begins with page 176 through 195
... in Westmoreland County court dated October 10, 1674, that the Parson’s license to perform marriages was restored in his giving proper bond with Colonel George Mason and Mr. Robert Townshend, his securities.
It appears Parson Waugh zealously celebrated marriages. In 1688 he joined in matrimony Mary Hathaway, aged about nine
years to Mr. William Williams of Stafford County. The suite instigated in 1691 to declare this marriage null
and void, coupled with the bitter burgesses election of the same year in which
the Parson’s candidate, Captain Martin Scarlett, was elected over Colonel
William Fitzhugh, caused feelings to run high in Stafford County.
Counsel for the complainant, Mary Hathaway was Captain George Brent of
Woodstock and Colonel William Fitzhugh of Bedford; counsel for the defendant,
William Williams, was Mr. Sampson Darrell and Mr. Robert Collis.
Much testimony was heard by the gentlemen justices and they ruled that
the marriage de facto made by Mr. John Waugh, Clerk, between Mary Hathaway and
Mr. William Williams is not good de jure unless at the time Mary Hathaway
arrives at the age of twelve years she ratifies the marriage de facto “but if
she then publickly disclaims the said marriage and protect against it, then it
is the judgement of this Court that the aforesaid marriage de facto is utterly
null and void as if the same had never been had or made.”
However, Mr. John Withers (the maternal grandfather of Mary Hathaway) and
Mr. Mathew Thompson, two of the gentlemen justices of Stafford County then
sitting, dissented from the majority opinion and stated they were “of opinion
that the said Mary Hathaway is the wife of the said William Williams not only
[now] but alsoe when she shall arrive at the age of twelve years and that not
only de facto but de jure it appearing to them that she was married by the said
Mr. John Waugh, Clerk, as aforesaid, and that by consent of her guardian and did
therefore order the clerk to enter their dissent upon the records accordingly”
However, on the 28th of December 1691, “the very day by the
mercy of God that I am twelve years old,” Mary Hathaway appeared before “Mr.
John Waugh, an orthodox minister of God’s word, Captain Malachy Peale, Judge
of the Court of Stafford County, Mr. Edward Thomason of their Majesties Justices
of the Peace in Quorum for the said county, Captain George Mason, their
Majesties High Sheriff of the same county and the rest of the worthy Gentlemen
here present” in the hall of the house of Captain George Mason and did there
declare her marriage to Mr. Williams to be null and void by reason of “infancy
and impuberty as well as force and fraud at the time of the contact and that by
no means I can entertain a thought of ever receiving him for souse or
husband”…and soe I bid the said Mr. Williams heartilie farewell and wish him
very good fortune.
Mary Hathaway was the only child and heir of Thomas Hathaway of Aquia and
Mary Withers, his wife, who was the daughter of Captain John Withers (16
-1698). About 1702 she
married Captain Thomas Lund of Saint Paul’s Parish and their only child to
leave issue was Elizabeth Lund (circa 1707-circa 1775) who married
on December 22, 1726 Townshend Washington (1705-1743) of Green Hill, Saint
Paul’s Parish. This couple had
several children among whom was Lund Washington (1737-1796) who was for more
than twenty five years the trusted manager of the Mount Vernon estate.
The Reverend Mr. John Waugh was constantly meddling politics.
On September 9, 1680 John Pinnet, aged 35 years, deposed in Stafford
County Court “that sometime after the Burgesses came from Towne”
[Jamestown]…he was at “Choppawomsicke Church which is kept at Thomas
Barton’s”… and “several of ye company being together before the sermon,
some of ye company did aske Mr. Waugh what news from Towne” and he replied
that we have chosen Mr. Fitzhugh a Burgess for George Brent to get him a
Commission to Peace and that he was for his own self-interest.” Parson Waugh never lost an opportunity to voice his
disapproval of Colonel William Fitzhugh, a Tory, and Colonel George Brent, a
From this record we learn that there was a church or chapel as early as
1680 on Chopwamsic Creek and Parson Waugh had doubtless come up by boat from his
home on the south side of Potomac Creek to officiate.
Although never a resident of Overwharton Parish the influence of Colonel
William Fitzhugh of Saint Paul’s Parish was strongly felt there during the
last quarter of the Seventeenth Century. From
1677 to 1682 he represented Stafford County in the House of Burgesses with
Colonel George Mason, but in the second session of 1682, Colonel Mason was replaced by Captain Martin Scarlett.
In the session of 1684, Colonel George Mason and Colonel William Fitzhugh
were members of the House of Burgesses but in the sessions of 685-1686 Samuel
Hayward and Martin Scarlett represented Stafford County.
At this time Captain George Brent of Woodstock was Attorney General of
Virginia. In 1684 he had been
rewarded from the public funds 1,000 pounds of tobacco “as a Gratuity and his
Corporall paid 400 pounds of tobacco and to each of his nineteen men 250 pounds
of tobacco as a free and voluntary Benevolence” by the House of Burgesses for
their good services against the Indians particularly when they marched to the
assistance of Captain Cadwallader Jones and the inhabitants of Rappahannock when
the Seneca Indians infested those parts. However,
in 1686 Captain Brent was relieved of his office by his Excellency Francis, Lord
Howard, Baron of Effinghamn, his Majesties Lieutenant and Governor General of
Virginia, and Edmund Jennings, Esq., appointed in his stead.
His removal was probably due to his failure to promptly prosecute his
friend Colonel William Fitzhugh who was accused of having misrepresented the
amount of the claim that the Assembly in 1682 had ordered paid to him and also
had collected from Stafford County 4,000 pounds of tobacco as payment for his
services as a member of the House of Burgesses in 1685 whereas he had not been
present at that session. Before the
charges were heard, Colonel Fitzhugh filed charges against Captain Martin
Scarlett, his political enemy and the recently elected member of the House of
Burgesses from Stafford County, whereupon the House dropped their intentions of
prosecuting the impeachment but ordered all the papers in the case to be
delivered to George Brent, the King’s Attorney General, with the intent that
the cause should be prosecuted by him before the General Count of Virginia.
Captain Bent was relieved of his office soon after the dissolution of the
Assembly in 1686 by Lord Effingham and with Colonel George Mason was elected a
member of the House of Burgesses for 1688.
At this session, when the Fitzhugh matter again came up, he informed the
House when the report of the Committee of Proposition and Grievances was under
consideration – in which the conduct of Colonel Fitzhugh was characterized as
“the abuse put upon Stafford County and the whole country by Lieutenant
Colonel William Fitzhugh” – that he would deliver the papers in the case to
Edmund Jennings, Esq., the newly appointed Attorney General of Virginia, as soon
as that gentleman came to Jamestown and the House sent an address to the
governor requesting him to prosecute the case without fail at the next meeting
of the General Court. It appears
that Colonel Fitzhugh’s counter-charges quelched the matter as no further
official record is to be found. Colonel
Fitzhugh, Stafford’s wealthiest Seventeenth Century citizen, continued to
highly respected by his contemporaries.
