Of Scottish descent, Francis Makemie was born in Ramelton, County Donegal, Ireland in 1658. Because he as a Presbyterian, he was not allowed to enter the University of Ireland, he got a degree in Glasgow instead. He was ordained as a missionary to the colonies in 1682. He preached in the middle Atlantic area (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina).
In 1684, Makemie established the first Presbyterian congregation in Snow Hill, Maryland. Francis married the daughter of William Anderson, a successfull businessman and landowner who helped him become established.
After a visit to England in 1706, he formed the seven missionaries working in scattered churches of the Middle colonies into a voluntary association. This became the first presbytery in America, with power to license its own preachers. This significant act made American Presbyterianism independent of external control.
In 1705, he wrote "A Plain and Friendly Perswasive to the Inhabitants of Virginia and Maryland for Promoting Towns an Cohabitation". It dealt entirely with secular matters such as the advantages of forming towns for commerce, education, and worship.
In January 1707, he was arrested by Lord Cornbury (aka Edward Hyde), the governor of New York, for preaching without a license. Makemie had a license to preach as a dissenter in Virginia and Maryland. After spending 6 weeks in jail, Makemie was aquitted in June 1707 based on the English Toleration Act of 1689. Lord Cornbury was recalled
Though found innocent, he was ordered to pay the cost of his prosecution. The New York legislature passed legislation to keep this from happening again in the future. This is considered a landmark case in favor of religious freedom in America.
After the trial he wrote the pamphlet "A Narrative of a New and Unusual American Imprisonment".
Makemie died in 1708. At the bicentennial of American Presbyterianism in 1906, a monument in his honor was erected on the Virginia farm where he is buried in addition to the plaque in Onancock.
A simple drive around the countryside gives you a glimpse of America through the ages.
Plantations, old slave quarters, flourishing farms and vanishing farms.
Sometimes something as simple as washday can be a cultural interest point all its own.
As you drive this beautiful farming community you will see the mega-corporate farms as well as the dying family farms.