Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.—Rom. 8.33


of the

Committee of the Reformed Presbytery

In North America, 1800-1801.

TrueCovenanter.com Editor’s Introduction.

The following records are taken from the Reformed Presbyterian and Covenanter magazine for September through November of 1876.  They were then published from original manuscripts, detailing early activities of the second American “Reformed Presbytery,” including efforts to provide ministers for Covenanter societies and newly forming congregations, as well as to resolve serious problems and provide for spiritual needs which existed in South Carolina, and to eliminate remaining instances of slavery which were still found in the church’s membership, (as seen in numbers 12, 16, and 18.)




No. 1.

HOUSE OF J. MCKINNEY, June 27, 1800.

THE Committee of the Reformed Presbytery being met and constituted by prayer, under the power to them granted by the Presbytery at last meeting, there sate [sic] Messrs. McKinney and Wylie, ministers, John Burns and Alexander Glenn, ruling elders.


The court appointed Messrs. Black and Wylie, first Sabbath at Curriesbush; second Sabbath at Harpersfield; the third at Walkil; Mr. Wylie; the fourth Sabbath at Walkil, the fifth at New York; and then to move on to Philadelphia, and there continue until next meeting of committee, unless some urgent circumstance may require a departure from this regulation.

Mr. Black to move on from Walkil, with all possible speed, to Pittsburgh, having a discretionary power, however, to call at Baltimore, or any other place on his way where there may be an urgent call for sermon, specifying, however, his grounds of conduct, &c.; and there labor as conveniency may require, until the committee may be enabled to take more specific orders about that part of the church.  Mr. McLeod is appointed to preach first Sabbath, with Mr. McKinney; second at Walkil; third at New York, and there to continue until the next meeting of committee; spending his time between York and Walkil, as the case may require.

The committee took into consideration the present state of the congregation in Galloway and Curriesbush, and find it necessary to call the people together, and converse with and hear their difficulties, as also state to them the objections which the church has against their conduct, that so, if possible, {311} an end may be put to the existing dispute of said congregations, and if not, that a foundation may be laid for making a reference to the next meeting of Presbytery of the full state of said congregation, according to the powers for this purpose vested in the hands of said committee by the Presbytery, and appoint that a meeting for this purpose shall take place at the house of Walter Maxwell[1] upon Monday, the 30th inst., at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and that the people concerned shall be apprised of said meeting.  The moderator concluded by prayer.

No. 2.

WALTER MAXWELL's, June 30th, 1800.

The Committee of the Reformed Presbytery being met and constituted by prayer, there sate in judicature Messrs. Wylie and McKinney, ministers, Alexander Glenn and John Burns, ruling elders.


The Committee of Presbytery took into consideration the state of the congregation of Galloway, and received divers papers; and after long reasonings on the subject, a part of the society of Curriesbush gave in a supplication, requesting to be still considered as under the care and inspection of the Reformed Presbytery, and also to receive such admonition, in the spirit of meekness, as the nature of the case may require.  The committee then agreed that the people should write over a letter to Mr. McKinney, requesting him to preach among them at whatever time they shall find it convenient; and also agreeing, upon the petition of the people to the committee, they will afford them whatever sermon they can until next meeting.  It was agreed that the moderator shall call a pro re nata meeting as soon as he shall think it convenient.

The moderator concluded with prayer.

No. 3.

LITTLE BRITAIN, Nov. 7th, 1800.

The Committee of the Reformed Presbytery met to-day[3] [pursuant to the call of the mo]derator.  The following [members sate in] judicature: Revs. Messrs. McKinney and Wylie, ministers; Thomas Johnston and Robert Beattie, ruling elders.


The committee had returned to them this day a call moderated for the united congregations of New York and Walkil.  It was found that the division among the electors was so nearly equal that the call could not be proceeded upon on presbyterial principles.  Besides, it was further found that sundry electors had been admitted to vote who could not be considered as entitled to do so on presbyterial principles.  These electors being struck off, there remained exactly an equal number for Mr. Wylie and Mr. McLeod.  Mr. Wylie, in the meantime, renounced all further concern in said call, and informed the court that they might take their measures accordingly.  The court then agreed to address those persons who had voted for Mr. Wylie, whether they would be willing to append their names to the call for Mr. McLeod, to which they readily consented.  There were, however, some absent, whose willingness to do so was not then known.  In order to pay due respect to their rights and the freedom of election, it was agreed to send express to their habitations, and to obtain their consent or determination under their own hand, whether they were, or were not, willing to have {312} their names appended to Mr. McLeod’s call.  The court agreed to adjourn until a quarter after 9 o’clock this evening.

The moderator concluded by prayer.

No. 4.

LITTLE BRITAIN, Nov. 7th, 1800.

Pursuant to adjournment, Committee met this evening at a quarter after 9 o’clock, P.M.  Same members as in the former sederunt, save only that Andrew Gifford supplied the place of Thomas Johnston, as ruling elder.

The messengers sent out to inquire at the absent electors anent their willingness to have their names appended to Mr. McLeod’s call, returned, under the hands of the individuals, their hearty consent that it should be so done.  The call was accordingly now modified by appending the names of all the electors to the call for Mr. McLeod; and being thus modified, it was presented to him by the moderator, for his acceptance.  He, however, hesitated, and requested at least until to-morrow at 10 o’clock, to make up his mind, which was accordingly granted.  The court agreed to adjourn until to-morrow at 11 o’clock.

The moderator concluded with prayer.

No. 5.

LITTLE BRITAIN, Nov. 8th, 1800.

