Chapter VI. The Diocese of Fredericton
THE Province of New Brunswick, which is almost as large as the Kingdom of Scotland, was separated from Nova Scotia and erected into an independent Diocese in 1845. This was before the days of Episcopal election. Its first Bishop, the Rev. John Medley, was therefore nominated by the Crown, and consecrated at Lambeth on the 4th May, 1845. He reached his Diocese in June of the same year, and immediately set about the work to which he had been called. Bishop Medley was a graduate of Wadham College, Oxford, and at the time of his nomination was Vicar of St. Thomas, Exeter, and Prebendary of the cathedral. In 1849, he became Metropolitan of Canada. He is to-day the oldest bishop, with one exception, in the Anglican Communion. Bishop Medley is a second edition of Bishop Strachan. No one at least who knew Bishop Strachan, could ever look upon Bishop Medley without being reminded of him. He has, moreover, the same characteristics that distinguished the first Bishop of Toronto a powerful intellect, quick perception, sound judgment, prompt and unfaltering decision. Bishop Medley is a thinner and perhaps a somewhat shorter man than Bishop Strachan was. He has less of the masterful in his temper, and is gentler in his manners; but in that proportion he is less of a leader of men, and so [156/157] more inclined to let matters develop themselves rather than to develop them by his own will and energy.
One who is well qualified to speak, writes of Bishop Medley--"The time has not yet come for a just estimate of Bishop Medley's work and character. That he has laid broad and deep the foundations of the Church of England in this Province cannot be denied. Many spots in New Brunswick which were spiritually 'waste places' on his arrival, now bloom and blossom as the rose. He has ever aimed to advance the Church as a whole, and to that end has not occupied himself with the petty and often superficial activities of life, but, 'temperate in all things' has done regularly, without wasting mental or physical power, a vast amount of good work which will remain. Much has been done by him for Church music, Church architecture, and for a better and more reverential performance of public worship. But Dr. Medley's success as a bishop is due largely to his power as a preacher, to his exceptional liberality, and to his simplicity of life."
Nine years before the Bishop's consecration, Archdeacon Coster reports--"There are eighty parishes or townships in New Brunswick, and our ecclesiastical establishment consist of twenty eight clergymen and forty-three churches or chapels; but these forty-three churches are all contained in thirty-six parishes, several of which possess more than one church, so that there are still forty-four parishes without a church at this time. The twenty-eight clergymen reside in twenty-three parishes, some of these parishes having more than one clergyman, so that there are fifty-seven parishes out of eighty without a resident clergyman. I do not say that there are so many without clerical care, for it is well known that most of our clergy have two or more parishes under their [157/158] charge, and that they are continually obliged to go very far from their homes in the performance of their duty. But still," he adds, "there are fifty-seven parishes without a resident clergyman."
Ten years elapsed between the writing of this report and the first record of Bishop Medley's work, and yet hardly any progress had been made. Two months after his arrival, the Bishop began his visitation of the Diocese, and before the end of the year he had visited almost every parish in it. He found some places entirely destitute of the ministrations of the Church, and others very insufficiently provided with them. The schools too, for which the Church had made herself responsible, were in a languishing condition. The fact is, that while the population of the colony had been rapidly increasing, the number of the clergy had for some years remained almost stationary.
In June 1845, there were thirty clergymen only-two more than in 1836 but the Bishop was enabled materially to increase their number by ordaining ten candidates, and so six new missions were at once organized. This too was effected by the contributions of the people, without any additional demand upon the S. P. G.
A second visitation of the Diocese, lasting from June to the beginning of September, was made during the year 1846. The Bishop was greatly gratified by the respectful attention which he everywhere received from the clergy and the principal inhabitants, who conveyed him from station to station. He reports that he found the roads for the most part superior to the cross roads, and some of them equal to the best turnpike roads in England; "and as to the climate," he adds, "as there exists in England much misapprehension on this point, it may be right to state that I consider it, beyond all question, a finer climate than [158/159] that of England. It is undoubtedly hotter and colder, inasmuch as in July our thermometer ranges from 75º to 100º, and in December, January, and February, from a few degrees above freezing to 30º below zero. But, in the first place, neither the heat nor the cold are proportionately so trying as they would be in England, so that the chilly, starved feeling of cold and wet together, is almost unknown here. Then our sunshine is at least three to one as compared with England, the bright sun giving a cheerful look to the snowy landscape."
