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January 14, 2013 / Joanne Yeck

Colonial Buckingham: Tillotson Parish


In Colonial Virginia, the Church of England determined the shape of religious life. Whether Virginians were Anglican, dissenter, or nonbeliever, their taxes supported the established Church, and their attendance at services was expected. In addition to ruling religious life, the Church managed many of Virginia’s “social services,” which today would be assigned to government. Early Buckingham County was no exception, and its most influential men held the positions of Church Wardens and Vestrymen.

As in England, counties were divided into parishes, which handled the local business of the church. Each parish was served by a single minister, was governed by a vestry, and contained a mother church, often supplemented by two or more churches in outlying areas, which the minister served on successive Sundays. In the sparsely populated Virginia frontier these parishes could be enormous. By the mid-18th century, settlement increased, the population swelled, and the citizens of Albemarle County living south of the Fluvanna River (now the James) petitioned for a new parish. In 1757, Virginia’s General Assembly responded by creating Tillotson Parish, agreeing that “Whereas the parish of Saint Anne, in the county of Albemarle, by reason of the great extent thereof, is very inconvenient to the inhabitants . . . all the part thereof lying on the south side of said river, shall be one other distinct parish, and called and known by the name of Tillotson.”  The parish was named for Rev. John Tillotson (1630-1694), pictured above, who served as Archbishop of Canterbury from 1691-1694.

In 1761, when Buckingham County was cut out of Albemarle, Tillotson Parish and Buckingham became one and the same entity.


Leave a Comment
  1. Steven / Jan 14 2013 7:37 pm

    At last, I learned something new.

    • Joanne Yeck / Jan 14 2013 8:24 pm

      That’s good. Stay with the Ramblings and you might learn more. . . .

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