Thomas Jefferson's unlucky loyalist friend: the Reverend James Ogilvie.
When the Revolution began, Ogilvie, in sharp contrast to Jefferson, took the British side of the question and returned to Britain. Who was James Ogilvie? What is known about his friendship with Jefferson? What were Ogilvie's revolutionary experiences and adventures? What can be uncovered about his life and career? The following essay will attempt to answer these, and related questions.
James Ogilvie, born in Aberdeen, Scotland about 1740, was the son of James Ogilvie, a Presbyterian minister. His older brother John became a noted Presbyterian divine and author, moving in the literary circles of Edinburgh and London which included James Boswell and Samuel Johnson. The younger James Ogilvie attended Marischal College in Aberdeen from 1755 to 1759 and presumably earned a baccalaureate degree. (1)
One should not confuse our subject with another James Ogilvie who was born in 1760, also in Aberdeen, and who, in the 1780s, arrived in Virginia where he became the well-known eccentric teacher, public lecturer, and pseudo-philosopher. Reportedly he was an infidel and addicted to the use of opium. He also became a friend of Jefferson, who permitted him to use his library at Monticello, sent him an elegant edition of the works of Cicero, and wrote letters of introduction for him to friends in New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. This James Ogilvie returned to Scotland in 1820 to press his claim to the earldom of Findlater. Failing in this attempt, he committed suicide in September of that year. (2)
The information about Parson James Ogilvie provided by the standard authorities of the Anglican Church in colonial Virginia is very incomplete and inaccurate. William Meade, the well-known chronicler of Virginia's colonial church and bishop of the Virginia diocese from 1841 to 1862, could learn nothing about his "character " and knew only that he had been located in Westover Parish in 1776. He did not clearly distinguish between the two James Ogilvies. Edward Lewis Goodwin, whose volume with biographical notes of clergymen appeared in 1927, provided very little additional information and mistakenly stated that our subject had been loyal to the American cause in the Revolution. George MacLaren Brydon, who wrote his history of the church in the mid-twentieth century, added that Ogilvie was a Scot and had difficulty in obtaining ordination and, like Goodwin, placed his name in the Patriot column. A more recent church historian incorrectly declares that after his elevation to the priesthood Ogilvie "settled in England instead of returning to Virginia." (3)
When Ogilvie came to Virginia, probably in the early 1760s, he first settled in Fredericksville Parish in eastern Albemarle County where he was a tutor in the family of an unidentified member of the gentry. There he became friends with Thomas Jefferson then living at Shadwell, John Walker of Belvoir, who became a prominent public figure, and others in the area. Then, from about 1764 to 1768, he taught the children of Carter Braxton, the future signer of the Declaration of Independence, in King William County. (4) It is evident that while in King William Ogilvie became acquainted with Elizabeth Strachan and fell in love with her. She was the daughter of Peter Strachan, a doctor, who moved from King William to Richmond with his family about 1768. (5) In the new location, Elizabeth Strachan and her sisters, Mary and Anne, operated a millinery shop. (6)
In the latter years of his tutorial career Ogilvie declared himself a candidate for the Anglican priesthood and prepared himself by private study, possibly under the tutelage of a local minister. Since there was no bishop in the colonies, a candidate had to hazard the voyage to England for ordination by the bishop of London, the nominal diocesan of the colonial churches. The ordinand was to present the bishop with testimonials of his character, orthodoxy, and general fitness by local ministers and endorsements by the commissary and governor; he was also to have a title, that is, a firm promise of clerical employment after ordination.
Among Ogilvie's surviving credentials, which are incomplete, there is an undated letter of support signed by Alexander White, the rector of St. David's Parish in King William, Carter Braxton, his employer, and four planters from the county. Ogilvie had lived in their area for four or five years, they wrote, and had "always distinguished himself as a person of a sober Life, and conversation, not only free from vice, but possessed of many virtues." The vestry of Hampshire Parish in Hampshire County, "having had recommendations of a number of respected Gentlemen of his abilities and good character," provided the necessary title, agreeing to receive him as rector after he returned in holy orders. (7) In London Ogilvie would have to demonstrate, before an examining chaplain, his knowledge of the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, the Creeds, the Thirty-nine Articles; of scriptural and church history; of the various branches of theology; and of secular knowledge which included Latin and Greek. (8)
When Ogilvie called upon James Horrocks, the bishop's commissary in Williamsburg, the latter expressed doubts about recommending him, his ostensible reason being that his knowledge of Greek was inadequate. To remove these uncertainties, in the words of Jefferson, Ogilvie made "use of a very unfortunate argument," reminding the commissary that a short time ago he had endorsed the application of James Stevenson who was entirely ignorant of Greek. This offended and angered the bishop's deputy who thereupon "peremptorily refused his recommendation." In subsequent discussions Ogilvie was able to mollify Horrocks a little and to prevail upon him not to oppose, or interfere with, his ordination with the bishop. Jefferson expressed a low opinion of the commissary's abilities and character. Horrocks was motivated, he speculated, "from an evil disposition to defeat the wishes of some gentlemen ... from that elation of mind which usually attends preferment without merit," and from a desire to flaunt his imagined importance. (9) No doubt Jefferson's dislike of the commissary was exacerbated by his empathy for his good friend.
