Happy 325th birthday to St. Anne’s! Still vibrant, she has occupied the highest point in town on Church Circle in Annapolis since 1692.
In addition to the many celebrations and events we have planned, Eric Fredland, our Archivist, is publishing a book of essays on the history of St. Anne’s gathered from the archives. The book will be offered for sale with proceeds going to St. Anne’s. See below for more information.
The Year of Celebration culminates in a Birthday Party to be held on Sunday, September 10 after the 9:30 AM service. There will be no 11:15 AM service that day. Special invitations are being mailed to our legislators, dignitaries, clergy, and other special guests. Mark your calendars!
More information will be published in the Church Announcements, The Circle, weekly e-mail blasts and on the website. Come join in the birthday celebrations!
Anna Lib Belli
Betsy Burch Bender
Dottie Watters Earll
Mary Sutton Heald
Fritzi Riley Kenny
Mary K. Parkinson
Pat Empey Walker
Journey Through 325 Years of St. Anne’s History
On Sunday, May 14, 2017 during the announcements, our lectors began reading one-minute vignettes taking us on St. Anne’s journey from 1692 to the present. These vignettes were written by Carolyn Sullivan with much credit to St. Anne’s History and Times by William Paynter. Once read during the service, these vignettes will be published below:
May 14, 2017
It is 1692 in Maryland Province. Just three years before in Britain, the Catholic King James had been driven from the Throne of England which passed to his Protestant daughter, Mary, and her husband William of Orange. This brings a new era to Maryland. Seizing their chance, the Protestants overthrow Lord Baltimore’s government and take over St. Mary’s state house. The British monarchs recognize these revolutionaries as the true government and declare Maryland a royal colony directly under the crown. The first royal Governor, Sir Lionel Copley, presides over an Assembly at St. Mary’s which votes to establish the Protestant Religion “within this Province.” The act designates 30 Church of England parishes in Maryland and levies an annual tax on each freeman of 40 pounds of tobacco. One of these parishes is Middle Neck, the territory between the Severn and South Rivers. This becomes St. Anne’s. Life is more peaceful here than four hundred and fifty miles north where the Salem Witch Trials are raging.
May 21, 2017
A local 17th century clergyman, Reverend John Yeo, laments. “Maryland Province is in a deplorable condition for want of an established church. There are 20,000 souls but only three Church of England ministers. No care is taken to build up Christians, the Lord’s day is profaned, religion is despised, and all notorious vices are committed.” The 30 parishes established in 1692 are charged with suppressing adultery, drunkenness, swearing and Sabbath-breaking. Records show they try but the government is in charge of appointing the clergy and supporting the parishes and they have other priorities. They rename Proctors Landing Anne Arundel Town, make it a port of entry, and in 1694, proclaim it the capital of Maryland. The new governor is Francis Nicholson. An able man he is a key figure in shaping Annapolis which gets its name in 1695 as a tribute to Princess Anne, the heir apparent in England. That year New York Jews are petitioning their governor Dongan for religious liberties.
May 28, 2017
In the last years of the 17th century, the new Annapolis Assembly meets at the home of Major Edward Dorsey and draws up plans to build a state house, school and church. Governor Nicholson’s streetscape sets a pair of circles on the highest ground for the state house and the church. It’s a simple declaration that the church is meant to be central in the life of the city. We only have St. Anne’s records from 1704, the earliest records were probably destroyed in a state house fire that year. How does St. Anne’s get its name? We assume it honors both the mother of the Virgin Mary and the future Queen Anne, and respects the newly named city. The first Rector is Reverend Peregrine Coney who arrives with Governor Nicholson and seven other Anglican clergymen from England. He admires the silver communion service gifted by King William which is still in use today. Coney is paid 200 pounds of tobacco for “his paines in preaching to the Assembly.” In 1696 he is named one of the founding Trustees of the new King William’s School, now St. John’s College.
June 4, 2017
Money for St. Anne’s is voted by the Assembly in 1695 and 1696. The Governor is authorized to employ workmen. Edward Dorsey is hired as the contractor but is charged with negligence, fined 200 pounds and dismissed in June 1699. The first plans call for a building 65 feet long, 30 feet wide with a 15 foot porch and a strong Turret in which to hang a Large Bell. It is T-shaped, built of brick with the main entrance facing the State House. A gold ball, thought to be a gift from the Queen, sits atop the spire. For a while it will be the only brick church in Maryland. In 1699 lightning strikes the State House, killing one man and injuring others. In 1704 it burns to the ground. It is rebuilt in 1706. At that time, there are just 374 Protestants in the Parish. That year the first successful American newspaper is published in Boston.
