Diocese of North Carolina : the early conventions : held at Tawborough, anno domini 1790, 1793 and 1794





In making some investigations, a few years, ago into the history of the Church in Edgecombe county, my attention was drawn to the Conventions held in Tawborough during the last decade of the eighteenth century, in the unsuccessful effort to organize the Church in North Carolina, and to procure the consecration of a Bishop. All the information which I could then obtain respecting these meetings was only such as is preserved in Bishop White's Memoirs of the Church in the United States, and in the Rev. Robert J. Miller's Letter to Dr. Hawks (since reprinted in the Church Messenger of October 15th, 1879). So far as I could discover, the memory of them had almost entirely died out, and no record of their proceedings was known to exist.

It was therefore with great interest that I learned from the Hon. Kemp P. Battle, LL. D., President of the University of North Carolina, that he had discovered in an old newspaper a contemporaneous account of the Convention of November 12th and 13th, 1790, the first Convention of the Church ever held in this State, as was then supposed. This account is signed by the Secretary of the Convention, and is evidently the official publication of the minutes of the meeting. Thinking this discovery calculated to interest many persons in North Carolina, and possibly some in other parts of the country, I sent copies of these minutes to the Churchman, and to the Southerner, a paper published in Tawborough, in which papers they appeared in May, 1878. An additional motive which I had in thus making them public through the press, was that other persons might be stimulated to examine among their old papers and manuscripts to see if something further might not be discovered relating to this period of our Church history. My own investigations produced nothing new, and when, in the summer of 1880, at the request of the Rev. Charles J. Curtis, editor of the Church Messenger, I prepared for that paper an “Historical Sketch of the Church in Edgecombe County,” I had nothing to relate concerning those early Conventions, except what had been derived from the sources above mentioned.

Even these imperfect memorials, however, seemed to some persons worthy of preservation, and a few months ago, when

preparing for the press a reprint of our Diocesan Journals of 1817, 1818, 1819, 1820 and 1821, I was requested by the Rev. Dr. Watson to prefix to that reprint such accounts of the Conventions of 1790, 1793 and 1794, as could be found. It had frequently occurred to me that the Rev. Charles Pettigrew, who at the last of these meetings was chosen to be the first Bishop of North Carolina, might have left documents bearing on this interesting period; and I therefore applied to his grandson, the Rev. William S. Pettigrew, and requested the sight of such of his grandfather's papers relating to these meetings as might be in his possession. With characteristic courtesy he replied by sending me a manuscript of some sixty pages of foolscap, containing copies of letters and papers left by Parson Charles Pettigrew. My surprise was only equaled by my satisfaction on finding that the manuscript contained materials for a very full history of the whole movement, which began in the latter part of the year 1789, and culminated in May, 1794, in the election of Mr. Pettigrew as Bishop; with the exception of the proceedings of the Convention of November, 1790, which are entirely lacking in the manuscript, but can be fully supplied from the old newspaper belonging to Mr. Battle.

Having received with the manuscript permission to make such use of any of its contents as I might see fit, I have ventured to prepare for publication the following pages, wherein is presented, for the first time in print, the documentary history of the first effort to organize the Church in North Carolina and to secure the benefits of Episcopal oversight and ministrations. I cannot but believe that many persons will be interested in these memorials of the past.

This early action of the Churchmen of North Carolina was suggested by the venerable Bishop White, truly the father of the American Church. In a letter to the Rev. Mr. McDougall, of Halifax, dated November 9th, 1789, Mr. Pettigrew mentions that Gov. Johnston had received a letter from Bishop White expressing a desire that the clergy of North Carolina should meet together to consult concerning the interests of the Church. The Governor seems to have turned the letter over to Mr. Pettigrew, who immediately put himself in communication with the few clergy remaining in the State, proposing that they should meet at Tawborough in May, 1790. The result of this correspondence was that on June 5th, 1790, two clergymen and two laymen met in

Tawborough and organized the first Convention of Churchmen ever held in North Carolina.* It appears therefore that the meeting of November, 1790, heretofore supposed to have been the first, was only the second, and that it met in consequence of a call put out by the Convention of June 5th. The persons composing this first Convention were the Rev. Charles Pettigrew and James L. Wilson, of the clergy, and Dr. John Leigh and William Clements, Esq., both of Tawborough, of the laity; and these four men seem to have been the leading spirits in all the subsequent meetings. Mr. Clements is said by the Rev. S. Halling, in a letter to Mr. Pettigrew, to have been “of the Presbyterian Church,” but he probably meant that he had been a Presbyterian before this time. From the first to the last of these four Conventions he is more prominent than any other layman in the movement to procure the consecration of a Bishop, having been Secretary of three of them, and appointed a lay deputy to the General Convention in 1794.

