Makemie, Francis (c.1658–1708), presbyterian minister, was born near Ramelton, Co. Donegal, and educated at Glasgow University. The presbytery of Laggan, to which he had been introduced by Thomas Drummond in January 1680 and which had overseen his studies, licensed him to preach and ordained him about late 1681. In response to a request from Col. William Stevens, the owner of Rehoboth, a plantation on the Pocomoke river, Makemie went to America in 1683. Initially he was an itinerant evangelist in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, though beginning in the summer of 1684 he may have served as minister at Elizabeth River or Lynn Haven, Virginia, as suggested by his letters to Increase Mather (1639–1723). In 1687 he settled in Accomack county, Virginia, where he purchased land, engaged in trade, and ministered at nearby Rehoboth. About 1689 he went to London, primarily to enlist ministers. Expanding his trade to Barbados, he purchased a house there by early 1690 and obtained a licence to preach. His involvement in the West Indies trade was probably facilitated by his association with William Anderson, a prosperous merchant and landowner in Accomack county, and his wife Mary, whose daughter, Naomi (b. c.1668), he married sometime between 1687 and 1698. They had two daughters, Elizabeth (d. 1708) and Anne (d. 1787/8).
Makemie published his first work, a catechism, in 1691, though no copy is extant. Having read it, the quaker George Keith visited Makemie at his home in Virginia, accused him of being a false teacher, and challenged him to a public disputation. Makemie declined, partly because he was reluctant to engage in learned debate before an ignorant crowd, but he challenged Keith to record his criticism. To this Makemie responded in An answer to George Keith's libel, dated 26 July 1692 but not published until 1694 at Boston, with the endorsement of Increase and Cotton Mather, Samuel Willard, and others. In 1692 Makemie preached in Philadelphia, and in the next year or two he took up residence in Barbados. While there, he wrote Truths in a true light, dated 28 December 1697 but not published until 1699 at Edinburgh. In it he cited the catholic threat and defended protestant nonconformists as agreeing with anglicans on all substantive matters of doctrine and sacraments, though differing in ceremonies, polity, and discipline. Persecuting dissenters, he insisted, undermined the protestant interest. In January 1698 he was chagrined to learn that Increase Mather's son Samuel had decided not to come to Barbados because of an outbreak of disease. Later that year Makemie returned to Virginia, though he continued to engage in commerce with Barbados.
On 8 June 1698 Makemie purchased land on the Elizabeth river in Princess Anne county, Virginia, and several months later he and his wife inherited substantial property when her father died. By 1704 he was the second largest landholder in Accomack county, with 5,109 acres. The governor of Virginia approved his request for permission to minister on 29 April 1699, and on 5 October the Accomack court issued a licence based on the one he had received in Barbados. He thus became the second licensed nonconformist minister (after Josias Mackie) in the colony; he also obtained licences for his houses at Onanocok and Pocomoke. During the summer of 1704 he returned to England to recruit ministers, successfully enlisting John Hampton and George McNish. While in London he published A plain and friendly perswasive (1705), addressed to the residents of Virginia and Maryland, extolling the benefits of towns, where occupations are diversified, natural assets can be marketed, and social control can be maintained. He played a significant role in organising the first presbytery in America, which convened at Philadelphia in the spring of 1706 and again in December of that year; on both occasions he served as moderator.
In January 1707 Makemie and Hampton met in New York city with Lord Cornbury, governor of New York and New Jersey, and thereafter Makemie preached at a shoemaker's house in the city, as did Hampton on Long Island. For preaching without a licence they were arrested on Cornbury's orders on 23 January, and imprisoned until obtaining release on a writ of habeas corpus on 11 March. At his trial in June Makemie was acquitted after arguing that he had a valid licence, and that the act of toleration, with its licensing requirement, was in any case irrelevant because the Church of England was not established in the American colonies. Although acquitted, he was nevertheless responsible for all expenses, which exceeded £83 (including travel). He published both the sermon he had preached in New York, A good conversation (1707), and an account of his legal difficulties, A narrative of . . . American imprisonment (1707). Both works were printed in Boston, which he visited that summer. He and Cotton Mather went to Salem in August. He apparently did not attend the presbytery at Philadelphia in May 1708, though he was still ministering at Rehoboth in early June. Sometime between 10 June and 4 August 1708 he died, probably at Accomack. According to his will, dated 27 April 1708, he owned thirty-three slaves, substantial land, and livestock, and he had a library of approximately a thousand volumes.