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Description: Bishop T. J. Claggett - First of the Episcopal Bishops in Maryland

Date: November 12 1898

Newspaper published in: Frederick, Md.

Page/Column: 5/2

Bishop T. J. Claggett - First of the Episcopal Bishops in Maryland - A long, useful and good life - Born in Maryland, he devoted all of his years to the interests of the church in his native state and was highly honored.

Thomas John CLAGGETT, the first Episcopal bishop of Maryland, of whose portrait a reproduction is given below, was born in Prince George's County, Maryland, on October 2, 1743. His father, the Rev. Samuel CLAGGETT, was a man of considerable attainments and most undoubted piety, and was for many years rector of the William and Mary Parish in Charles County.

It is an interesting fact that the first Bishop of Maryland was a descendent of Nicholas CLAGGETT, who, during the reign of George the Second, was Bishop of St. David's and afterwards of Exeter, England.

Samuel CLAGGETT, father of Bishop CLAGGETT, died while the future bishop of Maryland was very young and he then came under the care of his uncle, Mr. Edward GANTT, of Calvert county, and as soon as he was old enough was sent to the Lower Marlborough Academy, where he was thoroughly instructed in the rudiments of the Latin and Greek languages.

Having passed through the course at this academy with great credit to himself, young CLAGGETT was removed to the "College of New Jersey," now the University of Princeton, where he graduated on September 23 (25?), 1764. Before leaving college he had openly expressed his determination to study for the ministry and soon after graduating he began the study of theology under the direction of his uncle, the Rev. Mr. EVERSFIELD, rector of St. Paul's Church, Prince George's County. After three years of close application he went to England to be ordained, and was ordained deacon by Dr. Richard TERRICK, Bishop of London, in the chapel of the Episcopal Palace at Fulham, on September 20, 1767, and was advanced to the higher grade of priesthood on October 11, in the same year, when he sailed for home.

The young clergyman felt that his first duty was to his native province and upon his return to this country determined to devote his energies to advance the church in Maryland. He was accordingly appointed by Governor SHARPE to the charge of All Saints' Parish in Calvert County and his whole ministry was spent in Maryland. Soon afterward his settlement in All Saints' Parish he married Miss Mary GANTT, and excellent lady, with whom he lived in the utmost harmony until his death and who survived him several years. He served for some years in All Saints' Parish and afterwards St. Paul's Parish in Prince George's County, Queen Caroline Parish in Anne Arundel county and St. James Parish in the same county, holding the last from 1786 until his election as bishop six years later.

Mr. CLAGGETT took an active part in the efforts to reorganize the church in Maryland at the close of the Revolution and attended the convention of deputies from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina, held in Philadelphia during July and August 1789. He was a deputy from his native State and was made a member of the committee of seven appointed to prepare a body of canons for the governments of the church.

In 1789 the Maryland convention resolved to elect a Bishop at the nest annual meeting of that body and it was no slight evidence of the fitness of Dr. CLAGGETT that at the convention which met in 1792 he was chosen the first Bishop of the diocese by a unanimous vote of both clergy and laity. The church in the United States had at that time but four Bishops and all joined in the consecration of Bishop CLAGGETT.

The episcopate of Bishop CLAGGETT covers a space of twenty four years. During this time, his place of residence was the old family estate at Croom, Prince George's County, where his ancestors had lived and died and in addition to his duties as Bishop he served as rector of St Paul's Parish and was most energetic and successful in advancing the interests of the church in his diocese.

Bishop CLAGGETT was elected chaplain of the Senate of the first Congress to assemble in Washington after the removal of the seat of government from Philadelphia to that city in 1800. He is described as tall and of commanding figure, with long snowy hair and a benignant countenance. His voice was powerful, but [not] harsh and unmanageable.

The end of Bishop CLAGGETT's long and faithful service came when he was on a visit to St. James Parish, Anne Arundel County, when he was seized with a fatal illness. He expired at his home at Croom on August 2 (3?), 1816, in the seventy-third year of his age. The diocese of Maryland, in which he had labored to nearly half a century and whose bishop he had been for twenty four years, greatly lamented his departure. His remains were interred at Croom, in a family burying ground, consecrated by himself. Over his grave was placed a massive marble tombstone, bearing an epitaph in Latin, written by Francis Scott Key, a translation of which is as follows:

"Thomas John CLAGGETT, D.D.,
First Bishop of Maryland,
"Born October 2, 1744
"Ordained Deacon and Presbyter
In London, 1767.
"Consecrated Bishop, 1792
"Departed in the Peace of Christ,
August 3, 1816,

"He ruled the church with firmness and faithfulness
and adorned in by his character. He left a beloved memory to his wife,
his children and his friends and honored name to his country and the church."

His remains, rested in the graveyard at Croom until the first day of the present month, when, in accordance with the resolution of the House of Bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church, at their late General Convention. They were removed reentered at the site of the cathedral to be to be built in Washington city. Bishop CLAGGETT's wife was also buried in the family graveyard at Croom and her remains, along with those of her husband, were removed to the cathedral site. Bishop SATTERLEE proposed to raise a fund of about $5,000 with which to erect a suitable monument.

The three grandchildren now surviving Bishop CLAGGETT are Mrs. John H. CHEW, Sr, of Washington, D.C.; Mrs Grafton Duvall DORSEY, living at Oak Park, Illinois, and Mr. Samuel CLAGGETT, who is living a retired life at the old "Oakland Mansion," near Petersville, this county.

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Submitted: 02/10/08 (Edited 02/10/08)

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