The address to the General Convention, drawn up at this meeting, was forwarded to Bishop White, who acknowledges its receipt in a letter dated August 8th, 1791; but it seems not to have been presented to the General Convention. There is no mention of it in the Journals, and the Rt. Rev. Dr. Perry, Bishop of Iowa and Historiographer of the Church, to whom I applied for information in regard to this period of our Church history, wrote me that he knew of nothing relating to these Conventions among the archives of the General Convention in his custody.

There is another matter upon which the papers preserved in this Pettigrew manuscript throw much light, and which I will venture to touch upon briefly, even at the risk of extending these introductory remarks to a greater length than was at first intended. Injustice has sometimes been done the zeal and earnestness of the Rev. Charles Pettigrew, in consequence of his not having obtained consecration to the Episcopate, although he lived more than ten years after his election as Bishop; as if this implied negligence on his part. The Rev. Mr. Miller, in his oft quoted letter to Dr. Hawks, has given color to this, by saying that Mr. Pettigrew

*In the Address to the General Convention by this meeting, mention is made of a letter from a Committee of the General Convention, sent through the Rev. Dr. Cutting, of Newbern, but it seems not to have been received by the meeting, nor were even its contents known.

“was opposed in sentiment to the election at that time as premature, and informed me then, and afterwards, that his principal object in consenting to it was to prevent the sacred and holy office from being conferred on an improper person, and this will account for his never making any application for consecration.” Parson Miller wrote from memory after the lapse of thirty-six years, and it is no disparagement of that most faithful and honored minister of Christ to say that his memory of events so long past was in some degree inaccurate. It is not unlikely that after having failed in his effort to be consecrated in 1795, as we shall presently see; and feeling the declining state of his health; while at the same time he could not shut his eyes to the distressing lack of zeal on the part of the greater number of professed Churchmen; Mr. Pettigrew despaired of being able to effect anything, and used language to Mr. Miller which led the latter to make the statement above quoted. But that statement contains an important error as to a matter of fact, concerning which Mr. Miller probably had no means of being rightly informed; and the whole tenor of the remarks about Mr. Pettigrew's opinion, at the time of his election, is inconsistent with his letters of that period, contained in the Pettigrew manuscript; whatever may have been his feelings later on. As a matter of fact, Mr. Pettigrew did apply for consecration to Bishop White, by whom the application was laid before the General Convention at the session of 1795, as the Bishop himself tells us in his Memoirs of the Church in the United States (edition of 1820, page 216). Moreover, in his letters are to be found strong expressions of the need he felt of a Bishop here in North Carolina; and after his election he entered into correspondence with Bishop White, and showed very plainly that he looked upon his consecration as a thing much to be desired; although with most commendable modesty he doubts his own fitness for such an office, and expresses his willingness to give way in favor of a more suitable person, if such an one could be found to undertake the work.

Full of this important mission he set out for Philadelphia in good time to attend the General Convention of 1795, having previously forwarded his application and the Certificate of his election to Bishop White. Before reaching Norfolk he met with such reports of the prevalence of yellow fever at that place as deranged all his plans. He had reason to believe that the ordinary means of travel would be interrupted,

and that if he should succeed in finding a vessel sailing for New York or Philadelphia, he would be kept at quarantine so long as to endanger the purpose of his going—all which considerations rendering the success of his journey extremely doubtful, and the danger from exposure to the fever being very certain, he was persuaded to postpone his personal application until a more favorable opportunity should present itself, and to return to North Carolina.

