Andrew Spradley (spelt Spradly in the below) took a stance against paying taxes to the Church of England in Virginia by signing the below Dissenters Petition. This was a perilous stance to take because it could be perceived as a treasonous action against the King George III of England.Especially since the Declaration of Independence had been issued and proclaimed in Philadelphia.
"VIRGINIA LEGISLATIVE PAPERS
FROM THE ORIGINALS IN THE VIRGINIA STATE ARCHIVES.
DISSENTERS PETITION,* ALBEMARLE, AMHERST AND BUCKINGHAM - NOVEMBER 9th, 1776
Ref'd to Comm. upon the State of the County -
To the Honourable, the Delegates and Senators, Representatives of the several Counties and Corporations of the Commonwealth of Virginia, assembled at the City of Williamsburg.
The Memorial & Petiion of the Desenters from the Church of England and others in the Counties of Albemarle, Amherst & Buckenham, humbly sheweth.
That your Memorialist have never been on any equal Footing with the other good people of this Colony in respect of religious Priviledges, having been obliged by Law, to contribute to the support of the Established Church, while at the same Time, they were moved from a Principle of Conscience to support that Church of which they called themselves members; Yet, in as much as this was the Form of Government established, either when they came into the Colony, or being natives, when they became Disenters from the Church of England for the sake of good order, they have patiently submitted to their Grievances, continuing to be peasable & loyal subjects, always ready & willing to stand up with the foremost in the support of Government, & in the Defence of the just Right & Property of the subjects.
That when it became necessary that the Form of Government should be new moddled, in consequence of our having thrown off our Dependance on the Crown & Parliament of great Britan, your Memorialists flattered themselves, that, that Form of Government, that w'd secure just and equal Right to the subject would be the chance of every Individual, has from the Consideration of justice & good Policy that would be contained in it, and also from the Constitution, that by the joint and strenous Endeavours of every one, our Liberty, our all must be defended against the unjust Violaters thereof and that therefore all should enjoy equal Priviledge -
That your Memorialist cannot disguise their real concern to observe, that instead hereof there are many who are still violent for a reestablishment of the Episcopal Church and to have been informed that there are sundry Petitions about to be preferred to the undersigned by the Bulk of the People, nor can they forbear signifying to this Honourable House there sence of the great Injustice contained in the establishment of any one religious Denomination of People, worshiping the same God, and all strugling in same common cause of Preference of all others, and that all and every other religious Sectary should be obliged to contribute to the support of that Church thus established, while it with the greatest Difficulty that they can support Publick Worship in that way and manner that they rather choose.
Your Memorialist judge, however, that they may rest quite easy on referring it to the known Wisdom, Candour, & Integrity of this Honourable House, how far such Petitions should be heard and granted, and also how far such Petitions should be heard and granted, and also how far such a mode of Government should be established.
Your Memorialist conceive, that to put every religious Denomination on equal Footing, to be supported by themselves, independent of one another, would not only be a just and reasonable mode of Government, but would most certainly have an happy Influence of the greater Purity of the several Churches; on their more free and friendly Intercourse with one another; on suppressing anything like Feuds, and animosities amongst the People, and on warmly attaching all of every Denomination to Government.Such a mode of Government is all that your Memorialists Desire, and what they pray this Honourable House for, nor can they doubt of obtaining this, or any other reasonable Request from a Body so respectable, who, they trust, have the equal Happiness of their Constituents in particular and the Commonwealth, in general, as their highest motives.
That all propitious Heaven may Inspire this Honourable House with wisdom equal to the Importance of the Business devolved on them, & that this Commonwealth may become the Invy of theNations & Glory of the world, shall ever be the ardent wish of your Memorialists & humble Petitioners.
Chas. Lewis, Jun'rAlex'r Maccay
John ColesJohn Harris
Tucker Woodson Jr.Thos. Benge
Thos. NapierRobert Harris
Charles L. LewisHugh Hill Morris
Chas. Lewis N. G.William Rogers
Charles HudsonJesse Melton
Bennett HendersonJacob Moon
James StephensonCharles Daniel
Isham LewisRobert Hardee
Chas. WingfieldMartin Brannen
George GilmerEdward Carter
George DiversNatt Morris
Benage GentryThos. Baber Jun'r
Benjamin LacyWilliam Gooch
Philip MazzeiAbraham Eads
Samuel DedmanAbsamlem McQuery
Nathaniel HaggardNat Henderson
William WotsonJames Woods (X marked his signature)
Reuben MeltonJohn Montgomery
John MeltonBenjamin Moor
Alex. GordonMartin Keyser
John JonesLawrence Suddarth
James DudleyBenjamin Hedison
John StathamAndrew Spradly(My another spelling version ofSpradley. Ron Bridges)
Charles StathamThomas Landrum
John WingfieldSamuel Luthrell
Thos. PembertonJoseph Tucker
Hierom GainesHenry Harper
James KerrAndrew Smith
John WoodsonThomas Smith
Jeremiah ClevelandThos. Shannon
Cotton BengeJohn Crow
Samuel SheetsJohn Shields, Jn'r
Henry FordJohn Campbell
Mallekiah BrannemLangdon Dapriest
Issac PueJohn Martin" (1)
*The best annotation of these religious petitions is Dr. Eckenrode's admirable work The Separation of Church and State in Virginia.
(1) Dissenters Petition, Albemarle, Amherst and Buckingham - November 9th, 1776, in The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. XVIII No. 3 (July 1910), 255 - 258. Transcribed from Virginia Legislative Papers, From the Originals in the Virginia State Archives,