In January and February 1769 Ogilvie announced in two Williamsburg gazettes that he intended to leave the colony soon. (10) It was the standard notice for debtors to settle their accounts and creditors to make known their demands. Not long thereafter he departed. When he reached London he learned that Horrocks had reneged on his promise not to challenge his aspirations, having informed Bishop Richard Terrick that he had twice refused to recommend Ogilvie for reasons which had not been removed or remedied. This note, which seemed to be cleverly designed to thwart Ogilvie's goal, placed the bishop in a quandary. As Terrick observed to George Mercer, agent of the Ohio Company in London, who was befriending and assisting Ogilvie, had Horrocks stated his specific objection, he might have applied his judgment and overlooked his demurer, but he could hardly ignore the general charge which called Ogilvie's qualifications and entire character into question. (11) Had the bishop known that the opposition was based merely on Ogilvie's deficiency in Greek, he would have sanctioned his investiture without delay; this he had previously done with several candidates with similar shortcomings.
In March 1770, Ogilvie appealed to Jefferson for help, and mentioned friends and prominent Virginians who might bring pressure to bear on Horrocks to relent or on the bishop to proceed without his sanction. Also, he asked Jefferson to procure a "certificate signed by as many gentlemen of fortune and credit as you can conveniently." An aroused Jefferson sprang into action, writing several letters, some of which no longer exist, and no doubt making personal contacts, explaining Ogilvie's situation and urging individuals in both Virginia and London to intercede on the candidate's behalf. Twice Jefferson mentioned his "warm feelings" in his friend's cause. As Ogilvie had suggested, he requested Peyton Randolph, the attorney general and speaker of the House of Burgesses, to intervene with Horrocks. He asked Thomas Adams, a merchant going to London, to procure credit for Ogilvie, pledging himself as security for the repayment of money advanced. In October 1770, Jefferson dispatched the requested "certificate," which is not extant, to Horrocks and a copy to Ogilvie. Thereupon the commissary promised to write in Ogilvie's favour to the bishop. Thus it seemed that the intercession of Randolph, Jefferson, and others had achieved its purpose but whether Horrocks did indeed act upon his pledge is not known. Jefferson himself remained very skeptical that he did, commenting that he "put not the least confidence in the most solemn promises of this reverend gentleman." (12)
Another disappointment Ogilvie supposedly encountered in Britain was the opposition of his father, the Presbyterian minister in Aberdeen, to his pursuit of Anglican ordination. In his letter of March 28, 1770 Ogilvie was sorry to observe that his Virginia friends were "more sincerely and warmly attached" to him than many of his relatives. To Randolph Jefferson reported that the father, actuated by "bigotry," had "shut him from his doors and abjured every parental duty." The sage of Monticello may have exaggerated or possibly there was a reconciliation for on September 8, 1770, according to a note in the Durham Diocesan Records in England, four "ministers of the gospel in Aberdeen," one of whom was James Ogilvie, Sr., the father, recommended our subject to the bishop of Durham "as one fit for receiving holy orders." This absolves the senior Ogilvie of Jefferson's charges. In mid-1771 John Ogilvie, the ordinand's brother and a Presbyterian minister in Scotland, sent a note to Jefferson thanking him for the generous friendship he had shown to his brother "whom I love as my own heart;" and he also transmitted a "little complement," which was evidently one of his publications. The brothers were apparently upon good terms. (13)
By his letter Horrocks had cost Ogilvie "an infinite deal" of trouble, time, and expense, and he became discouraged and depressed. "My life has been a continued scene of misfortune and disappointment," he lamented; and since he was unusually sensitive, emotional, and passionate, he was inclined to overreact to distressful situations. Jefferson agreed with that self-analysis, indicating that he had become intimately acquainted with Ogilvie and his personal traits. In his missive to Randolph, he wrote that Ogilvie was "uncommonly sensible to the pains as well as to the pleasures of life," that he appeared to "have been guided thro' life by the hand of misfortune itself," and that "some hard fatality" seemed to preside over all of his plans for advancement. (14)
In late 1770 Ogilvie's fortunes improved. In April 1771 he reported to Walker and Jefferson that the bishop of Durham had ordained him deacon, "independent of Horrocks [and of Jefferson too, he might have added] by means of a recommendation from the Magistrates and Ministers of Aberdeen." As noted above, four ministers of Aberdeen presented Ogilvie as worthy to the bishop of Durham on September 8, 1770. The note by the magistrates is apparently lost. The precise date of his investment as deacon is not known but it apparently occurred in the same month. The archbishop of York, who had been most supportive, had suggested this course. His assignment for a one-year term was a curacy in Berwickon-Tweed in southeastern Scotland. Thus he would have to remain longer in Britain than intended but this concession he had been obliged to make. He had assurances that in September 1771 he would receive the order of priest. (15)
