Maryland Gazette, 11 June 1752
On June 11, 1752, the Maryland Gazette of Annapolis published an account of contributions received from various donors in Virginia for a school proposed for St. Peter's parish, Talbot County, Maryland, to be established by rector Thomas Bacon (1711 – 1768). An Episcopal priest, Bacon was concerned with the religious and secular education of poor children, and the children of enslaved African Americans. Beginning in 1750, Bacon sought to establish a school for the "maintenance and education of orphans and other poor children, and negroes." The June, 1752 article appears to be an updated list of accounts first printed in the Virginia Gazette on October 11, 1751, which is much the same. George Wythe's donation of "2 Pistoles" appears in the June, 1752 Maryland article, but not in the earlier article from Williamsburg.
Bacon visited Williamsburg several times in 1751 and 1752 to raise money for the school, giving sermons and selling pamphlet copies to raise money. John Blair in his diary entry for for July 16, 1751, mentions "Mr. Bacon, &c. din'd here, we had fine musick." The article mentions a "Concert of Music in the College Hall, for the Benefit of the School," which possibly took place during Bacon's visit in July.
The article names such prominent Williamsburg residents as Peyton Randolph, the King's Attorney General; William Dawson, President of the College of William & Mary; Richard Graham, Professor of the Mathematics at the College; William Preston, Professor of Moral Philosophy; Thomas Nelson, Secretary for the Colony of Virginia; and John Robinson, Speaker of the House of Burgesses. Also listed as a contributor is an "Hon. John Lewis, Esq.," possibly Wythe's former brother-in-law from Spotsylvania.
The scheme for Bacon's school was originally advertised in Williamsburg in the Virginia Gazette for July 25, 1751, in a request for contributions. Though it claims to be a school intended for "poor children of both sexes," the scheme does not mention educating free or enslaved Black children.
Thomas Bacon is considered to be one of the "Associates of the Late Dr. Bray," a group formed by Thomas Bray, the priest who helped establish the Church of England in Maryland, and who sought to educate the enslaved in the North American Colonies. In 1761, Bacon attempted to open a school in Frederick, Maryland, for the instruction of free and enslaved Black children. The Bray School in Williamsburg, in operation between 1760 and 1774, was one of several schools for African American children founded in the Colonies at the suggestion of Benjamin Franklin.
Article text, 11 June 1752
THE Trustees and Managers, for the Charity Working School, now setting up in Talbot County, Maryland, having received the following Contributions to the said pious Design, by the Hands of the Rev. Mr. Bacon, from the under named Gentlemen and Ladies in Virginia, do hereby return their sincere Thanks, to the worthy Benefactors for the same; viz.
- For Benefactions received by Mr. Bacon, in July last.
To Peyton Randolph, Esq; his Majesty's Attorney General for 2 Guineas To the Rev. Mr. Richard Graham, Professor of the Mathematics, in William and Mary College, at Williamsburg, for 1 Pistole To the Rev. Mr. William Preston, Professor of Moral Philosophy, in Ditto, for 1 Pistole
- The three last mentioned Benefactions, received by the Hands of the Hon. and Rev. Mr Commissary Dawson.
To the Hon. and Rev. William Dawson, D. D. President of the College, for £ 5 Sterling To the Hon. John Blair, Auditor General of Virginia, for 5 Guineas Ditto, for his annual Subscription of 2 Guineas, of which received for the past Year 2 Guineas To the Rev. Mr. Thomas Dawson, Rector of Williamsburg, for £ 3 12 Sterling To a Gentleman desiring to be unknown, for 4 Pistoles To a Lady desiring to be unknown, for 4 Pistoles, To Miss Priscilla Bassett, for 1 Pistole
- The two last Benefactions, received by the Hands of the Rev. Mr. Thomas Dawson.
To Dr. George Gilmer, for 2 Pistoles To a Gentleman desiring to be unknown, for 1 Guinea To Walter King, Esq; for 8 Pistoles To the Hon. Thomas Nelson, Esq; Secretary for 4 Pistoles To the Rev. Mr. John Camm, Rector of York Hampton, for 1 Pistole To Warner Lewis, Esq; for 4 Pistoles To a Gentleman desiring to be unknown, for 1 Guinea To the Hon. John Lewis, Esq; for 4 Pistoles To the Hon. William Nelson, Esq; for 4 Pistoles To the Rev. Mr. William Yates, Rector of Abingdon, in Gloucester County, for 4 Pistoles To the Rev. Mr. John Fox, Rector of Ware, in Gloucester County, for 4 Pistoles To Ralph Wormley, Esq; for 4 Pistoles To Peter Robinson, Esq; for 2 Pistoles To Col. Francis Willis, for his annual Subscription of 3 Pistoles, of which he has paid, for the past Year. 3 Pistoles, To Mrs. Willis, for 4 Pistoles To Mr. Mordecai Booth, for 2 Pistoles who is also a Subscriber of 1 Guinea per Ann.
- For Benefactions received by Mr Bacon, in October and November last.
To the Hon. John Robinson, Esq; Speaker, for 4 Pistoles To George Wythe, Esq; for 2 Pistoles To Richard Lee, Esq; for 1 Guinea To a Clergyman desiring to be unknown for 1 Pistole To James Power, Esq; for 2 Pistoles To Zachariah Lewis, Esq; for 1 Pistole To a Gentleman desiring to be unknown, for 4 Pistoles To the Hon. Philip Grimes, Esq; for 5 Pistoles To Mr. John Holt, for 1 Pistole To Mrs. Lightfoot (Widow), for 2 Pistoles To Richard Ambler, Esq; for 1 Guinea To Francis Willis, junior, Esq; for 5 Pistoles To Mr. John Norton, for 2 Pistoles and a half, To the Gentlemen and Ladies, who attended a Concert of Music in the College Hall, for the Benefit of the School, for 23 Pistoles and a half.
- S. Bassett French Biographical Sketch
- Other Related Wythepedia Pages
- Thomas Bacon, "A Sermon Preached at the Parish Church of St. Peter's, in Talbot County, Maryland: On Sunday the 14th of October, 1750, for the Benefit of a Charity Working School to Be Set up in the Said Parish, for the Maintenance and Education of Orphans and Other Poor Children, and Negroes" (London: Printed by J. Oliver, 1751).
- William and Mary Quarterly 12, no. 3 (January 1904), 162-163.
- "Diary of John Blair," William and Mary Quarterly 7, no. 3 (January 1899), 142.
- William and Mary Quarterly 12, no. 3 (January 1904), 156-157.
- Thomas Bacon to the Vestry of All Saints Parish, Maryland Historical Magazine 6, no. 3 (September 1911), 271-272.
- "Benefactions Received in Virginia, by the Rev. Thomas Bacon, for Account of the Charity Working-School in Talbot County," Maryland Gazette (Annapolis), 19 December 1754, 3.
- "Rev. Thomas Bacon—1765—1768," American Quarterly Church Review and Ecclesiastical Register 17, no. 3 (October 1865), 430-451.
- "Thomas Bacon's Life," Archives of Maryland Online.