Patrick Henry

Patrick Henry

The Louisa Court House Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution would like to recognize the role of Louisa County and Patrick Henry in the American Revolution

The justices in Louisa County confronted the King of England long before the Boston Tea Party in Massachusetts. In 1758, Reverend James Maury was the minister for Louisa County, which was in Fredericksville Parish. He was an educator and father of 10 children. Rev. Maury was paid in tobacco. He sold the tobacco when the prices were highest. 

Virginia colonists were all members of the Anglican religion, or the Church of England, which became the Episcopal Church. 

In 1758, the Virginia General Assembly passed a law which fixed the rate of the sale of tobacco at two pence per pound. This greatly reduced a minister’s salary. Maury and other clergy protested the law and went over the head of local authority to the King of England. George the Second refused to recognize the Virginia law. 

In Louisa, justices of the peace represented civil law and the vestry, religious law. Major Thomas Johnson, owner of the courthouse tract, was a justice of the peace and on the vestry, so he was vital in this disagreement. His nephew, Thomas Johnson, was the sheriff and he collected the taxes that paid Rev. Maury. When Maury came to collect his extra payment, Thomas Johnson refused. The case went to court in Hanover County and the county of Louisa lost its case, therefore Maury won.

Then Thomas Johnson brought Patrick Henry to Louisa to argue the compensation to be given to the Rev. Maury. Though tried at Hanover Courthouse, the case concerned only Louisa. At trial in 1763, Patrick Henry attacked the tyranny of King George the Second. Cries of treason were heard but the jury took his words to heart and only awarded Rev. Maury one penny in compensation. 

After Patrick Henry made this speech, the members of the vestry and the Louisa County Court could have been fearful of repercussions from the King of England, but they stood by Patrick Henry and made him Burgess from Louisa County from 1765 to 1768. 

It was at this time that Patrick Henry made his immortal speech, “Caesar had his Brutus, Charles the First his Cromwell and George the Second may profit by their example. If this be treason make the most of it.”  

It can be concluded that the Louisa County Court was influential in bringing Patrick Henry to prominence.