Rev. John Waugh

Is your surname Waugh?

Research the Waugh family

Rev. John Waugh's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


John Waugh, Rev.

Also Known As: "John Waught"
Birthdate: (76)
Birthplace: Scotland, United Kingdom
Death: Died in Virginia, Colonial America
Place of Burial: Virginia, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of John William Waugh; John Waugh; Martha Vandegasteel and Elizabeth Waugh
Husband of Elizabeth Waugh; Elizabeth Waugh; Frances Waugh, 1st of multiple wives; Elizabeth or Rebecca Waugh, one of multiple wives and Christian Waugh
Father of Ann Travers; Alexander Waugh; Rev. Joseph Waugh; John "Posion" Waugh; Elizabeth Waugh Mason and 5 others

Occupation: Parson
Managed by: Andrew Witold Gutowski
Last Updated:

About Rev. John Waugh

Rev. John Waugh b 1630 d 1706. Rev. Waugh’s descendants by his first wife carry the strong tradition of Indian blood. He settled in Stafford County, Virginia, soon after it became a county in 1662. He was the first minister in Overwharton Parish, Stafford County, Virginia. Apparently he served in this area from approximately 1665 to 1700, about thirty five years. During the Reign of James II, Virginia, like England, was much agitated with rumors of popish plots, and John Waugh greatly inflamed the people by his harangues against the Catholics. In 1669 he was elected to the general assembly, but was declared ineligible as minister. He died in 1706, leaving a wife Christian, and sons Joseph, John, Alexander and David.

The story starts in 1630 with the birth of JOHN WILLIAM WAUGH, of Scattergate, Tyrena County, Scotland. Some historians show that he may have been born in Ireland and moved to Scotland, but most records indicate he was born in Scotland. John would one day become a preacher and move to the "New Country" The Reverend Waugh, or Parson Waugh as he was best known was a minister in Overwharton Parish in Stafford County, VA. He lived for a time in Northumberland, VA. Parson Waugh died at Cherry Hill in Stafford County, VA in 1706. Some history records say that John was married 3 times, the name of his first wife is unknown to historians, some believe she was the mother of his first two children, John and Joseph. Elizabeth is believed to have been his second wife and the mother of all his other children. The Parson's 3rd wife may have been Christan. But all of these names are unproved due to the fact that records were lost or destroyed (a lot during the Civil War) and the timeline of history was broken with Parson John William Waugh. Some records say that he may have had as many as 7 wives in his lifetime. All this information is unproven. We believe that he fathered at least 7 children. Joseph, John William, Alexander, David, Richard, Ann, and Elizabeth Waugh (b)unknown - (d) abt. 6-21-1707. The oldest of the children, Joseph we believe was born in England in 1660 while the rest was born in Stafford and Prince William County, Virginia.

Looking for information on my 8th g.grandfather Rev. John William Waugh and family. He was born around 1630 in Scotland or England and settled in Stafford County, VA. I have seen sources that have him married up to 4 times. Frances Meese(American Indian) Frances grandfather Wahanganoche is the nephew of Amonute Mataoke, also known as Pocahontas of VA. Elizabeth Madison, Christian, and I believe a women named Rachel. Could some one help me out. How many times was he married? How many children did he have? Could he only have been married a couple of times and people just have the wrong names for the couple of wives. My area of inquiry is mainly with 2 different women. Frances Meese of VA and Elizabeth Madison. I had orginally thought that Elizabeth Madison was the mother of John's children but not so sure now. In one reference Frances Meese is listed as the wife of Rev. John William Waugh and she was listed as having 7 children, although only 2 children: Joseph born 1659 and John born around 1661 would fit with in the death date cutoff of Bef. 1674. Other children if dates are correct were born after Frances was dead. Frances could have died any where from right at John's birth from 1661 (my 7th g.grandfather) all the way to 1673. What is so important about the before 1674 date. I don't know. What made the source put down before 1674. Other 5 children were supposedly born after her death. All the way from 1676-1691. So if Elizabeth Madison married John Waugh after Frances death and they had the other 5 children then that settles my problem. I believe I saw reference to him marrying after 1674. Can't remember. Hate that! Another source says that Elizabeth Madison was the mother to all of these children. They could have just lumped all of the children together under 1 wife on each source just for convience.