According to adjournment, the Committee met at 11 o’clock, A.M. Sederunt, Rev. James McKinney, moderator; Samuel Wylie, clerk; Thomas Johnston and Robert Beattie, ruling elders.

The Committee again resumed the business of Mr. McLeod’s call, and after some reasonings with him on the subject, he consented to accept it only conditionally.  The condition was this: that if he saw some difficulties which now hung over the business removed by the next meeting of the committee, he would retain the call; but if otherwise he would return it, which condition was agreed to by the committee.

He was appointed, to divide his time until next meeting as equally as possible between Walkil, New York and Philadelphia; and if convenient, to spend a day or two at New Galloway.

The moderator adjourned the court by prayer, sine die.

No. 6.

FORKS OF YOUGH, Dec. 4th, 1800.

Pursuant to adjournment, the Committee met this day, at 3 o’clock, P.M.  Rev. James McKinney, moderator; Samuel B. Wylie, clerk; Samuel Hays, ruling elder.

Agreed, that pursuant to presbyterial appointment, the committee have this day repaired to the Forks of Yough, where, according to previous appointment for that purpose, the congregation of this vicinity met for the purpose of choosing a minister.  The Rev. James McKinney moderated on the occasion.  After sermon, the form of a blank call was produced, and the electors being called upon in form, unanimously gave their votes for Messrs. Samuel Wylie and John Black, to be collegiate ministers over the charge on the west side of Allegheny Mountains.  This part of the business being ended, the call was, in constituted court, tendered to persons nominated in the body of the call.  Mr. Black accepted the call.  Mr. Wylie accepted only conditionally, reserving to himself the liberty of returning the call, in a reasonable time, should he not see his way clear to retain it; and that the Presbytery should be judges of the length of time necessary for this deliberation.

The committee agreed to call upon Mr. Black to be in readiness to deliver trial discourses for ordination, on the following subjects, as formerly intimated to him extra-judicially, and now judicially recognized; and that they shall be delivered to-morrow at eleven o’clock. {313}

The committee agree to adjourn until to-morrow at eleven o’clock, then to meet at this place.

No. 6.[4]

FORKS OF YOUGH, Dec. 5th, 1800.

According to adjournment on the preceding evening, the Committee met this morning, constituted by prayer at eleven o’clock.  Rev. James McKinney, moderator; Samuel Wylie,[5] clerk, Samuel Hays, ruling elder.  It was then agreed on to call on Mr. Black to deliver his trial discourses, which he did, viz., a lecture from 1 John 4:1-5; and a sermon on Rev. 19:13, which were sustained, and the ordination appointed at Pittsburgh, Dec. 18, 1800.  A petition was received and kept in retentis to next meeting.  The committee adjourned until Dec. 18th, to meet at Pittsburgh.

Moderator concluded with prayer.

No. 7.

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 18th, 1800.

The Committee being met and constituted by prayer, Messrs. McKinney and Wylie, ministers; S. Hays, ruling elder; Samuel Wylie, moderator; J. McKinney, clerk.

An inquiry was made if the committee were now ready to go on with the ordination this day, according to previous appointment.  To which it was unanimously agreed in the affirmative.  An officer was then appointed to read the edict in due form.  This being done, the court adjourned.

No. 8.

Same day and place as above.

Six o’clock, P. M.  Same members as above.

It was found, according to presbyterial form, necessary to call on Mr. John Black, formerly a licentiate under the instruction of the Reformed Presbytery in the United States, and this day ordained to the holy ministry, to subscribe the formula of questions to which he had given his assent prior to his ordination.  To this motion he agreed, subscribed, and in doing so, received the right hand of fellowship as a member of the Reformed Presbytery in North America.

It then became necessary to dispose of the call, which being a collegiate one, it was agreed that Mr. Black should have it delivered to him, and have it in keeping until Mr. Wylie’s determination concerning his interest in said call shall be delivered to the Presbytery, at which time every determination shall be made about it ———[6]

An inquiry was made by the committee at the heads of the congregation, what provision was made for the support of Mr. John Black in the exercising his ministerial labors in this congregation.  It was answered that three commissioners were appointed to speak the mind of the congregation, viz., William Gormly, John Anderson and Samuel Wylie.  They declared, in name of the congregation, that they were instructed to oblige the congregation to pay Mr. Black the sum of 400 silver dollars per annum, until such time as Mr. Wylie shall finally determine as to his interest in said call; and that they shall likewise consider how far their generosity may be usefully called into action in addition, until that time.[7]

The moderator concluded with prayer, and adjourned the court sine die. {314}

No. 9.

January 28th, 1801.

The Committee of the Reformed Presbytery having repaired to South Carolina, met and constituted by prayer, Rev. Messrs. McKinney and Wylie, ministers; John Kell and David Stormont, ruling elders.


The committee asked the fullest submission of the session of the congregation of South Carolina to the committee, and through them to the Reformed Presbytery in the United States of North America.  The committee then had presented to them a supplication from the congregation and session of old Dissenters in South Carolina, containing various articles of importance, which they judged required presbyterial cognizance; which petition[8] being read, contained the following articles:

1st.  We humbly crave that the Reformed Presbytery would proceed immediately to take Mr. Thomas Donnelly under presbyterial trials for ordination, and moderate a call to that import, that so we may have an opportunity of putting a call into his hand.  2d. We crave that we may be admitted to put a call into the hand of another member of the Reformed Presbytery, as a colleague with Mr. Donnelly.  3d. We crave that the Presbytery would proceed to the trials and ordination of some elders over us, as five of our elders are dead, viz., Samuel Lowridge, Adam Edgar, John Wyatt, Thomas Morton and James McQuiston; and others, through age and infirmity, rendered almost unfit for the exercise of that office.  4th. We supplicate the Reformed Presbytery for the celebration of the Lord’s supper amongst us, and in order thereto for public and private examination in the different quarters of our connections, at as early a period as opportunity will admit.  5th. We crave the Reformed Presbytery to take the Rev. Mr. James McGarragh’s situation under consideration, relative to the Reformed Presbytery’s former procedure anent his case.  6th. We crave that Mr. Martin be called to the bar of the Presbytery to answer [for] his disgraceful and immoral conduct.

