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Magruders in Prince George's County, Maryland, Parishes

Prince George's Homepage

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Compiled by Rob Roy Ratliff, Jan 2004
608 Warfield Drive
Rockville MD 20850-1922

The principle of separation of church and state embodied in our current laws was not observed in early Maryland. For over 80 years before the Revolutionary War the Church of England was the established church in the Maryland colony.

An "Act for the Service of Almighty God and the Establishment of the Protestant Religion within this Province" was passed by the General Assembly in 1692. (1) The 10 counties then established were divided into 30 parishes. "In each Parish six men were chosen as Vestrymen; a tax was levied on every taxable person, to be collected by the Sheriff and turned over to the Vestry for the support of the church." (2)

Maryland had been divided into Hundreds as civil divisions within counties but with the Act of 1692 the Church of England parishes became an integral part of the colony's governmental system. An account of the Hundreds and Parishes was made including the parish boundaries, Vestrymen and number of "tithables" in each. The four parishes in Calvert County included St. Paul's Parish "from the Upper part of Mount Calvert hundred to the main branch of Swanson's Creek." The Vestrymen included "Mr. Samll Magruder" and the taxables were 500. (3)

        "When, in 1696, Prince George's County was established out of parts of Calvert and Charles Counties, two parishes had already been established: St. Paul's Parish in the area which had been part of Calvert County, and King George's (or Piscataway) Parish in the area which had been part of Charles County. At this time, there was already a church in St. Paul's Parish at Charles Town, the port town on the Patuxent which was selected as Prince George's County's first seat of government. . . . (4)

        "St. Paul's Parish (originally in Calvert County) took in all of the land on the west side of the Patuxent River between Charles Town on the north and Swanson's Creek on the south [the Creek is at the southern boundary of Prince George's where it joins Charles County]. By 1693 a small chapel had been erected for residents of the more remote regions, about 12 miles south of Charles Town. In 1696, when Prince George's County was established, the Court met in the church which had by that time been erected at Charles Town; this small church building was used as a meeting place for the new County court until a new courthouse was completed in 1698. The building which became the Parish church of St. Paul's was not begun until the 1730s, during the rectorship of John Eversfield. (5)

        "The Vestry Minutes of St. Paul's Parish show that soon after the installation of Eversfield in 1728, a movement was begun towards the construction of a new church. By this time, the seat of County government had moved from Charles Town to Upper Marlborough, leading to the eclipse of Charles Town as a population center. The Vestry of St. Paul's Parish authorized the acquisition of two acres of land called 'The Golden Race,' located in the area now known as Baden. (6) A contract was drawn up with Joshua Doyne in 1735 to construct on this land a brick chapel, 50 by 27 feet, of cruciform plan. The church, St. Paul's at Baden, still stands, and is listed in the National Register."

        A "chapel-of-ease" [a branch church for the "ease" of parishioners distant from the main parish church] was established by the Parish about six miles north of St. Paul's in 1742 and in 1850 St. Paul's Parish was divided and this chapel, St. Thomas, became the main church of its own Parish. It was the home church of Thomas John Clagett who was elected Bishop of Maryland in 1792, the first Episcopalian bishop to be consecrated on American soil, a native of the parish, who became rector of St. Paul's Parish in 1780 and served intermittently until 1810. (7)

        "Queen Anne Parish was erected by an Act of the General Assembly in December 1704 out of the northern part of St. Paul's Parish. There had been a small rural chapel of St. Paul's in the Collington Hundred, and this site became the location of St. Barnabas, the church for this new Parish. A new brick church was built on this site (approximately four miles north of Upper Marlborough) in 1706, and St. Barnabas' was known locally as 'the Brick Church' . . .The 1706 church at St. Barnabas' was replaced in 1774, during the rectorship of colorful Tory rector Jonathan Boucher. The Vestry contracted with Christopher Lowndes to build a 60 by 46 foot, two-story brick church; this building still stands, and is known as St. Barnabas' at Leeland. Restored in 1974 on the occasion of its bicentennial, St. Barnabas' is particularly distinguished by the marble baptismal font and silver communion service which date from 1718, and the painting of the Last Supper, painted in 1721 by Gustavus Hesselius."

The "Declaration of Rights" in 1776 ended the official reign of the Church of England in Maryland. "From this time, the source of funds for the maintenance of the church ended, and parishioners had to support the church and the clergy with volunteer funds. The Declaration of Rights also put an end to intolerance of Roman Catholic worship; Catholics were no longer obliged to worship in private chapels . . ."

