Mr. Varnod to the Secretary
St. Georges So Carolina
April 3d. 1728
The Honourable Society requiring me to give them the best account I can get with relation to the heads following concerning my Church and other necessary Points relating thereunto: In order to answer their laudable design, I shall not be wanting in my Duty to give them the best information I could get about it.
In their First Query I am desired to give the History of the building of my Church in these following particulars In answer thereunto, it must be observed that An 1717 Decemr. 11th. The Honrble Alexr. Skeen Esqr. Captn. Walter Izard, Mr. Thomas Diston, Tho. [p. 77] Waring Esqr. Mr. Jacob Satur, and Captn. John Canty were appointed by a law Commissioners for the Building the Church in St. Georges Parish.
O the first of Febr: following these Gentlemen for promoting so pious a work drew a Subscription Paper in order to See what contributions could be obtain’d for the more Speedy erecting of the Church; And on the 25 Mar [ty?] 1718 they met in order to consider the Subscriptions already obtain’d.
On June following they agreed with workmen to build the said Church.
In August 1719 the work of the Said Church was begun, and in the year following the brick work, roof Ceiling, & Plaistering were finished
No Church has been built here in so little a time so all this was owing to the Extraordinary application and diligence of the Gentlemen the Commissioners.
[Rx.?] First by the publick, and then by the Gentlemen of this Parish with some contributions from Gentlemen in other Parishes.
As there is not in this Parish of St. George above five Gentlemen of any considerable Caroline Estate, the Parishioners were not able to build the Church at their own Charge Therefore the Assembly of this Province An 1717 was pleased to give towards it and the building of the Parsonage house £333.S6.D8 four years after the Publick gave for the Church only another Sum of £466.S13.4d wch. amounts in Sterling as money was in those days [p. 78] to £137.
Now as to the Contributions of Gentlemen in this and other Parishes it amounts in the list of the Subscribers to 1196; I must in justice to the Church Commissioners acquaint you that besides their contributions they Sent some of their Negroes in order to carry on more Speedily the building of the Church.
It is but 50 foot long, and 30 broad besides the Setting out of the Chancel 15 foot by five.
It is all built wth. bricks and hath no Endowments.
My Salary is £100 Proclamation money which amounts in Sterling money to £71.S8.7d.
I have a very good brick house habitable but not finished it is 34 by 25 foot, built about three years ago, not quite half a mile from the Church upon a very Pleasant Spot of Ground near Ashley River with a glebe of 75 acres of Land. The house did cost about £150 Sterling and was built at the great charge and expence of the Horble Alexr. Skeen the Honble. Jos: Blake Esqr. Tho: Warring and Walter Izard Esqrs. Messrs. Josiah, Joseph, and Richd. Warring, Captn. Wm. Sanders and Mr. John Postel.
I proceed now to ye. 2d. Query wch. begins thus. The number of Inhabitts. Belonging. When this Parish was a part of that of St. Andrews Scarce one Family went to Church, for want of conveniency of Roads, and Bridges, to travel easy from one part of the Country to another, besides [p. 79] People that were inclinable for the Church had generally this Notion that they could serve God very well in a Meeting, and that it was better for them to go to Meeting, than to stay at home. Therefore Scarce any body resorted any where else but to the Meeting house which lies in a very Convenient Place to resort to, and as it were in the Center of the Parish. However when this Parish was Made a distinct one from St. Andrews; whenever Divine Service was performed here the numbers of Inhabitants belonging to the Church or usually frequenting it, seldom exceeded 40. Now thank God the thing is very much altered for the better for I have about 30 Church Families attending Divine Worship every Lords Day.
The Generality of the first Settlers were men of no great fortune, planting was their Cheif Employ and Business.
In order to have true Notion of their Sentimts about Religion, it must be observed that in the year 1706 this Province was divided into Parishes. Now before that Division and about 35 years ago, there was in this uper part of Ashley River 6 or 7 families. Religion was the thing they troubled themselves the least. Sunday was only distinguished from other days because it was a day of rest and Pleasure.
