1758 Act Dividing Georgia into Parishes
Georgia General Assembly
Act of Mar. 15, 1758
AN ACT for constituting and dividing the several Districts and Divisions of this Province into Parishes, and for establishing of Religious Worship therein according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Church of England; and also for impowering the Church Wardens and Vestrymen of the Respective Parishes to asses Rates for the Repair of Churches, the Relief of the Poor, and other Parochial Services.
WHEREAS nothing can have a greater tendency to promote the Honour of God, the propogation of the true Christian Religion, and the Spiritual Welfare of your Majesty’s Subjects, inhabiting this Province, than the Regular performance of Divine Service, according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Church of England on Sundays and other Days, in the the several Districts thereof, by Ministers duly authorized and appointed thereto; We therefore pray your most Sacred Majesty, That it may be Enacted AND BE IT ENACTED by His Honour Henry Ellis Esquire Lieutenant Governor and Commander in Chief in and over this His Majesty’s said Province of Georgia, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Honourable Council, and the Commons House of Assembly of the said Province, in General Assembly met, and by the Authority of the same, THAT the several Districts and Divisions of the said Province, shall from and after the Seventeenth Day of March one thousand seven hundred and fifty eight, be divided and constituted into Eight Parishes, That is to say, the Town and District of Savannah, extending up the River Savannah, including the Islands therein, as far as the South East boundary of Goshen, from thence in a South West Line to the River Great Ogechee, and from the Town of Savannah Eastward, as far as the Mouth of the River Savannah, including the Sea Islands to the Mouth of the River Great Ogechee, and all the Settlements on the North Side the said River, to the Western boundaries thereof, shall be and for ever continue a Parish, by the Name of the Parish of Christ Church; The District of Abercorn and Goshen, and the District of Ebenezer, extending from the North-West boundaries of the Parish of Christ Church, up the River Savannah, as far as the Beaver Dam, and South West as far as the Mouth of Horse Creek on the River Great Ogechee, shall be and ever continue a Parish by the name of the Parish of Saint Matthew–; The District of Halifax, extending from the North West boundaries of the Parish of Saint Matthew, up the River Savannah from the Mouth of Mackbeen’s Swamp, to the Head thereof; and from thence to the head of Lambol’s Creek, to the river Great Ogechee, shall be and forever continue a parish, by the name of “The parish of St. George:” the district of Augusta, extending from the northwest boundary of the parish of St. George, and southwest as far as the river Ogechee, and northwest up the river Savannah, as far as the Broad River, shall be and forever continue a parish by the name of “The parish of St. Paul:” the town of Hardwick and district of Ogechee, on the south side of the river Great Ogechee, extending northwest up the river as far as the Lower-Indian trading-path, leading from Mount Pleasant, and southward from the town of Hardwick as far as the swamp of James Dunham, including the settlements on the north side of the north branches of the river Midway, with the islands of Ossabaw, and from the head of the said Dunham’s Swamp in a northwest line, shall be and forever continue a parish, by the name of “The parish of St. Philip:” from Sunbury in the district of Midway and Newport from the southern bounds of the parish of St. Philip, extending southward as far as the north line of Samuel Hastings, and from thence southeast to the south branch of Newport, including the islands of St. Katharine and Bermuda, and from the north line of the said Samuel Hastings northwest, shall be and forever continue a parish by the name of “The parish of St. John:” the town and district of Darien, extending from the south boundary of the parish of St. John to the river Alatamaha, including the islands of Sapelo and Eastwood, and the sea islands to the north of Egg Island, northwest up the river Alatamaha to the forks of the said river, shall be and forever continue a parish by the name of “The parish of St. Andrew:” and the town and district of Frederica, including the islands of Great and Little St. Simons, and the adjacent islands shall be and forever continue a parish, by the name of “The parish of St. James.”
