The 1689 “Parson Waugh’s Tumult” is the case of a vehement anti-Catholic minister provoking an attack by Virginia Protestants against local Catholics. The Stafford County, Virginia, parson John Waugh conspired with his in-law George Mason II to fan the flames of local distrust against a Catholic family (the Brents). He started a rumor that the Brents were in league with Maryland Catholics, who were going to cross the Potomac with Seneca Indians to attack Virginians – a rumor that many locals took very seriously. In the context of the anti-Catholic Exclusion Crisis and Tory politics in London and Jamestown, such provocation was not unimaginable. Parson Waugh’s conspiracy did not pan out – Marylanders quickly pointed out that there were no Seneca Indians in Maryland! – and the Parson and George Mason II were punished. But the incident sheds light on the strong religious lines in place at the time.
Dr. Edward Maddock served as a Justice in Stafford County, at least in 1691, and sat in judgment of Parson Waugh in a separate case – in which the court decided that Waugh’s marriage to a twelve-year-old was illegitimate. Despite Dr. Maddock’s justice role and his awareness of the parson’s character flaws, he would will a 500-acre plantation to Parson Waugh in 1694. Parson Waugh lived there until his death, and the historic Overwharton Parish found its roots there.
That Dr. Maddocks willed so much acreage to a man of such notoriety speaks volumes to the doctor’s Protestant resolve and to his strong familial relations in Stafford County. The doctor specified in his will that the land should not go to his daughter Anne/Amey because she had married someone against his will. We have to wonder if that someone was Catholic or otherwise against the doctor’s political allies.
Dr. Maddock’s marriage to Frances Norgrave – the widow of George Mason I – also adds to the picture. They were married from at least 1691 until her death in 1693. Perhaps Frances encouraged the doctor to support Parson Waugh out of respect for the Mason family. Parson Waugh was directly related to George Mason, who was equally chastised for his role in the Tumult and stripped of his militia command.