xt7tht2gbq0t https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt7tht2gbq0t/data/mets.xml Historical Records Survey (W. Va.) United States. Work Projects Administration. Division of Professional and Service Projects West Virginia Historical Records Survey (W. Va.) United States. Work Projects Administration. Division of Professional and Service Projects 1939 119 p. 28 cm. UK holds archival copy for ASERL Collaborative Federal Depository Program libraries. Call Number: Y 3.W 89/2:42 W 52v/5 books  English Wheeling, W. Va., Diocese of West Virginia  This digital resource may be freely searched and displayed in accordance with U. S. copyright laws. West Virginia Works Progress Administration Publications Protestant Episcopal church in the U.S.A. West Virginia (Diocese) Church buildings -- West Virginia -- Catalogs Inventory of the Church Archives of West Virginia: Protestant Episcopal Church, 1939 text Inventory of the Church Archives of West Virginia: Protestant Episcopal Church, 1939 1939 1939 2021 true xt7tht2gbq0t section xt7tht2gbq0t ,


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Historical Sketch

first division of these parishes took place in 1755 when
Hampshire County and Hampshire Parish were formed from Freder~
ick.15 In 1769 Botetourt County and Parish were formed from
Albemarle; and Frederick Parish was divided into Frederick and
Norborne Parishes.16 In 1772 Fincastle County and Parish were
formed from Botetourt. In 1776 Monthmery County and Parish
were formed from Fincastle17 and the following year Greenbrier
Parish was established with the county of the same name.18
With the division of Church and State in 1799 the creation of
parishes by the Assembly ceased and the organization of these
divisions of the church became a congregational function.lg

From the time that parish formations ceased to appear in
the acts of the Virginia Assembly it is hard to find the de—
finite time of organization. No adequate record seems to have
been kept by either the Virginia or West Virginia Dioceses of
the organization of these church government units and dates for
their formation must be derived from scattered sources?

The Vestry

The governing body of the parish then, as now, was the
vestry, but instead of a purely administrative body for the
management of church affairs the early vestrymen were closely
allied with the government of the county and their duties ex-
tended into those now assigned to our police, our overseers
of the poor, and our probation officers.

Dr. Bruce, in writing of the vestry in his Institutional
History of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century says of the ves—
try: ’"(TTthey reveaIEd themselves as the earliest defenders
to spring up in Virginia of the principal of local administra-
tion free frOm all outside interference... chosen by the
peeple, they were truly representative of the peogle within the
sphere to which their jurisdiction was confined." 1 And again
he says: "To their influence is directly tracable a very large
proportion of what was most elevated and attractive in the
social life of the 17th century; and to that influence we are,
in no small degree, indebted for the character of the distin—

guished men of Virginia who cast such renown over the great era
of the Revolution . ”22


15. 6 Hening, pp. 576-579

16. 8 Hening, p. 425

17. 9 Hening, pp. 576—579

18. Ibid., pp. 420-424

19. Ambler, Sectionalism in Virginia, 1776-1861, pp. 59—41
20. For list of parishes see Appendix, p. 99

21. Op. cit., p. 65

22. Tbid""fp. 64






Historical Sketch

Consisting of the leading men of the parish their juris—
diction included the election of the rector; investigation
of cases of drunkeness, adultry, swearing, and breaking the
Sabbath, with the authority to hear cases and make present-
ments to the courts; the laying of levies to take care of paro-
chial expenses; and general care of the poorg3

The members of the vestry were appointed in 1619 by mem-
bers of the monthly (or county) courts. In 1641 the parish-
ioners exercised the power of appointment and in 1644 the elec-
tion of members of the vestry was extended to all freeholders24
with the election approved by the county court. Vestrymen
were to be chosen every three years and must be freeholdersg6
In 1660 an act of the Assembly expressly declared that the mem-
bership be limited to twelve although this custOm had probably
been long established. It was required that meetings must be
held twice each year but the county court had authority to call
any additional meetings which they might feel were needed.’7

An early act provided for the appointment, by the vestry,
of processioners. These agents of the vestry were required to
ascertain the boundaries of all property within the parish. In
1710 an act provided that in cases of persons refusing to
have their land processioned2 the court was to certify the same
to the wardens of the parish.8 and in 1748 a penalty was placed
on persons failing to abide by the lines designated by the pro-
cessioners.2 .

Additional acts throughout the years added to the vestry—
man's duties and increased his power as a county officer. In
1659—60 it was ordered that an officer be appointed by each
vestry to record all marriages, births, and burials;30 in 1660—
61 it was authorized that the vestry should gather subscrip—
tions Ear the erection of a workhouse for the poor in their
parish, the same year they were ordered to provide church or—
naments.32 In 1676— 77 the Assembly enacted that representa-
tives be chosen:%p each parish to act with the vestry in laying
the parish levy. This insured that only parochial expenses

would be included in the assessments. The vestry was empowered,

by act of 1696, to purchase tracts of land and erect houses


25. Ibid., pp. 64- 76

24. I Hening, p. 291

25. 2 Hening, p. 25; 5 Hening, p. 174
26. 2 Hening, p. 556

27. Bruce, Institutional History, etc., pp. 65, 66, 71
28. 5 Hening, p. 555

29. 5 Hening, p. 427

50. l Hening, p. 542

51. 2 Hening, p. 58

52. Ibid., p. 50

55. IBid., p. 596



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Historical Sketch

thereon for the use of the clergy and the parish54 giving rise
to the parish ownership of the glebe lands which were later to
be such a bone of contention between the parish and the over—
seers of the poor. By the same act the vestries were authoriz—
ed to appoint persons in each parish to collect tithes. This
duty was later given to the tax collectors by common consent
'of the vestries and the county courts. Sometimes the church
collectors were designated to make these collections in lieu
of the county officers. Due to the vast extent of territory
included in most counties it was more convenient for all col—
lections to be made by the same agent. Vestries were sued as
one body and by an act passed in 1705 these trials were dele—
gated to the general court only.55 From this time the duties
of the vestrymen remained practically the same. Various en-
actments of the Assembly repeated the duties set up in former
acts but few important changes were made until 1778. In that
year it was ordered that parish levies be accounted for by the
sheriff in the same manner as for the county56 and in 1785 the
other civil powers of the vestries were turned over to the
newly created overseers of the poor?7 The police and trial
authority of the vestry was transferred to other officers and
that body became the administrative organization of the church
as it exists today.

