Rev Patrick Henry (1707-1777)

Rev. Patrick Henry (1707-1777) was born in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Scotland and died 1777 in Hanover County. His brother John encouraged him to come to Virginia and helped Rev. Henry secure the minister position at St. George’s Jan. 9, 1733. He served St. Georges only until April 28, 1734, about 16 months. Quenzel write that Henry was the  minister of the first church in Fredericksburg but not in the wooden church of 1735.

Henry’s time here was a transition time with local churches – there was a church in Mattapony but not Fredericksburg.  The vestry voted in March, 1732 to build a build church on lots in Fredericksburg but this one would be finished after Henry left.   St. George’s was intended to be the main church in the northern part of the parish.    Although population had not moved in this direction, the official warehouse and inspection station was here.  The new church was a function of the improved economic position of Fredericksburg.  As Paula Felder, the predominant Colonial historian of Fredericksburg writes the new location was more favorable for landowners.

A church already existed in Mattapony Church since 1725 and several key church leaders felt a better decision was to replace the existing church there.  Population was concentrated there.  Thus two churches would be built – Fredericksburg and Mattapony

Henry is associated with Slash Church in Hanover County. Located in St. Paul’s Parish, he spent 40 years there from 1737 until his death in 1777. The church, erected 1729, is still standing but has been a Disciples of Christ Church since 1842. It claims to be the “oldest frame colonial church in Virginia in continuous use.” There are two original pews from 1729.

“This site was selected for a new church, because the land occupied a nice hill with a number of trees and included a spring with a bountiful supply of water.”  The church was sixty feet in length and twenty six foot in width and sixteen foot in height. Among those who worshipped here were Patrick Henry, Dolley Payne Madison, and Henry Clay. After 1780, it became a “free use church” with various denominations.

Rev. Patrick may have taught his more famous nephew and namesake Latin, Greek and Mathematics since he was regarded for his classical education.

Slash Church 1729

Two original benches from 1729