He was known as a “government troublemaker” and is credited with bringing Presbyterianism to America. Although its impact was significant, few people even recognize Francis McKamie’s name (at the time, the spelling was often phonetic, so there are many variations of McKamie, including Makemie, McCamy, and McKimmey. There was also a trend among those who they fled persecution in Scotland to change the spelling of their names).
Francis Makemie was born in Ramelton, County Donegal, Ireland in 1658. His parents, Robert and Ann, had immigrated to Ireland from Scotland to escape the bloody religious feuds raging in Scotland against non-Catholics at the time. He also had three siblings, Robert, John, and Ann. Each of the brothers had children whom they named Francis in honor of the work carried out by their brother. Even Ireland was only relatively safe. There had been a great massacre of Protestants in Ulster less than 20 years before his birth.
At the time, this part of Ireland was home to many Scots who had fled their homeland due to persecution. It was considered more an extension of Scotland than a part of Ireland. Scottish immigrants never assimilated into Irish society. These transplanted Scots were often called Scots-Irish or “Ulster Scots.” His family came from the McKimmey clan of Scotland. This clan came from the north of Scotland. They were Presbyterians, carrying associated baggage with them. It was a freedom-loving clan and family. They learned from their struggles not to humble themselves before any ruler or human power. Recent troubles in Scotland can be traced back to its refusal to submit to political or religious tyranny.
This tendency towards freedom and the defense of their beliefs was strong in the members of Northern Ireland. They loved their freedoms. They were looking for a pure, free and unfettered life. They knew that life required the sacrifice of temporary comfort along with the difficulties and dangers it endured for their possession.
Francis returned to Scotland for his education, where he graduated from the University of Glascow and was ordained a Presbyterian minister in 1682. His ordination was in 1682 by the Laggan Presbytery in Ireland. Presbyterianism as a religion was still relatively new, with its rise to prominence in 1637.
Some of the Scottish Presbyterians settled in America on abandoned Indian village sites, which had been ravaged by smallpox. The first settlers saw the need for missionaries and shepherds. There were also many Scots who had been sent as slaves to the colonies as part of the brutal actions undertaken in Scotland. Necklace. William Stevens of Rehobeth Maryland called on the Presbyterian Church to send a missionary.
Francis responded to that call and came to America in 1684 through Barbados with three other pastors (William Traile, Samuel Davis, and Thomas Wilson). Barbados was another area to which troublesome Scots and Irishmen were sent as part of the British solution in those areas (Scotland and Ireland). The British tried to purge those areas of what they considered undesirable. As part of ethnic cleansing programs, many people deemed “undesirable” by the British authorities were sent to Barbados, where they were often referred to as “red legs”. The term red legs was considered an offensive term at the time. Another term “bearded” was used to refer to being sent to Barbados as punishment for crimes committed in England with the survivors of the Drogheda massacre in Ireland. Those sent to punish were often treated worse than African slaves who were also imported to the island. Slaves were seen as property to be cared for. The Scots and Irish were seen as prisoners sent there as part of their punishment.
Mckamie’s initial travels included North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, and New England. In 1684, his early work in the colonies included the establishment of the first Presbyterian congregation in the United States, located in Snow Hill, Maryland. He continued to preach and plant churches in the area. Congregations were established along the Manokin, Pocomoke, and Wiccomico rivers. English Congregationalists established a church at the mouth of the Annemessex.
Finally, in 1687, Francis purchased a piece of land in Accomack County, Virginia, where he settled for a period of time. He named the plantation / farm where he lived “Matachank” and started a transportation and trading business in addition to the farm to earn a living, as small churches could not afford a full-time pastor. A successful local businessman, William Anderson, helped McKamie get established. Francis eventually married Anderson’s daughter Naomi. Naomi Makemie Presbyterian Church in Onancock is named after her. From that marriage they had two daughters, Anne and Elizabeth (Comfort). Elizabeth died during her lifetime, while Anne survived Francis.
In 1706, McKamie helped bring together Presbyterians of different backgrounds to establish the Philadelphia Presbytery. The formation of that presbytery was the birth of American Presbyterianism. His actions to bring people together and clear and firm preaching led to his reputation spread throughout the colonies. He often received requests to preach in congregations in the colonies and Barbados. He made several trips to the Barbados Islands on mission trips. His message was often one of the need to improve morale and lifestyle. He often spoke out against drunkenness, curses, and the general anarchy that occurred in the communities.
