Page images
[ocr errors][merged small]

It was in contemplation that the Sketches in this volume should be continued to a later period. Materials were procured in abundance; and a number of sketches prepared, viz: James Turner-Cary Allen-The old Churches and Church Yards in the Valley-List of all the members of Hanover Presbytery, from its formation to the year 1786, with short notices of many of the brethren—and Cornstalk, the Shawanee Chief. But the size of the volume forbids their insertion. The appearance of a second volume will depend upon the reception the present volume may meet with from indulgent public.

RomNEY, Hampshire Co., Virginia,

December 1849.





[ocr errors]

THERE have lived men, in Virginia, whose names are worthy of everlasting remembrance. There have been events that should never be forgotten. There have been principles avowed, whose influence will be felt through all time. There have been historians of Virginia—there have been volumes of Biography worthy of the writers, and of the men whose lives they record. The materials for these volumes have been found abundant, and are not yet exhausted. Mines of literary wealth remain untouched.

Virginia claims the veneration and love of her children. Situated in the medium latitude between the extremes of the Union, she borders on the Atlantic, and six of her sister States. In her bosom was the first of those colonies, that have increased and multiplied into the United States of America. As the mother of great men, and theatre of great events, in Church and State, all posterity will acknowledge her claims.

While political events have had their historians, and political men their biographers, the great struggle for Religious Liberty which preceded the Bill for Religious Freedom, has never been set forth. It has been but slightly referred to in the record of

. those very events over which it had a controlling influence. And while it remains unknown, Virginia, both past and present, remains unknown. The power of the religious principle in moulding the civil and political institutions in Virginia has not been appreciated. The law for religious freedom, in the Statute book, cannot be duly estimated, while the history of the men, that thought and laboured and suffered for the unrestrained liberty we enjoy, remains unwritten. This liberty was not the offspring of mere greatness of mind, or of political

sagacity. It was a child of principle, cradled in sufferings, and fed on tears. Afflicted beyond endurance, it fled from the old world, and suffered, and toiled in patience, and gained the victory in the new. It is the glory of Virginia that the contest for civil and religious liberty began so early in her borders, and was so soon followed by that phenomenon, entire freedom of conscience, novel to herself and strange to the old world.

The object of the following sketches is to delineate some of the scenes witnessed in Virginia, and portray the characters of some of her children, and of some, who captivated by her beauty and fertility, cast in their lot, for life or for death, for glory and wealth, or poverty and suffering, and aided in the working out the system of things which has been, and is, the glory of Virginia. These have not been given in any volume of History or Biography presented to the public; and their omission has rendered the history of Virginia enigmatical. Effects have been delineated for which no sufficient cause has been given. And readers of voluminous histories of Virginia have risen from this enjoyment, or task, with very imperfect, if not utterly erroneous views of the principles and doings of the past. CONTRIBUTIONS TO ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY have been made to illustrate the character, doings, and fate, of that denomination, which, established by law, with the settlement of the province, was sustained by the legislature with paramount, and almost uncontrolled, influence, for nearly a century and a half. Some reference has been made in history to classes of people that, at different times, previous to 1700, appeared, were opposed, persecuted, in part put down, in part driven away, but not annihilated; but history has not said that they finally wrought a change in the sentiments of the freeholders of Virginia, and consequently in her constitution. These sketches will attempt to set forth these men and their doings And if they appear to be sketches of a denomination, it is because the men whose acts have been worthy of something better than vituperation and forgetfulness were of that denomination.

The materials for these sketches have been gathered in every section of the State. Records of Civil Courts and Ecclesiastical Judicatories, in manuscript, have been examined, volume after volume. Private journals, diaries, memoranda, and family genealogies have been fully consulted and freely used. Magazines of unquestioned standing, and pamphlets to be relied on, have contributed largely. Comparatively little has been taken from any political history, in general circulation. The events described in such history are supposed to be known; and are here introduced only to show the reader where

« PreviousContinue »