William Archer Rutherfoord Goodwin.

Historical sketch of Bruton church, Williamsburg, Virginia online

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Bruton Cburcb

MiUiameburOt IDtratnia.

^^^^^j^^^^ /^/$/^^ ^^^/^^^^^

(Rector of (^tuton C9nvc9

^^/?^^^/«?^^ ^^^ /^/^/^^^^^/^^









Cbc Congregation of Old Bnrton
Church, and to Xi^hose who will
share with them in the privilege
of Restoring and preserving this
ancient Cemplc of our ■pore-fathers,
this work is affectionately dedi-



HIS historical sketch has been compiled in
order to supply the constant demand for in-
formation as to the early history of Old Bru-
ton Church. The information given is
largely derived from an article on the his-
tory of B niton Church written by Rev.
Jno. C. McCabe, and published in the Church
Review, January, 1856. Dr. McCabe had
the use of the old vestry book of the Parish
containing the records of the Church from
1674 to 1769. Extensive and interesting
extracts from this book were copied by him,
and an endeavor has been made to embody
every one of those in this sketch for reference and preser-
vation, as the book from which the}- were copied never
came again into the possession of the Vestry. They are
printed in Old English type. Use has also been made of
Bishop Meade's "Old Churches and Families in Virginia,"
and of a sketch of Bruton Church written by President
Lyon G. Tyler, of the College of William and Mar>\ We
have also referred to Hening's Early Statutes of Va., and
to Vol 1 of Calendar of State Papers 1652-1781, and
made use of the subsequent records of the Parish. The
tablets on the walls of the Church have been copied and
inserted, and also some of the most interesting inscrip-
tions on the tombstones in the Church and Church-yard,
and the names contained in the Birth and Death record of
the Old ParivSh Register of 1662 have been inserted.

With grateful appreciation I acknowledge the kindness
of the Rev. P. G. Scott, of the Bishop Payne Divinity
School, Petersburg, Va., through whose hands the proof-
sheets of this work have passed.

W. A. R. G.
Bruton Rectory,

Williamsburg, Va.,

Feast of the Transfiguration, 1903.



Historical Associations. 7

History of the Formation of the Parish, 11

Old Records Relating to the Building of 1683, - - - - 12

Death of Rev. Rowland Jones, and Election of Rev. James Sclater, 17

Election of Rev. Samuel Eburne, 17

A Silver Service Given, ; . - 18

Kev. Cope Doyley Elected, ........ 20

Removal of the Seat of Government from Jamestown to Williams-
burg, - - - 20

Election of Rev. Solomon Wheatley, 22

Conflict as to Right of Induction, -. - - - 23
Position and Authority of Colonial Vestrymen, - - - - 24

Election of Commissary Blair, Minister, 27

The Church of 1715, - - 31

Election of Rev. Thomas Dawson, 37

The Church Enlarged and Organ Secured, 37

The Church-yard Wall, 39

The Belfry Built, - - 39

Some Old Vestry Orders, - - - - 41

The Passing of the Old Regime, - - - - 45

The Church after the Revolution, Legislative Despoliation, - - 49

Early Episcopal Visitations, - - - 51

Dr. Bracken, Dr. Keith, Dr. Wilmer, Dr. Empie, Rectors, - 51-54

Modern Innovations, 55

The Colonial Governor's Pew, The Mayor's Pew, - - - - 57
The List of Pew Holders in 1840, - - : - - - - 59

The Clock in the Steeple, - - - - 60

The Restoration Movement, - - - - 63

The Old Communion Silver, Font, Old Bell, Old Parish Register, 68-72
Extracts from Sermons of Commissary Blair, - - - - 72

Induction Controversy, - Appendix A

Mural Tablets and Tombstone Inscriptions, - - - Appendix B
The Ministers and Vestrymen of Bruton Parish, - - Appendix C

