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into parishes for the work of church and clergy. The
stupid obstinacy of the king, against the remonstrances of
the Company, perpetrated the crime of sending out a hun-
dred convicts into the young community, extorting from
Captain Smith the protest that this act " hath laid one of
the finest countries of America under the just scandal of


being a mere hell upon earth." The sweepings of the
London and Bristol streets were exported for servants.
Of darker portent, though men perceived it not, was the
landing of the first cargo of negro slaves. But so grate-
ful was the Company for the general prosperity of the
colony that it appointed a thanksgiving sermon to be
preached at Bow Church, April 17, 1622, by Mr. Copland,
which was printed under the title, " Virginia's God Be
Thanked." In July, 1622, the Company, proceeding to
the execution of a long-cherished plan, chose Mr. Cop-
land rector of the college to be built at Henrico from the
endowments already provided, when news arrived of the
massacre which, in March of that year, swept away one
half of the four thousand colonists. All such enterprises
were at once arrested.

In 1624 the long contest of the king and the court party
against the Virginia Company was ended by a violent
exercise of the prerogative dissolving the Company, but
not until it had established free representative government
in the colony. The revocation of the charter was one of
the last acts of James's ignoble reign. In 1625 he died,
and Charles I. became king. In 1628 "the most hot-
headed and hard-hearted of prelates," William Laud, be-
came Bishop of London, and in 1633 Archbishop of Can-
terbury. But the Puritan principles of duty and Hberty
already planted in Virginia were not destined to be eradi-

From the year 1619, a settlement at Nansemond, near
Norfolk, had prospered, and had been in relations of trade
with New England. In 1642 Philip Bennett, of Nanse-
mond, visiting Boston in his coasting vessel, bore with him
a letter to the Boston church, signed by seventy-four
names, stating the needs of their great county, now with-
out a pastor, and offering a maintenance to three good



ministers if they could be found. A little later William
Durand, of the same county, wrote for himself and his
neighbors to John Davenport, of New Haven, to whom
some of them had listened gladly in London (perhaps it
was when he preached the first annual sermon before the
Virginia Company in 1621), speaking of !' a revival of
piety " among them, and urging the request that had been
sent to the church in Boston. As result of this corre-
spondence, three eminently learned and faithful ministers
of New England came to Virginia, bringing letters of
commendation from Governor Winthrcp. But they found
that Virginia, now become a royal colony, had no welcome
for them. The newly arrived royal governor, Sir William
Berkeley, a man after Laud's own heart, forbade their
preaching; but the Catholic governor of Maryland sent
them a free invitation, and one of them, removing to An-
napolis with some of the Virginia Puritans, so labored in
the gospel as to draw forth the public thanks of the legis-
lative assembly.

The sequel of this story is a strange one. There must
have been somewhat in the character and bearing of these
silenced and banished ministers that touched the heart of
Thomas Harrison, the governor's chaplain. He made a
confession of his insincere dealings toward them : that
while he had been showing them " a fair face " he had
privately used his influence to have them silenced. He
himself began to preach in that earnest way of righteous-
ness, temperance, and judgment, which is fitted to make
governors tremble, until Berkeley cast him out as a Puri-
tan, saying that he did not wish so grave a chaplain ;
whereupon Harrison crossed the river to Nansemond, be-
came pastor of the church, and mightily built up the cause
which he had sought to destroy.