From rootsweb:

1. Another record said john born Scattergate, England.

2. The History of the Waugh Family of Gallia County Has it's origins in the Rev. John Waugh. He was born in Tyrone,, Ireland in 1630 and came to Virginia in the 1660's. A few letters he wrote during the 1660's are preserved in the Virginia State Library in Richmond, Va. A short selection follows.

Letter of Rev. John Waugh to Matthew Steele*

Cossen Steele I have business depending at ye Court but I am afraid I cannot be there by reason ye both my horses be gone out into ye woods with a company of wild horses & Cannot be got therefrom I entreat if you be at Court humbly to crave reference of wt business I have depending there Semipro idem

Rev. John Waugh lived in that portion of Westmoreland made into Stafford County, in 1666. The law imposed upon a minister a fine of 10,000 pounds of tobacco for marrying persons without a license duly obtained. This is what this series of letters are concerned with. The Rev. John Waugh had married Restitute Whetstone and Matthew Steele without a proper license.

In 1674 John Waugh and Elizabeth, his wife, of Stafford County, made a deed to Nathaniel Garland, Joyner.

During the turmoil in England accompanying the accession of William of Orange, the Protestants were frightened lest the Roman Catholic Religion might be established in England. In Virginia absurd rumors were circulated of terrible plots of the Roman Catholics of Maryland and the Indians. The County of Stafford was inflamed by the haranges of John Waugh, and three councilors were dispatched to allay the commotion. He died in 1706, Leaving a widow, Christian Waugh, who later married John Hawkins, and four sons. They were Joseph, John, Alexander and David Waugh. The loss of records breaks the descent but it is evident that John Waugh had a son named William who married Margaret Tyler, daughter of John Tyler, of King George County, Va. They had issue: Tyler Waugh, Priscilla, Thomas, And William. Tyler Waugh , born 29 February 1739 had Priscilla, Thomas, Million, William and George.


John lived in a house at Marlborough owned by his mother-in-law, Anne Meese (widow of Henry) of London, England (see below). His house was on the south side of Potomac Creek where it enters the Potomac River.

"They Called Stafford Home", Jerrilynn Eby, 1997, p. 199 (this is a great book, lots of info, very readable): Parson John Waugh and the Catholic Rebellion

It is very difficult to understand events or personalities from public records alone; so little of what one does on a day-to­day basis becomes a part of court records, newspapers, or other public records. When dealing with historical figures, only those who left diaries or collections of letters, or those whose lives are reflected in the writings of others, can be understood on a human level. These comprise a relatively small number of people. When trying to reconstruct the lives of historical figures, we often have the added disadvantage of lost records. This is especially true in Stafford County, where there are numerous gaps in the public records as well as the existence of painfully few private letters, diaries, or journals. Despite the scant surviving records, it is possible to reconstruct part of the life of one of Stafford County's most colorful characters, the Reverend John Waugh (1630-1706). Waugh was the first rector of Overwharton Parish, a position he held from 1668 until he was removed from office in 1701. He lived at Overwharton Plantation, originally part of Westmoreland County. A boundary change later placed the property in lower Stafford County and today it is known as Waugh Point in King George County. If John Waugh left any personal records, they are long since lost. The only information remaining about this fascinating individual is from public records and from the letters of William Fitzhugh, a long-time adversary. Numerous missing records from the courts at Westmoreland, Stafford, and Jamestown, and lost minutes from the House of Burgesses, make the task of piecing together the life and personality of John Waugh even more difficult. Despite this, the parson appears repeatedly in those remaining public records, and it is obvious that he was an unusual individual; the fact that he appears so frequently and the reasons for his appearances make this plain.

John Waugh was an educated man, but an agitator by nature whose preaching was a mixture of evangelism, Puritanism, and politics. He must have been an inspiring orator. He had the unwavering loyalty of most of his parishioners despite his wild notions and despite the fact that he was forced to make frequent public apologies for his behavior. Perhaps due in part to the remoteness of Stafford County, Parson Waugh seems to have done pretty much as he pleased, getting in trouble with authorities on numerous occasions, but nearly always skirting punishment.