Birth Record, Appendix D

Death Record, Appendix E


1. The Church seen from the Palace Green and

the East, Frontispiece

2. Colonial view of the Church, - - - - 14

3. The Old Tower at Jamestown, - - - - 21

4. Portrait of Commissary Blair, . - - - 27

5. The Jamestown Font, - - - - - 30

6. The Silver-Gold Service, called the "Queen Anne

Set," - - - - - - 30

7. The Church seen from the Church-yard, - - 41

8. The Church viewed from the Duke of Gloucester

Street, 48

9. Interior view of the Church, 1840-1886, - - 57

10. The Duke of Gloucester Street, . . . - 57

11. Diagram showing the Original and Present

Arrangement of the Church, - - - - 58

12. Interior view of the Church, 1886-1903, - - 62

13. The Jamestown Communion Service, - - 68

14. The King George Communion Service, - - 70

15. The Church Yard 87

16. Two Pages of the Old Parish Register, Appendix D


LD Bruton Church has well withstood the
/"^ devastating touch of time. The storms of

^^^ manj^ winters have gone over it, the fierce

battles of two great wars have raged near
it, and in it have lain the sick and wounded
of two armies, and yet it stands to-day
just as it stood well nigh two hundred
years ago. The Building is consecrated by
hallow^ed associations. It is intimately
connected with Virginia's early history.
Through its ancient tower entrance passed
the Court processions of Colonial days, —
the governors with emblazoned emblems, betokening the
authority and majesty of old England's Kings and
Queens; the Council of State, composed of men whose
names will ever live in our nation's history; and the
members of the House of Burgesses, the defenders of
the liberties of the people.

Here, in pew officially assigned, elevated from the
main floor and richly canopied, sat the proud and im-
perious Francis Nicholson, the devoted Edmund Jennings,
the dauntless Spottswood, Drysdale, Gooch, Dinwiddie,
Fauquier, Norborne Berkeley Lord de Botetourt, and

Here, as Vestrymen, worshipped the Hon. Daniel
Parke; the Hon. John Page, "the immigrant;" Thomas
Ludwell, Secretary of State ; Sir John Randolph ; Peyton
Randolph, the King's Attorney and Speaker of the House
of Burgesses ; Robert Carter Nicholas, Treasurer of Vir-
ginia; Major Robert Beverly, Attorney, and Clerk of the
House of Burgesses, and many others whose names ap-
pear in the long list of Vestrymen and upon the pages
of the nation's history.

8 Hssoctations

Here once sat the men who first saw the vision of a
great free republic of this Western World, and who, at the
altar of sacrifice, consecrated their lives to the cause of
liberty which they loved — George Wythe, patriot, teach-
er, signer of the Declaration of Independence, was a
vestryman ; Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, John Tyler,
and Chief Justice John Marshall, and Edmund Randolph,
worshipped here while students in the College of William
and Mary ; and most of them in after years while serving
the Colony and State. George Mason, Edmund Pendle-
ton, Edmund Randolph, Benjamin Harrison, Bland and
Lee, while members of the House of Burgesses ; Patrick
Henry w^hile a member of the House and Governor of
Virginia (1776), and George Washington, while seeking
to win the heart and hand of the beautiful Martha

These, and many others, whose names are deathless,
have passed within these sacred courts and meekly bowed
the knee in supplication to the King of Kings. As we
linger in the silence of the Church, they pass before the
awakened vision of the mind. They sit, as they did of old,
listening to the law of the God of Nations, and to the mes-
sage of liberty in the great Gospel of redemption. The
walls of the cruciform old building seem to echo again
with their voice of prayer and thanksgiving.

Here the youth of the nation that was to be, dreamed
dreams and saw visions which awakened the high and
noble aspirations of their lives ; for here they heard the
Gospel of Liberty, and engaged in the service of devotion
and adoration which rouses the best that is in a man,
and inspires him to live and serve for the Glory of his God
and the good of his fellowman.

Here have ministered faithful servants of the most
high God. The services have been almost continuous.
The College Faculty could always be relied upon to sup-
ply ministerial service, and the City of Williamsburg,
being the seat of the Colonial Government, created a con-

Haaociattons 9

stant demand for the services and ministrations of tlie

The Church was ])reserved because it was needed.
Thus the present building has l^een longer in continuous
use than anj - other Episcopal Church in America.