And be it further enacted, That from and after the said seventeenth day of March, one thousand seven hundred and fifty-eight, the church already erected in the town of Savannah, and the ground as now used for a coemetery [sic] or burial place thereto, shall be the parish and coemetery of Christ Church
AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED that from and after the said Seventeenth Day of March One thousand and Seven hundred and fifty eight, Bartholomew Zouberbuhler Clerk, the Present Minister of Savannah, shall be the Rector and Incumbent of the said Church of Christ Church, and he is hereby incorporated and made one Body Politic and Corporate, by the Name of the Rector of Christ Church, in the Town of Savannah, and shall be and he is hereby enabled to Sue and be sued by such Name, in all Courts within this Province, and shall have the Cure of Souls within the said Parish, and shall be in the Actual Possession of the said church, with its Coemetery and Appurtenances, and shall hold and enjoy the same to him and his Successors, together with the Glebe Land, already granted to him, and the Messuage or Tenement near to the said Church, with all and singular the Buildings and Appurtenances thereunto belonging, and also all other Lands Tenements and Hereditaments, as shall or may hereafter be given and Granted to the said Church, or the Incumbent thereof. AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED That from and after the said Seventeenth Day of March One Thousand Seven hundred and fifty eight, the Church erected in the town of Augusta, with the Coemetery or Burial Place thereto belonging, shall be the Parish Church and Burial Place of Saint Paul; and the Rector or Minister that shall or may at any time hereafter be nominated and appointed Rector and Incumbent of the said Parish Church of Saint Paul, shall be incorporated and made one Body Politic and Corporate, by the Name of the Rector of Saint Paul, in the Town of Augusta, and shall thereby be enabled to sue and be sued by that Name in all Courts in this Province, and shall have hold and enjoy to him and his Successors the said Church and Coemetery with the Appurtenances, together with the Glebe Lands already granted, and all other Lands Tenements and Hereditaments that shall or may at any time hereafter be given and Granted to the said Church of Saint Paul and the Incumbent thereof AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED by the Authority aforesaid, that the Commissioners here after named, or hereafter to be appointed, as soon as they shall thereto be enabled, by allowance of Parliament, Charitable Donations, or by provision of the General Assembly of this Province, shall cause a Church to be built and erected in each of the said Several Parishes of Saint Matthew, Saint George, Saint Philip, Saint John, Saint Andrew and Saint James; and shall also cause to be Erected in each of said Parishes a Convenient Messuage or Tenemente with Out Buildings for the habitation of a Rector hereafter be to appointed therein, and the said Commissioners shall also lay out and inclose a Coemetery or Burial Place to each of the said Several Churches AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED that the said Several Churches, Messuages and Coemeterys, shall be erected, laid out, and inclosed in such part of the Respective Parishes, as shall hereafter be granted by His Majesty for this Purpose, on Application to be made by the said Commissioners to the Governor and Council of the said Province, And in such Manner as the Majority of the said Commissioners, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Governor and Council of said Province, for the time being, shall think fit in Case the Money for this purpose shall be given by His Majesty, or His Successors, otherwise by and with the Advice and Consent of the Majority of the Inhabitants of each respective Parish AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED by the Authority aforesaid that the said Commissioners shall and are hereby impowered to apply for and take up by Grant from His Majesty Lands for the sites of the said respective Churches, and the Coemeterys or burial Places of the same and also for the Glebe Lands of the said Churches AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED THAT the Rectors or Ministers that shall or may hereafter be respectively nominated and appointed Rectors and Incumbents of the said several and respective Parishes of Saint Matthew Saint George Saint Paul Saint Philip Saint John Saint Andrew and Saint James, and their Successors Rectors of the same, shall each of them be incorporated and made one Body Politic and Corporate, by the name of the Rector of that Parish of which he is the Minister and Incumbent, and shall be hereby enabled to Sue and be sued by that Name in all Courts of this Province and shall have the Cure of Souls within his Respective Parish, and the Rectors and Incumbents of the said Several Parishes shall when hereafter appointed respectively have hold and enjoy to them and their Successors the several Churches and Coemeterys hereafter to be erected and laid out, with the several Glebe Lands hereafter to be obtained and Granted, pursuant to the intention of this Act, and also the Several Messuages or Tenements and Out buildings to be erected for their several Habitations AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED by the Authority aforesaid, that his Honor Henry Ellis Esquire, Lieutenant Governor and Commander in Chief of this Province, and the Honourable James Habersham, Francis Harris, James Mackay, James Edward Powell, William Clifton, and William Knox Esquires, and David Montaigut, James Deveaux, Noble Wimberly Jones, and Thomas Rasberry William Russell William Spencer, and Charles Watson Esquires shall be and they are hereby appointed Commissioners for the purposes herein before mentioned and intended by this Act, and that it shall and may be lawful