Few Years after namely An 1696/7, [p. 80] a Colony of 158 Persons from New England came in this Province and Setled in this Parish; they brought over with them one Mr. Laud a Teacher. They were all Independants: They and most of their Successors continued in the same Principles for about 20 years after, so that whilst this uper part of Ashley River where I am setled was in St. Andrews Parish, namely from the Year 1706 to 1717 Independency was here the Religion most in fashion.
However there was in that time a Small number of Persons pretty well affected to the Church of England and must refer you to what I have said of them more particularly in the beginning of the Answer to this 2d Query
But then when the year 1717 this part of the Province was made a distinct Parish, the Independants about that time receded very much from their former tenets, by Admitting for their Teacher (after the death of Mr. Laud) one Mr. Fisher now living who is a professed Presbyterian. And what is the more Surprizing is that, that affair was transacted after the previous Consent and approbation of their friends in New England. Thus these New England People became thereby both Presbyterians and Independants; And this may be easily [gathered?]] from a Letter relating [p. 81] to that affair which Mr. Fisher was pleased to favour me with lately, wherein he owns that his followers are not without Esteem and affection towards their former Congregational Principles and indeed he is very much in the right, for his Deacons, and Elders carry that Esteem and affection so far as not to allow him to baptize any Children whose Parents are not of the Covenant. A thing I have heard complained of by some dissenters of his Congregation.
Besides these Presbyterian Independts. we have about 15 families of Anabaptists.
When the Independts. were thus wavring in their Principles and Chifting them, those Persons that were inclinable for the Church of England, grew daily more and more Steddy in their Principles, and Several of them are now true and worthy members of our Holy Church, and the number of them is likely to encrease still.
There is a small piece of Ground called Dorchester containing 116 ¼ of an Acre Lots, design’d formerly by the New England Settlers for a Town ship, it is the Pleasantest spot of Ground in the Settlements. There is upon it but 6 Families. The Church is built upon one of them Lots.
Within two miles round of Dorchester there is about 20 Families living not distant from one another, but farther off people are dispersed up and down a large compass of ground [p. 82] of 12 miles in Length and 8 in breadth.
My Church is about 9 miles distant from that of St James’s Goose Creek, and Eleven from St. Andrews, and now it is very easy to travel to either place in any time of the year.
I can discover in this Parish but 115 families and about 500 white Persons Men, Women, and Children.
I wish I could say that since I have had the happiness to have been among my Parishioners they have improved in their fortuns.
In Parishes near the sea several Inhabitants are Merchants as well as Planters, but here their fortune depends intirely upon the good or bad Success of their Crops. Now in this respect my Parishioners have been great Sufferers, by bad Seasons, all the time I have been among them. Besides there has been twice a very great mortality amongst their Negroes, a sort of Pestilential pluritick feavor, which proved very fatal in several families.
Further the Steps the Planters took to repair their losses by buying New Negroes hath been a Considerable addition to their misfortunes, for in order to purchase them they contracted with the Merchants for rice to delivered in the Ensuing Crop. The Crops failing, the Price of the rice encreasing, the Planters were not able to answer the demands [p. 83] of the Merchants, and therefore were forced to Comute B Bonds in money, whereby the Negroes cost them above 30 p’cent above the market price, besides the common interest of 10 p’cent. Lastly my Parish labours under this disadvantage that it is in some measure a frontier to the Province [qt.?] exposed to the Indians whenever they have a mind to disturb the Settlemts. My Parishioners have been of late very much [blank space in original] on the account of the hostilitys committed in the Parish of St Bartholomew by the Spanish Indians, which Parish is adjacent to this. And tho’ the Indians are disappointed by a late Blow given them, yet should they attempt again any thing of that nature in the high time of planting People would be prodigious Sufferers only by neglecting their Plantations. From whence I conclude that of late years the Inhabitants of this Parish have not improved in their Fortune and Condition
There is a Meeting house about 2 miles from the Church of St. George, used by the Presbyterians Independts. and above 240 persons Adult dissenting from the Church of England, and have one Teacher whom they maintain by voluntary Subscriptions.
