St. Anne’s Parish, Albermarle County, Virginia

St. Anne’s Parish, Albemarle County.

In the year 1761, Albemarle, besides its present territory, embraced all of Fluvanna, Buckingham, Nelson, and Amherst. By various Acts between that time and 1777, it was reduced to its present dimensions. St. Anne’s parish covered the whole of this region at its first organization in 1742, and by successive Acts was reduced to the same dimensions with the present county of Albemarle, with the exception of that part which forms Fredericksville parish. The dividing-line, after running some distance along the Rivanna, crosses the same and passes through Charlottesville. Of late years some other parishes have been formed within St. Anne’s parish, as that on Green Mountain, &c. Our first knowledge of any churches in that part of St. Anne’s parish now in Albemarle, as at present bounded, is of two which began about the year 1746 or 1747, under the direction of the Rev. Robert Rose, who moved from Essex to what is now Amherst, and extended his labours, during a short period, to that part of Albemarle called the Green Mountain, where were built Ballenger’s Church, not very far from Warren, and the Forge Church, not far from Mr. John Cole’s, the ancestor of those now bearing that name, and who appears from the vestry-book in my possession to have been the most active member of the vestry, until the year 1785, when the record closes. After Mr. Rose’s death, in 1751, the Rev. Mr. Camp probably succeeded to all his churches. He lived in the neighbourhood of New Glasgow. The old glebehouse is still to be seen on the land of Dr. Hite, near the roadside. He moved with his family to the West just before the Revolution, and it is said was murdered by the Indians near the fort of Vincennes on the Wabash. Previously to this the Rev. Mr. Ramsay had settled in Albemarle and become the minister of St.1 Anne’s parish with its reduced dimensions. He is represented as a very unacceptable minister. The Rev. Charles Clay followed him. He was near relative of our statesman, Mr. Henry Clay,—probably first-cousin,—and inherited no little of his talents and decision of character. He was ordained by the Bishop of London in 1769, and on 22d October of the same year was received as minister of St. Anne’s parish. The vestry-hook opens in 1772 and closes in 1785, during all of which time, as well as the three preceding years, Mr. Clay was the minister, living at the glebe, somewhere in the Green Mountain neighbourhood, and preaching at the two churches,—Ballenger and The Forge,—and sometimes at the courthouse, and at various private houses in Albemarle; also, at the Barracks during the war, which was probably the place where the British prisoners under General Philips were kept, first by Colonel Bland, and afterward by General Wood. He also preached in Amherst and Chesterfield occasionally. The places of his preaching I ascertain from the notes on a number of his sermons, which have been submitted to my perusal. The sermons are sound, energetic, and evangelical beyond the character of the times. One of them, on the new birth, is most impressive and experimental. Another on the atonement, for Christmas-day, is very excellent as to doctrine, and concludes with a faithful warning against the profanation of that day by ‘ fiddling, dancing, drinking, and such like things,’ which he said were so common among them.

In the year 1777, on the public fast-day, he preached a sermon to the minute-company at Charlottesville, in which his patriotic spirit was displayed. ‘ Cursed be he (in the course of his sermon he said) who keepeth back his sword from blood in this war.’ He declared that the ‘ cause of liberty was the cause of God,’—calls upon them to ‘ plead the cause of their country before the Lord with their blood.’ And yet he said, ‘ There might be some present who would rather bow their necks to the most abject slavery, than face a man in arms.’ It was at this time and under these circumstances that he became acquainted with Mr. Jefferson, who, having removed into this parish from Fredericksville, was now elected to the vestry of St. Anne’s, though it does not appear that he ever acted. This intimacy was kept up until his death in Bedford county, in the year 1824, where he and Mr. Jefferson each had farms, and where, during the visits of the latter, there was much friendly intercourse. During the latter years of his ministry in St. Anne’s parish, the connection of Mr. Clay with his vestry was very unhappy. The salary of one year was the occasion of it. There appears to have been some division in the vestry about it. The majority, however, was against Mr. Clay, and a law-suit was the result. The decision was not satisfactory to Mr. Clay, and he refused taking the amount offered, and told the vestry if they would not pay him what he considered right, he would receive none. The vestry ordered Mr. Fry, the collector, to lay it out in a land-warrant, thinking that he might change his mind. Nothing more appeared on the vestry-hook about it, and how it was ended I know not. Mr. Clay must have left St. Anne’s in 1784, for we find him representing the Church in Chesterfield in the Episcopal Convention at Richmond, in the year 1785, but never afterward. The Church was daily sinking, and, his mind being soured perhaps by his controversy with the vestry, and discouraged by the prospects before him as a minister, he moved to Bedford, and betook himself to a farmer’s life, only officiating occasionally at marriages, funerals, &c. to the few Episcopalians of that region. He married a most estimable and pious lady of that neighbourhood, who survived him many years and contributed greatly to the revival of the Church under the Rev. Mr. Cobbs of that county. He left a numerous and most respectable family of sons and daughters, who have adhered to the Church of their parents. At his death the Rev. Mr. Ravenscroft performed the funeral services. There was something peculiar in the structure of Mr. Clay’s mind, in proof of which it is mentioned that by his will he enjoined, what has been strictly observed, that on the spot where he was buried, and which he had marked out, there should be raised a huge pile of stones for his sepulchre. It is about twenty feet in diameter and twelve feet high, and being-first covered with earth, and then with turf, presents the appearance of one of those Indian mounds to be seen in our Western States.

