Missives from the Glebe Farm Notebook
A Study of the Historical Research and Archaeology
Compiled by J F Cross, and Larry Todd
The Vestry Book begins on 15 July 1749….. by an order of the vestry: “Persons that have Vestry Books on this side of the river do deliver them to Mr. Edward Wright.” Edward Wright had just been chosen by the Vestry along with Mr. Robert Fry as newly appointed Churchwardens. “Mr. Robert Fry to be the Clerk of both Churches”, being the Bennett’s Creek Church/Glebe Church, and the Chuckatuck Church/St. John’s Church. Reverend John Mackenzie was the minister of both churches during this time and previously he resided on the Glebe Farm in the minister’s house, also called the “mansion.” It is important to understand that glebe farms prior to the Disestablishment were considered the minister’s property from which he would draw his salary and manage the remainder of the income and would have had separate books for accounting.
Vestry Book Entries with Notes:
20 October 1749: Churchwardens to meet at the Glebe to view the damage done by the late Gust and agree to repair the damage.
Note: 19 October 1749 “A tremendous hurricane tracked offshore Virginia, northeast to Cape Cod. At 1:00am at Norfolk, winds became so violent from the northeast. The fury of the storm peaked between 10:00am and 2:00pm. In Williamsburg, one family drowned as flood waters carried their house away. At Hampton, water rose to four feet deep in the streets, many trees were uprooted or snapped in two. Torrents of rain flooded northern Virginia and Maryland. The Bay rose to fifteen foot normal…destroying waterfront buildings.”
17 October 1751: Construction of a Barn at Glebe to be 36’ X20’. John King, Anthony Holladay, Nathaniel Wright and James Turner to agree with builder.
4 March 1754: Reverend John Mackenzie dies at the Glebe House.
24 March 1754: Reverend Mr. William Webb to preach once a month.
30 April 1754: Mr. John Agnew, Minister of our Parish in the room of Reverend Mr. Mackenzie, deceased. Reverend William Webb is discharged from preaching according to a former agreement.
Note: Rev. William Webb paid for 3 sermons.
8 November 1754: Glebe House much out of repair. Mr. James Pugh (one of the Executors of the Late Mr. Mackenzie) to put the Glebe House in Tenantable Repair by the 25 December next. Gardain (likely a picketed enclosure) to be built at the Glebe 100 feet square and 5 feet high and pointed.
1 April 1755: Churchwardens to Employ some workmen to lath, plaster and whitewash the 2 lower rooms of the Glebe House before 3 months.
7 November 1755: James Pugh for lathing and plastering the Glebe Milk House. Rev. Agnew for Register Book. To build on the Glebe a stable 20 X 12 feet with a 7-foot pitch and a hen house 16 X 12 feet with a 7-foot pitch.
Note: The register book is an account book for the Glebe Farm accounting.
1 November 1756: Paid to Col. Godwin for building Stable and Hen House on the Glebe. Reverend John Agnew to have a shed built to the width of the Glebe House and 10 feet wide and one brick chimney.
2 November 1758: Reverend John Agnew for repairs to the barn on the Glebe.
8 April 1760: Granary to be built for the Minister 30’ X 20’. Anthony Holladay, James Riddick, James Pugh and Solomon Shepherd appointed to set up building of the same.
Note: This is for the storage of threshed grain, an above ground small barn structure raised to keep out mice. Generally used for animal feed.
1 February 1769: New Barn to be built on the Glebe. Anthony Holladay, Thomas Buxton, James Pugh, and James Godwin to meet at the Glebe to make a report at the next Vestry.
28 February 1769: Notice is given Mr. Agnew to Repair House on the Glebe.
Note: Reverend John Agnew is neglecting the Glebe. Agnew married Theresa Osheal, the daughter of Colonel David Osheal who died in 1745, and sister to Captain David Osheal. A wealthy “highly respected gentry family” of Nansemond county. Agnew would state later he “got his estate after he was in holy orders”, and through that marriage acquired great wealth. He was considered the wealthiest clergyman in all of the colonies at the time of the revolution.
1 November 1769: Paid Benjamin Roberts for build a Barn on the Glebe.
8 September 1775: Rev. John Agnew has neglected to officiate at his Parish Churches for 3 months. Churchwardens to apply to some Clergyman to preach in each of the Churches in this Parish.
Note: Reverend John Agnew being a staunch Loyalist to the Crown was censured by the Nansemond County Committee of Safety 6 March 1775 for multiple grievances including a warning concerning his sermons which were considered abusing to the Continental Association and also for misconduct related to personal business dealings. Magistrate, Churchwarden and member of the Safety Committee Major William Cowper deposed Rev. Agnew on Whitsunday 4 June 1775 and removed him from the pulpit for preaching a localist sermon.
16 April 1777: To Rent out the Glebe for this present
year. To advertise in the Virginia Gazette to hire a Minister which is vacant by the misconduct of the late Minister.
21 October 1778: Reverend John Burgess is received as Minister for the Parish and a house to be found for him. 40 pounds payment to Mr. Joseph Holliday for his house for one year for the Rev. Henry John Burgess.
15 February 1782: Churchwardens to rent out the Glebe. Barn to be built on the Glebe with the remains of the old barn. Thomas Pugh for rent of the Glebe for the year 1781.
15 July 1782: Benjamin Cowling and Michael King to advertise the sale of the old Barn on the Glebe.
21 May 1783: James Murdaugh and Thomas Benn to view the Houses on the Glebe to see if any are worth repairing.
21 August 1783: James Murdaugh and Thomas Benn for repairing the House on the Glebe. Money from the Sale of the old Barn on the Glebe and for the Brandy which was made on the Glebe in 1782. Kinchin Godwin to pay James Murdaugh and Thomas Benn for repairing the Chuckatuck Church and the House on the Glebe.
4 February 1784: Reverend Arthur Emmerson is received as Minister and is given possession of the Glebe.
The Glebe survived, and allowed the two churches to survive harsh times, struggling to maintain a Minister for both Churches before Disestablishment following the Revolutionary War. After Disestablishment they fell into disrepair and ruin. The Bennett’s Creek Church by the Vestry records of 1777 was most likely padlocked to keep it from British damage as the beautiful brick South Church in Suffolk towne had to be pulled down 1820 due to British military damage. It is unknown if the Bennett’s Creek Church suffered a similar fate at the hands of the British considering it was a monument to sedition against Rev. Agnew on 4 June 1775. Records indicate the Bennett’s Creek Church was in a state of total ruin from 1812-1856. The Chuckatuck Church sustained heavy damage from neglect until it was repaired in 1826. However, the Churchwardens and Vestry were able to manage the Glebe, until during Disestablishment when it was confiscated by Nansemond County and turned over to the Overseers of the Poor. The Reverend Jacob Keeling with assistance from Joseph Prentis Esq as the record suggests, was able to have the Glebe returned to the Parish due to a United States Supreme Court decision in a court case in 1817, which will be covered in another article.
Figure 3. Map of Norfolk County, VA, made for and published by authority of the Board of Supervisors. 1887
This map illustrates the last remaining buildings and road on the Glebe farm in 1887. It would be pulled down and in the 1920’s a farm with outbuildings were created for tenant farming. That farm was taken down and removed around October of 2007, thus ending almost 400 years of continuous occupation.