The 1690’s witnessed considerable political change in Stafford County.
Due to the influence of the Reverend Mr. John Waugh, Captain Martin
Scarlett was again elected to the House of Burgesses in 1691, and with Colonel
George Mason (16 -1715) was seated
in that honorable body. However, in the March session of 1693 Captain Scarlett was
forced to return to his home on Occoquan Bay in upper Stafford [Now Prince
William] County due to illness and it must have been very displeasing to him
when learned that Colonel William Fitzhugh was returned to a Burgess from
Stafford County for the October 1693 session.
In 1695 Colonel George Mason and Captain Thomas Owsley were elected
Burgesses from Stafford County, but shortly Captain was elected Sheriff of
Stafford Count. Martin Scarlett,
although he lay on a sick bed, was elected to replace Captain Owsley, but he
died in 1693 and his tombstone may be seen upon his plantation, Deep Hole, in
Prince William County.
In unseating Colonel Fitzhugh in the 1691 election, Captain Scarlett
grievously hurt his opponent’s feelings and Fitzhugh complained to the
gentlemen justices of Stafford County court with hot indignation that Scarlett
had asserted publicly during the canvass “that neither Law nor Justice had
been administered in this county since I sat upon the Bench for nothing was Law
or Justice but what I [Fitzhugh] said was soe.”
Resenting this imputation, Fitzhugh reminded the Court that he had been
their colleague since 1683 when he was commissioned second in rank to Colonel
George Mason and after his death in 1686 had succeeded him as presiding
magistrate and had always polled the Court before assuming to speak for it.
In this situation, he complained, Scarlett’s charge did not merely
reflect upon him, but was so heinous an insult to the Court itself that out of
respect for that cornerstone of local government, as well as in an assertion of
his own dignity, he felt compelled to refuse to sit on the bench again until
Scarlett had received a sufficient punishment.
The Court was evidently embarrassed, for several of these were
Scarlett’s political allies, but Scarlett himself came to their support.
From his own seat on the bench he made a vigorous and manly answer and
ultimately assured Colonel Fitzhugh that he had no intention of reflecting upon
his character. Much relieved the
Court again summoned Fitzhugh to preside over its deliberations, whereupon in
November 1691 he wrote them another letter, violently attacking Parson Waugh,
his chief political enemy. Parson
Waugh had called Fitzhugh a Papist in court before the gentlemen justices as
they were “taxing him for his ill behaviour” in inciting “a most
mischievous and dangerous Riot.” Fitzhugh
said that the present incident he can hardly believe emanated from a man of
reason and learning ”and a clergyman too and one that not long since has been
at considerable charge and Trouble for Passionate Expressions of a far inferiour
nature” than this.
It appears Colonel Fitzhugh never again took his seat on the bench of
Stafford Court and Captain Malachi Peale officiated as the presiding magistrate.
Fitzhugh seems, however, to have held the county standard as twice in
Feburary 1692 and again in November 1693 the court ordered that it be removed
from Fitzhugh’s house to that of Captain Peale at Marlborough where the court
had been appointed to be held.
In 1693, Colonel William Fitzhugh and Colonel George Brent were appointed
agents for the Northern Neck of Virginia by the Right Honorable, Katherine, Lady
Culpeper, Proprietress of that extensive domain. This was a very lucrative
position and these gentlemen busied themselves with their offices and for
themselves patented thousands of acres of land in the upper regions of Stafford
County which was then being rapidly settled.
In the Burgess election of 1696 following Captain Martin Scarlett’s
death, Colonel George Mason and Captain John Withers were elected and they
served until the latter’s death in 1698.
At the ensuing election in 1699 Parson Waugh apparently could not find
another candidate worthy of his support and got himself returned as a Burgess
for Stafford County. This was a
daring attempt to set aside a political precedent in Virginia, and it failed.
Following the practice of the English Parliament, which prohibited a
clerk to sit in that body, and the Assembly’s own previous determination to
the same effect, Waugh was promptly unseated by the Assembly; “being a
Clergyman,” they said, he was, “disabled from serving as a Burgess.”
Colonel Rice Hooe (circa 1660-1726) of Saint Paul’s Parish was
“duly elected and returned Burgess” for Stafford County on May 18, 1699 in
the room of the Reverend Mr. John Waugh. Colonel
Hooe married in 1699, as his third wife, Frances (Townshend) Dade Withers widow
successively of Frances Dade, Junior (1659-1694) and Captain John Withers (16 -1698).
It must have been a great satisfaction to Colonel William Fitzhugh to see
his eldest son, young Captain William Fitzhugh (circa 1678-1713), elected
to the House of Burgess in 1700; he served with Colonel George Mason (16
-1716). In 1712, upon the
recommendation of Governor Alexander Spotswood (1676-1740), Fitzhugh was
elevated to the Council, however, he died in the fall of 1713 after serving but
a year. In 1714, his brother,
Captain Henry Fitzhugh, Junior, (16 -1716)
and in 1718 his brother George Fitzhugh, Gentleman, (169?-1722) served with the
third Colonel George Mason (1690-1735). Later
other Fitzhughs served in that distinguished body.
The largest legacy that Overwharton Parish received during the
Seventeenth Century was from Doctor Edward Maddox.
The last will and Testament of Doctor Edward Maddox “of Stafford
Parish, Stafford, in the Colony of Virginia” was dated June 23, 1694; it was
admitted to probate on December 11, 1694. His
only child, Amy Maddox, married without his approbation, Thomas Derrick and for
this reason Doctor Maddox mad the following bequest:
“I first give and bequeath this plantation whereupon I now live and all
the lands thereto appertaining and to me belonging to be and forever after to
continue as a glebe and manse for the reception and encouragement of a pious and
able minister in that parish wherein I now live being commonly known and called
by the name of Stafford, or the upper parish of Stafford County; and that after
my decease it be well and truly improved and managed at all times for the intent
above said excepting that while there is no minister to serve ye cure in the
said parish then I will and desire that the said plantation and land together
with all its profits and advantages (before the time of vacancy above said)
fully improved and laid out for the
relief and support of such poor and indigent as in the said parish shall seem
most in want at the discretion of the church wardens and vestry of the above
said parish for the time being.”
Doctor Maddox’s plantation consisted of between 450 and 500 acres on
Passapantanzy Creek not far from the plantation of the Reverend Mr. John Waugh.
