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Henry Fitzhugh, my associate at college, entered life with as fair a prospect for honour and usefulness as any young man in Virginia. Twice only, I believe, did he appear in the legislative hall of our State, and once in a Convention of the same; but such a promise of political distinction was there given, that it could not but be felt that a few years would find him in the higher Councils of the land. It pleased Providence to interfere, and by a sudden and early death to remove him from this earthly scene. Before this decree of Heaven was executed, as if admonished of its coming, he had, after pleading by his pen and voice for the American Colonization Society, directed that all his slaves—amounting, I believe, to about two hundred-should be prepared for, and allowed to choose, Africa as their home.
But I must not lay down my pen, though the heart bleed at its further use, without the tribute of affection, of gratitude, and reverence to one who was to me as sister, mother, and faithful monitor. Mrs. Mary Custis, of Arlington, the wife of Mr. Washington Custis, grandson of Mrs. General Washington, was the daughter of Mr. William Fitzhugh, of Chatham. Scarcely is there a Christian lady in our land more honoured than she was, and none more loved and esteemed. For good sense, prudence, sincerity, benevolence, unaffected piety, disinterested zeal in every good work, deep humility and retiring modesty,--for all the virtues which adorn the wife, the mother, and the friend, -I never knew her superior. A husband yet lives to feel her loss. An only daughter, with a numerous family of children, also survive, to imitate, I trust, her blessed example.
Overwharton Parish, Stafford County.
I COME now to Overwharton parish in Stafford county. The county and parish take their names from the corresponding ones in England. Stafford county once extended up to the Blue Ridge Mountain. In the year 1730, Prince William county was formed from the “heads of King George and Stafford.” Overwharton parish was also coextensive with Stafford before Prince William was taken off. In the same year,-1730,- Overwharton parish was divided and Hamilton parish taken off. Overwharton covered the narrow county of Stafford, and Hamilton the large county of Prince William before Fauquier, Fairfax, and Loudoun were taken away. Stafford, in its original dimensions, first appears as a county in 1666. When it was erected into a parish is not known,but most probably about the same time. Its division in 1730 is the first mention of it. The Rev. Robert Rose in his accounts book mentions the Rev. Alexander Scott as a minister in it in 1727; and it is well known that he was the minister of this parish for many years.* He came from Scotland, -being obliged to leave, it is supposed, after some unsuccessful rebellion. He never married. Having acquired considerable property, he invited his younger brother, the Rev. James Scott, to come over and inherit it. He had one estate in Stafford called Dipple, at which he lived. His
* The Rev. Alexander Scott was minister in this parish in 1724, and for thirteen years before, as appears from his report to the Bishop of London. Being then a frontier-county, its limits were not known; but it was inhabited about eighty miles along the Potomac and from three to twenty miles in the interior. There were six hundred and fifty families, eighty to one hundred communicants, in attendance, one church, and several chapels. Glebe so inconvenient that he rented it out and bought one more convenient for himself. His church and chapels as full as they could hold.
Epitaph of Rev. Alexander Scott, who was buried at Dipple, his seat on the Potomac:—“Here lies the body of Rev. Alexander Scott, A.M., and presbyter of the Church of England, who lived near twenty-eight years minister of Overwharton parish, and died in the fifty-third year of his age,—he being born the 20th day of July, A.D. 1686, and departed this life the 1st day of April, 1738.
“Gaudia Nuncio Magna.” This is written upon his coat of arms, which is engraved upon his tomb.
