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The Life and Work of the Most Reverend John Medley, D.D.,
First Bishop of Fredericton and Metropolitan of Canada

By William Quintard Ketchum
Rector of St. Andrews, N.B.

Saint John, N.B.: McMillan, 1893.

Chapter XI. The Work of the Diocesan Church Society--Notes from Annals of the Diocese--Consecration of the Cathedral

WE have already noticed that, in the organized missionary work of the Diocese, undertaken by the Diocesan Church Society, a large number of influential Churchmen stood aloof. This was in many ways a great hindrance to the progress of the Church. Soon after the Bishop's arrival an effort was made to unite all parties in the good work the Society had undertaken. This effort was crowned with success. It was found that, when men alike earnest and sincere in their desire to do what was right, met together, consulting and acting for the common good, their differences grew smaller. In promoting the interests of peace and good will, the Bishop set a noble example. Sincere and firm in his own opinions with reference to the doctrine and position of the Church of England, he was ever kind and considerate towards those who took what were called lower views. A consistent line of action was exhibited throughout his episcopate, both in his dealings with candidates for holy orders and in his appointments to vacant parishes or missions no complaint was ever made of undue bias or party feeling.

Now it was this sort of thing that gave a heartier tone to the proceedings of the Diocesan Church Society, and was the beginning of that great change which, in time, came over the Church throughout the Diocese.

The work of the Society, of which the Bishop is president, is mainly carried on by a general committee, consisting of all the clergy and representatives of the laity. It having been found desirable to apply to the legislature for a charter, there was great opposition to the passage of the act of incorporation, in consequence of a provision which gave the Bishop a veto on any changes in the constitution of the Society. The bill finally was passed by a small majority.

And here we may anticipate a little. The Society has been in operation over fifty years. Apart from the blessings conferred through its missionary work, it has done very much good through its meetings and mutual work of its members. In no one case has the Bishop ever been called upon to exercise his veto power; nor has there, during the long course of years, been any instance of a grant or vote on the part of the general or subordinate committees carried contrary to his wishes or expressed opinion.


1851, September 11.--The Bishop of Newfoundland (Dr. Field) arrived at Fredericton, preached twice on Sunday, 14th, and left Fredericton in company with the Bishop of Fredericton on Monday, the 15th, on his way to Boston. Thence the two Bishops proceeded to Montreal, where they were met by the Bishop of Toronto. The Bishops preached in several churches of the city. On Tuesday evening they all went to Quebec, where they were hospitably entertained by the Bishop. On Sunday the Bishop of Fredericton preached in the Cathedral for the Widows' and Orphans' Fund of the clergy.

On the Feast of St. Michael, the Bishops received the holy communion together, in the Cathedral, with many of the clergy of Quebec. On Wednesday the Bishops left for Montreal, and the Bishop of Fredericton proceeded to the United States, where he visited New York, Philadelphia, and other places. By the liberality of many friends, especially of the vestry of Trinity church, the Bishop collected upwards of £180 towards the Cathedral, which, with some other money, enabled him to order the east window. October 19th the Bishop preached twice at the Church of the Advent, for the Rev. Dr. Croswell. The sermons have since been printed at the request of the vestry.

During the stay of the Bishops in Quebec, they proceeded to draw up certain resolutions, a copy of which is subjoined. They were transmitted to the Archbishop of Canterbury by the Bishop of Quebec.

[These resolutions, referred to by the Bishop, formed the groundwork of the Declaration of Principles, Constitution and Canons of the Provincial Synod. The following are the concluding words:

["Lastly, while we acknowledge it to be the bounden duty of ourselves and our clergy, by God's grace assisting us, in our several stations to do the work of good evangelists, yet we desire to remember that we have most solemnly pledged ourselves to fulfil this work of our ministry according to the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England, and as faithful subjects of Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria, unto whom the chief governments of all estates of the realm, whether they be ecclesiastical or civil, in all causes doth appertain, and is not, nor ought to be, subject to any foreign jurisdiction. And we cannot forbear expressing our unfeigned thankfulness to Almighty God, that He has preserved to us, in this branch of Christ's Holy Church, the assurance of an apostolic commission for our ministerial calling, and together with it, a confession of pure and catholic truths, and the fulness of sacramental grace.