to and for the said Commissioners or any five of them from and after the Seventeenth Day of March One thousand seven hundred and fifty eight to have use and exercise all and every the Authorities and Powers given them by this Act, and in Case of the death, absence, or Resignation of any or either of them, the remaining Commissioners shall Assemble and meet together at some convenient Place, to be appointed for this Purpose, and so many of them as shall there be present, provided there be not less than five, on Notice thereof for this purpose to them given, Six Days at least before the time of such meeting, shall and may chuse such other Person or Persons in the Room of the Commissioner or Commissioners so dying, leaving the Province, or resigning, as the said Commissioners then present, or the Majority of them shall think fit; which Person and Persons so chosen, shall and is, and are hereby declared to be Commissioners, for the Execution of all and every the Powers herein as fully and amply to all intents and purposes as those herein before named and appointed AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED by the Authority aforesaid, that for the taking Care of the several Churches already built, and those that shall hereafter be built, and for transacting the Business of the respective Parishes, and the well ordering and good Government thereof, Church Wardens and Vestry Men shall be chosen and appointed, in the Manner herein after mentioned AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED That on the Monday in Easter Week next after the said Seventeenth Day of March One thousand seven hundred and fifty eight; and so yearly and every Year on that Date for Ever, the Inhabitants of the said several Parishes respectively, being Free Holders within the same, or Householders, and of Ability to contribute to the Publick Taxes and Charges thereof, or so many of them as shall think fit to attend, and shall assemble and meet together at their respective Parish Churches and where there is no Church at such Place as the Commissioners above Named or the Majority of them shall appoint, for this purpose, and shall then and there respectively elect and chuse in each of the said Parishes, except the Parish of Christ Church, not less than five, nor more than Ten, and in the Parish of Christ Church, ten sober and discreet Persons, being Inhabitants of their several Parishes respectively, to be Vestry Men thereof for One Year then next ensuing, and in Case of the death, resignation, or other legal discharge of any of the said Vestry-Men for any, or either of the said Parishes so chosen as aforesaid, the rest of them shall with all convenient speed appoint a general Meeting of all the Inhabitants of the Parish where such vacancy shall happen, qualified as aforesaid, Who or the Majority of them shall elect and Chuse, one or more Discreet Person or Persons to be a Vestry Man, or Vestry men in the Room of him or them, dying, resigning, or being otherwise legally discharged AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED that all such Persons that shall be so elected and chosen, shall take the following Oath Viz. “I, A B do swear, that I will truly and faithfully execute the trust and Office of a Vestry man of this Parish according to the best of my skill knowledge and Power without prejudice favour or affection,” which Oath shall be Administered by any Justice of the Peace of the same Parish – Who is hereby required and impower’d to Administer the same –, And every such Person being so elected and chosen a Vestry Man as before by this Act is directed, and having taken the Oath as required by this Act, and not before, shall be deemed and taken as One of the Vestry to all intents and Purposes AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED that the said Inhabitants of the several Parishes aforesaid, immediately after the electing of Vestry Men as herein-before is directed, shall likewise elect and chuse two other discreet Persons Inhabitants of each Parish, that are free Holders with the same, to be Church Wardens for that Year, which Church Wardens so elected shall take the following Oath, before the Vestry, who are hereby respectively impowered to administer the same – “I; A B do swear that I will truly and faithfully execute the Office of a Church Warden within this Parish According to the best of my Skill and knowledge and until I shall be thereof duly discharged;” and all and every such Person and Persons so chosen Church Wardens that shall refuse to serve in the said Office shall forfeit the Sum of forty Shillings Sterling for the Use of the Poor of the Parish for which such Church Warden shall be chosen, to be recovered before any Justice of the Peace of the same Parish, and to be levied by distress and sale of the Offenders Goods and Chattels; provided allways that no Person shall be liable to such Fine for not taking upon him the said Office oftener then [sic] once in Seven Years, in the Parish of Christ Church, and once in five Years in either of the other Parishes; and in Case any Person so chosen o the office of Church Warden as before directed, shall happen to die before the Expiration of the Year for which he is chosen, than then the Vestry of the Parish where the Vacancy shall happen, or the Majority thereof, shall without delay, appoint a Meeting of the Inhabitants of the said Parish, qualified as before directed, to be Church Wardens for the remainder of the Year, in the Room of such Church Warden so deceased AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED by the Authority aforesaid that for repairing of the Several Churches already erected, or that shall or may hereafter be erected, with their several Coemeterys, Utensils and Ornaments, and also for providing Bread and Wine for the Holy Eucharist, the payment of the Salaries of the Clerk and Sexton, and the making provision for impotent Poor Persons of the several Parishes respectively, what