Log In Register

Source & Citation Info

title:“A Bill to Vest Title to Established Church Property in the Membership”
authors:George Mason
date written:1779-11-26

permanent link
to this version:
last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:09 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Feb. 21, 2024, 3:56 a.m. UTC

Mason, George. "Letter to Vest Title to Established Church Property in the Membership." The Papers of George Mason. Vol. 2. Ed. Robert A. Rutland. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1970. 590-92. Print.
Manuscript, Virginia State Library, Richmond, Va.

A Bill to Vest Title to Established Church Property in the Membership (November 26, 1779)

[26 November 1779]
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY that the several Tracts of Glebe Land with the Appurtenances, the Churches and Chapels, the Books, Vestments, Plate and Ornaments, all arrears of Money and Tobacco, and all Property real and Personal of private Donation, which on the seventh Day of October in the Year one thousand seven hundred and seventy six were vested in any Persons whatever for the Use of the English C[h]urch untill then established by Law, or were due or contracted for bona fide, on that Day, or which since that time have legally become so vested, due or contracted for, shall be saved in all time to come to the members of the said English Church, by whatsoever Denomination they shall henceforth call themselves, who shall be resident within the several parishes wherein the same shall be; those of each Parish to have the separate and legal Property of the said Articles belonging to their respective Parishes, and to apply them from Year to Year, or from time to time, by themselves, or by Agents to be appointed by themselves, as they shall hereafter agree, for and towards the Support of their Ministry,1 (and the Exercise of their religious Worship); and that no future change in the form of their Church Government, Ordination of their Ministry, or Rituals of Worship, shall take away, or affect the Benefit of this Saving.
(AND WHEREAS it may be some considerable time before the Members of the said English Church will have established the Forms of their future church Government, and in the mean time there may be among the present Incumbents of their Parishes, some who are disaffected to the Commonwealth, of immoral Characters, or inattentive to the Duties of their Function, who ought to be immediatly removed; Be it therefore enacted, that whenever in any Parish, any twenty Members thereof of the said English Church shall in writing signed by themselves exhibit any Charge or Complaint against the Incumbent, and require of either church Warden of the said Parish, or if there be no Church Warden, then of any Vestryman to call a Meeting of the Parishioners of the English Church, such Church Warden or Vestryman is hereby empowered and required, within ten Days after the Requisition delivered, to furnish the Incumbent with a true Copy of the Charge or Complaint against him, and by Advertisements to be set up at every Church within such Parish to call a Meeting of the said Parishioners at the Place where Vestrys have most usually been held; which Meeting shall not be within less than three nor more than eight Weeks after the Requisition delivered: the said Parishioners, or so many as will, having assembled at the time and place appointed, the Warden or Vestryman who called the Meeting, or if he be not present, then the eldest Vestryman present, or such other Person who shall be appointed for that purpose by the said Meeting, shall preside in the same, and shall propose the Questions moved, in which every Parishioner present of the said English Church qualified by Law to vote for Vestrymen, shall have a Right to vote; and it shall be lawful for the said Meeting, and of all other Meetings to be called in like Manner, by a Majority of Voices, of not less than two thirds of those present and voting, to deprive any Incumbent now holding any such Glebe, and such Vote of Deprivation, attested by the President of the Meeting being delivered to the Sherif of the County, the said Sherif shall proceed to remove the Incumbent from his possession of the said Glebe, and the same to retain and deliver to such other Person as shall be authorized to the Possession thereof by the Vote of any Meeting of the Parishioners called and qualified as before directed.)
The surviving Vestrymen in every Parish shall have Authority to carry into Execution all Contracts legally and bona fide made by themselves, or their Predecessors, before the first Day of January in the year one thousand seven hundred and seventy seven, and for that purpose may sue or be sued, as might have been heretofore, where Vestries were full.
Where any Parish hath been altered in it's Bounds, the Inhabitants thereof shall nevertheless remain liable for their proportionable Part of all Money or Tobacacco due, and all Contracts legally made before such Division or Alteration, to be apportioned to them, and levied by the Vestry of the respective Parish into which they are incorporated by such Division or Alteration. And whereas Vestries, although authorised by Law to levy on their Parishioners so much only as was sufficient to answer the legal Demands on their Parish actually existing, Yet frequently levied more; so that there remained on their Hands a Depositum to be applied to the future Uses of their respective Parishes, and it may have happened that in some Instances, such Depositum were on Hand on the said first Day of January in the Year one thousand seven hundred and seventy seven, after all legal Demands satisfied which were then existing, or which by this Act are made legal, and also Debts may have been owing to some Parishes, Be it therefore enacted that such Depositums and Debts shall be applied to the maintenance of the Poor of such Parish, where it hath not already been done, in Ease of the Poor Rates to be levied for that purpose in future: and in the Case of any such Parish since then divided or altered, or lying in different Counties, such Easement shall be divided and apportioned in the same Way as Burthens, in a like case, are herein before directed to be apportioned: But where any Parish has no Glebe, such Depositums and Debts, or the proportion thereof belonging to such Parish, shall be applied towards purchasing a Glebe, the Property and Application of which shall be in the same Persons, and for the same Uses, and according to the same Rules, as would have been by the former Part of this Act had the said Glebe been purchased before the passing hereof.

Resource Metadata