Rev. Magruder Maury 1836-1877, At St George’s: Dec. 1864 – April 1871

By Trip Wiggins

Born: 1836/Fredericksburg, VA (only Fredericksburg native to be our rector) son of Richard Brooke Maury and his second wife Ellen Magruder; and grandson of Fontaine Maury and Elizabeth Brooke (of Smithfield).
Died: 8 May 1877/Philadelphia, PA
14th St. George’s Rector
At St George’s: Dec. 1864 – April 1871
College: University of Virginia, Grad.: abt. 1859
Seminary: Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria, VA. Grad. Dec 1862
Ordained deacon: 7 Dec 1862
Commissioned Chaplain CSA: winter/Spring 1863
Parishes:
St. George’s Church/Fredericksburg, VA Dec 1864 – Apr 1871
St. Johns’ Parish, Junction City, Kansas 1871-1874
Rector at Meade and Johns Parishes, Middleburg, VA 1874-1875
Resigned from the priesthood 1875
Married: 25 Oct 1865/Shepherdstown, (VA) WVA Harriet Eliza “Lila” Andrews. She was the daughter of Rev. Charles Wesley Andrews, D.D.

   Rev. Magruder Maury had a short but important stay in Fredericksburg and a relatively short stay in the clergy.

   Maury was born in Fredericksburg about 1836 and was, to date, the only rector of St. George’s who was native to the area. He was the son of Richard Brooke Maury and his second wife Ellen Magruder and grandson of Fontaine Maury and Elizabeth Brooke (of Smithfield) – strong local roots. A cousin was Matthew Fontaine Maury, founder of the U.S. Navy Hydrographic Office and known as the “Pathfinder of the Seas” for his oceanography and meteorology research. Another cousin, and brother of Matthew Fontaine Maury, was lieutenant John Minor Maury, also of the Navy and for whom a plaque resides in St. George’s.

   Magruder graduated from the University of Virginia about 1859 and from the Virginia Theological Seminary in 1862. While in seminary, he also enlisted in the Rockbridge Artillery in the Confederate States Army (CSA). Following his ordination by Bishop John Johns, he was commissioned a Chaplain in the CSA where he remained until the fall of 1864 when he accepted the position of temporary rector at St. George’s through the efforts of Miss Mary Thom, daughter of our Senior warden, who raised sufficient funds to pay for the provisional rector. He began his services on 2 Dec., 1864 in the basement of the church (now called Sydnor Hall) following a two-year period where no regular services had been conducted at St. George’s due to the departure of Rev. Randolph during the Battle of Fredericksburg in Dec. 1862.

   With the end of war, the new rector accomplished two significant things. First, he traveled to New York state and raised over $1,400 in donations for the repairs needed at the church following three years of warfare in our area. Secondly, he found time to marry on 25 Oct. Harriet Eliza “Lila” Andrews in Shepherdstown. She was the daughter of Rev. Charles Wesley Andrews, D.D. Due in part to his fundraising abilities, he was moved from temporary rector to full rector in September 1865.

   The church had a major problem following the war. The town was decimated (and the church in such poor condition that services had to be held in the basement). On top of that the “offering” system of today had not yet been created so finding money to pay the bills was hard. The collection system was a bit convoluted! Let me explain. [Big thanks to Ben Hicks for this info.]

   Prior to the war church offerings were not used for church expenses – only for its charity and missions. Parishioners had always paid the ministers salary separately to the treasurer. But facing a new era following the war, in a church that had been hit at least 17 times by cannonballs from Union and Confederate artillery (the reason we were meeting in the basement) required a fairly large outflow of CASH to make repairs to the church and a radically new way of thinking about income was needed. The $1,400 raised in New York helped, but amounted to a little less than half of what was needed to effect repairs.