Magruder Church Affiliations

In an article on "The Magruder Family in its Religious Affiliations," Mrs. Roberta Julia (Magruder) Bukey, (8) labels the Magruder immigrant, Alexander, a Presbyterian via a citation that his brother, James, was one of the commissioners of the "kirk"in Carghill appointed by Charles II with reference to an Act of the Scotch Parliament in 1649. Alexander, she asserts, "shows decided Presbyterian affiliation" in his will by naming Col. Ninian Beall, "called the Father of Presbyterianism in Maryland," and two others, "said to be Presbyterians," overseers of his estate. (9)

When the Church of England was established as the official church in Maryland in 1692 [post immigrant Alexander Magruder's death], a parish was established "That from the upper part of Mount Calvert Hundred [present Calvert Co MD] to the main Branch of Swanson's Creek be in one Parish. The church for said Parish already buildt (sic) at Charlestown, called St. Paul's." Mrs. Bukey says that Samuel Magruder was one of the six vestrymen, having been appointed in 1689 and "He appears to have held the office . . . the remaining years of his life, as his name appears in this office 1711, the year of his death." (10)

The vestrymen and wardens were charged with oversight of the parish, building and maintaining a place of worship, receiving the yearly tax (40 lbs of tobacco) assessed on every taxable person in the parish and using it to sustain a minister, repair the church, etc. Every Easter Monday the parish freeholders were to meet and elect two new vestrymen in place of two others who were to be dropped and to choose "two sober and discreet freeholders" as church wardens for a year. The vestrymen and wardens were required to take oaths as directed by Acts of Parliament. They were to meet at 11 a.m. on the first Tuesday of every month and were subject to a fine not exceeding 100 pounds of tobacco for nonattendance. In the absence of any division between church and state, they became involved in administering "justice" by adjudicating cases of adultery and fornication and having read from the pulpit prohibitions against blasphemy, swearing, drunkenness four times a year to avoid a penalty of 1000 pounds of tobacco for each failure to do so. Later they became tobacco counters and wardens on behalf of the government. They were to nominate inspectors for county tobacco warehouses including "Hannah Brown's Landing" which later was called "Magruder's Landing." The Supply Act of 1756 to raise funds for His Majesty's Service during the French and Indian War, directed the parish officials to make a list of all bachelors in the parish 25 or over who had 100 pounds or more of current money and turn the list over to the county collector of excise who levied a tax on each individual. With the approach of the American Revolution there was a break between patriots and the clergy, most of whom were loyalists, some of whom left for England and most of the remaining refused to take the Oath of Fidelity. (11)

Magruders in St. Paul's Parish

The first vestrymen chosen for St. Paul's Parish, then located in Calvert County, "all prominent men of the parish," included Samuel Magruder. (12) Registers of St. Paul's Parish which survive include individuals of color with the Magruder surname (1836-1866), possibly slaves or servants of white Magruders: (13)

Magruders in Queen Anne Parish

Queen Anne Parish was established in 1704 from the northern portion of St. Paul's Parish. In April 1705 the inhabitants of the Parish met to elect vestrymen and "Samuel Magruder Sen. [Senior] and Ninian Magruder contributed to the funds." In April 1721 and again in April 1723 Ninian Magruder was elected warden; John Magruder in 1729; in June 1734 Samuel Magruder Jun. [Junior] and James Magruder, and William and John Magruder had pews; and in April 1736 James Magruder was elected vestryman. (14)

The present Saint Barnabas Church at Leeland was built 1771-1776 and its baptismal font was brought from England in 1719 and is still in use. Surviving registers of the church show these Magruder entries: (15)

Magruders in King George's Parish

As noted above, this parish was first called Piscataway Parish, extending north to the Pennsylvania border and to the western border of Maryland. When Prince George's Parish was created from its northern part in 1726, many called it King George's and some vestry minutes and Assembly of Maryland actions labeled it St. John's at Broad Creek. It was not until 1902 that the confusion was cleared and it was officially known as King George's. (18)

Magruders in Prince George's Parish

Also known as Rock Creek , Prince George's Parish was created in 1726 by an Act of the General Assembly of Maryland from the northern part of King George's Parish. It included all of what is now the District of Columbia, Montgomery, Frederick, Washington, Garrett, Allegany and portions of Carroll counties. Rock Creek Church was the parish church of Prince George's Parish, 1726-1830. Most of this large area is now outside of Prince George's County. The first parish church was built on what is now Rock Creek Churchyard and Cemetery in the District of Columbia. Boundary divisions followed and the parish church evolved into what is now St. Paul's Church, Rock Creek Parish, in Washington DC. (20)

