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Sketches of Virginia
Chapter IV. - Presbytery of Hanover - From its Formation to its Remodelling


The history of the Presbytery of Hanover, the mother of Presbyteries in the South and West, embraces facts in church government, church extension, church discipline, missionary efforts and success, biography of ministers, and members of the church, male and female, in different departments of life, of thrilling interest and in abundance to fill more than one volume. The facts and the actors will be found in any fair record of the memorable things in the Presbyterian Church, in the States of Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Ohio, in all of which, Hanover Presbytery had an existence for a series of years.

Samuel Davies may be called the father of Hanover Presbytery, though not by any means the founder of Presbyterianism in Virginia. And in giving a notice of its members, he naturally stands first upon the list of worthies. A memoir of him extending over more than one hundred and fifty large octavo pages, more than fifty of which are in very small print, has been given in the 1st vol. of the Sketches of Virginia. In that memoir, many popular errors respecting that great and good man, widely circulated with some editions of his sermons, are' corrected from authentic and original sources of information. Many of his actions are recorded in the following pages.

An effort to remove Rev. Jonathan Edwards to Virginia.

Hanover, July 4th, 1751.

Rev. and very Dear Brother—I never received any information of the kind in my life, that afforded me so many anxious thoughts, as yours concerning the great Mr. Edwards. It has employed my waking hours, and even mingled with my midnight dreams. The main cause of my anxiety, was, the delay of your letter, which I did not receive till about three weeks ago, when I was in Lunenburg, about one hundred and thirty miles from home. This made me afraid lest Mr. Edwards had settled some where else, being weary of waiting for the invitation from Virginia. Should this be the unhappy case, and should the obligation to his new people be deemed undissolvable, I shall look upon it as a severe judgment of incensed heaven on this wretched colony. What shall I say? I am lost in perplexities at the thought.

I assure myself, dear sir, of your most zealous concurrence to persuade him to Virginia. Do not send him a cold, paper message, but go to him yourself in person. If he be not as yet engaged to any place, I depend upon your word, and “make no doubt but he will come.” If he is engaged, I hope he may be regularly dismissed upon a case of so great importance. Of all the men I know in America, he appears to me the most fit for this place; and if he could be obtained on no other condition, I would cheerfully resign him my place, and cast myself into the wide world once more. Fiery, superficial ministers, will never do in these parts: They might do good, but they would do much more harm. We need the deep judgment and calm temper of Mr. Edwards among us. Even the dissenters here, have the nicest taste of almost every congregation I know, and cannot put up with even the truths of the gospel in an injudicious form. The enemies are watchful, and some of them crafty, and raise a prodigious clamor about raving, injudicious preaching. Mr. Edwards would suit them both. Our liberties, too, are precarious, and methods are used to restrain them. There is nobody here who is known in Great Britain, whose representation might have some weight to counter-balance that of the Council; and on this account we greatly need Mr. Edwards, whose character there, especially in Scotland, would have considerable influence. He might also, as you observe, do much good by keeping an academy; and which is of greater importance than all, might be the happy instrument of turning many to righteousness.

As soon as I returned from Lunenburg, I wrote to the elders in the upper part of my congregation, (which I want to cast off when they have an opportunity of obtaining a minister), urging them to take pains with the people of their respective quarters, to obtain subscriptions for Mr. Edwards’ maintenance; and though they had no knowledge of him, but by my recommendation, they made up about £80 of our currency, which is about £60 or £65 sterling; and it is the general opinion of the people, that if Mr. Edwards does in any measure answer the character I have given him, (and I doubt not but he will), they can easily afford him <£100 per annum. Sundry of them did actually plead their want of acquaintance with him as the reason of their backwardness; and I could not expect it would be otherwise; and others might have had that as a secret reason, who did not publicly mention it. The people about the lower meeting-house, which is my more immediate charge, assure me they will contribute towards the expenses of his first year’s settlement; and the people in Lunenburg told me they would cheerfully subscribe towards his maintenance the first year, should he settle anywhere in Virginia; and I doubt not but that all the dissenting congregations of Virginia will do the same, so that I believe Mr. Edwards may safely depend on £30 or £40 the first year, besides his annual salary. This, however, I am certain of, that he has the prospect of a comfortable livelihood; and indeed, should I ensnare him into poverty designedly, I should censure myself as the basest of mankind. My salary at present is about £100, and notwithstanding £20 or £30 peculiar expenses, I find I can make a shift to live upon it.

I could not content myself with following your advice, and only writing to Mr. Edwards; and therefore the people have sent the bearer, a worthy youth who has been under my tuition for some time, to wait on him with their invitation. He has lived so long here, and is so perfectly acquainted with affairs, that he can inform you and Mr. Edwards of them as well as myself.

And now, sir, I shall answer the other part of your letter. I send you herewith a narrative of religion here. As I have no correspondence with any of the Boston ministers, I have been obliged to impose upon you the trouble of sending it to the press, if you .think it worth while. I beseech you, dear sir, to make such corrections as you and Mr. Edwards shall think fit, and be not afraid of offending me by so doing, for I was designedly careless in writing it, as I knew it would pass through your hands. I would have you particularly consider the expediency of publishing the postscript and the poetical lines on Mr. Blair.

I am impatient, sir, to see your books ; and wish you would inform me which way I shall send the price of them to the printer, and order them to be conveyed by water, to the care of Mr. John Holt, merchant in Williamsburg, or to Col. John Hunter, merchant in Hampton, as may be most convenient.

