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Sketches of Virginia
Chapter XLV. - Rev. Clement Read


Without the least intimation that the influence of Rev. Clement Read, as a minister of the gospel, was derived from any source but the grace of God, and the divine blessing on individual efforts, a short statement of family connexions will be given, on the authority of his-son, embracing facts full of instruction for the philosophic observer of the progression of the human race, and evidences of the fulfilment of the promises of the gospel.

Colonel Clement Read, the grandfather of the preacher, was born in Virginia, in the year 1707, and was early bereft of his father. John Robinson, of Spottsylvania, became his guardian. This gentleman was appointed Trustee of William and Mary College, in 1729. He was President of the Council, and, on the departure of Governor Gooch for England, in 1749, became governor, and in a few days- died. The education of young Read was superintended by Mr. Robinson, and completed at William and Mary College, Commissary Blair being president. In the year 1730, Mr. Read was married to Mary, the only daughter of William Hill, an officer in the British Navy, the second son of the Marquis of Lansdowne.

This gentleman had been united in marriage to the only daughter of Governor Jennings, and took up his residence in that part of the Isle of Wight, one of the eight counties into which the province was divided, which was made a constituent part of the county of Brunswick in 1720. Soon after his marriage, Mr. Read went with Colonel Richard Randolph and Colonel Nicholas Edmonds on an exploring expedition, to locate land in that part of the county now known as Charlotte. Colonel Edmonds returned without purchasing ; Mr. Read and Colonel Randolph purchased largely; Randolph on the Staunton, and Mr. Read about ten thousand acres, on the waters of Ash Camp, Dunivant, and Little Roanoke. Mr. Read removed to his purchase, and made his residence at Bushy Forest, about four miles south of the present village of Maryville. When the county of Lunenburg was set off, in 1746, its area extended from the line of the present Brunswick to the Blue Ridge, and from James’ River to North Carolina. The early settlements of Presbyterians south of James’ River, were in Lunenburg; and, by a subsequent division in Amelia; Colonel Clement Read became clerk of the county, and served seventeen years, keeping the office at his own house. He frequently served in the General Assembly of the State, and with men who become leaders in the Revolution. He was present when John Robinson, of King and Queen, moved the vote of thanks which so disconcerted Colonel Washington. He died January 2d, 1768, and was buried at Bushy Forest. His wife was laid by his side, November 11th, 1780, in her sixty-ninth year. She was a pious woman, and exemplary member of the Episcopal Church; their children, Isaac, Thomas, Clement, Margaret and Edmund.

Colonel Isaac Read, the father of the minister, resided at Bushy Forest. He married a daughter of Henry Embra, a representative of the county with Colonel Clement Read. He had three children, Clement, Priscilla, and Isaac. With his brother-in-law, Paul Carrington, he represented the county, and was associated with Washington, Jefferson, and Henry, in their patriotic movements. He received from Congress, in 1776, a commission as colonel of a Virginia regiment. He immediately joined the army. In less than a year, he fell a victim to disease; and was with military honors laid in a vault, in Philadelphia, in the thirty-seventh year of his age. The family preserve a correspondence between him and General Washington.

4 Clement Read, the minister, was but six years old at the time of. his father’s death. His mother, in a few years, married Colonel Thomas Scott, who superintended the education of the children. Hampden Sidney College was chartered by the State in 1783: an academy had been in operation, under the direction of Presbytery, about eight years. Upon entering college, young Read could look over the trustees, and name Thomas Scott, his step-father ; Paul Carrington, who had entered his grandfather’s office when a youth, and had married his Aunt Margaret; Thomas Read, the County Clerk, his uncle; William Cabel, who had married his cousin, a daughter of Paul Carrington; Nathaniel Venable, bad also married a cousin, a daughter of Paul Carrington. Two of his uncles, Thomas and Clement, had married each a sister of Judge Nash, a trustee; and President Smith had also married a sister of the Judge; and it may be mentioned, the mother of Nash Legrand, whose name is in the church, was also sister of Judge Nash. This Mr. Legrand, for his second wife, was married to Mrs. Paulina Read, widow of Colonel Edmund Read, a name mentioned with much kindness by Dr. Alexander, in his auto-biography. Mrs. Paulina Legrand, the widow of Colonel Edmund Read and Rev. Nash Legrand, was a firm friend of the College and the Union Theological Seminary, and the patroness of many young men, in preparation for the ministry. One of these, an associate of Clement Read in college, was Rev. William Hill, D. D.

