St. Paul's Church (Elizabeth River Parish)

Interment of St. Pauls

This was found in the Kirn Public Library and the author is unknown.

The early history of St. Paul's Church, as we now call it, is practically the history of Norfolk.

In 1637 the Elizabeth River Parish was established. At that time the Reverend John Wilson was resident & minister in the parish. According

to court records, the first church, "ye Chappell of Ease" was completed in the fall of 1641. It was the parish church from that date until 1680

when Norfolk town had it's founding. Seven ministers served the parish church during that time.

In 1686 Governor Howard gave 100 acres of land adjoining Norfolk for a Glebe for Elizabeth River Parish. This glebe land, together with the

payment of tithes of tobacco & corn, supported the minister & the Parish Church.

In 1734, an act was passed which authorized the sale of the 86 unproductive acres of the Glebe & supported the purchase of land elsewhere in Norfolk County.

In September of 1736, Royal Charter established Norfolk Borough. It was considered by the King George II to be a healthy & pleasant place, good for trade & navigation.

By 1738 the Old Church had become inadequate for the needs of the thriving Borough of Norfolk. The present building was completed in 1739, the date that appears on it's southern gable. Tradition informs us that colonel Samuel Boush, first mayor of Norfolk, gave the bricks for the erection of the present church. Tradition also holds that he implanted the initials of his father's name upon the southern gable as memorial. Whether it was initialed for father or son, the history of the Elizabeth River Parish from 1700 to the American Revolution shows no name more worthy of being perpetuated than that of Samuel Boush.

In 1741 with England & Spain at war, the loyal colony & her principal seaport, Norfolk, sympathized with the mother country. The colonists were in the midst of exciting times. A resolution passed by the Board of Alderman, " that for the future of the inhabitants of this Borough shall, to prevent any invasion or insurrection, be armed at church on Sundays, & other days of worship at Divine Services, under penalty of 5 shillings."

In 1759 the Churchyard Wall was begun.

In 1761 Act of Assembly & the Portsmouth divided the parish & the St. Bride's Parish were created.

We have now come to the American Revolution, a most interesting period in the history of the old church. It was on New Years day 1776 that Norfolk was bombarded by the Frigate, Liverpool, & other vessels of Lord Dunmore's fleet. The women & children of the Borough who were unable to get away gathered under the shadow of the walls of the Old Church to protect themselves from the enemy's shots. On that dismal night the church was the only significant structure, which survived the shelling of Norfolk, in 1840 a cannonball, believed to be the one, which had earlier lodged in the wall of the church, was discovered several feet underground beneath the depression in the wall. The ball was placed in the hole & marked appropriately & remains today to the delight of parishioner & visitor alike.

The church, established by law in Colonial Virginia, was disestablished by the Revolution & it's Glebe lands were confiscated by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

For nine long years the old walls stood in silent desolation. After the meeting of the first convention in October 1785, an act of assembly was passed authorizing a lottery to raise a sum of money not to exceed $1700, for rebuilding a church in the parish of Elizabeth River. After this a trying period in the life of the old parish church contributed largely to increase in other denominations in the borough notably the Presbyterians.

In 1789-91 the Reverend James Whitehead appeared at several conventions as minister of the Elizabeth River Parish, Norfolk, after this the old church was not represented until convention in 1832.

He was during the ministry of Mr. Whitehead that an almost unfortunate controversy occurred in the congregation of the old church concerning rival claims of him & the Reverend Will Bland for possession of the church. The same pulpit served both ministers, on in the morning & to the other in the afternoon. Although Mr. Whitehead had the recognition of the diocesan convention in 1790, he was unable to get complete control of the Old Church. Sometime prior to 1798 he & his supported left the mother church of the Elizabeth River Parish in the undisputed possession of Mr. bland, his supporters & friends, Mr. Whitehead & congregation worshiped at the courthouse on main street.

There were nine known ministers who served the church in the 18th century. However, the list is incomplete.