The author of a history of Rock Creek Parish, Diocese of Washington, admits to the "perplexity" of "trying to determine the location of references" he found in early original vestry minutes. (21) He notes several periods of no records and confusion on locations ["near Spring," "Patuscen," sic. Patuxent ?]. Part I applies to the primary church or chapel ("same thing?" he asks) of Rockville. He reports that vestrymen met in the court house of Montgomery County, and also met in Georgetown [now District of Columbia], etc. (22) The author's focus is history and includes names only incidentally, including these Magruders:

        Tobacco inspectors: 4 Oct 1748 "prominent members of the parish" were appointed. "At Mr. George Gordon' warehouse, at the mouth of Rock Creek . . . Captain Alexander Magruder, Messers Josiah Beall, John Calgett and Alexander Beall - son of William Beall . . ." (23)

        Controversy: Competing pastors created some turmoil leading the vestrymen to send a petition to the Governor to direct them "how to proceed." It was signed by vestrymen including Nathan Magruder. (24)

        Enquiry: Vestry met 13 Oct 1813 : "and as Robert Magruder was not present he was authorized to make enquiries of Francis Scott Key representing our legal right to the glebe [land] of Prince George's Parish . . ." (25)

Caleb Clarke Magruder, former Chieftain of the American Clan Gregor Society, compiled a list of Magruders who served as Wardens and Vestrymen in this Parish: (26)

Other references to Magruders are scattered in this same source including (with page number after each entry):

This paper was compiled by Rob Roy Ratliff, Jan 2004
608 Warfield Drive
Rockville MD 20850-1922

1. "Archives of Maryland Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly," Apr 1684-Jun 1692, Vol. XIII, (Annapolis: Maryland State Archives, 1894.) p. 425.

2. Pearl, Susan G., "The Established Church in Prince George's County, 1692-1778," pp. 65-68 in Pearl, Susan G., et. al., "Historic Contexts in Prince George's County," (Upper Marlboro, MD: Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Jun 1990, Aug 1991.), 74 pages. The quoted portions in the historical review which follows are from this article, except where otherwise noted.

3. "Proceedings of the Council of Maryland, 1696/7, " Vol. XXIII, (Annapolis: Maryland State Archives), pp. 17-25. No parishes are listed for Prince George's County.

4. "St. Pauls Parish's History" (<>) [no apostrophe used.] Part 1 notes that Charles Town was previously known as Mt. Calvert.

5. Ibid., Part 4. Reverend John Eversfield was inducted 1728 as rector and remained for 50 years. He was a native of England and had twice taken the oath of allegiance to the King of Great Britain. His land was confiscated during the Revolutionary War and he was imprisoned. He was 75 when his case as heard and due to his age, infirmities and "lack of abilities to exert any dangerous influence," he was released. His two sons were American patriots and they bought his property and returned it to him. Until his death in1780 he conducted a school, educating many Southern Maryland youth.

6. Ibid., Part 1. This land was purchased from Thomas Truman for 40 shillings. The church's baptismal font was sent from England in 1752. It was damaged by British troops housed in the church during the War of 1812 and returned to England for repairs.

7. Ibid., Part 4. He graduated from Princeton in 1762 and received his D. D. from Washington College, Chestertown, MD in 1785 and a doctorate from Princeton in 1787. He was named chaplain of the U. S. Senate in 1792. He left St. Paul's because of his responsibilities as Bishop and failing health. A memorial window was installed in the church in 1852 honoring him. His surname was sometimes spelled "Claggett." See Utley, George Burnell, The Life and Times of Thomas John Claggett First Bishop of Maryland (Chicago: R. R. Donnelly & Sons, 1913).

8. American Clan Gregor Society, Year Book 1915, pp. 48-58. Mrs. Bukey was Registrar of the Society at the time. She does not give sources for most of her statements.

