Page images

site reasons—that she conceded too little and too much and amidst trouble and wounds was spreading her wings for a westward flight, should ordain a forerunner who was not supposed to be ex animo a Presbyterian. Makemie's trials proved his spirit. He suffered confinement like his pastor and his co-presbyters. In magnanimity and boldness he was akin with Livingston and Blair, and the host of Scotch ministers, who laid down their lives in the Grass Market in Edinborough, in defence of what Americans hold most dear. It is not to be supposed that Makemie thought less of Presbyterian forms in America than in Ireland, or would be more ready to give them up, when the difficulties were no greater, and the reasons for adherence no less; more especially, when the yielding of them on the one hand for Independency would not render him less obnoxious to the laws of the province, or on the other, for prelacy, add any thing to his usefulness.

The fruits of Makemie's labours are seen, in the places where he expended his strength. Snow Hill and Rehoboth are churches still. Accomack has its church. Elizabeth always feeble, has had some witnesses; and Norfolk now flourishes. Urbana never had a church, but on the opposite side of the Rappahannoc, Waddel passed some years of his most successful labours.

The landing place of the Pilgrims cannot be seen at Plymouth. Jamestown in Virginia has passed to a single church in ruins and a grave yard. But the religious principles of the Pilgrims have spread far and wide; and the political principles of Virginia have influenced the nation. The facts and principles that sustained Makemie in Somerset and Accomack have been felt through all the South and West. He stands first in the list of names that shine as a galaxy in the Eccle siastical horizon; and as a defender of civil liberty and equal rights in America he had no superior.




The prosecution of the Rev. Francis Makemie, for preaching a sermon, in the incipient city of New York, is a singular fact in history. It embraces the principles and laws on which he was called before County Courts, Deputies and Councils in Virginia and Maryland, and also some peculiar to New York. A statement is here presented, that the public may have a better understanding of the arbitrary nature of all religious establishments, by contemplating the difficulties that embarrassed dissenters from the Church of England; and that a more just estimate may be formed of the man who stands first on the list of the ministers of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. The facts and arguments, with the exception of Lord Cornbury's statement, are taken from a pamphlet published at the time, and republished, in New York, in the year 1755. Mr. Makemie is supposed to be Author or Editor, in part; or that it was drawn up under his inspection.

În the month of January, 1707, the Rev. Francis Makemie, and Rev. John Hampton, on a tour to New England, tarried a few days in New York. Lord Cornbury, the Deputy Governor, hearing of these strangers, the one from Accomack, Virginia, and the other from Somerset, Maryland, entertained them at the castle. No preparation had then been made for either of the gentlemen to preach. There was then no regular Presbyterian congregation in the city. After dining with the Governor, Mr. Makemie was invited by some of the citizens to preach on the ensuing Sabbath. He consented. Application,

. without his approbation or knowledge, was made to the Gore ernor, for permission for him to preach in the Dutch Church, and was refused. The Governor declared himself invested with power to decide who should be permitted to preach in the city or province.

On Sabbath, the 19th of the month, Mr. Makemie preached in the dwelling house of William Jackson on Pearl Street, in an open public manner; and baptized a child. Mr. Hampton, on the same day, preached, at Newtown on Long Island, to a regular congregation, whose house had been admitted to record, according to the requirements of the Act of Toleration. Mr. Makemie remained in New York, on Monday, went on Tuesday to Newtown, intending to preach there on Wednesday. Immediately on his arrival, Thomas Cardale, High Sheriff, and Stephen Luff, Under Sheriff of Queens County, arrested Messrs. Makemie and Hampton, on a warrant signed by Lord Cornbury, charging them with having—“taken it upon them to preach in a private house, without having obtained any license for so dong, which is directly contrary to the known laws of England:-and being likewise informed that they are gone into Long Island with intent there to spread their pernicious doctrine and principles to the great disturbance of the Church by law established, and of the Government of this province"-and directing the Sheriff to bring the bodies of "Makennan" and Hampton to fort Anne.

On account of the lateness of the hour, when the process was served, the prisoners were permitted, on their parole, to lodge that night at the house of two neighbours friendly to them; on the next day, Wednesday, they were carried round by Jamaica, seven or eight miles out of the way to New York, as if to make a show of them; and being detained there that night, they were on Thursday, about noon, taken to fort Anne, and, about three or four o'clock in the afternoon, brought before Lord Cornbury, in the Council chamber.