In looking over the vestry-book, which extends from 1772 to 1785, we find nothing requiring notice except the list of vestrymen and what is said of churches.

The list of vestrymen is as follows:—John Coles, Jacob Moore, John Ware, Patrick Napier, James Hopkins, James Garland, Michael Thomas, William Coxe, John Fry, Roger and George Thompson, William Burton, John Harris, John Scott, Thomas Jefferson, Orlando Jones, William Oglesby, Richard Farrar, Philip Mazzei, William Hughes, Samuel Shelton, Wm. Ball, Charles Lewis, Nathaniel Garland, Nicholas Hamner, Richard Davenport, John Old, Joshua Fry, Charles Irving, John Jordan. The vestry appears throughout to have been attentive to the glebe-house and its appurtenances. As to churches, in 1774 it was ordered that a church be built at a place to be chosen by Henry Martin and Patrick Napier, and that Messrs. Roger and George Thompson might each build a pew, adjoining, at their own expense. In 1777 a church was contracted for with Mr. Edward Cobbs, at whose house services had been held. It was not finished for some years. It is also stated that in 1777 Mr. James Minor, Dabney Minor, and John Napier were appointed to examine a church built by a Mr. Anderson. During the ministry of Mr. Clay there was also a Mr. Holmes acting as a teacher and preacher in Albemarle. He was also American in his feelings, and rejoiced in the capture of Cornwallis. …”

Source:  Old Churches, Ministers and Families of Virginia, Vol. 2, by Bishop Meade, J.B. Lippincott & Co., Philadelphia, 1857, pages 48-50


St. Anne’s Parish, Albermarle County, Virginia — 4 Comments

  1. Looking for any information on the Moran’s espicially William Moran, Sr and the Linton’s.

  2. Rev Rose mentioned in the article left a diary which is of genealogical value as he documents the weddings, baptisms, christianings and burials in which he officiated over many years as he traveled thru the parrish.
    I see that a Hamner is listed as a vestryman. This is the family on which the TV series “The Waltons” was based
    “Good Night Johnboy”

  3. the Rev./Bishop of NC Ravenscroft is buried to the left of the altar at Christs Church, Raleigh, NC. His tomb was opened during recent renovations, and his remains re-buried in place with formal rites.
    He was the first “new” bishop, after the long period of dis-favor experienced by the Church of England following their bishop’s war against the fighting Quakers of Thomas Glover, followed by the hanging of some of them in London. (@1700) The new Provincial Gov. offered the Quakers new lands in the “wilderness”, which is today Ralegh/Cary, Wake co., NC.
    The large number of Quakers in NC came about by George Fox’s trip to NC, asking the provencial gov. if they would be welcome. They flooded in and spread far & wide.
    Betty Fitzgerald

  4. I looked at all the surnames listed here closely trying to match some of the named that appeared in the book “THE TRAVELLING CHURCH” about a group of various church demonination members, but mostly Baptists I believe, trekked to Kentucky from supposedly Spottsylvania County, VA. I did find the name CLAY, but probably not of this family. I found this to be very interesting Vicki, thank you.



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