During the progress of the visitation, the Bishop was greatly gratified by the results which had followed the labours of a missionary the--Rev. Thomas Robertson--whom he had the year before ordained and stationed at Musquash. The people appreciating his zeal and activity, speedily erected a parsonage-house and subscribed so liberally towards his maintenance, that the S. P. G. grant was almost wholly released. They also erected two churches in the mission. One Sunday of this journey was spent in the county of Albert, where, though the country was rich and flourishing, no clergyman of the Church had ever been stationed. Here the Bishop was kindly received by a Baptist minister, who immediately circulated notice that the Bishop would conduct Divine service on Sunday next at Hillsborough. In the morning," says the Bishop, "though the notice was so short, the whole country was in motion some on horseback, some in wagons, and many on toot Having robed at a cottage hard by, we proceeded to the chapel, where three hundred people had assembled, scarcely any of whom had ever seen a bishop or heard the Church Service. I never had a more attentive audience. A few very zealous Church men were there, who, aided by others not Churchmen, subscribed £50 per annum towards the support of a [159/160] missionary. In the afternoon we just escaped in the rear of a most terrific thunderstorm, and I held service again, where I feel sure the sound of our Liturgy was heard for the first time." In passing through the Diocese the Bishop saw much that weighed heavily upon his mind. Some places he found entirely destitute of the ordinances of the Church, and many more with opportunities of public worship occurring only once every month or six weeks; while the clergy were exhausting themselves in constant travelling from station to station over a wide extent of country. "The Society," writes the Bishop, "will judge of the destitution that prevailed when I tell them, that after filling up twelve vacancies, I could find immediate and full employment for twenty additional clergymen, without diminishing the labours of any one at present in Holy Orders."
And not only were the people in these neglected districts deprived of the ordinances of religion, they were in many cases without Bibles and books of devotion, and so condemned, in a manner, to see their children grow up in ignorance and indifference. This is the condition of many and many a family in a new colony, and such it must continue to be, unless the Church at home can be induced to look with deeper and more general sympathy on the wants of her suffering members. It surely is our fault more than theirs, that so many stray from the fold or are lost in indifference and unbelief; for, says the Bishop, "wherever an active, useful clergyman is placed, the Church more than holds her ground."
In the course of his two first visitations the Bishop confirmed more than one hundred candidates, and was impressed with their serious and devout demeanour.
The first missionary Church Society in any colony had been established in Fredericton in 1836, by the influence and under the presidency of Archdeacon [160/161] Coster. Certain Church people of St. John held aloof from the new Society until, under the influence of Bishop Medley, they were induced to take their part in the missionary efforts of the Church, and the result was the immediate doubling of the income of the Society, and the opening up of some additional missions.
One of the earliest projects to which the Bishop devoted his attention was the erection of a cathedral. Shortly after his arrival he laid before the inhabitants a plan of the projected building. Much interest was expressed in it, and liberal subscriptions were promised. The first stone was solemnly laid on the 15th October, 1846, by the Governor, Sir William Colebrooke, in the presence of the most influential people in the colony; but in consequence of an unforeseen difficulty no progress was made till the spring of 1847.
The cathedral was finished mainly by the energy and untiring zeal of the Bishop. Cut on a stone in the chancel arch may be seen the three letters F. S. M., the history of which is as follows.
At a time when the Building Fund was greatly depressed, the Bishop anxious, and not knowing where to look for the needed aid, there came a letter from England purporting to have been written by one of three sisters, and enclosing, as the collective gift of the three, the sum of £500 sterling. The gift was accompanied by the assurance that the Bishop would never know who the donors were, and by the request that the initials F. S. M., of the sisters' names respectively, might be cut upon any stone in the cathedral that the Bishop might select. To this day it is wholly unknown by whom the money was contributed.