Lord Cornbury's statement ought first to be perused. It was obtained from the office in Albany by the Rev. R. Webster. It is as follows

“ To the Right Honorable Lords Commissioners for Trade and Commerce. On the 17th of January, 1705, 6 (6, 7) a man of this town, one Jackson, came to acquaint me that two ministers were come to town and desired to know when they might speak with me. I ordered my man to tell Jackson they should be welcome to come and dine with me. They came and I found one is named Francis Makenzie a Presbyterian preacher settled in Virginia; the other is John Hampton a young Presbyterian minister lately come to settle in Maryland. They pretended they were going to Boston and did not say one syllable about preaching here. They applied themselves to the Dutch minister and to the Elders of the French church for leave to preach in their churches; they were willing if they could get my consent. On the Monday following I was informed that M. had preached at the house of Jackson a shoemaker in this town, and that Hampton had preached on Long Island, and that Makenzie was gone there with intent to preach in all the towns, having spread a Report that they had a commission from the Queen to preach all along this continent. I was informed the same day that they had preached in several places in New Jersey, and had ordained some young men, after their manner, who had preached among the Dissenters there without it. When asked, they said they had no occasion to ask leave of any Governor, they had the Queen's authority for what they did. These reports with the information I had of their behaviour on Long Island induced me to send an order to the Sheriff of Queens county to bring them to this place. He did so on the 23d of January in the Evening. The Attorney General was with me. I asked M. how he came to preach in this Government without acquainting me with it. He told me he had qualified himself according to law in Virginia, and having done so would preach in any part of the Queen's dominions. He told me he understood the law as well as any man, and was satisfied he had not offended against any law; that the penal laws did not extend to, and were not in force in America. I told him the Queen was graciously pleased to grant liberty of conscience to all her subjects, except Papists; that he might be a papist for all I knew, and that therefore it was necessary he should have satisfied the Government what he was before he ventured to preach. He told me he would qualify himself in any manner and would settle in this province. I told him whenever any of the people in either of the provinces under my Government had desired leave to cåll a minister of their own persuasion, they had never been denied; but that I should be very cautious how I allowed a man so prone to bid defiiance to government, as I found he was. He said he had done nothing he could not answer. So I ordered the High Sheriff of the city to take them into custody and I directed the Attorney General to proceed against them. He preferred an indictment against M. for preaching in the city without qualifying himself as the Act of Toleration directs. The Grand Jury found the Bill, but the petit jury acquitted him; so he is gone towards New England uttering many severe threats against me. As I hope I have done nothing in this matter but what I was obliged in duty to do, especially as I think it very plain by the Act of Toleration, that it was not intended to tolerate or allow strolling preachers, so I entreat your Lordships protection against this malicious man, who is well known in Virginia and Maryland to be a disturber of the peace and quiet of all the places he comes into. He is a Jack of all trades. He is a preacher, a doctor of physic, a merchant, an attorney, a counsellor at Law, and, which is worst of all, a disturber of Governments. I should have sent your Lordships, this account sooner but that I was willing to see the issue of the trial. “I am my Lords “ Your Lordships most ob. Hum. Servt.

“ CORNBURY. « New York Oct. 14th, 1706," (7.)

“ The brief narrative and genuine history of the several steps of sufferings by the confinement of Francis Makemie and John Hampton”-goes on to say, that when the ministers appeared before Lord Cornbury in the council chamber-His Lordship inquired “How dare you to take it upon you to preach in my government without my license?

Makemie replied—“We have liberty from an act of parliament made in the first year of the reign of King William and Queen Mary, which gave us liberty, with which law we have complied.

c. “None shall preach in my government without my

0 license.

M. “If the law for liberty had directed us to any particular persons in authority for license, we would readily have observed the same; but we cannot find any directions in the act of parliament, therefore we would not take notice thereof.

C. " That law does not extend to the American plantations, but only to England.

11. “My Lord I humbly conceive that it is not a limited nor local act; and am well assured it extends to other plantations of the Queen's dominions, which is evident from certificates from courts of record of Virginia and Maryland, certifying we have complied with the law.” These certificates were produced and read by Lord Cornbury, who was pleased to say they did not extend to New York.

C. “I know it is local and limited, for I was at the making thereof.

M. “Your Excellency might be at the making thereof, but we are assured there is no such limiting clause therein as is in local acts, and desire that the law may be produced to determine the point.

C. (Turning to the attorney, Mr. Bekely) “Is it not so, Mr. Attorney?

Attorney—“Yes, it is local, my Lord.” And producing an argument he went on to say—“that all the penal laws were local and limited, and did not extend to the plantations; and the Act of Toleration being made to take off the edge of the penal laws, therefore the Act of Toleration does not extend to any plantations.

M. “I desire the law may be produced; for I am morally persuaded there is no limitation or restriction in the law to England, Wales and Berwick on Tweed; for it extends to sundry plantations of the Queen's dominions, as Barbadoes, Virginia, and Maryland, which is evident from certificates produced, which we could not have obtained if the act of parliament had not extended to the plantations. I presume New York is a part of her Majesty's dominions also; and sundry ministers on the east end of Long Island have complied with the law, and qualified themselves at court by complying with the directions of said law, and have no license from your Lordship.

C. “Yes, New York is of her Majesty's dominions; but the Act of Toleration does not extend to the plantations by its own intrinsic virtue, or any intention of the legislators, but only by her Majesty's instructions signified unto me, and that is from her prerogative, and clemency, and the courts which have qualified these men are in error, and I will check them for it.

M. If the law extends to the plantations any manner of way, whether by the Queen's prerogative clemency or otherwise, our certificates were demonstration that we had complied therewith.

« PreviousContinue »