But although Mr. Pettigrew was thus disappointed in his hopes of obtaining consecration, he did what he could for the interests of the Church in the State at large. He writes to Bishop White that he will use whatever influence his position as Bishop-elect may give him, in endeavoring to rouse the Churchmen of North Carolina to take steps to organize the Parishes by the election of Wardens and Vestrymen, and to supply the churches and chapels at least with regular lay services, that the people might thereby be kept together and prevented from straying off to other religious bodies. His letters show that he faithfully kept his promise. He seems to have extended his inquiries and oversight as far west as Person and Lincoln counties, and to have encouraged and, as far as he could, assisted all efforts made for the good of the Church. It was hardly possible for him to make the personal visitation which was suggested to him by some, but he was diligent in finding out the names of men of character and influence in the different counties, who might be induced to exert themselves in this movement to revive the Church of their fathers.

In 1798 the yellow fever prevailed in Philadelphia to such an extent that the meeting of the General Convention had to be postponed until the following year. This Convention of 1799 Mr. Pettigrew seems to have made no effort to attend. His health had been very poor for some years, and he probably felt physically unable to undertake the oversight of such a diocese as this State would have been in the year 1800.

Thus ended the first effort to obtain a Bishop for North Carolina.

The following documents are all from the Pettigrew manuscript, with the exception of the minutes of the meeting of November 12th and 13th, 1790. In the testimonial of the election of the Rev. Charles Pettigrew (Appendix B to Journal of the Convention of 1794, page 28), I have followed the printed copy in Bishop White's Memoirs, which

is more correct than the manuscript. I have ventured to introduce, between brackets, such information, concerning the persons or events referred to, as seemed necessary to the proper understanding of the documents; and also to add a few foot notes. In some cases it has been necessary to correct a manifest error or to supply an omission in the text: these are also enclosed between brackets.

Many of the letters preserved along with the records of these Conventions well deserve publication. They illustrate a not uninteresting period of our ecclesiastical history, and show the characters of the men who were prominent in this movement in a most favorable light. Doubtless there were unworthy ministers in the Church then, as there always have been and will be; but those who first gathered together to consult for the interests of the Church of Christ in North Carolina were such as we may well be proud of. It is strange that no one has yet undertaken a biography of the Rev. Charles Pettigrew, the most eminent of the number. The sketch of his life and character in Sprague's Annals of the American Pulpit (Vol. V, page 315), prepared by his distinguished descendant, the late Gen. J. Johnston Pettigrew, although excellent so far as it goes, is necessarily inadequate. The character of the work in which it appeared made it impossible to treat the subject with anything like fullness. Is it now too late for this want to be supplied?

Pettigrew and the men who labored with him—Wilson, Blount, Halling and others, deserve an honored place in the Church's memory for their faithful devotion to her, when hers must have seemed to them a falling cause.

It is a curious fact that the only one of that little band who lived to see the revival of 1817, was the Rev. Robert Johnston Miller, who had received Lutheran ordination with the distinct understanding that it was not to be taken as any compromise of his position as a Churchman, and who took part as one of the clergy in the Convention of 1794. After having held up the hands of Pettigrew during this short twilight of Church life in North Carolina, he lived to be ordained Deacon and Priest by Bishop Richard Channing Moore in 1821, and to see Bishop Ravenscroft lay deep and strong the foundations of this Diocese in the principles for which he and the earlier champions of the Church had fought a losing battle.



All Saints, 1882.

We give Thee hearty thanks for the good examples of all those Thy servants, who, having finished their course in faith, do now rest from their labours.

First Convention of the Clergy [and Laity],

At a meeting of the Protestant Episcopal Clergy and Laity of North Carolina, held at Tarborough, on the 5th of June, 1790, pursuant to a previous agreement entered into by the clergy of the said State in consequence of a circular letter addressed to them from the Committee of Correspondence at Philadelphia, the following proceedings were entered into:

1st Resolved, That we do approve of and accede to the Constitution adopted by a Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church held at Philadelphia in the year 1789.

2d Resolved, That the Rev. Charles Pettigrew, Rev. James L. Wilson, and John Leigh, Esq., be, and they are hereby, appointed a Committee to draw up and send forward an answer to the circular letter written by the Corresponding Committee of Philadelphia to the Episcopal Clergy of this State, expressing the high sense we have of the proceedings of the last General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church held in that city.

3d Resolved, That the Laity of the Protestant Episcopal Church in this State are entitled to elect and send one member from each of their respective counties to represent them at a general convention of the Protestant Episcopal Clergy and laity of this State.

