A South Carolina Genealogy:Information about William Screven
Home Page |Surname List |Index of Individuals | |Sources
Reverend William Screven (b. 1629, d. 10 October 1713)William Screven was born 1629 in Somerton, Somersetshire, England, and died 10 October 1713 in Georgetown District, South Carolina.He married Bridget Cutts on 23 July 1674, daughter of Robert Cutts and Mary Hoel.
Notes for William Screven:
A History of the Baptists
The Baptists in Maine and South Carolina
As in Massachusetts, so in Maine, the Congregationalists were recognized by law as ‘the Standing Order.’ They viewed the Baptists in the light of religious fanatics and regarded their doctrines and influences as deleterious to the welfare of both religion and society (Benedict, I.).
"It was soon known, that in Kittery, there were several persons professing to be Baptists. From where they came, is now unknown. In the course of events, an opportunity offered to them the privilege of-church communion, agreeable to their own theological views. The nearest Baptist church was at Boston, Mass., over which Rev. Isaac Hull (Ibid, I.) then presided. At the advice of Mr. Hull, these Baptists in Kittery united with his church.
"William Screven, an emigrant from England (Williamson, I.), was one of their number. Being a man of more than common talents, and devoutly pious, he officiated as leader of their worship (Boston Church Records). The brethren in Kittery and in Boston were satisfied that the Great Head of the Church had designed and called him to preach the gospel of Christ. He was accordingly licensed by the church in Boston, to ‘exercise his gifts in Kittery, or elsewhere, as the providence of God may cast him’ (Boston Church Records).
"The Baptists in Kittery being now blessed with a minister, and situated at so great a distance from Boston, deemed it expedient for their own spiritual advantage, and for the cause of Christ in the new settlements, to unite in a separate church. But their desire was at once disappointed by the violence of opposition.
"Moved by the same spiritual despotism which had disturbed the Baptists in Massachusetts, Mr. Woolbridge, the minister, and Mr. Huck, the magistrate, awakened prejudice and hatred against these conscientious disciples. in Kittery. Slanderous abuses and legalized tyranny-were now to be endured by them. Church members suffered not alone; but those who assembled with them for worship were repeatedly summoned before the magistrate, and by him threatened with a fine of five shillings for every such offence in the future (Backus, I.).
"Humphrey Churchwood, a man worthy of respect and esteem, for exercising his liberty of conscience, and encouraging the baptism of some of his friends, was conveyed before Mr. Huck and Woolbridge, to answer for abuses against the established order. But it doffs not appear that much was done but to revile and ridicule the Baptists.
"Alarmed at the success which attended these incipient and feeble efforts of the Baptists, the General Assembly of the Province took the business of oppression in their own hands. At the August session of the council, 1682 (Maj. B. Pendleton was then Deputy-President of the Province), Mr. Screven was tried and placed under bonds for good behaviour. The following is a copy of the records made by Edward Bishworth:
Mr. Screven appearing before this court, and being convicted of contempt of his majesty’s authority, and refusing to submit himself to the sentence of the court, prohibiting his public preaching; and upon examination before the court, declaring his resolution still to persist therein; the court tendered him the liberty to return home to his family in case he would forbear such turbulent practices, and amend for the future; but he refused, the court sentenced him to give bonds for his good behaviour, and to forbear such contentious behaviour for the future; and the delinquent stand committed until the judgment of this court be filed.
Varia Copia transcribed, and with the records compared this 17th of August, 1882.
E. B., Recorder.
(Early Records, IV. 237. August 17, 1688).
"Mr. Screven, regarding the precepts and examples of Christianity the only just rule of conduct, did not comply with the requisitions of the court. A fine of ten pounds was therefore imposed upon him. He was, moreover, threatened with the infliction of the penalties of the law for each and every future offence against the established order. This treatment constituted another part of the important business of the same session:
The court having considered the offensive speeches of Mr. Screven, viz.: his rash and inconsiderate words tending to blasphemy, do adjudge the delinquent for his offence, to pay ten pounds into the treasury of the court or Province. And, further, the court doth forbid and discharge the said Screven under and pretence, to keep any private exercise at his own house or elsewhere, upon the Lord’s day, either in Kittery, or any other place within the limits of this Province; and he is enjoyned for the future to observe the public worship of God in our public assemblies upon the Lord’s days, according to the laws established in this Province, upon such penalties as the law requires upon such neglect in the premises (Early Records, IV. 261).
