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Cople Parish, Westmoreland County.

WESTMORELAND county was cut off from Northumberland county in 1653, and extended along the Potomac as high as the Falls above Georgetown. In the years 1661–62 the two counties were temporarily reunited, because, by the removal of some leading persons, there was not a suitable number of civil and military gentlemen to constitute a proper commission in either of them alone. After some time Stafford was taken from Westmoreland, leaving it a small, narrow county lying on the Potomac, and only extending half-way across the neck toward the Rappahannock River. First Lancaster, then Rappahannock, and then Richmond counties, divided what is now Westmoreland. In time, all the land lying between the rivers was given to Westmoreland, and Cople parish occupied the lower part of the county and Washington the upper. We will begin with Cople parish.

The first minister we have on any of our lists is the Rev. Charles Rose, brother to the Rev. Robert Rose, of Essex. He appears on the earliest list we have,--that of 1751,--but from the diary of his brother we know that he was its minister some years before this. He was also minister in 1758. In the year 1773, the Rev. Thomas Smith was its minister, as he was in 1776. Either before or after him, we are informed that the Rev. Augustine Smith was its minister. We presume that they were relatives of the many respectable persons of that name in this and other counties around, but we have received no particular account of them. In the year 1799, the Rev. James Elliott was minister. Of him we hear nothing good from this or any other parish which he served. We hear of no other minister in Cople parish until the Rev. Washington Nelson took charge of it in connection with the parishes in Richmond county. He was succeeded in 1812 by the Rev. Mr. Ward. The Rev. Mr. Rumney succeeded him in 1849, and was succeedel by the Rev. Edward McGuire in 1850.

He was followed by the Rev. William McGuire in 1852. The present minister, the Rev. Mr. Dashiel, took charge of it in 1854.

There were two churches in this parish,—one at Yeocomico River or Creek, from which it takes its name, Yeocomico; and another about ten miles off, on Nominy River or Creek, from which it also took the name of Nominy. The latter was destroyed by fire soon after our last war with England, but a new brick one has taken its place within the last few years. The plate belonging to this church was carried off by Admiral Cockburn and his party, when they were on a pillaging-expedition on the Potomac and its tributaries. The plate was kept on a plantation upon the banks of Nominy River, just opposite the church. The farm itself was called Nominy, and was then, and still is, owned by the Griffith family, relatives of the Bishopelect of that name. The house was plundered and then burned. The other-Yeocomico Church-is still in good repair, but among the rudest and roughest of all the old brick churches. It was built in 1706. For the first time a new roof has, within a few years, been put upon it, and some internal changes been made in it. Although I think it might have been better done and made more complete, yet it would be difficult, and perhaps not desirable, to give a more modern aspect to it. The following extract from my report in 1838 may not be without interest to the reader:

“On Monday I went, in company with Mr. Nelson, to Yeocomico Church, in Westmoreland, where I preached, and administered the rite of Confirmation to three persons.

“ Yeocomico Church, so called after the river of that name, is one of the old churches, being built in the year 1706. The architecture is rough, but very strong, and the materials must have been of the best kind. Its figure is that of a cross, and, situated as it is, in a little recess from the main road, in the midst of some aged trees, and surrounded by an old brick wall which is fast mouldering away, it cannot fail to be an object of interest to one whose soul has any sympathy for such scenes. It has undergone but little repair since its first erection, and indeed has needed little. It is not known or believed that a single new shingle has ever been put upon the roof, and the pews and whole interior are the same. During the late war it was shamefully abused by the soldiers who were quartered in it while watching the movements of the British on the Potomac. The Communion-table was removed into the yard, where it served as a butcher's block, and was entirely defaced. Being of substantial materials, however, it admitted of a new face and polish, and is now restored to its former place, where it will answer, we trust, for a long time to come, the holy purposes for which it was originally designed. Nor was the baptismal font exempt from profanation. It was taken some miles from the church, and used as a vessel in which to prepare the excitements to ungodly mirth. This, however was not long permitted, for in the absence of every member of our own communion, none being left to do it, a venerable old man of the Presbyterian connection,* mortified at the dishonour done to religion, took pains to regain it and restore it to its former place. It is a large and beautiful marble font, and by its side I took my station while I heard the renewal of baptismal vows from the lips of those who were confirmed. The canvas on which the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, and the Creed were impressed was so torn by the soldiers that they could no longer be permitted to retain their place, and are now lying in fragments in one of the distant and unoccupied pews.

* The name of this worthy old man is Murphy. He has now gone to his rest.

" It deserves to be mentioned that whatever repairs have been put upon this house were at the expense of the good man mentioned above, and a worthy gentleman of New York, a member of our communion, and whose matrimonial connection in the family often brought him to that part of Virginia. A large and excellent stove, which completely warmed the whole church, was a present from the latter, and on the desk and pulpit the Bible and Prayer-Book bear the name of J. Rogers, of New York.'

It deserves to be stated that I have in my possession a contract with the vestry for the repairs of this church in 1773, at a cost of one hundred pounds, or five hundred dollars. In the agreement, various repairs within and without the house and in the walls around the yard are specified, but nothing is said about a new roof, which goes to establish the tradition that the present roof is the original one put upon the house in 1706.