As anticipated, on September 22 the bishop of London ordained him priest and licensed him to officiate in Hampshire Parish in Virginia. Bishop Terrick, according to Ogilvie, simply ignored Horrocks's "general accusation," but no doubt the curate had erased reservations in the mind of the bishop by his acceptable ministry in Berwick-on-Tweed. First as deacon and then as priest, Ogilvie had to swear allegiance to the king and promise to defend him against any threat and to swear an oath to conform to the Book of Common Prayer in the conduct of worship services. On October 5 Ogilvie accepted the King's Bounty, 20 [pound sterling] sterling to help defray costs of the voyage, and not long thereafter he took ship for Virginia. (16)
During his stay in Berwickon-Tweed, Ogilvie reported that not only the archbishop of York, but also the bishop of Durham, the bishop of Lincoln, and the Earl of Kinnoul had shown dispositions to serve him. He "might to great advantage settle in England," he insisted, but he could not discard the valuable friendships he had formed in Virginia. More importantly, he had there found the object of his romantic affections and his love had been "most generously returned." All facets of his dreams and ambitions were so interwoven with "the person beloved," that he could not envision his future without her. (17) The lady of his expressed passion was Elizabeth Strachan, who has been identified above.
Jefferson and Ogilvie exchanged several letters in 1770-1771, but only one by the former and two by the latter have survived. One missive by Ogilvie to Walker is extant but none by Walker are known to exist. In these communications Ogilvie and Jefferson repeatedly expressed their respect, friendship and esteem for each other, and Ogilvie did likewise in his letter to Walker. Jefferson revealed that he had checked employment opportunities for the new cleric, suggesting that he had genuine concern for his friend. Due to the death of the incumbent, Thomas Martin, St. Thomas Parish in Orange County was vacant and Jefferson had written to a member of the vestry in Ogilvie's behalf. Matthew Maury, rector of Fredericksville Parish in Albemarle County, had "a tempting offer from another quarter" and were he to accept, Jefferson would do all in his power to help Ogilvie succeed him. "Your settlement here [in Albemarle County] would make your friends happy," Jefferson added. Neither opportunity materialized. (18)
In his letter Jefferson also included some gossip and items of a more intimate nature, implying that the two had been enjoying a familiar relationship. He reported that he had lost Shadwell to the flames during Ogilvie's absence and that he had "removed to the mountain," that is, Monticello; thus he was now a resident of St. Anne's Parish, the other parish in Albemarle County. He assured Ogilvie that his "Dulcinea" was in good health and speculated on the romantic interests of her cousin, Thomas Strachan, who was living in Albemarle County. Thomas Strachan would soon wed Mary Maury, daughter of James and Mary (Walker) Maury. James Maury was the well-known rector of Fredericksville Parish until his death in 1770. According to the editors of his papers, Jefferson also made his first known written reference to his courtship of Martha Wayles Skelton, confidently noting that there seemed to be no "want of feeling in the fair one." They tied their nuptial knot on January 1, 1772. (19) Ogilvie united with Elizabeth soon after coming back to the colony. Nothing about the association of Jefferson and Ogilvie for the next several years has been found in the records.
Probably in late 1771, after an absence of two and a half years or more, Ogilvie returned to Virginia. He did not locate in Hampshire Parish, which was not an attractive parish because it was located in the relatively undeveloped backcountry, offered few cultural amenities or opportunities, and contained a high percentage of dissenters; moreover, it yielded an annual salary of only 100 [pounds sterling] Virginia currency whereas most parishes paid 16,000 pounds of tobacco per annum. (20)
Later in his memorials to the British officials Ogilvie insisted that he had become the inducted rector of Westover Parish in Charles City County in 1772. Charles City was immediately below Henrico County in which Richmond is located. Although the parish was vacant due to the death of William Davis, its rector, there are reasons to question this assertion. In July 1772 he conducted a funeral in Richmond and in November of that year he reported that his bright bay horse had strayed "from Richmond town." These items indicate that he was a resident of Richmond at the time. In August 1773 he was an unsuccessful candidate for the pastoral charge of St. Patrick's Parish in Prince Edward County, intimating that he may not yet have been settled in Westover. (21) In its roster of parishes and their ministers published in 1773, The Virginia Almanac listed no parson for Westover Parish but in the issue which appeared in 1774 named Ogilvie rector of that cure. (22) Ogilvie may have delivered sermons on Sunday mornings on occasion or acted on an interim basis before his appointment as regular minister in late 1773 or early 1774.