Around the Church, side by side with the peers, war-
riors, scholars, and statesmen of the past in their scul]>-
tured tombs, beneath many mouldering heaps, "the ntde
forefathers of the hamlet slecj)." Some to earthly iamc
are now unknown, the names of others live, not because
they are engraved in marl)lc, but because the\^ hel])ed to
make the nation's history great.

The Old Church, with its historic associations and
hallowed memories, is to us an inheritance from the past
and a tinist for the future. It must be preserved. It must
remain to tell its storv' of the days that are gone to days
that may yet be. It belongs, in a sense, to the nation
with whose early history it is so intimately associated.
It is doubly dear to us to whom it witnesses of the in-
fluence of our Church over the lives of the Nation-build-
ers, and to whom it speaks of the continuity of our
Church's life and liturgy.

The work of restoration, which has l^en determined
upon, will be done with reverence and with devotion.
The exterior will be left unchanged, for change here would
mean innovation. The interior, which was changed and
distorted, in view of conditions which no longer exists,
will be restored to its ancient form, and the whole will be
transmitted, under the good providence of God, to pos-
terity as it was planned and builded and used bj our

^ *IDi6torical IFtotee^:

©rioinal pariebcs

|N 1632 Middle Plantation (subsequent,
ly Williamsburg) was "laid out and
paled in.'" A Parish bearing this
name was created shortly there-
after 2 In 1644 a parish in James
City was created called "Ilarrop
Parish," which on April 1st, 1648,
was united with Middle Plantation,
forming Middletown Parish.

In 1674 the parish of Marston
(established in York county in
1654) and Middletown Parish were
united and became known as Bro-
Tox Parish-

Of the early history of Middle
Plantation, or Williamsburg, little is
known. The early court records
have been destroyed, and there was
no vestry-book preserved prior to the
one of 1674. There was, however, a Church at Williams-
burg in 1665. This fact is established by an entry in the
vestry'-book of Middlesex Parish, made in 1665, w^hich
directs that a Church be built in that parish after the

1 Hening I, 139, 199, 208.
3 York Records.

12 FMstoncal jVotcs

model of the one in Williamsburg.' This was doubtless
a wooden structure. How long it had then been in use is
not known.

Zbc Wimnc of the parish

The name Bruton was doubtless given to the Parish
in honor of Thomas Ludwell, Esq., who, according to the
record inscribed on his tombstone at the door of Bruton
Church, was born in Bruton, in the County of Summer-
set, England, and departed this life in the year 1678.-

©It) lDc0tr\> 1Recor^6 IRcIatitiG to
Cburcb BuilMno, )6tc.

The first entr\^ in the Yestry-book bears date "Hprvl
y,c i8tb, 1674,'' and on that day we find present at the
Vcstr\^ meeting:

^'XThc honourable Coll: DanU parkc, Mr. Rowland
7onc8, Minister, Mr. lohn page, Mr. lames Besoutb, Mr.
Robt. Cobb and Mr. Bray.,— Capt. Cbesley, and Mr. Hylett,
Cburcb hardens. Mr. lobn Chvens, Sidesman. Cbcre
being in the last lc\ne eight thousand five hundred pounds
of tobacco in Cashc, Lcvyed to the Roncurable O^omas
Ludwell, Secretary, and Daniel Parhe, 6sq., 25 pound ster-
ling, due to them upon ye purchase of yc Glcabe," Ac

In Nov. 1677, the vestry- concluded that : "<)Clherea6,
upon ye Tisiting of the parishes, It was fully agreed that
neither the Upper Church, nor the lower Church should be
repaired, but a New Church should be built with brich, att
the Middle Plantation,— Now in respect of the late troubles
and Lea vies this t^are. It is by this Testry Ordered that
the next laying of the Leavie for this parish, the Oemen-

1 Bishop Meade's Old Churches and Families in Virginia.

2 Sir William Berkeley, Governor, whose widow, Lady Frances
Berkeley, Col. Phierp Ludwell married, was also from Bruton, England.