At another period of great financial difficulty, the Bishop, being in England collecting money, was [161/162] accosted in the street by a young man claiming to be an old Sunday-school pupil, and who expressed the wish that the Bishop would give him his authority to gather what he could towards the Building Fund of the cathedral in Fredericton. Armed with the Bishop's letter he went to his work, the Bishop anticipating little or nothing from the adventure. At the expiration of about a year or more, having almost forgotten the occurrence, he received a cheque from the young man for £1400 sterling.
Chief Justice Chipman left £10,000 (fifty thousand dollars) to the Diocesan Church Society, with the stipulation that it should be invested, and the annual income derived therefrom applied to the support of Home Missions. He also left £5000 (twenty-five thousand dollars) to the Madras Board, to assist in maintenance of schools under the Madras system, which was at that time (1851) the chief available system for the education of the poorer classes, and combined with it a certain amount of definite Church teaching. He also subscribed liberally to the Bishops Endowment Fund.
The University of King's College, Fredericton, like its namesakes at Windsor and Toronto, was formerly under the control of the Church of England. By its charter, dated the 15th December, in "the eighth year of the reign of King George IV., the Bishop of the Diocese was made its visitor, the Archdeacon of New Brunswick ex officio its President, and the Lieut.-Governor of the Province its Chancellor. The government of the College was vested in a council of nine, composed of the Chancellor, the President, the Visitor, and seven Professors, [162/163] being members of the Church of England; and in case there should not be seven Professors in the University, the Chancellor was empowered to fill up the council from among the graduates of the College, being members of the Church of England.
The College was endowed with 6000 acres of excellent land in the neighbourhood of Fredericton, £1000 sterling per annum from the Crown, and £1000 per annum from the Colonial Legislature. The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel sup ported five or six scholarships for several years.
On the 27th March, 1845, this charter was partially repealed by an Act of the Colonial Legislature. The control of the institution was placed in the hands of civil officers; all tests from professors or students were removed, except the Professor of Theology, who was required to be a member of the Church of England, and Divine Service to be performed in the chapel of the College was to be according to the forms of the United Church of England and Ireland, and persons taking Divinity degrees were required still to take the oaths prescribed by the charter. By later legislation the institution was wholly secularized.
There is not much of striking incident or variety in the onward progress of the Church during Bishop Medley's administration. The effort has been to subdivide and to extend, and there have been the usual appeals both to the Church in the Diocese and at home for funds and for men to sustain and extend the work. The progress has been steady but slow, and much still remains to be done.
In his report to the S. P. G. in 1879, the Bishop says, "that the number of the clergy now amounts to seventy-three, the largest number yet attained; every vacancy is filled, and several new missions have been opened during the past year." Like all his brethren, [163/164] he has to complain of the want of liberality on the part of the laity, as making Church extension difficult, if not impossible. The commercial depression and the recent disastrous fire in St. John, are referred to as accounting in part for this deficiency; but still the Bishop feels that his well-to-do lay people are not seconding his efforts as they should. He mentions the Rev. L. H. Hoyt of Andover, whose parishioners were largely engaged during the winter in lumbering operations, as one of the many instances of fervent zeal and ready adaptation to the needs of his position. Observing how few men there were at church, he resolved to follow them eighty miles away from his home, to their winter quarters. This effort was attended with the happiest results. The example thus set by a young man was soon followed by others of the clergy, and proved a great blessing to the dwellers in the lone wilderness.
The three most noteworthy events of the year were--(1) The consecration of the largest church in the Diocese, Trinity, St. John, which had been destroyed by the great fire; (2) the election of Dr. Kingdon as Coadjutor of the Diocese; (3) his own election as Metropolitan of Canada. The Diocese was then contributing £4000 (twenty thousand dollars) for its missionary work.
Among the many excellent missions, the Bishop writes--"Perhaps none excels in interest that of New Denmark, carried on by the Rev. R. M. Hansen. The population is wholly Danish, reinforced every year by fresh arrivals from Denmark--originally Lutherans by profession. The whole number of colonists joined the Church of England, and became hearty in their allegiance."