Ogilvie's primary duty as rector was to conduct Sunday morning services in the two churches in the parish, which were the Upper Westover church and the Lower Westover church. He also officiated at baptisms, marriages, and funerals for which he received perquisites. Virginia law provided that the parish minister receive an annual salary of 16,000 pounds of tobacco. He was to have the use of a farm or plantation, called a glebe, of at least two hundred acres with a suitable residence and appropriate outbuildings for agricultural purposes. The size or quality of the glebe land is unknown but in 1778 the vestry called it "a good glebe in full repair." Since Ogilvie did not own slaves it is highly unlikely that he managed production; he probably collected rent from a tenant. (23) In Westover he was happily situated, later declaring that he had "derived a genteel and comfortable subsistence for himself and his Family." (24)
Very little about Ogilvie's performance in or out of the pulpit is known. He later insisted that his parishioners, whose "esteem and regard he had acquired," had been well satisfied with his ministry until the "unhappy troubles" began. (25) None of his sermons nor fragments of sermons have survived and there is only one reference to his preaching by a contemporary source. In July 1772, as noted above, a Williamsburg newspaper, under a Richmond dateline, reported the death by drowning of a young lad. Ogilvie had preached the funeral sermon "to a numerous audience," using 1 Samuel 3:18 as his text; it reads: "It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth to him good." The "Discourse [was] very well adapted to this melancholy occasion, and much approved of by the Hearers," the writer concluded, hinting that Ogilvie may have been a capable minister. (26) The text suggests that he ascribed the drowning, not to accident or carelessness, but to the will of providence.
Ogilvie was not very active in clerical activities in Virginia. He did not take part in the Fund for the Relief of Distressed Widows and Orphans of Clergymen; that is, unlike many other clergymen, he did not preach a sermon at the annual meeting of subscribers or act as trustee of the Fund. The newspapers of Williamsburg, which have been indexed, identified clerical participants of the Fund each year and Ogilvie's name cannot be found. (27) He did exhibit interest in his church and its future when he, together with two other divines, recommended John Buchanan for holy orders in 1774. Buchanan was to enjoy a long and successful ministerial career in Richmond after his ordination. (28)
The Revolution was to constitute another chapter in Ogilvie's life of frustration and affliction. The first known issue to face him probably occurred on December 17, 1774 when the freeholders of Charles City County, in response to a call by the Continental Congress, held a meeting at the courthouse and elected a committee of thirty to execute the provisions of the Continental Association, an agreement to boycott British trade. The fifth name on the list was "Rev. James Ogilvie." (29) Apparently the voters were not aware of the parson's predisposition to take the British side of the question. Ogilvie later insisted that he never cooperated with the rebels and there is no evidence that he acted as a member of the committee. His election, however, indicates that he was a respected member of local society.
Revolutionary events forced Ogilvie to choose between his esteemed friends and his family. As he must have realized, by remaining loyal to the King he endangered the bonds of friendship, which he had treasured so highly a short time ago, with Jefferson, Walker, and others. But his own immediate family members resided in Britain where they were faithful to the monarch. Most importantly, many in his wife's family were ardent friends of the King and they no doubt influenced him in his political thinking. Ogilvie himself mentioned the strong loyalty of Peter Strachan, his father-in-law, and the Virginia records provide verification. In early 1777 he rejected an oath to the Commonwealth which the Henrico committee tendered to all individuals in the county suspected of being "inimical or disaffected to the liberties of America." As reported in the newspaper, Strachan spurned the oath because it violated his conscience. Thereupon the committee, as authorized by provincial Patriot leaders, disarmed him. Strachan wrote that "two of his Sons were obliged to fly their country,'" and that one of them lost his life at sea while trying to reach the British army. (30) Had his in-laws been whigs Ogilvie might have formed a different view of the Revolution.
Information about Ogilvie's subsequent revolutionary experiences is primarily found in his petitions and memorials to British officials for a monetary allowance, for compensation for lost income and property, and for other considerations. These papers in the British Public Record Office have been microfilmed under the auspices of the Virginia Colonial Records Project and are available to scholars.
At the beginning of the revolt Ogilvie, "considering political disputes as out of his line," thought he should ignore public issues and focus on his parochial functions, but soon the Virginians called upon him to participate in acts he "could not perform consistently with his Conscience." The call to serve as committeeman was probably one of those acts. Thereupon, thinking it his obligation as an Anglican clergyman, he informed his parishioners "upon all occasions of the duty and allegiance they owed to the King." The ultimate demand by the insurgents came in 1777 when the new state of Virginia required all free, adult males to renounce their allegiance to the King and to swear true fidelity to the Commonwealth before October 10 of that year. He "absolutely refused" to take the test, he testified in London later, knowing full well the "distresses that would ensue." (31) Compliance of course would have directly repudiated his oath to the King at his ordination.