RiatoHcal ^fotc9 18

610118 and order of building a jVcw Church, and by whom
to be Undertaken, be there fully determined ; and that the
present Church dardcns be desired to tahe Subscriptions
from ye Ronorablc Chomas Ludwell, Daniel parhe, Gsq^
Major "jfo: page, of their former promises: and also of alt
other Gentlemen who will freely subscribe their benevolence
to so Christian a work.^

" There were then, proljably, three wooden structures
for worship in the Parisli, corresjiondin,? to Middle Plan-
tation, Harrop, and Marston parishes, all three of which
now composed Bruton, which stretched in an irregular
manner from York River to James River, and was about
ten miles scjuare. We have evidence certainh' of the ex-
istence of two such churches: Marston Church is con-
stantly referred to in the York count3' records as being in
the direction of the present Liglow's "in the Indian fields
near Queen's Creek;" and in December, IGT^, Thomas
Claiborne and Sarah, his wife (who was Sarah Fenn),
joined in a deed to convey' the wife's inheritance in the
old plantation of Ralph Simkins at Middle Plantation,
"except the two acres on w*^'' the Parish Church of Bruton
now standeth, formerly given 133^ Ralph Simkins unto the
parishioners of Bruton."

On Nov. 14th, 1678

*^It is ordered that ye Subscriptions of free dona-
tions for building a brick Church be entered in the Register,
and that Copies be given to the Church hardens to procure
all other persons' free donations that arc dwellers in ye
parish and when they have promised what they can, that a
Yestrie be called for further consideration concerning the
said Church.''

Under the same date appears the following:

^, lohn page, doe oblige Myself, My heires, execu-
tors, to pay or cause to be paid, Cwenty pounds sterling
to the Testry of Bruton parish, ffor and towards Build-

iPres't Lyon G. Tyler.

14^ FMstorical JVotcs

xnQ of a Brick Church att Middle plantation, for ye sd
pariah, upon demand. Cditness my hand this 14th of
November, 1678.

Hlso I do promise to giw land sufficient for tin
Church and Church "^nvd. jf^hn page


Hbraham Tinckler, i

Richard Curtcen, |

I, Rowland jfoncs, Clerke, do oblige Myself, My heircs,
executors, to pay or cause to be paid, five pounds sterling,
to the Testry of Bniton parish, for and towards the
building a brick Church, at the Middle plantation, for ye
said parish, upon demand, as witness My hand, November
ye 14, 1678.

Richard Curtcen, )

Hbraham Tinckler. J

^ee, the subscribers, do hereby oblige oui'selves, our
hcires, and executors, and Hdministrators, to pay each of
us five pounds Sterling to the Testry, upon demand,
towards ye building of H Brick Church, on ye Middle
plantation, for ye said parish, as witness our hands this
14th of November, 1678.


Hbraham Tinckler, >

Richard Curteen. X

^amcs Besouth, Martin Gardner,
mm, Hylett, 6ideon Macon,

Robert Cobb, Cho. Caylor,

Robert Spring, Christo Pearson.'*

On the 5th tJune, 1679, a full description of the Church
to be built is given, together with articles of agreement be-
tween the Testry and George Marable, the contractor of the
work, which was to cost £350 sterling.

Rietorical JSotcs lo

Owing to some disagreement \vc find the following

**mhcrcAQ Mf. <3co. Marablc hath arrested Mr. George
Poyndcxtcr and Mr, George Martin, (members of this
TestryJ in an action of the case to ye 4th day of ye next
Generall Court : this Tcstry do ordain and appoint Major
Robert Beverly their lawful! Httomey on the behalf of yc
said parish, to answer ye suit of ye said George Marable,
and also to procure judgment for performance of ye arts of
agreement made by ye said Mr. George Marable,'* etc.

On the same occasion there is the record of a state-
ment from Philip Ludwell, Esq., of a legac^v by his
brother Thomas Ludwell of £20 sterling and a promise
for himself of £10 stei'ling towards the New Church to be
built at Middle Plantation.'