In 1800 the papers announced a subscription for the purpose of building a new Episcopal church on the east side of Church Street. This split in the congregation of the old church. They lost many families to the Presbyterian who at that time built their own church in the borough and so crippled the old church that after parson blends death in 1803 the congregation scattered like a flock that lost its shepherd.

For a while Baptists occupied the old church. In 1816 the Baptists built their own church on Cumberland Street. A black congregation then occupied the church.

The first church burned in 1827. Then the congregation moved to the old parish church and remained there until their new building was completed. Subsequently the old church was used for the Christ church Sunday school until 1831.

On April 24th, 1832 a meeting of Episcopalians of Norfolk convened at the old church for the purpose of electing a vestry, repairing the building and organizing a new congregation as it was necessary to ask readmission into the diocese under some distinctive name, the vestry agree d that it be called St. Paul's church. On may 7th 1832, it solemnly consecrated by bishop Moore. Once more the old church took its place in the life of the town it had done so much to nurture.

In 1834 the first tower of old St. Paul's was erected at the foot of the cross. Four gold crosses, one on each spire, caused a great dealt of controversy. The vestry for want of unobjectionable substituted, ordered that four gold balls be placed in their stead. The present tower was built in 1901.   

From 1845-1849, under the Ministry of the Reverend David Caldwell, St. Paul's regained much of its strength and dignity. The reverend William m. Jackson, who was minister from 1849-1855, gave his life in the line of duty in the yellow fever epidemic of 1855. The Reverend Nicholas Okeson who served followed him from 1856-1882. Dr okeson's name was a household word in Norfolk, and at the outbreak of the civil war, his communion list had reached 280. Every pew except on at the west door was rented and the balconies were crowded.

The presence of the federal army in 1863 in inaugurated a new order of things. St. Paul's was found to be a suitable place for religious services for the benefit of the officers and soldiers of the federal arm.

On Nov 1, 1865, St. Paul's Church being no longer need by the military authorities was returned to the congregation. During this period Dr. Okeson of St. Paul's acted as rector of Christ church & ministered to both congregations.

Due to the federal occupation, St. Paul's was sadly out of repair an over $ 4000 was spent before it was declared fit for use. On Feb. 14, 1866, services were resumed and a good congregation was present. Very soon all of the available pews were rented and a feeling of interest and friendship for the old church marked the entire community. Dr. Odeon took charge again and remained until his death in 1882.

It's pleasing record that the Federal Government reimbursed St. Paul's Church $3600 for the losses incurred by the occupation of the edifice by the military authorities.

Under the rector ship of the Reverend Beverly d. tucker, 1882-1906, St. Paul's numbered nearly 400 communicants and ministered to as many as her time honored walls would contain.

The reverend James m. Owens, dd. Succeeded the newly consecrated bishop tucker for 1907-1912. During his rector ship the parish house was built. The stone on the front wall indicates that its St. Paul's Church memorial hall. The church was renovated in 1912-13, as it was now, with the pews pulpit and general furnishing the chaste and simple style of the best colonial churches.

The reverend Henry h. Covington was rector from 1913-1933. Under this leadership the pews became free. His was the last burial in the yard, by special permission of the city council.

The Reverend Vincent c. franks. Dd. was rector from 1933-1937. During his ministry the alter guild published its history of St. Paul's Church.

From 1938-1957 the Reverend Moultrie Guerry served as rector. St. Paul's flourished during the pre war years and thereafter. He served St. Paul's & the whole Norfolk with is spiritual love & care & was affectionately know by many citizens as the Dean of Norfolk.

The Reverend Walton W. Davis succeeded him in 1959 & served the present congregations until retirement in 1918. During the Mr. Davis Ministry St. Paul's became a vital part of Norfolk historical tour, a summer festival in the church yard flourished and many changes occurred in the both the Episcopal church and society at large. St. Paul's continues to be haven to visitors & down town workers.

The post world war 2 years have wrought many changes in Norfolk like so many urban areas, the trend to suburbia has challenged the downtown church. At the present time the city fathers are renovating the down town area, many town houses are being built and a large waterside development is under construction.

