Dateline: Virginia, 1696. This Act of the Assembly gives the answer. Short primary source for American history teachers and students.
Here is the 1696 Act that makes their demands official and sets the clergy’s salary. The main point in each paragraph is highlighted in bold.
Modernized transcription begins:
AN ACT FOR THE BETTER SUPPLY AND MAINTENANCE OF THE CLERGY
Whereas a competent and sufficient provision for the clergy will be the only means to supply this dominion with able, faithful, and orthodox ministers whereby the glory of God may be advanced, the church propagated and the people edified;
And whereas the law now in force entitle the glebes [ministers’ homes] to be laid out, in making such provision, does seem very deficient and uncertain.
Be it enacted by the Governor, Council, and Burgess of this present General Assembly and the authority thereof, and it is hereby enacted,
That the said act of Assembly in the printed book entitled Glebes to be laid out and every clause and article thereof be from henceforth repealed and made void, to all intents and construction and purposes as if the said act had never been made, anything in the said act or in any other act contrary in anywise notwithstanding.
And be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, that all and every minister or ministers in all and every parish and parishes in this dominion incumbent in the said parish or parishes and herein officiating as minister or ministers shall have and receive for his or their maintenance the sum of sixteen thousand pounds of tobacco besides their lawful perquisites [“perks”] and that it shall and may be lawful for the vestry or vestrymen of any parish or parishes and they are by virtue of this act authorized and empowered to raise and levy the same in their respective parish or parishes, as also to levy five percent for collecting and paying the said tobacco convenient.
And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that it shall and may be lawful for the vestry and vestries of all and every parish and parishes to appoint the church wardens of whom they think fit to collect and receive the ministers’ or other parish dues, and the said person or persons so qualified as aforesaid shall be and are hereby empowered in case of nonpayment to make distress of the same.
And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid that all and every vestry and vestries in this dominion shall be and are hereby authorized and empowered where the same is not already done to purchase and lay out a tract of land for the glebe at their discretion and at the charge of their respective parishes; and likewise to build and erect a convenient dwelling house for this reception and abode of the minister at their discretion of such parish or parishes vestry or vestries. Provided always and it is the true intent and meaning of this act, that if any vestry or vestries of any parish or parishes shall find their parishes to be so small and poor and not able to allow and maintain a minister as aforesaid, that then their respective parishes may be united and consolidated to the next adjacent parish or parishes. And whereas the clerk of the register fee seems to be so small an encouragement for an office of so much trust;
Be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, that every clerk of the register shall and may lawfully by virtue of this act take and demand the sum of five pounds of tobacco or sixpence for recording and registering every birth, burial, or marriage; and the church wardens of the said parish or parishes or any other person or persons appointed by the vestry or vestries are hereby authorized and empowered to collect the same or in case of nonpayment to make distress.
Why Tobacco? Coinage was rare, so another commodity they could hold in their hands was better. They surely were not going to use edible grains.
ARTICLES IN SERIES
How much should Virginian Anglican Clergy Be Paid in 1696?
Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia, 1761-1765, ed. John Pendleton Kennedy (Richmond, Virginia: 1907) xxxix-l (39-50).