“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Mechanicsville in Hanover County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

The Reading Room

The Reading Room Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Pete Payette, March 24, 2018
1. The Reading Room Marker
Inscription.  On this site in 1743 ordinary colonists began the successful struggle for greater civil and religious liberty, and inspired a series of events that changed the course of American history. Four years earlier the English evangelist, George Whitefield, preached a sermon at the Bruton Parish Anglican Church in Williamsburg, Virginia. His sermon emphasizing the need for a personal religious experience was enthusiastically received, and subsequently published and widely read throughout the colony. During the previous decade increasing numbers of Anglicans dissented from the state church to gather in homes to study the Bible and read religious material similar to Whitefield's sermon.

As this "Great Awakening" emerged the dissenting population grew, prompting men like Samuel Morris, a Hanover County brick mason, to petition the colonial government for the right to build "reading rooms" like this one. By the time the Reverend Samuel Davies arrived in Virginia in 1747, three more reading rooms had developed in other locations. The dissenter movement understandably alarmed the Anglican clergy who charged them with disturbing the peace,
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and filed complaints with the civil authorities. The Colonial Governor William Gooch issued the following proclamation and directed that it be widely distributed only ten days before Davies arrived in Williamsburg to petition for his license to preach.

Transcript of above document:

Virginia sc.
By the Honble Sir William Gooch Baronet his Majesty's Lieutenant Governor and Commander in Chief of the Colony and Dominion of Virginia

A Proclamation

Whereas It is represented to me that several Itinerate Preachers have lately crept into this colony and that the Suffering these Corrupters of our Faith and true Religion to propagate their shocking Doctrines may be of mischievous Consequences. I have therefore thought fit by and with the Advice of his Majesty's Council to issue this Proclamation strictly requiring all Magistrates and Officers to discourage and prohibit as far as they legally can all Itinerant Preachers whether New-Light Men Moravians, or Methodists, from Teaching Preaching or holding any Meeting in this Colony: And that all Persons be enjoined to be aiding and assisting to that Purpose.

Given under my Hand at Williamsburgh this third day of April 1747 and in the xx Year of his Majesty's Reign.
William Gooch

God Save the King.

Topics. This historical
The Reading Room image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Pete Payette, March 24, 2018
2. The Reading Room
marker is listed in these topic lists: Churches & ReligionColonial Era. A significant historical month for this entry is April 1747.
Location. 37° 38.691′ N, 77° 19.835′ W. Marker is near Mechanicsville, Virginia, in Hanover County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Heatherwood Drive (County Route 1750) and Rural Point Road (County Route 643). Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 6411 Heatherwood Drive, Mechanicsville VA 23116, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Site of Polegreen (within shouting distance of this marker); Polegreen Church (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Polegreen Church (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Polegreen Church (within shouting distance of this marker); Welcome to Historic Polegreen Church (within shouting distance of this marker); The Polegreen Story (within shouting distance of this marker); Historic Polegreen Church (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Battle of Totopotomoy Creek (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Mechanicsville.
Credits. This page was last revised on March 26, 2018. It was originally submitted on March 25, 2018, by Pete Payette of Orange, Virginia. This page has been viewed 512 times since then and 119 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on March 25, 2018, by Pete Payette of Orange, Virginia. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.

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May. 18, 2024