9. Ibid. Mrs. Bukey notes (pp. 48, 49) that Col. Beall in 1704 made a gift of land to build a church in Marlboro, Prince George's county, MD, and, quoting Briggs, American Presbyterian, pp. 114-119: "The Presbyterians on the Patuxent were kept together by their Godly Elder Colonel Ninian Beall, from the time of Mathew Hill until the arrival of Nathaniel Taylor." The latter, "minister of ye Gospel," was the first name in Col. Beall's land deed. Further, Mrs. Bukey notes that the deed was witnessed by Samuel Magruder, immigrant Alexander's eldest surviving son, as Justice. She admits that this is "meagre (sic) evidence" but claims it lends support to her "deduction" that the immigrant, Alexander Magruder, was a Presbyterian. [Col. Ninian Beall's deed may be viewed at <>; no Magruders are named among the church associates of Minister Taylor; and Samuel Magruder's name is listed as a witness in his civil capacity as a Justice.]

10. Ibid. p. 49. She refers to Samuel, son of immigrant Alexander Magruder.

11. Hienton, Louise Joyner, Prince George's Heritage, (Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1972). Chapter 5 "The Established Church in Prince George's County," pp.54-57. She notes that nomination of tobacco inspectors by the parish vestrymen started in 1748 and "was done every year through September, 1775, except in 1771 and 1772, when the Inspection Bill failed to pass," p. 64.

12. Ibid. p. 57; see above, footnote 10. Mrs. Hienton notes the absence of earliest records of vestry proceedings, but relied on provincial and county records to chronicle events and names cited in subsequent pages of her book.

13. Brown, Helen White, Prince George's County Maryland, Indexes of Church Registers, 1686-1885 (Riverdale, MD: Prince George's County Historical Society, 1979). Vol. 2, Part I 1831-1885, St. Paul's Parish, p. 70. She cites page numbers from the parish records for each entry. She found no records prior to 1831 (p. 3).

14. Bukey, ibid., p. 50.

15. Brown, ibid., Vol. 1, Queen Anne Parish, 1686-1777, p. 324. She notes that the original book has been much used, pages torn, reassembled and bound (p. 281). For another reading see <> , an interpretation of a film of these records.

16. This is the Samuel who subsequently was identified as "Samuel third" or "3rd."

17. The film reading on the internet cited in footnote 15, says "1 Aug 1717."

18. Brown, ibid., King George's Parish, 1689-1878, Part I, p. vii. (written by Louise J. Hienton, who collaborated with Mrs. Brown in developing these records). It was the mother parish to the Washington/Upper Potomac River area. See also Hienton, ibid., pp. 67-75; she cites Captain Enoch Magruder's 1765-66 involvement in building the present church building, St. John's Church at Broad Creek, p 74. Abbreviations used by Mrs. Brown include: b-born, bpt, bapt-baptized, blk-black, bur-buried, conf-confirmed, d-died, dau-daughter, m-married.

19. Ibid., previous names, p. 87; "Magriger" p. 86; this and following names in Part II 1797-1878, p. 224. As noted previously, the author lists the exact page of the original record for each entry.

20. Brown, ibid., Vol. 2, Part I 1711-1798, p. 171; also Hienton, ibid., pp. 84-88.

21. Boynton, Lewis T., History of Rock Creek Parish: Diocese of Washington As Told by Original Vestry Minutes 1712-1935. Bound typescript, three "volumes" (sic., sections) total 114 pp. 1955. He says book 1 of the church records starts with Piscataway Parish 21 Apr 1712 and ends at a meeting of Prince George's Parish 4 May 1829; book 2, 29 Jul 1815 to 1 May 1882.

22. Boynton, ibid., p. 28, he notes that 30 May 1814 "Vestry adjourned to meet at Rockville. This is the first mention of that town by name in this record."

23. Boynton, Vol. 1, p. 11.

24. Boynton, Vol. 1, pp. 14, 15. He adds nothing on details or settlement of the dispute.

25. Boynton, Vol. 1, p. 28. The author gives no additional information. To those who note the absence of women in these early church records, Mr. Boynton records that on 8 Feb 1922 women where given the same rights to vote and hold office as men; however, the first female "vestryman" was not elected until 22 Apr 1935-13 years later! Vol. IV, p. 1.

26. American Clan Gregor Society, Year Book 1929, p. 82 He identifies them with "St. Paul's Protestant Episcopal Church; formerly Prince George's, now Rock Creek, Parish, District of Columbia and Prince George's County, Maryland." He cites no sources

27. Brown, ibid, Prince George's Parish, Part I, 1711-1798, pp. 189, 190.

28. Brown, Part II, Montgomery County 1791-1845, pp. 267-270.

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Prince George's County Coordinator
John M. Scroggins

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19 May 2004 14:14:20 EST   2002 John M. Scroggins