And we do hereby commissionate and appoint Robert Hemphill and John McNinch to appear and present and enforce this our supplication to the Reformed Presbytery, hoping that they will take the above contents under their serious consideration, according to the import and end thereof.

After considerable reasonings on the subject, the following resolutions were unanimously acceded to by the committee in relation to the foregoing supplication:

1. That a call be moderated at the meeting-house near widow Edgar’s, upon the 5th day of February next, the exercises to begin at 11 o’clock A.M.

2. That a nomination of elders be made, which was accordingly done as follows: James Harbison, Alexander Martin, Hugh McQuiston, John Cunningham, David Smith, John McNinch, John Cooper, William Edgar, James Montgomery, Robert Black.  This nomination was transmitted to the people among whom said elders were designed to labor, for their elective concurrence.

The sacrament of the supper was agreed upon, to be dispensed on the first Sabbath of March.

It was agreed to send a letter to Mr. Martin requesting him to attend first meeting of committee.  Also to send a verbal message to Mr. McGarragh {315} to attend first meeting.  (It was agreed that the next meeting be held Feb. 5th) at the same place.[9]

Moderator concluded by prayer.

No. 10.


The Committee of the Reformed Presbytery met and constituted by prayer.  The Revs. Samuel Wylie and James McKinney, ministers; John Kell and David Stormont, ruling elders.


§ 1. It is agreed that a call has been proceeded in and regularly returned by the Rev. James McKinney, who was appointed to moderate therein, for a pastor to labor in the congregation of Covenanters about Rocky Creek and the vicinity thereof.

§ 2. Agreed that said call be presented to the candidates chosen therein, viz., Messrs. Wylie and Donnelly, for their acceptance.  The candidates being called, and considerable reasonings had between them and the committee on the subject—the commissioners of the congregation also having been heard—the candidates came at length to accept the call on the following conditions, viz., Mr. Wylie only accepts the call on this express stipulation, that he may have an opportunity of returning it again at next meeting of Presbytery if he should find cause, and that without incurring any blame, either from the Presbytery or people.  Mr. Donnelly accepted the call on this express stipulation, that unless a colleague is provided to assist him in the congregation, in a reasonable time, he is to have his labors abridged by having only such part of the present congregation under his care as he may be able to superintend; to which terms both the committee and congregation consented.

§ 3. It was agreed that Mr. Donnelly should have presented to him, as subjects for his preparatory discourses, the following portions of Scripture, viz., for lecture, Heb. 12:25, ad finem capitis; for a popular sermon, Zech. 6:13.  Which discourses are to be in readiness by Wednesday next, to be delivered before the committee at this place.  And further, should said discourses be approved, it is agreed that the ordination of Mr. Thomas Donnelly to the work of the holy ministry should take place at this meeting-house upon 3d day of March next.

§ 4. Agreed that there has this day been made to the committee a return of the elders formerly nominated by the session, as duly chosen by the people, with some small variation by substituting one person in the room of, a former nominee which alter(ation)[10] was approved of by the committee, and the elders elect ordered to attend for examination, at this place, on Wednesday, first.

§ 5. It was agreed that the following distribution of ministerial labors should be made, until the sacrament:

Mr. McKinney to be first Sabbath at Winsborough; second, at Beaver Dam; third, at the meeting-house near widow Edgar’s.  Mr. Wylie to be first Sabbath, at Robert Hemphill’s; second and third, over Cataba river.  Mr. Donnelly to be first Sabbath with Mr. Wylie; second and third, over Broad river.

§ 6. Agreed that the sacrament of the supper be essayed at this place on the first Sabbath of March next.  The order to be observed on that occasion, as follows:

§ 7. Agreed, that a formal summons be sent by the hands of John Kell, {316} Sr., and John Rock, to the Rev. Wm. Martin, which was (tendered)[11] in the following expressions: “Sir, you are hereby required to appear personally before the committee of the Reformed Presbytery, to meet at the meeting-house near W. Edgar’s, upon Wednesday, the 11th inst, to answer for your withdrawing from the Reformed Presbytery.  Signed this 5th day of February, 1801. S.B. WYLIE, Mod’r.”

§ 8. Mr. McGarragh appeared before the committee, after his case had been introduced by a member of the court.  The court, inquired into his present standing, in relation to this church, and found that, besides the suspension from ministerial functions, under which he still continues by a former presbyterial deed, there were also lying against him charges which had disqualified him for Christian communion.  The committee inquired into the reasons why this latter difficulty had not been removed; and were informed by Mr. McGarragh that he had not clearness to submit to censure from the committee at the time they adjudged it, rebus tunc sic stantibus.  When inquiring into and discussing the previous impediments lying in the way of submission, they were so far (generally)[12] disposed of, as that Mr. McGarragh agreed he would submit to the former deed of committee respecting his censure.  He was then accordingly presbyterially rebuked i by the moderator, admonished, and restored to privilege.