One of Parson Waugh's favorite activities-and one which repeatedly resulted in his being called to Jamestown to answer to authorities-was marrying minors. The law required that an impending marriage be announced publicly from the pulpit and that the couple have a license. Minors had to have permission from parents or guardians to marry. Waugh apparently didn't see a need for such technicalities and on August 26, 1674, he married, "Contrary to Law," Restitute Whetstone and Mathew Steele (possibly a cousin of Waugh's) at the home of William Spence on the Nomini River. Restitute was the orphan daughter of John Whetstone, an early Westmoreland justice, and the granddaughter of Major John Hallowes. The marriage took place despite the objections of her guardian, John Appleton. It seems that not only was Restitute underage, but according to Westmoreland County court records, Steele was "a man of noe estate." The records also claim that Waugh married the two "without any Licence and notwithstanding he was forbidden by Captain John Appleton the Said Orphans Guardian and Others Soe to Doe." The court fined Waugh 10,000 pounds of tobacco, describing him as "being of a very Dangerous Consequence." He was also ordered to "not Hereafter marry any Person whatsoever, unless he be Authorized Soe to Doe by the Right Honourable the Governor and shall pay all Captain Appletons Charges both Attorneys fees and Otherwise."

Waugh felt that the penalty imposed was unreasonable, and he petitioned the governor to restore his powers taken away in the Steele-Whetstone incident: "Therefore your Petitioner being a poore man, sorry for my former offences and promising to endeavor to eshune all offences of that nature [I do] humbly begg your Honour's clemency in passing by my former trespasses in restoring your poore petitioner to your execution of his former function, if it may consist with your Honour's pleasure to release your poore petitioner from the rigor of the punishment in paying the great sum of Tobacco which will be the undoing of your petitioner, wife and family."

Apparently, the governor was impressed with Waugh's petition for he wrote that Waugh's "publique fine is remitted and [he] be restored to the exercise of his Ministry in the parish, where he formerly served, the said Waugh paying all costs."

Waugh's humility was short-lived, for in 1688 he married Mary Hathaway, the nine-year-old daughter of Thomas Hathaway of Aquia, to Mr. William Williams. In a suit filed in 1691, justices ruled that upon reaching the age of twelve years Mary could "publickly disclaim the said marriage and protest against it, then it is the judgment of this court the aforesaid marriage utterly null and void as if the same had never been had or made." On December 28,1691, Mary declared her freedom citing "infancy and impuberty as well as force and fraud" at the time of her marriage.

In 1688 Parson Waugh became embroiled in political events that nearly caused a war with Maryland. Relations between Catholics and Protestants had deteriorated to the point of open hostility. Waugh had a deep distrust of "papists" and he frequently made Catholicism the focus of his stirring sermons. His fiery speeches became even more fanatical after the Revolution of 1688 in England, when Catholic King James II fled the country, leaving its rule to Protestants.

Despite his profession, John Waugh was the leader of the Whigs in Stafford. He and long-time friend George Mason (II) were able to incite the parishioners nearly to rebellion against the government of Lord Howard of Effingham. Lord Howard was already unpopular in Virginia because he espoused the views of James II. Crowds flocked to hear Waugh's passionate sermons about the "papists" of Maryland who, according to the parson, were going to attack the Protestants of Virginia. The closest Catholic on whom to vent this fanaticism was Waugh's long-time Tory enemy, George Brent (c.1640-1699) of Aquia. Whether Waugh sought merely to run Brent out of the colony or whether he hoped to see him murdered, we will never know. Fortunately for George Brent, he was wealthy, powerful, and well-respected by most of the leaders in the Virginia colony. As the situation climaxed, Brent very nearly lost his life and property to Waugh's mob.

Parson Waugh spoke to his frightened parishioners and described scenarios in which the Catholics had arranged for Indians to cross the Potomac and murder all of the Protestants they could find; as relations between whites and Indians were already tenuous, the whites believed the natives might easily be incited to such violence. Stafford became an armed camp.

Indian hunting parties had long been crossing the river between Maryland and Virginia. After Waugh's fanatical raving however, all reason was lost by Stafford residents. One of the parson's parishioners, Burr Harrison, saw Indians paddling across the Potomac, remembered the warnings of Parson Waugh, and rushed to warn his neighbors, John West and Ralph Platt. Certain that these were the Indians that their Waugh had warned them about, Harrison reported to the Stafford court. He was told to return home and watch the Indians and report back to the court.

