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The causes that has wrought most strongly to make Virginia what she is, have been partly moral and partly physical. Those that made her what she was in 1688 ^re all in operation in 1619. Previous to that date, tobacco planting became the absorbing occupation of the colonists, and in its operation was hostile to towns and villages and mechanical arts. In 1619, the Company in London at the instance of Sir Edward Landys, took steps to make the colony permanent by sending the colonists wives. In the same year the King determined to send a company of dissolute persons to act as servants to the colonists, making labour disreputable, and rendering Virginia for a time the receptacle of malefactors. In 1619 the first cargo of Africans was brought to Virginia and sold to the colonists as slaves for life. The servitude of Englishmen had a bound; that of the Africans no limits, as his children were slaves. In 1619 the most vigorous efforts were made to christianize the Indians, and erect a college for the use of the colony. All these influences acting under the moulding power of a state religion made Virginia what she was on the accession of the Prince of Orange to the crown of England. After that event another element was infused, whose influence though last was not least, the Republicanism of the Religious principle. Its influence will be portrayed in the following sketches.
BEV. ERANCIS MAKEMIE AND HIS ASSOCIATES.
The first minister, dissenting from the Church of England, that had leave, from the constituted authorities, to preach in Virginia, was a Presbyterian. He is the first, on the Geneva model, that is known to have taken his residence in Virginia, or the United States of America. This was Francis Makemie. The churches gathered by his labors, were in Barbadoes, in the West Indies,—in that part of Maryland between the Atlantic and the Chesapeake,—and in Accomac county, Virginia. He has no lineal descendant on earth. Not a sermon, or a page of a diary, and but a single letter, from his hand, is in existence. No biographical sketch, drawn by a cotemporary, has given a portraiture of the man, or a connected history of his services. What remains of him,—and there are remains,—is like the ruins of an ancient temple, that awakes admiration by the beauty of the fragments, and the symmetry of the particular parts, while the uniqueness of the sculpture almost forbids an imagination of the grandeur of the whole.
Perhaps however it is not a matter of disquietude, that all that Makemie possessed in common with his race has passed away to the compend of all history,—he wras born, he lived, and died; or that all he possessed in common with preachers of the Gospel in every age, is preserved only in meager notices in the records of Ecclesiastical bodies. We are left to suppose that he had his share of the troubles and joys of life, in his person and his family ; that he knew the perplexities and excitements of the ministerial race, and came to his end with hope triumphant over the fears, and troubles, and doubts, which beset the human soul in his course of purification for heaven. The history of a man's life becomes interesting to his own generation, or to posterity, only as he has done uncommon things well, or common things better than his compeers. The interest attached to the name, birth place, and labours of Makemie arises from the circumstance, that he was, in all probability, the first consistent Presbyterian minister in the United States; certainly the first in Virginia. The Presbyterian ministers, mentioned by Mather and others as residing in Massachusetts, at an early date, were more or less Congregational in their forms and discipline. They were intermingled with Congregationalists, and ultimately became entirely blended with that denomination. Had Makemie been a man of less than mediocrity of talent, and had he been called only to the trials incident to a church of emigrants, his being first in a series of ministers, whose progression has been so noble, would encircle him with a halo bright from surrounding darkness.
First in the series of worthies is not the only honor of Makemie. Called to pass through scenes of trial and perplexity, such as cannot be the lot of the present generation, he acquitted himself with honor. His imitators were clothed with honor. "The Attorney has met his match to-day"—-was the exclamation of the bar, when Davies stood before the Governor and Council of Virginia and plead, as Makemie did in Virginia and before Lord Cornbury in New York, the true meaning and extent of the Act of Toleration, and vindicated the rights of conscience as acknowledged, imperfectly indeed, yet acknowledged by the English law. Makemie established the great truth, that it was no crime against the State, or known law, for him to preach the gospel to those who desired to hear, and avowed that desire to the magistrates. Davies followed his example, and the bar said he was a "capital lawyer spoiled."
Reed, in his history of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, tells us that Makemie was from the neighborhood of Hamilton in Donegal. His name, which has been spelled differently, by different writers evidently meaning the same man,—Mackamy, —Mackamie,—and McKemie,—was, as appears from the records of Accomae Court, spelled by himself, Makemie. It indicates his origin from that race wiiich emigrating from Scotland to Ireland and from Ireland to America, bears, in America, the appellation, Scotch Irish. There is no record of the condition or baptismal names of his parents. His mental exercises, in his early days are unknown, with one single exception. In reply to a charge brought against him in Virginia, of denying the influence of the Holy Spirit, because he rejected baptismal regeneration, he declared, that so far from denying the influence of the Spirit, he fully believed them to be indispensable to all religion; and that he had reason to thank God that at the age of fourteen, under the instruction of a pious schoolmaster, he felt their power on his own soul.
Mr. Reed informs us that he was introduced to the Presbytery of Lagan, by his pastor, the Rev. T. Drummond, in the year 1680, and that he was licensed by that Presbytery in the year 1681. Application had been made to that body, in 1678, by a Captain Archibald Johnson, for assistance in procuring a minister for Barbadoes. In December, 1680, Colonel Stevens from Maryland, "near Virginia," applied to the same Presbytery for a minister to settle in that colony. In consequence of these applications, Makemie was ordained as Evangelist for America. The precise date of his ordination is not known. There is a deficiency in the records of the Presbytery of Lagan arising from the imprisonment of the Stated Clerk and some other members. Their crime had been the holding a fast on account of the peculiar situation of the country. They were fined, they suffered imprisonment for months, and then gave security for good behaviour for an act which could be an offence only to a tyrant. Mr. Reed tells us that Makemie removed to America, resided for a time on the Eastern shore of Virginia; that the ministers from Europe uniting with him in the formation of the first Presbytery in America according to the Westminster Confession, were from the Province of Ulster, Ireland; and there he pauses.