I have dropped the thoughts of my intended treatise on the Morality of Gospel-holiness, till I have more leisure, and a larger acquaintance With divinity; but am now and then collecting materials for it.

I believe ^the weakest of the congregations in this colony, could afford a minister £60 or £70 yearly salary; and as to itinerants, the usual rule is, twenty or thirty shillings a Sunday. As far as I know them, the (people) here are in general pretty generous. This colony is very healthy, except on rivers’ sides, and “will suit very well with the constitution of New England men.” Dear sir, if Mr. Edwards fail, shall I prevail with you to come yourself, at least to pay us a transient visit? O! how would it rejoice my soul to see you!

Whenever I write to you, I am in such a hurry, that I am apprehensive my letters afford you a very mean idea of my intellectual abilities; but as you do not wrong me in it, I shall be quite easy unless you think I make you such wretched returns as that my correspondence is insufferable. Pray for me, and write to me as often as you can.

I am, sir, yours in the tenderest bonds,

Samuel Davies.

Rev. Mr. Joseph Bellaney.

P. S. You may insert or omit the marginal note in page 28 of the narrative, as your prudence directs. The contents are undoubtedly true, but I am afraid will seem incredible.

July 18th.—I did not receive the complete subscription for Mr. Edwards till yesterday, which happily exceeds my expectation. It amounts to about £97, which is near £80 sterling. This will undoubtedly be a sufficient maintenance. You will see by the subscription paper, how many dissenting families there are in the least half of my congregation, for the subscribers are chiefly heads of families. Oh, dear sir, let me renew my importunities with you to exert all your influence in our behalf with Mr. Edwards. Though the people seem eager for him above all men on earth, yet they request you by me, in case this attempt fails, to endeavor to send some other to settle among them: (for they have no prospect of relief these sundry years from Presbytery), but let him be a popular preacher, of ready utterance, good delivery, solid judgment, free from enthusiastical freaks, and of ardent zeal; for I am afraid they will accept of none other, and I would not have any sent here that might be unacceptable. You or Mr. Edwards are the only men they could make an implicit venture upon. I am with the warmest emotions of heart, dear sir,

Your most affectionate brother,

S. D.

In a letter to Mr. Erskine—July 7th, 1752—Mr. Edwards, among many other things, says—“ I was in the latter part of the last summer applied to, with much earnestness and importunity, by some of the people of Virginia, to come and settle among them, in the work of the ministry; who subscribed handsomely for my encouragement and support, and sent a messenger to me with their request and subscriptions; but I was installed at Stockbridge before the messenger came.

Jonathan Edwards.

At a meeting of the Synod of New York, Sept. 3d, 1755, “a petition was brought into the Synod, setting forth the necessity of erecting a new Presbytery in Virginia: the Synod therefore appoint the Rev. Samuel Davies, John Todd, Alexander Craighead, Robert Henry, and John Wright, and John Brown, to be a Presbytery under the name of the Presbytery of Hanover: and that their first meeting shall be in Hanover, on the first Wednesday of December next; and that Mr. Davies open the Presbytery by a sermon ; and that any of our members settling to the southward and westward of Mr. Hogg’s congregation, shall have liberty to join the Presbytery of Hanover.”

The records of the first meeting of the Presbytery are short— “Hanover, December 8d. The Presbytery of Hanover met according to the above constitution and appointment. Mr. Davies, Moderator, and Mr. Todd, Clerk. Ubi post preces sederunt, Messrs. Samuel Davies, Robert Henry, John Brown, and John Todd, ministers. Elders, Samuel Morris, Alexander Joice, John Molley. Messrs. Craighead and Wright, absent. Mr. Davies being sick, requested Mr. Todd to preach for him,, and accordingly the Presbytery was opened by him, with a sermon from Zachariah the 4th, 7th, (Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain; and he shall bring forth the head-stone thereof with shoutings, crying grace, grace unto it). The Synod of New York having appointed that a day of fasting and prayer be held in all the congregations within their bounds, on account of the present critical and alarming state of Great Britain, and the British plantations in America; and having left it to the discretion of each Presbytery to determine the particular day, this Presbytery, therefore, appoint next New Year’s day to be set apart for that purpose; because of the retrospect it may have to the important transactions of last year; the prospect it may bear to the ensuing year which may be equally interesting and important; and that we may have the encouragement of joining, in our united requests, to the throne of grace, with the Presbytery of New Castle, who have appointed the same day. The Presbytery appoint Mr. Brown to give timely notice hereof to Mr. Craighead, and Mr. Henry to do the same to Mr. Wright. The Synod having recommended to all the congregations within their bounds, to raise a collection for the college of New Jersey, the Presbytery having taken the affair under consideration judge, that considering the present impoverished state of the colony in general, and of our congregation in particular, such a proposal would be quite impracticable; and appoint that the members that attend the Synod next year report the same to the Synod. A petition directed to Mr. Davies and Mr. Todd, from people living near the mountain in Albemarle, near Wood’s Gap, was referred by •them to the Presbytery, representing their destitute circumstances, in the want of gospel ordinances, and requesting some supplies from us:—the Presbytery therefore .appoint the Rev. Samyiel Davies to preach there on the 2d Sabbath in March next; and that Mr. Brown desire some of the people to appoint the place of meeting, to be out of the bounds of Mr. Black’s congregation, at some convenient place. The Presbytery appoint Mr. John Todd to be their constant clerk. Adjourned till the Thursday of the second Sabbath of March next, to meet at Providence, and appoint that Mr. Henry open the Presbytery by a sermon.

