The History of St. Anne’s


Compass Rose

The St. Anne’s Compass Rose adorns the top of the church steeple and signifies the universal call of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the mission of St. Anne’s Parish to our entire city and county.


Anne was by legend the grandmother of Jesus Christ, the mother of the Virgin Mary. Mary’s birth is not, in fact, recorded in the Bible. The earliest account of her birth is recorded in the apocryphal Infancy Gospel of James, written about 150 AD. The story bears similarities to other Biblical miraculous births. Childless until advanced in years, Anne is said to have prayed for a child and pledged to the Lord that her child would serve Him. With the birth of Mary, blessed as God’s servant, Anne was rewarded. Her daughter was destined to serve God in the most important role to humankind, the mother of his son, our Savior Jesus Christ.

 A window pictured is in the south wall of the church. It depicts Anne instructing Mary at her knee, and was designed and built by the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company about 1894. Further detail about the window can be found below.

In 1692, on order of the king and queen, William and Mary, Maryland became a crown colony, and the Maryland provincial assembly, then located in St. Mary’s City voted “the Establishment of the Protestant Religion within this Province.”  Thirty Church of England parishes were set up throughout the colony, one of which, Middle Neck Parish, later became St. Anne’s. Sheriffs were required to collect taxes, paid in tobacco, to be turned over to parish vestries to build necessary churches and chapels and then to use the proceeds to support the clergy.  Opposition of Quakers and Roman Catholics in Maryland led the monarchs’ Privy Council to veto the act. The act was passed and rejected three more times, but when Queen Anne became monarch in 1702, she signed it.  The Act included provisions for religious toleration for both Catholics and Quakers who were allowed to have their own places of worship but had to pay the tobacco tax. In 1694, the capital of the province was moved to what became in 1695, Annapolis.  The royal governor, Francis Nicholson, laid out a street plan organized around two circles, one around the highest ground for the state house, and the second, smaller one for the church.  St. Anne’s church has occupied this circle since.  Provisions were made to begin construction of the State House, King William’s School and the first Saint Anne’s. Progress in building the church was slow. The first appropriations for St. Anne’s were voted by the Assembly in 1695 and 1696. However, in 1699, the contractor, Edward Dorsey, was fired and fined 333 pounds for not fulfilling his agreement to do the building. The Assembly specified that the dimensions of the church were to be 65 feet long, 30 feet wide with a porch and a tower in which to hang a bell. The building was not completed until sometime after 1700. Early records have been destroyed, but it was certainly completed and in use by 1704. As the church in the capital of a crown colony, St. Anne’s was a Chapel Royal, a status it retained until 1715.  Throughout the colonial period in the 18th century, the Anglican Church continued to be “established” in Maryland.  All citizens except Catholics were in theory obligated to attend the Anglican church, although in Annapolis, at least, this was not enforced.  Rectors were appointed by the royal governors, and were compensated by the state. Vestries were guardians of public morals, with the power to authorize the sheriff to enforce their decisions. Vestries performed other governmental tasks as well.  For example, the St. Anne’s vestry appointed tobacco inspectors.  The churchyard was the only public burial ground in the city.  All this changed with the Revolutionary War.  The state ceased to support the church financially, vestries appointed rectors, vestries no longer had governmental duties, and Catholics and others could worship openly or not at all.  The new State of Maryland did retain some control of the (now Episcopal) church vestries, however, as outlined in the Vestry Act of 1798, which is discussed in an essay below.


History 1st Church illustration

Following the establishment of the Church of England in Maryland, in effect making the church an arm of the government, and the moving of the capital of the colony from St. Mary’s City to Annapolis, provision was made to construct the first St. Anne’s Church.  The colonial Assembly voted appropriations for its construction in 1695.  The building was to be 65 feet long, 30 feet wide with a porch and a turret in which to hang a bell. Progress was slow and the building was not completed until after 1700, perhaps not until 1704. When completed, it served as the Chapel Royal for Maryland until 1715, when the province was returned to Lord Baltimore.   No known pictures of it were made during its existence.  There were official pews set aside for use of the Governor and legislators. King William III (1689-1701) sent over a handsome set of Communion Silver made in 1696 and engraved with his royal arms for use in his Chapel Royal in Annapolis.  This silver is still in use every Sunday today. Later, Queen Anne (1701-1714) gave a bell, which called parishioners to worship. Over the succeeding years, galleries and transepts were added, additional pews (paid for by subscription and useable only by the owner) were installed, and an organ and organ loft were constructed.  Despite the additions, the church was always too small to accommodate the growing population of the parish.  Citizens, except Catholics, were nominally required to attend services. The apparently haphazard additions made the church look more like a barn than a church, so that the building was not only too small, but also ugly.  In 1775, the congregation petitioned the colonial Assembly for funds for a new church. In the spring of 1775, the first St. Anne’s Church was razed. Materials were purchased and brought to the site.  Worship services were held in a theatre recently built on glebe (i.e. church owned) land.  Then the American Revolution started.  A new church building was not completed for 18 years!

