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seem to be called for, before we close our notice of this fanıily. From the fact that such a title was bestowed on him, the idea has become prevalent in Virginia that he was not only of princely possessions, having numerous tenants and servants, and a splendid palace for his residence, but that, as a consequence of this, he was authoritative, lordly, and arbitrary in his bearing and conduct, moving as a king in the Colony. He ruled over the Colony for more than a year, until the arrival of Governor Gooch. I have in my possession copies of two of his letters during this period, concerning a suspected clergyman who was desirous of getting the parish of Wycomico, in Northumberland. They were addressed to Captain Charles Lee and Mr. Thomas Berry, churchwardens of the parish. They breathe a Christian spirit of moderation and yet of decision. There is nothing of a dictatorial temper about them, but only a desire to do his duty, in the absence of a Governor, and in reference to one when he should arrive. It is very certain that Mr. Carter and his family were very popular throughout the State. His daughters were married to the first men in Virginia, and his sons to the first ladies in Virginia. At his death a long Latin inscription, written by some ripe scholar, was placed on his toinb, in which the greatest virtues are assigned to him, and a sincere piety. The epitaph will be found in our next article, on Christ Church, Lancaster county.
Parishes in Lancaster County.
The first mention which is made of Lancaster county in Hen. ning's “Statutes at Large" (volume i., page 374) is in 1652, when it is represented in the House of Burgesses by Captain Henry Fleet and Mr. William Underwood. At that time, and for four years after, it included all that is now Lancaster, Middlesex, Essex, and Richmond counties. In 1656, the old county of Rappahannock was cut off from Lancaster, and contained what, in 1692, was divided into the two counties of Richmond and Essex,-Rappa hannock being abolished. The county of Middlesex was not cut off from Lancaster until about 1664 or 1665, and, indeed, it is not mentioned in Henning until the year 1675, when a levy of twenty-five men from each of the counties of Lancaster and Middlesex is ordered for a garrison in Stafford county, to protect the frontiers against the Indians. We are enabled to approach very near to certainty, as to the time of the division, by reference to an old vestry-book of the church in Middlesex, beginning in 1664. In 1668 the vestry pass an order that a petition should be distributed among the people, praying the Assembly to ratify a former Act dividing Lancaster into two counties; from which it would seem that something was wanting to complete the division, though it must have been acted on, in some way, a year or two before. In the county of Lancaster, when including Middlesex, there were four parishes,-two on each side of the river. Those on the south side of the river were called Lancaster parish and Piankatank until, at an early period, they were merged in one and called Christ Church. Those on the north side were St. Mary's and Christ Church until, at a much later period, they were united in what is now Christ Church.
The vestry-book of Christ Church, Lancaster, before the union of the two parishes, commenced, I think, about the year 1654. I saw it for the first time about twenty years ago, and again three years after, I believe, and took extracts from it, some of which were published. Soon after this it disappeared, and, though carefully sought for since, can nowhere be found. For want of it we lose the names of the first vestrymen, (except those of the first John Carter and his sons John and Robert,) and some acts of the vestry, not remembered or written down by myself. I have recently been furnished with the vestry-book of St. Mary's parish, beginning in the year 1739, and continuing after its union with Christ Church, in 1752, until the war of the Revolution. But we still have to lament the loss of the proceedings of both parishes until 1739, and of Christ Church until 1752, except so far as I have retained in memory, and by print, the doings of the latter. Something more we have as to the names and acts of the vestry of Christ Church, by reason of the fact that, though the parishes were separate, they always employed the same minister, and met sometimes in what was called a general vestry,—that is, a meeting of both,—when their names are recorded.
We will first state such information as we have retained from the last records of Christ Church parish. About, as we believe, the year 1654, the name of John Carter, the father of that family, appears at the head of the vestry-lists, in a large, bold hand; then followed the name of the minister, which I do not recollect. The same may be said of his eldest son John, and his youngest son Robert, alias King Carter. Their names always preceded the mi. nister's, and were written in a large, bold hand. This was one sign that they took the lead in the vestry,—even going before the minister. In all the other vestry-books I have seen, even in that of Middlesex, where, about the same time, baronets were in the ves. tries, as Chicheley and Skipwith, the minister's name was always first. The action of the vestry, doubtless under the influence of the Carters, seems to have been good in relation to the exercise of discipline on offenders. One instance is recorded where a fine of fifteen hundred-weight of tobacco is imposed on a man for swearing; but, upon his pleading poverty, it was afterward reduced to five hundred. Mr. Robert Carter had large possessions and numerous servants and tenants, as we have already said. Tradition has it that the congregation, which doubtless consisted chiefly of his dependants, did not enter the church, on Sunday, until the arrival of his coach, when all followed him and his family into it. Whether this be so or not, it is certain, from the agreement on the vestrybook when he built the church, that good provision was made for his tenants and servants, one-fourth of the building being secured for their use, besides a very large pew near the pulpit and chancel, which he prepared for his immediate family.