The committee appoint next meeting at this place Wednesday next, 11th inst.

Moderator concluded with prayer.

No. 11.

MEETING-HOUSE at WIDOW EDGAR’s, Feb 11th, 1801.

The Committee of the Reformed Presbytery being met and constituted with prayer.  Messrs. McKinney and Wylie, ministers; John Rock and Robert Hemphill, ruling elders.


§ 1. The committee agreed to take up, first, the minute respecting Mr. Donnelly’s discourses.  He was called upon to see if he was in readiness to deliver his discourses.  He answered in the affirmative, and accordingly proceeded to deliver them in the order prescribed.  After the delivery, the court inquired what mode of progress through the remaining business should be adopted.  It was then agreed to proceed in judging the discourses, just now delivered, which, after some remarks upon them by the members, were agreed to be sustained, and the moderator ordered to intimate the same to Mr. Donnelly, with some (corrections)[13].

§ 2. A letter having been received from Mr. McGarragh purporting some difficulties in his way respecting enjoying Christian communion, and craving help in the premises, the committee agreed that a meeting of session be held at John Kell’s on Friday first, to inquire into whatever may be supposed to affect the Christian character of the said Mr. McGarragh, and act as the case may require.

§ 3. It was agreed that the former meeting respecting the disposal of ministerial labors should be so far altered, that Mr. McKinney shall preach on the preparation Sabbath at Little River, and Mr. Wylie at the Rocky Creek meeting-house.

§ 4. Mr. Martin appeared, according to the summons of the Presbytery, but as he desired some private conversation with the members, and as the day was far spent, the committee waived the consideration of his affair upon his promising to attend the next meeting of committee. {317}

§ 5. A petition came in requesting a reconsideration of the business respecting slaveholders, so far as that species of traffic might be supposed to affect Christian communion, and that such steps might be taken, in the premises, as should place the whole affair on such a moral basis as the principles of our common profession seem imperiously to demand.  It was agreed, prior to the further consideration of this subject, that all slaveholders in the communion of the church should be warned to attend the next meeting of committee; and that then the merits of the petition aforementioned shall be particularly attended to.

Next meeting of committee at widow Smith’s, on Wednesday, 18th inst.

Moderator concluded with prayer. {341}

No. 12.

WIDOW SMITH’s, Feb 18th, 1801.

The committee of the Reformed Presbytery being met and constituted by prayer.  Messrs. Wylie and McKinney, ministers; Hugh McMillan and Archibald Coulter, ruling elders.


§ 1. The affairs of Mr. Martin were introduced to-day into the committee, and his submission to it solemnly asked and obtained; and after long reasonings on the subject, it was at last agreed that an opportunity be held out, and intimation made both to Mr. Martin and the congregation of Covenanters about Rocky Creek, to produce any documents that may cast light upon the committee’s duty in regard to the affairs of Mr. Martin, and especially his restoration to a friendly intercourse with this church.

§ 2. A petition was received from Georgia requesting some ministerial assistance; but the committee found that they could not give full scope to their deliberations until after Mr. Donnelly’s ordination, which is in contemplation, and therefore agree to keep said petition in retentis until after that event takes place.

§ 3. The consideration of the state of the enslaved Africans was introduced this day into the committee.  The purport of the discussion was to ascertain whether those who concurred, more or less, in the enslavement of these miserable subjects, should be considered as entitled to communion in the church.  It was unanimously agreed, that enslaving these, our African brethren, is an evil of enormous magnitude, and that none who continue in such a gross departure from humanity and the dictates of our benevolent religion, can have any just title to communion in this church.  Moreover, in order to point out the modes of carrying this matter into execution, it was agreed to send the following note to the persons concerned, who are not here this day, viz.:

“Sir: You are hereby informed that none can have communion in this church who hold slaves.  You must therefore immediately have it registered, legally, that your slaves are freed before the sacrament.  If any difficulty arises to you in the manner of doing it, then you are desired to apply to the committee of Presbytery, who will give directions in any circumstances of a doubtful nature in which you may be involved, in carrying this injunction into execution.”

§ 4. The affair subsisting between J. Kell and Mr. James McGarragh wherein the latter charges the former as a calumniator, inasmuch as he, viz., J. Kell, failed in the probation of a libel given in against Mr. McGarragh.  After some reasoning on the subject, it was found that the matter could not be overtaken to-day, and therefore is kept in retentis until next meeting, when J. Kell is required to attend to answer such things as may be objected to him in the premises.

§ 5. The committee found that the case of the Rev. James McGarragh, a member of the Reformed Presbytery in Ireland, formerly and latterly minister of the Covenanter congregation about Rocky Creek, loudly called for their consideration.  The court found that said Rev. James McGarragh had, on the 24th of June, 1795, been for sundry reasons suspended from exercising the office of the holy ministry in all its parts, {342} for the space of one-quarter of a year, by the committee of the Reformed Presbytery then existing in South Carolina, and that said suspension, as to its continuance longer, depended on certain circumstances, which could not then fall under the court’s cognizance, and further finding that through various new occurrences said suspension has been continued to this day, the court taking all these things into consideration, found it necessary to set forward in some expedient calculated to place this affair on a presbyterial basis.  After considerable reasoning on the subject, the court agreed to suspend further proceedings in the premises until next meeting, enjoining on each member to revolve in his mind this important subject, that he may by that time be the more distinctly prepared to deliver his mind there-anent.