"Neither these terrific proceedings of a provincial court, nor the slander and abuse of the clergy could crush the spirit and zeal of Screven, or prevent the embodiment of a Baptist church in Kittery. By the assistance of Rev. Isaac Hull, of Boston, the following persons were recognized, September, 1682, as a church of Christ in gospel order, they having been previously baptized. Win. Screven, minister; Humphrey Churchwood, deacon; Robert Williams, John Morgandy, Richard Cutts, Timothy Davis, Leonard Brown, Win. Adams, Humphrey Azell, George Litter, and several females (Benedict, I.). Storm and violence, fines, and imprisonments were now experienced by this little band of disciples. As a result of a long-cherished and well-organized religious intolerance venting itself in vehement and impassioned persecution, these humble Christians became disheartened and overcome. In less than one year from its organization, the church was dissolved and the members ‘scattered like sheep upon the mountains’ (Benedict, I.).
"To avoid the embarrassments of clerical opposition and further litigations, to shun the evils of slander and calumny, Mr. Screven, accompanied with his family, and some of his suffering brethren, left the Province, removed to South Carolina, where he gathered a Baptist church, which subsequently, became a flourishing society (Backus, II.).
"Mr. Screven was a native of England,—born in 1629. Soon after his residence in Kittery, he married Bridget Cutts, and was, with her, blessed with eleven children (Williamson, I.). His talents were above mediocrity. Though favored with but a partial literary competency, yet, a brilliant and energetic imagination, a fervent heart, enlivened by the genial influences of Christianity, wonderfully supplied that literary deficiency (Backus, I.) . He was beloved by his brethren, his ministrations were listened to with delight, and received with edification and profit (Backus, III.). He was eminent for devoted piety and religious usefulness. Mr. Screven died near Charleston, S. C., at the age of eighty-four years, leaving a respectable posterity to bear witness to his worth….
"From the dissolution of the church in Kittery, no Baptists appeared publicly in Maine for an interval of eighty-five years" (Millet, History of the Baptists in Maine; Greenleaf, Sketches of the Ecclesiastical History of the State of Maine, 243. Pourtsmouth, 1821).
It is not at all strange that under these conditions William Screven, now fifty-eight years of age, and his Baptist company removed to Cooper Creek, South Carolina, not far from the present site of Charleston. He called his home Somerton, after his residence in England. Charleston was then not even a village (McCrady, Edward, The History of South Carolina, 325, 326. New York, 1897).
There were two groups among the English Dissenters: Scotch-Irish Presbyterian and "Anti-PedobaptiSts." ~The "Anti-Pedobaptists" were followers of the Reverend William Screven, who had brought his organized congregation with him to Charles Town, South Carolina, in the 1690's. Screven had been banished from Kittery,
Maine, due to his religious feelings and became the first Baptist pastor in South Carolina. He remained with his congregation in Charles Town until 1706, when he secured land on Black River and moved there with his family. Screven died in 1713, but his son, the Reverend Elisha Screven, known as the founder of Georgetown, proved a worthy successor.5 The first church built within Williamsburg was known as the Black Mingo Meeting House,? some-times referred to as the Black River Church (due to its proximity to the conjunction of Black River and Black Mingo Creek), the Brick Church, or the Wyneau congregation, The construction of this house of worship had been completed by the Christmas of 1728, during which time the Reverend Morritt, visiting at the Prince Frederick Church, noted that the Dissenting Congregation had a finished building. There has been much debate and confusion over the existence of such an early church in the Williamsburg area. However, Dr. Howe, in his History of the Presbyterian Church in South Carolina, quotes from a letter written by Dr. J. R. Witherspoon in 1848, who said, "there was also a church below Black Mingo, usually called `the brick church,' erected several years anterior to the church near Kingstree . . .," which was founded about 1736.~It is probable that the Reverend Elisha Screven, "Anti-Pedobaptist" minister, played an instrumental role in the early life of the church; however, it was soon dominated by the Presbyterian element. By 1729, the Reverend Mr. Morritt had become pastor of Prince Frederick Church and in that year noted that the Black Mingo Congregation had a teacher from the Bermudas but does not state whether he served in the capacity of minister. A notable Presbyterian minister, John Baxter, received grants on Black Mingo as early as 1738, and was available to thischurch, where he preached during intervals in his later years. William Thompson, Jr., a resident of Winyai~, with land on the south side of Black Mingo Creek, left a will dated 1742 in which he mentions the construction of a new meeting house.
More About William Screven:
Date born 2: 1629
More About William Screven and Bridget Cutts:
Marriage: 23 July 1674
Children of William Screven and Bridget Cutts are:
- +Elizabeth Screven, b. 1683, Kittery, Maine,d., Charleston, South Carolina.