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1804: Turpin v. Locket and the Place of Religion

1804: Turpin v. Locket and the Place of Religion

IX. 1804: Turpin v. Locket and the Place of Religion
A Community Built on Words
University of Chicago Press

The best-known episode in the history of state constitutions is undoubtedly founding-era Virginia's struggle to define the constitutional relationship between church and state. In the colonial era, the Church of England was Virginia's established church, and as a consequence that body enjoyed legal protection and public support of various kinds, including the provision of glebes, which were farming land intended to provide in part for the upkeep of Anglican clergy. Pursuant to the British government's instruction, a 1661 colonial statute directed that “glebes [be] laid out in every parish,” without specifying how the property was to be obtained or in whom title should vest once it was obtained. A 1696 law authorized the parish vestries (lay governing bodies of the local church) “where the same is not already done, to purchase and lay out a tract of land for the the charge of their respective parishes.” Since all residents of the geographic area covered by a parish were subject to parish assessments, this meant that non-Anglicans were in fact required to contribute to the purchase of glebes obtained under the 1696 act and later statutes to the same effect.

Keywords:   Church of England, church and state, colonial era, public support, Anglican clergy, glebes

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