June 11, 2017
Becoming the capital of Maryland means Annapolis grows quickly. In 1708 it is granted a municipal charter. The first mayor, Amos Garrett, and five of the six members of the first Board of Aldermen are among the first Vestrymen of St. Anne’s. The Assembly gives the Church three lots of land for their use: one for the rector, one for the sexton, and one for the clerk of the vestry. A burial fee of forty shillings is added to the revenues but, according to a 1717 report, the rector’s salary is considered low and the small Annapolis parish an unattractive assignment. The salary is linked to payment of church taxes in tobacco and tobacco values fluctuate. In London, Charles Calvert repeatedly tries to gain control of Maryland. His son renounces the Catholic church and becomes an Anglican. Eventually the grandson, Charles, 5th Lord of Baltimore, is successful and the period of royal colony is over. In July ten Spanish treasure galleons sink off the Florida coast in a hurricane.
June 18, 2017
We are in the early years of the 1700s and St. Anne’s is not a happy place. Grievance after grievance are filed with the Assembly. The parish is too large; the building is too small; there is no money to build a larger church; and the underpaid rector is overburdened. The Assembly responds. In 1727 a Chapel of Ease more easily reached by remote parishioners is built at the head of the Severn River and the western part of the St. Anne’s parish is set aside as part of Queen Caroline Parish. Authority is given to St. Anne’s to build a gallery on the west end of the church and, five years later, a second gallery is built on the northeast side. It is said that “by these contrivances the church holds almost as many people above as below.” Then pews are built at public expense for the Governor, Council, Speaker and members of the House of Delegates; and a transept is added. Again in 1740 the church is enlarged and eleven more pews added to the gallery. That year Ivan VI becomes the Tsar of Russia.
June 25, 2017
With the church enlarged to accommodate everyone, non-attendance becomes a problem. In 1751 the wardens post an official notice that paraphrased says, “unless you have a lawful excuse you must be in your parish church every Sunday and behave decently.” We are not sure if that solves the attendance problem but there is enough money by 1761 to acquire an organ loft, an organ and an organist, Frederick Victor. Not everyone is impressed. A contemporary report notes that St. Anne’s looks more like a barn than a place of worship. Only its 280 guinea organ is approved. An unpaved road surrounds the church which has a commanding view of the Chesapeake but it’s showing its years of use and patchwork enlargement. An anonymous writer in the Maryland Gazette pens a poem ending with the line, “God has the meanest house in town.” Aid is sought, money is given, and the old church is torn down. But, before the new one can be built the War of Independence begins and construction is deferred. The congregation meets in a brick theatre and the pile of building materials sits on the empty lot at Church Circle.
July 2, 2017
18th century Annapolis is a busy, cultivated, socially active place. Washington, DC does not exist yet. Baltimore is not yet a commercial center. Annapolis is the center of politics, wealth and business. The political leadership of Maryland and the lay leadership of St. Anne’s are much the same men. Six early Mayors and three governors are vestrymen. Rectors come and go, ten in the first 50 years. John Gordon, who serves from 1745 to 1749 is an active figure around town and a member of the Tuesday Club, a group of wits and satirists who hold famous parties. Across the Pond it is a criminal offense to drink the health of Bonnie Prince Charles, pretender to the throne. Four more rectors come and go rapidly but, in 1759, Reverend Alexander Williamson takes title to the rectory lot at 217 Hanover Street. The house built there serves St. Anne’s clergy until 1885.
July 9, 2017
In 1760 George III assumes the throne in England. Samuel Keene, 1761 to 1767, is a native of Maryland and St. Anne’s first American-born Rector. He is considered very able. Not so much his successor, Bennett Allen, whose position is a personal gift of the Governor, Frederick Calvert, Lord Baltimore doubtless because Allen helped Calvert cover up a heinous crime in his youth. The new Rector drinks to excess and admits that he “is not happy enough to live without wine.” After alienating most of the parish Allen is sent 16 miles out of town to St. James Parish but he insists on remaining as St. Anne’s Rector as well. He challenges a St. James Vestryman to a duel but decamps to a new church posting in Frederick County before the meeting can take place. News filters back that, while preaching, Allen brandished a gun against irate parishioners who were storming the pulpit. He flees to London but eventually ends up imprisoned for manslaughter. Lord Baltimore dies in 1771 and the barony with him. His illegitimate son, Henry Harford, is willed proprietor of Maryland and his estate transferred to his sister, Caroline, wife of the last colonial governor, Robert Eden.
