A Blessed Company: Parishes, Parsons, and Parishioners in by John K. Nelson

By John K. Nelson

During this booklet, John Nelson reconstructs daily Anglican spiritual perform and event in Virginia from the top of the 17th century to the beginning of the yankee Revolution. difficult past characterizations of the colonial Anglican institution as vulnerable, he finds the elemental position the church performed within the political, social, and fiscal in addition to the non secular lives of its parishioners. Drawing on vast study in parish and county documents and different fundamental assets, Nelson describes Anglican Virginia's parish approach, its parsons, its rituals of worship and rites of passage, and its parishioners' various relationships to the church. All colonial Virginians--men and girls, wealthy and bad, old and young, planters and retailers, servants and slaves, dissenters and freethinkers--belonged to a parish. As such, they have been topic to its levies, its authority over marriage, and different social and fiscal dictates. as well as its spiritual features, the parish supplied crucial take care of the negative, collaborated with the courts to address civil disputes, and exerted its impression over many different facets of group lifestyles. A Blessed corporation demonstrates that, by way of creatively adapting Anglican parish association and the language, varieties, and modes of Anglican spirituality to the Chesapeake's precise environmental and human stipulations, colonial Virginians sustained a remarkably powerful and trustworthy Anglican church within the previous Dominion.

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Extra info for A Blessed Company: Parishes, Parsons, and Parishioners in Anglican Virginia, 1690-1776

Sample text

When Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence eighty-six years later, there were ninety-five. 16 Adjusting local institutions to demographic change posed a daunting problem compounded by Virginia’s reluctance to count its population. Although Virginia was the most populous of Britain’s mainland North American colonies, no censuses were taken between  and . 17 But enlargement of the parish-county system proceeded anyway. 19 Several observations are in order. First, parish formation strove to keep  .

The provincial pattern, in fact, held up regionally. Everywhere the average annual parish tax was at least double that of the county. The mean annual parish levy for the Tidewater area, for example, was thirty-four pounds; for Tidewater counties it was thirteen pounds.

But attention has already been directed to the weighty responsibilities assigned to the parish vestry. Discharge of these duties—the subject of the following four chapters—provides over .  whelming evidence that the vestries shouldered major responsibilities which they discharged faithfully. Frequency of meetings in this instance has little to do with the relative importance of the institution. Vestries managed many of their duties informally and largely without benefit of written documentation.

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