Sunday, December 15, 2019

Before Makemie? Another reference to Presbyterians in Maryland, 1668

This is a significant reference, from 15 years before Makemie's famous arrival in Maryland. This is solid further evidence that Makemie arrived into a well-established Ulster-Scots emigrant community, and not a spiritual wilderness –

"...The Rev. Matthew Hill, a Presbyterian minister (first settled over a Scottish and English congregation at Patuxent, Maryland), writing to Richard Baxter from Charles county, Maryland, April 13, 1669, states that:
"there are many here of the reformed religion, who have a long while lived as sheep without a shepherd, though last year brought in a young man from Ireland, who hath already had good success in his work."
Concerning the early  congregations in Maryland, very little is known beyond the fact that about 1670, Colonel Ninian Beall emigrated to that colony, settling between the Potomac and the Patuxent. During the next twenty years he induced a  number of his friends in Scotland (most accounts place the number at about  two hundred) to join him. They founded the Presbyterian congregation of  Upper Marlborough, which was first under the care of Rev. Nathaniel Taylor.

Some Scottish Presbyterians were also settled near Norfolk, Virginia, on the eastern branch of the Elizabeth River before 1680. They seem to have been numerous enough to form a congregation, as they had secured a minister from Ireland. His name is not known at this day; but there is some reason for believing it to have been William Traill, who emigrated in 1682-83, and returned to Ireland after the Revolution. The Rev. Josias Mackie, son of Patrick Mackie of St. Johnstone, county Donegal, Ireland, ministered to the congregation on Elizabeth River from 1691 to 1716. 

Many Scottish and Irish Presbyterians were also settled on the eastern shore of Maryland and Virginia, in Dorchester, Wicomico, Somerset, Worcester, and Accomac counties, and along the Pocomoke River, which divides Somerset county, Maryland, from Accomac county, Virginia. They were especially numerous in the vicinity of Snow Hill, Dorchester county, Maryland.

To these people, Rev. Francis Makemie, of Ramelton, was sent by the Irish Presbytery of Lagan in 1683-84. He lived and labored among them for a number of years. Makemie was the pioneer Presbyterian missionary in the New World, his labors in that connection carrying him from Virginia to Connecticut, and he is properly regarded as the chief  founder of the Presbyterian Church in America. Before 1690, there were four or more separate congregations in Somerset (which then included Worcester) county, Maryland, with meeting-houses at Snow Hill (1683), Pitt's Creek, Wicomico, Manokin, and Rehoboth..." 

– From Charles Augustus Hanna's landmark The Scotch-Irish; or, The Scot in North Britain, north Ireland, and North America (1902)