["May He graciously be pleased to direct and guide us all in the use of these precious gifts, enable us to serve Him in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life; and finally bring us to His heavenly kingdom, through Jesus Christ our Lord."

[(Signed) G. J. QUEBEC,

Summary of year ending 31st December, 1851: Churches consecrated, three; burial grounds, two; ordained priests, two; confirmed, six hundred and one; travelled three thousand eight hundred and seventy-five miles. "All praise be to God."

April 1.--The Bishop left Fredericton for England with his family. At Boston he attended the services at the Church of the Advent, where Bishop Southgate is rector, and assisted in administering the holy communion. On Easter Sunday, Bishop Southgate addressed to him, before the congregation, an affectionate farewell, and Mr. Wainwright accompanied him to the ship.

He reached England, by God's mercy, April 27. The Bishop preached at Liverpool, Oxford, London, Winchester, and many other places, and collected nearly £1,200 for his Cathedral, but was taken seriously ill from over-exertion. At Westminster Abbey he attended the concluding Jubilee service of the S.P.G., but was unable to take any part in the services.

The Bishop received several munificent presents for the Cathedral and Diocese, a list of which is subjoined, viz.:

Eighteen hundred volumes of books for the Cathedral Library; donor, Rev. R. Podmore.

A large brass eagle, towards the cost of which £60 was given by Mr. Podmore.

A pair of candlesticks for the altar, by the same donor.

An altar cloth, by the Hon. Mr. Justice Coleridge.

An altar frontal for Easter, by Mrs. Woodcock, of Wigam.

An altar carpet, by Mrs. Shutelsworth.

Carpets for sedilia, etc.

Altar frontal, by Rev. O. Prescott.

Twenty pounds' worth of books from S. P. C. K., and various musical books by Rev. R. Podmore.

Several chalices and patens, by the same liberal donor.

Encaustic tiles, by H. Minton, Esq.

Especially three dear little boys at Hursley, nephews of Miss Young, gave silver spoons, which were all made into one paten.

The Bishop ordered eight bells for the Cathedral.

He left Exeter on the 15th August, ...and on 6th September he reached Fredericton in safety with his family.

This year the main aisles of the Cathedral were changed into transepts.

On his return, the Bishop put in the east window, by Wailes, of Newcastle. This window was partly the gift of the members of the Church in the United States and partly the gift of the artist himself, who donated £80 towards it.

As already noted, the corner-stone of the Cathedral was laid by Sir William Colebrooke, at that time governor of the Province, on the 15th October, 1845. For some time the work proceeded slowly. Once it was thought necessary to enclose only a portion of the building, and leave the remainder to be erected at a future day. This was to the Bishop a source of great preplexity and trial. Just then, as if in special answer to prayer, the Bishop most unexpectedly received a letter from England, enclosing a large gift in aid of the Cathedral building. The name of the generous giver is unknown to this day, but the initial letters F. S. M., carved in one of the stones which support the chancel near the Bishop's seat, mark the place where the work was suspended, and where, by this timely offering, it was resumed. At length the work was finished throughout.

Since the above was written, the following most interesting incident has been kindly supplied by Mrs. Medley:

When at school at Bristol, the future Bishop very early became a Sunday school teacher, and was much loved by the boys in his class; and one of these boys, George Hatherley, became a devoted helper when the Bishop began to build his Cathedral. Mr. Hatherley was at that time a traveller for a tea merchant in Bristol, and when he had finished his employer's business, and taken such orders as he could secure, out would come his subscription list for his old Sunday school teacher's Cathedral, for which he pleaded so eloquently and effectively, that he was able to send contributions amounting to £500 sterling.

In the Annals of the Diocese, the following mention is made of Mr. H.'s kindness by the Bishop:

1853. "Among the benefactors to the Cathedral, special mention must be made of Mr. George Hatherley, of Bristol, England, who, by unwearied personal efforts, has raised and transmitted to the Bishop the sum of £500."