shall be requiste over and above the several fines by this Act directed to be applied for this purpose, and for other Necessary Parochial Charges, it shall and may be lawful to and for the Rector, Church Wardens, and Vestry Men of the said Several Parishes, respectively, and the Majority of them that shall be present at any Meeting for this Purpose, of which Publick Notice shall at all times be given in the Church on the Sunday before, immediately after Divine Service, and where there is no Church, at any other convenient place they shall appoint to raise such Sum and sums of Money in their respective Parishes as shall be requisite and Necessary for all or any of the aforesaid Services, provided the same shall not Yearly or in any One Year, exceed the Sum of Thirty Pounds in the Parish of Christ Church, The Sum of Thirty Pounds in the Parish of Saint Paul, or the Sum of Ten Pounds in either of those Parishes where no Churches are yet erected, by an equal Tax to be assessed on the Estate real and personal of all and every the Inhabitants owners and Occupiers of Lands Tenements and Hereditaments within each Parish respectively; which Assessments they are hereby respectively impower’d to make and the same being allowed of by two Justices of the Peace of each Parish, shall be signed by the Church Wardens and Vestry Men present at each several and respective Assessment, who shall and may by Warrant under their Hands and Seals respectively appoint some fit person to collect and receive the several Sums thereby rated and Assessed from the several Inhabitants, Owners and Occupiers of Lands, Tenements and Hereditaments in their respective Parishes; and every such Collector or Person so appointed to receive and Collect the said Tax in each Parish, shall pay the same to the Church Wardens thereof, to be applied for the Purposes herein before directed and intended, deducting thereout for his Trouble Six pence in the Pound, And in Case any Person or Persons shall Neglect or refuse to pay the Tax so to be respectively rated and Assessed, and oath being made thereof before One of His Majesty’s Justices of the Peace of the Parish where such Neglect or refustal [sic] shall happen, it shall and may be lawful to and for such Justices of the Peace, by Warrant under his hand and Seal directed to any Constable of the said Parish, to levy the Sum rated and Assessed on such Person and Persons so Neglecting or refusing as aforesaid, by distress and Sale of the Defaulters Goods and Chattels, returning the overplus to the owner, after reasonable Charges deducted; and the several Constables of this Province are hereby required to Execute every such Warrant under the Penalty and forfeiture of Twenty Shillings, to be recovered before any Justice of the peace, and to be applied for the Use of the Poor of that Parish where the same shall be incurred AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED by the Authority aforesaid, that it shall and may be lawful to and for the Rectors Church Wardens, and Vestry Men of the said Several Parishes respectively, being assembled for this Purpose, of the Majority of them to Nominate and appoint a fit person to be Sexton of each Parish, and such Person to remove as they shall see Occasion; and also to appoint and settle the Salary and Fees of such Sexton, and of the Clerks of the several Parishes respectively, who shall and may from time to time be nominated and appointed by the Rectors or Incumbents thereof – AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED that the Rector or Minister of each Parish shall when appointed be one of the Vestry, and that no Vestry shall make any Order without haveing [sic] first given timely Notice to the said Rector to be there AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED by the Authority Aforesaid that the Church Wardens of each respective Parish shall, at the charge of the Parish, provide one fair, well bound paper, or parchment, Book, wherein the Rector or Minister, and in Case there be no Rector there resident, the respective Church Wardens, upon Notice thereof given by the Masters or Heads of the several ffamalies [sic] (who are hereby required to give such Notice within One Month, under the penalty of five Shillings) shall Register or Cause to be Registered by the Vestry Clerk of the Parish the times of the Births, Christnings, Marriages and Burial of all and every person and persons that shall from time be born Christened Married, or Buried within the said Parish, under the Penalty of five Pounds Sterling on failure thereof, And that the Vestry Clerk or person that shall Register the same shall have and receive as a fee for each Entry One Shilling Sterling the said Penalties and forfeitures to be recovered and applied as herein before provided, which Register or Book of Record shall be kept in a Box for this Purpose to be provided by each Parish with two Locks and Keys, awhereof One to remain with the Rector or Minister, and the other with the Church Wardens or one of them AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED by the Authority aforesaid, that each of the said Vestries respectively, shall appoint some fit person to be Clerk to such Vestry, who shall from time to time duly enter in a Book for this Purpose to be provided, the Minutes and proceedings of the said Vestry, and shall have the care and custody of all Books and Papers relative thereto PROVIDED allways [sic], and it is the true intent and Meaning of this Act, that no Rector or Minister, is or shall hereby be invested with any Power or Authority to exercise any Eclesiastical Law or Jurisdiction whatsoever; any thing in this Act contained to the contrary thereof, notwithstanding –
By Order of the House
DAVD. MONTAIGUT Speaker
By Order of the upper House
In the Council Chamber the 15th day of March 1758 –
Allen D. Candler (ed.), Colonial Records of the State of Georgia (Atlanta: State of Georgia, 1910), Vol. XVIII, pp. 258-272.