It was enjoyed as a glebe by the curate of Stafford [later Overwharton]
Parish until after the death of the Reverend Mr. Robert Buchan in 1804 when
Doctor Maddox’s descendants instigated suit claiming it was no longer being
used as stipulated in his last will and Testament and recovered it.
The clerical duties of the Reverend Mr. John Waugh as rector of Stafford
Parish seemed to come to an abrupt ending in 1700 when, consistent with his own
self-willed way and his persistence in making his Virginia Parish a Gretna Green
for runaway couples from Maryland for whom he performed the ceremony of marriage
without benefit of banns or license, he was for the last time suspended and
fined. He did not again resume
pastoral work and seems to have retired to his plantation, Overwharton, and was
succeeded by the Reverend Mr. John Fraser.
As I have been unable to discover a list of vestrymen in Stafford Parish
during the period of the Reverend Mr. John Waugh was at his height politically,
I will list some of the prominent men of the county some of whom were certainly
on the vestry of their parishes. This
list is taken from a recording of those Justices and Militia officers present at
Stafford courthouse on March 9, 1692 “in a Tryal of the Indians which were
taken and Brought into the Custody of Capt. George Mason, high sheriff of this
County, by Lieut. David Straham, lieutenant of the Rangers.”
Those whose names are marked thus [#] were residents of Stafford Parish
and those whose names are marked thus [*] were residents of Choptank Parish.
#Capt. George Mason
#Capt. Malachy Peale
#Capt. John Withers
#Capt. Martin Scarlett #Ensign
Joseph Sumner *Ensign Thomas Gilson
*Mr. Richard Fossaker
*Ensign John West
*Mr. Phillip Buckner
of the Rangers
#Capt. William Downing
#Mr. Matthew Thompson #Lieut.Sampson
Darrell *Mr. Robert Alexander
In 1698 the militia officers in Stafford County were as follows: #Major
George Mason (16 -1716); #Captain
Thomas Owsley (1663-1700); #Captain Joseph Sumner (16
-1723); and *Captain Robert Alexander (16 -1704). Of these
there is a record dated October 19, 1699 indicating that George Mason was a
It appears from various records that the upper parish of Stafford County,
called Stafford Parish and the lower parish of Stafford County, called Choptank
Parish, did not officially come to be known as Overwharton Parish and Saint
Paul’s Parish, respectively, until about 1700.
The earliest use of the names Overwharton Parish and Saint Paul’s
Parish appears in an official list of the Virginia parishes in 1702 and these
names have survived to the present day.
As no list has been located of the church wardens and vestrymen of
Overwharton Parish when it first came into existence as such, I wish to cite the
following records which show the prominent men of Stafford County, some of whom
were certainly on the vestry of their parishes.
Those names are marked thus [#] were residents of Overwharton Parish and
those whose names are marked [*] were residents of Saint Paul’s Parish.
By a writing dated the 30th of September, 1701 at
Williamsburg, Colonel Francis Nicholson, Governor of Virginia, appointed the
following gentlemen as a Commission for the peace Stafford County:
#John Waugh, Jr.
The following gentlemen served at various times in 1702-1703 as Justices
of Stafford County:
#Colonel George Mason #Captain
Joseph Sumner #Mr. Mathew Thompson
*Lt. Col. Rice Hooe
*Captain Phillip Alexander
*Mr. Robert Alexander
*Captain Charles Ellis
*Captain Thomas Clifton *Mr.
*Captain Richard Fossaker #Captain
*Mr. William Bunbury
*Mr. Edward Hart
*Mr. Thomas Gilson
#Mr. Thomas Gregg
#Mr. John Waugh
*Mr. John Washington
#Maj. Wm. Fitzhugh
[Clerk of the Court]
On the 13th of March 1703 the following gentlemen signed a
Memorial to Her Majesty, Queen Anne, in regard to the death of her late
brother-in-law King William.
In a list of the militia for the various counties of Virginia dated the
17th of June 1703, which was certified to Her Majesty, Queen Anne,
the following field officers are named for Stafford County:
Colonel: #George Mason
Lt. Col: *Rice Hooe
Major: *William Fitzhugh
In 1702 the Clerk of Stafford County was Major William Fitzhugh of Saint
Paul’s Parish; the sheriff was Captain Charles Ellis of Saint Paul’s Parish
and the sub-sheriff was
Captain George Anderson of Overwharton
After 1702 there are frequent references in the court records to both
Overwharton Parish and Saint Paul’s Parish, but perhaps the earliest two such
references are to be found in two deeds now of record at Stafford Court, viz: by
deed dated the 22nd of March 1704 Edward Hinson is described as of
Overwharton Parish and by deed dated the 11th of October 1704 Thomas
Kitching is described as of Saint Paul’s Parish.
The Reverend, Mr. John Fraser was ordained by the Bishop of London on
August 29, 1700; he received the King’s Bounty for Virginia on September 18,
1700 and shortly was received as curate of Overwharton Parish. In 1701 he was paid a fee for preaching the funeral of
William Perkins. On April 20, 1702
“John Fraser, Minister of Overwharton Parish,” witnessed the last will and
Testament of Peter Beach and on August 10, 1702 “John Fraser, Minister of
Overwharton,” witnessed a legal document for George Mason as attorney for
Brice Cockram, merchant of the Kingdom of Ireland.
The Reverend Mr. John Fraser held the charge as minister of Overwharton
but a short time and removed to Maryland.
After the departure of the Reverend Mr. John Fraser it appears from an
early entry in the Journals of the House of Burgesses dated March 17, 1703, that
there was some thought of consolidating the parishes of Overwharton and Saint
Paul’s as we find that Colonel Rice Hooe and Mr. Richard Fossaker, the
Burgesses representing Stafford County, presented a proposal “for
consolidating ye parishes Overwharton and Saint Paul’s in ye said County”
and “same was referred to ye Committee of Propositions and Grievances.” Nothing else appears in regard to the proposal, however, it
appears Overwharton Parish was without a minister the following year.