4th Resolved, That when there is a regularly ordained Clergyman of the Protestant Episcopal Church, he shall represent the county in which he resides, and procure [produce?] his orders at Convention. But when there is no such resident in a county, a layman shall be chosen by the people as their representative.

5th Resolved, That the Clergy and Laity thus elected shall convene on the 12th November next at Tarborough, to deliberate on the affairs of their Church, and to choose a representative to the next General Convention of the Protestant

Episcopal Church in America, to be held at the city of Philadelphia.

6th Resolved, That the Rev. James L. Wilson and John Leigh, Esq., be, and [they] are hereby, appointed to make the same known by advertisement in the public papers printed in this State; fixing the time and mode for electing such representatives of the people.




[We learn from a letter of Mr. Pettigrew to Bishop White, of date June 6th, 1790, that this Convention was composed of only one clergyman, besides himself, and two laymen, “gentlemen of distinguished merit and reputation.” The other clergyman must have been the Rev. James L. Wilson, and the two laymen Dr. John Leigh and William Clements, Esq., since the names of these three persons appear in the proceedings.]

[Address of the Convention of June, 1790, to the General Convention, drawn up in accordance with the second Resolution of said Convention.]

TARBOROUGH, N. C., 5th June, 1790.

Right Rev. Brethren and Gentlemen of the Laity:

In answer to your zealous and friendly letter of last Fall, addressed to the Episcopal Clergy of this State, we beg leave to say in behalf of ourselves and absent brethren, there is nothing we more ardently wish than strict union with our brethren of the Clergy of the Protestant Episcopal Church in America. But your letter reached the hand of Dr. Cutting too late to procure that representation of our Church, which would have been highly proper, at your Convention of last September in Philadelphia. We have seen your journal and have the pleasure to say that we highly approve of the business done [on that] and the preceding occasion; particularly of your Constitution and Canons, and cheerfully subscribe and accede to the union. The necessity of this our accession is to us so obvious that we reflect with pain [on] the non-attendance of our clerical brethren who

were to meet us in Convention at this juncture—particularly the Rev. Mr. Cutting, from whom we expected your letter, and necessary information; but we charitably conclude that indisposition or unavoidable accident must have prevented. This puts it out of our power to answer the particulars in your letter with that precision we could wish, which we hope your candor will excuse.

We transmit you a copy of our imperfect proceedings, in which you will find that we have resolved on the election of members for a more general convention for the purpose of choosing a delegate to represent our Church constitutionally at the next General Convention to be held in your city.

The state of our Church in this Commonwealth is truly deplorable from the paucity of its clergy and the multiplicity of opposing sectarians who are using every possible exertion to seduce its members to their different communions. This grievance, however, we hope will be reduced in time by the energy of its faithful labourers; and we esteem it a most fortunate circumstance that Providence has advanced a gentleman of so well known integrity and zeal for the interest of the Church and religion in general, as the Right Rev. Dr. White, of Philadelphia, to preside in the Episcopal chair.

We have the honor to be, with sentiments of the truest respect and esteem, Brethren and Gentlemen, your sincere friends and Brethren.

Clergy and Laity of the State of North Carolina,
Tarborough on the 12th and 13th of November, A. D. 1790.

[From the North Carolina Chronicle, or Fayetteville Gazette, of date November 22d, 1790. The paper from which the following extract is taken, is in the possession of the Hon. Kemp P. Battle, LL. D., President of the University of North Carolina.]

At a meeting of the Episcopal Clergy and Laity of the State of North Carolina, held at Tarborough, on the 12th day of November, 1790:

The Reverend Dr. Micklejohn was unanimously chosen President.

Resolved, That the Clergy and Laity present do form themselves into a Committee of the Whole, for the purpose of preparing business necessary to be proceeded on by the Convention to-morrow.

Adjourned until to-morrow morning, 9 o'clock.

SATURDAY, November 13th, 1790.

The Convention met according to adjournment.