A few months later the Nansemond people had the op-


portunity of giving succor and hospitality to a shipwrecked
company of nine people, who had been cast away, with
loss of all their goods, in sailing from the Bermudas to
found a new settlement on one of the Bahamas. Among
the party was an aged and venerable man, that same Pat-
rick Copland who twenty-five years before had interested
himself in the passing party of emigrants. This was in-
deed entertaining an angel. Mr. Copland had long been
a nonconformist minister at the Bermudas, and he listened
to the complaints that were made to him of the persecu-
tion to which the people were subjected by the malignant
Berkeley. A free invitation was given to the Nansemond
church to go with their guests to the new settlement of
Eleuthera, in which freedom of conscience and non-inter-
ference of the magistrate with the church were secured
by charter.^ Mr. Harrison proceeded to Boston to take
counsel of the churches over this proposition. The peo-
ple were advised by their Boston brethren to remain in
their lot until their case should become intolerable. Mr.
Harrison went on to London, where a number of things
had happened since Berkeley's appointment. The king
had ceased to be; but an order from the Council of State
was sent to Berkeley, sharply reprimanding him for his
course, and directing him to restore Mr. Harrison to his
parish. But Mr. Harrison did not return. He fulfilled an
honorable career as incumbent of a London parish, as
chaplain to Henry Cromwell, viceroy of Ireland, and as a
hunted and persecuted preacher in the evil days after the
Restoration. But the "poetic justice" with which this
curious dramatic episode should conclude is not reached
until Berkeley is compelled to surrender his jurisdiction to
the Commonwealth, and Richard Bennett, one of the ban-

1 The project of Eleuthera is entitled to honorable mention in the history
of religious liberty.


ished Puritans of Nansemond, is chosen by the Assembly
of Burgesses to be governor in his stead. ^

Of course this is a brief triumph. With the restoration
of the Stuarts, Berkeley comes back into power as royal
governor, and for many years afflicts the colony with his
malignant Toryism. The last state is worse than the first ;
for during the days of the Commonwealth old soldiers of
the king's army had come to Virginia in such numbers as
to form an appreciable and not wholly admirable element
in the population. Surrounded by such society, the gov-
ernor was encouraged to indulge his natural disposition to
bigotry and tyranny. Under such a nursing father the
interests of the kingdom of Christ fared as might have
been expected. Rigorous measures were instituted for
the suppression of nonconformity, Quaker preachers were
severely dealt with, and clergymen, such as they were,
were imposed upon the more or less reluctant parishes.
But though the governor held the right of presentation,
the vestry of each parish asserted and maintained the
right of induction or of refusing to induct. Without the
consent of these representatives of the people the candi-
date could secure for himself no more than the people
should from year to year consent to allow him. It was
the only protection of the people from absolute spiritual
despotism. The power might be used to repel a too faith-
ful pastor, but if there was sometimes a temptation to
this, the occasion was far more frequent for putting the
people's reprobation upon the unfaithful and unfit. The
colony, growing in wealth and population, soon became
infested with a rabble of worthless and scandalous priests.
In a report which has been often quoted. Governor Ber-

1 For fuller details concerning the Puritan character of the Virginia Com-
pany and of the early ministers of Virginia, see the articles of E. D. Neill,
above referred to, in " Hours at Home," vol. vi.


keley, after giving account of the material prosperity of
the colony, sums up, under date of 167 1, the results of
his fostering care over its spiritual interests in these words :
"There are forty-eight parishes, and the ministers well
paid. The clergy by my consent would be better if they
would pray oftener and preach less. But of all other com-
modities, so of this, the worst are sent us. But I thank
God there are no free schools nor printing, and I hope we
shall not have, these hundred years."

The scandal of the Virginia clergy went on from bad to
worse. Whatever could be done by the courage and
earnestness of one man was done by Dr. Blair, who ar-
rived in 1689 with limited powers as commissary of the
Bishop of London, and for more than fifty years struggled
against adverse influences to recover the church from its
degradation. He succeeded in getting a charter for Wil-
liam and Mary College, but the generous endowments of
the institution were wasted, and the college languished in
doing the work of a grammar school. Something was ac-
complished in the way of discipline, though the cane of
Governor Nicholson over the back of an insolent priest
was doubtless more effective than the commissary's ad-
monitions. But discipHne, while it may do something to-
ward abating scandals, cannot create life from the dead;
and the church established in Virginia had hardly more
than a name to live. Its best estate is described by
Spotswood, the best of the royal governors, when, looking
on the outward appearance, he reported : " This govern-
ment is in perfect peace and tranquillity, under a due
obedience to the royal authority and a gentlemanly con-
formity to the Church of England." The poor man was
soon to find how uncertain is the peace and tranquillity
that is founded on "a gentlemanly conformity." The
most honorable page in his record is the story of his effort


