Religiosity in general was not as prevalent in the colonial
Chesapeake as it was in New England. Nonetheless, religion was constantly
intertwined with daily life in general and with the ideas of death and mortality
In many ways the colonial Chesapeake peoples borrowed religious
ideals from the Anglican background. So it is not surprising to see many
of the aspects of the church around in everyday life.
One such instance includes the account of an English woman
recalling her husbands death; this account though written in England about an
Englishmen was published in Richmond Virginia (Fletcher 1). This
demonstrates the intermingling of the cultures through the idea of death.
In her account of Mr.
Fletcher's death Mary Fletcher spends almost the entire time speaking about
their relationship with each other in respect to God. She shows how great
of an impact the church has on life in general (Fletcher). She
demonstrates this by writing the following:
For some time before this
last illness, his precious Soul (always alive to God) was particularly
penetrated with the nearness of eternity; there was scarce an hour in which he
was not calling upon me to drop every thought and every care, that we might
attend nothing but drinking deeper into God (Fletcher 3).
Other aspects of the culture showed religious influence
including their views on the afterlife. With their basis for belief coming
from the Bible, colonists tended to agree with the theology of a definite Heaven
and Hell to one of which a person would continue on for eternity upon the end of
the earthly life.
These views came through
even in colonial art forms. The poet Samuel Davies of Hanover Virginia
published a book of poetry in 1751. This book gives an example of the
theologies to which the people of his day held:
But Oh!--What dismal
Scenes of Woe
Open in yonder Gulph
See! how the
fiery Surges swell,
And dash against the
Cope of Hell.
Thro' the thick Gloom
shed awful Gleams;
Pale Gleams that but
expose to Sight
The Horrors of eternal Night!
-An excerpt from
Davies' Hell (Davies 46)