Mrs. Medley gives the following details regarding the initials on the tower pier:

When the Bishop was building the Cathedral, and had completed the nave and aisles, the funds were at so low an ebb that he called the building committee together, to see if any means could be taken for getting in promised subscriptions or collecting more money. He had himself given largely, and his friends in England had been nobly generous, so he could not well appeal to them again. But the committee, lukewarm and indifferent, suggested that the part of the church already completed should be shored off and used for divine service till better times and new subscribers enabled them to resume the work. The Bishop was sorely hurt and distressed, and spent the night in anxious prayer, that he might be enabled to see his way to completing the work he had begun for the honour and glory of God.

Next day brought the English mail (which then came but once a month), and a letter in an unknown hand. Prayer was turned into thanksgiving, for when opened, it contained a cheque for £500 sterling, with these words: "To the glory of God, and for the completion of Fredericton Cathedral, F. S. M."

The Bishop felt this direct interposition of Almighty God so deeply, that he was always loth to speak of it: it seemed too sacred for ordinary mention.

He had the initials "F. S. M." cut on the next stone laid in the south-west pier of the tower arch, and the anonymous gift was so abundantly blessed that means flowed in as required, the church was completed, all debt wiped out, and in addition to all the valuable property of the Cathedral, plate, library, altar hangings, etc., etc., the Bishop left a handsome cash balance to his successor.

What an encouragement is this to make, as God prospers us, offerings to Him for His Church and her services!

The Cathedral was consecrated on the 31st August, 1853. The following account, taken from the New York Churchman of that date, is from the pen of the late Dr. Haight, of Trinity church, New York, who was present at the service:

For several days previously, the clergy of the Diocese, and several from the neighbouring Provinces and from the United States, had been assembling at Fredericton, so that on the morning of the consecration there were many gathered round the eminent prelate, whom God had placed over this extensive Diocese, and whose labours have been so zealous and successful.

Of his lordship's clergy, all, with a very few exceptions, were in attendance to cheer him with their presence, to aid him by their prayers, and to assist in rendering the service in some small measure worthy of the greatness and solemnity of the occasion. From abroad, the Eight Rev. the Bishops of Quebec and Toronto, the Right Rev. Bishop Southgate, of the American Church, with several Presbyters from Nova Scotia, Canada and the United States, came, animated, as their words and deeds testified, by a spirit of true Catholic love, rejoicing in the prosperity of their brethren, and anxious to mingle their prayers and praises with those of their fellow-members of Christ's Mystical Body on this high festival.

Early in the morning the Royal standard and other national flags were unfurled from the windows of the tower, and the sweet-toned bells rang out a merry peal. The apprehensions of unpleasant weather, with which the clouds and mist had agitated many breasts, were soon happily removed; and, long before the hour appointed for the commencement of the service, the spacious nave and aisles were crowded to their utmost capacity. At, eleven o'clock the procession formed at the Province Hall, and moved in order to the Cathedral. A number of boys bearing appropriate banners preceded and flanked it. The members of the legislature present, the officers of the 76th, the members of the bench and bar, the wardens and vestrymen of the parish, the master workmen, the mayor of the city, with other inhabitants and strangers, were followed by sixty-one of the clergy in surplices, the architect, Frank Wills, Esq., the Archdeacon, and the four Bishops in their episcopal robes. On reaching the Cathedral grounds the bishops and clergy commenced chanting the 121st Psalm to the fifth tone.

In the paper referred to, a minute description is given of the service, and the names are subjoined of those who took part in it, and it is added:

Thus closed a service which, in point of interest, solemnity and importance, has rarely been equalled. Notwithstanding the vast assemblage, which crowded every part of the building, the utmost decorum prevailed. The spirit of the occasion was evidently felt by all.

The edifice itself, which was thus solemnly consecrated to the service of the Triune God, now demands our attention. It is situated at the eastern end of Fredericton, within a short distance of the bank of the river St. John, and is the first object that strikes the eye as you approach the city from that quarter. A more desirable and beautiful site cannot be conceived. The style of the architecture is that generally denominated second pointed, or decorated, with a determination rather towards the flamboyant, than the geometrical, in the great eastern and western windows. The ground plan is cruciform with central tower and spire. The nave, including the aisles, is eighty-four by sixty-two feet, and is divided into five bays, the porch being projected from the second bay on the south side, from the west end. West of the chief doorway, in the west end, which is of small dimensions after the manner of ancient English churches, is a porch, or triple arcade, flanked by massive buttresses, and surmounted by a cornice on which is inscribed the following legend:

Deo et Ecclesiae A.D. 1849.