After he rejected the oath, Ogilvie asserted, the Patriots closed the church doors upon him, withheld his salary, turned the family off the glebe, refused to pay lawful debts they owed him, often insulted him in the grossest manner, brought oppressive suits against him, and treated him as an "outlaw," making it impossible for him "to venture from home without being well armed, being in perpetual danger of personal abuse and injury." So obnoxious had he made himself with his loyalty that finally, in January 1778, the governor, who would have been Patrick Henry, and Council "passed sentence of perpetual banishment upon him," and consigned him to the St.Albans, a British war ship. He had been the only clergyman in Virginia to be expelled, Ogilvie emphasized. Three times he wrote that authorities had evicted him. His father-in-law also mentioned that the state had banished Ogilvie. There is nothing in the Virginia records to confirm these declarations, yet it does seem improbable that he would separate himself voluntarily from his wife and three young children who became dependent upon Peter Strachan in Richmond. (32) His expulsion implies that he was an outspoken friend of the King. Yet, Ogilvie may have embellished upon his vocal support of the crown as well as upon the harassment resulting therefrom in order to impress British office holders with his loyalty and merit.
Jefferson was not unaware of his friend's situation but evidently felt he could do little for him. He did, however, offer to cover some of his debts. On June 14, 1778 he asked James Mercer of Fredericksburg for the amount Ogilvie owed him and promised to make payment by the "first safe opportunity." (33) Presumably Jefferson later sent a requital, which was of more help to Mercer than to Ogilvie. Possibly James Mercer had inherited the debt from his father, George Mercer, who may have given financial help to Ogilvie in London in 1769-1770. It may be that Jefferson had offered to secure a loan from the elder Mercer to Ogilvie.
Shortly before June 16, 1778 Ogilvie reached London and on that date addressed a petition to the treasury officials in which he reviewed his loyalty to the King, the persecution by the Virginians, and his want of a means of subsistence. His request was for a temporary allowance. Virtually all loyalist refugees applied for similar grants. The treasury, believing that Ogilvie had represented his case truthfully, awarded him an annual stipend of 100 [pounds sterling] to begin on January 5, 1778. (34) In 1783 the treasury reduced his annual amount to 80 [pounds sterling] because he had no dependents in England at the time. For about the first decade of his residency in England the loyalist records provide some data on Ogilvie's activities. During that time illness often compounded his misfortune.
On December 19, 1780 Ogilvie informed the treasury that he had intelligence from Virginia, revealing that his wife and children were in dire need of the "necessaries of Life" and were suffering from the horrors of war, He was unable to assist them from Britain and therefore he begged for permission to go abroad to some loyal British colony in order save his family. He also wanted leave to draw his allowance in his absence via an attorney. He obtained consent for both requests. (35)
What Ogilvie's initial plan may have been is unknown but circumstances soon provided an opportunity. In early 1781 Parliament authorized Lord Dunmore, who had returned to Britain from America, to recruit a loyalist force to reinstate himself as governor after Lord Cornwallis had subdued Virginia, and he arrived in Charleston, South Carolina with ships, troops and supplies before he learned of the general's surrender at Yorktown on October 19 of that year. Authorities had scheduled Ogilvie "to go out" with Dunmore, and he, anticipating either a chance of rescuing his family or of being restored to his parish, was anxious to go, but illness prevented him from accompanying Dunmore. (36)
Rather than doling out cash, the British government preferred assigning clerical refugees to military or naval chaplaincies or to a church or missionary post in a British colony. For a short time in 1782-1783 Ogilvie, in another attempt to reach America and remove his family, acted as chaplain to the H. M. S. Vigilant but the sea was very disagreeable to his physical well being and he relinquished the position. In January 1783 be wrote from Cowes on Isle of Wight, an island off the southern coast of England, explaining that his physical condition obliged him to "reside in the country." In the late 1780s he was serving as curate in Egham Parish in Surrey County, which yielded him 36 [pounds sterling] sterling per annum, and earlier, probably about 1784, he had been a curate in an unidentified parish which he lost because of illness. (37)
In mid-1783 Parliament organized the claims commission of five members whose duty it was to inquire into the services and property losses of loyalists and to award compensation. Ogilvie handed in his application the next year. He gave a full account of the harassment and abuse he had endured in Virginia because of his unswerving allegiance to the King. For the veracity of his story he referred the commissioners to testimonials by Lord Dunmore, the bishop of Rochester, and Thomas Bradbury Chandler, a former Anglican clergyman from New Jersey who was also a loyalist refugee. Ogilvie claimed the loss of an annual salary of 200 [pounds sterling] sterling for nine years for a total of 1,800 [pounds sterling] and a loss of property and the forfeiture of uncollectible debts for a total of 500 [pounds sterling]. About a year after presenting his memorial Ogilvie appeared before the commissioners, as required of all claimants, for a formal hearing. After being sworn, he testified before them in private and in secret. (38)
The commissioners did not doubt his loyalty. Interrogation revealed that Ogilvie had "disposed of all his property for the support of his family," and the commission, according to policy, refused to accept claims for debts because that type of loss was not directly attributable to one's loyalty. Thus Ogilvie received no recompense under the rubric of property. They did, however, accept his claim for lost income but a lump sum was not forthcoming. Rather, according to governmental rules, all who had lost fixed emoluments as a result of loyalty qualified for a lifetime pension equal to one-half of their annual income. Thus Ogilvie's annual pension was set at 100 [pounds sterling] sterling. (39)
Treasury records show that Ogilvie continued to receive his allowance of 80 [pounds sterling] per annum, in quarterly payments, until July 1788. Then he took his annual pension of 100 [pounds sterling], again in quarterly instalments, until the end of 1807. Further entries record that he received money from January 1808 until October 1809 but those lines are crossed out. (40) Evidently he died in late 1807 or early 1808.