In the year 1703, at the request of Commissary Blair, Sir Edward Northey,
Attorney-General of England, rendered a formal opinion in which he stated
vestries of the several parishes in Virginia had the right to select the
ministers whom they desired to serve as rectors of their parishes – this right
having been acknowledged and confirmed by the laws enacted by the General
Assembly of the colony. But,
inasmuch as no law of Virginia dealt with the case of a vestry who employed a
minister as incumbent and failed to present him to the governor for induction
into the rectorship of the parish, he declared that, in such cases the laws of
the Church of England as adopted by Parliament were in force, and that whenever
a vestry had failed to present a minister to the governor for induction into the
rectorship within six months from the beginning of a vacancy, the governor had
the right to appoint a minister of his own choosing and induct him into the
rectorship of the parish, regardless of the desires or wishes of the vestry or
This opinion was reported to the Council by the governor and recorded in
its minutes of March 3, 1704. By
order of that body, Governor Nicholson sent a copy of the opinion to the
churchwardens of every parish in the colony, with instruction that it should be
copied into the vestry records and read and discussed at a meeting of the vestry
called for that purpose, with the further instruction that each vestry report to
the governor its opinion as to the enforcement of the law as interpreted by the
In response to the governor’s inquiry, the Church Wardens of
Overwharton Parish replied as follows:
“October ye 21, 1704
“We the Church wardens of Oversharton Parish in Virginia by order
of the said Vestry do humble Acquaint your Excellency that they
are and shall be ready to yield all due Obedience to the 3d Act
of Assembly Intituled Gleabe to be laid out, as Soone as it shall
Please Go to Supply us with a Minister and shall take Care for to
Provide for a Minister According to Law.”
The activities of the vestries of the colonial Virginia parishes were
closely knit to the county court and in the latter records we find many
indentures by which orphans and indigent children were put apprentice for a term
of years. On March 13, 1707 Captain
Edward Montjoy, church warden, of Overwharton Parish in the county of Stafford,
and Mr. George Mason, Junr. (Son of Colonel George Mason), agreed that the said
George Mason, Junior, should take as an apprentice a bastard mulatto girl, the
newly born daughter of Mary Allen named Mary Allenson, and the said child to
serve him after the manner of an apprentice until she is thirty one years of
In 1711 the Reverend Mr. Alexander Scott (1686-1738) began a notable
ministry in the parish. He was born
in Dipple Parish, Elgin [now Moray], Scotland, the son of the Reverend Mr. John
Scott, M.A., (circa 1650-1726). He
received the King’s Bounty for Virginia on October 10, 1710 and settled on
Potomac River in Stafford County just below Chopawamsic Creek; he called his
Plantation, Dipple. He married on
May 20, 1717, Madam Sarah (Gibbons) Brent (1693-1733) daughter of William
Gibbons, Esquire, of Wiltshire and widow of William Brent, Esquire, (circa
1677-1709) of Richland, Overwharton Parish, which estate lies about two miles
down the Potomac River from Dipple. William
Brent, son of Colonel Giles and Mary (Brent) Brent and grandson and heir entail
of Colonel Giles Brent (circa 1600-1672) went to England in 1708 to claim
the estates of Stoke and Admington in Gloucestershire and married in there on
May 12, 1709 the aforementioned Sarah Gibbons; he died on November 16, 1709, in
Middlesex, England, leaving his wife enceinte and their son William Brent
(1710-1732) was born the 6th of March following his father’s death.
When he was seven, his widowed mother brought him to Stafford County to
claim the vaste estates to which he was entitled as the only surviving male heir
of his distinguished great-grandfather, Colonel Giles Brent, “first citizen”
of Stafford County. Because of his
great wealth he was called “Squire Brent;” he resided at Richland which
handsome manor house was burned by the British during the Revolutionary War
while occupied by Colonel William Brent (1733-1782) only child of “Squire”
Brent to survive infancy.
The Reverend Mr. Alexander Scott’s official report of his church work,
made in 1724 to the Lord Bishop of London, who had direct supervision of the
Church in America, is interesting and enlightens us considerably as to his
“Overwharton Parish, 1724. I
sent from England in the year 1710
in the latter and thereof and arrived here in 1711. I have no other Church
or Parish but this. I was
licensed by the Rt. Rev. Henry, Lord Bishop of
London, to officiate in this Colony of Virginia.
I was sent to this Parish
with a Letter from the Governor and another from the Commissary to the
vestry who received me without induction, that being not common.
ordinarily reside in the parish wherein I do now exercise my function.
The bounds of my Parish is not known it being a frontier parish but it
is inhabited near 80 miles in length and in some places near 3 miles,
in others, near 20 miles in breadth and about 650 families.
no Indians nor other Infidels among us but Negro Slaves the Children of
whom and those of them who can speak and understand the English
language we instruct and baptize if permitted by their Masters.
service is performed but once every Sunday either in Church or Chappels
by reason of the great distance the inhabitants have to Church or Chapel,
some living about 15 miles distant from either & the plantations
but thin seated. Notwithstanding
I have generally as full a congregation
as either Church or Chappels can contain and can well be expected in
such a thin seated place. I
administer the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper
6 times a year and generally have betwixt 80 & 100 Communicants each
I catechize the youth of my parish in Lent and a great part of the
“Our Church is tolerably well provided; our two Chappels want a
pulpit Cloth, reading Desk Cloth, Communion table cloth and vessels for
Communion. The value of my
living is very uncertain being paid in Tobacco
The quantity 16,000 lbs. Tobacco yearly & being in a frontier place
worth communibus annis 5 shillings for each hundred pounds
and very often
not so much worth. The glebe
lies so inconvenient at the lower end of the
Parish that I was obliged to lease it out and purchase a convenient
near the middle of the Parish for myself.
There is no house upon it for its
being so inconvenient that it must be leased out it did not seem needful
to build one. I preached at
the Church and one of the Chappels near to
which the inhabitants are thickest seated every Sunday by turns and at
other Chappel 6 times a year. There
is no public school for the instruction of
youth, and there is no Parochial Library.
In the absence of the vestry books of Overwharton Parish during the
Eighteenth Century, a report made in 1726 by Governor High Drysdale covering the
“present state of Virginia” is most valuable.
Here are listed the prominent men of Stafford County, some of whom were
Acres of Land:
Justices of he Peace:
Rice Hooe, Dade Massey, Henry Fitzhugh,
Storke, Thomas Hopper, Thomas Harrison,
Dade, John Fitzhugh (Quorum), French
Abraham Farrow, Charles Broadwater, John
Anthony Thornton, Rice Hooe, Jun., and
Burgesses :George Mason and
Clerk of the County Court: Catesby
Land Surveyor :Henry
Paul’s and Overwharton
Ministers :Mr. Steward [Stuart]
and Alexander Scott
No. Militia :Horse, 202 – Foot, 370
County Lieutenant: Robert Carter
Sort of Tobacco: Arronoco
In July 1726 Governor Hugh Drysdale also sent to England “An Account of
all Births and Deaths of Free people and Slaves within the Colony of Virginia
from the 15th day of April 1725 to the 15th of April
1726” as reported to him by the ministers of the various parishes.