In the meantime, Harrison talked to a Piscataway Indian named Wawoostough who said that he had overheard a conversation at Giles Brent's house about the Indians being sent to kill the Protestants. When cooler heads (William Fitzhugh among them) tried to get to the bottom of the affair, they found Wawoostough conveniently murdered.

William Fitzhugh was a confirmed Tory who strongly disapproved of Mason and Waugh. Fitzhugh was also a close friend and business associate of George Brent. In 1690 Fitzhugh wrote a letter to George Luke, his son-in-law in England. Angry over the Catholic incident, Fitzhugh asked Luke to acquaint Lord Howard with the antics of Waugh and Mason, writing:

I stood in the gap and kept off an approaching rebellion, to my no small charge and trouble, as you fully know, being sending almost everyday for five months together, and writing with mine own hand above three quires of paper to quash the raised stories and settle the panic fears; having my house most part of the time constantly thronged and in daily expectation of being treacherously murdered; for all which charge and trouble I being out, as you know, above £25 sterling, particularly for messengers sent severally up and down, besides the purchasing the powder and shot for our men in arms...

John Waugh agitated the people into such a stir that he became a threat to the entire Virginia colony. With English politics in upheaval, Waugh told his followers that there "being no King in England, there is no Government here" and they should remain armed for their own defense.

Although the threat of danger was purely imaginative and the ensuing panic was the direct responsibility of john Waugh, by the end of the affair the parson was perceived as a hero and Fitzhugh a fool. In his letter Fitzhugh to Luke continued to complain, "for all which I thought at least I deserved thanks, if not retaliation, but ...I have missed them both; but to be disregarded, nay, and slighted too, and to see those mischievous, active instruments... Waugh and Mason... the only men in favor grates harder than the non payment for shot and other disbursements."

In the same letter, Fitzhugh asked Luke to give Lord Howard his version of what had happened in Stafford: "I thought good to intimate this to you, that you may give my Lord a particular account of that whole affair (wherin his Lordship as you know from those persons missed not his share of the scandall etc.) and fully set forth to him the wickedness of Waugh and Mason etc., the at present, grand favorites, but I hope upon his Lordship's arivall the scene of affairs may be changed."

William Fitzhugh's political influence in the General Assembly was far greater than john Waugh's, and in the end the true story seems to have been revealed. We are able to discern the outcome of this affair as Fitzhugh writes, "The Conclusion of Parson Waugh's business is, He has made a publick and humble acknowledgement in the General Court, by a set form drawn up by the court and ordered there to be be Recorded, and is appointed to do the same in our County Court, as soon as I come home, with a hearty penitence for his former faults and a promised obedience for the future, which he sincerely prays for the accomplishment of and for the sake of his Coat to do so." This seems to have been the end of the affair as far as the public record is concerned.

Waugh had long mixed politics with religion and it seems only natural that he should have aspired to be a burgess. Just ten years after the embarrassing Catholic incident, Waugh ran for that office and as testimony to his popularity among his parishioners, he was elected. His triumph was short-lived, however, because the House decided to disqualify him from membership due to his profession. At the Assembly of 1698 the minutes read:

At this session of the assembly a greater number of disputed elections than for many years came up for settlement, and one case involving the qualifications of members. This was the case of Mr. John Waugh, a clergyman, returned a burgess from Stafford County. It was voted by the House that his profession disabled him from serving, and a new election was ordered by the governor.

The law in Virginia did not specify that clergymen were not eligible to membership in the House, but in this action the House followed the English custom and also a Virginia precedent of 1653. One cannot help but wonder if the House followed that precedent because they knew Parson Waugh all too well. Unfortunately, we will never know. On May 4, 1699, the House ordered that Mr. Waugh be informed that he was ineligible to serve and asked the governor to issue a new writ for the election of a burgess for Stafford. That order was carried out and Rice Hooe was elected.

It was not until 1775 that a resolution was adopted which disqualified clergymen from serving as delegates or sitting or voting in a convention. This was viewed as an effort to separate church and state and reflected the political atmosphere of the time. Prior to the Revolution, it was the custom of the House of Burgesses to refuse membership to a member of the clergy although there was no written precedent for it. Waugh was the second clergyman to be refused membership.

