On the outside front wall of the church is a sign that reads, “St. James’ Episcopal Church, Hamilton Parish, Established 1730.”
Our Parish of Hamilton was established by an Act of the Virginia Assembly 285 years ago. It was named for Lord George Hamilton (1666-1751) who had distinguished himself in battle and was made Governor of Virginia by King William III. Although appointed in 1698, apparently he never visited the colony.
At its beginning, Hamilton Parish covered a vast area, including the present counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, and Fauquier. Over time, other parishes were formed from Hamilton and it was reduced in size. Today, the Parish encompasses about 140 square miles in central Fauquier
Earliest Original Document – Hamilton Parish In the library of the Theological Seminary at Alexandria, there is a leaf bound in the front of the vestry book of Dettingen Parish which appears to have been taken from the Hamilton Parish Register of 1748-49. Its two pages contain the signatures of vestrymen of Hamilton Parish who affirm, as follows:
“I do declare that I do believe there is not any Transubstantiation in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper or in the Elements of bread and wine at or after the consecration thereof by any person whatsoever. (signatures follow)….”
This fragment, believed to be the earliest Parish document extant, dates from the time of the first Minister of Hamilton Parish, the Rev. James Keith (1733-1751).