by Mary Klein
Diocesan archivist

Read From the Archives: “Episcopal Despotism” and Bishop Whittingham’s Questionnaire of 1844.

“And the Survey Says…”

Bishop Whittingham’s 1844 survey of parishes in his new diocese reveals some very interesting answers for us living 175 years later. We can learn the state of repair of the church buildings, the number of parishes which supported a school, whether the parish possessed an organ or a bell or communion silver. We can learn the salaries of the clergymen, and if the parish had an endowment. We are able to make some comparisons across counties as to the number of African Americans baptized, married and buried from the parish. As we continue to explore our understanding of the church’s role in the history of race relations in this country, perhaps this survey can help provide a few more answers. For our purposes, we will concentrate on the answers to a few questions gleaned from ten parishes around the diocese which are still active today.

The 1844 Convention Journal listed 96 parishes within the diocese of Maryland, which included not only what we know as the Diocese today, but also encompassed the modern dioceses of Easton and Washington. From those 96 parishes, the bishop received 60 replies, some of which were incomplete. A 62% response rate is actually outstanding, according to statistics which reveal the average response to a survey is 26%.

The parishes chosen to represent the survey answers are Emmanuel, Cumberland, St. Margaret’s, Annapolis; St. Paul’s, Baltimore; All Saints’, Frederick; St. Andrew’s, Clearspring; All Saints’, Sunderland; St. John’s, Kingsville; Ascension, Westminster, All Hallows’, Davidsonville and St. John’s, Hagerstown. If you are curious whether your parish responded to the questions, and would like to see the answers, the book containing the answers to all three parts of the survey can be found in the Archives. For our purposes, although it is an outdated term, we will follow the language of the survey and the answers, by using the term “colored” to indicate African Americans.

The range of salaries for rectors varied wildly. As today, in 1840 there were “cardinal parishes” which offered more salary, and incentives such as a rectory or a glebe. (A glebe is a piece of land owned by the parish and offered for use by the priest to increase his salary by leasing it or tilling it for crops. This is one reason clergy owned slaves – so that slaves could till the glebe, bring a cash crop to market and enhance the cash flow of the clergyman.) Additionally, many clergy operated small private schools to increase their salaries, since most rural parishes paid very little. The survey shows that the highest income paid to a clergyman came from, not surprisingly, St. Paul’s Parish, Baltimore, considered the Mother Church of the diocese, at $2,500 per annum for the Rev. William Wyatt. The lowest income from our nine targeted parishes was paid to the Rev. James A. Buck at St. Andrew’s, Clear Spring, in Washington County – $100 yearly. Clear Spring was a new town, laid out in 1821, and the congregation organized in 1839. In 1844, the five-year-old parish reported 17 communicants, so it is not surprising that the income they offered their priest was so small. But Mr. Buck was also the rector of St. Thomas’ Church in Hancock, which offered an income of $300, which added up to about the average salary in the diocese. $300, $400, $550, up to $700 seemed to be what most parishes offered to their priest, some with accompanying parsonage and glebe. Comparing 1840-dollar values to today’s, one dollar in 1840 is equal to about $40 today.

One interesting question posed by Bishop Whittingham to his clergy and vestries was, “What accommodation is there for servants and free colored persons?” (Whittingham always used the term “servants” to refer to enslaved persons.) Seven of the ten parishes chosen for this article answered that their church had a gallery for use of the servants and free persons of color, and one chapel reserved the back pews for their use. The inclusion of a gallery for the use of slaves was a common feature of early Episcopal churches in Maryland, not rarely with accompanying separate entrance. In later renovation schemes, sometimes the galleries were removed altogether or converted to organ or choir lofts.

Maryland’s new diocesan bishop was curious about how many “colored” people were baptized, married, or buried from the parishes under his pastoral care. In looking at the population of Maryland in 1840, and the number of slaves and free blacks living in each county, we can get an idea of the concentration of persons of color in each area, and the corresponding attention paid them by Episcopal clergy.

All Saints’, Frederick, reported that half the infants who were baptized were African American, as well as one-third of the persons married and buried. The rector, Joshua Peterkin, also said that he held “special religious services for the benefit of the servants.” Peterkin had previously served as rector of St. James’ First African Church in Baltimore and was known for his “solicitude toward” African Americans, although he was a slaveowner himself. In enumerating the number of communicants in his parish (96), Peterkin listed two persons of color as confirmed communicants – Joyce Harris and Cassy Carroll.  The 1840 census figures for Frederick County listed a total population of just over 36,000, including nearly 3,000 free blacks and 4,500 slaves.

By contrast, Calvert County’s population was just over 9,000, which included nearly 1,500 free blacks and over 4,100 slaves, which meant that over half the population was African American. The Rev. Henry Williams, the rector of All Saints’ Parish, Sunderland in Calvert County, and a native of Montgomery County, reported that of the 38 infants he had baptized, 18 were African American, as were 2 of the 10 persons he buried and 4 of the 5 marriages he had performed the previous year. In his list of 41 communicants, a “Mr. Woodard” was noted as being “colored.”

