Francis Makemie: Onancock Resident with an Impact on
Naomi Makemie Presbyterian Church
Makemie lived for a while with Colonel Stevens at his
home in Maryland. There he met William Anderson who was quite wealthy and a
successful tradesman and landowner. Anderson partnered with Makemie and
established him in a shipping business. Makemie developed trade relations
with Barbados and was there on business for a number of years. Makemie
married Anderson’s elder daughter, Naomi, and the two lived at Onancock in a
house given them by her father. They had two daughters, Elizabeth, who died
the same year her father died, and Anne. Today, the Naomi Makemie
Presbyterian Church in Onancock is named for the wife of Francis Makemie; it
is a tribute to their service in this town.
Presbyterian Meeting Place in Onancock
As a Presbyterian minister, the situation that Francis
Makemie faced upon his arrival on the Eastern Shore was a challenging one. The
Church of England, or Anglicanism, had been the official religion of
Virginia. But the Church had been forced to contend with what were called
“dissenters.” These included the Puritans, the Quakers, and the
Presbyterians. These groups had been active on the Eastern Shore for over 50
years and many were outspoken in their belief that reformation in the Church
First Presbytery in America
Although he lived and labored on the Eastern Shore,
Francis Makemie proved to be more of a national than a local figure in
religion. In addition to Makemie and Hampton, there were four other ministers
in the region plus Jedidiah Andrews in Philadelphia. By drawing these
ministers and their congregations into a Church Court, others would join and
religious tolerance would be strengthened by united action. This is what
Makemie set about doing in the spring of 1706. A meeting of the Presbyterians
in the region was held in Philadelphia and Makemie was elected moderator. At
its second meeting, the group ordained a minister establishing an independence
from “old world” controls. Today we recognize these early activities as the
FIRST Presbytery in America (in the polity of the Presbyterian Church, this is
a corporate extension of all the Presbyterian Churches and ministers in a
given geographic area).
Makemie was still moderator at a subsequent Presbytery
meeting in December. From there, he and John Hampton traveled to Boston.
They stopped in New York to visit friends, and despite the strength there of
the movement to establish Anglicanism, they were asked to preach. As a
result, both were arrested in January 1707 and, although they produced their
licenses to preach from Virginia and Maryland, they were charged with
preaching without a license. The charge against Hampton was later dropped but
Makemie was remanded for trial in June.
Francis Makemie’s Certificate to be a
dissenter (from the Church of England) preacher .
At a Court held & Continued for Accomack County October ye 5th 1699.
Whereas Mr. Francis Mackemie made applicacon by peticon to this Court that being ready to fullfill what ye Law enjoynes to dissenters that he might be quallified according to Law and prayed that his own dwelling house at Pocomk* & also his own house at Onancok next to Capt Jonathan Livesleys migh be the places recorded for meeting, and haveing taken ye oaths enjoyned by act of Parliamt instead of the oath of allegiance & Supremacy & subscribed the Test as likewise yt he did in compliance wth what the sd Law enjoynes produced Certificate from Barbodoes of his quallificacons there & did declare in open Court of ye sd County & owne ye articles of religion mentioned in ye Statute made in ye 13th yre of Queen Elizabeth except ye 34th: 35th & 36 & those words for ye 20th & authoritys in Controversies of faith weh ye Court have ordered to be registred & recorded and yt ye Clk of ye Court give Certificat thereof to ye sd Mackemie according as ye Law enjoynes.
A true copy from the records of Accomack Circuit Court as recorded in Order Book 1697-1705, page 74
* Note: the Pocomk referenced above refers to Makemie’s
land in northern Accomack County known at that time as "Pocomk" Plantation
which is the current site of Makemie Monument Park.
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