In the meantime, in 1785, heartbreaking news from Virginia must have plunged Ogilvie into utter despair. On April 2 of that year a note in a Richmond newspaper reported that "on Wednesday last died in this city, after a very lingering illness, Mrs. Ogilvie, spouse of the Reverend Mr. Ogilvie." (41) The death of his adored Elizabeth must have been devastating, but a recorded expression of his grief has not been found. Once again misfortune had struck a cruel blow.
While Ogilvie was in England his old friend Jefferson was in Paris where he was the United States minister to France from 1785 to 1789. The two are not known to have corresponded, suggesting that their friendship had cooled considerably; however, William Short, Jefferson's secretary, and Ogilvie exchanged impersonal letters. Five by Short, with Paris headings, and three by Ogilvie, with London headings, are extant; the first is dated December 1, 1786 and the last April 18, 1787. With his brief notes Ogilvie enclosed letters and newspapers from Virginia and also forwarded a "box of seeds" which an unidentified Virginian had sent to Jefferson. The minister wanted Ogilvie to draw on Short for the expenses involved, the latter reported. Ogilvie also relayed news concerning the severe economic reverses suffered by Mr. Skipwith, evidently Sir William Skipwith, Short's grandfather. Short conveyed letters to Ogilvie for him to forward to Virginia and inquired about further news involving Skipwith. (42)
After the death of his wife, there was nothing to draw Ogilvie back to Virginia and there is no evidence that he returned. (43) No doubt this explains why Brydon, the church historian, could find nothing definitive about Ogilvie in Virginia after the Revolution. About 1786, after Elizabeth Strachan Ogilvie's death, the claims commissioners in their minutes noted that one of Ogilvie's children was with him in England while two were in Virginia. (44) Presumably these two were united with their father later. Unfortunately nothing conclusive about his life and career after 1786-1787 has been uncovered. A not improbable assumption, however, seems to be that he continued to act as an Anglican clergyman in Egham, England and that he died in 1807-1808 when he ceased taking his pension.
In sum, it is clear that Ogilvie and Jefferson were good friends during their younger days but time and events, which certainly included the Revolution, led to the parting of their ways. Jefferson's acceptance of the friendship suggests that Ogilvie was a relatively intelligent and sophisticated individual with a good character. As he stated, and to which Jefferson agreed, Ogilvie's life was beset with adversity. His early misfortunes, which were not enunciated, his difficulty in obtaining holy orders, his revolutionary experiences, his poor health in England, and the untimely death of his wife all support that conclusion. Although the evidence is very sparse, it seems that Ogilvie was a competent minister. Had he lived and officiated earlier in peacetime in Virginia he might well have had a long and successful career. It is of course possible that he enjoyed better luck in both his personal and professional affairs during the last two decades of his life in England. Regrettably, the record of his life and ministry there is virtually nonexistent.
Ogilvie's name appears on the Committee for Charles City County in an article by Charles Washington Coleman. You may find it at: http:// ftp.rootsweb.com/pub/usgenweb/va/ history/misc0003.txt--Asst. Editor
(1.) Dictionary of National Biography, s.v. "Ogilvie, John;" P. J. Anderson, Fasti Academiae Mariscallanae Aberdonensis, Selections from the Records of the Marischal College and University, 3 vols., (Aberdeen, 1889-1898), 2:327.
(2.) Dictionary of National Biography, s.v. "Ogilvie, James;" Dictionary of American Biography, s.v. "Ogilvie, James;" Presidential Papers Microfilm: Thomas Jefferson Papers (Washington, D. C.: The Library of Congress, 1974), ser. 1, reel 20; "Recollections of James Ogilvie, Earl of Findlater," by one of his former pupils, The Southern Literary Messenger 14 (Sept. 1848): 534-36.