Over the inside of this doorway, between its apex and the sill of the west window, in richly illuminated letters on a scroll, are inscribed the following legends:

I have waited for Thy salvation, O Lord. The Lord of Hosts is with us. O pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise.

The exterior of the Cathedral is striking, both from the cruciform nature of the plan, and from the numerous bold and massive buttresses, and the pinnacles and crosses surmounting the gables and spires. The extreme length of the building is one hundred and fifty-nine feet; breadth across transept, seventy feet; height of nave and choir roof, sixty-two feet; height of cross on west gable, seventy-one feet; height of cross on transepts, fifty-four feet; height of aisle walls, twenty feet; height of clerestory, forty-three feet; height of tower to base of spire, eighty-five feet; to apex of cross surmounting the spire, one hundred and seventy-eight feet. The building is entirely of stone excepting the spire. The stone of the body walls is from the immediate neighbourhood; the weatherings of the buttresses, string-courses, cornices, etc., are from the Bay of Fundy; all the dressings of the doorways and windows are of Caen stone, executed in England. It appears to stand the climate of New Brunswick admirably, and by its beautiful texture and light cream colour, forms an agreeable contrast to the more gloomy-toned masonry around it. We ought to have mentioned before that the piers and arches supporting the clerestory wall, and also those supporting the massive tower, are all of cut stone. The spire, as well as the roof, is covered with metal. There is an admirable chime of eight bells in the tower, the tenor bell weighing two thousand eight hundred pounds, key E flat. They were cast by the celebrated firm of Messrs. Warner, London.

The collection at the offertory, morning and evening, amounted to $1,320.25, which was, however, insufficient to pay the debt remaining on the church. [Of this debt the Bishop personally assumed a large amount, which was afterwards paid in a way subsequently to be noticed.] This, with so much else connected with the holy services of the day, caused great joy and thankfulness to the Bishop.

The following notice in the Churchman is from the pen of the eminent clergyman from the city of New York, before referred to:

On the following day, Thursday, the Bishop held his Triennial Visitation in the Cathedral. All the parochial clergy of the Diocese were present in the chancel, in surplices. After Morning Prayer the Bishop proceeded to deliver his Charge, after having received and confirmed the nominations of the several Rural Deans. We have not space to give an analysis of this masterly production, nor is it necessary, as it will soon be published. It was marked by his lordship's usual perspicuity, eloquence and strength--his deep Catholic feeling, and his lofty views of the responsibilities and duties of the Church of Christ, and of all its members, and especially of those "who bear the vessels of the Lord." His closing words were most solemn and touching. Every heart was melted, and we retired from the sanctuary, feeling that we had indeed heard words of wisdom and power not soon to be forgotten.

After the morning service on Friday, the bishops and clergy assembled in the library, when the following address was presented to the visiting bishops and clergy by the Bishop of Fredericton in the name and on behalf of himself and his clergy:

We, the bishop and clergy of this Diocese, now assembled in this city, having brought to a close the business on which we came together, could not think of separating without an attempt to give expression to the feeling with which we have seen the delightful solemnities of the last three days graced with the presence, and forwarded by the assistance, of three distinguished prelates--two of them belonging to our own branch of the Church Catholic, and the third a Missionary Bishop of the Sister Church in the United States--together with that of several presbyters of other Dioceses, American and Colonial.

We are grateful for the honour you have all been impelled by the best of feelings to do to a portion of the Church not long ago so small and insignificant; and shall not fail to derive hope and courage to grapple with the difficulties of our position, from the kind interest you have shown in our well-being, and from the animating words you have addressed to us.

The presence among us, on this great occasion, of such a noble band of Fathers and Brethren in the Lord, some from very distant parts of the world, has enabled us to exhibit an example of Catholic union upon which we shall never cease to look back with comfort and encouragement; and we trust this is only the first of many occasions on which similar examples of it will be exhibited on this side of the Atlantic.