Concluded with prayer.

Members of Hanover Presbytery.

John Todd, the first minister introduced by Mr. Davies to share his labors, was a graduate of the college at New Jersey, in 1749, a member of the second class admitted to a degree. He was licensed by the Presbytery of New„Brunswick, in 1750. On representation, by Mr. Davies, of the desolations and encouraging prospects in the southern colonies, made to the Synod of New York in the spring of 1750—“the Synod do recommend to the Presbytery of New Brunswick to endeavor to prevail with Mr. John Todd, upon his being licensed to take a journey thither.” Report was made to the Synod in the fall of the year: it appears—“ that Mr. Todd is licensed, and is preparing speedily to go.” On reaching Virginia, he preached in the houses licensed for Mr. Davies, and gave great satisfaction. The plan ^o locate him in Prince Edward or Charlotte Counties, was abandoned principally on account of objections made by the General Court to licensing more houses in addition to the seven already licensed for Mr. Davies, and the dissenting people. By a change of plan, Mr. Todd was invited to occupy four of the places licensed for Mr. Davies; and efforts were made to obtain other preachers for the vacancies south of James river, and thus avoid the charge of itinerancy, an offence in the view of the council. In the year 1751, Mr. Todd was ordained by the New Brunswick Presbytery; and obtained from the General Court the license demanded by the law. The following is a copy.

Wednesday, April 22d, 1752.

Present—the Governor
Wm. Fairfax, Thomas Nelson,
John Blair, Philip Grymes,
Wm. Nelson, Esqrs., Peyton Randolph.
Wm. Dawson, D. D., Richard Corbin,
John Lewis, Philip Ludwell, Esqrs.

John Todd, a dissenting minister, this day in court took the oath appointed by the Act of Parliament, to be taken instead of the oath of allegiance, and supremacy, and the abrogation oath, and subscribed the last mentioned oath, and repeated and subscribed the test. And thereupon, on his motion, he is allowed to officiate as an assistant to Samuel Davies, a dissenting minister, in such places as are already licensed by this court for meeting of dissenters.

The jealousy of the court led to an arrangement which proved very agreeable to the seven congregations, as it left them all in connection with Mr. Davies; and equally pleasing to Mr. Davies, as it gave him more frequent opportunities for those missionary excursions in which he delighted, that influence of which is felt to this day; and no less acceptable to Mr. Todd, who enjoyed the experience and counsel of his friend, with the privilege of missionary excursions.

The sermon preached by Mr. Davies at the installation of Mr. Todd, on the 12th of November, 1752, was, at the earnest request of the hearers, published, after being enlarged, with an appendix annexed. A dedication—“To the Rev. Clergy of the Established church of Virginia”—was prefixed, under the date of Jan. 9th, 1758. The dissenters in England procured a republication of this pamphlet while Mr. Davies was on his mission to Great Britain in the year 1754, as an expression of their high approbation of the production and its author.

Of the few documents that remain respecting Mr. Todd, the following show us his character and course of action. From a letter to Mr. Whitefield, June 26, 1755. “The impressions of the day you preached last here, at my meeting-house, can, I believe, never wear out of my mind; never did I feel any thing of the kind more distressing than to part with you, and that not merely for my own sake, but that of the multitudes, that stood longing to hear more of the news of salvation from you. I still have the lively image of the people of God drowned in tears, multitudes of hardy gentlemen, that perhaps never wept for their poor souls before, standing aghast,—all with signs of eagerness to attend to what they heard, and their significant tears, expressive of the sorrow of their hearts, that they had so long neglected their souls. I returned home like one that had sustained some amazing loss: and that I might contribute more than ever to the salvation of perishing multitudes amongst us, I resolved I would labor to obtain and exert more of that sound fire which the God of all grace had so abundantly bestowed upon you for the good of mankind. To the praise of rich grace be it spoken, I have had the comfort of many solemn Sabbaths since I saw you, when I am persuaded, the power of God has attended his word, for sundry weeks together; and in my auditory which was more crowded through your means than it had been before, I could scarce see an individual whose countenance did not indicate the concern of their souls about eternal things. And blessed be God, those appearances are not yet wholly fled from our assembly.

I was by order of Presbytery to attend the installation of Mr. Henry, the 4th of the month, at Lnnenburg, about a hundred miles south-west of this place; and we administered the sacrament of the Lord’s supper the Sabbath following. We preached Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sabbath, and Monday. There was comfortable evidence of the power of God with us every day; believers were more quickened, and sinners were much alarmed. Many of them talked with Mr. Henry and me with great desire to know what they should do to be saved, One I remember came to me trembling and astonished, the nearest image I ever saw of the trembling jailor crying—“What shall I do to get an interest in Christ.” In my return home, I made an excursion to preach to a number of people who had never before heard a “New Light” as they call me. I, hope the word of God was attended with divine power to many of their hearts.”

Mr. Davies, in a letter bearing date Hanover, July 14th, 1756, says—“Last Sunday I had a sacrament, assisted by my good brother and next neighbor, Mr. Todd. It was a time of unusual anxiety to me. I hope it was a refreshing time to some hungry souls. I had the pleasure of seeing the table of the Lord adorned with about forty-four black faces.”

After the removal of Mr. Davies to Princeton, Mr. Todd was for many years the leading man in the Presbytery, east of the Blue Ridge. To him the vacancies looked for counsel and assistance in obtaining ministers. During the revolution he was a staunch whig. In the proceedings of Hanover Presbytery, on the subject of religious liberty, he took an active part: his name is appended to some important papers. (See vol. 1st of Sketches.)