The court agree that their next meeting shall be at the meeting-house near widow Edgar’s on the 27th inst.

Moderator concluded with prayer.

No. 13.

ROCKY CREEK MEETING-HOUSE, near W. E.’s, Feb. 27th, 1801.

The committee of the Reformed Presbytery being met and constituted by prayer.  Revs. Messrs. McKinney and Wylie, ministers; John Cunningham and John McNinch, ruling elders.


§ 1. The affair of Mr. Martin was again resumed, but he not appearing, the court inquired if there were any documents from any quarter which might cast light on the committee’s duty respecting him.  There were then two separate given in, duly signed, respecting Mr. Martin’s moral character.  The papers were read, and it was agreed to send a copy of said papers to Mr. Martin, with certification, under the moderator and clerk’s hand, that if he, the said Mr. Martin, does not appear at the next committee, they will proceed to bring the affairs concerning him to an issue, so far as this church and he are concerned.

§ 2. The petition from Georgia is kept in retentis until next meeting.

§ 3. At a quarter after one o’clock, Mr. Martin appeared in court, and as he had not been desired to attend at any given hour, the committee, although they had dismissed his case for this time, found cause, on his appearance, to resume it.  He was asked if it was his desire that the matter should be taken up this day; to which question he replied in the affirmative.  The committee then read a second time to Mr. Martin the papers given in against him, and much reasoning thereon, to ascertain how far this matter would be granted or refused by Mr. Martin.  After considerable time spent this way it was agreed to give Mr. Martin a copy of said papers, and suspend further proceedings on the business until next meeting.

§ 4. The affair respecting Mr. McGarragh was brought to a compromise by Mr. McGarragh’s withdrawing his motion respecting the differences between him and James Kell, inasmuch as it appears that although he had failed to prove his libel against Mr. McGarragh, there was nevertheless such evidence as convinced the committee, that he, viz., J. Kell, had not worked as a calumniator.  The affair respecting Mr. McGarragh’s suspension kept in retentis until the next meeting.  The committee appoint their next meeting Tuesday 1st, at this place.

The moderator concluded, &c.

No. 14.

MEETING, March 3d, 1801.

The committee of the Reformed Presbytery being met and constituted {343} by prayer.  Messrs. Samuel Wylie and James McKinney, ministers; John Kell and David Smith, ruling elders.


The day for the ordination of Mr. Thomas Donnelly[14] being now come, the committee inquired if there were any objections known to any member why the business should not be proceeded in.  It was agreed that none was known.  David Smith was then appointed officer pro tempore to repair to the tent and there read the edict three times at proper intervals, and return it again.  After a due time spent for the reading of the edict, the officer returned with due probation of its having been read three times and no objection offered.  The committee then agreed to repair, in their constitute capacity, to the tent in their constitute capacity,[15] and progress in the ordination, where Mr. Wylie delivered a sermon introductory on Rev. 1:16; Mr. McKinney then took the place and proceeded to read the formula, ordain and lay on the charge, and concluded with an exhortatory sermon from 2d Kings 2:9.  The public work being finished in the usual form, the committee repaired to the meeting house and there gave to Mr. Donnelly the right hand of fellowship, as member of court.  The committee agree their next meeting shall be to-morrow, the 4th inst., at this place.

The moderator concluded with prayer.

No. 15.

MEETING-HOUSE (W.E)., ROCKY CREEK March 4th, 1801.

The committee of the Reformed Presbytery being met and constituted by prayer.  Messrs. McKinney, Wylie and Donnelly, ministers; John Kell, John Rock and James Harbison, ruling elders.


§ 1. The committee called upon Mr. Thomas Donnelly to subscribe the formula of questions to which he had given his assent at his ordination, which he accordingly did in publico foro, and was voted to the chair unanimously, as moderator.

§ 2. The committee inquired at the congregation what provision was made for the support of the Rev. Thomas Donnelly, to labor in the congregation to which he has now been ordained.  The committee were then answered by the commissioners, viz., Thomas Neil and John Cunningham, that they were entitled and duly commissioned to pledge the honor and veracity of the congregation to pay Mr. Donnelly the sum of 260 dollars at least, per annum; and that they would consider themselves in duty bound to consider from time to time what augmentation his exigencies and their circumstances might point out as necessary to be made.  It was then motioned to Mr. Donnelly, whether he was satisfied with this proposal; to which he readily answered in the affirmative.

§ 3. The petition from Georgia was resumed, and it was agreed that Mr. Donnelly repair there as soon as possible, and visit that people and see into their state; and as soon as information on that head can be obtained, that the people of Rocky Creek, and of Georgia, should become united under the inspection of Mr. Donnelly, if the thing is found practicable, but if not, that Mr. Donnelly shall, with all convenient speed, transmit to the Presbytery the state of said people, that they may, as soon as possible, be supplied. {344}

§ 4. The court took into consideration the affair respecting Mr. Martin, and after long reasonings on the subject, came to the determination that more minute evidence on some of the charges ought to be sought and obtained, if possible, and that regular summonses be issued for that purpose.

§ 5. The affair respecting Mr. McGarragh’s suspension was again resumed, and after some deliberation, it was agreed to continue the suspension some time longer, to try what evidence may appear of firmness and regularity in his moral deportment, with certification that should any instances take place, of inattention in the above quarter, it will, in probability, tie up the court’s hands from exercising their favorable designs, to which they (are) at present strongly determined.

The court appointed their next meeting at the house of John Kell, March 12th, 1801.  The moderator concluded with prayer.

No. 16.

JOHN KELL’s, March 12th, 1801.