   We needed a more consistent source of funding. The vestry and the rector studied the problem and came up with a unique solution – or solutions. One new source was the Pew tax. A Pew tax of $5 was applied on each pew “to defer incidental expenses” in September, 1865. The following year they decided on a more permanent base – levee of $20 on each pew in lieu of voluntary subscriptions (special collections) to support the minister and for defraying incidental expenses. In addition, a separate collection would be made on the 3rd Sunday to pay the debt on the rectory which was just under $1,300. When the financials were compiled in Easter 1867, the Pew Tax had raised $977 of total collections of $1,944. The Pew tax was to defray smaller expenses but larger expenses in 1867 were looming that would reach beyond these. In May, 1867, the vestry was to call upon members for a collection for church expenses. They also took a special collection to repair the ceiling – a collection for this was taken in the last Sunday and “upwards of $300” taken. In March 1869, at Easter the Church did have small cash balance remaining. Apparently, the Pew tax of $20 was reduced to $5 in April, 1869 at the time a second financial initiative began. This was the idea of weekly collections to avoid resorting to endless subscriptions. It was advanced in November, 1868 to cover the $1,500 cost of the ceiling and other expenses. Eventually it grew into what became known as the “Envelope System,” the beginning of the concept of a weekly pledge. A bag would be passed and parishioners would contribute funds in an envelope which would cover the “parochial expenses” or “the rector’s salary, the sexton’s hire, fuel lights, insurance, repairs, and church debts.” A committee of 3 was established April, 1869 to construct a list of “such persons as should be called to contribute to the support of the church” which became the weekly pledge for parochial expenses (salaries, utilities, insurance and repairs). The treasurer kept records and would be expected to notify people past due that “punctual payment is expected.” When charitable gifts were needed the rector would notify the congregation. In 1870, a committee of 3 was appointed to put out a special circular to the Church of the financial condition. They would go further and actually put out a budget for the “proper maintenance of the Church” and appeal to the congregation to “bring their contributions up to that amount.” The Envelope system was a success. In June 1870, it was noted that it had produced a “larger amount with more punctuality of payment with more ease to the congregation.” Pledges of $2,270 had been made of which $2,055 was collected. The Pew tax of $661 was collected. With all sources and expenses, the church posted a surplus of $260.86. The new financial sources and restoration work led the vestry in 1870 to declare the Church “in the best shape since the war.” It must be said the church was not free of debt yet as there was still $1,800 owed which included $1,300 for the rectory. Except for the memories, the nightmare was over and the postwar period began for the Church.

   In April, 1867, Mr. Maury tendered his resignation because the term for which he had been elected rector was about completed and because he had received a call to locate permanently elsewhere. The vestry refused to accept his resignation and reappointed him as rector. He decided to stay.

   In 1868, the vestry voted to place a suitable tablet on the wall in the church in memory of Reuben Thom – a vestryman for more than fifty years. This memorial is still there.

   Another highlight of his time at St. George’s was the 1869 Diocese of Virginia convention – held at St. George’s. The lay delegates included a delegate from Latimer parish in Lexington – Robert E. Lee. He was probably one of the biggest “attractions” at the convention.

   Also in 1869 the vestry approved the construction of a new chapel to be built 6 miles west of Fredericksburg. We were obviously growing again.

   His last act was to request an increase in his salary from $1,250/year to $1,600/year. They countered with $1,500. Finally Maury asked that his resignation be accepted, if he had been correctly informed that his salary request had been rejected, not because a majority of the vestrymen considered the amount unreasonable or the church unable to pay, but because general dissatisfaction in the congregation towards him had caused them to use this method of forcing his resignation. On April 24 the vestry accepted his resignation and instructed the treasurer to pay him an additional $350 so his salary for the year ending on Easter Sunday, 1871, would be $1,600.

   He may have left on somewhat of a sour note, but he truly helped St. George’s get back on its feet following the war.

   From here he went to St. Johns’ Parish, Junction City, Kansas (1871-1874) and finished his career as Rector at Meade and Johns Parishes, Middleburg, VA (1874-1875). After 10 years in parish ministry – he gave it up for good. Why?

