Saturday, March 19, 2016

Early America - 1610 The earliest Church of England in Jamestown, Virginia

William Strachey was born in 1572, in Saffron Walden, a small market town in Essex, England, to William Strachey (d. 1598) and Mary Cooke (d. 1587).  At the age of 16, he entered Emmanuel College at Cambridge University in 1588. In 1595, William married Frances Forster living near her home in Crowhurst in Surrey. Initially, Strachey supported his family from his inheritance from his father.  In order to meet growing family expenses, Strachey purchased 2 shares in the Virginia Company & sailed to Virginia on the Sea Venture in the summer of 1609.  This is his description of the church at Jamestown.

See CWF here The eastern corner of the 1608 church excavation sits behind a statue of John Smith

The Church at Jamestown

This description of the church constructed within the palisade at Jamestown, along with the account of the Sunday procession of the governor and his company, was written in 1610. It was included in Strachey’s letter to an unknown noble lady in England in 1609.

To every side, a proportioned distance from the palisade, is a settled street of houses that runs along, so as each line of the angle hath his street. In the midst is a market place, a store-house, and a corps de garde, as likewise a pretty chapel, though (at this time when we came in) as ruined and unfrequented. But the lord governor and captain general hath given order for the repairing of it, and at this instant many hands are about it. It is in length three-score foot, in breadth twenty-four, and shall have a chancel in it of cedar and a communion table of the black walnut, and all the pews of cedar, with fair broad windows to shut and open, as the weather shall occasion, of the same wood, a pulpit of the same, with a front hewn hollow, like a canoe, with two bells at the west end. It is so cast as it be very light within, and the lord governor and captain general doth cause it to be kept passing sweet and trimmed up with divers flowers, with a sexton belonging to it. And in it every Sunday we have sermons twice a day, and every Thursday a sermon, having true preachers, which take their weekly turns; and every morning, at the ringing of a bell about ten of the clock, each man addresseth himself to prayers, and so at four of the clock before supper.

Every Sunday, when the lord governor and captain general goeth to church, he is accompanied with all the councilors, captains, other officers, and all the gentlemen, and with a guard of halberdiers in His Lordship’s livery, fair red cloaks, to the number of fifty, both on each side and behind him; and, being in the church, His Lordship hath his seat in the choir, in a green velvet chair, with a cloth, with a velvet cushion spread on a table before him on which he kneeleth; and on each side sit the council, captains, and officers, each in their place; and when he returneth home again he is waited on to his house in the same manner.

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