The Committee appointed yesterday for the purpose of preparing business for the Convention, reported the following resolutions, which were agreed to:

Resolved, That the Reverend Doctor Micklejohn, the Rev. Charles Pettigrew, the Rev. James L. Wilson, of the clergy,

and John Leigh, William McKenzie, and Joseph Leech, Esquires, of the laity, be, and they are hereby, appointed deputies to represent the Clergy and Laity of this State in the next General Episcopal Convention, to be held in New York, in September, 1792. Provided, That if any of the lay deputies should fail to attend the said Convention, the said clerical deputies shall have power to nominate and appoint others in their stead.

Resolved, That the Reverend Doctors Micklejohn and Cutting, the Rev. Messrs. Blount, Pettigrew, McDougal and Wilson, of the Clergy, and Jonathan Kitterell, of Granville; James Mills, of Warren; Henry Hill, of Franklin; William McKenzie, of Martin; Esquires; Doctors Leigh, of Tarborough, and Dickinson, of Edenton; and Colonels Long, of Halifax, and Leech, of Newbern; of the Laity; be appointed a Standing Committee of the Episcopal Church in this State. Any two of the Clergy, with two of the Laity, aforesaid, may receive applications from, and give recommendations to, all candidates for Holy Orders, which recommendation shall be a sufficient voucher to said candidate to obtain the signatures of a majority of the whole Committee, agreeably to the sixth Canon agreed to and ratified in General Convention, held in Philadelphia on the 16th of October, 1789.

Resolved, That there be an annual meeting of the Episcopal Clergy and Laity of North Carolina, under the name of the State Convention of the Episcopal Clergy and Laity.

Resolved, That in all General and State Conventions, the Laity have a right to representation of their own order, and until some future regulations take place, it is recommended to the Laity to choose one for every county and one for every district town* in this State.

Resolved, That the Episcopal Convention of this State do appoint the stated time and place of their meeting and direct the same to be advertised.

Resolved, That in cases of emergency, during the recess of the Convention, a majority of the State [Standing?] Committee be empowered to call the State Convention. That in all such, not less than three months’ notice shall be given in the public papers of this State, or advertised at the court house in each county.

*See Article 4 of the Constitution of 1794, page 26 post, and note on that Article.

Resolved, That the Laity hold their election for representatives to the next State Convention at the court house in each county, on the first Saturday in September next.

Convention adjourned to meet again at Tarborough on the fourth Wednesday in October next.


Tarborough, Nov. 13th, 1790.

[The Convention which by the action of the above body was called to meet at Tawborough in October, 1791, seems not to have been held. The most important result of the Convention of 1790 was the ordination of the Rev. S. Halling, who was recommended for Holy Orders by the Standing Committee, and was ordained by Bishop Madison, of Virginia. He succeeded the Rev. Dr. Cutting as Rector of Christ Church, Newbern, in 1792 or 1793. In Bp. Burgess's “LIST OF PERSONS ORDAINED DEACONS” Dr. Halling's ordination is put in the year 1792, and his death in 1813.

The Rev. James L. Wilson, one of the deputies appointed to attend the General Convention of 1792, proceeded to New York for that purpose, but was so delayed on his voyage that he did not arrive until some days after its adjournment, as will be seen by a note appended the journal of the General Convention of 1792.]

Tarborough, November 21st, 1793,
Being the Second Attempt to Organize the Church in North Carolina.

[Heretofore the only record of the proceedings of this informal meeting was the mention of it in Parson Miller's letter to Dr. Hawks. As Parson Miller was not present, and spoke only from hearsay, and after the lapse of many years, his account is not here inserted.

The following extract from a letter of the Rev. Dr. Halling, of Newbern, to the Rev. Charles Pettigrew, is the fullest account we have of the proceedings of this Convention. The letter is dated at Newbern, December 10th, 1793.]

“It will exceed the bounds of a letter to acquaint you with all the business we went through, but I hope the following short abstract of our proceedings will afford you some idea of our actions:

“I am sorry to inform you that only six persons formed the meeting, three of the Clergy, viz: Mr. Gurley, of Murfreesborough; Mr. Wilson and myself. On the part of the Laity, Mr. Clements and Dr. Leigh, of Tarborough, the former of the Presbyterian church, who was our secretary, and Mr. F. Green, whom I desired the Vestry of Newbern to appoint as deputy for Craven county.

“You may reasonably suppose that it would have been unadvisable in us to appoint a Bishop-elect; the smallness of our number would have subjected him to reproach, and our Church also.

