Francis Makemie 1657-1708

Rev Francis Makemie of Ramelton 1657-1708

Francis Makemie (or McKemy) was born of Scottish parents in Ramelton in 1657, As a young man, he set off on foot and by sea for Glasgow, carrying a sack of corn as payment for his education at the university, enrolling as Makemius Scoto Hybernus . His decision to study for the Presbyterian ministry was, in his own words, " wrought on my heart, at fifteen years of age, by, and from the pains of a godly schoolmaster".

He was licensed as a minister in 1681, and in 1683 he joined the American ministry in the then Colony of Maryland, serving also in Virginia, Barbados, and other parts of the Colonies. He was a founder and Moderator of the first presbytery, formed in Philadelphia in the spring of 1706. He gained lasting fame for his vigorous defence of freedom of worship and for his forthright style of preaching. He spent six weeks in jail in New York for the crime of preaching without a license. Lord Cornbury, Governor of New York described him as " …a jack-of-all-trades; he is a preacher, a doctor of physic, a merchant, a counsellor at law, and....worst of all, a disturber of governments".

Makemie managed to combine the temporal with the spiritual; by 1704 he was the biggest landowner in Accomack County in Virginia, a spit of land separating Chesapeake Bay from the Atlantic, where he owned 5,000 acres.

Renowned as the "Father of American Presbyterianism", Francis Makemie died in 1708, leaving behind a wife and daughter.

The following lines are from a poem written at the erection of a commemorative stone at Makemie's grave in 1908:

Stand here, grey stone, and

consecrate the sod

where rests this brave

Scotch-Irishman of God"

(Henry van Dyke)


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