The committee of the Reformed Presbytery being met and constituted by prayer, sederunt.  Revs. Messrs. McKinney, Wylie and Donnelly, ministers; John Kell, John Rock and James Harbison, ruling elders.


The affair of Mr. Martin was again resumed, and two witnesses called upon a certain charge in the libel against Mr. Martin (viz., intemperance at the house of Joseph Telfair), which was not proven at last meeting, nor admitted.  On this charge there appeared Joseph Telfair and Jane Martin.  Jane Martin offered to swear that from the general tenor of Mr. Martin’s conduct in the house of Mr. Telfair, and at his departure, but that he was in some degree intoxicated.  Joseph Telfair likewise admitted that in helping him down the stair at his door, he had not only a view to his old age, but also had some suspicion that he was something affected with liquor.  Mr. Martin was inquired at whether he required the witnesses sworn.  He said, “No; that he was satisfied they had spoke the truth.”

The civil transaction between Matthew Richmond and Mr. Martin was next recurred to, but Matthew Richmond not appearing, and it being considered that he might yet appear, the court agreed to stay proceedings upon that subject for one hour, and go on with their other business.

The general affairs of the church in Carolina were taken into consideration, and it was judged of some importance to insert some minute indicative of the view in which said affairs appeared to the minds of the Presbytery’s missionaries, while the transactions were fresh on their minds.  It was, therefore, on motion, unanimously agreed, with the hearty consent of the Presbytery’s missionaries, that from the general discreet and respectful demeanor of the people here to the Presbytery, and the appearance of religion among them, that they are deserving of the Presbytery’s most attentive consideration, and that not a moment should be lost in affording them what efficient and permanent aid can be granted for the carrying on the interests of religion among them, and cherishing the submissive and orderly disposition which they have manifested to the cause of reformation in the hands of the Reformed Presbytery in North America.

The committee finding it impossible longer to delay their proceedings in the case of the Rev. Mr. Wm. Martin, proceeded to inquire under what form they would sum up all the evidence in the committee’s possession; when it was unanimously agreed that the clerk should immediately proceed to select out of all the different papers which have been from time to time put into hands of the committee, such facts as are considered as {345} proven or confessed, rejecting all matter which seemed dubious; which was accordingly done, and was as follows, viz:  1. That the said Rev. Wm. Martin violently and unpresbyterially withdrew from the presbytery of which he was a member, without any just occasion given him on the part of said presbytery, and that at the very moment when there was abroad against him a violent fama clamosa[16] on the score of drunkenness, and could not be moved by any entreaty of ministers or elders to return to his duty, and thereby dissolved the existence of the committee of the Presbytery in South Carolina.

2. That he was some time since in a high degree of intoxication at Chester Court House, and incapable of self-government.

3. That he sold, some time since, a negro man then in his possession, thereby doing everything in his power to prevent himself from ever having it in his power to liberate a poor, wretched fellow mortal, in any other period of his life, putting this price of blood among his substance, while he left his fellow mortal to languish out the last moments of his life under the galling chains of slavery, without one scanty ray of hope of ever obtaining deliverance any other way but by the hand of death; and all this after the determination of the court and church to which he belonged had marked African enslavement with the strongest degree of abhorrence.

4. That he violated all good Presbyterian order by judging and censuring a woman guilty of fornication, and admitting her to church privileges, without any orderly judicature to take cognizance of the subject.

5. At another time, at or near the house of a certain John Baily, he appeared in such a degree of intoxication as clearly evinced his incapacity of self-government, of agency of a Christian, and least of all, that of a minister of the gospel.

6. Intoxication at another time, at the house of Joseph Telfair, about the 3d of February last; with the addition of falsifying on his trial on that subject, and denying that he had drank any in said house for a year past.

By order of the committee, the clerk read the above paper by paragraphs to Mr. Martin, to the truth of which separately he gave his consent.  He was then desired to remove out of court for a time, which having done, the court entered upon a long and solemn consideration of the subject, which issued at length unanimously in the determination that said Rev. William Martin should be deposed from the whole office of the holy ministry.  He being called in, had this sentence intimated to him by the moderator, to which, with seemingly deep humility, he consented. {371}

THE moderator then proceeded to introduce himself to Mr. Martin, by a detail of such affecting circumstances as seemed most likely to place his situation in its proper light, to which he seemed throughout to pay a decent attention.  This being finished, the moderator, as the mouth of the court, solemnly addressed God by prayer for his blessing and pity on the present mournful occasion.  Which being ended, the moderator proceeded to pronounce, in the name of Christ, the solemn sentence of deposition upon the said Mr. William Martin, from the exercise of the holy ministry in all its parts.  This was succeeded with such solemn admonitions as the nature of the case seemed to require.  It was also intimated to Mr. Martin, by order of the committee, that he behooved to appear next Sabbath, in the congregation and be solemnly rebuked for the sin and scandal apparent in the charges, whereupon his deposition issued.  It was further agreed that said Mr. Martin cannot be admitted into private Christian communion, until his life and conversation have for some time exhibited real marks of penitence and amendment.