* * * * * * * * *

“I proposed we should send another advertisement, accompanied with a circular letter, to one or more respectable and popular characters in every county, recommending in the most earnest manner a convention of the people who profess the Protestant Episcopal religion of the American Church, to choose immediately a Vestry, to appoint Readers, where a regularly ordained Clergyman could not be procured; and we resolved that this Vestry, the Readers, and

whoever they might elect in addition as deputies, should meet at Tarborough the last Wednesday in May, 1794, to form a Constitution and elect one of the Clergy to be consecrated as Bishop of this State.

“This is the sum of our proceedings.”

[We learn from Parson Miller's letter to Dr. Hawks, that the Rev. James L. Wilson was President of this Convention, and William Clements, Esq., Secretary; also that the Convention appointed a Standing Committee, and published a general notice of the meeting called for May, 1794. The Rev. Dr. Halling, of Newbern, seems to have been the moving spirit in this second effort at organization. There is a long and most earnest letter from him to Mr. Pettigrew, in which he urges the importance of the meeting to be held in May, 1794; and probably it was his exertions which caused so good an attendance.]








Testimonial of the Rev. Charles Pettigrew as Bishop-elect.


[The following list of the Clergy of North Carolina is without date, but is probably of the year 1794. It is given just as it appears in the Pettigrew manuscript. The name of the Rev. Mr. Pettigrew is omitted, probably because this was only a private memorandum of his own.]


Lincoln Co., White Haven Parish.


Rector Christ Church, Newbern.


of Martin and Edgecombe.


of Pitt and Edgecombe.


of Granville.


of Hertford.


of Northampton.

The Rev. Mr. DENT,

near the Yadkin river.

P. S.—The Rev. Robert Johnston Miller, White Haven Parish, Lincoln Co., a Lutheran minister.

Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church,
Tarborough in May, 1794.

The Episcopal State Convention of North Carolina convened in the town of Tarborough, on the last Wednesday in May, 1794, agreeably to adjournment.






On the part of the Clergy.

Present on the part of the laity—

LEONARD DESSEAUX, for Beaufort county,

JOSEPH PERKINS, for Lincoln county,

ISAAC GUION, for Newbern,

JOHN LEIGH, one of the Standing Committee.

The necessary certificates were produced by the lay deputies of their appointment.

The Rev. Mr. Gurley, who was appointed by the last Convention to open the business of the present by preaching a sermon, having failed to appear,

The Rev. Mr. Charles Pettigrew was appointed by the Convention to officiate in his place.

Adjourned until 7 o'clock P. M.

The Rev. Mr. Pettigrew officiated in the afternoon according to the appointment of the Convention.

*At this time the Rev. Mr. Miller had received only Lutheran ordination. He was ordained to the Deaconate and Priesthood by Bishop Moore in 1821. [See Journal of that year.]

[WEDNESDAY, 7 O'clock, P. M.]

Mr. Robert White appeared and produced a certificate of his election as a lay deputy to represent the town of Tarborough.

The Rev. Messrs. Wilson and Halling, on the part of the Clergy, and Mr. White, on the part of the Laity, were appointed a Committee to draw up a Constitution for the government of the Protestant Episcopal Church in this State, and report the same to-morrow.

Resolved, That the Convention proceed to-morrow, at the hour of twelve, for the purpose of taking into consideration that part of the public advertisement which relates to the appointment of a Bishop-elect for the State.

The Convention adjourned till nine o'clock to-morrow.

THURSDAY, May 29th, 1794.

The Convention met according to adjournment, and the morning service was read by the Rev. Mr. Miller.

On motion, Resolved, That the business of each day commence with prayer.

On motion, Resolved, That Mr. William Clements be appointed Secretary of the Convention.

The Rev. Mr. Blount produced his orders and took his seat.

Mr. Wood, a member of the Standing Committee, appeared this morning, produced his certificate, and took his seat.

The Committee appointed yesterday for drawing up a Constitution for the government [of the Church in this State] delivered their report. [See Appendix A].

On motion, the Convention formed itself into a Committee of the Whole, to take into consideration the Constitution as reported by the Committee, Dr. Guion in the chair. After some progress made the Committee rose.