           In its history, St Anne’s has had 45 rectors.  Nearly half, 21, served in the pre-Revolution period.  Despite its presence in the colonial capital, St. Anne’s apparently did not pay well relative to many other parishes in Maryland and Virginia.  Many of its rectors left for alternative positions after very short tenure.


The first church building became increasingly inadequate as the years passed.  Because the Church of England was “established” in Maryland, the colonial Assembly appropriated funds for construction of a new church and the first building was taken down in 1775. Some materials were purchased and brought to the site. Worship services were held in a theatre recently built on glebe (i.e. church owned) land. Several years later, worship services were instead held in King William’s School (which later became St. John’s College). The start of the Revolution put building plans on hold.  Some of the materials were commandeered by the Committee of Safety of the provisional government and used to build forts at the mouth of the Severn River to defend the city against attacks by the enemy. Citizens also took bricks and boards for their own use.  One legend (unsubstantiated) has it that some of the bricks were used in the building of additions to the Maryland Inn.  After the Revolution, the church was no longer “established,” of course.  Rectors were no longer selected or paid by the government.  The congregation dwindled. Often, St. Anne’s did not have a full time clergyman. In some years the vestry met only once, at Easter.  The General Assembly did, however, pay to replace the construction materials taken by the Committee of Safety, and the power of the State was used to compel others who had taken materials to account and pay for them.  The General Assembly also authorized a subscription (solicitation of funds) from the public and named trustees to conduct it.  Building commenced in the late 1780s and was completed in 1792. 

The new church was consecrated on November 24, 1792 by the new Bishop of Maryland, the Right Reverend Thomas John Claggett.  Much larger and more elegant than the first church, the building measured 110 feet long and 90 wide with a tower tall enough and wide enough to accommodate the bell, which was a recast version of the bell given to the first church by Queen Anne.  The architect to be credited with the design is uncertain.  Even at the time of building, there was controversy over whose design was being used. The interior was frescoed.  There is no record of any stained glass.  There were 122 pews, including pews set aside for the State Governor, the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House, six pews for members of the General Assembly, pews for judges, for the governor’s council and for jurymen. There was a rector’s pew, one for church wardens, and one for strangers. The other pews were owned by congregants who had paid for them through subscription, or by their heirs.  Improvements were made several times in the early 1800s.  Then on Valentine’s Day evening, 1858, the church burned down in a spectacular fire.  A new furnace had been installed in late 1857, and faulty installation was allegedly the cause of the fire, but a court ruled that that case could not be proven.  Construction of a new building, the current one, began almost immediately, and services were held beginning in July of 1859.  The only part of the second church that could be incorporated into the current building was a lower part of the tower.

Of the 45 rectors St. Anne’s has had in its history, 12 served in the second church, including The Reverend J.R. Davenport, who arrived barely three months before the fire, and presided over the new church in the first six years of its existence.

History illustration St. Anne's Church

The second church building burned down in a spectacular fire on Valentine’s Day evening, 1858.  In less than two months, the Vestry adopted a plan for the present church drawn up by C. Harrison Condit, a young architect from Newark, New Jersey, who was the nephew of the Bishop of Maryland.  The style is Romanesque Revival, newly popular for churches and public building in the 1840s and 50s.  Construction proceeded quickly. Services in the new church were held beginning in July 1859.  The work was essentially complete then, save for the tower, which was not completed until late 1865. At the request of the City of Annapolis, a town clock was housed in the tower. It is still maintained by the city today. The church has many notable features and furnishings.

The stone altar and the font were produced by the Maryland sculptor, William Henry Rinehart (1825-1874).  The walnut reredos behind the altar depicting the Risen Christ offering the Book of Life to humankind was made in 1920 by the Oberammergau woodcarver, Johannes Kirchmayer.  The brass eagle lectern is by Gorham. Among the stained glass windows are two by Tiffany Studios; the third window on the south side, depicting St. Anne instructing her daughter, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the semi circular transom Angel window above the exit door on the south side. The organ in the rear gallery was built by Freiburger Orgelbau of Freiburg, Germany, and installed in 1975.

