The Royal Colony of North Carolina

The Vestry Act of 1715


This Province of North Carolina being a member of the Kingdom of Great Britain; & the Church of England being appointed by the charter from the Crown to be the only Established church to have Public encouragement in it: Wee, therefore, to express our gratitude to the Rtt Honble the Society for promoting the christian Religion in Forreign parts, and their Zeal for the promoting our Holy Religion by making such provisions for the building of Churches & Chappels & maintainance of the Clergy as the circumstances of this Government will admitt, Do pray that it may be enacted, And

Be it Enacted by his Excellency the Palatine &c. It is hereby enacted that this province of North Carolina be divided into parishes according to the Divisions & precincts hereafter menc&hibar;oned that is to say—Chowan precinct into two parishes, to be divided by Albemarle Sound & Chowan River & shall be distinguished by the names of the Eastern parish of Chowan & the South West parish: Pasquotanck precinct into two parishes to be divided by Pasquotanck River & shall be distinguished by the names of the North East parish of Pasquotanck & the South West parish of Pasquotanck; Perquimins, Currituck, & Hyde to be parishes & bounded by the limits of the several precincts: The remaining part of Pamplico River and the Branches thereof, commonly called Beaufort precinct to be one parish by the name of St. Thomas parish: And Neuse River & the Branches thereof by the name of Craven parish to which all the Southern settlements shall be accounted a part of the same parish untill further Divisions be made.

And Be It Further Enacted by the authority aforesaid that there shall be a Vestery in each & every of the aforesaid precincts and parishes consisting of the Ministers of the parish, when any such shall be there resident, & Twelve men whose names are hereafter mentioned.

Eastern Parish of Chowan Precinct [renamed St. Paul's Parish]:
The Hon. Chas. Eden Esq.
Col. Edward Moseley
Capt Frederick Jones
Maj. Thomass Luten
Capt Nicholas Crisp
Mr. Thomas Bray
Mr. James Tarloe
Capt Henry Bonner
Mr. John Blount
Mr. Samuel Padget
Mr. Thomas Garrett
Mr. John Jordan

So. West Parish of Chowan Precinct [became Southwest Parish in Bertie Precinct in 1722]:
Col. Thomas Pollock
Col. William Maule
William Duckenfield Esq.
Maj. Robert West
Capt John Bird
Mr. John Hardy
John Worley Esq.
Mr. Lewis Bryant
Mr. John Holbrook
Mr. Robert Lanier
Mr. Lend Sarson
Mr. Lewis Williams

Perquimans Parish:
Francis Foster Esq.
Col. Maurice Moore
Col. John Hecklefield
Thomas Hardy Esq.
Capt. Richard Sanderson
Mr. James Mings
Mr. Henry Clayton
Mr. Joseph Jessop
Mr. Samuel Phelps
Mr. Richard Whidby
Mr. William Kitchmy
Mr. John Stepney

So. West Parish of Pasquotank Precinct [renamed St. John's Parish]:
Nathaniel Chevin Esq.
Col. Thomas Boyd
Tobias Knight Esq.
Mr. John Jennings
Mr. Richard Wadren
Mr. Edmund Gale
Mr. Anthony Hatch
Mr. Jonathan Jacocks
Mr. John Palin
Mr. William Norris
Mr. Robert Lowry
Mr. West

No. East Parish of Pasquotank [renamed St. Peter's Parish]:
Thomas Miller Esq
Mr. John Solley
Mr. John Relfe
Mr. John Bell
Mr. Samuel Bernard
Capt. John Norson
Mr. Gabriel Burnham
Mr. Thomas Sawzer
Mr. Henry Sawyer
Mr. Alexander Spence
Mr. Robert Sawzer
Mr. John Upton

Currituck Precinct Parish:
Richard Sanderson Esq.
Col. William Reed
William Swann Esq.
Thomas Vandermulin
Mr. Thomas Taylor
Mr. William Williams
Mr. Foster Jarvis
Mr. Benjamin Tull
Mr. Joseph Sanderson
Mr. Joseph Wicker
Mr. William Luffman
Mr. William Stafford

St. Thomas Parish [Beaufort Precinct]:
The Honorable Charles Eden Esq.
Col. Christopher Gale
Tobias Knight Esq
Mr. John Porter
Daniel Richardson Esq.
Mr. Thomas Worsley
Capt. John Drinkwater
Capt. John Clark
Mr. John Adams
Mr. Patrick Maule
Mr. Thomas Harding
Mr. John Lillington