Mr.-Todd felt and expressed great interest in the early emigration to Kentucky. Some of his kindred were among the early adventurers ; and his old friend and co-laborer, David Rice, had cast his lot among the inhabitants of that fertile region. He used all his influence in conjunction with others to obtain from the Virginia Legislature, a charter for a college. His nephew, Col. John Todd, a member of the Legislature from Fayette County, and the Honorable Caleb Wallace, from Lincoln, took the lead in this matter. As early as 1780, escheated lands were given for this purpose. In 1783, trustees were incorporated. The escheated lands granted amounted to 20,000 acres. The Board of Trustees met in Nov. 1783, in Lincoln, and chose Rev. David Rice, chairman. The Seminary, called the Transylvania Seminary, was opened at the house of Mr. Rice, Feb. 1785. This seminary passed from the hands of the original trustees. Mr. Todd, to encourage the cultivation of literature and theology in the growing West, was the means of sending a small, but valuable library and an apparatus across the Alleghany, for the advantage of this seminary—but not as a donation to it.

Mr. Todd superintended a classical school for many years. Mr. Davies, while in Virginia, greatly encouraged the effort to educate youth with the hope of supplying' the church with necessary ministers. One of his assistants was James Waddell, who read divinity with Mr. Davies while thus engaged. By correspondence with Dr. Gordon, of London, he obtained as we are told by Mr. Davidson, in his history of Kentucky, for the use of the young men at his school, a library and apparatus to the amount of £80, 2s. 6d., including cost of transportation. Mr. Todd’s school declined with his advancing years. He could find no fit successor. The semi-naries at Hampden Sidney, and Lexington, were under the care of the Presbytery of Hanover, and received general patronage; and had procured each a small library. With the consent of Dr. Gordon, Mr. Todd placed the library in his possession in the hands of his friend, David Rice, for the use of students of theology in Kentucky, under the care of the Presbytery of Transylvania. These volumes and apparatus were by that Presbytery delivered to the trustees of the Kentucky Academy, incorporated in 1794. This academy was finally merged in the Transylvania University. The principal donor to the library for Mr. Todd, which became the nucleus of the library of Transylvania University, was the well known benevolent merchant of London, John Thorton. The others were Dr. Gordon, Rev. Mr, Fowle, Messrs. Puller, Samuel and Thomas Stratton, Charles Jerdein, David Jennings, Jonathan Eade, Joseph Ainsley, and John Field, of Thames Street. The name of Todd is deservedly honored in Kentucky, both in church and State.

In the latter part of his life, Mr. Todd was very infirm, and for many years unable to perform fully the ministerial services of his own particular charge; and his great labors in early life made him prematurely old. His missionary excursions were all laid aside. His attendance on the judicatories of the church became irregular. The young brethren south side of James river, uttered suspicions that Waddell and Todd had relaxed somewhat of their spiritual religion in its visible exercise, if not in its deep principle; this created in the breasts of the brethren north of the river, a coldness towards the brethren they esteemed rash. The facts involved in this coldness and these suspicions, were talked over in Presbytery, repeatedly; and some letters passed between the parties, not designed for the public eye. In the course of time it became generally understood that Mr. Waddell’s ideas of education, and his relaxing in his ministerial efforts, as also the causes of Mr. Todd’s course, had been much misunderstood. Rev. J. B. Smith, on his return from Philadelphia, with a silk velvet vest and gold watch, called on Mr. Waddell, and passed the night; receiving all the attentions of that hospitable gentleman. Before parting, Waddell, in his inimitable manner, gently called the attention of Smith, who had been grieved at Waddell’s worldliness in education, to the possibility that “the pride of life” might be found in a gold watch-chain, and elegant carriage, and velvet vest. Smith felt the rebuke, both in its justness and inimitable manner. The controversy died away. There was one report in circulation about Mr. Todd, which he thought called for his special attention, that he "had so relaxed discipline, that he had admitted a gambler to the Lord’s table. To wipe away this aspersion, in his estimation as base as false, he attended the Presbytery in the Cove congregation, Albemarle, July, 1793. Having fully cleared himself from the stains of such a report, he set out for home on Saturday, the 27th. Whether, from the clumsiness consequent on his infirmities, or in a fit of apoplexy, is unknown; as he was alone, find was fond of riding a spirited horse, he was found in the road lifeless. Rev. William Williamson, in his journal, after mentioning that he had dined with Rev. Messrs. Todd and Blair, at the house of Rev. Mr. Irvin, says—Saturday, July 27, “I proceeded onwards to my meeting, at Mountain Plains ; on the road was informed of the death of Mr. Todd,—that he was found on the road. Went on and saw him, with whom I had dined, well the day before, now in eternity. Alarming dispensation. ’May it be impressed on my mind, and speak to my heart louder than ten thousand thunders. Went to meeting, spoke from Amos 4th, 12th : ‘Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.’ ”

Mr. Todd preached about forty-two years in Virginia. A son bearing his name, was licensed by Hanover Presbytery, at the Cove, Sept. 13th, 1800, preaching his first sermon where his father preached his last. For sometime he occupied the churches left vacant by his father. In the year 1809, he removed to Kentucky, leaving none of the name in Virginia. But the name of Todd can never be omitted in any history of the Presbyterian church in Virginia, or m the United States of America. It would be very agreeable to the church in coming time, to peruse a sermon from his pen or an essay—hut she must content herself with a record of his works.