for the education of Indian children. His honest attempt
at reformation in the church brought him into colhsion
not only with the worthless among the clergy, but also on
the one hand with the parish vestries, and on the other
hand with Commissary Blair. But all along the " gentle-
manly conformity " was undisturbed. A parish of French
Huguenots was early established in Henrico County, and
in 1 713 a parish of German exiles on the Rappahannock,
and these were expressly excepted from the Act of Uni-
formity. Aside from these, the chief departures from the
enforced uniformity of worship throughout the colony in
the early years of the eighteenth century were found in a
few meetings of persecuted and vilified Quakers and Bap-
tists. The government and clergy had little notion of the
significance of a slender stream of Scotch-Irish emigration
which, as early as 1720, began to flow into the valley of
the Shenandoah. So cheap a defense against the perils
that threatened from the western frontier it would have
been folly to discourage by odious religious proscription.
The reasonable anxiety of the clergy as to what might
come of this invasion of a sturdy and uncompromising
Puritanism struggled without permanent success against
the obvious interest of the commonwealth. The addition
of this new and potent element to the Christian population
of the seaboard colonies was part of the unrecognized
preparation for the Great Awakening.



The chronological order would require us at this point
to turn to the Dutch settlements on the Hudson River;
but the close relations of Virginia with its neighbor colo-
nies of Maryland and the Carolinas are a reason for taking
up the brief history of these settlements in advance of
their turn.

The occupation of Maryland dates from the year 1634.
The period of bold and half-desperate adventure in mak-
ing plantations along the coast was past. To men of
sanguine temper and sufficient fortune and influence at
court, it was now a matter of very promising and not too
risky speculation. To George Calvert, Lord Baltimore,
one of the most interesting characters at the court of
James I., the business had peculiar fascination. He was
in both the New England Company and the Virginia
Company, and after the charter of the latter was revoked
he was one of the Provisional Council for the government
of Virginia. Nothing daunted by the ill luck of these
companies, he tried colonizing on his account in 1620, in
what was represented to him as the genial soil and cli-
mate of Newfoundland. Sending good money after bad,
he was glad to get out of this venture at the end of nine


years with a loss of thirty thousand pounds. In 1629 he
sent home his children, and with a lady and servants and
forty of his surviving colonists sailed for Jamestown, where
his reception at the hands of the council and of his old
Oxford fellow-student. Governor Pott, was not cordial.
He could hardly have expected that it would be. He was
a recent convert to the Roman Catholic Church, with a
convert's zeal for proselyting, and he was of the court
party. Thus he was in antagonism to the Puritan colony
both in politics and in religion. A formidable disturbing
element he and his company would have been in the al-
ready unquiet community. The authorities of the colony
were equal to the emergency. In answer to his lordship's
announcement of his purpose " to plant and dwell," they
gave him welcome to do so on the same terms with them-
selves, and proceeded to tender him the oath of suprem-
acy, the taking of which was flatly against his Roman
principles. Baltimore suggested a mitigated form of the
oath, which he was willing to take ; but the authorities
" could not imagine that so much latitude was left for
them to decline from the prescribed form " ; and his lord-
ship sailed back to England, leaving in Virginia, in token
of his intention to return, his servants and " his lady," who,
by the way, was not the lawful wife of this conscientious
and religious gentleman.

Returned to London, he at once set in motion the
powerful influences at his command to secure a charter
for a tract of land south of the James River, and when this
was defeated by the energetic opposition of the friends of
Virginia, he succeeded in securing a grant of land north
and east of the Potomac, with a charter bestowing on him
and his heirs " the most ample rights and privileges ever
conferred by a sovereign of England." ^ The protest of
1 W. H. Browne, " Maryland" (in American Commonwealths), p. 18.


Virginia that it was an invasion of the former grant to that
colony was unavaiHng. The free-handed generosity with
which the Stuarts were in the habit of giving away what
did not belong to them rarely allowed itself to be embar-
rassed by the fear of giving the same thing twice over to
different parties.