The Rev. Joshua Peterkin, rector, All Saints’, Frederick

Grave site of the Rev. Joshua Peterkin, Richmond, VA

The Rev. Theodore Lyman, rector, St. John’s, Hagerstown

St. John’s Church in Kingsville, on the edge of the Baltimore County line, had enumerated only one marriage of an African American and no baptisms or burials. The county’s population was 32,000; the slaves numbered 4,300, as well as almost 3,500 free persons of color. The rector, the Rev. John R. Keech, who was a native of St. Mary’s County, sent Bp. Whittingham a list of 21 active communicants, none of whom were African American.

The 1840 census showed that the population of Anne Arundel County was 29,532, of whom 5,000 were free persons of color, and almost 10,000 were slaves. As in Calvert County, more than half the population was African American. The Rev. Orlando Hutton was rector of St. Margaret’s Parish, Westminster, Annapolis, and a native of Annapolis. He had been ordained to the priesthood in November of 1837, coming to St. Margaret’s in 1839. By his reckoning, he had baptized 4 white infants and 16 colored infants, and all five of the marriages he had performed were for African Americans. He reported that the parish church was frame and measured 24’ X 30’ and had a gallery for the servants and free blacks. The chapel (Marley Chapel, which is now St. Alban’s, Glen Burnie) was brick and the back seats were reserved for the use of African Americans.

Another parish in Anne Arundel County, All Hallows’, Davidsonville, answered the questionnaire. The rector, the Rev. William F. Brand, a native of Louisiana, had come to Maryland in 1842, and stayed at All Hallows’ until 1849. His answers were followed by comments which may reflect an attitude held since his childhood in Louisiana. In answer to the question of the number of colored persons baptized Brand replied, “21 infants baptized, 17 of whom were colored. Some of the Negros were baptized in church, but not according to the rubric. In no case did I know of the application till after the service. Moreover, I find negroes so much in want of instruction that I could not well say all I wish to say in public.” In answer to the question of special services for the servants, Brand replied, “Last summer I preached at church to the blacks as long as I had a hearer. I have since several times addressed them on the farms. I have never shortened the service.” In answering the question of accommodations in church for servants and free blacks, he wrote, “More room than they choose to occupy.”

Portrait of the Rev. David Buel as a young man

Reverse side of David Buel’s portrait

The Buel brothers, fifth and sixth rectors of Emmanuel, Cumberland

The look at answers provided by St. John’s Parish in Hagerstown in Washington County is most revealing. The rector, Theodore Lyman, a native of Massachusetts, was brought up a Congregationalist. Ordained in 1840 by Bishop Whittingham, he came to Hagerstown as rector of St. John’s Church and was instrumental in helping Bishop Whittingham found St. James’ College. He stayed in Hagerstown until 1850, when he moved to Trinity Church, Pittsburgh. After ten years at Trinity, he went to Rome where he established the American Chapel there. In 1873, he was consecrated bishop coadjutor of North Carolina, and acceded to diocesan office in 1881.

Washington County, according to the 1840 census, boasted a population of 28,850, which included 1,580 free blacks and 2,546 slaves, a relatively low percentage of the population. But the parish’s communicant list of 89 persons included 7 African Americans, more than any other parish surveyed which is still in this diocese. David Andover, Mary Andover, Elizabeth Shakespeare, Richard Farmer, May Gwin, Esther Handy and Patience Snowden are enumerated as communicants at St. John’s. Lyman reported baptizing 23 white infants and 15 colored children. The gallery in the church seated 60-80 people. In his parochial report of May 22, 1844, Lyman reported that the church had been “enlarged and thoroughly repaired” during 1843.

The Rev. Samuel Buel was rector of Emmanuel Parish in Cumberland, Allegany County. (His brother, David H. Buel was rector of Ascension, Westminster, but would later serve at Emmanuel. Both Buel brothers had been born and raised in New York.) Allegany County’s population was 15,690, but the African American population only amounted to just over one thousand, 812 of them slaves. The church had a gallery for servants and free blacks, and 2 of the 9 infants baptized were African Americans, but there were no “colored” communicants.

What can be learned from examining the answers to a few questions posed in 1844? One obvious observation is that while white clergy did not seem to be opposed to baptizing, marrying, or burying African Americans, they were less committed to holding special religious services or teaching African Americans the faith. Preparing African Americans for confirmation and thereby including them as communicants of the parish, was even more rare. At that time, being confirmed was a prerequisite for receiving communion, and, of course, that meant drinking from a common cup. The background of the clergyman seems to have some correlation to the number of African American candidates for confirmation he prepared. Even if African Americans were included as communicants, the seating arrangement was still separate, the vast majority of churches providing galleries for the “servants and free blacks”.