Alexander Craighead. Of this energetic man, a Memoir has been given in the Sketches of North Carolina.

Robert Henry, the minister fourth named in the Presbytery, was a native of Scotland, a graduate of New Jersey College, in the year 1751, and a licentiate of the Presbytery of New York. “Upon representation of the destitute circumstances of Virginia, the Synod appoint—Sept. 29th, 1752,—Mr. Greenman, and Mr. Robert Henry, to go there sometime betwixt this and next Synod.,, He visited the vacancies of Virginia south of the James, and being acceptable to the congregation, and himself pleased with the prospects of usefulness and comfort, he was ordained by the Presbytery of New York, in 1753, to become the regular pastor.' His installation did not take place till after Mr. Davies’ return from Great Britain. In 1755, on the ,4th of June, the installation services were performed by Mr. Todd, and Mr. Henry was constituted pastor of Cub creek in Charlotte, and Briery in Prince Edward, both then forming part of Lunenburg County. Mr. Todd considered the event and the circumstances of sufficient interest to be communicated to Mr. Whitefield. Mr. Davies, under date of July 14th, 1756, writes—“About a month ago, I took a journey to Mr. Henry’s congregation in Lunenburg, about 120 miles hence, to assist him in administering the sacrament, and in thirteen days I preached 11 or 12 sermons, with encouraging appearance of success. I think Mr. Henry and Mr. Wright’s labors continued to be blessed in those parts. At the sacrament in that wilderness, there were about 2000 hearers, and about 200 communicants, and a general seriousness and attention appeared among them; a considerable number of thoughtless creatures are solicitiously enquiring after religion.”

The congregation of Briery had its origin in one of Mr. Davies’ visits to the scattered Presbyterian families on the frontiers. In his missionary excursions he had as many appointments in advance as was convenient to make, and made others as he went along. Sending forward he would engage ,a place for lodging, and gather the family, and servants, and if possible, some of the neighbors for evening worship and exposition of Scripture. Passing through Charlotte, one of the company, James Morton, rode forward to the house of Littlejoe Morton, on the little Roanoke, the place since known as little Roanoke bridge, and enquired for lodging for Mr. Davies, the preacher. Mrs. Morton sent for her husband from the fields. They consulted upon the matter. They had heard of the New Lights and of Mr. Davies, but had never heard them, and were not favorably impressed by the report. Their hospitality that knew not how to turn from their door those that asked for accommodation, finally prevailed; and Mr. Davies was made welcome. That night he expounded Scripture with much feeling and earnestness. In the morning he passed on; but Mr. and Mrs. Morton were both awakened to a sense of their lost condition. Finding peace in believing, they both became devoted friends of Mr. Davies, and ardent Christians. That section of the country had been settled under the pastorage of the Randolph family, by a most worthy population. Mr. Morton was an enterprising man, proverbially honest and kind, and in the confidence and employ of the Randolphs, whose interest he greatly promoted, by making judicious selections of land in their behalf. Upon becoming a believer, he began to talk and pray with his neighbors and friends, and like Morris, of Hanover, to have worship on the Sabbath. His efforts were followed with great success. Mr. Davies visited the neighborhood; and numbers became hopefully Christians, and were formed into a congregation on the little Roanoke and Briery. The traditions of Littlejoe Morton and others of that name, of the Womacs and Spencers and others, had they been committed to writing, would be perused with an interest as intense as the letters of Morris and Davies, about the doings in Hanover, and more abiding as the congregation gathered has flourished to this day, and a great number of the descendants of these first Christians have been eminently pious. Their prayer-meetings, their long rides to church, their communion seasons, and their deep religious exercises, had something of romantic interest in them, as they displayed the mighty power of God’s grace. Hanover lives mostly in history; Briery is a living epistle known and read of all men.

Cub Creek congregation was made up of a colony of Scotch-Irish, led to the frontiers of Virginia, by John Caldwell, about the year 1738. ’ At his request the Synod of Philadelphia appointed a deputation to wait upon the Governor of Virginia, to solicit the favor of the Governor and Council for the proposed colony. Rev. James Anderson waited on the Governor, Mr. Gooch, a Scotchman, educated a Presbyterian, and obtained from him a promise of protection and free enjoyment of their religion upon the condition of good citizenship, and compliance with the act of Toleration. It was less difficult to obtain toleration for a colony than for families that chose to leave the established church. Mr. Anderson visited the incipient congregations in the Shenandoah valley, and put them in the way of toleration by the Governor and Council. Part of the immediate descendants of the colony on Cub Creek went to Kentucky, some to South Carolina, and the progeny of the remainder is found in the bounds of the first Cub Creek, which has been the fruitful parent of numerous churches colonized on her borders.

Somewhat eccentric in manners, Mr. Henry was ardently pious and devoted to his work as a gospel minister. His strong natural passions were controlled by divine grace, and made the instruments of good. “He required”—said the venerable Pattfllo, in conversation with a young minister—“ grace enough for two common men, to keep him in order; and he had it.” He had much success in his ministry. Mr. M’Aden, the early missionary to North Carolina, after describing the terror of the inhabitants west of the Blue Ridge, upon the receipt of the news of Braddock’s defeat, says, on visiting Mr. Henry on his way to Carolina,—“I was much refreshed by a relation of Mr. Henry’s success among his people, who told me of several brought in by his ministry, and frequent appearance of new awakenings amongst them; scarcely a Sabbath passing without some life, and appearance of the power of God.” Having a great fund of cheerfulness and a fine flow of spirits, Mr. Henry’s besetting sin was in exciting levity in others by his humor and eccentricity. His ardent piety, however, was known to all; and very often the involuntary smile which he unintentionally excited, was followed by a tear from a wounded heart. In his preaching he was very animated, sometimes approaching vociferation. This vehement manner, and vein of humor often breaking out in his sermons, rendered him peculiarly acceptable to the African race, among whom he gathered many converts; and from his time Cub Creek has been able to number many of that race among her professors.

