration there may have been times of discouragement, of decreasing prosperity and dark outlooks for a while- no doubt they came; and there was the blow of the Civil War and its attendant demoralization; but the tide had turned, the old church- the physical part- stood firm, and the spiritual part went on from strength to strength. Sunday after Sunday the people gathered in their reclaimed temple to join in the prayers and praises of the service. There was never any lapse into the old dread state; and the years dealt kindly, on the whole, with that which had been recovered by the grace of God from such a Slough of Despond.
St. Paul's stands to-day, as it stood a century and a half ago, unchanged in form, unaltered in construction, with the self-same bricks in its walls that the first builders put there. The shape is cruciform, and, as of old, three parts of the cross make up the place of worship, while the fourth is a spacious vestry-room, warm and high-pitched. Three flights of stairs lead up to a gallery, which runs around three whole sides of the building, and afford of itself room for a congregation. Two stories of windows; that is, windows in both gallery and lower floor, let in abundant light and air; and an entrance to each angle of the cross allows the congregation to enter by different aisles, thus making their assembling well-nigh noiseless. An old lofty pulpit, draped in deep crimson and approached by a stairway of no mean dimensions, occupies the background of the chancel. The Communion rail makes an immense semi-circle, which accommodates a large number; while the entire building would seat five hundred people.
The plate still used for the service was donated a good deal over a hundred years ago by a communicant, and bears the inscription: "Given by Henry Fitzhugh, of Stafford county, St. Paul's Parish, Gent., for the use of your church." There is a Prayer Book, also presented in 1830 by Miss Jane Parke, a descendant of the first rector; and in the old pulpit is to be found a large Bible, the gift of the well-beloved Rev. William Stuart, in 1769, and inscribed with his name and the date. This volume is a Cambridge edition, appointed by His Majesty's special command to be read in churches "cum privilegiis," with the dedication: "To our most high and mighty Prince James, by the grace of God King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, the translators of the Bible wish grace, mercy and peace, through our Lord Jesus Christ."
St. Paul's holds many precious memories and associations for the congregation of to-day. There is scarcely a member who cannot claim, "My grandfather was vestryman- or warden- or rector here"; or, at least, "My ancestors worshipped in these very walls." It was on the doorstep of this church that one of our Virginia Bishops was won to Christ. A thoughtless unbeliever, lingering outside at a Sunday service, he overheard the sermon being delivered within, and, like Saul of Tarsus, saw a great light. And doubtless, to many others have come, beneath that roof, during these two hundred years, illuminations across a dark path, sudden moments of falling at the Divine feet- revelations too deep for telling.
One of the treasures of the parish is the ancient church register, now in the possession of a direct descendant of the Rev. David Stuart. Its first pages are torn out, and the earliest recorded date is 1716, while the leaves are thinned and blackened by time; but the staunch coverings have resisted the wear of two centuries, and the contents is remarkably well preserved. The small, cramped handwriting, ornate with flourishes and long s's, microscopic, faded, is still legible, and one can trace there the record of a mighty gathering in of souls. A remarkable feature is the long list of negro baptisms, hundreds on hundreds, exceeding in number the baptisms of the whites. The countless entries give the same names that are borne today in the congregation: Ashton, Grymes, Fitzhugh, Stuart, Berry, Tayloe, Hooe, Washington, with others no longer represented. Received into the Church, united in matrimony, committed to the dust "in the hope of a glorious resurrection"- generation after generation of gentle, Godfearing folk- this the age-worn register stands for. The people touch it with reverent hands, just as they sit reverently Sunday after Sunday in the shadow of the walls that sheltered those very souls. In that building one seems indeed to be compassed about by a great cloud of witnesses.
Today old St. Paul's is a landmark, a proud possession. I would call it more: A witness to the faith which endures, the religion that time and adversity, and destruction itself, cannot overthrow.


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