As has ever been true, humans are complicated, often contradictory beings and are not easy to comprehend, especially at a remove of 175 years. But shedding light on our church’s past is essential so that we may understand our present and plan for our future. No matter how sobering, we must uncover all that shaped us, and bravely forge a new, more enlightened, vision of the world God wants or all of us.

Questions and Answers to Bishop Whittingham's 1844 Questionnaire

Series One:

#10, part 3: How many infants have been baptized? How many colored?

#12. Have there been any special religious services for the benefit of the servants?

#15. How many burials of colored people?

#16. How many marriages of colored people?


Series Two:

#20. What amount has been contributed? How appropriated?


Series Three:

#3. What is the population of the parish? White? Colored?

#12. What accommodation is there for servants and free colored people?

#13. What is the income of the minister?



Emmanuel Parish, Cumberland, Allegany County: The Rev. Samuel Buel, rector

One/10: 9 infant baptisms, 2 colored

One/12: none

One /15: 6 funerals, 1 colored

One/16: 6 marriages, 0 colored

Two/20: $191

Three/3: Parish encompasses all of Allegany County. Population15,704; 811 colored

Three/12: One gallery for servants & and free blacks

Three/13: $550 per annum & parsonage


St. Margaret’s, Westminster, Anne Arundel County: The Rev. Orlando Hutton, rector

One/10: 4 white infants baptized; 16 colored

One/12: none

One/15: none

One/16: 5 marriages, all colored

Two/20: average amount $20 per annum to missions

Three/ 3: no means of ascertaining

Three/12: The gallery in the church and back seats in the chapel

Three/13: The average amount is $400 per annum


St. Paul’s Parish, Baltimore: The Rev. William Wyatt, rector

One/10: 61 baptisms; colored not mentioned

One/12: none

One/15: 34 funerals; 1 colored

One/16: 16 marriages; 0 colored

Two/20:  –

Three/3: population not known, but it must be over 120,000; –

Three/12: There is a gallery for persons of color larger than is ever filled

Three/13: $2,500 per annum payable out of pew rents

All Saints’ Parish, Frederick: The Rev. Joshua Peterkin, rector

One/10:  28 infants baptized; 14 colored

One/12: yes

One/15: 13 funerals; 4 colored

One/16: 9 marriages; 3 colored

Two/20: Did not answer series Two or three


St. Andrew’s, Clearspring: The Rev. James A. Buck, rector

One/10: 6 baptisms; 1 colored

One/12: none

One/15: 2 funerals; 0 colored

One/16: none; none

Two/20: $20 to missions

Three/3: no parish metes and bounds

Three/12: none

Three/13: $100 per annum by subscription


All Saints’ Parish, Calvert County: The Rev. John Williams, rector

One/10: 38 infants baptized; 18 colored

One/12: yes, but not regularly

One/15: 10 funerals; 2 colored

One/16; 5 marriages; 4 colored

Two/20: $44.85 to parochial expenses; $7 to objects specified in Bishop’s pastoral letter; $16 contributed on Palm Sunday; $6.09 to St. James’ Hall; $15.76 to Diocesan Mission Society

Three/3: parish is about 100 square miles with population of about 2,300

Three/12: a gallery

Three/13: $400 per annum with parsonage and glebe


St. John’s Church, Kingsville: The Rev. John R. Keech, rector

One/10: 3 baptisms; 0 colored

One/12: none

One/ 15: 1 funeral

One/16: 3 marriages; 1 colored

Two/20: no money contributed outside parish

Three/3: population of parish not known

Three/12: A gallery

Three/13: about $300 per annum


Westminster Parish, Carroll County, Ascension Church, Westminster: The Rev. D. Hillhouse Buel, rector

One/10: 7 baptisms, 4 colored

One/12: no

One; 15; none

One/16: none

Two/20: $18.56 for the relief of the poor, Missions, Church Tract Society (taken from One/17)

Series 2 and 3 not answered


All Hallows’, Davidsonville, Anne Arundel County:  The Rev. William F. Brand, rector

One/10: 21 infants baptized, of whom 17 colored. Some of the negroes were baptized in church, but not according to the rubric. In no case did I know of the application till after service. Moreover, I find negroes so much in want of instruction that I could not well say all I wish to say in public.

One/12; last summer preached at church to the blacks as long as I had a hearer. I have since several times addressed them on the farms. I have never shortened the service.

One/15: 8 funerals, one colored

One/16: one marriage, parties colored

Two/20: Offerings amount to $35.02. to Missions – $15; to St. James’ Hall – $5; Bishop’s temporary support – $13.62; Communion wine, etc. – $3.19

Three/3: no answer could be given

Three/12: More room than they choose to occupy

Three/13: between $450 and $500


St. John’s, Hagerstown, Washington County: The Rev. Theodore Lyman, rector

One/10: 23 white, 15 colored

One/12: not answered

One/16: not answered

Two/20: $105.74 applied equally to domestic & foreign missions

Three/3: parish is whole county; 28,000 supposed

Three/12: gallery for 60-80

Three/13: $700 & house