Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Thomas Newton, 6 October 1802

From Thomas Newton

Norfolk. Octr 6—1802

Dr Sir

An act of Assembly passed in the year 1761 dividing the County of Norfolk, into three distinct Parishes, the whole being in one, that part which Norfolk Borough lies in, petitiond the Assembly to allow the Vestry, to purchase four lotts in Town to accommodate the Minister, between the years 1761 & .65 which was granted & obtaind the Royall assent on payment of ten guineas as well as I remember, Ld Dunmore in the distruction of our records, deprived us of the Act & we cannot obtain it, if you have it among yr. Collection, I shall be Much obliged to you for a Copy of it. I beg your excuse for this trouble, but rest assured I shall with pleasure make returns—health &c attend you, with the greatest Respect I am Yr. obt

Thos Newton

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 10 Nov. and so recorded in SJL but with notation “Oct. 6 for Nov. 6,” but see Newton to TJ, 25 Oct.

The ACT of the Virginia Assembly subdividing the Anglican parish comprised of Norfolk County also mandated the sale of the original parish’s glebe land, with proceeds to be divided between the three new parishes. After the parish that included NORFOLK BOROUGH realized that the town’s rapid population growth and the area’s poor soil would make the purchase of a new parcel of glebe land impracticable, it gained approval of a law in 1764 authorizing the purchase of up to four lots in town that would provide a commensurate level of financial support for the minister (William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, 13 vols. [Richmond, 1809–23], 7:416–19; 8:14–16). Newton’s interest in the latter act almost certainly derived from an 1802 Virginia law that authorized local overseers of the poor to seize for sale or assume the proceeds of all Anglican property, excepting churches and churchyards, still in the possession of the Protestant Episcopal Church of Virginia. The Church retained any property acquired since 1777 (Acts Passed at a General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia: Begun and Held at the Capitol, in the City of Richmond, on Monday, the Seventh Day of December, One Thousand Eight Hundred and One [Richmond, 1802; Shaw-Shoemaker description begins Ralph R. Shaw and Richard H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801–1819, New York, 1958–63, 22 vols. description ends , No. 3470], 8–9; George MacLaren Brydon, Virginia’s Mother Church and the Political Conditions under Which It Grew: The Story of the Anglican Church and the Development of Religion in Virginia, 1727–1814, 2 vols. [Philadelphia, 1947–52], 2:499–503).

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