   It began during the early 1870s with the Oxford Movement which urged that the Protestant Episcopal Church and the Church of England return to Anglicanism’s roots in pre-Reformation Catholic Christianity. The dissenters thought we were becoming too Roman Catholic and had lost our Protestant and Evangelical spirit. It was the time when “high church” versus “low church” was everywhere – especially in Virginia. In 1872, even Virginia’s Bishop Johns became concerned about the growing High Church movement, and particularly about using altars in remodeled churches rather than the “honest table .. on which, not a sacrifice is to be offered, but the Lord’s Supper administered.” He also listed “Romish errors” to be avoided, including use of incense, crucifix, candles, processional crosses, bowing and genuflections, permitting laymen to assist in Holy Communion, mixing water and wine, elevation of bread and wine, use of wafer bread, and the wearing of any vestments other than a black cassock, gown, bands and white surplice with black or white stole.” [We, and most Episcopal churches today would be listed as “high church” by Bishop Johns’ description. Fredericksburg and St. George’s will visit this issue again in the late 1870s – stay tuned!]

   As leader of the reformers/low churchman, Assistant Bishop George David Cummins of the diocese of Kentucky noted at the Episcopal Convention in 1868, he was disappointed by the “Catholic” practices in view – “altars erected, with super-altars, with burning candles, and floating clouds of incense; the communion service set in a Roman framework…there is a departure from the doctrinal basis of the Reformation.” Cummins left the church but was the only bishop in the whole Church to leave. He took a small number of clergy and laity with him and formed what would be known as the Reformed Episcopal Church.

   It was in this culture that Maury wrote his letter of resignation to Bishop Johns of the Diocese of Virginia. (He also penned a 16-page pamphlet outlining his points and it was such a story that the Shepherdstown (WV) Register had a front page article in its 11 Sept. 1875 issue discussing his issues.) He was one of three Virginia clergymen who went into the Reformed Episcopal schism. Along with the Oxford Movement, some believe he left because he bitterly opposed Bishop Johns’ successful effort to bring the diocese of Virginia back into the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America from its wartime affiliation with the Protestant Episcopal Church of the Confederate States of America. The two issues (Oxford Movement/PE Church of Confederate States) were inextricably intertwined. While Bishop Johns was a life-long “low churchman,” he was first the bishop of Virginia in the Protestant Episcopal Church of the U.S.A. and did not want a schism to develop is his diocese.

   Bishop Johns accepted Maury’s resignation. Virginia held with the Protestant Episcopal Church of the U.S.A. – the schism was averted.

   Maury moved to Philadelphia where two years later he died on May 8, 1877, at the age of 41. His death certificate listed his occupation as “gentleman.” He and his wife are buried in North Cedar Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia.

 

[By 2009 the Reformed Episcopal Church – still in existence – had a membership of nearly 14,000 as compared to the membership of the Episcopal Church in the U.S. of approx. 1.7 million. One of the goals of the Oxford Movement was to restore the relationship between the Church of England/Episcopal Church with both the Orthodox Catholic Church and the Roman Catholic Church by which the Episcopal Church really became a liturgical church with a more central focus on Holy Communion – what we see today.]

Sources:

Hicks, Ben. How the Pledge Card System Developed (https://history.churchsp.org/how-the-pledge-card-developed/ [originally from: The St. Georgian; St George’s monthly newsletter: (June 2011)]

Leonard, William A. A Brief History of the Church (1883)

Quenzel, Carrol. The History and Background of St George’s Episcopal Church Fredericksburg, Virginia (1951)

St. George’s Vestry Minutes

VirginiaChronicle.com

Southern Historical Society Papers, Vols 22-24

Journal of the Proceedings and Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Virginia (Journal)

Ancestry.com

Fold3.com

Newspapers.com

Virginia Theological Seminary (library catalogue)

Genealogical Hist. of John & Mary Andrews, who settled in Farmington, CONN, 1640…(Ancestry.com)

Fredericksburg News; 14 May 1877; CRRL microfilm collection

Philadelphia, PA Death Certificate (Ancestry.com)

Wikipedia.com (Oxford Movement)

Wikipedia.com (John Johns) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Johns

Wikipedia.com (James Maury) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Maury

U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865/ The Virginia Regimental Histories Series (downloaded from Ancestry.com)

 

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