Mr. James Adams, lay deputy from the county of Edgecombe, produced his certificate and took his seat accordingly.

The Convention conceived it necessary to proceed to appoint a Bishop-elect. Resolved, That this Convention do proceed, on Saturday next, to appoint by ballot a Bishop-elect.

The Convention then adjourned till 4 o'clock P. M. Thursday.

[THURSDAY, 4 O'clock P. M.]

The Convention met according to adjournment.

The General Constitution and Canons, as published by order of the General Convention, were, on motion, read.

The Convention adjourned until to-morrow at 8 o'clock.

FRIDAY, 30th May, 1794.

The Convention met according to adjournment, and opened with prayer by the Rev. Mr. Blount.

Mr. Grimes, member of the Standing Committee from Pitt county, appeared this morning and took his seat.

The Rev'ds Messrs. Blount, Wilson and Halling were appointed a Committee to draw a form of recommendation for the Bishop-elect to the General Convention.

The Convention resolved itself into a Committee of the Whole, Dr. Guion in the chair. The Committee reported progress and asked leave to sit again.

The Convention adjourned until 4 o'clock P. M.

FRIDAY, 4 O'clock P. M.

The Convention met according to adjournment and resolved itself into a Committee of the Whole, Dr. Guion in the chair. The Committee rose and the President resumed his seat. The chairman of the Committee reported progress and asked leave to sit again.

The Convention adjourned until to-morrow morning at 7 o'clock.

SATURDAY, 31st May, 1794.

The Convention met according to adjournment, prayers being read by the Rev. Mr. Gurley.

The Committee presented a form of recommendation for the Bishop-elect. [See Appendix B].

The Convention adjourned to meet at 12 o'clock.

[SATURDAY, 12 O'clock M.]

The Convention met at 12 o'clock, according to adjournment.

The appointment of a Bishop-elect, agreeably to a resolution entered into on Thursday last, took place, when it appeared that the Rev. Mr. Pettigrew was duly elected.

Resolved, That the Clergy choose lay members of the Standing Committee, and that the laity choose the clerical members; and in consequence of this resolution the following persons were chosen, viz:

The Rev. Messrs. NATH. BLOUNT,






Of the Clergy.

And of the laity:

Messrs. McKenzie, Moore, Hardy Murfree, Dr. Guion, David Turner, and Joseph Blount.

The Rev. Messrs. S. Halling and J. L. Wilson were appointed as clerical deputies, and W. Clements, as lay deputy to the next General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church.

Resolved, That the thanks of the Convention be rendered to the President of the Convention, and the Secretary.

The Convention adjourned to meet in Tarborough on the third Wednesday in October, 1795.

[The above is the journal of the Convention of 1794, as given in the Pettigrew manuscript. It is defective in one or two points. It does not mention the election of any President, nor does it show that any disposition was made of the report of the Committee of the Whole on the Constitution for the Church in this State. Immediately after the journal, in the manuscript, follows a copy of the Constitution, and, as it is signed by all the members of the Convention, it must have been adopted by the Convention, although no mention is made in the journal of such action. A copy of the Constitution is given and is marked “Appendix A.”]




WHEREAS, There are numbers of good people in this State who have been educated in the faith of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and many other religious and well-disposed persons who appear to be desirous to worship God according to the forms used in said Church; We, the Clergy and lay deputies in Convention met, have thought it advisable to frame a Constitution for the future government of said Church; and humbly pray at the throne of Heavenly Grace that our endeavours may prove effectual to the promotion of virtue and true religion.


That the Church be denominated the Protestant Episcopal Church in the State of North Carolina.


That there shall be a Bishop in the said Church, who shall be elected by ballot by the Convention; and that two-thirds of the members present at the time of electing shall be a majority for that purpose.


There shall be a Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the State of North Carolina, on the third Wednesday in October annually, in such place as may be determined upon by every preceding Convention.


That the Convention shall be, or may consist of the Clergy regularly ordained and settled in this State, of the members

of the Standing Committee, one of the Vestry of each Parish, two delegates from each county, and one from each town* in the State, to be elected by the people.


One-third of the Clergy and an equal number of the lay deputies shall constitute a quorum for transacting business, but a smaller number may adjourn.