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For twenty years or more, prior to the pastorate of the Rev. Washington Nelson, this parish was without clerical services. In all that time there was nothing except the visitations of the Bishop to remind the people here that there was an Episcopal Church. And depressing as was such a state of things, and calculated as it was to break us down entirely, we were just as likely to have the same end brought about by the life and character of the man who had last been rector. I do not know whether this man resigned the parish, or died whilst in charge: be that as it may, his course was well calculated to disgust people and drive them from our services. Looking at the consequences which must naturally flow from such a connection, and from the long period in which there was entire absence of Episcopal ministrations, we cannot otherwise than wonder, whilst we thank God, as we now see our Church upon the same spot enjoying every promise of prosperity. Whilst, during the period referred to, there was nothing done by us, other Christian bodies were active; and, under all the influences which operated against us, it is not surprising that all or nearly all who had any affection for our Church should have lost their feelings of attachInent and have sought comfort elsewhere. In truth, when Mr. Nelson came here the Episcopal Church had nearly died out. The only communicants he found were three old ladies in the humblest walks of life. An account of these pious and excellent people was published by Mr. Nelson, but I believe it must be out of print. Even, however, if there should be any copies of it in existence, their history is so remarkable that it will very well bear the mention here made. The name of these sisters was McGuire,—Miss Emily, Miss Mary, and a widow, Mrs. Davis. Two of them are still alive and still continue warmly attached to our Church, and are exerting a considerable influence in its favour among their acquaintances. The eldest of them—Miss Emily—died in August, 1855. I tried to obtain for myself a satisfactory account of how they became Episcopalians, and how they retained their love for the Church when every one else in the surrounding country deserted it. They said, in substance, that they had been educated by their mother, who was an Episcopalian, and brought up to love all our services. They were baptized by our ministry, and attended its preaching whenever they could. When their mother died she left them a large PrayerBook, with the request that they would abide by its teachings; and, from affection for her as well as for the Church, they obeyed her word. They told how the Church had flourished in days gone by,—how it had been ridiculed when its clergy behaved badly,and how the members had been shamed away from it, and how themselves still clung to it. I asked them how they got along during the many years there was no minister. “Why, sir,” said Miss Emily, “whenever there was preaching at Westmoreland or Richmond Court-House, we would walk to it,—once in a while we would have this chance,—and when there was no preaching I would read the Lessons on Sunday to my sister and we would go through the morning service, and if any neighbours came in maybe I would read a sermon.” Westmoreland Court-House is four miles from their residence and Richmond Court-House about twelve miles; and I have it certified by others that the statement of Miss Emily is true,—they have been known to walk to and from these places to attend our Church services in the coldest and hottest weather. I asked them if in that time they never attended the services of other denominations. “Well, sir,” they said, “we did sometimes; they would be holding church all around us, and sometimes we would go; but it wasn't like home to us. We know they're good, but still we felt happier worshipping here in our own way.”

The piety of these worthy people is even more remarkable than their attachment to their Church. They are very poor, but their uniform contentment and happiness is rarely to be met with. Upon one occasion whilst Miss Emily was alive, her sister Mary remarked that now in their old age they sometimes got right cold while walking to church in the winter. "But what of that, sister?" says Miss Emily; "why should we care for that ?” “And I don't care for it,” was the reply.

We have mentioned that Miss Emily died in August, 1855. She was very aged, and for some weeks previous to her decease was imbecile. It pleased God, however, not to let her depart in this state. The day before she died her reason returned, and she talked solemnly and impressively to those around her. She remained thus conscious almost up to the very moment of her death. Miss Mary and Mrs. Davis still attend their church and see the parish which once could number only themselves as its friends, now containing more than twenty families, about thirty communicants now living, and many evidences that it is still to flourish. May God help us to remember and cherish the poor!

To this it well deserves to be added, that during the entire intermission of services in this parish, these sisters were in the habit of going once in a year in a sail-boat to Alexandria in order to receive the Communion.


From a document of Mr. Willowby Newton, father of the present Willowby, and grandson of a Willowby Newton, I learn that at an early period four brothers emigrated to Virginia,-one of whom settled in Norfolk, another in Alexandria, one in Westmoreland, and one in Stafford; so that it is probable that all of the name in Virginia, and many out of it, are from the same stock. Richard Lee, of Lee Hall, in Westmoreland, not far from the ruins of the old burnt house, which was an ancient Lee establishment, married a Miss Poythress, of Prince George, who was a granddaughter of Richard Bland. After the death of Mr. Lee-commonly called Squire Lee—she married Mr. Willowby Newton, both of whom were vestrymen, as was John Newton, father of this Willowby, and son of the first Willowby. The name of Willowby was an ancient one about Norfolk, and intermarried with the Newtons.

At Bushfield, in this county, there is an inscription which gives us the origin of the name Bushrod, which is incorporated in many other names of Virginia :

“ Here lies the body of John Bushrod, Gentleman, son of Richard Bushrod, Gentleman, by Apphia his wife. He was born in Gloucester

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