Now, it is true that the Martin Hundred Society's revised patent of January 30, 1621/22 had required the "adventurers" to employ a preacher, which might suggest they had not by January 1622 got around to engaging one:
And lastly the said Aduenturors their heires and Assignes shall place and mayntaine or cause to be placed and maintayned from time to time a sufficient Minister and Preacher of the word of God amongst the Inhabitants of their said particular Plantacion with allottment and allowance of such gleabe and lands and other proffitts for his liberall mayntenance as the said Treasuror and Companie by their charters haue appointed or shall appointe (Kingsbury III: 598).
More substantially, we have from the Virginia Company's court books the story of a certain Mr. Staples, who was to be installed as minister at Martin's Hundred.
In the Court Book of 24 October, 1621, it is recorded,
Mr Chamberlyne recomended unto the Company one mr. Staples a preacher who haveinge a brother in Virginia that had given him good encourragment to come thither was desirous to goe ouer; Wheruppon some of Martins Hundred seemed to be willinge to entertaine him for their hundred. (Kingsbury I, 535)
However, Mr. Staples had obviously not yet arrived by 8 May 1622, when the Court Book records,
Mr Staples Minister recommended by mr Abra: Chamberlen and by Certificate under the hands of well neare 20 Divines continuinge still his earnest request unto the Companie for some allowance towards the transport and furnishinge out of himselfe his wife and Child to Virginia where he hath a Brother lyvinge which moues him the rather to goe, for which allowance he is contented to put himselfe wholly [upon] their free bounty, the Court takinge it into consideracion did at length agree that although their Stocke was spent they would strayne themselves to give him 20li to pay for his said passage and to furnish him with necessaries and for that it was moved that he might give some testimony of his sufficiencie by a Sermon as is usuall he was desired to preach vpon sonday come sennight in the Afternoone in St Scyths Church which he promised to performe (Kingsbury I, 635).
Therefore, given the chronic shortage of ordained clergymen in Virginia at this time, their number never exceeding ten during the century, closer to five in 1622 (Horn 383-411), and given that even the junior post of Deacon required in the English Church, then as now, ordination by a bishop and an archdeacon, neither of which existed in Virginia, I think it likely that it was the governor of the plantation (or his Lieutenant, in this case) who administered services, if they were being observed at all. Such (strictly speaking, heretical) practice was recorded at Lower Norfolk County in 1635 in the absence of either minister or church house at the private homes of Captain John Sibsey and Captain Adam Thorowgood (Horn 388).
Therefore, in light of all this, and lacking any more direct evidence or any mention of a Roman Catholic or Dissenting presence at Martin's Hundred, I see no convincing reason to have a separate "preacher" figure for this game at Wolstenholme Towne, since had the community been observing services, it had probably been the Lieutenant leading them, and if they had not, likely nobody would have been.
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Last updated 16 August, 2004.
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