Prom the circumstances of the case, it appears that he must have been ordained for his mission to America as early as 1682 or 3. He laboured in Barbadoes, in Maryland and Virginia. Mr. Spence in his Letters tells us, that the churches in Somerset county, Maryland, were organized at a period of time when there was no other Presbyterian minister to organize than Francis Makemie. Snowhill was established by act of the provincial assembly, 1684, then in Somerset, now in Worcester, the latter having been set off as a county in 1742. "It was,—Mr. Spence tells us,—settled by English Episcopalians, and Scotch and Irish Presbyterians, and it is certain that persons resided there at the time, or soon after the time, in which' the town was laid out, who were afterwards members of the Presbyterian church. My ancestor was a ruling elder in that church,—he was the father of five children, all of them natives of Snowhill, or its neighbourhood, the youngest of whom was born in 1698. I am persuaded that he lived in Maryland the last twenty years of the seventeenth century/' To this church at Snow Hill Mr. Makemie performed the duties of a minister, after he had assisted in its organization. "I doubt"—says Mr. Spence—"whether the memory of any gospel minister was ever held in higher honour by an American congregation, than was that of Makemie by the people of Snow Hill. His praises have not yet left the church, although he has rested from his labours almost a hundred and thirty years. Tradition has made a record of his labours and many 'excellencies of his character; one generation has uttered his praises in the ears of its successor, and you may even yet hear its echo. Parents made his surname the Christian name of their children, until in the neighbourhood of Snow Hill it has become a common one. Information derived from aged lips, which it was once my pleasure to listen to, and my duty to honour, produces peculiar feelings whenever I hear the name of Francis Makemie." The "ancestor" of whom Mr. Spence speaks, was Adam Spence, an emigrant from Scotland,—"who had probably affixed his name to the Solemn League Covenant,"—and had settled at or near Snow Hill, as a merchant about the year 1680.
Mr. Makemie preached in Barbadoes. He declared, on his trial in New York, that he had certificates according to law, both for Barbadoes and for Virginia. He does not mention the date of his certificate; that was not called for. The records of Accomac Court mention the fact of his preaching in Barbadoes, but does not give the date. Long after Makemie's death the Presbytery and the Synod of Philadelphia, gave the congregation in Barbadoes their assistance, but their records make no mention of the time of his labours there.
The first mention of Makemie's name by any record in the United States, is found in the county of Accomac, Virginia, and bears date Feb. 17th, 1690. It is in the record of a suit brought by him to recover from one William Finney, the amount due him for molasses sold. He had other suits, in the same court, to recover debts, from careless or unjust debtors. These debts were the consequence of his being engaged in commerce. There is also a record of a certificate for four hundred acres of land bearing date Feb. 21st, 1692.
Mr. Makemie was united in marriage to Naomi, the eldest daughter of William Anderson, a wealthy merchant of Accomac. Mr. Anderson, by will admitted to record Oct. 16, 1698, gave to Francis Makemie and his wife Naomi, a tract of land, containing one thousand acres, at Matchatouk, a cre^ek that empties into the Chesapeake, a little south of the village of Onancock, the county seat, and made a port of entry in 1680. Near this village they had their residence, five or six miles from Drummondstown the present county seat. He also gave them the "plantation at Pocomoke, containing nine hundred and fifty acres, for and during their or either of their natural lives; in remainder to the child or heir of my daughter Naomi, if such she have, and its hereditable issue forever. But for want of such, then to revert and descend to my grand daughters, by my daughter Comfort Taylor, and to her heirs forever." The will goes on to say—"Item, myLotts being three at Onancock town, I give unto Mr. Francis Makemie and his heirs and assigns forever. Item, I give and bequeath to my daughter Naomi Makemie, four Negro Slaves, viz:—Dollae, Hannah the Elder, Darkeih, young Sarah. Item, I make, constitute, ordain, and appoint my son in law, Mr. Francis Makemie ***** to be my joint and several executors of this my last will and testament, desiring them to be kind and assisting to my wife." In his will Mr. Anderson makes mention of three sisters, by the names of Barons, Hope, and Nock, to each of whom he makes a small legacy. No other person is named as executor with Makemie.
How Mr. Makemie became engaged in trade, and whether before or after his marriage, are questions not now to be answered. Mr. Anderson's will says—"I also give, unto said Makemie, all the money lent him, in full of all or any accounts, that may be between us, upon consignments or any other ways; and my will is, that he may have his sloope with what may appertain to her at my death. Likewise whatever my daughter can claim as hers in my house,—without let or delay, and all—on both sides to be ballanced."
The next important notice, in the records of Accomac bears date Oct. 15th, 1699. "Whereas Mr. Francis Makemie made application by petition to this court, that being ready to fulfill what the law enjoynes to dissenters, that he might be qualified according to law, and prayed that his own dwelling house at Pocomoke, also his own house at Ononcock, next to Captain Jonathan Liveley's, might be the places recorded for meeting, and having taken the oaths enjoyned by act of Parliament instead of the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, and subscribed the Test as likewise that he did in compliance with what the said Law enjoynes, produce certificate from Barbadoes of his qualifications there, did declare in open court, of the said county and owned the articles of religion mentioned in the