1814 at Monumental: A New Timeline

The 200 year anniversary of Monumental’s consecration is here, and it’s a good time to take a  look at what happened that year in the life of this important and historic church. For the full scoop (derived from contemporary newspapers and George Fisher’s “History of the Monumental Church”), read (and find PDF link) below.

Monumental Church Events, 1814

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April 14, 1812: Episcopal General Convention in New Haven, Conn.

“[We] fear that the church in Virginia is, from various causes, so depressed, that there is danger of her total ruin, unless great exertions, favored by the blessing of Providence, are employed to raise her.”

  • March 31
    • The Chamberlain of the city pays $5,000 for the Theater lot. (The voucher for this purchase was destroyed during Union occupation in 1865.)
  • April 13
    • Monumental Church pew sale.  $23,345 brought in by the public sale, $1,505 in pews bought by Mr. Macmurdo for the church trustees.
  • April 23
    • Pew owners meet at Monumental to choose vestrymen. Wardens include Robert Greenhow, Robert Pollard, and vestry clerk C.J. Macmurdo.
  • May 4
    • Rev. William H. Wilmer delivers an “eloquent, appropriate, and impressive discourse” in Monumental Church in the morning to begin the Episcopal Church’s Virginia convention. Rev. Mr. Buchanan, beloved Episcopal rector of Richmond, performs the religious service.
    • “It is well known that the church is built on the site of the theatre, and over the ashes of those who were consumed on that memorable conflagration—characters the most amiable and worthy that adorned society. It was heart-rending to those who witnessed the calamities of that night, the woes of which gave birth to the occasion, to see the relatives of the many victims who fell, as they entered, express their sensibility. There were few present, of a considerable congregation, who did not call to mind the endearments of a lost relation or a dear friend.” (a record of the service written by “An Episcopalian” in the May 7 Virginia Patriot)
    • Protestant Episcopal Church of Virginia convention proceedings held at the Capitol Building. Dr. John Adams of Henrico Parish (St. John’s Church) presents “a memorial [petition] from the vestry of the Monumental Church,” and the new vestry is granted right of representation in the convention.
    • 7 vestry present, 18 members of the laity (including John Marshall).
  • May 5
    • Monumental receives a dispensation in the matter of choosing vestrymen because they are a church “built and supported by voluntary associations of individuals without any parochial charge; and it is proper that those who hold the sole property of a particular church should provide for its care and management,” which is a novelty. Pew-holders will select vestrymen.
    • From the proceedings:
      • “Resolved, that the appointment of a bishop for this diocese is highly expedient, and necessary for the maintenance and support of this church.”
      • “Resolved, that the convention proceed immediately to the election of a person to fill the Episcopate in this State.”
      • Rev. Dr. Richard Channing Moore nominated to fill the office of bishop, John Marshall and Edmund J. Lee count the ballots: Richard Channing Moore elected bishop.
  • May 8
    • Rev. William Meade delivers a discourse in Monumental Church at the 11am Sunday service, formally “admitting that church into the general church of this diocese.”
    • Gallery pews are open to the public for “divine worship in the Monumental Church.”
  • May 18
    • General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church assembles at St. James Church, Philadelphia approves consecration of Rev. Dr. Richard Channing Moore as bishop.
    • “[We] did then and there, rightly and canonically, consecrate our beloved in Christ, Richard Channing Moore, D.D., Rector of St. Stephen’s Church, int eh city of New York, of whose sufficiency in good learning, soundness in the faith and purity of manners, we were fully ascertained, into the office of Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the State of Virginia, to which he hath been elected by the convention of said state.” (Bishop’s Certificate of May 18, 1814)
    • Bishop John Henry Hobart, D.D. preaches at Moore’s consecration
      • “The night of adversity has passed, and the morning, I would fain hope, of a long and splendid day is dawning on the church in the church in Virginia. I think I see the pledge of this in the attachment to our church, and in the anxious desire to serve her, manifested by laymen of the highest influence and talents and by a few zealous clergy. They have…resolved, under God, that the church in Virginia shall not perish.”
  • May 21
    • General Convention releases state report on Virginia: “The church in this state has fallen into a deplorable condition; in many cases the ministers have thrown off their sacred profession; her liturgy is either contemned or unknown, and the sanctuaries are desolate…but amid this gloomy scene a ray of light breaks in…her members in Virginia have been taught, by a dreadful experience, the value of their peculiar institution. They look back with regret…they are ready and desirous to return to that fold from which they have wandered so long, as sheep having no shepherd…a magnificent church has sprung up in Richmond from the ashes of the Theatre; it has the patronage and support of men of the greatest talents and highest rank in Virginia.”
  • June 19
    • Virginia Patriot reports that “Divine Service will be performed at the Monumental Church on next Sunday” and it is believed that this was the first service at Monumental where Rev. Moore preached.
  • June 28
    • Rev. Moore on exploratory mission in Richmond, stays with Dr. John Brockenbrough.
  • July 11
    • Rev. Moore produces credential at the courthouse, takes an oath, and is granted authority “to solemnize the rites of matrimony…within the commonwealth.”
  • July 23
    • Vestry meet at Rev. John Buchanan’s home and resolve to help support Henrico Parish and Richmond Hill Church (St. John’s), and arranges for the minister there to officiate at Monumental in the bishop’s absence. Rev. John Buchanan was minister of St. John’s and Rev. David Moore (Bishop Moore’s son) appointed an assistant minister.
  • Month of October
    • Bishop Moore leaves New York with his family and moves to Richmond
  • November 13
    • According to the Richmond Enquirer of Nov 15th, Monumental consecrated by Rev. Moore (his first Episcopal act as Bishop of Virginia).

(You may download the PDF of this timeline here: Monumental Church Events Timeline 1814)