Albemarle County Patriots


Revolutionary War Image

The image above, from the Library of Congress, shows the signatures of three of my Albemarle County ancestors, Thomas Craig, John Jameson and Micajah Via, who were supporters of the American Revolution during its earliest and darkest days. They were calling for the English Church to be disestablished as the State Church. An image of the additional signers is here: 1 November 1776. A transcript of the entire document is available here: TRANSCRIPT. With the loss of so many historical documents during the wars fought on Virginia soil, these petitions give us a snapshot of which Virginians were in support of the Revolutionary cause by their opposition to the established Church of England.

Many historians write that the American Revolution was, to a considerable extent, a religious quarrel, between Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Quakers and other Dissenters whose religious principles and politics were in opposition to the established Church and its government. The King of England was the head of the English church. Anglican priests swore allegiance to the King and The Book of Common Prayer offered prayers for the monarch, beseeching God “to be his defender and keeper, giving him victory over all his enemies.” In 1776, those enemies of the King were American soldiers and friends and neighbors of American Anglicans. Loyalty to the Anglican church and to its head, the British monarch, was often seen as treason to the American cause, hence the need to disestablish the English Church in America. See “Religion and the American Revolution” at the Library of Congress site.

A description of these Virginia petitions and how they are tied to the Revolutionary War spirit for liberty is also at the Library of Congress web site, where is “Petitioning in Eighteenth-Century Virginia:”

Although both Anglicans and dissenters frequently petitioned the legislature to address a variety of religious concerns, the relationship of church and state did not assume great importance until the Revolutionary period. As the number of dissenters and their political needs increased, and as Enlightenment ideals gained ground among certain political leaders, complete religious freedom emerged as a common goal for a heterogeneous group of Virginians.

My three ancestors, Thomas Craig, John Jameson and Micajah Via, are amongst the signatories on this Albemarle County, Virginia petition, dated on 1 November 1776. This point in time was less than four months after the signing of the American Declaration of Independence. These Albemarle – Amherst petitioners were well aware of the threatening arrival of 30,000 British troops at New York and the enemy’s occupation of the city, that American forces had been roundly defeated at the Battle of Brooklyn, that the American ragtag army was routed at the Battle of Harlem Heights, defeated by the British at Lake Champlain, and that American troops were forced to retreat at the Battle of White Plains just three days prior.

In the face of all of that, they addressed their words to the “Delegates & Senators, Representatives of the Common Wealth of Virginia at the City of Williamsburg” stating “in consequence of our having thrown off our dependence on the Crown & Parliament of Great Britain.” They closed by ardently wishing that the new Virginia “Commonwealth may become the envy of the Nations & the Glory of the World.” I count these men as Patriots of the Revolution because, if the Rebels had lost the fight, as it indeed appeared they would, and England successfully stopped the rebellion, they would have been considered traitors and suffered consequences.

In pre-Revolutionary America, the Church of England was the staunch defender of the British monarchy. When England tried to strengthen the Church of England in the Colonies, in a ploy to turn the colonies into royal provinces, the locals became more antagonistic towards their own mother country.

In the colony of Virginia the Anglican Church was established by law; Virginia was the stronghold of the English system of church and state. The Anglican faith and worship were prescribed by law. The Anglican church was sustained by taxes imposed on all Virginians. Although Jews, Catholics, and Protestant dissenters were barely tolerated in Virginia, they slowly persisted, eventually gaining minimal acceptance. By the advent of the American Revolution, religious dissenters outnumbered adherents to the established English church.

The English Church had become powerful in the colonies because it was supported by the British government and the official ruling class sent to govern the colonials. The Anglican bishops and archbishops in England were appointed by the monarch, and church rituals and services were governed by acts of Parliament. The British government depended upon its loyal clergy to fend off or report to the authorities any rebellious spirits that might foment in America. The Church, therefore, served as a strong bulwark of the state, playing a political role in the Virginia Colony as well as in England. In the mid eighteenth-century, Revolutionary fervor was rising in Virginia, resulting in the English church redoubling its efforts to strengthen its influence in affairs of the Colony. These methods did not sit well with the larger number of dissenting Protestants, who had bitter remembrances of the religious conflicts they had experienced in Great Britain before immigrating. In addition, loyal members of the English Church in Virginia, witnessing the harsh treatment by their parish leaders against their Dissenter neighbors, became sympathetic.

The image, Albemarle County Signatories 1776, is posted here by barneykin.
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24 Responses to Albemarle County Patriots

  1. Ellie Stites Swanger says:

    I am a direct descendant of Daniel Maupin, Sr. of Albemarle Co. as listed on this document. His wife was Margaret VIA, d/o Amer Via.

    Congratulations on your DAR ribbon. My 7th patriot is pending now at NSDAR headquarters.

    I found your website looking for the parentage of my ALEXANDER STINSON ROGERS, so is believed to be a kinman or close connection to an Alexander Stinson.. Do we connect here?