The Presbytery in session at Cub Creek, Thursday, Oct. 16th, 1766, adopted the following minute—“Mr. Henry and his session have agreed before the Presbytery, that if the said session cannot settle their congregational affairs respecting Mr. Henry’s salary to his satisfaction, in a month from this time, they are willing to acquit him of the pastoral relation, and to allow him to remove where he pleases,—in which Presbytery concur.” The month passed without a settlement. Mr. Henry made a journey to North Carolina, and received an invitation to remove to the Catawba. The records of Presbytery, April 1st, 1767, say — “a call was presented to Mr. Henry trom the united congregations of Steel Creek and New Providence; which he accepts upon condition that said congregation, and his former congregation continue in the same state in which he left them; in which the Presbytery concur ; Mr. Henry having previously obtained a regular dismission from his former congregation on Cub Creek, in Virginia.” In the Providence of God he was permitted to remain where his heart evidently longed for its home. On the eighth of the succeeding May, he passed to his everlasting rest; and his bones were laid among the people of his ministry.

The place where the first stand was erected on Cub Creek, for preaching, can be pointed out; and also the dwellings in Briery that were opened for the preaching the gospel in the time of the gathering the churches. Since the days of Mr. Henry the two congregations have been sometimes united in the services of a minister, and sometimes separated ; and in these two conditions have enjoyed the labors of Rev. Messrs. Lacy, Alexander, Lyle, Rice, Mahon, Reed, Douglass, Plumer, Osborne, Stewart, Hart, Brown, Scott, and Stuart.

Mr. Henry was not in the habit of reading his sermons, or even of writing. Short notes of preparations were all he used, and not always those. It is said of him that on a certain occasion he thought he ought to prepare himself with greater care than usual, and having written a sermon, he commenced reading from a small manuscript in his Bible. Of course he appeared to go on tamely. A gust of wind suddenly swept the paper from the Bible. He watched its progress as it sailed along to an old elder’s seat. The old gentleman had been listening seriously, and as the paper fell at his side he deliberately put his foot upon it. Mr. Henry waited for him to bring it back to him. The old gentleman looked up as if nothing had happened; and Mr. Henry finished his sermon in the best way he could. It was the end of his written preparations to preach. There is nothing left as a production of his pen. Mr. Davies gives a testimony of the usefulness of Mr. Henry under date of June 3d, 1757—"But my honest friend Mr. Henry has had 1 remarkable success last winter among the young people of his congregation. No less than seventeen of them were struck to the heart by one occasional evening lecture.”

The first instance in which the attention of the Presbytery of Hanover was called to the subject of Psalmody, as embracing the question of propriety or impropriety of singing the version of Dr. Watts, occurred at Cub Creek, Oct. 6th, 1763. “In answer to the petition from Mr. Henry’s congregation respecting Psalmody,” Mr. Todd read the action of Synod—recommending consideration of the subject—and permission to those that desire to use the version of Watts till further action be had on the subject.

John Wright, the fifth named in the order of Synod, was from Scotland. All that is known of his early life, is from a letter of the Rev. Jonathan Edwards to the Rev. John Erskine, of Scotland, July 7th, 1752—“Mr. John Wright, a member of New Jersey College, who is to take his degree of Bachelor of Arts the next September, is now at my house. He was born in Scotland; has lived in Virginia, and is a friend and acquaintance of Mr. Davies; has a great interest in the esteem of the religious people of Virginia, and is peculiarly esteemed by President Burr; has been admitted to special intimacy with him; and is a person of a very good character for his understanding, prudence, and piety.. He has a desire to have a correspondence with some divine of his native country, and "has chosen you for his correspondent, if he may be admitted to such a favor. He intends to send you a letter with this, of which I would ask a favorable reception, as he has laid me under some special obligations.”

Mr. Wright took his degree in 1752, was licensed by New Castle Presbytery, and ordained by the same in 1753. On the last Sabbath of July, in the year 1755, he was installed pastor of the church in Cumberland, Virginia. The church-building stands about three miles east from Farmville; the congregation extended westwardly and southwardly to Briery, embracing what is now the college church, and in other directions unlimited, or bounded only by the distance people could ride to the ordinances of the gospel. Wyllis, mountain, and river, belonged to this congregation, and for a time the neighborhood was a promising field of labor. The population was made up of English, Scotch-Irish, and Huguenots. The church as first gathered was the fruit of the labors of Mr. Robinson and Mr. Davies; principally of the latter. When Mr. Davies obtained license for three, houses in addition to the four originally licensed, he asked for a house in Cumberland. The request was not noticed. It is probable its distance from Davies’ residence was considered a sufficient reason; the General Court having recalled the license granted by the Court of New Kent County. Capt. John Morton, who accompanied Mr. Davies on his first visit to the house of Littlejoe Morton, was—says Dr. Alexander—“one of the persons who first associated together as a Presbyterian church in Cumberland County, Virginia, of which he soon became elder; in which office he continued till the day of his death. He was a man of warm, generous heart, ardent in his piety, and public-spirited in a high degree; so that his heart and his hands were ever ready to engage in any good work.”