Hyde Parish:
Col. Emanuel Cleeves
Mr. John Jordan
Mr. Samuell Slade
Mr. Richard Jesper
Mr. William Cording
Mr. Henry Slade
Mr. William Barrow
Mr. John Proctor
Mr. Robert Spring
Mr. Richard Dane
Mr. Richard Harvey
Mr. Robert Green

Craven Parish:
Col. William Brice
Maj. William Hancock
Mr. John Nelson
Mr. John Slocomb
Capt. Richard Graves
Mr. Daniel Mcffarlin
Mr. John Smith
Mr. John Mackey
Mr. Thomas Smith
Mr. Joseph Bell
Mr. Martin Frank
Mr. Jacob Sheets

Which said Vestrymen are to be summoned by the Marshall or his Deputy in each precinct or parish to meet together at the church, chappel or Court House in every precinct, Or if there be none, then at such other place as the Marshal shall appoint within forty Days after the publication of this Act; Or if any person or persons appointed by this Act to be a Vestryman shall fail to meet as aforesaid, upon such summons, he & they shall forfeit, & pay the sum of Three pounds.

And if the Marshal shall refuse or neglect to summons the Vestrymen as is before mentioned & appointed he shall forfeit the sum of Twenty shillings for every Vestryman not summoned.

And Be It Further Enacted, by the authority aforesaid that all & every person or persons who by this act are appointed Vestrymen within any parish or precinct within this Government shall on or before the Easter Monday next ensuing the Ratification of this Act; and all and every person who at any time hereafter shall be elected a Vestryman or become a member of any Vestry within this Government, shall within one month after his becoming a Vestryman, or Member of any Vestry before some one or more Justice or Justices of the Peace within that parish or precinct besides taking the Oaths by Law enjoyned make & Subscribe the Declaration following, viz. I, A. B. do declare that it is not lawfull upon any pretence whatever to take up Arms against the King & that I will not apugne the Liturgy of the Church of England as it is by Law established.

And that all & every person who shall neglect & refuse to do the same within the respective times aforesaid shall be deprived of such his place of Vestryman & of being a member of such Vestry to all Intents & Purposes, & such places shall be actually void; & if such person is not a known & publick Dissenter from the Church of England, he shall also forfeit the sum of Three pounds.

And that from & after such neglect or refusal it shall be Lawfull for the remaining part of the Vestrymen to proceed to the election or nomination of some other discreet Freeholder of the respective parish, in the Room of such persons so neglecting or refusing as aforesaid.

And if such person so to be elected in the Room of such person so neglecting or refusing, shall also neglect or refuse to make & Subscribe the Declaration & Acknowledgment in manner & Time aforesaid; In such cases, if the Vestry shall not proceed to election within one month after such vacancy, that it shall be Lawfull to & for the present Incumbent (if any) & for want thereof, the Commander in chief of the Government for the time being, under his hand & seal to select & nominate a discreet Freeholder of the parish in such vacant Room, which person so to be elected & nominated, after his making Subscription in manner & time aforesaid, shall bee deemed and taken to be a Vestryman or member of such Vestry, as if he had been expressly nominated by the Act.

And Be It Further Enacted—by the Authority aforesaid that the Vestrymen of every Precinct or Parish, or the greatest part of them shall choose two persons who are Vestrymen to be Church Wardens, who shall continue in that office one year & no longer, unless he or they shall be willing, and then two other Vestrymen shall succeed in the same office for the next year & so successively, until every Vestryman hath served in the office aforesaid.

And Be It Further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid that if any person who shall be chosen Church Warden shall refuse to execute that Office, without lawfull cause, he shall forfeit and pay Thirty Shillings, to be levied upon the Estate of the person refusing—by Order of the Vestry or greater part of them, to be disposed of for the use of the parish, upon which such person shall be excused 'till his turn come again in course.

And the Church Wardens in each respective parish and their Successors shall have full power to call the Vestrymen together & to appoint the time of their meeting, & in case of their neglect so to do when occasion shall require, it shall be Lawfull for three or more of the Vestry to do the same.