In a paper prepared in 1881 for the S. P. G., the Metropolitan gave a brief account of the progress of the Church during his Episcopate. He says--"I [164/165] infer, from the scanty records to which I have access, that the Church of England in this Province always had to contend with great difficulties. A very large proportion of the inhabitants were French Acadians, all Roman Catholics, who form now one-sixth of the population; and many of the early settlers in the neighbourhood of Fredericton and elsewhere, who came from the United States before the Revolution, were Baptists or Congregationalists. I draw a like inference from the recorded fact that when Mr. Cook first settled at Fredericton, the inhabitants were 400 in number, that only 100 went to church, which renders it probable that many of those that did not attend were Roman Catholics or Dissenters. To be sure, there was little to invite them, as the service was held in the King's Provision Store, used for almost every secular purpose, amongst others for balls and dancing-parties, as well as for the sale of spirits. I think fully eleven years passed before a suitable church was completed. From 1835, when Mr. Cook was appointed as the first missionary of New Brunswick, to 1845, when Bishop Medley was consecrated, the clergy had increased from one to twenty-eight. "The misfortune," he continued, "has always been the overgrown size of the missions, and the difficulty of supplying every congregation with a regular service once a week. Our effort has been to divide the missions, which, sometimes from want of men and sometimes from want of money, has been a slow process. Thirty-eight such subdivisions have taken place; the increase of the clergy has been as great as could reasonably have been expected. I found about twenty-eight; there are now seventy; and there are hardly any places occupied by the Church in New Brunswick in which the church fabric has not been built or rebuilt, or restored and greatly improved. The communicants have steadily and [165/166] greatly increased; those who do communicate attend more frequently, while those who are confirmed far more generally became communicants than was formerly the case.
"One reason why the Church has not made as rapid progress in this Diocese as in some of the more western jurisdictions, is found in the fact that the climate is more severe, and the soil less fertile. Then such immigration as has taken place into New Brunswick has consisted almost entirely of Scotch and Irish; furnishing large additions to Presbyterians or various denominations, and to Roman Catholics. These, occupying positions of extreme antagonism, do not look with any favour on the middle ground held by the Church of England. Yet," the Bishop says, "we hold our own, and there is no bitterness or violence of controversy between us. The Diocese is suffering from an extensive and continual exodus from this Province to the United States, as a result of the depression of business, and the scarceness of unoccupied productive land. Whole families of Church people are constantly leaving us, and do not return. A constant stream of young men is passing from this Province into the Republic; while the limited immigration comes from a source that brings no strength to us. As we now stand, every clergyman in charge of a mission has his hands full. Almost all have three services every Sunday, with long distances to travel.
The Coadjutor, a learned, godly, and zealous man, sustains the character of chief missionary rather than that of a governing bishop. In the laborious tours that he has made in recent years, he has come on places where Churchmen have not had a visit from a clergyman for eight years; in one place, where a good lady, who had never ceased sending her subscription to the Diocesan Society, had waited for years, [166/167] hoping against hope, and praying daily for a clergy man to baptize her child. A beautiful church has since been erected there--dedicated to the memory of a saintly pioneer, familiarly called Father Hudson.
THE PIONEER CLERGY.
Among the more prominent clergymen who laboured in New Brunswick in the pioneer period of its his tory, in addition to those whose work we have already described in the history of Nova Scotia, may be mentioned, the Rev. George Pidgeon, an Irishman by birth, and a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin. He came to America as an ensign in the Rifles, and at the end of the Revolutionary War, acting under the advice of Bishop Inglis, he prepared for the sacred ministry. He found occasion on his ordination to endure, in outlying mission work, the hardness with which he had become familiar in his worldly calling. He was appointed to the Rectory of Fredericton on the death of Dr. Cook, and afterwards, in 1814, he became Rector of St. John.