A Standing Committee, consisting of twelve persons, shall be chosen or appointed by the Convention, whose office it shall be to perform the duties laid down in the Canons and General Constitution of the Church; and the vacancies shall be filled up during the recess by the Bishop, which appointment shall count until the meeting of the next Convention.


That as speedily as possible after it is known in each county what numbers are desirous of becoming members of the Protestant Episcopal Church, they be convened and elect a Vestry consisting of twelve persons; to form the people into a regular society, and to procure a clergyman, who has been regularly ordained according to the rites and ceremonies of said Church, to officiate among them as frequently as it is in his power to do so, and duly to administer the Holy Ordinances. The Vestry shall be chosen annually.


That there shall be no fees or reward demanded for the administration of the Holy Ordinance of Baptism.


All the Clergy shall be amenable to the Convention for any immorality or misbehavior, and for countenancing and

*This refers, no doubt, to the old borough towns of Edenton, Halifax, Newbern, Wilmington, Hillsboro and Salisbury, which, under the Constitution of 1776, were entitled to one Representative each in the General Assembly.

encouraging any doctrines contrary to the Holy Scriptures comprehended in the Articles of our Church.


Any Church or Parish in this State not represented at the time of ordaining this Constitution, shall be entitled to the benefit thereof, as soon as the members shall signify their ratification in writing, or by a deputy to the State Convention.


That no person professing himself to be a Clergyman of the Protestant Episcopal Church, shall be permitted to preach in any of the churches or chapels in the State, until he shall produce his Orders to the rector or minister of said church or chapel, or to the vestry.


The Bishop or President during the recess of the annual Convention shall have the power of calling an especial Convention on any urgent occasion, at such time as to him may appear most convenient, and at the place to which the preceding Convention adjourned itself.


This Constitution shall remain permanent until it may be deemed necessary by three-fourths of any future Convention to alter or amend the same.

Done and ratified in Convention in Tarborough May 31st, 1794, and signed by


President of the Convention.




We, the subscribers, having met in Convention, at Tarborough, in North Carolina, on the 28th* day of May, 1794, for the purpose of considering the declining situation of the Protestant Episcopal Church in this State, and having chosen the Rev. Charles Pettigrew as a person fit to be our bishop, and worthy to be recommended for consecration to that holy office—but being sensible that the great distance at which the laity, as well as the clergy of this State live from each other deprives us of sufficient personal acquaintance with one another to subscribe a testimonial in the words prescribed by the General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church, have thought it necessary and proper to make some deviation therefrom, which we presume to hope will be no obstacle to our laudable pursuit. We therefore do hereby recommend to be consecrated to the office of a bishop, the said Reverend Charles Pettigrew, whom, from his morality, religious principles, piety of life, from his general reputation in a clerical character, from the personal knowledge we have of him, and from his sufficiency in good learning, and soundness in the faith, we are induced to believe worthy of being consecrated to that important office. We hereby promise and engage to receive him as such when canonically consecrated and invested therewith, and to render that canonical obedience which we believe to be necessary to the due and proper discharge of so important a trust in the Church of Christ. And we now address the Right Reverend the Bishops in the several United States,

*This Testimonial could not have been actually signed before Saturday, May 31st, the day on which the election was made; but the old rule of law refers every act of a legislative assembly to the first day of the session, and so this paper is dated May 28th, Wednesday, the day on which the Convention met.

praying their united assistance in consecrating this our said brother and canonically investing him with the Apostolic office and powers.

In testimony whereof, we hereto subscribe our names, the day and year above written.

R. WHYTE, } Lawyers,J. GURLEY,
W. CLEMENTS,R. J. MILLER, (Of the Clergy.)
R. GODLEY, (Of the Laity.)

Diocese of North Carolina : the early conventions : held at Tawborough, anno domini 1790, 1793 and 1794
Diocese of North Carolina : the early conventions : held at Tawborough, anno domini 1790, 1793 and 1794 : the first effort to organize the Church in North Carolina / collected from original sources and now first published, with introd. and brief notes by Joseph Blount Cheshire, Jr. [s.l. : s.n.], 1882 Spirit of the Age Print.) 29 p. ; 23 cm.
Original Format
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BX5917.N8 C43X 1882
Location of Original
Joyner NC Stacks
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