Mr. Wright, in a letter bearing date August 18th, 1755, soon after Braddock’s defeat, and amidst the long drought, says—"the situation of our colony is most doleful, as the Gazette will inform you; we have not only the sword without, but famine within; and also, our people, till the defeat of our army, quite unaiarmed and secure! But now there seems to be a general concern among all ranks. People generally begin to believe the divine government, and that our judgments are inflicted for our sins! they now hear sermons with solemnity and attention ; they acknowledge their wickedness and' ignorance, and believe that tiie New Light clergy and adherents are right. Thus you see, dear sir, that amidst ail our troubles, God is gracious and brings real good out of our real evils, adored be his great name. I had the sacrament of the Lord’s supper administered, the last Sunday of July, in my infant congregation, which proved a solemn season. There was a vast concourse of people, above 2000, I dare say. I was installed at the same time, by Messrs. Davies, and Henry, of Lunenburg. I have had about 180 communicants, above 80 of them never partook before I came here. There were general awakenings for sundry Sabbaths before the sacrament, and new instances of deep and rational conviction, which I found by examining the communicants. I have seen last Lord’s day above a hundred weeping and trembling under the word.”

"I now preach anywhere, being so distant from the metropolis, and the times being so dangerous and shocking; and I would fain hope not without success.”

Here is stated the great cause of the liberty the dissenters enjoyed after Davies’ return from England. It is found in the French and Indian war, and the necessity to use the aid of the dissenters, as they were called, then altogether Presbyterians, in defending the country. A license was refused to the people of Cumberland, asking for it in a respectful way and according to law ; in time of peace they should have no house for worship under protection of law; war comes, and in its troubles and confusion, Mr. Wright preaches in as many places in Cumberland as the people choose, and he is able to occupy. God shakes the earth that his beloved may have peace. We also learn the date of the first communion in Cumberland under the ministry of Mr. Wright, tho last Sabbath of July, 1755. From the circumstances of the case, it is probable this was the first held by any Presbyterian, in the bounds of Cumberland congregation. Previously to this time, the people rode to Briery and Cub Creek, to ordinances administered by Mr. Henry, on one side, and to Hanover, and Louisa, and Goochland, on the other, to enjoy the same privileges under Messrs. Davies and Todd. The number of professors increased, till, at the time of installation, about 180 were numbered. People were used to ride far on communion occasions; and in the state of the church at that time, to have but 180 communicants assemble at a central place, when Davies, and Henry, and Wright were to officiate after harvest, is scarcely credible. It is therefore most probable that the 180 were all living in the bounds of Mr. Wright’s charge, or at least out of the bounds of the other pastoral charges.

Mr. Davies writes under date of March 2d, 1756—about some books sent from England to be distributed at his discretion,—“I sent a few of each sort to my friend and brother Mr. Wright, minister in Cumberland, about ninety miles hence, where there is a great number of negroes, and not a few of them thoughtful and inquisitive about Christianity, and sundry of them hopeful converts. He has been faithful in the distribution, and informs me they meet with a very agreeable and promising reception. He is very laborious in his endeavors to instruct negroes, and has set up two or three schools among them, where they attend before' and after sermon, for they have no other leisure time.”

Mr. Wright, under date of January 20th, 1757, says—“Blessed be God, we have had more of the power of God last spring, summer, and autumn, than ever. This T told Mr. Adams. But since I wrote him there h&ve been some remarkable revivings in Messrs. Davies and Henry’s congregations, and mine. The former had it chiefly among the negroes; and the other among the youth; and in my congregation I may say it was general and eminently among the young people.” Speaking of his communion seasons and members joining the church—he says—“last August about eighty or ninety; and last July between thirty and forty new ones. At my first I had not quite six young people; but at my last between fifty and sixty. There seems to be something of a stir among the negroes in my congregation, and among little children. I believe I have five or six of the former who have even now a title to heaven. They received lately a present of addresses done by Mr. Fawcett, of Kidderminster, Testaments, Bibles, &c., which animates them much to learn to read. A good number of ministers in this country entered into a concert of prayer on Saturday evening and Sabbath morning, not only for the church in general, but for one another in particular.” Nov. 14th, 1757, he says—“I have been sickly all this spring and summer. I was obliged to quit preaching altogether, but could not keep silence; at last I fled from my flock, to be out of temptation of preaching, but could not keep away long; and upon my return must preach or sink into melancholy. I got some ease about the middle of May, and preached at Willis’s Creek on Acts 17th, 30th. ‘But now he commandeth all men everywhere to repent.’” On the 2d Sabbath in the succeeding June, Messrs. Henry and Martin assisted Mr. Wright at a communion in Cumberland ; thirty-six new communicants were admitted to the ordinance.

It is melancholy to record the fact that a man of the high expectations and esteem, and apparent usefulness of Mr. Wright, should fall under the censure of the Presbytery. In the weakness of body, and the melancholy of which he complains in one of his letters, he sought relief in stimulants, in the once common, but vain belief, that permanent relief might be had by their exciting influence. The things in which he sought renewed health, wrought his disgrace, and his departure from Virginia. In 1762, the Presbytery sustained some charges against him of immoderate use of spirituous liquors; and some improprieties connected with that indulgence. His morning of expectation went down in clouds, never to be brighter till Christ the Lord shall come. Then wTe hope it may appear that wandering he was not finally lost.

