Ware Parish and Ware Church

“WARE Parish was established between 1652 and 1654.  It embraces the southeast section of Gloucester county, and is between thirty and forty miles in circumference, bounded on the east and north by Mobjack bay; North river and Mathews county on the west, and south by Petsworth and Abingdon Parishes.

Tradition says there was a former church or chapel in the parish, located about one and a half miles from the present church, on Glen Roy estate, formerly the home of William Patterson Smith, now owned by Dr. William R. Jaeger. A clump of trees and one or two tombstones mark the spot.  Mrs. Iassac H. Carrington (nee Smith) says that her father protected this old site from encroaching cultivation.  When she was quite a young girl she made copies of the inscriptions on two old gravestones for Bishop Meade, and sent them to him, at his request.  Then there were a good many broken bricks on the spot.  The field where this graveyard is, has long been known as the ‘Church Field,’ and Bishop Meade speaks of it in the ‘Old Churches and Families of Virginia.’ On the same farm is Glebe Point, suggestive that part of the forgotten glebe lands of Ware Parish may have been thereabout.  The first church is supposed to have been built soon after Ware Parish was established.

In 1680 a petition was made before the Colonial Court and Council for permission to build another church in Ware Parish…  In the absence of early parish records, I conclude that this petition was for the building of the present Ware Church, and that it was erected within the next ten years.  The ground on which it stands is said to have been donated by the Throckmortons, who once owned the adjoining estate, it being part of ‘Mordecai Mount,’ the original seat of the Cookes.  I believe, however, the church was built before the estate passed into the Throckmorton family, as Gabriel Throckmorton did not marry Frances Cooke until 1690.”

Source:  Colonial Churches in the original colony of Virginia, by Rev. William Byrd Lee, Rector, Southern Churchman Co., Richmond, Virginia, 1908, page 194

“In 1671 Zachariah Cripp of Gloucester made a gift of three hundred acres to Ware parish in that county to serve the same end.”

Source:  Institutional History of Virginia in the 17th Century, Vol. 1, by Philip Alexander Bruce LL.D. G.P., Putnam’s Sons, The Knickerbocker Pres, NY and London, 1910, page 167

” ‘ My Dear Bishop: –Nothing has astonished me more in the county than the utter ignorance of the people in the early history of the Church.  All our records of former times are lost,–the church registers, with the county records, by the burning of the court-house, many years since.   The late Dr. Taliafero told me that the first church in Ware parish stood on William P. Smith’s land, where there is an old graveyard, and near to which was the glebe.  The parish church of Ware is built on land granted to the parish by the Throckmorton family, the female ancestors of the Taliferos; when erected, no one knows…”

Source:  Old Churches, Ministers and Families of Virginia, by Bishop Meade, Vol. 1, J.B. Lippincott Co., Philadelphia,1900, page 328

“In the first days of this parish, almost 350 years ago, people gathered not here, but on Ware Neck.”  (The parish was named for the Ware river.)  “In 1680, while the Rev’d James Clack was Rector, the Colonial Court and Council in Williamsburg granted permission to construct a new church on the higher ground of the present site.  The building was completed between 1690 and 1713.  The early church records recording such information were lost during the War Between the States in the burning of Richmond.

The solid brick rectangular building, laid in Flemish bond, was built by local craftsmen and artisans from England… Its architecture is based on the use of squares, golden rectangles, a pyramid triangle and a circle.”

Source:  History of Ware Church on-line at http://www.warechurch.org/history.html

“The present church is of brick, with glazed heads; rectangular, 80 feet by 40 feet; walls three feet tick.  It is surrounded by a brick wall that confines a cemetery of half an acre of land, shaded by a grove of cedars and walnuts.  Six acres of land, recently acquired, adjoin the old churchyard.

Three doors, ‘North,’ ‘South’ and ‘West,’ give entrance to the church.  The chancel occupies the east end.  The space directly in front of the chancel is covered by inscribed horizontal gravestones.  There were–before the change of the interior plan–four rows of medium high pews; a row along the north and south walls, respectively, and a double row, end on end, extended through the body of the church… It was a striking and and handsome interior.  Much objection was raised at the time when modern pews were substituted in 1854.

The church is lighted by twelve large windows.  Of these, two double ones are in the chancel, and each describes an arc above.  There appears to have been the same absence of provision, as at Abingdon, for heating the church; it was left, doubtless, in early days, to each family or person to come prepared or else worship regardless of the cold.  Under the best conditions in winter the churches were very cold.”

Source:  Colonial Churches in the original colony of Virginia, by Re. William Byrd Lee, Rector, Southern Churchman Co., Richmond, VA, 1903, page 194

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