The genealogy for the eighteenth century, of the Morton, Watkins, Venable, Allen, Womark, Smith, Spencer, Michaux, Wilson and Scott families, and many others that occupied Lunenburg, in its original boundaries, would offer to the philosophic observer of the human race subjects for profound reflection. Coming from different divisions of the European stock, mingling in society on the frontiers, amalgamating by marriage, moulded by the religious teachings of Robinson and Davies, and their associates and successors, they formed a state of society and morals, in which the excellences of the original constituent parts have all been preserved. The courtly manners of Williamsburg, the cheerfulness and ease of the Huguenots, the honest frankness and stern independence of the English country gentleman, the activity and shrewdness of the merchant, the simplicity of republican life — all have been combined. Removed from cities, and not densely crowded in neighborhoods, relieved from the drudgeries of common life, and stimulated to activity, to preserve a cheerful independence, the increasing population have improved the opportunities for moral, intellectual, and spiritual advancement, and pious examples, of excellence in manners, morals and religion, and domestic intercourse, worthy of remembrance and imitation. In the deficiency of these records, the main line of the Carrington family is all that can be presented.

A certain Paul Carrington and his wife, of the Heningham family, emigrated from Ireland to Barbadoes, and settled in Bridgetown. He died early in the eighteenth century, leaving a widow and a numerous family of young children. The youngest child, George, about the year 1727, came to Virginia with the family of Joseph Mayo, a Barbadoes merchant. Mr. Mayo purchased and occupied the ancient seat of Powhatan, near the falls of the James. Young Carrington lived some years with Mr. Mayo as his storekeeper. About 1732, he, in his twenty-first year, married Anne, the eldest daughter of William Mayo, brother of Joseph, who had settled in Goochland, she being in her twentieth year. They went to reside on Willis’ Creek, now in the bounds of Cumberland County. They had eleven children: 1st. Paul, born March 5th, 1733, and died June 22d, 1818; 2d. "William, November 17th, 1735, died an infant; 3d. George, March 15th, 1737, died October 9tli, 1784; 4th. William, December 22d, 1739, died August 20th, 1757; 5th. Joseph, February 6th, 1741, died April 4th, 1802; 6th. Nathaniel, February 8th, 1743, died November, 1803 ; 7th. Heningham, December 4th, 1746, (married a Bernard,) died January 24th, 1810; 8th. Edward, February 11th, 1748, died October 28th, 1810; 9th. Hannah, March 28th, 1757, (married a Cabel,) mother of Judge William H. Cabel, died August 27th, 1817 ; 10th. Mayo, April 1st, 1753, died December 28th, 1805; 11th. Mary, January 9th, 1759, (married a Watkins,) died —. George Carrington and his wife, Anne, both died in February, 1785. From them sprung the numerous families of the Carringtons, in Virginia; and, in the female line, the descendants have been numerous. Their eldest child, Paul, was married to Margaret Read, daughter of Colonel Clement Read, of Lunenburg, now Charlotte, October 1st, 1755. Their children were — Mary, George, Anne, Clement, and Paul. Mrs. Carrington died May 1st, 1766, and left a memory of great virtues. Her youngest child, Paul, became Judge of the General Court of Virginia, and died January 18th, 1816.' Mr. Carrington was married the second time, in his fifty-eighth year, March 6th, 1792, to Miss Priscilla Sims. Their children were — Henry, (two died in infancy,) Letitia, Martha, and Robert. The services of Mr. Carrington in the Board of the College, and during the Revolutionary war, were becoming an honorable and high-minded man.

Clement Read, the minister, completed his course of study at Hampden Sidney College. As a resident graduate, he was present during the great awakening commencing in 1786, and united with Allen, and Hill, and Blythe, in the prayer-meeting pregnant with blessings. He had been carefully nurtured in good morals, polite intercourse, and the principles of Christian religion. His grandmother was remarkable for her efforts to maintain religion in her family. She had been nurtured in the Episcopal church by Commissary Blair ; and was a devout mother seeking the salvation of her household according to the direction of the church of her fathers. The Prayer-book and Bible were read in her family in morning and evening worship : and when necessary she officiated herself. Young Read grew up under religious influence in the Presbyterian form. From the time Davies preached at the house of Littlejoe Morton, and was blessed in numbering him and his wife as converts to Christ, and members of that part of the church of which he was minister, the Presbyterian form and creed prevailed extensively in Charlotte. The colonies of Presbyterians settled in Cub Creek and Buffalo, and the blessings on the labors of Mr. Henry and his successors, had made large congregations of Presbyterian worshippers in Lunenburg, from the present Brunswick to the Blue Ridge. Many of Mr. Read’s relations became members of the Presbyterian Church, and he grew up under its instructions. He professed his faith about the same time t^at Hill and Allen made their profession. He at once devoted himself to the ministry of the gospel.

