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1611.]

MARTIAL LAW.

149

was the only means of escaping the gibbet. This code was too cruel to be rigidly enforced, yet we have reason to believe it was not entirely a dead letter. When Argal became Governor, he took special delight in reviving it, and many Colonists learned in sadness that the Church was the occasion of stripes and slavery, rather than of freedom and happiness.*

b

Though the martial code soon fell into disuse and was repealed, yet the laws of the Colony never recognised the rights of conscience. The first acts of the General Assembly which are now recorded in our statute book, gave permanent establishment to the Episcopal Church, by erecting bounds corresponding with parishes, and laying a tax on the people for the support of their ministers. Each male over sixteen years of age were to be liable for ten pounds of tobacco and one bushel of corn, and each minister was to receive fifteen hundred pounds of tobacco and sixteen bushels of corn. It is thought that at this time there were but five clergymen in Virginia, Messrs. Whittaker, Bargrave, Wickham, Mease, and Stockham, yet the people found it difficult to yield to them the required support, and it was ordered that six tenants should be placed on every glebe in order to its cultivation. The Bishop of London undertook to provide for the spiritual wants of the settlement, and without any express authority, his jurisdiction as their diocesan seems to have been thenceforth admitted by the churches of Virginia.

a Vol. i. 206, 207.

b Stith, 173; Hawks, 35. c Hawks, 36.

As the settlements advanced up the rivers and embraced belts of fertile land running back from the Bay, the number of parishes gradually increased. We may suppose that outward regularity appeared in the progress of the Church; that on the Sabbath the preacher was at his stand, clothed with a surplice, and armed with an English prayer-book, and that the people complied with the letter of the law, and attended worship rather than pay fines. We find no mitigation in the system which required conformity to the teachings of the establishment. Papists and Puritans were alike proscribed, and Quakers were visited with open persecution. During the reign of Charles the First, the principles of Archbishop Laud were openly approved by the rulers of Virginia, and his example was proposed as worthy of all acceptation. From an individual case we may form some idea of the intense bigotry of soul which distinguished Sir William Berkeley. In 1642, Stephen Reek was brought before the General Court on grave charges. Indignant at the insolence of the Archbishop, and the favour with which Charles regarded him, Reek had been heard to say that "his Majesty was at confession with my Lord of Canterbury." For this, he was tried, condemned, and punished. He was set in a pillory for two hours, with a label on his back on which his offence was described; he was fined fifty pounds and imprisoned during the pleasure of the Go

vernor.

See Rule 2d, Sir Francis Wy. att's thirty-five articles, Hawks, 44.

b. Hening, i. 552; Hawks, 51; Baird's Religion in America, 98.

1643.]

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INTOLERANCE.

a

151

It may be unjust to blame the Episcopal Church for all the tyranny which the law-makers of Virginia inflicted in her name, but it is natural that men should have revolted at a rule which was manifested in so many odious forms. We have no reason to believe that any one was put to death either for religious opinions or for witchcraft, but cases of individual wrong were so numerous as to excite indignation even among those who had been friendly to the Church. Immediately after the punishment of Reek, we find a solemn application sent from Virginia to Massachusetts, to implore that ministers of the Gospel might be sent, that the people might be privileged with the preaching and ordinances of Jesus Christ." This message was sent, not from Puritans, or Quakers, or Dissenters of any kind, but from men who had grown up under the eyes of the Establishment, and who yet saw enough to make them hate her oppression. Under this invitation three Congregational preachers came to Virginia, but the Governor was prepared to salute them with a law forbidding any man to preach in the Colony, who did not bring a certificate of conformity from some Bishop in England, and authorizing his Excellency to silence all others, and if necessary to compel them to decamp.c The private people kindly entertained the stran

In 1705-06, Grace Sherwood was tried for witchcraft in the county of Princess Anne, and convicted, but the punishment was ducking, not death. See the Record in Howe's Hist Collec. 436-438.

b Compare Grahame, i. 270, 271, with Hawks, 51, 52; and see Baird Relig. in Am. 98.

6

* Hening, i. 277, in Hawks, 53.

gers, but finding that the arm of the law would soon be upon them, they returned to the north."

During the administration of Governor Spotswood, the Church attained a permanency of outward position which it had not before enjoyed. The settlements in the Colony had then covered the eastern lands running nearly to the first range of mountains; each neck of country between the great rivers was well peopled, and it is believed that nearly one hundred thousand souls were to be found in Virginia. Twenty-nine counties composed the state, and these were subdivided into fifty-five parishes. The bounds of the parishes did not, however, correspond with those of the counties, and were not often laid out with reference to them. In the northern neck, between the Potomac and Rappahannoc Rivers, were eleven parishes; between the Rappahannoc and York there were thirteen; between the York and James, fifteen parishes complete, and the part of Bristol lying in Henrico County, north of the river; and between the James and the Carolina boundary, thirteen, together with the remainder of Bristol. On the eastern shore there were two parishes, which bore the names of Hungers and Accomac. These church divisions were unequal in size, some being more than sixty miles long, while others were not one-fourth so large, but their capa

■ Baird, 98; Grahame, i. 271; mits a slight error in reckoning the Hawks, 53, 54. number of parishes. He states it at fifty-four, 84, 85.

b Beverley, Present State of Vir. ginia. Dr. Hawks, I think, com.

1771.]

AMERICAN EPISCOPATE.

153

city was estimated rather by the number of tithables they embraced, than by the acres of land over which they were spread.

From this time until the opening of the Revolution, the exterior advance of the Church was nearly in proportion to the progress of the Colony. As the number of inhabitants increased, so did the number of churches and parishes. In 1771, there were in Virginia more than one hundred churches, and nearly that number of ministers. It was at this time that a serious attempt was made to procure from the British monarch an American Episcopate. The Churchmen of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, had long desired it, and Professor Camm, of William and Mary College, was known to be its ardent advocate. But it is believed that a majority of the clergy of Virginia were opposed to it, and it is certain that the Convention assembled to consider the question, consisted of but twelve ministers, that a favourable vote was obtained with much difficulty, and that a solemn protest was entered against the scheme by Rev. Messrs. Henly and Gwatkin, whose action drew a vote of thanks from the General Assembly. It is strange that such a proposition should have been made just at the time when the influence of the mother country became most oppressive, and when acknowledgment of dependence upon her was growing odious to every patriot; but

a Hawks, 126.

See Thoughts on an American Episcopate, Virginia Gazette, Oct.

10, 1771; Burk, iii. 364-367, with documents; Hawks, 126–131.

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