The Rev. Samuel Andrews, the first Rector of St. Andrew's, came from Wallingford, Conn., in the year 1776. He reports that on his arrival at St. Andrew's he found a considerable body of people, of different national extraction, living in general harmony and peace, punctual in attending Divine Service, and behaving with propriety and devotion. Great good had been done by Dr. Cook's visit, and the civil magistrate, ever since the town was settled, had acted as lay reader on Sundays, and set the people a good example. Mr. Andrews states, that owing to the fact that most of his people were for the present conforming Presbyterians, there were but few communicants, while the baptisms were numerous. In [167/168] 1791, he baptized 110 persons in nine months. In 1793, while visiting a distant part of his mission, he was invited to a lonely house, where he found a large family awaiting him, and after prolonged instruction and examination, he baptized the ancient matron, eighty-two years of age, her son sixty, two grandsons, and seven great-grandchildren. During this year Mr. Andrews baptized 150 persons, though he had only thirty-two communicants. He died in 1818, at the age of eighty-two. He had spent thirty years of his life in missionary work in New Brunswick. His salary from the S. P. G. was only £50 per annum. He was succeeded by the Rev. Canon Ketchum, who is still in charge of the parish.
The mission, whose centre was Kingston, N. B., was founded by the Rev. James Scovil, one of the U. E.'s. He had an extensive and difficult field of labour; the people being pioneer settlers had but very little money, and he could only build either church or residence by outside aid. He was succeeded by his son, Rev. Elias Scovil. For 130 years the three Scovils were in the ministry, and for ninety years they officiated at Kingston. Bishop Inglis in his reports frequently refers to the flourishing mission of Kingston, which he considered the Church mission of the Province. Archdeacon Best termed it the key stone of the Church in New Brunswick, and remarked that here might be seen a church widely and firmly established, with 200 communicants, ably ruled by a learned and orthodox Scovil.
Another of the refugee clergy, the Rev. Richard Clarke, came to St. John in company with Messrs. Andrews and Scovil, and was put in charge of the difficult mission of Gagetown. The settlers were so poor that they could give him no assistance, and in some way he managed to live, with his wife and eleven children, on the salary of £50 granted by the S. P. G. [168/169] He was twenty-five years Rector of Gagetown, a patient and persevering worker. He was succeeded by his son, the Rev. S. R. Clarke.
Woodstock and its neighbourhood was settled by Loyalists in 1787, and after a while they prevailed upon Mr. Frederick Dibblee of Stamford, Connecticut, who had escaped with the other Loyalists, to become their clergyman. He was the son of their former Rector, one of the inflexible Loyalists, who persisted in using the English Prayer-book, praying for the King long after the Declaration of Independence, and of whom the historian speaks as having been dragged through the mire and dirt because of his persistent loyalty. There is extant a wise and loving letter addressed to him by Bishop Seabury, entreating him to reconsider his position, and giving reasons for conforming to the American usage. His son Frederick, when chosen by the people, proceeded to Fredericton, and thence to St. John by canoe, there being no roads at that period. From St. John he took passage by schooner to Halifax, where he was ordained Deacon by Bishop Inglis, in 1791. Three months were occupied by Mr. Dibblee in his journey, during which time his family never heard a word from him. The journey can now be accomplished in eight or ten hours. Mr. Dibblee was appointed first missionary to the settlers on the river St. John living above St. Mary's and Kingsclear. It was a hard mission of great extent and difficult of access. The people were few in number, and scattered over an area of 150 miles. The roads were of the worst character. Bark canoes and riding on horseback were the only way of locomotion in the summer, and snow-shoes in the winter. Mr. Dibblee had taken great interest in the Indians, and when the Bishop visited his mission in 1792, he found no less than 250 families in and about Woodstock, who through Mr. Dibblee's influence were prepared to [169/170] give up their wandering life, and devote themselves to the culture of the soil. In the school which he established, the Indians appeared to have learnt as fast as the whites, and to have been fond of associating with them. Everything betokened order and regularity in the school, the whites and Indians getting on most harmoniously. Mr. Dibblee continued in charge of Woodstock and the surrounding country till his death, at the age of seventy-three, in May 1826.
The Rev. Oliver Arnold, the first Rector of Sussex, had a history not unlike that of Mr. Dibblee. He was one of the refugees, who was ordained by Bishop Inglis at the request of his fellow-exiles. He too carried on a successful work both among the whites and Indians. The Honourable George Leanord gave 240 acres of land for a parson's glebe, and built at his own cost a school-house 80 x 30 feet, for the use of the Indians and white settlers. Mr. Arnold lived to the age of seventy-nine, and was succeeded by his son, the Rev. Horatio Arnold, who worked faithfully and laboriously till his death at the age of forty-nine. His wife was a sister of Major-General Sir Frederick Williams, the hero of Kars, in honour of whom one of the parishes of King's county has been called Kars.