For Overwharton Parish his report was follows:
Births: Free Persons
:Males 19, Females 26
:Males 12: Females 18
Burials: Free Persons
:Males 13, Females 18
These figures furnish ample evidence that the recordings during the early
[1722-1738] years of The Register of Overwharton Parish 1723-1758 are far
In 1729 Governor William Gooch sent a report to England covering the
“present state of Virginia” and the portion of it as concerns Stafford
County is given below:
Acres of land :[blank]
Burgesses : Anthony Thornton
and John Fitzhugh
Justices of the Peace:
Dade Massey, Thomas Harrison, Townsend
John Fitzhugh, French Mason, Abraham
Charles Broadwaer, Anthony Thornton,
Fitzhugh [Quorum] Dennis McCaarty, Elias
Thomas Grigsby, John Washington, William
William Lynton, Peter Hedgman and
County Clerk :Catesby
Paul’s and Overwharton
Ministers :Mr. Stewart [Stuart]
and Mr. Scott
Surveyor :James Thomas
County Lieut. :Robert Carter, Esq.
By Act of Assembly in 1730, Prince William County was formed “on the
heads of Stafford and King George counties ”to be effective March 25, 1731:
“all the lands on the heads of the said counties above Chopawamsick Creek on
Potomac River, Deep Run on the Rappahannock River and a south west line to made
from the head of the North branch of the said creek to the head of said Deep
Run” shall be called and known by the name of Prince William County.
Thus Overwharton Parish lost that extensive domain which it formerly had
now embracing the counties of Prince William, Fairfax, Loudoun, Arlington, the
Potomac watershed of Fauquier County and the City of Alexandria.
The birth of Prince William County must have delighted the aging Reverend
Mr. Alexander Scott; new parishes would be formed and he would not be called
upon to travel far from Dipple. Doubtless,
he seldom officiated in the remote part of his parish anyway, confining his
ministry to services at Aquia and Potomac churches. In the more remote parts of his parish there were probably
several chapels where lay readers performed services at irregular intervals.
The Reverend Mr. Alexander Scott had no child and after the death of his
wife he invited his much younger half-brother, the Reverend Mr. James Scott,
M.A. (17 -1782) to come to Virginia
and reside at Dipple. This he did
and he inherited that well -known seat. He
married circa 1738 Sarah Brown (1715-1784), daughter of Dr. Gustavus
Brown (1689-1762) of Rich Hill, Charles County, Maryland, and his wife nee
Frances Fowke (1691-1744) daughter of Colonel Gerard Fowke (1662-1734) and his
wife nee Sarah Burdett of Charles County, Maryland. For an account of the distinguished lineages of the last
named couple see Jester and Hiden: Adventures of Purse and Person, Virginia,
1607-1625, pages 192 and 331 and Hayden: Virginia Genealogies, page
156 et seq. Frances (Fowke) Brown
(1691-1744) died while on a visit to her daughter and is buried at Dipple.
In 1745 the Reverend Mr. James Scott became rector of Dettingen Parish,
Prince William County, and continued that charge until his death, a period of
thirty seven years. Although two
wills directed that tombstones should be placed over the graves at Dipple of the
Reverend and Mrs. James Scott this was never accomplished.
In 1941 this ancient cemetery and adjoining property was taken into the
Quantico Marine Base and the remains of those interred at Dipple and the
tombstones removed to Aquia Churchyard. The
handsome tombs of the Reverend and Mrs. Alexander Scott were among those moved.
They are inscribed:
[In relief, an hourglass beneath
[In relief, two winged angels, each
which is a skull and cross bones,
holding a globe in the one hand,
and under that an angel, head and
and a palm branch in the other.
Under these are the words, memen-
To mori, with the usual skull and
Here Lyeth the body
The Rev’d Alex: Scott, A.M.
& Presbyter of the Church of
Lyeth the body of
England; who lived near twenty
Sarah, the wife of the Rev’d.
Eight years minister of Over-
Alex’r: Scott, M.A., Minister
Wharton Parish, and died at the
of Overwharton Parish, & Former-
Fifty third year of his age.
Ly wife and widow of William
He being born the twentieth of
Brent of Richland, Gentleman.
July A.d. 1686 and departed
She exchanged this life for a
This life the firt day of April
better about the 41st year of
her age on Monday at one o’clock
Of October 29th, 1733
[Beneath this inscription is the
coat of arms of the Reverend Mr.
[there is some reference on this
Scott, surround by the motto,
stone to the issue of the deceased
Gaudia Nancio Magna.
by Mr. Brent and also an inscription
“on a bend a star between two
in Latin but not enough can be
crescents, in a bordure eight
together to reproduce here].
Stars.” The crest: “a
Beneath the cest an Esquire’s
Helmet with visor closed.]
The following tombs were also removed from the Scott family cemetery at
Dipple to Aquia Churchyard:
Here lyeth the body of
[Skull and Crossbones]
Frances, the Wife of Dr.
Gustavus Brown of Charles
Here lies the Body of
County in Maryland. By her
he had twelve children of
the wife of John Graham, Merch.
whom one son and seven dau-
and daughter of Dr. Gustavus
ghters survive her. She was
Brown. She departed this life the
A daughter of Mr. Gerard Fowke,
17th of September 1742 in the 23rd
late of Maryland, and descend-
year of her Age when she had been
ed from the Fowkes of Gunston
married not quite two months.
Hall in Staffordshire. She
was no person more univer-
was born February the 2nd
sally esteemed nor more sincerely
1691, and died much lamented
lamented by her acquaintances.
On the 8th of November 1744
In the 54th year of her age.
[At the head and perpendicular to this
In Memory of
ancient horizontal tombstone, a de-
scendant has erected a granite memorial
Born Jan 21, 1718
stone duplicating the original inscript-
in Ripon, England
ion, above given, Then follows:
Sept. 8, 1773
Married Ann, Daughter
The above Epitaph copied from the
of Gustavus Brown, M.D.
old gravestone now moldering at its
feet was the tribute of a mourning
husband to a beloved wife 138 years
to the Memory
ago. Among the descendants
of my son
seven daughters mentioned on it are
Richard Marshall Scott
many widely scattered between the
Lakes of Canada and the Gulf of Mex-
Gustavus Hall Scott
ico and the Atlantic Ocean and the
Born May 11, 1807
Mississippi being honoured names
Died Sept. 21, 1847
but whose names give them no clue
to their descent from their remark-
To enable those who are aware of it
to visit her last resting place and
to identify and preserve it, a great-
grand son of her eldest daughter
Frances, wife of the Rev. John Moncure,
Rector at that time of Aquia and Poto-
mac Churches and whose remains with
those of his wife rest in the Church
near the alter has caused
this tablet of granite bearing on its
surface a more durable copy of the
original inscription to be erected to
By his last will and Testament dated January 19, 1737, which was admitted
to probate April 11, 1738 the Reverend Mr. Alexander Scott made the following
“Item: I give and bequeath to the Church near the head of
Acquia in this parish thirty pounds sterling money of Great Britain
to be paid within a year and half after the proof of this will by my
executors hereinafter named to the church wardens and vestry of the
said parish for the time being to buy a silver pottle flagon, a silver
pattin and good substantial silver pint chalice and cover for the
Communion service in the said church and each of them to have engraved
these words, Given by the Rev. Alexander Scott, A.M. late Minister of
Parish and the date when given else that my executors herein after named
shall within the time before mentioned send for the above mentioned
flagon, Pattin, chalice and cover and have them wrought of good
and substantial workmanship.”
