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Tag Archives: Anglican Church

- A Colonial Cover-up: Lunenburg County Records Reveal New Information


Front cover, The Killing of Reverend Kay, courtesy of cynthiamattson.com.

Has researcher and author Cynthia Mattson uncovered a sordid, centuries-old murder conspiracy and cover-up?  There’s good reason to believe she has.

Reverend William Kay was a lightning rod for controversy. As Virginia’s nascent planter elite sought to consolidate their social position in the mid-18th century, they ran into one obstacle: the Anglican Church, which, with the weight of the British government behind it, occasionally took precedence over the even the wealthiest laymen. This put Kay on a collision course with Tidewater planter Landon Carter.

In the past centuries, aspects of Kay’s life have warranted comment in a number of history books, including ones by such high-profile authors as Eric Foner, but the manner of his death has never been addressed. Indeed, as Mattson wrote to me, “I happened upon a lone entry in a court order book from the fall of 1755… recording the jailing of three of Kay’s slaves for killing their master. I was astonished by my finding, for I had thoroughly researched the Kay/Carter affair and not one of the historical accounts, nor the histories of Lunenburg County, mentioned that Kay had met a violent death a mere two years after the conflict with Carter had ended.”

Suspicious of this murder, Mattson attempted to dig deeper. Strangely enough, however, no record of the trial made it into Lunenburg’s official court order … read more »

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