The following extract from my report to the Convention in the year 1838, after a visit to the parishes in the Northern Neck, will show what were the impressions made upon me by that venerable building,-impressions renewed and deepened by my subsequent visit:
“My next appointment was at Christ Church, Lancaster, on the 23d of June. This was the day appointed by the Convention to be observed as a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer, on account of the languor of the Church, and the sins and troubles of the nation. No temple of religion, and no spot in the diocese, could have been selected more in accordance with the solemn duty of that day, than the old and venerable church in which three of God's ministers were assembled. I preached a sermon adapted to the occasion, and then proposed that those who were minded to spend the day as the Church recommended should remain for some hours at that place, in suitable religious exercises. A goodly pumber complied with the invitation, and after the interval of perhaps an hour, which was spent in surveying the building and the tombs around this ancient house of God, another service was performed, and a second appropriate discourse was preached by the Rev. Mr. Nelson, the service having been performed by Mr. Francis McGuire, the present minister of the parish. The past history and present condition of this hallowed spot and temple deserve a more particular notice. This notice is derived from the memorials fur. nished by the house itself, the tombstones around and within, and the vestry-book of the parish, kept from the year 1654 to 1770, to which I had access. “ The present church was built on the site of an older one,
which was completed in the year 1670, under the direction of Mr. John Carter, the first of that name, and the great ancestor of many bearing that name in Virginia. By the side of the chancel is a large marble slab, on which are the names of John Carter and his three wives, and several children, who all died before him and were buried in that spot.
“ The church being too small for the increasing population, a larger one was meditated, and some change in its location talked of, when Mr. Robert Carter (since known by the name of King Carter) offered to build one at his own expense, saying that in consequence of his large possessions, increasing family, and nu er of tenants, he had intended for some time to build a larger one for the parish. The offer was cheerfully accepted, and the present house was completed about the time of Mr. Carter's death, —that is, about the year 1732,--and exhibits to this day one of the most striking monuments of the fidelity of ancient architecture to be seen in our land. Very few, if any, repairs have been put upon it: the original roof and shingles now cover the house, and have preserved in a state of perfection the beautiful arched ceilings, except in two places which have within a few years been a little discoloured by the rain, which found its way through the gutters where the shingles have decayed. The walls of the house are three feet thick, perfect and sound. The windows are large and strong, having probably two-thirds of the original glass in them. The pews are of the old fashion, high-backed, and very firm. A very large one near the altar, and opposite the pulpit, together with the whole north cross of the building, was especially reserved by Mr. Carter for the use of his family and dependants in all time to come.
" It deserves to be mentioned, that, in addition to the high backs which
always concealed the family and prevented any of them from gazing around when sitting or kneeling, a railing of brass rods with damask curtains was put around the top of the pew, except the part opposite the pulpit, in order, it is supposed to prevent the indulgence of curiosity when standing These remained until a few years since, and parts of them may probably yet be found in the possession of neighbours or relatives. In further evidence of the fidelity with which the house was built, I would mention that the pavement of its aisles, which is of large freestove, is yet solid and smooth as though it were the work of yesterday. The old walnut Communion-table also stands firm and uvimpaired, and not a round from the railing of the chancel is gone or even loosened. The old marble font, the largest and most beautiful I ever saw, is still there; and, what will scarce be credited, the old cedar dial-post, with the name of John Carter, 1702, and which was only removed a few years since from its station without the door, where it was planted in the ground, is still to be seen in its place of security under the pulpit. In such a house, surrounded by such memorials, it was delightful to read the word of God and the prayers of the Church from the old desk, to pronounce the commandments from the altar near which the two tables of the law, the creed, and Lord's prayer are still to be seen, in large and legible characters, and then to preach the words of eternal life from the high and lofty pulpit, which seemed, as it were, to be hung in the air. Peculiarly delightful it was to raise the voice in such utterances in a house whose sacred form and beautiful arches seemed to give force and music to the feeblest tongue beyond any other building in which I ever performed or heard the hallowed services of the sanctuary. The situation of this church, though low, and surrounded on two of its sides by woodland, with thick undergrowth, is not without its peculiar interest. A few acres of open land, with some very large trees, chiefly spreading walnuts, furnish ample room for the horses and vehicles of those who attend it. An old decayed brick wall, with a number of graves and tombstones around the house, adds no little solemnity to the scene. Among the latter, at the east end of the house, within a neat enclosure, recently put up, are to be seen the tombs of Robert Carter, the builder of the house, and of his two wives. These are probably the largest and richest and heaviest tombstones in our land. A long Latin inscription is to be seen on that of Mr. Carter. While the tomb of the husband is entire, those of the wives appear to have been riven by lightning, and are separating and falling to pieces. Such is the belief and testimony of the neighbours. It is pleasing to know that a considerable sum of money has been subscribed for repairing the roof, which requires a new covering, and for improving the interior of this remarkable building, and that a generous portion of it is contributed by some of the descendants of the original builder, or those connected with them, who, though residing at a distance from the spot, possess the land around it, and have given the best assurance to the remaining families of the church, that it shall ever be continued for its original and sacred purposes."
To the foregoing notices of Christ Church from my report to the Convention of 1838, I add the following from memory. Of the two days spent in this hallowed spot, the one following the day of humiliation was a dark and gloomy one,—the sky being overcast