The directions of the Reverend Mr. Scott were carefully followed and the
handsome communion service has been carefully guarded for more than two hundred
years. To insure its survival, it
was buried during the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the Civil War.
Each piece is inscribed: “The Gift of the Rev. Mr. Alex: Scott, A.M.,
late minister of this Parish. Anno.
The Reverend Alexander Scott also bequeathed three thousand pounds of
tobacco for clothing and schooling three of the most needy and poor children in
Overwharton Parish. He was
succeeded as rector of Overwharton Parish by the Reverend John Moncure (circa
1714-1764) and he served the Parish twenty six years exerting a marked influence
over his parishioners; during his term as curate Aquia Church was built.
The Reverend Alexander Scott also bequeathed three thousand pounds of
tobacco for clothing and schooling three of the most needy and poor children in
Overwharton Parish. He was
succeeded as rector of Overwharton Parish by the Reverend John Moncure (circa
1714-1764) and he served the Parish twenty six years exerting a marked influence
over his parishioners; during his term as curate Aquia Church was built.
The appointment of the Reverend Mr. John Moncure as Minister of
Overwharton Parish may not have been accomplished without some opposition.
So as soon as Governor William Gooch heard of the death of the Reverend
Mr. Alexander Scott, he immediately dispatched a letter to the Lord Bishop of
London under date of April 20, 1738:
“As I was always cautious in recommending any person
from hence to your Lordship for Ordination, so from the same
care I can assure Your Lordship, upon the testimony of several
worthy Gentlemen who have known the Bearer, Mr. George
Fraser, many years, that he is an unexceptionable man in his
Life and Conversation, a constant Churchman and Communicant,
and that, Mr. Scott, Minister of the Parish where Mr. Fraser
lived, being lately Dead, they one and all desire this Gentleman
may succeed him and therefore I hope Your Lordship will
find him in all other Respects qualified.
He has been a
schoolmaster in a private Family.”
The Reverend Mr. George Fraser received the King’s Bounty for Virginia
from the Bishop of London on August 20, 1738 and took up a charge in Dale
Parish, Chesterfield County, which he appears to have held for more than twenty
years. The inventory of the estate
of “the Reverend Mr. George Fraser, deceased,” was recorded in Chesterfield
County in 1762. He was probably the
son of the Reverend Mr. John Fraser, rector of Overwharton Parish 1701-1702, but
he was never rector of Overwharton Parish.
While the precise details are unknown, by some means the Reverend Mr.
John Moncure was assigned to Overwharton Parish prior to the arrival of the
Reverend Mr. George Fraser in Virginia. On
January 26,1738 John Moncure witnessed a deed from Thomas Grayson of Deal in
Kent, England, conveying to Thomas Turner, Gentleman, of King George County, 500
acres of land on the Rappahannock River in Spotsylvania County about four miles
below Fredericksburg. He must have
been bound for Virginia at this time as with other witnesses he proved the deed
at Spotsylvania County court on July 4, 1738.
This record proves that the Reverend Mr. John Moncure came to Virginia in
The Reverend Mr. John Moncure was born in the parish of Kinoff, County
Mearns (now County Kincardine), Scotland, about the year 1714.
The year of his birth was approximated by the Reverend Mr. Horace Hayden
in his Virginia Genealogies, page 424, to be circa 1709-1710 and
others have followed him in so stating: I
do not know upon what record, if any, this approximation was made by the
Reverend Mr. Hayden. However, in a
deposition at Stafford County court on June 13, 1759 in connection with the
proving of the will of Travers Cooke, Gentleman, the Reverend, Mr. John Moncure
stated he was then forty five years of age.
It appears he was born in or about the year 1714.
Although born in Scotland, the Reverend Mr. John Moncure was of French
extraction, being descended from a French Protestant ancestor who fled France in
consequence of the persecution that took place there after the Reformation in
the early part of the sixteenth century. Mrs.
Jean (Moncure) Wood (1753-1823), the youngest child of the Reverend Moncure
stated in a genealogical letter in 1820 that her father had an excellent
education and had made considerable progress in the study of medicine, when he
received an invitation to seek an establishment in Virginia. He came to Virginia about 1733 and lived two years in a
gentleman’s family as a private tutor in Northumberland County.
During that time, although teaching others, he was closely engaged in the
study of divinity and at the commencement of the third year from his arrival
returned to Great Britain and was ordained a minister by Bishop Edmund Gibson,
Lord Bishop of London. He returned
to Virginia in 1738 and upon the death of the Reverend Mr. Alexander Scott
(1686-1738) succeeded him as curate of Overwharton Parish.
The Reverend Mr. John Moncure was married on July 9, 1761 to Frances
Brown (1713-1770), eldest daughter of Doctor Gustavus Brown of Rich Hill,
Charles County, Maryland and Frances Fowke, his wife, who have been mentioned in
detail on page 186. They had four
childen to survive infancy, viz:
Frances Moncure (1745-1800) married on
October 7, 1762 Travers Daniel, Senior, (1741-1824) of Tranquility and Crow’s
Nest. He served as surveyor of
Stafford County 1763-1792 and also as a justice of the county court. Mr. and Mrs. Daniel are buried, with other members of their
family, in the family cemetery at Crow’s Nest on Accokeek Creek near its
conflux with Potomac Creek. They
had eleven children.
John Moncure (1747-1784) of Clermont,
Stafford County. He married Anne
Conway, daughter of George and Ann (Heath) Conway of Lancaster County, Virginia;
they had five children.
Anne Moncure (1748 - )
married Walker Conway and had three children.
He was a brother of Anne (Conway) Moncure, above mentioned.
Jean Moncure (1753-1823) married in 1775
Governor James Wood (1742-1813) of Virginia; they had no issue.
He is buried in Saint John’s Churchyard, Richmond, Virginia, and she is
buried in the Robinson family cemetery, Poplar Vale, Byrd Park, Richmond,
The Reverend Mr. Horace Hayden in his Virginia
Genealogies  gives an excellent account of the Moncure family as well
as those with whom they were connected.
