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Petition from inhabitants of Mecklenburg County concerning North Carolina church laws
No Author
Volume 10, Pages 1015-1017

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[Reprinted from the University Magazine. Vol. 4. Page 256.]
MECKLENBURG PETITION FOR THE REPEAL OF THE VESTRY AND MARRIAGE ACTS, 1769.

To his Excellency, William Tryon, Esquire, Captain General,
Governor and Commander-in-Chief in and over the
Province of North Carolina, &c., To the Honourable his
Majesty's Council, To the Honourable Speaker and Gentlemen
of the House of Burgesses of said Province.

The Petition and address of the inhabitants of Mecklenburg County, of the Presbyterian denomination, humbly sheweth:

That we claim it as our incontestable right to petition the Legislature of this Province for redress of grievances.

We therefore beg leave freely to represent our case, trusting to your candour and uprightness to redress our grievances, maintain our rights and privileges, and prevent all infraction of the same.

We would inform that there are about one thousand freemen of us, who hold to the established church of Scotland able to bear arms, within the county of Mecklenburg.

We declare ourselves faithful and loyal subjects, firmly attached to his present Majesty and the government, ready to defend his Majesty's dominions from hostile invasions.

We declare ourselves zealous to support Government, and uphold the Courts of Justice, that the law may have its free course and operation. And we appeal to his Excellency the Governor, how ready and cheerful we were to support Government in time of insurrection.

We declare ourselves entitled to have and enjoy all the rights and privileges of his Majesty's subjects in Great Britain, to-wit: England or Scotland.

In the great Charter, his Majesty confirms to his subjects removing from Great Britain into this Province, and their descendants, all the rights, privileges, franchises and immunities to which his Majesty's subjects in Great Britain, to-wit, England and Scotland, are entitled:

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And instructed the Lords Proprietors to grant other and greater religious privileges to dissenters.

When settled under these assurances of liberty, and the quiet and peaceable enjoyment of religious rites, secured to us by law, by the Charter and by his Majesty's instructions to the Lords Proprietors, we think it a grievance that we are liable to a burthensome taxation to support and Episcopal clergy.

We would by no means cast reflection upon our sister church of England; no, let them worship God according to their consciences, without molestation from us. We ask on our part that we may worship God according to our consciences, without molestation from them.

We think it as reasonable that those who hold to the Episcopal Church should pay their clergy without our assistance as that we, who hold to the church of Scotland should pay our clergy without their assistance.

We now support two settled Presbyterian ministers in this Parish, we, therefore, think it a grievance, that the present law makes us liable to be still further burthened with taxes to support an Episcopal clergyman: especially as not one twentieth part of the inhabitants are of that profession.

We think that were there an Episcopal clergyman in this Parish, his labours would be useless.

We think ourselves highly aggrieved by the exorbitant power of the vestry, to tax us with the enormous sum of ten shillings each taxable; which is more than double the charge of Government: And that for purposes to which we ought by no means to pay anything by compulsion.

We, therefore, think that under the present law, the very being of a vestry in this Parish, will ever be a great grievance.

We further think, that were the Counties of Rowan, Mecklenburg and Tryon wholly relieved from the grievances of the marriage act and vestry acts, it would greatly encourage the settlement of the Frontiers, and make them a stronger barrier to the interior parts of the Province against a savage enemy.

We conceive ourselves highly injured and aggrieved by the marriage act, the preamble whereof scandalizes the Presbyterian clergy, and wrongfully charges them with celebrating the rites of marriage without license or publication of banns.

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We think it a grievance, that this Act imposes heavy penalties on our clergy, for marrying after publication of banns by them made, in their own religious assemblies, where the parties are best known.

We declare that the marriage Act obstructs the natural and inalienable right of marriage and tends to introduce immorality.

We declare it subjects many to several inconveniences, one whereof is going into South Carolina to have the ceremony performed.

We pray that the preamble of the same Act may be rescinded; and that our ministers and magistrates may be freed from the penalties thereof, they respectively conforming to the Confession of faith.

We pray that we may be relieved from the grievance of the vestry Acts and the Acts for supporting the Episcopal clergy.

We pray that, to these several grievances, you will in your wisdom and goodness grant that redress, which we ask in this legal and constitutional method.

And we assure your Excellency, Your Honours of the Council, the Honourable Speaker, and Gentlemen of the House of Burgesses, that we shall ever be more ready to support that Government under which we find most liberty.

Your petitioners as in duty bound shall ever pray &c.