The Colonial Church

1565 In July, the first Anglican services in America were conducted at Fort Caroline, St. John’s River, Florida.
1587 Baptism of Virginia Dare at Roanoke Island. The first English language baptism in America
1638 William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury (and a High Churchman), plans to send a bishop to New England. This was never done. In 1661, Virginia requested a bishop. Again, this was not done. Although Alexander Moray was nominated as Bishop of Virginia in 1672, he was never confirmed.
1697 Founding of Trinity Church, New York City, opening of College of William and Mary
1702 Samuel Thomas arrives in Charleston, SC, as a missionary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG). In 1706, the Church of England was legally established in the colony of South Carolina.
1722 The “defection” of the Yale Congregationalists to the Church of England.
1732 Founding of the Colony of Georgia. In 1738, George Whitefield comes to Savannah as a SPG missionary.
1735 Founding of the town of Augusta.


The Church of England was strong in many of the colonies. It was established in the 5 southern colonies (Virginia, North and South Carolina, Maryland, and Georgia). Other religions were tolerated. In Virginia the governor installed a church’s rector, since there was no bishop. The Congregationalists, descendants of the Puritans, were the established church in New England.


1749 Lay Readers conduct services in Fort Augusta for the soldiers stationed at the fort. The original church, “a handsome and convenient church”, a plan of which has been preserved, is erected adjoining to the fort. At its dedication, the church was named for London’s historic St. Paul’s Cathedral.
1750 The “Principal inhabitants” hold a meeting and petition the Trustees of Georgia to provide a clergyman for the Church in Augusta.
1751 Construction of a Rectory is started. Jonathan Copp, ordained in Dcember, 1750 by Thomas Sherlock, the Bishop of London, is assigned by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel to Augusta in the Province of Georgia. He brings a baptismal font from England as a gift from the SPG. Copp, a graduate of Yale, is a native of New London, Connecticut, coming from a family of Presbyterians, who disapprove of Jonathan’s Anglican orders. There were 100 in the congregation, and eight communicants.


Things didn’t go well. On arrival, he found no parsonage, and an uncultivated glebe land. He lived in poverty. Copp wrote, “We live in Augusta in fear of our lives. The merciless savages whose tender mercies are cruelty, have threatened us of late; they have in cold blood murdered and scalped sundry of the English, so that the whole space of my continuance here we have been under continued apprehensions of being murdered.” He also wrote that he was “separated from any brother clergyman by one hundred and thirty miles of wilderness…with but little to cheer and much to discourage, with small emolument and arduous labor.”


1756 Copp resigns the Augusta charge to accept a call to Saint John’s Parish in South Carolina.
1758 The Church of England is established in Georgia, and the Colony is divided into eight Parishes for administrative purposes. On March 17, the Parish of Saint Paul is created in Augusta and the surrounding countryside.
1761 The Rev. William Duncanson is rejected as a clergyman in both Savannah and Augusta for misconduct. “As for my part, I know nothing I am guilty of except its I love to drink somewhat after night.” He was also prone to swearing and brawling.
1762 The original church in Augusta had been used by refugees from the French and Indian War, and suffered such damage that a replacement building was needed. A plan of the new church was considered by the Vestry and Churchwardens.
1764 Mr. Teale arrives in Augusta and officiates at the church for four months. He was accused of violent conduct and the leadership of the church questioned his credentials.
1765 Samuel Frink (Trink; Prink) arrives in Augusta (either in 1764 or 1765) to become Rector of the church. He finds that the new church has been erected. He moves to Savannah in 1766 (or 1767) and officiates at Christ Church there.
1767 Edward Ellington (According to Armentrout: a patriot in the Revolutionary War) becomes the Rector of Saint Paul’s until removing to Savannah in 1770, where he remains until his death after the Revolution. At the time he left Saint Paul’s, there were 40 communicants, he had baptized 428 persons, and had married 62 couples. His salary was 15 pounds a year.
1771 James Seymour (Armentrout: a loyalist in the Revolutionary War) becomes Rector.


Return to Timeline Page