On the 23d 3une, 1681, an agreement was made be-
tween the Testry and Capt. francis page to build the
Church at the same place, but with several variations from
Marable's plan, for £150 sterling; "and sixty pounds of
good, sound, merchantable sweet scented "Cobacco and
Cashe, to be levied of each Cytheable in the parish for three
years together— the first payment to commence this next
ensuing crop.^

Cburcb CompIetc^ ant) H)cMcatct)

** ISovember ye 29th 1683.**

Che parish Church is at length completed, and the Tes-
try notice the fact by the following; ^^CQhereas ye Brick
Church at Middle plantation is now finished. It is ordered
yt all ye Inhabitants of yc said parish, do for the future
repair thither to hear Divine Service, and yc ^ord of God
preached; Hnd that Mr. Rowland 5ones, Minister, do dedi-
cate ye said Church ye Sixth of "January next, being yc
epiphany. Hnd that Hlexander Bonyman, Clerke, sett up

I McCabe.

1(> RiDtoncal Notes

notice at yt MiU, to giw notice thereof; Hnd that ye Oma-
i-ncnts, etc., be removed pr ye Church hardens, atid also yt
yc old Comtnumon Cable be removed to ye minister's bouse
and there remain.'*

Dr. McCabe remarks that this service of dedication
Avas doubtless celebrated by more than the demonstra-
tions contemplated by canons and rubrics, for immedi-
ately following this order is another that: ^*)VIr. Roger
'Jones having promised to furnish ye Parish 'with two
barrels of Car, each containing twenty-eight gallons, to be
delivered at Middle plantation, which being performed ye
parish is to pay ye said Mr. t^ones after ye rate of £12 pr

It is to be remembered that these old Colonial
Chiirches were never consecrated according to rubrical
direction, as there was in those days no resident and no
visiting Bishop to perform the service as ordered in the
Book of Common Prayer.

On Oct. 31,1 684, a Committee is appointed to examine
the work done on the New Church, and report Nov. 1 oth.
Capt. -prancis Page thereupon gives bond and security to
keep the Church in good order and repair for four years.'

On Mav 10, 1 686, there appears the following: "Ctthereas
there is a proposition to the Testry, concerning a Steeple
and a Ring of Bells, the Testry do request Mr. Rowland
'jfones, Mr. Martin Gardner, and f fra Page, that they make
a computation of the charge of building the Steeple and cost
of the bells, and retume the same to ye next Testry ; and
that in yt mean time they endeavour to procure what dona-
tions they can from such persons as may be thereto willing."

yeee of ClcrU an^ Scitou

The fees of the Clerk at this time were ordered to be
** three pounds of Cobacco for registering every Christening

I McCabe.

Ristoncal Notes 17

and burial in yc parish, and yc Sexton to have ten of
Cobacco for every grave that be diggs/'

"The last meeting of the Vestry, which the Revd,
Rowland Jones attended, was held on the 26th day of
November, 1687. This gentleman attended for the first
time a meeting of the Vestry Mav 4th, 1675. On that
da3^ *%y a General Consent/^ they ^^ subscribed a request to
the Right Ronorable Govemour for an Induction into this
parish of jVlf. Rowland ^^ones, minister/^ Inhere is no
evidence on the record that he ever was inducted, and yet be
served them for twelve years, and then **fell asleep,^— for at
the next Testry Meeting, '"jfunc ye 5th, 1 688,^ it was entered
on the book as follows :'

*'C3hereas this Parish, by yc death of ye Rev. Mr*
Rowland 'jfones, is destitute of a Minister, and Mf . Barnes
Sclater having offered to serve ye parish in that quality. It
is therefore agreed upon and ordered, that Mi*, 'jfames
Sclater be paid after ye rate of 6,000 pounds of tobacco per
annum for six months, "^e time to commence from ye
13 th day of May, 1688, and for such further time as he
shall officiate in this parish, to be allowed after the same
rate proportionable. Che said Mi*. Sclater agreeing to
preach a Sermon every other Sunday in the afternoon, if
weather permit, and hath promised to administer ye Sacra-
ment twice in ye six months; and each Sunday that he
preach here to perform other rites and ceremonies of the

Dr. McCabe, upon the authorit^^ of the Vestry book,
states that this arrangement continued for a very short
period, and that on the following July the same order
was made in favor of Rev. Mr. Samuel Eburne, and the same
requirements expressed. On November 9, 1688, the order
was reiterated to continue in force until next Christmas.
After this time it was determined that if Mr. Eburne
agreed to officiate for seven years, he was to receive

I McCabe.