    Ellie Stites Swanger, CO
    Past regent of the Zebulon Pike Chapter, NSDAR
    Current Colorado State American Indian Chairman

    • Jan Miller says:

      I am a descendant of Margaret via.

    • chris bramstedt says:

      Hello: I am a direct descendant of Elizabeth Jane Via who married William Smith (Russell County,KY) who was a Revolutionary patriot. He had a pension and she also received a pension. Do you know if this Elizabeth is in your family line? Thank you for helping me. Chris in Il

      • Jan Miller says:

        Who were her parents? I have this:

        1) Amer Via
        2) (son)William Via
        3) (grand-son) William Via, JR
        4)(great-granddaughter or Amer) Elizabeth Via

        I do not have a husband listed for her. I also have 4 William Smiths. One married to Nancy Ashcraft, one married to Margaret Lloyd, another born in 1861, and the last William Clinton Smith married to Otelia Via. Can you give me a line-up of info and perhaps ancestor line??

    • Diug Douglas says:

      I’m a direct descentant of Sargeant Major, Thomas Craig,Sr. 10th. Virginia Regiment. Have much info to share. He & his Sons: Thomas,Jr. & William encamped together @ Valley Forge, PA in 1776-77. Thanks, Doug

  2. neddy says:

    Ellie – I don’t know of any ROGERS family connected to the STINSONS. If you find an connection, please let me know.

  3. Ellie Stites Swanger says:

    I will post it on this site if that were to happen..

    Ellie

  4. Jan Miller says:

    Was his father William Via who married Sarah? If so he is in my line as well.

  5. Patricia Byard Brewer says:

    My ancestor John Bird and his two sons Abner and Bartlett signed the 1776 Petition of Albemarle and Amherst County Dissenters.

  6. Bob Smith says:

    Hello everyone, I happened upon this site while doing some research. Otelia Via and William Clinton Smith were my grandparents. Their son, Homer Horace Smith was my father. I look forward to sharing family history with anyone interested and learning more about our family heritage.

  7. Kathleen Perrin says:

    My ancestor John Bird’s son Abner Marshall married a Jane Jameson. Do you know if she was related to your John Jameson?

    • neddy says:

      Yes, Kathleen, both your Bird and Jameson families were related to the Jamesons of Albemarle County, but, as far as I know they were not descendants of the John Jameson mentioned above.

      • Kathleen Perrin says:

        Thank you. I am just starting on this and am making mistakes and getting the names confused, so appreciate your response.

    • Patricia Byard Brewer says:

      Abner Bird married Jane (Jameson) Bird, daughter of Thomas and Hannah (Taggert) Jameson, in Franklin County on 7 March 1791. They had at least five children. Jane (Jameson) Bird (abt 1775 – ?) had previously been married to Isaac David, probably the same Isaac Davis who married Abner Bird’s younger sister, Jane (Bird) Davis on 28 April 1798.

      • kathleen Perrin says:

        Thank you for the Jane Jameson Bird info as I have not been able to find her anywhere. What were your sources? You must have a family bible or magic wand that I lack.
        Kathleen

      • Patricia Brewer says:

        Kathleen,
        There is a nice writeup on Thomas Jameson, Sr., Jane’s father, under “Find A Grave Memorial.”

      • kathleen Perrin says:

        This is fantastic! This helps tremendously. I was looking in Virginia on FindAGrave. No wonder I hadn’t found him. Thank you very much.
        Kathleen

  8. Patricia Brewer says:

    My brother did a lot of research in Richmond VA. The Virginia Historical Magazine is a good source.

  9. Wanda Darby says:

    I just happened upon your site also and am a descendant of Micajah Via Sr through Micajah Via Jr. and Winston Via who traveled to Missouri.

  10. Karen Via Noggle says:

    I am the great-granddaughter of RosaLee Via, granddaughter of Nimrod Via, who is the grandson of Micajah. I am new at this and hope I have followed my family tree correctly. Your information is quite interesting. I want to revisit the Albamarle area with my husband next time to check out my roots.

  11. hosting says:

    Only a smiling visitant right right here to share the love (:, btw great design and style. “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not one bit simpler.” by Albert Einstein.

  12. Paul Kouts says:

    Be “Proud to be an American”.

    For our cousins researching in Albemarle County an excellent history with family bios & lists of militia & text of the signatories is:
    “History of Albemarle County, Virginia” by Rev. Edward Woods.

    Please note that the 2 clips that you put on Flickr contain only 173 signatures. The original is preserved in the rooms of the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond.

  13. Valerie Colbert says:

    Just happened upon your site while searching the Via/Vires line…what a nice find :) William Via is my 7th great grandfather. I am descended from his son David, brother of Micajah. Hope to keep connected and visit awhile.

    I’m currently searching for documentation of the fact that David Vires, Jr., (1780- death in1842 Clay County, KY, or in 1960, Virginia, depending on the source) is the father of Moses Vires, Sr. (1813, born in Virginia- Died in Clay County, KY, 1880-85). Lots of family genealogies connect them, but no sourcing except oral family histories.

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