The first Lord Baltimore died three months before the
charter of Maryland received the great seal, but his son
Cecilius took up the business with energy and great liber-
ality of investment. The cost of fitting out the first emi-
gration was estimated at not less than forty thousand
pounds. The company consisted of " three hundred
laboring men, well provided in all things," headed by
Leonard and George Calvert, brothers of the lord propri-
etor, " with very near twenty other gentlemen of very
good fashion." Two earnest Jesuit priests were quietly
added to the expedition as it passed the Isle of Wight,
but in general it was a Protestant emigration under Cath-
olic patronage. It was stipulated in the charter that all
liege subjects of the English king might freely transport
themselves and their families to Maryland, To discrimi-
nate against any religious body in England would have been
for the proprietor to limit his hope of rapid colonization
and revenue and to embroil himself with political enemies
at home. His own and his father's intimate acquaintance
with failure in the planting of Virginia and of Newfound-
land had taught him what not to do in such enterprises.
If the proprietor meant to succeed (and he did mean to)
he was shut up without alternative to the policy of im-
partial non-interference with religious differences among
his colonists, and the promotion of mutual forbearance
among sects. Lord Baltimore may not have been a pro-
found political philosopher nor a prophet of the coming
era of religious liberty, but he was an adroit courtier, like



his father before him, and he was a man of practical good
sense engaged in an enormous land speculation in which
his whole fortune was embarked, and he was not in the
least disposed to allow his religious predilections to inter-
fere with business. Nothing would have brought speedier
ruin to his enterprise than to have it suspected, as his en-
emies were always ready to allege, that it was governed in
the interest of the Roman Catholic Church. Such a sus-
picion he took the most effective means of averting. He
kept his promises to his colonists in this matter in good
faith, and had his reward in the notable prosperity of his

The two priests of the first Maryland company began
their work with characteristic earnestness and diligence.
Finding no immediate access to the Indians, they gave the
more constant attention to their own countrymen, both
Catholic and Protestant, and were soon able to give thanks
that by God's blessing on their labors almost all the Prot-
estants of that year's arrival had been converted, besides
many others. In 1640 the first-fruits of their mission
work among the savages were gathered in ; the chief of
an Indian village on the Potomac nearly opposite Mount

1 This seems to be the whole e.xphmation of tlie curious paradox that the
first experiment of "religious liberty and equality before the law among all
Christian sects should have been made apparently under the auspices of that
denomination which alone at the present day continues to maintain in theory
that it is the duty of civil government to enforce sound doctrine by pains and
penalties. We would not grudge the amplest recognition of Lord Baltimore's
faith or magnanimity or political wisdom ; but we have failed to find evidence
of his rising above the plane of the smart real-estate speculator, willing to be
all things to all men, if so he might realize on his investments. Happily, he
was clear-sighted enough to perceive that his own interest was involved in
the liberty, contentment, and prosperity of his colonists.

Mr. E. D. Neill, who has excelled other writers in patient and exact study
of the original sources of this part of colonial history, characterizes Cecilius,
second Lord Baltimore, as " one whose whole life was passed in self-aggran-
dizement, first deserting Father White, then Charles I., and making friends
of Puritans and republicans to secure the rentals of the province of Maryland,
and never contributing a penny for a church or school-house" ("English
Colonization of America," p. 258).


Vernon, and his wife and child, were baptized with solemn
pomp, in which the governor and secretary of the colony-
took part.