The Rev. John Brown, the sixth named in the order of the Synod, was pastor of Timber Ridge and Providence. A sketch of him is found under the head of Timber Ridge.

The Rev. John Martin, the seventh on the list of members, was the first licensed and the first ordained by the Presbytery of Hanover. March 18th, 1756, at Providence, in Louisa, Mr. Todd’s charge,—“Mr. John Martin offered himself upon trials for the gospel ministry, and delivered a discourse upon Ephesians 2d, 1st, which was sustained as a part of trial; and he was also examined as to his religious experience, and the reasons of his desiring the ministry; which was also sustained. He was likewise examined in the Latin and Greek languages, and briefly in Logic, Ontology, Ethics, Natural Philosophy, Rhetoric, Geography, and Astronomy; in all which his answers in general were very satisfactory. And the Presbytery appoint him to prepare a sermon on 1 Cor. 1st, 22d, 23d, and an exegesis on this question—Num revelatio super-naturalis sit necessaria?—to be delivered at our next committee. And the Presbytery appoint Messrs. Todd, Wright, and Davies, a committee for that purpose; to meet in the lower meeting-house in Hanover the last Wednesday in April.”

At the time appointed, the parts of trial received the approbation of the committee; and examination was held—“upon the Hebrew, and in sundry extempore questions upon the doctrines of religion, and some cases of conscience, his answers to which were generally sustained.” He was requested by the committee to prepare a sermon on Galat. 2d, 20th. “The life which I now live in the flesh”—and an exposition on Isaiah 61st, 1, 2, 3,—The spirit of the Lord is upon me. At Goochland Court House, July 7th, 1756, the sermon and the exposition were delivered before some members in a private capacity, as the Presbytery failed to meet—“which the ministers and elders present do highly approve of and think worthy to be received as part of the trials,” and they desire him to compose a sermon against the next Presbytery on 1 John 5th, 10th, first part—He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself. In the succeeding August, the 25th day—“The Presbytery met by appointment of the Moderator^-and farther examined Mr. Martin, in sundry extempore questions upon various branches of learning and divinity, and reheard his religious experience; and upon a review of the sundry trials he has passed through, they judge him qualified to preach the gospel; and he having declared iiis assent to, and approbation of the Westminster Confession of Faith, Catechism and Directory, as they have been adopted by the Synod of New York, the Presbytery do license and authorize him to preach as a candidate for the ministry of the gospel, and recommend him to the acceptance of the churches. And they order Mr. Davies and Todd to draw up for him a certificate according to the purport of this Minute; and appoint the Moderator to give him some solemn instructions and admonitions with regard to the discharge of his office, which was done accordingly.” Mr. Davies was the Moderator.

The preaching of Mr. Martin was very acceptable to the vacancies. First came invitations for a few Sabbaths; then calls from Albemarle—Prince Edward and Lunenburg; petitions from Petersburg and Amelia. In all these places he preached to acceptance. Pressing calls for ministerial services came from North Carolina. April 27th, 1757—“Presbytery is appointed to meet in Hanover on the 2d Wednesday of June, which Mr. Martin is to open with a sermon from Romans 4th. 5th, preparatory to his ordination, which is to be the day following, at which Mr. Davies is to preside.” At the appointed time, Mr. Martin preached, and on the next day was regularly ordained. The reasons for his ordination are not stated: they may be inferred. After his. ordination he visited North Carolina, and had appointments at Rocky river, Hawfields, and Hico.” He never met the Presbytery again. In October of the rntered into the Indian Mission, has, by the hands of Mr. Davies, given up both the calls, which he had under consideration.” January 25th, 1758, at Capt. Anderson’s, Cumberland—“Applications having been made to the committee appointed by the Presbytery, to manage such incidental occurrences as might happen in the interspace between the meetings of the Presbytery, by the society for managing the Indian Mission and schools, that Mr. Martin should be sent among the Indians; the committee complied:—on which account he is excused from complying with his other appointments.” His name appears on the Minutes of Presbytery for the last time, April 25th, 1759. No reason is given for its omission. The Records of the Indian Mission in England, if in existence, would give some interesting facts concerning the mission and this man.

Some Acts of Presbytery.

In the short period of two years and four months, from the time of its formation to its remodelling in 1758, the Presbytery of Hanover held nine meetings,—met four times by committee appointed for Presbyterial business,—and appointed one committee of peculiar powers, viz—Aug. 25, 1756—“As the members are scattered so that they cannot often meet in stated Presbytery, nor be called pro re nata, the Presbytery appoint Messrs. Todd, Wright, Brown, and Davies, or any two of them a committee for this year, to transact such affairs as may not admit of a delay till the meeting of the Presbytery, and they shall bring in an account of their proceeding to Presbytery.” The first act of Presbytery was to appoint a fast, in accordance with the Act of Synod;—and their last act was to appoint the last Wednesday of June, to be. observed by all the members in their congregations as a day of public fasting and prayer, on account of the situation of our public affairs; and the want of divine influence on the means of grace. An address was presented to the Right Honorable John, Earl of Loudon, Supreise Governor of the Colony—in which—after professing loyalty—they hope—“your Excellency will grant us all liberties and immunities of a full toleration, according to the laws of England, and particularly according to the Act of Parliament, commonly called the Act of Toleration.”

An address with a like expression of hope and desire, was addressed to Governor Fauquier. Earl Loudon made no reply; Fauquier assured the Presbytery of the protection of the Act of Toleration.


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