We entreat, Fathers and Brethren, your prayers to the throne of grace upon our labours in the cause of Christ and His Church, which you have done so much to stimulate; and shall from our hearts pray God ever and in all things to prosper you and yours. (Signed) JOHN FREDERICTON,

And on behalf of the Clergy.
Fredericton, Sept. 2, 1853.

The Archdeacon then came forward and presented the following address to the Bishop of the Diocese:

To the Right Reverend JOHN, Lord Bishop of Fredericton:

MAY IT PLEASE YOUR LORDSHIP,--Your clergy cannot permit this, their first meeting in the permanent Cathedral of the Diocese, to separate without offering your lordship their most heartfelt congratulations on the completion of this great work, which they pray may long continue to afford your lordship, personally, all the satisfaction that you have anticipated from it, and to the worshipping people over whom you preside, all the religious advantages you have hoped and prayed for.

It is needless to assure your lordship that your clergy highly appreciate the excellent charges you have delivered to them on different occasions, and especially at this present Visitation. Their unanimous vote to request its publication is sufficient evidence of their feelings on that subject.

Your clergy would beg further to thank your lordship, and through your lordship the other munificent contributors, for the inestimable gift of the Cathedral Library, a collection of books of such varied literature as cannot fail to supply, to a considerable extent, the deficiency of their own generally limited collections.

Deeply sensible of the solemn truth, of which your lordship so feelingly reminded them in your excellent address, that, probably, they shall all never again meet in this world, they would conclude with their most fervent prayer that God may long continue your lordship's presidency over this extensive Diocese, and bless it with increasing happiness to yourself and the flock over which the Holy Ghost has made you overseer.

In the Annals of the Diocese the Bishop makes this brief entry:

1853, August 31.--The Cathedral, the corner stone of which was laid October, 1845, was consecrated this day. All praise be to God, who has enabled me, amidst many difficulties and much opposition, to finish it. May the Lord pardon all that is amiss, and make it His holy dwelling place for evermore. Amen.

Towards the close of the year, as it appeared that the Bishop would suffer a heavy pecuniary loss in the Cathedral debt, for which he was personally responsible, the Rev. C. C. Bartholomew, Mr. Hatherley, and other friends, raised most nobly £1,000 sterling for its liquidation. This paid £400 sterling due on the bells and £600 of other debt, leaving still a balance against the Bishop of £500, afterwards reduced by a benefaction of £100 from Mr. Rooke, and smaller sums from other friends, for which the Bishop tenders his grateful thanks to the donors, and above all to Him to whose goodness lit owes all be has and all be hopes for in time or in eternity.

On the 19th December, 1854, there is the following note in the Annals: "On my birthday, received a letter from Mr. Hatherley, who has collected sufficient to pay off all the Cathedral debt, for which great mercy all praise be to God. Thus is the year of trouble and perplexity joyfully ended through the never-ending goodness of my God."

Beyond a question, the erection of the Cathedral, with its constant, reverent, soul-inspiring services, produced a beneficial effect on the whole Church in the Diocese. An end was brought to the building of any more unsightly edifices.

On the occasion of his early visits throughout the Diocese, the Bishop had remarked, that there was nothing externally to distinguish the sacred buildings of the Church of England from those of other bodies of Christians. It was wholly otherwise, he said, in every town and village in England. In the Diocese of Fredericton, the style of church architecture of olden days has been revolutionized, and all through the influence of the Bishop and his practical skill in architecture. At first there was some opposition. The Bishop's good taste and knowledge on the subject, were not all at once appreciated. Time soon wrought a change. For many years past, few churches in the Diocese have been planned without the Bishop's advice. In the city of St. John, Trinity church would compare well with a city church any where. So would the church of St. Paul, though built of wood. A traveller throughout the Province well knows now when he comes to a church belonging to our communion.

Following the example of the Cathedral, the system of free seats has been adopted in most instances throughout the Diocese. Each year has been noted by more frequent celebrations of the holy communion, and more frequent weekday services, and those responsive and reverent, while in many other matters of minor importance, the advice and wisdom of the Bishop have been very generally regarded.

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