The church at Westfield owes its first beginnings to Colonel Nase, who, together with Mr. Ward, a school-master, acted as lay-reader for many years whenever a mission was without a resident clergy man. At Westfield he held services in private houses, and in the summer in a large barn belonging to his friend, the well known General John Coffin. It was in this building that several of Colonel Nase's sons were baptized when the Rev. Robert Norris was appointed to the mission. This clergyman's history was full of unusual adventure. He was born at [170/171] Bath, England, in 1764. His parents were Roman Catholics, who sent their son, at the age of fourteen, to Home, to be educated for the priesthood. After eight years residence in the Eternal City, he became Professor at the English College of St. Omer. He was admitted to the priesthood in the Roman Church at Christmas, 1789. It was while attending to his professional duties at St. Omer, that he began to question the teaching and practices of the Roman Church, and after prolonged and painful deliberation he determined to enter the Anglican Church. With this view he resolved to return to England; on his way he was accused of being a British subject and an aristocrat. He was arrested and thrown into prison. This was the eve of the Reign of Terror. He suffered fifteen months' close and hard confinement, and lived in daily expectation of being led forth, like so many of his confederates, to execution. He was not released until the downfall of Robespierre, in 1794. He hastened to England as speedily as he could, and naturally supposed that his mental trials and bodily sufferings were at an end; but he really fell into greater distress than he had yet encountered. All the members of his family were zealous Romanists. They felt indignant that one of their number, and he a priest, should forsake the faith of their fathers; hence they refused to receive him; his father disinherited him, and he found himself a stranger in his native land, without friends, acquaintances, or even the means of subsistence. He therefore sought to procure a livelihood by giving instruction in the French and Italian languages. He struggled on in this way for nearly two years, meeting with only partial success, until Dr. Charles Moss, Bishop of Bath and Wells, after becoming fully satisfied of his learning, religious principles, and moral character, recommended him to the Society for the Propagation [171/172] of the Gospel, for employment as a missionary. On the 17th March, 1797, Mr. Norris renounced the errors of the Church of Rome in St. Mary la Bon church, Cheapside, and was appointed missionary to Nova Scotia. He immediately embarked for his new-field of labour, but did not reach Halifax till June. Without pausing to rest, after his long and perilous voyage, he pushed on to the newly-formed parish of Chester, of which he was put in charge. Here he officiated till 1801, when he was transferred to West-field. This mission in those days was very rough, the roads few and bad, and the people very scattered. His work was very trying. In 1806, he was appointed by Dr. Charles Inglis to the Rectory of Cornwallis and Horton. Amid the beautiful scenery of this pleasant parish he spent the remaining years of his life, happy in the discharge of his spiritual duties, and in more temporal comfort than he had hitherto enjoyed. He died on the 16th October, 1834, in the seventy-first year of his age.
Dr. Skeffington Thomson, a native of Ireland, and for some time a magistrate in that country, became second Rector of St. Stephen's, and was manifestly one of the energetic missionaries of that period. By his exertions six churches were built in his mission. Dr. Thomson was one of the small band of clergy who assisted Archdeacon Coster in the formation of the Diocesan Church Society, which has proved such a source of strength in New Brunswick.
The Rev. George Bisset, one of the Royalist clergy of Rhode Island, who suffered great privations and indignities for his principles, was appointed to the Rectory of St. John on the removal of Dr. Cook, of whom we have already spoken. He was evidently an able and successful man, and large congregations gathered around him. He laid the foundation of Old Trinity, but died before it was completed, within ten [172/173] years after his arrival at St. John. He had greatly endeared himself to his people, who speak of his death "with the most heartfelt grief," and they are persuaded that no Church or community ever suffered a severer misfortune in the death of an individual than they experienced from the loss of this eminent servant of Christ, this best and most amiable of men.