In the first 170 years of its existence, St. Anne’s had 36 rectors, only two of whom served more than 10 years. The Colonial rectors appointed by governors typically served for very short periods.   Since the fire, there have been only 11, including our present rector The Reverend Manoj Mathew Zacharia, who joined us in 2019. 

Three local parishes began as chapels of St. Anne’s.  A “chapel of ease” in northern Anne Arundel County, established by St. Anne’s in the 1730s became Severn Parish in 1845. St. Luke’s in Eastport was begun as a chapel of St Anne’s in 1899. It became a separate congregation in 1978.  St. Philips, on Bestgate Road, began as a chapel of St. Anne’s in 1880, with a building in downtown Annapolis.  Beginning in 1908, it was administered by the Diocese of Maryland instead of by St. Anne’s. In 1977 it became an independent parish, a few years after moving to its current location.


Under the planning of Governor Francis Nicholson St. Anne’s church was placed on the second highest piece of land in Annapolis; the highest was reserved for the State House. The burial grounds around the church were at one time much larger than what presently exists. Annapolis’ growth and especially the construction of the street around the circle, have reduced the churchyard cemetery to but a representative sample of what existed in the 18th century. It is reported in an early 20th century newspaper article that graves extended all the way to the old Post Office building and Government House.              

The main cemetery  is down Northwest Street from the circle, on College Creek. The original section of the cemetery adjacent to the creek (formerly called Dorsey Creek) was purchased with a bequest  by Miss Elizabeth Bordley in 1790. In 1783 the vestry of St. Anne’s declared that the churchyard cemetery was filled therefore relocation was necessary. Through the years additional lands have been added to the cemetery.  Locust Grove Cemetery was the first addition in 1887. In 1961 the flat ground near the Arundel Center and the Goldstein Treasury Building was deeded to the cemetery by the city. The last addition came in 1990 with the merger of the Cedar Bluff Cemetery at the corner of Northwest and Washington Streets. Cedar Bluff was established in 1896 by a provision of the will of Elizabeth V. Davis.

Among the tombstones in the churchyard are those of six 17th-Century Marylanders: Col. Nicholas Greenberry (1627-1697) acting governor in 1694, and Ann, his wife (1648-1698); Roger Newman (?-1704); Major General John Hammond (1643-1707); Captain John Worthington (1650-1701); and Henry Ridgely (1669-1700). There are also grave stones of the first Mayor of Annapolis, Amos Garrett (1671-1727), and several other colonial worthies, including William Bladen (1670-1718), Benjamin Tasker, Sr. (1691-1768) who was President of the Maryland Council for thirty-two years and acting Governor of Maryland on several occasions; and his son, Benjamin Tasker, Jr. (1721-1760); Margaret Tilghman Carroll (1743-1817); and the last British Governor of Maryland, Sir Robert Eden (1741-1784), for whom George III created  the title “Baronet of Maryland.” Governor Eden returned to Annapolis after the Revolutionary War and died here. He was originally buried at St. Margaret’s Church, but his remains were moved to St. Anne’s churchyard in 1926 by the Society of Colonial Wars. In recent years the vault of Margaret Tilghman Carroll, daughter of Matthew Tilghman, on the north side of the church was opened and the mortal remains of several members of the Carroll family were identified in addition to her own, including: Dr. Charles Carroll (1691-1755), his second wife Anne Plater Carroll (d. 1766), his younger son John Henry Carroll (1732-1754), his elder son, the eminent constitutional lawyer and patriot, Charles Carroll, the Barrister (1723-1783) and husband of Margaret Tilghman Carroll. Many other interments are no longer marked by stones, including the Bordley family vault beneath the ground behind the east end of the church. Discovered in 1987 when a hole was dug to plant a tree, the vault was opened and found to contain four coffins, one of which bears a silver plate with the name of Margaret Chew Bordley (died 1773), first wife of John Beale Bordley (1727-1804), the celebrated agriculturist and animal breeder. She was a sister of Molly Chew, the first wife of Governor William Paca (1740-1804). Another coffin contains what is believed to be the remains (with his yellow wig still intact) of the prominent lawyer and bon vivant Stephen Bordley (ca. 1710-1764). A third may be (the identification is quite speculative) that of his socially accomplished sister, Elizabeth Bordley (1717-1789), who lived with her unmarried brother in the Bordley House and managed his household, famous in its day for its hospitality and cuisine. She is the same Elizabeth Bordley who in 1790 gave the bequest that resulted in the purchase of what became the main St. Anne’s Cemetery.