brother came over, and after some time became the minister of the adjoining parish of Dettingen in Prince William, which was separated from Hamilton when Fauquier was taken from Prince William, and in which he ministered for thirty-seven years. Mr. Alexander Scott had as his assistant or curate, for a short time before his death, the Rev. Mr. Moncure, a Scotchman, but descendant of a Huguenot refugee who fled from France at the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Mr. Moncure was the successor of Mr. Scott. In what year he entered on his duties I have been unable to ascertain, but his name is still to be seen painted on one of the panels of the gallery in Old Aquia Church, together with those of the vestry in 1757. The first church was burned in the year 1751. I here give the names of the minister and vestry as painted on the gallery in the year 1757, when it is supposed the second church was finished. John Moncure, minister. Peter Houseman, John Mercer, John Lee, Mott Donithan, Henry Tyler, William Mountjoy, Benjamin Strother, Thomas Fitzhugh, Peter Daniel, Traverse Cooke, John Fitzhugh, John Peyton, vestrymen. It is gratifying to know that the descendants of the above are, with probably but few exceptions, in some part of our State or land still attached to the Episcopal Church. Their names are a guarantee for their fidelity to the Church of their fathers. Of the minister, the Rev. J. Moncure, the following extract from a letter of one of his daughters, who married General-afterward Governor-Wood, of Virginia, will give a more interesting account than any which could possibly be collected from all other sources. It was written in the year 1820, to a female relative, the grand-daughter of the Rev. James Scott, who married a sister of the Rev. Mr. Moncure's wife, and daughter of Dr. Gustavus Brown, of Port Tobacco, Maryland :
“I was only ten years old when I lost my dear father. He was a Scotchman descended from a French ancestor, who fled among the first Protestants who left France in consequence of the persecution that took place soon after the Reformation. He had an excellent education, and had made considerable progress in the study of medicine, when an invitation to seek an establishment in Virginia induced him to cross the Atlantic, and his first engagement was in Northumberland county, where he lived two years in a gentleman's family as private tutor. During that time, although teaching others, he was closely engaged in the study of divinity, and, at the commencement of the third year from his first arrival, returned to Great Britain and was ordained a minister of the then Established Church; came back to Virginia and engaged as curate to your great-uncle, Alexander Scott, wbo at that time wis minister of Overwharton parish, in Stafford county, and resided at his seat of Dipple. Your uncle died a short time after, and
He was my
my dear father succeeded him in his parish and resided at the glebe-louse. Your grandfather, the Rev. James Scott, who inherited Dipple, continued there until he settled at Westwood, in Prince William. father's dearest, kindest friend, and one of the best of men. Their intimacy brought my father and my mother acquainted, who was sister to your grandmother Scott. Old Dr. Gustavus Brown, of Maryland, my maternal grandfather, objected to the marriage of my father and mother. Although he thought highly of my father, he did not think him an eligible match for his daughter. He was poor, and very delicate in his health. Dr. Brown did not, however, forbid their union, and it accordingly took place. The old gentleman received them as visitors and visited them again, but would not pay down my mother's intended dowry until he saw how they could get along, and to let them see that they could not live on love without other sauce. I have often heard my dear mother relate the circumstances of her first housekeeping with tears of tender and delightful recollection. They went home from your grandpapa's, where they were married, with a slenderly-supplied purse and to an empty bonse, -except a few absolute necessaries from their kind friends. When thus arrived, they found some of my good father's parishioners there : one had brought some wood, another some fowls, a third some meal, and so on. One good neighbour would insist on washing for them, another would milk, and another would tend the garden; and they all delighted to serve their good minister and his wife. Notwithstanding these aids, my mother found much to initiate her into the habits of an industrious housewife, and my father into those of an active, practical firmer and gardener, which they never gave up. When the business of preparing their meal was over, a small writing-stand was their table, the stair-steps furnished one a seat, and a trunk the other. Often, when provisions were scarce, my father took his gun or his fishing rod and with his dog sallied forth to provide their dinner, which, when he returned, his happy wife dressed; and often would she accompany him a-fishing or fowling, for she said that they were too poor to have full employment in domestic business. Though destitute of every luxury, they had a small, well-chosen library which