The committee finding that something yet remained to be done, in order to carry into effect the final emancipation of the unhappy African slaves, held by some members of this church, came to inquire what further was requisite on that subject.  It was found that there were bonds given by the different slaveholders, to some members appointed by the committee, by which the parties bound themselves under heavy penalties to have the full emancipation of their slaves carried into effect as soon as it could be positively ascertained what were the necessary formalities to be gone through, according to the laws of Carolina made respecting that subject.  It was accordingly agreed that said bonds be in the meantime delivered into the hands of the Rev. Thomas Donnelly, who is held responsible for the same; and that he, the said Rev. Thomas Donnelly, John McNinch and Robert Hemphill be appointed a committee to inquire into the peculiar circumstances of each of the slaves to be liberated; as also into the true legal forms of emancipation, that the instructions of the Reformed Presbytery in purging out this accursed thing [Josh 6.18,] from among them, may be carried into the most speedy effect; and that the Rev. Thomas Donnelly do report to the Presbytery, by letter, with all convenient speed, the diligence of the committee appointed to see this matter brought to its issue; and further, that should any difficulty occur in accomplishment of said business, which cannot now be foreseen, that then he, the said Mr. Donnelly, shall transmit the same to the Presbytery, that advice may be given in the premises. {372}

The committee having reviewed their whole proceedings in Carolina, and having made particular inquiry at the members severally, and at all interested, whether anything yet remained which might require presbyterial interference, and finding nothing of that nature, the committee agreed to adjourn sine die, which the moderator did by prayer.

No. 17.


The committee of the Reformed Presbytery being met and constituted by prayer, there sat in judicature Rev. Messrs. McKinney, Wylie and Black, ministers, and Samuel Hays, ruling elder.


The committee inquired what further steps were necessary to complete the operation of the mission in which they have been engaged by the order of the Reformed Presbytery at their last full meeting.  It was accordingly found that the only thing now foreseen, that could require a meeting of the committee before next meeting of Presbytery, would be to do something further towards the settlement of a minister in the congregation of New York.  And as the people of that congregation, although called upon to furnish the committee with such necessary documents as might enable them to proceed in that business, have failed to do so, and as there is no prospect that said settlement could be carried into effect during the few weeks that intervene between this time and the meeting of Presbytery, the committee have therefore unanimously thought it their duty to stay further proceedings on that subject until it shall be considered at a full (meeting of Presbytery).[17]

It was represented to the committee by the Rev. (J. Black)[18] that Messrs. McCoy and Warwick, two ministers belonging to the Associate Reformed Synod, had declared to him their desire of joining[19] with the Reformed Presbytery in North America, and were in readiness to discuss any particulars necessary to said junction, when convenient.  The committee, willing to encourage all movements towards reformation, thought it prudent to write a note to said ministers showing their willingness to cooperate in any measures calculated to draw together in the closest unity all men desirous to oppose the defections of the present times; whereupon the following note was agreed upon, and a copy of it ordered to be sent to each of the said ministers:

March 7, 1801.

Very Dear Brethren—It would be a piece of unnecessary ceremony to introduce ourselves to you with any stiff formality.  We with pleasure learn that you are turning your eyes to the providential appearances, which present times are presenting to our view, in relation to the low and distracted state of the Christian church in the western world, where your lots and ours are cast.  We have no reason to doubt but your views are influenced by a sincere regard for the glory of God in these backsliding times.  Unto this charitable opinion we are the more easily induced, from a consideration of the general terms on which you propose to regulate your religious and ecclesiastical conduct, as the same have been laid before us.

Dear friends, there is such a sameness in these your principles with those {373} professed by the Reformed Presbytery in North America, that it would be exceedingly strange if, in detailing the fair and genuine operation of these principles, there should remain any grounds for keeping you and us in a state of ecclesiastical separation.

Dear brethren, we need not point to you the need there is at present for a cordial and candid understanding being established among those who are in earnest in the work of reformation.  We accordingly (each)[20] give you the most solemn assurances, that we are ready, at any moment that may appear convenient for all parties, to enter into the most explicit, and we hope friendly discussions on any subjects that may be supposed implicated in the establishment of a lasting union between you and us in the prosecution of the great ends of the ministry of reconciliation.  We persuade ourselves, should anything retard or finally disappoint our present hopes on that subject, the fault will not be ours.  We shall, therefore, with cheerfulness correspond with you both, or either of you, by letters or by personal conversation, and shall endeavor to embrace the earliest opportunity of holding a meeting so convenient to you that your attendance may be expected, with as little inconveniency to you as possible.

As our brother, the Rev. Mr. John Black, lies most convenient to you, we shall be happy through him to receive any communications on the subject of our mutual friendships with which you shall be pleased to favor us.  In the meantime wishing you all (Christian)[21] comfort, we remain your most sincere well-wishers,

J. MCKINNEY S. WYLIE, (J. BLACK,)[22] (Committee of Presbytery.)

The committee are agreed from the (report concerning)[23] Baltimore, it is proper to pay (some attention to that) place, do accordingly appoint Mr. (McKinney on) his way home from this place (to spend a Sabbath) at Conococheague, and then to pro(ceed to Baltimore) and spend one or two Sabbaths (in that place, as he) may see convenient, and that (if Providence) shall permit it, that he spend (one Sabbath in New York), and another at Walkil before (next meeting of) Presbytery.

It is agreed that Mr. Wylie have (the call)[24] from the people in the back part of (Pennsylvania) as a colleague with Rev. Mr. Black, and that (as he has not) yet had so much time as would be necessary to give him a sufficient acquaintance with said congregation, for the purpose of making up his mind in regard to his acceptance of said call, shall be allowed to spend what time he can between this and next Presbytery in getting a further acquaintance with said people, with this limitation, however, that he shall reserve for himself, besides the necessary time for journeyings (from this place to Philadelphia) ——— Sabbath for ——— the Federal[25] city, two Sabbaths for ———, and one for Philadelphia.

