Overwharton Parish Register

1720 to 1750

 

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 Roman Catholic.

 

            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                       #Lieut.David Straham              *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 churchwarden.

 

            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:

 

#George Mason            *Rice Hooe                #Joseph Sumner            *William Bunbury

*Robert Alexander            *Richard Fossaker            #John Waugh, Jr.            #John West

#Matthew Thompson            *John Washington            *Edward Hart              *Charles Ellis

 

            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. Richard Foote

*Captain Richard Fossaker            #Captain John West                *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.

*Robert Alexander            *William Bunbury            #John West                *William Fitzhugh

*John Washington            #Thomas Harrison            #John West,Jr.            *Benjamin Colclough

#Mathew Thompson            #George Mason            #John Peake               #George Anderson

#Giles Travers             #Moses Lynton              #G. Mason               *Thomas Lund

*Richard Fossker            #Alexander Waugh            *Thomas Gilson                        *Phillip Alexander

                                    *Charles Ellis               *Edward Hart

 

            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:

                                                                                    *Charles Ellis

                                                                                    #George Anderson

            Colonel: #George Mason                                    #John West

            Lt. Col: *Rice Hooe                   Captains:            #Edward Mountjoy

            Major: *William Fitzhugh                                   #Thomas Harrison

                                                                                    *Richard Fossaker       

            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 Parrish.

 

            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 parishioners. 

 

            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 Attorney-General.

 

            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 age.

 

            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 charge.

 

                        “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.  I do

            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.  There are

            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.  Divine

            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 being

            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 time.

            I catechize the youth of my parish in Lent and a great part of the Summer.

                        “Our Church is tolerably well provided; our two Chappels want a

            pulpit Cloth, reading Desk Cloth, Communion table cloth and vessels for the

            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 may be

            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 plantation

            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 the

            other Chappel 6 times a year.  There is no public school for the instruction of

            youth, and there is no Parochial Library.

                                                                                    Alexander Scott”

 

            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 vestrymen.

 

                                                            Stafford County

                        Acres of Land:           [blank]

                        Tithables:        1,800

Sheriff                        :William Storke[1]

                        Coroner            :Henry Fitzhugh

                        Justices of he Peace:            Rice Hooe, Dade Massey, Henry Fitzhugh,

                                                            William Storke, Thomas Hopper, Thomas Harrison,

                                                            Townsend Dade, John Fitzhugh (Quorum), French

                                                            Mason, Abraham Farrow, Charles Broadwater, John

                                                            Linton, Anthony Thornton, Rice Hooe, Jun., and

                                                            Robert Alexander.

                        Burgesses         :George Mason and William Robinson

                        Clerk of the County Court:  Catesby Cocke

                        Land Surveyor            :Henry Conyers

                        Parishes           :Saint 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

                                    Slaves              :Males 12: Females 18

                        Burials: Free Persons            :Males 13, Females 18

                                    Slaves              :Males  6:   Females  3

 

            These figures furnish ample evidence that the recordings during the early [1722-1738] years of The Register of Overwharton Parish 1723-1758 are far from complete.

 

            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:

 

                                                            Stafford County

 

                        Acres of land :[blank]

                        Tithables         :2,060

                        Sheriff                        :Abraham Farrow

                        Coroner            :Dade Massey

                        Burgesses         : Anthony Thornton and John Fitzhugh

                        Justices of the Peace:             Dade Massey, Thomas Harrison, Townsend

                                                            Dade. John Fitzhugh, French Mason, Abraham          

                                                            Farrow, Charles Broadwaer, Anthony Thornton,

                                                            Henry Fitzhugh [Quorum] Dennis McCaarty, Elias

                                                            Hore, Thomas Grigsby, John Washington, William

                                                            Triplett, William Lynton, Peter Hedgman and

                                                            Francis Awbrey

                        County Clerk            :Catesby Cocke

                        Parishes           :Saint 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.

            Shoulders, winged.]                                         Under these are the words, memen-

                                                                                    To mori, with the usual skull and

                        Here Lyeth the body                          cross bones.

            The Rev’d Alex: Scott, A.M.

            & Presbyter of the Church of                                       Here 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

                        April 1738.                                        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.            The Arms:                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 dove.”

            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                                                       CHRISTIAN

            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                              There 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-                               ROBERT HORNER

            scendant has erected a granite memorial                       Born Jan 21, 1718

            stone duplicating the original inscript-                                   in Ripon, England

            ion, above given, Then follows:                                       Died 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             Sacred to the Memory

            ago.  Among the descendants of the                                           of my son

            seven daughters mentioned on it are                               Richard Marshall Scott

            many widely scattered between the                                          eldest son of

            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-

            able ancestress.

                        Frances Fowke

            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

first named 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

                        her memory]

 

            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 bequest:

 

                        “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 this

            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 sufficient

            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. 1739”

 

              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 1738.

 

            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:

(1)                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.

(2)               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.

(3)        Anne Moncure (1748 -   ) married Walker Conway and had three children.  He was a brother of Anne (Conway) Moncure, above mentioned.

(3)               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, Virginia.

 

The Reverend Mr. Horace Hayden in his Virginia Genealogies [1841] 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:

IN MEMORY

OF THE RACE OF THE HOUSE

OF

MONCURE

 

            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

            Dear Madam:

                        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,

                                                                                    George Mason”

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.

 

AQUIA CHURCH

 

            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.



[1] 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, where

            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.        

                                                Benjamin Strother

                                                Peter Daniel

                                                            Churchwardens”

 

            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, by

            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, while he

            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

            Assistance.

                        “I know the above Facts to be true.

                                                                        Peter Hedgman”

 

            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:

 

“Built

A.D. 171.  Destroyed by Fire

Rebuilt A. D. 1757 By

Mourning Richard Undertaker

William Copein       Mason”  1

 

            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 [1945] 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 inscribed:

 

                                                JOHN MONCURE,  Minister

                                    Peter Hedgman                                  Benjamin Strother

                                    John Mercer                         Thomas Fitzhugh

                                    John Lee                               Peter Daniel   ) Church

                                    Mott Doniphan                                  Travers Cook  ) Wardens

                                    Henry Tyler                            John Fitzhugh

                                    William Montjoy                        John Peyton

                                                            Vestrymen                                 Pixnit

1757 Wm. Copein

 

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 later.

 

            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.