Religious Freedom


 
Top: Christ Church, National Historic Landmark
photo by Pat Doster, NC
 
Bottom: The Maddox Window at Christ Church 
photo by Dorothy Maddox Bishop, GA.


 In the Old World of Great Britain in the 1600's, religious struggles were well underway between Protestants and Catholics and it moved to Maryland which was founded by a Catholic hoping to establish an enclave in the colonies.  George Calvert promised King James a proprietary colony dedicated to religious freedom.  For a time, it was successful even as there was near civil war in England over religion. 

Religious Toleration Act

In 1649, the Maryland Provincial Assembly had granted legal equality to all who profess Jesus Christ to be the Son of God.  The "Act Concerning Religion" was a compromise between the Catholic proprietor, Lord Baltimore, and the Puritan-dominated assembly.  This lasted only five years.  A rebellion overthrew the Lord Proprietor's governor and  the Toleration Act was restored only after intervention by King Charles in 1658.  Charles I was beheaded just a year later. 

Like England, the climate in the colonies was one of intolerance.  Elsewhere, women were tried and hanged for "witchcraft." Maryland is proud to be a province where there was more religious tolerance at the time than most anywhere in the world--but it was not remain that way.

The Official Church of England

In 1689, Protestant rebels petitioned the Crown to take over the province and they got their way.  King William declared Maryland a Royal Colony and insisted the official Church of England--the Anglican Episcopalians--get much more prominence.  The bad part of that is that tolerance ended and Catholics were largely persecuted for a hundred years until the American Revolution ended British rule. 

Maddoxes were Anglican

Christ Church at Chaptico in St. Mary's County is one of Maryland's finest landmarks still standing--and still with a congregation of worshippers! W. N. Hurley, Jr., author of "Maddox-A Southern Maryland Family" has researched Christ Church and the Maddox connection there.

The first structure was built on the site in 1642 and the King and Queen Parish established in 1692.  The present building was erected in 1736 with the addition of the tower in 1913. 

This window (at left) in Christ Church commemorates the earliest Maddox's.  The dates don't match birth records we show today but the Window illustrates that the Maddox family was a supporter of the church.  Hurley notes the surrounding churchyard is the final resting place of a number of  Maddox family members.  There are many with unmarked stones and others which cannot be read.  He says Samuel Maddox, who was a member here for years, may well be buried here, even though there is no physical evidence.  The stained glass window demonstrates what Christ Church meant to the Maddox family.

This Landmark church has much more history--shocking history--as did other churches.  When then British came to battle the Americans once again during the War of 1812, they sacked the church and committed outrages on the those buried there. 









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