18 Rtstorical Notes

annually 16,666 pounds of tobacco and caske, with the
use of the Glebe, and all the houses thereon.

On November 28, 1688, the following letter from Lord
Howard Effingham, Governor of the colony, was received
and recorded on the Vestry book :

^^Gcntlcmcn^ — I utidcratand that upon my former recom-
mendation to you of Mf . Samuel 6bume, you haw rcceiwd
bim^ and be bath continued to exercise bis functions in
preaching to vou and performing Divine Serxnce. 1 have now
to recommend bim ye second time to you, with ye addition
of my own experience of bis ability and true qualification in
all points; together with bis exemplary life and conwrsa-
tion. Hnd, therefore, holding of bim in the esteem of a per-
son who, to 6od^s honor and your good instruction, is fitt
to be received, I do desire be may be by you entertained and
continued ; and that you will give bim such encouragement as
you have formerly done to persons so qualified.

*^8br25, i688/^

a Silver Server (Biven

^Xbe seaventb day of Hpril, 1 694.
Ris 6xcellency Sir edmund Hndros, Knight, was pleased

to give to Bruton parish H Large Silver Server.'*

"Ht a Testry held for Bruton parish ye lotb day of

May, 1694,

Mv* Samuel Gbume, Minister, M^. Rugb jSorwell,
edmd. 'jfennings, Gsq. Mi*. Renry Cyler,

Ml*. Pbil. Ludwell, Mi*, lohn Kendall,

Ml*. Daniel parhe. Mi*. Ro. Crawley,

Ml*, lobn Dorman, Mi*. Baldwin Matthews,

Ml*, dm. pinhethman,

I>is excellency having been pleased to bestow on ye Church a

large silver server,— X^bc Testry therefore do desire Mr.

ebume, with Mi*. PHil. Ludwell and Mi*. Baldwin Matthews,

IMstortcal )SotC9 19

3« Cburcbwardcnst to wait upon bis excellency to render
bim tbanhs for bis noble and pious gift/'

The Church had begun to show signs of decay, and on
May 6, 1693, there is the following: ^^^bereas ye inside
work on ye Cburcb ougbt to be rectified and repaired, it is

tbercfore ordered tbat tbc Cburcbwardens provide an

able worhman to effect tbe same, and tbat it be done as soon
as tbey can/'

In 1694 tbc following is recorded in tbe Testry-booh:
^^Cdbercas scvcrall Quakers tbere are in tbis parisb tbat are
in arrears for tbcir parisb dues,— It is tbercfore ordered tbat
ye Cburcb hardens do demand and receive ye same tbis pres-
ent year/' Hnd on tbe first ISfovember, same year, ^^Clpon
Mr»Bbume's proposition to ye Testry,to be resolved wbetber
tbey would sustain bim for a longer time after bis present
time by agreement is expired, It is tbe opinion of tbis Testry,
and accordingly ordered tbat it sball be referred to tbe Testry
tbat sball meet for tbis parisb upon Gaster Tuesday next/'
Hnd on ''"^e tbird day of Hprill, 1695, in answer to Mr.
ebumc's proposition, tbis Testry ordered tbat no Minister
be bereafter entertained but from year to year, and tbat tbey
allow and pay bim only according to law. Upon wbicb Mr.
ebume dotb refuse to stay any longer tban till next Cbrist-
mas." On tbe 1 5tb ^January, 1 696, ^^It is ordered tbat Mr.
8aml. ebume, Minister, be allowed two bundred pounds of
tobacco and cashe, it being for preacbing four Sermons after
tbe time by agreement baving expired." *Xbe said Mr. Saml.
ebume declaring bis Intentions of leaving tbis Country, ye
Cburcb CQardens, tbercfore, are requested (as often as tbey
can) to procure a Minister. Hnd when tbere sball be no Minis-
ter, tbe Clerhe is ordered to Read Romilies and prayers. Hnd
likewise ye said Cburcb <)Clardens are requested to wait upon
bis excellency ye Governor, and pray bim tbat be would be

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