3. Meade, Old Churches. Ministers and Families of Virginia, 2 vols. ([orig. pub]. Philadelphia, 1857] Baltimore, 1966), 1:318, 2:309; Goodwin, The Colonial Church in Virginia; with Biographical and Other Historical Papers. Together with Brief Biographical Sketches of the Colonial Clergy in Virginia (Milwaukee, 1927), 296; Brydon, "The Clergy of the Established Church in Virginia and the Revolution," The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 41 (1933): 243; Brydon, Virginia's Mother Church and the Political Conditions under which It Grew, 2 vols. (Richmond and Philadelphia, 1947-1952), 2:286. 434; Frederick V. Mills, Sr., Bishops by Ballot: An Eighteenth-Century Ecclesiastical Revolution (New York, 1978), 98.
(4.) Joan R. Gundersen, The Anglican Ministry in Virginia, 1723-1766; a Study of a Social Class (New York, 1989), 272.
(5.) Purdie and Dixon's Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg), Mar. 12, 1767; Rind's Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg), Feb. 4, 1768; Dixon and Hunter's Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg), Jan, 14, 1775.
(6.) Purdie and Dixon's Va. Gaz., May 14, 1772, Nov. 5, 1771.
(7.) The Fulham Papers in the Lambeth palace Library, London, 40 vols. (Ann Arbor, Mich., University Microfilms, 1963), 26:37-41.
(8.) James B. Bell, "Anglican Clergy in Colonial America Ordained by Bishops of London," American Antiquarian Society. Proceedings 83 (1973): 104
(9.) Jefferson to Thomas Adams, July 11, 1770, and Jefferson to Peyton Randolph, July 23, 1770, Julian P. Boyd et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 30 vols. to date (Princeton, N. J., 1950-), 1:48-49, 49-51.
(10.) Purdie and Dixon's Va. Gaz., Jan. 26, 1769; Rind's Va. Gaz., Jan. 26, 1769, Feb. 2, 1769.
(11.) Ogilvie to Jefferson, Mar. 28, 1770, Jefferson to Randolph, July 23, 1770, Boyd et al., eds., Papers of Jefferson, 1:49-51.
(12.) Ogilvie to Jefferson, Mar. 28, 1770, Jefferson to Ogilvie, Feb. 20, 1771, Jefferson to Randolph, July 23, 1770, Jefferson to Adams, July 11, 1770, Feb. 20, 1771, Boyd et al., eds., Papers of Jefferson, 1;38-40,48-49, 49-51, 61-62, 62-64.
(13.) Ogilvie to Jefferson, Mar. 28, 1770, Jefferson to Randolph, July 23, 1770, John Ogilvie to Jefferson, July 19, 1771, Boyd et al., eds., Papers of Jefferson, 1:38-39, 50, 7576; E-mail, Ann Robinson, Archives Assistant, to the author, Mar. 13, 2002, Durham Diocesan Records, Durham University Library, Durham, U. K,
(14.) G. MacLaren Brydon, "Letter of the Rev, James Ogilvie to Colonel John Walker of Belvoir, Virginia, April 26, 1771," Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episcopal Church 1 (1932):35; Ogilvie to Jefferson, Mar. 28, 1770; Jefferson to Randolph, July 23, 1770, Boyd et al., eds., papers of Jefferson, 1:39,50.
(15.) Brydon, contrib., "Letter of the Rev. James Ogilvie," 34; Ogilvie to Jefferson, Apr. 16, 1771, Boyd et al., eds., Papers of Jefferson, 1:67; E-mail, Robinson to the author, Mar. 13, 2002, Durham Diocesan Records. 16. Bell, "Anglican Clergy," 144; George Woodward Lamb, comp., "Clergymen Licensed to the American Colonies by the Bishops of London: 1745-1781," Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episcopal Church 13 (1944): 139; Gerald Fothergill, A List of Emigrant Ministers to America, 16901781 (London, 1904), 48; Brydon, contrib., "Letter of Rev. James Ogilvie," 36.
(17.) Brydon, contrib., "Letter of Rev. James Ogilvie," 34; Ogilvie to Jefferson, Apr. 16, 1771, Boyd et al., eds., Papers of Jefferson, 1:67.
(18.) Brydon, contrib., "Letter of Rev. James Ogilvie," 34-36; Ogilvie to Jefferson, Mar. 28, 1770, Apr. 16, 1771, Jefferson to Ogilvie, Feb. 20, 1771, Boyd et al., eds., Letters of Jefferson, 1:38-40, 62-64, 67-68.
(19.) Jefferson to Ogilvie, Feb. 20, 1771, ibid., 1:62-64.
