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LETTER VI.

The statute of 13 Charles II. ch. 2. excluding all except communicants of the church

of England from office, not enforced in Maryland. The requisitions of the test aet of 1716.– That act especially hard on Roman Catholics.-The writer's opinion of Queen Anne unfavourable. The government of Maryland given in 1715 by the crown to Charles, the fourth Lord Baltimore, and third lord proprietary -a Protestant.-All the oaths extorted by acts of Parliament could be taken by Presbyterians-still they laboured under great grievances.-In Virginia the burdens laid on all nonconformists greater than in Maryland. The consequence was, Presbyterians, as well as Episcopalians settled in Maryland ; Episcopalians exclusively in Virginia.

Dear Sir,

You will perhaps" understand what follows more distinctly, by reperusing, before you proceed farther, my fourth letter.

Most probably the act of 1702, and certainly, that of 1706, placed dissenters in Maryland of every name, in precisely the condition of their brethren in England; but I do not believe the corporation act, that detestable and wicked statute of 13 Ch. II. ch. 2, which excluded from all offices relating to the government, every person who had not received the sacrament of the Lord's supper according to the rites of the church of England, within the twelvemonth which preceded his election or appointment, was at any time enforced in the province. The act of 1716 required, " that all persons then holding any office or trust within this province, or thereafter to be admitted into such office or trust, should take the

oaths of allegiance, abhorrency, and abjuration, and should subscribe the oath of abjuration, and make and subscribe a declaration of belief, that there is no transubstantiation in the sacrament of the Lord's supper: which declaration was called “ the test." I withhold explanations in this place; and they will be entirely unnecessary, if you will refer to the law itself, a copy of which accompanied my fourth letter.

The requirements of the act of 1716, affected Protestant dissenters and the members of the established church alike; but it continued the war, which had been waged against the civil rights of the Roman Catholics, from the revolution in 1689. They certainly shared a hard fate. The province had been settled by them, and they and their descendants, had there enjoyed the sweets of “ perfect freedom” in matters of religion. From the time of the enactment first referred to in the preceding paragraph, until the war for independence, they were exposed to all the oppressions, pains and penalties prescribed by every British statute to prevent popery, passed at any time after the death of the bloody Mary. There are many of those laws, and they are indeed cruel and bloody. I am aware that prosecutions under them were suspended at one time. How long ? During the pleasure of the queen. What queen ? Anne, for whose memory (the opinion of good Doctor Watts to the contrary notwithstanding,) I have no respect. Did she not approve the expulsion of her father, not only from the British throne, but the kingdom itself, because he was a Catholic ? Did she not desert him, and act in concert with his enemies ? Yes ;—and it was her abandoning of him when in his deepest distress, which almost broke his heart, and extorted the pathetic exclamation, “God help me! my own children have forsaken me." James II., was no doubt at heart a tyrant, and a tyrant of the worst order,—for he was a bigoted papist. He desired despotic power; and he would have wielded it in aid of a superstition which has shed rivers of human blood, in the name of the Prince of Peace! I believe he acted conscientiously ; and although he had many and grievous faults, he was not only an indulgent but a fond father, and Anne was an unnatural daughter. No unnatural daughter can become an estimable princess. Her treachery to some of the tenderest affections of the human heart, soon received the reward which unquestionably induced it; for the very same act of the convention which gave James's government to William and Mary, made Anne their successor in case her sister died without issue. Mr. Hume and other partial historians, may call Anne “ a virtuous child;" but I insist, that when prosecutions against the Catholics in Maryland were suspended during her pleasure, they were left at the discretion of one “ whose tender mercies were cruel.”

The government of the province, which had been wrested from Charles, Lord Baltimore in 1689, was, in 1715, given by the crown to his son Charles who had survived him, but it was not administered in his name, until the succeeding year. He was the fourth Lord Baltimore, the third lord proprietary, and a Protestant. It is said he was educated in the Protestant faith by his father, because of the persecutions he had himself suffered on account of his own.

We have seen that Maryland, during the first se. venty years of her existence, neither interfered with any man's religious creed, nor disabled him in any way on account of it; we have also seen some of the consequences of a union of one branch of the christian church with her government, to all who entertained another faith, or preferred a worship differing in its manner from that which the established church prescribed. All the oaths and declarations extorted by acts of parliament, and of the provincial legislature, could be taken by Presbyterians with a good conscience; but they had grievances of which they loudly, and (I think) justly complained. To be compelled to build churches in which they never worshipped, and to support a clergy to whose instructions they thought it unlawful to listen; to be required to make a public record of the names of the places at which they waited upon God in the ordinances of his house, that they might be constantly watched by the jealous minions of a jealous government,--and that those satellites of power might not be impeded in the performance of their ignoble work, to be further obliged, and under severe penalties, to keep the doors of their “ meeting houses, unlocked, unbarred and unbolted,” were indeed “heavy burdens and grievous to be borne.” But we have also seen, that on the south side of that “ right line, ""

which divides the eastern shores of Maryland and Virginia, still more intolerable burdens were imposed upon all nonconformists, for not only were all the statutes in relation to them, passed in the reigns of Elizabeth, James, and Charles, enforced there without mercy, but Virginia added to those laws many others equally or more oppressive. A dissenter then, who emigrated from Great Britain, and especially one whose conscience had driven him beyond the reach of the established church, could not have hesitated at all, on which side of the line to pitch his tent. The effects were such as might have been anticipated : the eastern shore of Virginia, so far as I am advised, was settled almost exclusively by Episcopalians—the adjoining territory of Maryland was first peopled by Presbyterians, Episcopalians and a few Quakers. Presbyterians were scattered over it from its boundary line most probably to the Choptank river; and I doubt whether any other Presbyterians were affected by the provisions of the act of 1702.

Until the Baptists effected a settlement in Virginia, there was no organized christian church from the line of Maryland to Cape Charles, a distance of more than eighty miles, except the churches established by law. There was a house at Drummond Town, the county town of Accomack, in which a few Presbyterians formerly worshipped. I know little of its history, but feel satisfied that a congregation was never organized there. That house of God was removed, some years since, from the vil

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