St. Anne’s is the final resting place for many other of Annapolis’ citizens, both notable and ordinary, who played a role in the history of the City of Annapolis, State of Maryland, and the United States. Among the notable Annapolitans are several people connected with the Hammond-Harwood House. Great grandfather to Mathias Hammond,  Major General John Hammond’s tombstone was moved to the churchyard and can still be seen there, as noted above. Mathias Hammond, John Hammond, and Philip Hammond, the first three owners of the house are not buried at St. Anne’s Cemetery, but at Howard’s Addition, located at what is now Gambrills. Although the first Hammonds were not buried at St. Anne’s they nonetheless all had strong connections with the church and all three men were at some point members of the Vestry. Monuments to Ninian Pinkney who owned the Hammond-Harwood house from (1810-1811), Judge Jeremiah Townley Chase (1811-1828), Richard Chase (1828-1840), Francis Townley Chase Lockerman (1840-1857), Hester Anne Lockerman Harwood, Matilda L. Blair, and Townley Lockerman (1857-1890), and the last private owners Lucy and Hester Ann Harwood (1890-1924), can all be found in St. Anne’s Cemetery. 

Many of the other people who built the great houses of Annapolis are buried here:  Brices, Randalls, Ridouts, Worthingtons, Chases, Ogles, Carrolls, Pinkneys, Greens, Sands, and Shaws are among the names that can be found at St. Anne’s Cemetery. Veterans of all our wars are also buried here. Patriots of the American Revolution, War of 1812, soldiers and sailors of both the Union and Confederacy, Spanish American War, and all the wars of the 20th century. The cemetery has always been a “City Cemetery” and as such has many graves of local citizens who were not members of St. Anne’s. Financial arrange3ments were changed in the early 1900s as work began on improving the cemetery and raising money for the endowment fund. All lot owners at that time were requested to pay an annual fee for the cemetery’s upkeep. Perpetual Care fees did not become a part of the sales price of lots until much later. Most of the older lots in the cemetery still do not have perpetual care paid for them.



The archives at St. Anne’s are located primarily in the Parish House and in the Maryland State Archives. Articles have been written from documents found in the Archive Room in the Parish House, as well as from dated newspaper articles. Some of these articles are available on this website. Questions about the history of St. Anne’s Parish may be emailed to


1696-1698 Peregrine Coney
1699-1703 Edward Topp
1704-1710 James Wootton
1710-1711 Joseph Colbatch, of All Hallows Parish (part-time interim)
1711-1713 Edward Butler
1713-1714 Jacob Henderson, of Queen Anne’s Parish (part-time interim)
1714-1724 Samuel Skippon
1725-1739 John Humphreys
1739-1740 James Stirling
1740-1743 Charles Lake
1744 Samuel Edgar
1745-1749 John Gordon
1749 Andrew Lendrum
1749-1754 Alexander Malcolm
1754 John Myers
1754-1756 John McPherson, officiating
1757-1759 Clement Brooke, officiating
1759-1760 Alexander Williamson
1761-1767 Samuel Keene
1767-1768 Bennett Allen
1768-1770 William Edmiston
1771 Jonathan Boucher
1772-1775 John Montgomery
1775 Thomas Landrum (Lendrum)
1777 Thomas Read
1777-1780 William Hanna, of Westminster Parish (part-time interim)
1781-1785 Thomas Gates
1785-1804 Ralph Higginbotham
1804-1806 William Duke
1806-1807 William Lewis Gibson
1807-1811 Bethel Judd
1812-1816 William Nind
1816-1826 Henry Lyon Davis
1826-1834 John G. Blanchard
1834-1841 George McElhiney
1842-1844 Gordon Winslow
1844-1847 Hector Humphreys, officiating
1845-1847 Edwin M. VanDeusen
1847-1857 Cleland Klintoch Nelson
1857-1865 James Radcliffe Davenport
1865-1869 J. Pinkney Hammond
1869-1899 William Scott Southgate
1899-1917 James Patton McComas
1917-1943 Edward Darlington Johnson
1943-1956 Charles Edward Berger
1957-1973 James F. Madison
1974-1987 Richard V. Landis
1987-1989 Janice Gordon, Priest-in-Charge
1989-2006 John Randolph Price
2006-2007 Robert Wickizer, Priest-in-Charge
2007-2008 Gid Montjoy, IV, Priest-in-Charge
2008-2018 Amy Elizabeth Richter
2018-2019 Timothy Mulder, Interim Rector
2019- Manoj Mathew Zacharia

The Vestry Act 1779 and St. Anne's Parish