Skip to main content Accessibility help

Anglicans and Dissenters in Georgia, 1758–1777

  • Marjorie Daniel (a1)


Georgia in the revolutionary period, not unlike many other provinces along the American seaboard, lacked social solidarity and unity. The lack was not the result of great ethnic diversity alone or of the disharmony arising from economic inequalities and political disagreement. To racial variety and divergences attributable to economic and political conditions were added many differences in customs and modes of living and in traditional thought which could be ascribed, in part at least, to the numerous religious sects attracted to the province by the liberal provisions of its charter. The religious conflicts of the period are best seen in the struggle over the establishment of the Church of England and in the relations of the dissenters with the civil government and with the religious establishment. The question of external ecclesiastical control, issues and grievances of a religious nature which appeared in the revolutionary argument, and the alignment of the sects on the question of open conflict with Great Britain, are interesting and important aspects of the whole religious situation. It is with these phases of the religious history of Georgia during two decades that this study is largely concerned.



Hide All

1 Charter in MaeDonald, William (ed.), Select Charters and Other Documents Illustrative of American History 1606–1775 (New York, 1899), 244.

2 March 5, 1755. See Candler, A. D. (comp.), The Colonial Records of the State of Georgia, (Atlanta, 1907), XVI, 65 (hereafter referred to as C. R.).

3 February 7, 1757. Ibid., XVIII, 156.

4 The commons house, February 10, 1757: Ibid., 159; the upper house, February 22, 1758; Ibid., XVI, 282.

5 Presumably the unwritten constitution of Britain.

6 An abstract of a letter from Ottolenghe, August 12, 1758 (enclosed in an anonymous letter to His Grace of Canterbury) is a very illuminating and revealing document. The abstract is among the Miscellaneous Documenta of the S. P. G. Relating to Georgia 1759–1782 (photostats in the Library of Congress). These papers will hereafter be referred to as S. P. G. Documents.

7 In 1765 four other parishes were created: St. David, St. Patrick, St. Thomas, and St. Mary. At the same time, the parish of St. James was extended to include Jekyl Island. See Robert, and Watkins, George, A. Digest of the Laws of Georgia (Philadelphia, 1800), no. 126, p. 114.

8 The vestrymen and church wardens were to appoint the collectors of the tax.

9 See C. S., XVIII, 258272, for these and other details of the act.

10 Letter to DrBurton, , 11 10, 1767, in S. P. G. Documents.

11 Letter of June 29, 1769. See S. P. G. Journals, September 15, 1769, vol. XVIII, pt. 2, pp. 205–206 (photostats in the Library of Congress).

12 “Letter of Rev. John J. Zubly, of Savannah, Ga.,” Massachusetts Historical Society Procedings for 1864–1866 (hereafter referred to as “Letter of Zubly”), VIII, 215–16; Campbell, J. H., Georgia Baptists: Historical and Biographical (Richmond, 1847), 910; History of the Baptist Denomination in Georgia (Atlanta, 1881), 1112; letter from Frink, to DrBurton, , 01 4, 1769, in S. P. G. Documents; Bowden, H. S., History of Savannah Methodism from John, Wesley to Silas Johnson (Macon, Georgia, 1929), 44.

13 Letter from Zouberbuhler, , 03 14, 1763. See S. P. G. Journals, July 15, 1763, vol. XV, pt. 3, p. 403; letter from Frink, July 8, 1771, in S. P. G. Journals, October 18, 1771, vol. XIX, pt. 1, p. 123.

14 Letter of July 2, 1771, in S. P. G. Documents.

15 C. R., X, 432, 553–54, 690; Asplund, John, The Annual Register of the Baptist Denomination, in North-America (n. p., c. 1791), 44; History of the Baptist Denomination in Georgia, 23; Stacy, James, A History of the Presbyterian Church in Georgia (n. p., c. 1912), 3; “Letter of Zubly,” loc. cit., 215; Records of the Presbyterian Church in the United States (Philadelphia, 1904), 361–62, 375, 422.

16 Letter to DrBurton, , 08 24, 1772, in S. P. G. Documents.

17 Letter of February 1, 1774. See S. P. G. Journals, May 20, 1774. vol. XX. pt. 2, pp. 143–44.

18 See especially, S. P. G. Journals, May 21, 1773, vol. XIX, pt. 3, p. 418; April 15, 1774, vol. XX, pt. 2, pp. 129–30; letter from Frink, to Burton, , 04 9, 1766, in S. P. G. Documents.