We have yet no Schools, however there is no doubt but we shall have a very good one as soon as the Royal assent can be obtained for passing our School act and the Honble. Society is please to gratify us with a Missionary [p. 84] Schoolmaster.
No Donation hath been made to the Church. My Parishioners when I came here first gave me a Horse, and can’t reasonably expect from them any other benefactions because they have been at great deal of Charge there is no the Parsonage house. There is no Library belonging to the Parish.
There is in my Parish about 1300 Negroe Slaves. Scarce any body besides the Honourable Alexr. Skeen Esqr. and Mrs. Hague take any care to instruct them. [108?] of their Slaves are now Christians. Besides a Negroe Man belonging to Mr. Samuel Wragg Mercht. in London.
Before I conclude I beg leave to give you an Account of the Extent & Bounds of my Parish. It is about 19 miles long and 8 broad. The uper part where the S West line runs which makes above a third of the Extent of the Parish is not inhabited, and there is no bounds on the West. Ann: 1717 An Act was passed by the General Assembly of this Province to Settle the bounds of St. George Parish. But as the Parish lines were found afterwards prejudicial and inconvenient for this Parish and that of St. Andrews, Therefore Sept. 15 Ann 1721 Another Act was passed to alter the bounds thereof declaring that St. Georges Parish [p. 85] shall be bounded on the South Side of Ashley River wth. a S West line, from the Plantation of Mr. Richd. Bedon Inclusive to the Bounds of Colleton Countrey. On the North Side of the Said River by a N East line, from the Plantation of Wm. Baker deceased inclusive to the bounds of St. James’s Goose Creek, and on all other parts by the same bounds the Parish of St. Andrews was formerly bounded.
Thus by this Law the two Parishes are reduced into a regular form, without detrimt. to Either, as the Honourable Wm. Bull Esqr. Parishioner of St. Andrews and the Chiefest Surveyor of this Province, rightly observed some time ago when I was at his house.
The Letter of Mr. Fisher (the Dissenting Teacher [“Minister” interlined above] at Dorchester) mentioned in the answer to the Second Query and directed to me runs thus
I reced yours and have inquired into the affair you propos’d. The people that came here from N England above 30 years ago to Settle wth. their Minister were Congregational in their Principles, that is, as to their Doctrinal principles they were Strictly Calvinists as appears from a Short Confession of the faith (now before me) upon which they united in a Society. They were distinguished from Brownists in that [p. 86] in their 18 Article they professed to maintain Communion in the Worship of God, as occasion serves wth. all that in every Place call on the Lord Jesus which they interpreted of admitting to Communion with them Sober Episcopalians Anabaptists, and Presbyterians. They were distinguished from Indepents. in that in their 23 Article they profess to believe that the Sentences of Synods so far as Consonant to the Word of God are decision and to be submitted unto. Their present Minister who has now lived with them about ten years you know is Presbyterian and the Governmt. of the Congregation has been Presbyterian since his Settlement tho it must be owned the People are not without Esteem and affection toward their former Discipline; The familys that ordinarily attend the Publick Worship at the Meeting house here are about fifty or not much less. The way of Supporting their Minister as usual in all dissenting Congregations in this Province is by Voluntary Contribution. The [Settlers?] in the Second ship were from Ipswich Newbury Andover and thereabout (in N. England) all from
Your humble Servt. Hu: Fisher.
Dorch: Mar: 22: 1727/8
This is all I thought most Material to send to the Honble. Society for answer to their Queries, wch. that it may be as acceptable to them as my Endeavours have been Earnest to get the best informations I cou’d are the hearty wishes of,
Sr. Yr. most obedt. humble Servt.
F: Varnod (p. 87)