Today, in the year 2002, St. Paul's sits across from the new Mac Arthur Mall, behind St. Paul's is the Mac Arthur Memorial, which sits a block from Kirn Public Library.

It's also just down the street from the Norfolk Court House. And a few blocks from Nautilus & the famous "waterside" area down there on Tidewater Drive.


St. Paul's Church Yard in Downtown Norfolk Virginia.

1. Lewis Harvie of Richmond, died in this Borough April 14, 1807
2. John Lee died April 19, 1797 age 40.
3. Elizabeth Izard relict of Ralph Izard Esq. of Charleston S.C. Died May 20, 1823 age 70.
4. John Tucker (Merchant) Novemeber 19 1762 age 57
5. Infants, Mary Jane Johnston born April 1791 died June 30, 1794 age 4 yrs 2 months 15 days.
             William Augusta Johnston born Oct. 26 1793 died Sept 25 1795 age 1yr 10 months 28days.
6. Richard Good died June 28 1821 age 60 years. Native of Bristol England.
7.Josiah Hodges Jr. born Nov. 12, 1774 and died May 10, 1799
8. John Danil from England, Lived here 20  years. no dates given.
9. Robert McDowall (Merchant) died Sept. 6 1797 age 50.
         He was the son of Alexander and Elizbeth Mcdowall of Dunmore in the Parish of Kirkmaden  
         Scotland. The tombstone was placed by his widow (name not given.) listed as daughter of
         William and Elizbeth Simpson.
10. Captain John Maxwell born July 26, 1780 died at sea, January 1815.
11. Mrs Olivia Ann Maxwell, his wife, may 9, 1791 and died July 19, 1814.
12. Virginia Maxwell, their daughter, born June 21, 1812 and died Oct. 27 1813.
13. Mrs. Mae Duncan wife of D. Duncan May 12, 1823 with two infants. (no names given.)
14. Captain John Maxwell born in Northumberland England, came to VA in 1767 and
    served the Commonwealth of Virginia in the Revolutionary War. Superintendent of her
     Navy yards, Commissioner of her navy and captain of an armed ship in her service, with equal               honor to himself and to the state. Greatly appreciated for his talents.
15. Mrs. Hellen Read, wife of Capt. John Maxwell by her first marriage Doct. John k. Read by her 2nd.
     was born june 20, 1750 and died March 31, 1833 age 83.
16.Dr. John Read born in Philadelphia. came to Va 1796, served the Alderman Mayor, died Feb 10,   .
    1805, age 59.
17. George Alexander infant son of William and Elizabeth Finnie Dec 25, 1789 20 months.
18. Susanna Robinson born 1769 and ded Sept 30, 1826.
19. Sarah Willoughby Cooke daughter of Henry and Meriam Talbot, married to Giles B. cooked
    Feb 29, 1816, died march 14, 1824 age 26years.
20. Mary, the wife of Capt. Edwards Archer born April 5, 1714 died June 9 1737
21. Alexander Ross, son of JOhn Ross of dulputing in the shire of aberdeen and inhabitant of this borough who died Sept. 29th, 1760 age 44.
22. John Partridge White, son of John and Elizabeth White, who after 18 hours of conflict with the king
of terrors, resigned his soul into the hands of it's maker.
23. William Watson native of Richmond. ( no dates given.)
24. Mrs. Anne Halliday late consort of Capt.Thomas Halliday of this bourough, who departed this life on Jan. 30 1807 age 59.
25. William Dyseny died jan 17?? age 18.
26. Hugh Finley (mechanic) died june 22 1816.
27. Elizabeth  Carter Hiort wife of Henry Hiort (attorney). She was the eldest daughter of Francis
    Weller Esqr. of White hall in the County Glocerter,(will find current spelling soon.)
     Born Sept. 23 1771 and died Oct 19 1802. Fall fever.
