Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
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Parish History Notes 21: The Rectory

The earliest rectors of St. Paul’s and St. Martin’s Parishes were paid in pounds of tobacco “in lieu of Glebe.” By the time of construction of Fork Church, however, a house on 350 acres near Oakland was identified as the Parish Glebe. The Rev. Robert Barret, who served as rector from 1738 to 1786, lived there and farmed the land. The Rev. Peter Nelson, who was rector in 1789 and served until about 1808, also lived at the Glebe. We might assume that this property was sold soon after 1808, before the end of the “lean years” of the Episcopal Church. There is no further mention of the Glebe in church records. The Rev. John Cooke lived at Airwell, the home of his bride Elizabeth Edmonia Berkeley, until completion of Dewberry, to which they moved in 1833.

The Rev. William V. Bowers became rector in 1834 and lived at Edgewood, then owned by Dr. Carter Berkeley. On June 2, 1840, the vestry authorized the purchase of 101 acres of farmland adjacent to Fork Church from Clement Harris for $6.00 per acre. A Parsonage was authorized later that year, and James Hanes and Thomas T. Duke were to build it. On July 1, 1842, the building was completed on that property at a cost of $776.40. In 1906 two rooms and two porches were added after a fund drive raised $340.00 for the project.

The initial occupants of the rectory were the Rev. Bowers and his family. In October 1842 his daughter Frances was the first child born at the Rectory. Frances Bowers became the wife of the first Bishop of South Florida and the mother of a future Bishop of Indiana