The Church Warden

Acting as an agent for the vestry was the churchwarden,
whose duties were largely those of a county rather than a
church officer. The duties of this office were defined as early
as 1619.58 In 1652 they were chosen at public meeting; in 1647
the members of the county court nominated, a pointed, and ad—
ministered the oath of office to the wardens; g in 1661—62 the

. Assembly enacted a law which specified that two wardens should

be chosen each year by the ministry and the vestryfiO It be—
came customary for this office to be rotated among the members
of the vestry.41 The oath administered to church wardens in
1652 indicates the extent of their authority. In this oath
they swore to present all persons leading profane and ungodly
lives, such as cemmon swearers, blasphemers, violators of the
Sabbath, drunkards, fornicators, slanderers and backbiters; all
disturbers of the congregation in church; all masters and mis-
tresses failing to catechize the young and ignorant dependent


34. 5 Hening, p. 152

55. Ibid., p. 289
§6~ g Honing, p. 527

57. 12 Hening, p. 29

38. Bruce, Institutional History, etc., p- 79
59. Ibid., p. 80

40. E Hening, p. 45
41. Bruce, Institutional History, etc., p. 80






Historical Sketch

upon theme2 The oath administered in 1645 added to'the above
duties that of correcting the accounts of all collections of
parish assessments and the disbursement of the same.43' Later
enactments added to and clarified the duties of this officer.
He was required to give notice of elections for the vestrffl
and to keep in repair all churches in his parish, provide
church and chancel furniture, collect the minister's fees and
report all receipts and disbursements to the vestry;45 he was
to make presentment to the county court twice each year of per—
sons committing misdemeanors in his parish46 and to cause these
persons to appear at the next term of court for trialffl he was
to receive reports of illogimate children born in the parish
and to assess and collect a fine frOm each mother of an illogi-
timate child;48 to bind out children of "parents unable or neg—
lecting to support them:"49 to sell women servants gotten in
child by their masters;50 to sell slaves freed without legal
licenses?1 to keep a register of the poor;52 to issue certifi-
cates to tithables moving from one county to another;55 and to
collect a penalty from every ship master discharging sick or
disabled men who might become parish charges?

In May 1782 the care of the poor was taken from the church
wardens and lodged in the hands of the overseers of the poor
who were appointed by the county court?35 The church warden
became the Church official as he exists today, the president of
the vestry and a trustee of church property.

The Sidesman

Acting as assistants to the church warden were two officers
known as sidesmon or questmon whose duties it was to assist in
determining persons committing misdemeanors and reporting them
to the church warden who in turn reported them to the vestry,
and in assisting in the care of the poor.56


42. 1 Honing, p. 156
45. Ibid., p. 240
44. 2 Honing, p. 556
45. Ibid., p. 52

46. T Honing, p. 156; 2 Honing, p. 51; 4 Honing, p. 244
47. 2 Honing, p. 52

48. 4 Honing, p. 215

49. Ibid., p. 212; 8 Honing, p. 154

50. 2 Honing, p. 167

51. 6 Honing, p. 112

52. Ibid., p. 477

55. 4 Honing, p. 208

54. Ibid., p. 212

55. IIfEbning, p. 61

Bruce, Institutional History, etc., p. 95


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Historical Sketch

Churches and Parishes in Western Virginia

As the history of individuals is the groundwork on which
local and national history is based, so the history of indi-
vidual parishes and churches is the groundwork for church
history. In following the Episcopal Church as it moved west-
ward we must consider the churches themselves as they were

The first parish division which definitely affected the
territory now comprising the Diocese of West Virginia was the
creation of Frederick Parish together with the county of the
same name in 1758.57 The vestry was not organized until 1744
and was ordered dissolved and a new one elected in 1752.
During the time this vestry had served, fifteen hundred
pounds had been raised for the construction of churches in
the parish, but apparently there had been some misappropria—
tion of funds as they were reported to have started a number
of churches without completing them and had allowed completed
ones to deteriorate.58 Bishop Meade has placed the churches
built during this period as McCoy's and Cunningham's Chapel,
between Winchester and Front Royal; Morgan's Chapel at Bunker
Hill (see entry 2); Mecklenberg Chapel at Shepherdstown (see
entry 4); Woods Chapel between Winchester and Charles Town;
and the church in Winchester.59 Later historians have added
to this number Hedges Chapel (see entry 5) at Hedgesville60
on rather doubtful historical data. This church may have
been built at that time but it also may have been a private
chapel, not directly under the supervision of the vestry.

The new vestry elected in 175261 carried on the work of
establishing churches and at least two members served in this
position until 1785.62 In 1753 Hampshire Parish was formed
with the county of that name from Frederick and Augusta Par—
ishes.553 On Oct. 10, 1760, the Frederick vestry petitioned
for a division to be made