(20.) Because Hampshire County made "little or no tobacco" a law provided that ministers of a few parishes, including Hampshire, receive 100 [pounds sterling] instead; see William W. Hening ed., The Statutes at Large. Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619, 13 vols. (New York, Philadelphia, and Richmond, 1819-23), 6:372.
(21.) Purdie and Dixon's Va. Gaz., July 9, 1771, Nov. 19, 1771; Rind's Va. Gaz., Nov. 19, 1772; A. J. Morrison, "James McCartney," William and Mary Quarterly, 2d ser., 2 (1922): 276; Otto Lohrenz, "The Reverend William Davis of Colonial Virginia: Was He Immoral or Conscientious?" Northern Neck of Virginia Historical Magazine 36 (1986): 4092.
(22.) The Virginia Almanac for the Year of Our Lord God 1774 (Williamsburg, ); The Virginia Almanac for the Year of Our Lord God 1775 (Williamsburg, ).
(23.) George Carrington Mason, "The Colonial Churches of Charles City County, Virginia," William and Mary Quarterly, 2d ser., 22 (1942): 127-30; Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large: 6:88-90; Purdie's Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg), June 5, 1778.
(24.) Ogilvie to the Lords of the Treasury, June 16, 1778, Audit Office Papers (cited as A. O. hereafter) 13/32, n. p., British Public Record Office, microfilm (Virginia Colonial Records Project), University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville.
(26.) Purdie and Dixon's Va. Gaz,, July 9, 1772.
(27.) Lester J. Cappon and Stella F. Duff, comps., Virginia Gazette Index, 1736-1780, 2 vols. (Williamsburg, 1950).
(28.) Fulham Papers, 26:233; Otto Lohrenz, "The Virginia Clergy and the American Revolution, 1774-1799" (Ph. D. diss., The University of Kansas, 1970), 99-102.
(29.) Dixon and Hunter's Va. Gaz., Jan. 14, 1775.
(30.) William J. Van Schreeven, Robert L. Scribner, and Brent Tarter, eds., Revolutionary Virginia. The Road to Independence, 7 vols. (Charlottesville, 1973-83), 7:274; Purdie's Va. Gaz., Jan. 31, 1777; Peter Strachan to the claims commissioners, Mar. 25, 1784, A. O. 13/83, n. p.
(31.) Ogilvie to the Lords of the Treasury, June 16, 1778, A. O. 13/32, n. p; Hening, ed., Statutes at Large, 9:281-82.
(32.) Ogilvie to the Lords of the Treasury, Dec. 19, 1780, A. O. 13/32, n. p; Ogilvie to the Claims Commissioners, Jan. 12, 1783, A. O. 13/32, n. p; Ogilvie to the Claims Commissioners, [no month or day] 1784, A. O., 12/56, n. p; Strachan to the Claims Commissioners, Mar. 25, 1784, A. O. 13/83, n. p.
(33.) Jefferson to James Mercer, June 14, 1778, Boyd et al., eds., Papers of Jefferson. 2:199.
(34.) Ogilvie to the Lords of the Treasury, June 16, 1778, A. O. 13/31, n. p.; The Treasury Papers (cited as T. hereafter), 79/97A, 59, British Public Record Office, microfilm (Virginia Colonial Records Project), University of Virginia, Charlottesville.
(35.) Ogilvie to the Lords of the Treasury, Dec. 19, 1780, A. O. 13/32, n. p; T. 79/97A, 104.
(36.) A. O. 13/32, n. p; Dictionary National Biography, s.v. "Murray, John."
(37.) A. O. 12/32, n. p; A. O. 12/99, 225; A. O. 13/34, n. p; A. O. 12/56, 380; A. O. 13/ 34 n. p.
(38.) A. O. 12/56, 379-82.
(39.) A. O. 12/56, 382-83; A. O. 12/108, 10; A. O. 12/109, 240; Mary Beth Norton, The British-Americans: The Loyalist Exiles in England, 1774-1789 (Boston, 1972), 209.
(40.) T. 50/8-50/10; T. 50/32-41.
(41.) The Virginia Gazette, or, The American Advertiser (Richmond), Apr. 2, 1785.
(42.) The Papers of William Short, container 1, reel 1, fols. 247, 265, 278, 320, 333, 374, 382, 398, Library of Congress; Dictionary of American Biography. s.v. "Short, William."
(43.) On Mar. 12, 1805 a very extravagant eulogy of "Mrs. Ogilvie, the wife of Mr. James Ogilvie," appeared in the Richmond Enquirer. The deceased was evidently the spouse of the claimant of the earldom of Findlater.
(44.) A. O. 12/56, 383; Protestant Episcopal Church in the U. S. A. Virginia (Diocese) Papers, 1709-1792, Section 1, Box 11, Folder 36, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond.
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|Publication:||The Loyalist Gazette|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2004|
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