28. Alexander Gray of Hlifax, Nova Scotia died july 31 1800 age 20 years.
29. Elizabeth Crommelin died march 25 1826 age 80 yrs
30. Martha Ritson, born March 20, 1750 and died Sept. 5, 1822
31. Susanna Farmer died Sept 20, 1807 age 80 yrs.
32. Unknown Farmer died April 21, 1791 age 30.
33. Jane Turner, wife of John Turner died March 13, 1800 age 23.
34. John Lawrence. Native of Great Britian. Died Dec 25, 1814 age 80.
35. Nathaniel Eustis Died Sept. 13 1797.
36. Cary H. Hansford, M.D. Oct 29 1801
37. Rebecca Begg, widow of James Begg from island of Nevis, died Nov. 10, 1797 age 41
38. Charles R. Pollard died June 11 1813 age 26
39. Mrs. Abigail Pollard died July 7, 1795 age 31.
40. John Taylor Merchant. died sept. 11, ( no yr given.) age 31.
41. John Taylor, Merchant in Norfolk, born in the parish of Fintree in the County of Stirling in Scotland in march 1694 and died oct 25, 1744 age 51.
42. Doctor James Taylor Nov 13 1814 age 47 and 3 months
43.Catherine Macgill , wife of nathaniel Macgill daugher of Robert Taylor
    died Jan 3, 1797 age 20 yrs. 10 months.
44. Mary a. Macgill her daughter who was born in Feb. and died in Oct 1797
45. Unknown Taylor, died Jan 15 1797 age 32.
46. Robert Taylor born May 8, 1749 and died Oct 10 1826
47. Mrs. Mary. F. Camielo died aug 29 1822 age 56. (tomb by nephew peter brunet.)
48. Henry brunet died dec 12 1808 age 33.
49. elizabeth brunet may 15 1803 age 27.
50. John M. Burt died May 30 1811 age 55 years
51. Thomas Durant son of Lewis and Marcia Durant, died Jan 24 1799, 3yrs and 3 months
52. Lewis e. durant of the same parents died June 1798, age 4 months.
53. Edward Waddey, son of Edward and Sarah died Nov 22 1814 age 12 months and 15 days.
54. Hugh Finley native of Ireland died july  19 1800 age 28.
55. John Southwick his brother died (date not given)
56. Unknown Southwick wife of John Southwick died oct 14 1817 age 35.
57. Ann Taylor daughter of william and matty lindsay and the wife of francis taylor and born on Oct 8, 1782 and died on aug 17 1811 age 29.
58. Elizabeth Clark wife of Philip Lambert, died aug 4 1812 age 24.
59. Mrs. Lucy Nestell wife of Docy peter Nestell died aug  21 1804
60. catherine hall daughter of martha and thomas hall born feb 8 1820 and died same yr.
61. Sarah Nivison , relec of John Nivison who was born on aug 30 1760 and died may 3 1830
62. Louisa g. Coles daughter of john and sarah nivison born dec 20 1795 married col. ia.a coles on april 10 1823 and died sept 5 1824
63. John Nivison born april 20 1760 and died may 11 1820
64.   William t. nivison born nov 10 1789 and died oct 21 1821
65. Sarah daughter of walker and ann l tazewell born aug 14 1809 and died july 1, 1810.
66. Elizabeth waddey of NorthHampton born feb 12 1786 and died july 21 1806
67. Capt. thomas Mathews 4 va. mil. inf. revolutionary war.
68. Samuel w. cushing of Berwick, mass. killed in a duel april 24 1800 age 23
69. william mclauchlin from dunbarton scotland died aug 1 1800 age 38 yrs.
70. rev. james died jan 14 179?
71. charles tyler died dec 1 1821 age 40.
72. william watson no dates given
73. sarah h. green consort of john green died nov 25 1827 age 53, and there 3 childern. infants
    margaret, William and John.
74. mary wife of william summers died nov 12 1800
75. daughter of summers died march 20, age 33.
76. william commack jr of caroline county died aug 21 1805 age 16 y rs.
77. sarah banks died june 16 1831 age 40  yrs.


AUGUST 1, 1875