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Francis MaKemie
"Father of American Presbyterianism"

"He is a jack-at-all-trades; he is a preacher, a doctor of physic, a merchant, a counselor at law, and which is worst of all, a disturber of governments."
~Lord Cornbury, Governor of New York.

The following excerpt from The Writings and Life of Francis Makemie by the Rev. Dr. Boyd Schlenther provides a wonderful introduction to Francis:

"Francis Makemie was born of Scottish parentage near Ramelton, County Donegal, Ulster, about the year 1658. No details of his early life are known, but he was enrolled in the University of Glasgow ("Franciscus Makemius Scoto Hyburnus") in February of 1676, Trinity College in Dublin being closed to Dissenters at that time. The only personal description we have is that he was blue-eyed, brown-haired, with a fair complexion, and "an intellectual forehead and the dignified mien of a true Irish gentleman." He had at least two brothers and one sister, all of whom remained in Ireland all of their lives. As a boy, Makemie witnessed the extensive persecution of Presbyterians in Ulster and Scotland, which followed the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660."

Francis traveled along the coasts of Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and in the island colony of Barbados in the British Isles. Around 1687, he purchased land in Accomack County, Virginia. From here he also engaged in trade, for ministers residing outside the larger cities did not regularly receive a stipend and so were required to find other means of support.

It was while in Accomack County that Francis met and married his wife Naomi Anderson, the daughter of the wealthy and influential William Anderson. Anderson may have encouraged and financed Francis before his death in 1698. Francis and Naomi had two daughters, Anne and Elizabeth. Elizabeth died sometime before her father made his will in 1708, while Anne grew to womanhood and married three times.

Francis died in the summer of 1708, scarcely fifty years old. He left a widow and a daughter.

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Interesting MaKemie Facts
Francis was a miller by trade.
Makemie spent six weeks in jail after being charged with preaching without a license by Lord Cornbury. He was later acquitted, but this incident is fascinating for historians of free speech.
He owned a tremendous library of over one thousand volumes in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and English.
His mahogany desk, known as the "Old Makemie Desk" is currently housed in Richmond, Virginia. Ann Makemie Holden left this desk to Rev. McMaster, who then left it to his son, but over time, it was lost. Rev. Bowen, during a rather random evening discussion, discovered the desk's whereabouts and eventually recovered it.

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In His Honor
The Presbyterian Historical Society has named an award after him. The award recognizes outstanding published books in American Presbyterian/Reformed history.
In 1982, the Irish Post Office issued a 24p stamp in honor of Francis. To view the stamp, click here.
There exists a memorial plate titled Makemie Memorial Presbyterian Church (Snow Hill, Maryland. Founded in 1683), as well as a postcard of the same church.
The Univeristy of Ulster's Institute of Scots-Irish Studies is opening a Heritage Centre in which Francis Makemie will be honored for the role he played in spreading the Presbyterian faith and representing his homeland abroad.
Poem by Henry Van Dyke published in his book The White Bees, copyright 1909, entitled FRANCIS MAKEMIE (Presbyter of Christ in Americas 1683-1708).
Makemie Park. A few miles outside of Temperanceville, Virginia. In this park, visitors will find a bronze casting of the original statue by Alexander Stirling Calder. The park is on the property inherited by Francis from his father-in-law William Anderson and on which it is believed Francis, his wife and daughters are buried. There is a "Memorial Pyramid" contructed of stones gathered from the previous cemetery wall and Makemie Home.
Plaque in Battery Park, New York City. The image below was shared here by Kent McKemy. While the image does not come through clearly, Kent shared what it reads: FRANCIS MAKEMIE Near this site in 1707 Francis Makemie, a native of Ireland and Father of American Presbyterianism, challended the edict of Lord Cornbury, governor of the colony, forbidding him from preaching here. The services he conducted in William Jackson's home resulted in his being indicted for preaching a "pernicious doctrine". His spirited court appearances resulted in his acquittal. It was the first great victory here for religious liberty. July 17, 1982
Irish Institute of New York

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The Makemie Presbyterian Church is located a the corners of Cross and Back Streets in Accomac, Accomack County, Virginia. The statue behnd the church was created by Alexander Stirling Calder (a casting of which is in MaKemie Park). Also here is the bronze plaque that reads, "The Presbyterian Historical Society of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, erected this monument and dedicated it on May 11, 1908, at Makemie Park on Holdon Creek where Francis Makemie is buried at his Pokomoke home. In 1984 the monument was moved here and restored in memory of Jennie Rodes Fletcher (1860-1947), the wife of Judge James H. Fletcher, Jr., the orginizer and first president of the Francis Makemie Memorial Association, and a member of the Makemie Presbyterian Church." See the photographs included here courtesy of John Cain.

Francis Makemie Church, Accomac, Virginia Francis Makemie Church, Accomac, Virginia
Original Francis Makemie statue restored behind the church. Bronze plaque in the ground behind the church.

Monument Melodies

by Rev. L. P. Bowen, D. D., Richmond, VA.,
Whitt & Shepperson, Printers, 1921

Makemie Park Hymn
(Air - Old Hundred)
Our Fathers' God, our Fathers' Guide,
For whom, Thy saints have lived and died,
Here where these ancient Worthies trod,
We claim as ours our Fathers' God.
Thy wounded exiles crossed the Seas,
God's ordination in the breeze,
Sent to these shores to plant the Word,
And pray as freemen of the Lord.

No hybrids here of Church and State,
No Pope or King to dominate,
To Thee alone we bend the knee,
The soul unfettered, conscience free.

We stand where our Makemie stood,
And claimed America for God,
His Church unfranchised and unbound,
And this old Hill Emmanuel's ground.

To Mother Church, Makemie's Faith,
We pledge our fealty until death,
Led by the same ordaining hand,
Blest children of Makemieland.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye Heavenly Host,
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

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Al McKemy traveled through "Makemie Territory" and has shared a lovely narrative and photographs of his trip HERE.

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Francis' family has also been honored in modern times. The Naomi Makemie Presbyterian Church is named in honor of Naomi Anderson Makemie and was the first Presbyerian Church named for a woman.

Francis' daughter, Ann Makemie Holden, was honored by the Virginia Foundation for Women as one of their 2004 Virginia Women in History.

At this time, there is no record of Francis' brothers, John and Robert, or his sister, Ann, ever coming to the US. However, we do know that his nephews came over. He mentions the sons of his brothers (named Francis probably in his honor) in his will. His daughter, Ann, makes mention of her cousins, the Boggs, in her will, as well. If you are interested in the rest of the family, you will enjoy exploring the rest of the site.