July 16, 2017
It is 1770 and resentment is festering in the colonies. Annapolis is a center of this discontent. Into St. Anne’s steps Jonathan Boucher, the son of an English schoolmaster, who becomes tutor to Jacky Custis, Martha Washington’s son, and a friendly acquaintance of George Washington. Boucher becomes Rector at St. Anne’s in June, 1770. He finds the City “the genteelist in North America, a very desirable place to live.” He continues his tutoring in St. Anne’s Rectory and Washington apparently slept there on one of his trips to see his stepson. Boucher serves as president of the Hominy Club, a literary society renowned for its wit. With dissension swirling around him, Boucher remains a steadfast royalist. He leaves Annapolis for a parish in Prince George’s County. He still defends the Establishment and is prevented from entering the pulpit to give an anti-sedition sermon by a gang of armed men. After that he preaches with a pair of loaded pistols on the cushion. In 1775 he flees to England leaving his Potomac plantation behind.
July 23, 2017
In 1774 the Vestry applies to the General Assembly for funds for a new church building and appoint as trustees for the construction, John Ridout, Samuel Chase, William Paca, Dr. Upton Scott and Thomas Hyde. They envision an elegant edifice crowned with a steeple. The building is financed by subscriptions of 3000 pounds, a loan of 1500 pounds, and a parish levy of 160,000 pounds of tobacco. The plans included decorated official pews for dignitaries. There were plans for separate galleries: for parishioners, for servants, and for slaves. In March, 1775, the organ is dismantled and boxed up ready for temporary services in the playhouse. That year the original St. Anne’s is leveled just before War breaks out. The country is in commotion, commerce is at a standstill, there is rioting in the streets of Annapolis. Friendships dissolve and families are torn apart. Says a contemporary writer, “Annapolis is daily more and more deserted. Even tradesmen and mechanics have quit. Agriculture is neglected and military science is the universal study. In the summer of 1776 Mr. Paca and Mr. Chase sign the Declaration of Independence and the first State Constitutional Convention takes places in the City. The Act of Religion of 1692 is repealed. There is no church building, no rector, most parishioners have left. The Anglican Church is no longer the Establishment Church. This is St. Anne’s darkest hour.
July 30, 2017
Thomas Read becomes Rector on Easter Monday, 1777. He is selected by the Vestry, the firstn time they have wielded this new power. But he serves only a few months. During the War there is bitteerness towards the Church at it is seen as a symbol of the Crown. Before Independence, there are 44 parishes in Maryland, each with a rector. Most disappear during or after the War. St. Anne’s Rectors come and go. For several years the vestry meets just once a year. One Rector, Thomas Gates, with the help of three clergymen and 24 laymen, creates the new Protestant Episcopal Church in Maryland. Through many meeting, they draw up the charter and body of canon law for the Church in Maryland. The first Annual Convention is held in 1784. Separation of church and state is slow to evolve. Legislators and church leaders continue to rely on each other so St. Anne’s trustees ask the Assembly for permission to build the new church. They are authorized to seek new subscriptions.
August 6, 2017
After the first St. Anne’s is razed, the re-useable building materials are kept on site and new materials are delivered. During the War, these are either appropriated for the war effort or pilfered by residents for their own use. Some like William Paca and Charles Carroll later pay for these stolen items and we are certain that original St. Anne’s bricks are still part of our downtown walls and houses today. Another subscription drive raises 3439 pounds. New supplies are ordered and Hammond and King are retained as builders. The new Church is 110 feet long and 90 feet broad surmounted by a tower. Inside the walls are frescoed. In November 1792 the new building, complete with 130 pews, an elegant Altar, and stairs to the gallery is consecrated by the new Bishop of Maryland, the Rt. Rev. Thomas John Clagett. After the consecration, subscribers are summoned to select their pews. These become their property and are willed to their heirs. There is also one pew for strangers and two for bachelors.
August 13, 2017
The construction of the second St. Anne’s disrupts the burial ground on Church Circle. In 1790 land on College (then Dorsey) Creek is given to the parish by Elizabeth Bordley and many of the graves are moved there. Joseph Simmons is hired as sexton and grave digger. Known to the children as Joe Morgue, he serves for 50 years until his death at age 100, the oldest Annapolis resident. In 1798, a Miss Margaret Marree leaves her foot warmer in the church and the glowing coals set the flooring on fire. It is discovered and put out. The distinguished cabinetmaker, John Shaw, a new member of the vestry, is paid to construct the post and panel fence. The future Bishop of Maryland, William Rollinson Whittingham reports that “St. Anne’s is the most difficult building for a preacher in all the diocese.”