The Rev. Dr. Byles, who was elected to the Rectory of St. John in succession to Mr. Bisset, on the recommendation of the Bishop, belonged to a family of great reputation among the early Puritans. He himself was a Congregational minister for several years. The Vestry of Christ Church, Boston, in 1768, invited him to become their minister, and on his consenting (whether from conviction or mere inclination is not stated), they paid his expenses to go to England for Orders, and agreed to give him £100 per annum on his return. He was evidently an enthusiastic Loyalist, for on the Declaration of Independence, he at once resigned and removed to Halifax. After twelve years service in that city, he was appointed Mr. Bisset's successor, and moved to St. John on the 4th May, 1789. The congregation wrote to the S. P. G., thanking them for recommending so efficient a clergyman to them, and Dr. Byles reported to the same Society that on his arrival he found a decent house, a crowded church, and people who received him with every mark of good feeling and approbation. On Christmas 1791, Trinity church, which had been in course of construction for some time, was opened, and Dr. Byles preached the first sermon. He died in 1814, at the advanced age of eighty.
Dr. B. Gray, after having completed his education in England, was ordained in 1796, and put in charge of the missions a few miles from Halifax. When [173/174] Jamaica was taken from the Spaniards in the seventeenth century, large numbers of African slaves left the plantations, and took up their abode in the mountains. They were a wild, savage race, called Maroons; they were conquered by the English, and 500 of them sent to Halifax. Such were the people over whom Mr. Gray was first appointed. He was afterwards appointed successively to the Rectory of St. George's Church, Halifax, and then, in 1825, he become Rector of St. John, N. B. He was mainly instrumental in the erection of Grace Church, Portland, which he and his curate served, till a resident clergyman was appointed. He sustained a terrible loss in 1833. His Rectory was burned, his wife perished in the flames, and his library, perhaps the finest in the Province, was completely destroyed. A subscription of £600 was made up and presented to Dr. Gray, to assist in repairing this latter loss. He died in 1854, in the eighty-sixth year of his age and the fifty-eighth of his ministry.
He was succeeded by his son, the Rev. T. W. D. Gray, who was considered one of the ablest divines of the Maritime Provinces. He was widely known as a keen debater and controversial writer. He was one of the first three Canons appointed by the Bishop of Fredericton, and one of his chaplains.
He was succeeded by the Rev. George Best, who was a man of great gentleness of character and unaffected piety. He was appointed first Archdeacon of New Brunswick by Bishop Inglis, and did much by his official visits to stir up the energies and interests of the Church in the outlying parishes and missions.
The Rev. George Coster, a graduate of St. John's College, Cambridge, had been appointed Archdeacon of Newfoundland in 1825, and on the death of Mr. Best he was transferred to the Rectorship of [174/175] Fredericton and the Archdeaconry of New Brunswick. He was a man of good judgment and practical ability, who took an active part in the extension of the missions of the Church.
He, with his brother, the Rev. Frederick Coster, for many years the efficient secretary, organized and earnestly promoted the first Church Society of the Canadian Church. One who knew the Archdeacon well, speaks of him as embodying the idea of a hero, a martyr, and a saint. "I am sure," he says, "if not precisely either of these, he yet could have been all, had the circumstances of his life called forth his latent powers. He was an English gentleman of the old school, and as a Churchman was far in advance of his time. He was the first to introduce into the Diocese the Church's rule of Daily Prayer, Saints' day observance, frequent Communion, the Offertory, the surplice in preaching, and the other changes of our time with which all are familiar. He exercised the most unstinted hospitality towards the clergy. His home life was made happy by his many charming gifts of mind and manner, added to his holy and self-denying life." Under sore trials from ill-health and worldly loss, "he remained patient, uncomplaining, and cheerful. He was a man of great learning, of wide and varied reading; spending many hours of every day in his study. His education, refinement, and keen sense of humour, combined with his gentle kindness, made him a most delightful companion to his family and friends." "While his gentleness, and active but unostentatious charity endeared him to the whole community in which he lived.
These are only examples selected from the lists of the men who were employed in the establishment of the Church in this Province.
There were many others as worthy of mention, [175/176] who did their work earnestly and have passed to their reward, whose life cannot be even briefly traced in this record. They have been followed by more than one generation of men who have not proved themselves unworthy of the heroic pioneers of their race and calling.