my father had collected while a student and tutor. This was their evening's regale. While my wother worked with her needle he read to her. This mode of enjoyment pleasantly brought round the close of the first year. When the minister's salary was paid they were now comparatively rich. My dearest father exchanged his shabby black coat for a new one, and the next year was affuent. By this time the neighbouring gentry found out the value of their minister and his wife, and contended for their society by soliciting visits and making them presents of many comforts. Frequently these grandees would come in their splendid equipages to spend a day at the glebe, and bring every thing requisite to prevent trouble or expense to its owners,-merely for the enjoyment of the society of the humble inhabitants of this humble dwelling. In the lapse of a few years, by frugality and industry in the management of a good salary, these dear parents became quite easy in their circumstances. My father purchased a large tract of land on the river Potomac. He settled this principally by tenants ; but on the most beautiful eminence that I ever beheld, he built a good house, and soon improved it into a very sweet establishment. Here I was born : my brother and two sisters, considerably my seniors, were born at the glebe. My brother, who was intended for the Church, had a private tutor in the house. This man attended also to my two sisters, who previously to his residence in the family were under the care of an Englishman, who lived in the house, but also kept a public school under my father's direction about a mile from his house. Unhappily for me, I was the youngest, and very sickly. My father and mother would not allow me to be compelled to attend to my books or my needle, and to both I had a decided aversion, unless voluntarily resorted to as an amusement. In this I was indulged. I would sometimes read a lesson to my sister or the housekeeper, or. if their authority was resisted, I was called to my mother's side. All this amounted to my being an ignorant child at my father's death, which was a death-stroke to my dearest mother. The incurable grief into which it plunged her could scarcely be a matter of surprise, when the uncommonly tender affection which united them is considered. They were rather more than middle-aged when I was first old enough to remember them; yet I well recollect their inseparable and undeviating association. They were rarely seen asunder. My mother was an active walker and a good rider. Whenever she could do so, she accompanied him in his pastoral visits,-a faith!ul white servant attending in her absence from home. They walked hand in hand, and often rode hand in hand. —were both uncommonly fond of the cultivation of towers, fruits, and rare plants. They watched the opening buds together, together admired the beauty of the full-blown blossoms, and gathered the ripening fruit or seed. While he wrote or read, she worked near his table, -which always occupied the pleasantest place in their chamber, where he chose to study, often laying down his pen to read and comment on an impressive passage. Frequently, when our evening repast was over, (if the family were together,) some book, amusing and instructive, was read aloud by my dear father, and those of the children or their young associates who could not be silent were sent to bed after evening worship,—which always took place immediately after supper. Under the void which this sad separation occasioned, my poor mother's spirits sunk and never rallied. The first six or eight months were spent in a dark.
* The opposition of Dr. Brown to the marriage of his eldest daughter with a poor clergyman does not seem to have been attended with the evils which he doubt. less apprehended, for Mr. Moncure prospered both in temporal and spiritual things He has numerous descendants who have also prospered, and many of them are living on the very lands bequeathed to them by their ancestor, who purchased them at a cheap rate during his ministry. They are also zealous friends of the Church wherever we hear of them. Dr. Brown had many other daughters, four of whom followed the example of their eldest sister and married clergymen of the Episcopal Church. The Rev. James Scott, of Dettingen parish, Prince William, married one, who is the maternal ancestor of numerous families in Virginia of whom we shall soon speak. The Rev. Mr. Campbell and the Rev Mr. Hopkins and the Rev Samuel Claggett, of Maryland, (doubtless a relative, perhaps a brother, of Bishop Claggett,) married the fifth, so that the family of Browns were thoroughly identified with the Episcopal Church and ministry.
Epitaph of Mrs. Frances Brown, who was buried at Dipple, the seat of the Rev. Alexander Scott, on the Potomac :-“ Here lyeth the body of Frances, the wife of Dr. Gustavus Brown, of Charles county, Maryland. By her he had twelve children, of whom one son and seven daughters survived her. She was a daughter of Mr. Gerard Fowke, late of Maryland, and descended from the Fowkes of Gunster Ilall, in Staffordshire, England. She was born February the 20, 1691, and died, much numented, on the 8th of November, 1714, in the fifty-fourth year of her age.”