August 20, 2017
A Scotsman, Rev. George McIlhiney, helps to grow the Parish, from 70 communicants to 100 in his time there, 1834 to 1841. McIlhiney dies while rector but his protégé, William Pinkney, later becomes the fifth Bishop of Maryland. A next rector, Edwin Van Deusen starts St. Anne’s Female School located at Hammond Harwood House with the Bible and Prayer Book used as the great textboosk. Tuition is $40 with board and lodging another $140. There is no evidence that the school prospered. Over the next few years the number of communicants grows to over two hundred. There are daily services and two on Sundays. St. Anne’s is one of the ten largest of the hundred parishes in the diocese. In 1845 Annapolis grows in stature when the Secretary of the Navy, George Bancroft, acquires the Fort Severn land from the War Department and creates the new naval school which becomes the United States Naval Academy. Midshipmen in uniform start attending St. Anne’s services.
August 27, 2017
After a period of genteel eclipse, Annapolis begins to prosper again. Baltimore passes Annapolis as the economic and social center but a railroad link from Annapolis to the main line of the Baltimore and Ohio opens on Christmas Day in 1840 and becomes a key to the town’s future. There is a religious revival. The Methodists are very active; a St. Anne’s rector said they were “devouring the flock.” Rev. Henry Davis arrives and stays for ten years, the longest tenure at St. Anne’s in more than a century. He starts a church magazine called The Christian Messenger. St. John’s College loses its state support and struggles to stay alive. It closes for a few months in 1818. Davis is named Vice Principal and then Principal but is later demoted to professor of mathematics and natural history after a dispute. He sues unsuccessfully to be restored but remains at St. Anne’s for another five years. The congregation grows with a Sunday School serving 91 white and 95 black scholars. In 1826 Davis departs to become president of Wilmington College in Delaware.
September 3, 2017
In 1826, Rector Davis is succeeded by Rector John Blanchard. He reports that the congregation has doubled, the church and rectory are being repaired, and the parish is generally prosperous. Financial problems are eased by the sale of some property including the playhouse and the site of the Farmer’s Bank on Church Circle. Another Rector comments, “The ladies of the congregation have a Sewing Society. They teach poor and neglected female children the necessary arts of housewifery. Really I do not know of a more harmless and useful charity than this. The ladies are as much advantaged as the poor.” Annapolis is becoming religiously more diverse. A black meeting house has existed since 1803 and later becomes Mount Moriah Church. The Presbyterian Church is established here in 1846. In 1858, St. Mary’s is founded. The descendants of Charles Carroll, the only Roman Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, gift his mansion overlooking Annapolis Harbor to become the nucleus of St. Mary’s Parish.
September 10, 2017
A furnace is added to the church in 1853 ending the need for foot warmers. The Warden, George Wells, is much opposed but is outvoted. He is right. On the night of February 14, 1858 at 11 pm the second St. Anne’s burns to the ground. The fire originates from the furnace which ignites the flooring. For two hours, there is a lot of smoke but the flames are unseen. When they break through the flooring, they jump quickly to the roof and tower. The church bell which had rung for several hours tolls its own knell. By morning, only the bare walls remain. As the fire progressed slowly, some items were saved including the pulpit, carpet and other moveables. In a letter to the Bishop, the rector James Davenport says, “our holy and beautiful house in which our fathers worshipped is burned with fire and all our pleasant things laid waste.” There is no insurance but a determination to rebuild perhaps using the old walls which are still standing. Rebuilding starts in July of that year.
The Church in the Circle: Essays on the History of St. Anne’s, Annapolis
The book, edited by St. Anne’s parishioner, Eric Fredland, is a collection of short essays on events, people, furnishings, and buildings associated with the 325 year history of St. Anne’s Episcopal Church. Eric wrote several of the essays, as well as editing the book. Other contributors include Tripp Trippitelli and the late Richard Israel. The book also includes beautiful color photographs by Jim Proctor.
The book will be for sale for the first time this coming Sunday, September 10, at our anniversary party. The price is $30, and, if you get yours on Sunday, it will be autographed by Eric. We can’t take credit cards, so bring cash or your checkbook.