George Washington Papers

Notice of Truro Parish Vestry Meeting, 20 March 1764

Notice of Truro Parish Vestry Meeting

Virginia, Fairfax County, March 20, 1764.

Notice is hereby given to any Person or Persons, who are willing to undertake the Building a Brick Church at the Falls in Truro Parish in the County aforesaid, (to contain 1600 Feet superficial Measure, with convenient Galleries) That on the Third Monday in June next, there will be a meeting of the Vestry, at what is commonly called the Upper Church: At which Time and Place, any Person or Persons, who will under take the same, are desired to attend, with their Plans, and Estimate of the Expence, and to give Bond, with good Security, to the Church wardens of the said Parish, for his or their true Performance.1

George W. Fairfax, Church wardens.
George Washington.

Printed in Maryland Gazette (Annapolis), 17 May 1764.

In Virginia the established church, the Anglican church, was paid for by an annual levy on tithables. GW, like most Virginians, was a member of this church. Each parish was administered by a twelve-man vestry elected by the voters upon the establishment of the parish, and subsequent vacancies were filled by the vestry itself. At this time the boundary of GW’s home parish, Truro, ran concurrent with the Fairfax County lines.

GW was appointed to the Truro Parish vestry on 25 Oct. 1762 in place of the recently deceased William Peake, and he took the necessary oaths in the county court on 15 Feb. 1763 (Truro Parish Vestry Book description begins Vestry Book of Truro Parish, Virginia, 1731–1802. Manuscript on deposit at the Library of Congress. description ends , 97; Fairfax County Minute Book [1756–63], 801). He served in this capacity until 1784 although events prohibited his attendance at meetings after February 1774. During the term of his active service as vestryman from February 1763 through February 1774 he attended twenty-three of the thirty-one meetings held and was sick or out of the county on the days of the other meetings. On 3 Oct. 1763 GW was appointed, along with his good friend George William Fairfax, to serve a year term as churchwarden. GW was later to serve two additional terms, 1766–67 and 1774–75. Included among the duties of this office was the presentation to the county court of persons guilty of gambling, drunkenness, profanity, breaking the Sabbath, failure to attend church, and “certain other offences against decency and morality” (Slaughter, Truro Parish description begins Philip Slaughter. The History of Truro Parish in Virginia. Edited by Edward L. Goodwin. Philadelphia, 1908. description ends , 34–35, 78, 89).

The churches in Truro Parish were rapidly deteriorating, so parish levies were increased over the next several years to allow for the building of new churches. At a vestry meeting held 28 Mar. 1763 it was decided to replace the first of these structures, the old Falls Church in the upper part of the county. The old frame church was “rotten and unfit for repair,” and a new brick church building which would be built on the same site should “contain 1600 Feet on the Floor, with a suitable Gallery.” The churchwardens were instructed to advertise in the Virginia and Maryland gazettes for workmen to bring to a meeting on 29 Aug. 1763 their plans and estimates for undertaking the building of the structure. There is no evidence of an August meeting, or indeed of one later called for March 1764, probably because no contractors appeared to submit bids (Truro Parish Vestry Book description begins Vestry Book of Truro Parish, Virginia, 1731–1802. Manuscript on deposit at the Library of Congress. description ends , 99, 100). The building was finally finished about 1767.

1Early in 1765 the Rev. Charles Green died, and at about the same time the parish went through two partitions (see Vestry Elections in Truro and Fairfax Parishes, 25–28 Mar. 1765). After the second division the Falls Church fell into the new Fairfax Parish, and so out of the jurisdiction of the Truro vestry.

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