At a meeting of the Hanover Presbytery at Cumberland Meeting-House, Oct. 10th, 1788, Clement Read and Nash Legrand were received as candidates for the ministry. At a meeting at Buffalo, January 1789, the preparatory trials of Read and Legrand proceeded, and Cary Allen was taken as candidate. In the succeeding April, Legrand was licensed. In Bedford, Oct. 1789, Presbytery suspended any further preparatory steps for the licensure of Mr. Read. He had become interested with the Methodists, who were numerous in some neighborhoods, and their ministers very active and acceptable. They were yet considered as part of the Episcopal church, from which no separation had actually taken place, although the particular forms by which that church is characterized, were coming into notice. In finally separating from the Episcopal church a large body in Old Lunenburg formed a denomination called Republican Methodists, of which Mr. Read was for years a minister. He associated with these, and began preaching before he had finished his preparatory course under Presbytery. In this state of the case Presbytery, without passing any censure, suspended further attention to his case. In July, 1790, at Buffalo, Mr. Head had an interview with Presbytery particularly to exculpate himself from the charge of slandering President Smith, in saying that the President used his official influence to lead young men to the Presbyterian Church and ministry. Of this Mr. Smith complained: and of this charge Mr. Read desired to clear himself; and did satisfy Presbytery, that he was not guilty of impeaching the character of Mr. Smith. As Mr. Read was at that time connected with the Methodists, his name was removed from the list of candidates under the care of Presbytery. Mr. Read was ordained by the Republican Methodists, and was an aimable, devout, and earnest preacher, respected and beloved by all that loved the gospel.

In March, 1789, Mr. Read was married to Clarissa, daughter of Col. Thomas Edmunds, of Brunswick. She was his companion through life, and bore him thirteen children, six of whom were sons. These claim some mixture of Indian blood in their veins, derived through their mother from Pocahontas, of world-wide fame. The descent is thus. Pocahontas left an only child, Thomas Rolfe; he left an only daughter, who became the wife of Robert Bolling; she left one son, John Bolling; he had a number of daughters; one of them married Richard Randolph, the ancestor of the orator,^ John Randolph, of Roanoke, another Mr. Thomas Eldridge. Colonel Edmunds married a daughter of Mrs. Eldridge, and Mr. Read a daughter of Mrs. Edmunds. So that Mrs. Read’s great-grandfather, John Bolling, was great-grandchild of the Princess Pocahontas. Hundreds of families may now claim descent from John Lolling, and some mixture of blood of Pocahontas. Mrs. Read was born in December, 1772, and died in June, 1845.

In the first year of the nineteenth century an effort was made to promote unity of feeling and action among Christians in* the bounds of ancient Lunenburg, and the account given of it by the Rev. Drury Lacy is probably all the record that remains. Under date of January 22d, 1802, Mount Ararat, Prince Edward County, Virginia, he says: — “On Christmas day about ten Baptist preachers, an equal number of Methodists, and six Presbyterian ministers, met at Bedford Court-House, in this State. The object of this meeting was to discourse freely together on the subject of our differences, and to see if we could not adopt some terms for living more friendly than we have done, and even to commune together. I have not a minute of the proceedings, but will relate the substance of what we did, as well as I can, from memory. It was mutually agreed that the ministers of the different denominations should exercise all good offices towards each other, and preach in each other’s pulpits as occasion might serve, where it would not interfere with a previous appointment; and that it should be esteemed unfriendly for the minister of one denomination to refuse the use of his pulpit to the minister of another, unless when the congregation was opposed. It was further agreed that the members of the respective societies might commune with the churches of the other denominations, where they found a freedom to do so; and that such should not be called to an account by the respective societies to which they belonged, as if guilty of any breach of regularity. That the members of different denominations should watch over each other in brotherly love; and in cases where offences should be committed, by a member of one communion, known to a member of another, which required the discipline of the church, that the society to which the offender belonged should be informed, and the party aggrieved be admitted to state the particulars of the offence. That the minister of one denomination should receive the members of another to communion, upon their producing a certificate of their good standing in their own society, or upon receiving satisfaction of the same in any other method. That if a member of one denomination wished to become a member of another, the latter should not receive him, unless he produced a certificate that he was free from censure in the society to which he formerly belonged. It was further agreed, that each Presbytery among us would admit two Baptists and two Methodists to sit with us as correspondents ; that each association of the Baptists would admit two Presbyterian and two Methodist ministers ; and that each Conference of the Methodists would admit two Presbyterian and two Baptist ministers as correspondents, upon such producing certificates of their appointment, properly attested. It was finally resolved to submit our proceedings to the consideration of the Presbyteries, Associations and Conferences to which we belonged.”