The Reverend Mr. John Moncure regularly
officiated at Aquia and Potomac churches. He
may have had an assistant curate as John Mercer, Esq., of Marlborough records
the Reverend Mr. John Phipps came to Virginia in 1746 and on March 3, 1747 he
baptized John Moncure [Jr.] (1747-1784). The
Reverend Mr. Phipps was a tutor for some years in the family of John Mercer, but
I have no further information concerning him.
During the ministry of the Reverend Mr. John Moncure Aquia Church was
built. He died on March 10, 1764
and his last will and Testament remains of record.
He and his wife are buried under the chancel at Aquia Church.
Upon one of the large marble stones covering the chancel is engraved:
THE RACE OF THE HOUSE
The following letter written to Mrs. Frances (Brown) Moncure (1713-1770) by her cousin the Honorable George Mason (1725-1792) of Gunston Hall, a couple of days after the death of the Reverend Mr. John Moncure, is of considerable interest.
“Gunston, 12th March 1784
I have your letter by Peter yesterday, and the day before
I had one from Mr. Scott, who sent up Gustin Brown on
purpose with it. I entirely agree with Mr. Scott in preferring
a funeral sermon at Aquia Church, without any invitation to the
house. Mr. Moncure’s character and general acquaintance will
draw together much company, besides a great part of his parish-
oners, and I am sure you are not in a condition to bear such a
scene; and it would be very inconvenient for a number of people
to come so far from church in the afternoon after the sermon.
As Mr. Moncure did not desire to be buried in any particular
place, and as it is usual to bury clergymen in their own church-
es, I think the corpse being deposited in the church where he
had so long preached is both decent and proper, and it is pro-
bable, could he have chosen himself, he would have preferred it.
Mr. Scott writes to me that it is intended Mr. Green shall preach
his funeral sermon on the 20th of this month, if fair; if not,
the next fair day; and I shall write to Mr. Green tomorrow to
that purpose, and inform him that you expect Mrs. Green and him
at your house on the day before; and, if God grants me strength
sufficient either to ride on horseback or in a chair, I will cer-
tainly attend to pay the last duty to the memory of my friend;
but I am really so weak at present that I can’t walk without
crutches and very little with them, and have never been out of
the house but once or twice, and then, though I stayed but two
or three minutes at a time, it gave me such a cold as greatly
to increase my disorder. Mr. Green has lately been very sick,
and was not able to attend his church yesterday, (which I did
not know when I wrote to Mr. Scott:) if he should not recover
soon, so as to be able to come down, I will inform your or Mr.
Scott in time, that some other clergyman may be applied to.
“I beseech you, dear madam, not to give way to mel-
ancholy reflections, or to think that you are without friends.
I know nobody that has reason to expect more, and those that
I will not be friends to you and your children now Mr. Moncure is
gone were not friends to him when he was living, let their pro-
fessions be what they would. If, therefore, you shall find any
such, you have no cause to lament the loss, for such friendship
is not worth anybody’s concerns.
I am very glad to hear that Mr. Scott proposes to apply
for Overwharton Parish. It will be a great comfort to you and
your sister to be near one another, and I know the goodness
of Mr. Scott’s heart so well, that I am sure that he take a
pleasure in doing you every good office in his power, and I had
much rather he should succeed Mr. Moncure than any other person.
I hope you will not impute my not visiting you to any coldness
or disrespect. It gives me great concern that I am not able to
see you. You may depend upon my coming down as soon as my dis-
order will permit, and I hope you know me too well to need any
assurance that I shall gladly embrace all opportunities of
testifying regard to my deceased friend by doing every office
in my power to his family.
I am, with my wife’s kindest respects and my own, dear
Madam, your most affectionate kinsman,
The first brick church built in
Overwharton Parish stood upon the narrows of Potomac Creek – it was called
Potomac Church; it is not now standing and historical facts concerning it are
meager. The second substantial church built in Overwharton
Parish is standing and called Aquia Church. I will discuss these two edifices separately.
How many frame buildings preceded the present brick Aquia Church is not known. We do know that near or upon this site since shortly after the county of Stafford was created, divine services have been held – a period of almost three hundred years.
There is a reference to the court records in 1738, that the key to Aquia
Church was stolen by Richard Watson, an absconding indented servant, of the
Reverend, Mr. Alexander Scott. With
considerable difficulty, both Watson and the key were returned.
 William Storke, Gentleman, was appointed sheriff on April 25, 1726 by Lieutenant-Governor High Drysdale; he died in office and on September 20, 1726 Robert Carter, Esq., appointed Anthony Thornton sheriff “in the room of William Storke, Gentleman, deceased.”
The following advertisement appeared in
the Virginia Gazette of June 6, 1751:
“The Vestry of Overwharton Parish, in the County of Stafford,
have come to a Resolution to build a large Brick Church, of about
3,000 Square Feet in the Clear, near the Head of the Aquia Creek,
the old Church now stands. Notice
is hereby given, That the Vestry
will meet at the said Place, to let the same, on Thursday, the 5th
Day of September next, if fair, if not the next fair Day. All
Persons inclinable to undertake it are desired to come then, and
give in the Plans and Proposals.
The contract to build Aquia Church was awarded to Mourning Richards
of Drysdale Parish, King and Queen County, master builder and architect.
The unfortunate accident befell the new church as it neared
completion is recorded in the Virginia Gazette of March 21, 1755:
“We hear from Stafford County, that the new Church at
Aquia, one of the best Buildings in the Colony (and the old
wooden one near it) were burnt down on the 17th instant,
the Carelessness of some of the Carpenters leaving fire too
near the Shavings, at Night, when they left off work. This
fine building was within two or three Days Work of being com-
pletely finished and delivered up by the Undertaker, and this
Accident, it is said has ruined him and his Securities.”
During the time Aquia Church was being constructed, Mourning Richards
became indebted to Colonel
Nathaniel Harrison (1713-1791) of Eagle’s Nest in Saint Paul’s Parish. Colonel Harrison had removed there a few years before from
Brandon on the James River, upon his marriage to Lucy (Carter) Fitzhugh
(1717-1773), widow of Colonel Henry Fitzhugh (circa 1706-1742) and mother of
William Fitzhugh, Esq., (1741-1809) of Chatham. Colonel Harrison obtained a judgment against Mourning
Richards at King and Queen County court on October 28, 1753 for this debt of
§238:3:0 and in order to secure it, Richards gave Colonel Harrison a
mortgage on eleven Negro slaves.