19 S. P. G. Journals, September 20, 1765. vol. XVI, pt. 4, p. 425.

20 Letter from Frink, to Burton, , 04 9, 1766, in S. P. G. Documents.

21 Letter from Seymour, , 03 1, 1773. See S. P. G. Journals, May 21, 1773, vol. XIX, pt. 3, p. 418.

22 It must be clear that the dissenters were by no means a unit. See, in this connection, a letter from Zubly, to Stiles, , 04 19, 1769, quoted in Howe, George, History of the Presbyterian Church in South Carolina (Columbia, 1870), I, 361; “Letter of Zubly,” loc. cit., 215, 219; The Literary Diary of Esra Stiles (New York, 1901), I, 236 (entry of 05 16, 1772).

23 See S. P. G. Documents; the Georgia Gazette; Wright, James, “Report,” and his letters of the period in Collections of the Georgia. Historical Society (Savannah, 1873), III, 157ff. (hereafter referred to as G. H. S. Colls.)

24 “Letter of Zubly,” loc. cit., 216.

26 C. S., XIII, 535, 567, 579, 583; vol. XIX, pt. 1, p. 453.

27 Letter from Frink, to Burton, , 01 7, 1768, in S. P. G. Documents; letter from the church wardens and vestrymen of St. Paul's parish, March 24, 1763, in ibid. See also, C. R., IX, 341–42; X, 119.

28 See petition from the church wardens and vestrymen of the parish of St. Paul to the S. P. G. Committee in London, dated February 8, 1762, in S. P. G. Documents. See also, Flippin, P. S., “The Royal Government in Georgia, 1752–1776,” Georgia Historical Quarterly, IX (09, 1925), 190.

29 Letter from Whitefield, to Mr. S—S—, 01 14, 1765, in The Works of the Reverend George Whitefield (London, 1771), III, 320.

30 C. R., X, 280–81; XI, 304.

31 Ibid., IX, 144; X, 351–52, 432, 553–54, 690, 695; XI, 4; “Letter of Zubly,” loc. cit., 215.

32 C. R., XVII, 573.

33 Frink, to Burton, , 07 6, 1770, S. P. G. Documents.

34 C. R., XV, 145–46, 151–54, 165–66, 172; XVII, 572575.

35 Ibid., XVII, 559–63; “Letter of Zubly,” loc. cit., 217. “We now bury in the same Ground unmolested,” Zubly wrote, “& pay no fees except to the sexton, which I have consented to pay whenever his attendance should be required, & not otherwise.”

36 “Letter of Zubly,” loc. cit., 215; C. R., XV, 473.

37 Records of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, 30; S. P. G. Journals, vol. XVIII, pt. 4, p. 443; letters from Frink, to Burton, 06 29, 1769, 07 8, 1771, in S. P. G. Documents.

38 “Letter of Zubly,” loc. cit., 216–18. Frink once offered to endorse licenses for Zubly in return for half of the fee. Ibid., 218.

39 For details, see Cross, A. L., The Anglican Episcopate and the American Colonies (New York, 1902), 8086, 312–15; Tyerman, Luke, The Life of the Rev. George Whitefield (London, 1876), I, 357364, 395406.

40 See letters from Zubly, to Stiles, , 10 10, 1768, April 19, 1769, in Howe, , op. cit., I, 361–62. While Zubly was at the Continental Congress in 1775, he visited William Tennent, President Witherspoon, and Dr. Livingston. On August 25 (?), Zubly recorded in his journal that he breakfasted with Dr. Livingston, who gave him “a Charge aa a delegate to be attentive to the religious Liberty of A—a thought it probable this was a design of Part [?] in my being sent to the Congress.” Manuscript Journal of the Revd John Joachim Zubly (in the Georgia Historical Society, Savannah).

41 Letter in S. P. G. Documents.

44 The Georgia Gazette (09 14, 1774).

45 Ibid. (September 21, 1774).

46 Candler, A. D. (comp.), The Revolutionary Records of the State of Georgia (Atlanta, 1908), I, 53, 265 (hereafter referred to as Rev. Recs.); Force, Peter (ed.), American Archives (Washington, 1840), series IV, vol. III, col. 635.

47 The text of the constitution is in Rev. Recs., I, 282ff.

48 The situation in Georgia was much unlike that in Pennsylvania. Geographical intermixture may have hindered strong combinations in Georgia.

49 Letter to the Earl of Dartmouth, April 24,1775, in White, George, Historical Collections of Georgia (third ed.; New York, 1855), 523.

50 “Letters from Sir James Wright,” G. H. S. Colls., III, 342.

51 Rev. Recs., I, 2729, 230.

52 Letter to Germain, Lord, 03 9, 1781, in “Letters from Sir James Wright” loc. cit., 341.

53 G. H. S. Colls., vol. V, pt. 1, pp. 4, 30, 70.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Church History
  • ISSN: 0009-6407
  • EISSN: 1755-2613
  • URL: /core/journals/church-history
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed