Colonial Settlement John Waugh

John Waugh

John Waugh (1630-1706)—the first rector (minister) of Overwharton Parish, a position he held from 1668 until 1701. He lived at Overwharton plantation, which is now known as Waugh Point in King George County. An educated man, he attended to the spiritual needs of frontier people from what is today King George County all the way to modern Anacostia; his parish had no known western boundary. With his charismatic personality and gift of oration, he had his parishioners’ unwavering loyalty. A staunch Protestant, Waugh encouraged the smoldering distrust between Virginia’s Protestants and Maryland’s Catholics. This very nearly resulted in armed combat, which was stopped just in time by Protestant William Fitzhugh. Waugh vented much of his distrust of Catholics on Stafford’s George Brent (c.1678-1700) of Woodstock (now part of Aquia Harbour subdivision) who was a Catholic. Although Brent was well educated and had served in a variety of important county positions, Parson Waugh warned his parishioners to distrust him. Waugh also advised his parishioners that there was likely a conspiracy afoot in which the Catholic Marylanders were set to employ the local Indians to murder Virginia Protestants. Although John Waugh very nearly sparked a battle between Maryland and Virginia, it was not these activities that worried authorities. Rather, it was his repeated performing of marriages between underage girls and much older men that brought about his professional demise. He did this numerous times during his tenure as rector and was called to Jamestown to explain his actions on repeated occasions. In one instance he married nine-year-old Mary Hathaway to William Williams, then a justice of the Stafford Court. After numerous warnings, his license was finally revoked in 1701 and he retired to his Overwharton plantation.