Already thus encumbered, the burning of the nearly completed Aquia
Church placed Mourning Richards in extremely embarrassing financial
circumstances as we see from the following announcement in the Virginia
Gazette of May 16, 1755:
“TO ALL CHARITABLE AND WELL-DISPOSD CHRISTAINS
“Mourning Richards, most humbly represents, That, in
the year 1751, he contracted with the Vestry of Overwharton
Parish, in the County of Stafford, to build a very large and
Beautiful Church, near Aquia Creek, for 111,000 pounds of Tob-
Acco, which Building he carried on with all possible Diligences
And made Sundry Alterations and Additions, at the Request of
The Vestry, who proposed paying him for so doing 20,000 pounds
Of Tobacco more than the first contract: That he had got the
Church in such Forwardness, that he should have been able to
Have delivered the same to the Vestry in a short Time, and the
Was to receive the Balance of his Tobacco, having received on
75,000 pounds; but, on the 17th day of February last,
was absent on his necessary Business, the whole Building was ac-
cidently consumed by Fire, which has reduced him and his Family
to very great Distress, he being utterly unable to rebuild the
said Church. And,
therefore, he most humbly prays your Aid and
“I know the above Facts to be true.
Major Peter Hedgman (circa 1700-1765) was a gentleman justice
of Stafford County for many years and served as a member of the House of
Burgesses 1742-1758. This
advertisement seems in the same measure to have resolved the financial
difficulties of Mourning Richards and he erected the building now standing
over the south door of which, in a contemporary cutting, is inscribed:
171. Destroyed by Fire
A. D. 1757 By
William Copein, stonemason, also built Pohick Church in 1769-1774,
the undertaker of which was Daniel French (1723-1771) who died before the
edifice was completed. The baptismal font now in Pohick Church bears the
date of A.D. 1773; it was made
by William Copein after “a Plate in Langley’s Designs…for the price of
six pounds, he finding for himself everything.”
The similarity of the doorways of Pohick Church and Aquia Church may
be seen in the detail drawings made by George Carrington Mason,
Historiographer, Diocese of Southern Virginia, and reproduced in his Colonial
Churches of Tidewater Virginia  Plates 87 and 87.
Thomas Green, Esq. (1798-1882), attorney at law, left a genealogical
account of his family. His
mother, nee Fanny Richards, wife of General Moses Green (1770-1857) of
Fauquier County, was the daughter of Captain John Richards (1734-1785) of
King and Queen, Essex, King George and Stafford counties whose family is
detailed by Colonel Brooke Payne in the Paynes of Virginia, pages
83-84. Mr. Green indicates his
great-grandfather, William Bird Richards of Drysdale Parish, King and Queen
County, had a sister and a brother, viz: Catherine (“Kitty”) Richards,
wife of the Reverend Mr. Robert Innis and Mourning Richards “a bricklayer
who built Aquia Church;” he married and left an only child, Mrs. Trent of
King William County.
Aquia Church is built in the form a
Greek cross, with two
tiers of windows set in very thick walls.
There are three double door entrances;
one in each arm of the cross with the alter in its east end.
Against the reredoes of white woodwork are four arched panels in
black, inscribed in English script by William Copein with the Ten
Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer.
At the southeastern re-entrant angle stands the original “three
decker” pulpit, with its great sounding board.
The pews are square. Over
the west entrance is the gallery, supported by large pillars and reached by
winding stairs. This was the
slave gallery in former days. On
the front of the gallery a panel bears the names of the minister,
churchwardens and vestrymen, when the present edifice as completed.
This unusual plaque is also the work of William Copein; it is
JOHN MONCURE, Minister
Peter Daniel )
Travers Cook ) Wardens
Some account of these churchwardens and
vestrymen and their families will be found in Section VII.
While the evidence is scant, it is conclusive that all the Reverend
Mr. Moncure’s parishioners were not in complete harmony with the decision
of the vestry and church wardens to erect the handsome edifice at Aquia in
1751; the thought of being taxed for the destruction of the first church
built by Mourning Richards in order to relieve his distressed financial
situation caused much dissatisfaction in Overwharton Parish a few years
The third quarter of the Eighteenth Century witnessed a steady
increase in the number of dissenters from the Established Church. Particularly active were the Baptists and the general decline
of Espiscopalism throughout Virginia, which was to be so well defined a few
years later, had already clearly shown itself in Overwharton Parish, indeed,
I believe more so than in any other parish in Eastern Virginia.
In 1757 Stafford County was represented in the House of Burgesses by
Major Peter Hedgman (circa 1770-1765) of Overwharton Parish and
William Fitzhugh, Esq., (1725-1791) of Marmion in Saint Paul’s Parish,
both staunch supporters of the Episcopal Church.
However, these gentlemen seem to have been caught off guard on April
18, 1757 when a petition was presented to the House of Burgesses in
Williamsburg signed by “sundry inhabitants of Overwharton parish
complaining of the illegal, arbitrary and oppressive proceedings of the
present vestry of the said Parish and praying that the same may be
dissolved.” Of course,
Hedgeman and Fitzhugh were influencial enough to have this petition rejected
and the House accommodated them immediately on May 2, 1757.
On June 1, 1757 the House of Burgesses granted leave to its members
from the county of Stafford “to bring in a Bill to empower the Vestry of
Overwharton parish to levy for Mourning Richards a reasonable satisfaction
for rebuilding a church at Aquia and same was referred to Mr. Charles Carter
to prepare and bring in the same.” This
was promptly done and the bill was passed on June 8, 1757.
But the dissenters in Overwharton Parish refused to be silenced by
the Episcopalian gentry and for the next ten years filed frequent petitions
in the House of Burgesses clearly declaring their disapproval of the manner
ecclesiastical affairs were administered there.
Finally, at the fall session of 1769, the House of Burgesses passed
an act which recited that there are “divisions among the vestry of the
parish of Overwharton, in the county of Stafford, that the affairs of the
said parish have for sometime been neglected and mismanaged.” And by this act dissolved the vestry. A new vestry was ordered to be elected on September 20, 1770
and to consist of “twelve of the most able and discreet persons, being
freeholders and resident in the said parish.”
It appears from the proceedings that the levies in Overwharton Parish
for the last two years had not been laid by the vestry and creditors of the
parish remained unpaid – the new vestry were directed to lay the levy
“and assess upon the tithable persons of the said parish all such sums of
money and quantities of tobacco as ought to have been levied and assessed by
the said present vestry.”
This action did little to squelch the dissenters and dissatisfaction
continued both in their ranks and among the vestry.
It appears the number of persons were increasing who would no longer
pay tribute to support a church they had no intentions of attending.
End of Page 195
1 The notices from the Virginia Gazette of 1755, quoted on Page 193, make it certain that the church was destroyed by fire in 1755 and not in 1754.