The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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est, and not inappropriate to the Reminiscences.

        The grandfather of Bishop Atkinson was the son of a clergyman of the Church of England. He was himself born, baptized and brought up in the church, and never belonged to any other religious body. He came to this country in early youth, and after his marriage to Miss Pleasants, of Curls Neck, on the James River, Va., settled near Petersburg, in Dinwiddie County, on a farm known as Mansfield, named after the great English jurist, Lord Mansfield. The Bishop's parents were Robert and Mary Tabb Atkinson, who inherited the family seat Mansfield, and to them eleven children were born. Thomas, the subject of this sketch, being the sixth in order, was born on August 6, 1807. Upon reaching the age of sixteen he was sent to Yale College, but remained there not quite a year, owing to a difficulty in which he became involved with the faculty and which was strikingly illustrative of his character even at that early age.

        Some of his college companions, in the exuberance of youth and without the least malice aforethought, indulged on one occasion a little too freely in the juice of the grape, and became boisterously mischievous, not maliciously so, but recklessly as boys frequently are even in the absence of any stimulant. Young Atkinson was not one of the rioters nor was he connected in any way with the frolic, but knew all the parties who were engaged in it. He was summoned before the faculty and called upon to disclose their names. This he respectfully but firmly refused to do, stating that he was incapable of acting the part of a spy or informer. He was then told that his refusal would result in his expulsion from college. They little understood the character of the youth who stood before them when they supposed that a threat, or a fear of punishment would cause him to do that which his high-toned sense of honor forbade, and he was consequently dismissed and returned to his home. His conduct in that matter met the entire approval of his parents, and but a few years before his death it happened that on one occasion, in the freedom of social intercourse while narrating some incidents of his early life he referred to that episode, quietly remarking in connection with it that he had never felt any regret for the course he pursued.

        In 1825 he entered Hampden-Sidney College, Va., joining the junior class, and graduated at nineteen years of age with distinction in a class that numbered among its members the eloquent John S. Preston and Wm. Ballard Preston, the latter Secretary of the Navy during the administration of General Taylor. He married in 1828 Josepha G., a daughter of John and Jane Wilder, of Petersburg, and she and his immediate family, two sons and a daughter, still survive him.

        About the time of his marriage he was licensed to the bar and practiced his profession with great success, and would, without doubt, have risen to distinction as a jurist, had it not pleased God to call him to a different sphere of action. November 18, 1836, he was admitted into the order of Deacons in the Protestant Episcopal Church by the Right Reverend William Meade, Bishop of Virginia. He entered immediately upon the duties of his sacred office in the city of Norfolk, first as assistant to Rev. Dr. Parks, then minister of Christ Church. Within a year after his ordination to the Deaconate he was elevated to the Priesthood by the Right Rev. R. Channing Moore, D. D., and accepted a call to St. Paul's Church, Norfolk, May 7, 1837, where he remained about twelve months. He then removed to Lynchburg in the latter part of the year 1838. Here he labored with great acceptability as rector of the parish of St. Paul's until 1843, when he was called to Baltimore to succeed the Rev. Dr. Henshaw, in the rectorship of St. Peter's Church in that city, Dr. Henshaw having been elected Bishop of Rhode Island.

        His abilities were at once recognized, and such was the regard felt for him that Grace Church
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