And if any Vestryman shall fail to give his Attendance at such time of meeting without Lawfull cause to be allowed & approved of by the Vestry or the greatest part of them, shall forfeit and pay Tenn Shillings for every such Default to be Levied & disposed of in manner aforesaid.

And Be It Further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, that the several Church Wardens & Vesteries or the greatest part of them shall use their best & utmost endeavors to procure an able and Godly Minister qualified according to the Ecclesiastical Laws of England—& a person of a sober life & Conversation to be Clerk, & to raise for him or them, such Stipends yearly as they shall think convenient, so as such sum or stipend for the Minister be not less than Fifty Pounds yearly; & that in the raising thereof & all other parish charges, the whole do not exceed five shillings per Poll on all the Taxable persons in the parish. Provided allways that such Minister for whom such moneys are to be raised yearly be constantly resident in the parish & do not omit officiating at the Church or chappel within the parish above One Sixth part of the Sundays in the year, unless permitted by the Church Wardens & the Vestry to officiate in the Neighboring vacant parishes.

And Be It Further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid that the Church Wardens & Vestrymen, or the greatest part of them, in each respective precinct or parish aforesaid & their successors forever shall have full power and Authority to purchase Land for a Glebe to build one Church & one or more Chappels in every respective precinct or parish aforesaid, as they or the greatest part of them shall think necessary, & the same as often as need shall require to repair & also to provide and take care to satisfie and pay all Parochial Charges out of such Gifts, Goods, & Chattels as shall come to their hands for the Church or parishe's use, towards the payment of which parochial charges all the Fines & Forfeitures of this Law incurred shall be Levied by the Church Wardens in each respective precinct or parish & by them accordingly applied.

And Be It Further Enacted, by the Authority aforesaid that for the defraying or paying whatsoever charges shall or may from time to time arise by force of this Act, or which shall properly be a parish charge, altho not mentioned in this Act. It shall & may be Lawfull for the several Church Wardens and Vestrymen or the greatest part of them & their successors in every respective precinct or parish aforesaid to raise & levy money by the Poll so as the same do not exceed Five Shillings by the Poll pr Annum: which sum or sums of money so laid equally by a Poll tax, shall after Twenty days notice given by the Church Wardens to the parishioners be paid by the time appointed for the payment thereof, either at the Glebe Church, chappel, or at such other place as by the Church Wardens shall be appointed, under the Penalty of Double Distress to be made by the Church Wardens on the Goods of such person refusing or neglecting to bring the same by the time appointed.

And Be It Further Enacted, by the Authority aforesaid, that the Church Wardens of every precinct or parish aforesaid shall take due care & order that all such sum or sums of money as Vestry shall order & appoint, be duly raised & applyed & payed to such uses as by the said Vestry shall be directed for which the Church-Wardens shall be allowed on their Accts the sum of Three pr cent & no more. And if any Church Warden shall refuse or neglect to perform his duty therein he shall be obliged to make good and pay all such sum and sums so ordered by the said Vestery to such person or persons as should have had the same had the taxes been duly levied & paid excepting Insolvents. And to prevent Illegal & Unlawfull Marriages not allowable by the Church of England but forbidden by the table of Marriage

Be It Enacted by the Authority aforesaid that no Minister, Priest, or Magistrate (who is hereby impowered to join persons together in Marriage in such parishes where no Minister shall be resident), either upon License, or after the persons intending to marry have had the Banns of Matrimony published Three times by the Clerks at the usual place of celebrating Divine Service, by affixing such their intentions at the Court House door two distinct Courts, shall presume to join together in Marriage any persons whatsoever contrary to the Table of Marriages which the Church Wardens & Vestry are hereby to cause to set up in all Churches & Chappells under the Penalty of Five Pounds: Nor shall any persons forbidden to intermarry by such Table of Marriages presume to be joined together in Marriage under the like Penalty of Five Pounds: & that no Lay person, in any parish where a Minister or Priest is resident shall join any persons in Marriage under the Penalty of Five Pounds: One Half to the Parish for the Use of the Poor & the other to the Minister resident or incumbent; And that it shall & may be Lawfull for every Minister to take & receive of every person or persons by him married the sum of Five Shillings & no more.

Provided such persons come to the Parish Church or Chappel at Time of Divine Service, for Solemnizeing such Marriage.

Edward Moseley, Speaker


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