In January 1707 his preaching was interrupted. At that time, he was arrested on orders to save Lord Cornbury (aka Edward Hyde), the first royal governor of New Jersey and New Jersey. The charge was for preaching without a license. Anglicanism (Church of England) was the official religion and the others were persecuted in that colony. Despite the threats, there were many dissidents in New York, who preached different doctrines, including Puritans, Quakers, and Presbyterians. McKamie had been invited to a private home where he began preaching.
Lord Cornbury assigned the sheriff to arrest Francis and another minister who was traveling with him as soon as they entered Queens County. Although Cornbury claimed that he was defending the cause of the Anglican Church, he had a reputation for moral debauchery.
He was originally sent to the colony to keep him away from his creditors in England, as he was a cousin of Queen Anne. While serving as royal governor, he developed a reputation for bribery and extravagance. He opened the New York Assembly of 1702 dressed in a hoop skirt. She is also known to have pounced on others while wearing the skirt and then screamed loudly. When asked about his unusual attractions, he replied in a dismissive tone: “You are all very stupid people not to see the correctness of all this. In this place and occasion, I represent a woman (the Queen), and in all the aspects should represent it as faithfully as I can. “
Cornbury issued the warrant to personally arrest McKamie. Although McKamie had been invited by some New York-based congregations to preach before them privately, the governor was a relative of the royal house in England and reacted strongly to McKamie’s presence in his colony. He referred to McKamie as a “Jack of all Trades: he is a preacher, a medical doctor, a merchant, a lawyer or a legal adviser and, what is worse, a troublemaker of governments.“It was as if the conflicts that had torn Scotland apart were reaching America as well.
Following his arrest, McKamie was brought before the governor for a face-to-face meeting. Cornbury was outraged that McKamie dared to preach in “his” government without a license. McKamie had preached in a house that belonged to a member of the Dutch Reformed Church, so Cornbury wanted to punish him.
Cornbury wanted everyone to address him as “His might.” The governor required McKamie to post a bond to ensure his compliance with the governor’s decree. In addition to being charged with preaching to more than five people without a license, McKamie was jailed.
McKamie was licensed to preach as one of those dissenters in Virginia and Maryland. Although he was allowed to preach in those colonies, his freedoms did not extend to New York. Some viewed dissenters as ‘troublesome’ as they viewed the Bible and God as their authority rather than the authority of kings or their designated cronies. It was common to hear “No king except Jesus” in Presbyterian circles.
McKamie responded to his arrest by filing an appeal to the New York Supreme Court through a writ of habeas corpus. The court then released the minister on bail with the understanding that he would return to New York for the trial scheduled for 18 months later. While awaiting trial, Lord Cornbury’s wife died. He attended her funeral once again dressed in an underwire skirt. Cornbury’s supporters tried to pass off his flamboyant behavior as drunk, yet according to one account, he spent half his time dressed in women’s clothing.
McKamie returned to New York. During the course of the trial, three of the most capable lawyers in the colony defended him. When the defense finished their arguments, Makemie spoke in her own defense. As with his preaching, he spoke strongly and clearly. He knew the Bible so well that he often quoted it by heart. His defense was based on the English Tolerance Act. His position was that the Anglican message was not superior to the message he brought as a Presbyterian. McKamie did not apologize for his views or his preaching. He also knew that home preaching was no reason for such a lawsuit.
The court justified him on all charges. Despite justification by the court, the chief magistrate issued a dismissal decision against the minister, demanding that he pay the court costs of the trial that declared him “not guilty.”
The decision woke up the people of New York, who considered Cornbury’s action unreasonable. His influence led to the passing of a law in New York that prohibited such an outrageous practice from taking place in New York in the future. The court case in which McKamie defended himself is considered a landmark religious freedom case in the United States. Although the McKamie case ended in dismissal, the repression of religious thought continued in some of the colonies, and ministers were sometimes detained at bayonet point when preachers presented ideas that did not agree with established views. The heavy hand in which the McKamie situation was handled caused that Cornbury was removed from his position. Shortly after being called, Cornbury himself was imprisoned for a period of time.
McKamie continued to preach and cultivate. Over time, he became one of the largest landowners in the area where he lived. He is known as the father of American Presbyterianism. Francis died in the summer of 1708. He was buried on his farm on the east coast. There is a monument erected in his memory in Only Virginia on the east coast of Accomack County. Francis died in the summer of 1708. He was buried on his farm on the east coast. Almost 200 years later, a memorial was erected in his memory in Temperanceville, Virginia, on the east coast of Accomack County. The monument consists of a bronze statue on a granite base. The base has an inscription attached. The statue, by Alexander Stirling Calder, marks the place where McKamie is believed to be buried. It was erected in 1906 to celebrate the bicentennial of Presbyterianism in America.