January 11: Francis Scott Key (1843)

Francis Scott Key is familiar to many as the Georgetown lawyer who witnessed the bombardment of Ft. McHenry during the War of 1812 and was so inspired to see the American flag still flying after a British bombardment that he penned the words that became America’s national anthem. What is perhaps not so familiar is that Key was a devout and prominent Episcopalian. In his youth, he almost became an Episcopal priest rather than a lawyer. Throughout his life he sprinkled biblical references in his correspondence. Though active in churches in Frederick, Maryland and Georgetown, he also helped found or financially support several parishes in the new national capital. Key also helped found two Episcopal seminaries, one in Baltimore and the other in Alexandria (Virginia Theological Seminary).

Key’s name appears in Epiphany’s early records. The following is from the minutes of the April 2, 1842 meeting of the Trustees of the Mission Church of the Epiphany:

A motion was made and carried, for the appointment of Committees of two persons each to solicit subscriptions for the support of the Pastor and to defray the expenses of the Mission Church, and at the same time to solicit subscriptions of money toward the erection of a Church edifice. Whereupon the following named persons were appointed on said Committees to wit: [assignments to various portions of the city]….and Wm. M. Morrison, F.S. Key and Jas. Moss to act East of 8th Street.

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