The first start of the Maryland colony was of a sort to
give promise of feuds and border strifes with the neighbor
colony of Virginia, and the promise was abundantly ful-
filled. The conflict over boundary questions came to
bloody collisions by land and sea. It is needless to say
that religious diflferences were at once drawn into the dis-
pute. The vigorous proselytism of the Jesuit fathers, the
only Christian ministers in the colony, under the patronage
of the lord proprietor was of course reported to London
by the Virginians; and in December, 1641, the House of
Commons, then on the brink of open rupture with the
king, presented a remonstrance to Charles at Hampton
Court, complaining that he had permitted " another state,
molded within this state, independent in government,
contrary in interest and affection, secretly corrupting the
ignorant or negligent professors of religion, and clearly
uniting themselves against such." Lord Baltimore, per-
ceiving that his property rights were coming into jeopardy,
wrote to the too zealous priests, warning them that they
were under English law and were not to expect from him
" any more or other privileges, exemptions, or immunities
for their lands, persons, or goods than is allowed by his
Majesty or officers to like persons in England." He an-
nulled the grants of land made to the missionaries by
certain Indian chiefs, which they affected to hold as the
property of their order, and confirmed for his colony the
law of mortmain. In his not unreasonable anxiety for
the tenure of his estate, he went further still ; he had the
Jesuits removed from the charge of the missions, to be
replaced by seculars, and only receded from this severe
measure when the Jesuit order acceded to his terms. The


pious and venerable Father White records in his journal
that " occasion of suffering has not been wanting from those
from whom rather it was proper to expect aid and pro-
tection, who, too intent upon their own affairs, have not
feared to violate the immunities of the church,^ But the
zeal of the Calverts for religious liberty and equality was
manifested not only by curbing the Jesuits, but by en-
couraging their most strenuous opponents. It was in the
year 1643, when the strength of Puritanism both in Eng-
land and in New England was proved, that the Calverts
made overtures, although in vain, to secure an immigration
from Massachusetts. A few years later the opportunity oc-
curred of strengthening their own colony with an accession
of Puritans, and at the same time of weakening Virginia.
The sturdy and prosperous Puritan colony on the Nanse-
mond River were driven by the churlish behavior of Gov-
ernor Berkeley to seek a more congenial residence, and
were induced to settle on the Severn at a place which
they called Providence, but which was destined, under the
name of Annapolis, to become the capital of the future
State. It was manifestly not merely a coincidence that
Lord Baltimore appointed a Protestant governor, William
Stone, and commended to the Maryland Assembly, in
1649, the enacting of " an Act concerning Religion," drawn
upon the lines of the Ordinance of Toleration adopted
by the Puritan House of Commons at the height of its au-
thority, in 1647.2 How potent was the influence of this
transplanted Nansemond church is largely shown in the
eventful civil history of the colony. When, in 1655, the
lord proprietor's governor was so imprudent as to set an
armed force in the field, under the colors of Lord Baltimore,

1 Browne, pp. 54-57; Neill, op. cit., pp. 270-274.

2 The act of Parliament provided full religious liberty for dissenters from
the established order, save only " so as nothing be done by them to the dis-
turbance of the peace of the kingdom."


in opposition to the parliamentary commissioners, it was
the planters of the Severn who marched under the flag of
the commonwealth of England, and put them to rout, and
executed some of their leaders for treason. When at last
articles of agreement were signed between the commis-
sioners and Lord Baltimore, one of the conditions exacted
from his lordship was a pledge that he would never con-
sent to the repeal of the Act of Toleration adopted in 1 649
under the influence of the Puritan colony and its pastor,
Thomas Harrison.

In the turbulence of the colony during and after the
civil wars of England, there becomes more and more mani-
fest a growing spirit of fanaticism, especially in the form
of antipopery crusading. While Jacobite intrigues or
wars with France were in progress it was easy for dema-
gogues to cast upon the Catholics the suspicion of dis-
loyalty and of complicity with the public enemy. The
numerical unimportance of the Catholics of Maryland was
insufficient to guqrd them from such suspicions ; for it had
soon become obvious that the colony of the Catholic lord
was to be anything but a Catholic colony. The Jesuit
mission had languished; the progress of settlement, and
what there had been of religious life and teaching, had
brought no strength to the Catholic cause. In 1676 a
Church of England minister, John Yeo, writes to the
Archbishop of Canterbury of the craving lack of ministers,
excepting among the Catholics and the Quakers, " not
doubting but his Grace may so prevail with Lord Balti-
more that a maintenance for a Protestant ministry may

Online LibraryLeonard Woolsey BaconA history of American Christianity → online text (page 5 of 34)