Under date of May 17th, 1802, he writes — “You have already been informed of a meeting which took place last Christmas at Bedford Court-House. Since that time, greater harmony and brotherly love have been apparent among the different denominations. They frequently preach together, and seem much stirred up to promote the common cause of religion, and the interests of the Redeemer’s kingdom. But as the proposed plan of union has not yet been discussed by the respective church judicatories, to which it was referred, it is impossible to say what will be the result of that business. However, whether that be adopted or rejected, I am happy to inform you that the attention to religion which was excited at that meeting has continued to increase. It has spread upwards of twenty miles; and there have been pleasing prospects in more distant places, whenever the ministers have found an opportunity to preach from home.” Upon mature reflection it became evident to all, that external union could, at that time, be more closely cemented only by amalgamation. The Baptists were not prepared to throw off their peculiarities ; and it became a question with the Republican Methodists whether they would retain their separate organization or unite with one of the other denominations ; and if a union was to be attempted, to which denomination should the proposition be made. At a meeting of the Presbytery at Hampden Sidney, April, 1804, Rev. Messrs. John Robinson and Clement Read appeared as a committee of the Republican Methodists to confer with the Presbytery “ on the subject of an union, which it appeared their constituents anxiously desired to form with the Presbyterian Church.” A committee of conference was appointed, consisting of Messrs. Lacy, Alexander, and Lyle, with power “ to adopt such measures respecting the union contemplated, as to them may appear eligible, and to make their report to Presbytery at their next meeting.” In September, at Cub Creek, immediately after the ordination of J. H. Rice, the committee made report of having had a conference with a committee of the Republican Methodist Church, “but that committee, wishing for an opportunity to confer with their church upon some important points relative to the subject, before a decision was made, the business was postponed until they should have an opportunity of conversing with, and consulting their people. But since that time no communication had been received from the Republican Methodist Church on the subject.” No further communications passed. In 1809 a called meeting of Presbytery was held on the 28th and 29th days of September, at Briery, to consider the application of Rev. Clement Read to be received as a member of Presbytery. After a full and free conference, and consideration of the testimonials of his ordination, and of his character and standing with his brethren, and Mr. Read “having adopted the constitution of our church,” the Presbytery received him as a member, and gave him the right hand of fellowship. In 1822, the Rev. Messrs. Henderson Lee, John Davidson, Samuel Armstead, and Matthew W. Jackson, ministers of the Republican Methodist Church, met the Presbytery at Charlotte Court House, and, “having adopted the Confession of Faith of the Presbyterian Church, and answered the questions put to candidates,* were received and took their seats as members of Presbytery.” By this act the Republican Methodist Church, as a body, in that part of Virginia, became extinct.

Mr. Read lived in harmony with the Presbytery, and continued to labor earnestly in the ministry while his physical powers endured. His adoption of the Confession of Faith was ex animo. He had always been a Predestinarian in creed. The reasons for his desiring a union with the Presbytery appear to have been his conviction of the importance of union among the people of God, and of the sufficiency of the Church as organized by the Apostles as the agent to accomplish the renovation of the human race. Through life he was opposed to any measure or system of things that appeared to him either to usurp the duties of the Church, or to stand between her and the performance of her proper work in the salvation of men. When the question arose between voluntary associations or the Church as organized, as the instrument of benevolent and Christian operations, he unhesitatingly chose the latter. In the early stages of the temperance movement, to the surprise of many, he raised his voice against some procedures, protesting they were unscriptural and inadmissible. He would agree to no principles or measures he judged unbecoming his office, and the great principle that the Church was sufficient for moral and religious enterprises.

Possessed of an ample estate, and far removed from a penurious spirit, he lived in great simplicity and abundance; and maintained to the last his simplicity of manners, frankness of expression, tenderness of feeling, and open hospitality, and singleness of mind. He was remarkable for that simplicity in all his principles and actions, that implied freedom from guile and envy. Dr. Hill, in his old age, being asked his opinion of Mr. Read, said he was the most simple-minded man he ever knew, the most child-like. “Did you esteem him pious?” One of the most devout men in the world. Let a man go and visit him, and he would come away deeply impressed with the sincerity and depth of his. piety.”


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