In addition to his other problems, Parson Waugh's credit seems also to have been in doubt. A letter from William Fitzhugh to Nicholas Hayward dated July 10, 1690, refers to John Waugh not paying for the property on which he was living. The land in question belonged to Mrs. Meese, widow of Colonel Henry Meese, first burgess of Stafford Countv. After Colonel Meese's death, Mrs. Meese decided to return to England. She agreed to sell the Potomac Creek property to John Waugh for £120 sterling, which money he was to send to her in England. Mrs. Meese returned to England but the money was never sent. Waugh had been living on the property for eleven years when Mrs. Meese wrote to Fitzhugh, "Since, Sir, it would yield me some money and if Parson Waugh cannot in all this time pay one penny, there's little hopes he ever will be able, therefore I would have you see to some other body, that should be able to pay me something." Fitzhugh wrote of Waugh, "and the truth of which he is never capable of payment." Fitzhugh directed Hayward to act as his agent to purchase the tract so Mrs. Meese could be paid. When Waugh discovered that Fitzhugh intended to buy the land, he immediately wrote to Mrs. Meese promising to consign tobacco toward the payment of it. Apparently, Waugh finally paid Mrs. Meese for the property, for there is no more mention of it in Fitzhugh's letters.

Parson Waugh made numerous appearances before the Jamestown authorities during his years in Stafford, and he was finally accused of being a "notorious offender" by the Virginia Council. His career ended, however, not as a result of his political agitation but because he persisted in officiating at the marriages of runaways and minors, despite repeated warnings. Missing records undoubtedly contained more references to his illustrious career for by the time his license was finally revoked in 1701, authorities were very familiar with his activities. They had no doubt grown tired of his frequent and eloquent, though meaningless, apologies. His career ended, he retired to Overwharton, his plantation on Potomac Creek. He died in 1706.

Despite his pleas to the governor in 1674 claiming poverty, Waugh managed to amass a great deal of land, including the first lot to be sold in the new town of Marlborough. On May 9, 1700, shortly before his last marriage, he conveyed 2,246 acres of land to his sons, Joseph and John. Parson Waugh died without a will, and his 6,350 acres along with some other land holdings went to his eldest son, Joseph. The year following his father's death, Joseph divided the 6,350-acre estate into five tracts of approximately 1,200 acres each and gave each of his brothers, John, Alexander, and David, an equal one-fifth part of it. The mansion house tract, part of the 6,350 acres, was equally divided between brothers Joseph and John, the latter therefore inheriting two-fifths of his father's estate. This tract is in present-day King George County and remains known as Waugh Point.

Parson Waugh never fulfilled his dream of being a burgess but his son John did, and he served several two-year terms. The House of Burgesses records list him as a burgess for the Assembly of 1712-1714 along with Henry Fitzhugh. John, however, seems to have had some of his father's qualities because on two occasions the House ordered that John Waugh "be sent for in custody of the Messinger to Answer [his] defaults in not Attending according to [his] Duty the Service of the House." Apparently related to this incident, john wrote a letter to his "Cossin Steele" (probably the husband from the disputed Whitstone-Steele wedding), "I have business depending at the Court but I am afraid I cannot be there by reason that both my horses be gown out into the woods with a company of wild horses and Cannot be gott therefrom. I entreat if you be at Court humbly to crave reference of the business I have depending there." Waugh was sent for in such a manner on two occasions. Unfortunately, gaps in the public records make it impossible to discern the outcomes of these incidents.

Note: Elizabeth Waugh appears in the records as John's wife from 1674 to 1691. She apparently died in the late 1690s and may not have been the mother of his two eldest sons. His last wife was named Christian.

view all 19

Rev. John Waugh's Timeline

Scotland, United Kingdom
Age 30
England, United Kingdom
Age 31
Stafford, Virginia, Colonial America
Age 33
Stafford County, VA, USA
Age 34
Westmoreland, Virginia
Age 35
Stafford, Virginia, Colonial America
- 1701
Age 38
aquia, Stafford County, Virginia, United States
Age 42
Age 44