(Inasmuch as the) committee have received information of a (number of people at) Buffalo Valley, in Northumberland (county, Pennsylvania), who desire supplies from (the Reformed Presbytery), and in order to comply {374} with (the desires of these people) Messrs. Black and Wylie shall (have some discretion)ary power, as they may see (convenient) to accommodate their motions to the (next meeting of) Presbytery, so that one or other of said (ministers) shall visit these people on their way (through the form)er State to the Presbytery at their first meeting.

The committee appointed the Rev. John Black to go forward and (preach) at Philadelphia, and if it be found advisable, to moderate a call.  But in this he is to have some discretionary power, which is to be guided by what advice he may receive from Mr. McKinney, and what further information he may receive from said people when he shall be among them.

[ No. 18. ]


PURSUANT to the appointment of Presbytery at last meeting, the committee met and constituted by prayer.  Messrs. John Black, William Gibson and Samuel B. Wylie, ministers; Andrew Gifford and Robert Beatty, ruling elders.  Rev. John Black, moderator; Samuel B. Wylie, clerk.

1. After reading the minutes respecting the constitution of the committee, the business for which the session had been appointed, viz., for settling the affairs of the congregations of York and Wallkill, was inquired into and sanctioned by the court.  And on the article of slavery, Mr. Beatty promised to have the freedom of the three negroes belonging to him registered in the county court, as soon as may be, viz., Sally and Candace, at the age of 25 years, and Dick, at the age of 28.

2. The call moderated according to appointment, by Rev. John Black, was presented to Mr. McLeod, and accepted by him upon the express condition that three years hereafter he was at liberty to accept of any one of these congregations, or none, as he thought proper.  This was agreed to by the court.  The committee then assigned Mr. McLeod discourses for trial, from the following scriptures, viz., for sermon, Rev. 11:3; and for lecture, Rom. 13:1-5, inclusive.

There was a motion then made to move to the meeting house, for to deliver the discourses, which was done; and the discourses were approved of with some animadversions, and ordination announced for Monday following.  The committee then adjourned till Monday next, 9 o’clock, A.M.[26]


1. The published Minutes give this name Mansell.

2. Name cut out.

3. The words in brackets are supplied to take the place of words cut out, with the name of McKinney on the opposite side.

4. Thus in copy.—EDS. [RP&C.]

5. Name cut out and supplied.—D.S.F.

6. The original transcriber, D.S.F., notes that he was uncertain about the reading, and could only conjecture, “which may then seem to be necessary.”

7. Further details may be found in the records of the Covenanter fellowship societies which were transcribed by Reid W. Stewart, Ph. D. and published as “The Minutes of the Correspondent [Societies] May, 1780 to February, 1809,” pp. 24-27.—JTK.

8. Paper (?)—EDS. [RP&C.]

9. The words in parenthesis partly conjectured.—D.S.F.

10. Conjecture.—D.S.F.  Other (?)—EDS. [RP&C.]

11. Doubtful—D.S.F.  Condensed (?)—EDS. [RP&C.]

12. Doubtful—D.S.F.  Severally (?)—EDS. [RP&C.]

13. Corrections, or criticisms.—D.S.F.  Cautions (?)—EDS. [RP&C.]

14. Spelled always in MS. Donely.—EDS. [RP&C.]

15. Repetition in MS.—EDS. [RP&C.]

16. Fama Clamosa: A phrase from Scottish Church Law referring to a report of scandalous conduct of common notoriety.  Individuals affected by a fama clamosa have such a reputation that it is either necessary that they clear themselves thereof, or else bear their bad character with its consequences.—JTKer.

17. The words in parenthesis supplied for words lost in the last line of the manuscript. D.S.F.

18. Name supposed to stand for J. Black, but doubtful. D.S.F.

19. Joining? D.S.F. — The statement following (above) does suggest Alexander McCoy and Robert Warwick were contemplating union with the Reformed Presbyterian Church even at this early period.  They had already constituted the Reformed Dissenting Presbytery, and in the years to follow would publish their own Testimony, just as the Reformed Presbyterians.  The character and doctrine were not identical, but the Reformed Dissenting Presbytery harmonized with R.P. principles on the magistrate and political dissent more than did the Associate or Associate Reformed churches.  Nevertheless, when, in 1804, a paper was presented before the Reformed Presbytery, containing a proposal from the Reformed Dissenting Presbytery, for union with the Reformed Presbytery, the latter Presbytery determined that they “cannot admit the members of the Reformed Dissenting Presbytery, on the grounds specified in that paper.”  Considering that the practice of political dissent was the great difference at this time, there is in this a clear demonstration of the nature of the RPCNA’s original attachment to the doctrine and practice of political dissent.  This offers a substantial refutation of the claims of New Lights in later years, who tried to minimize what the original stand of the church had been.  For later history of the Reformed Dissenting Presbytery, see pages 196-199 of the Reformed Presbyterian Magazine for 1851.—JTKer.

20. Each?  D.S.F.

21. Christian is doubtful.

22. It seems probable that J Black’s name should be after S. Wylie’s, having probably been worn off.  D.S.F.

23. All in ( ) conjectured, as that part of the manuscript is wanting.

24. Perhaps (a copy of the call). D.S.F.

25. This seems to be the reading, but I can scarcely think that he would go so much out of his way. D.S.F.

26. The records for this last meeting of committee were printed in the August 1874 issue of the Reformed Presbyterian and Covenanter, and are followed by minutes of a pro re nata meeting of presbytery, as well as other committee and presbytery records.—JTKer.