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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 XVIII. Parish of St. Paul and the Mission Chapel--Fortieth Year of the Bishop's Episcopate--Attendance at the Third Lambeth Conference.

AT the meeting of the Synod in 1882, a memorial was presented by the Rector of St. Paul's Church, Portland, St. John, with reference to a proprietary chapel, erected within the bounds of his parish, contrary to his wishes and assent.

The circumstances of the case were of peculiar interest, and of a character to cause excited feeling. A lady, formerly a parishioner of the Parish of St. Paul, had given a considerable sum for the establishment of the Mission Chapel, and it was well understood that the services therein were to be conducted with an advanced ritual. Whatever, on this point, were the views and wishes of the Bishop, he evidently felt that much wrong had been done to a class of men in the Church desirous of more ornate services, and at the same time most devoted to their Master's service, while great latitude was permitted to those who came short of the requirements laid down in the rubrics. Intolerance was his great aversion.

The Parish of St. Paul, in the City of St. John, was one of the most important in the Diocese. The congregations were large, and most generous in their offerings. The rector was singularly well fitted for his position. He was in closest terms of intimacy and friendship with the Bishop, and greatly beloved by his people. He had accompanied the Bishop on his visit to England in 1878. A beautiful church had lately been erected, and the services were earnest, and reverent. The parish was almost wholly dependent on the free-will offerings of the congregation.

A few of the parishioners, earnest and devout, prominent members of the Church, found that they could not, in the Parish Church, have such a ritual as they desired. They applied to the Bishop and to the rector of the parish, for permission to erect, within the borders of the parish, the Mission Chapel referred to. They were allowed to proceed, and the chapel was completed. A clergyman from England was appointed to the charge. He was a man of good ability, high culture, possessed of considerable private means, and of unquestioned piety. Strange to say, there was no falling off in the attendance at the Parish Church, apart from those who originated the movement. The services went on in the Mission Chapel. Many from outside were drawn to them. The work of the Mission was carried on zealously, and no doubt much good was done in many ways.

All the while, the feeling with regard to the matter, both in the City of St. John and in the Diocese at large, was very deep, suppressed indeed, but not less trying. It was sad to notice estrangement on the part of many who had hitherto-regarded the Bishop with reverence and affection. Probably no one felt this more keenly than the Bishop himself. Without doubt, he had acted in this case, as he ever did, from a sense of duty.

There was no public controversy, no writing in the newspapers. Discussions on the subject in the Synod were marked by the greatest forbearance. The rector of St. Paul's would not allow an appeal to the civil courts. Time, by the grace of God, was helping, all the while, to heal old sores. At length, under the wise management of the committee of the Synod, to whom the matter was referred for consideration, both parties were induced to come together. It was agreed to apply to the legislature for an act to legalize the position of the Mission Chapel. To this the parish authorities of St. Paul assented. In this way, what appeared at one time a, source of endless division in the Diocese, was amicably arranged. This was the more especially rejoiced in, as it removed what must have been a great trouble to the Bishop in his declining years.

Since the arrangement of this difficulty, it may be said there has set in a period of mutual toleration. Less objection is now made to what is called a high ritual, when it is evidently accompanied by deep reverence and heartfelt worship. From the Mission Church large offerings have been given in aid of the missionary work of the Diocese. It is said that teaching of the young is well cared for, and kind attention given to the poor.

Controversy and strife on the matter referred to are now to a great degree laid aside. It is felt that a united stand must be taken against attacks by which the very foundations of the faith are assailed. People look back with wonder, as they recall the desperate energy of leading partizans disputing on the subject of gown and surplice, coloured stoles, or surpliced choirs.

Even in the case of those who considered that the Bishop had made a mistake in the origin of the Mission Chapel, they knew he acted from a desire to do what was for his Master's service. To his firmness, to his tolerant spirit, the Church in this Diocese is indebted for its comparative freedom from party strife.

The year 1885 completed the fortieth year of the Bishop's episcopate. It was alike considered by the clergy and laity that such a marked period should not be allowed to pass without especial notice. They desired to present to the Bishop a fitting testimonial, and much consideration was given as to what it should be. It was well known that no gift of a merely personal character would be acceptable. Many plans were suggested.

There was a pressing want in the Diocese, which for many years had been in part generously supplied by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, and this aid had lately been withdrawn. "We refer to assistance in their college course to candidates for the ministry. Without such timely help the admirable services of many of the most useful of the clergy would probably have been lost to the Church. In the Diocesan Church Society there was only a partial endowment. It was finally determined to raise an additional fund for this object, as a loving testimonial to the Bishop on the fortieth year of his episcopate, to be called the "Bishop Medley Scholarship Fund." Nothing could have been more satisfactory to the Bishop. A much larger sum than was at first suggested was gladly contributed, amounting to about $6,000.

The following is an extract from the Journal of the Synod; in 1886:

Resolved, That the annual proceeds of the Bishop Medley Scholarship Fund should be placed under the control of his lordship the Bishop of the Diocese, to be appropriated, during an incumbency, as he in his discretion may deem in the interest of the Church, in aid of Divinity Students.

And that the Synod be requested to accept and deal with the said funds, and all other amounts contributed thereto, in trust, subject to the provisions aforesaid, under the name of The Bishop Medley Scholarship Fund.

Moved by the Right Reverend Bishop Coadjutor, seconded by Hon. Chief Justice Allen,

That the Synod has with pleasure learned of the formation of the Bishop Medley Scholarship Fund, as a slight token of appreciation of the work of our revered Bishop for the past forty years; and having heard the resolution requesting the Synod to accept the trust of the said fund,

Therefore Resolved, That this Synod do accept the said trust as, requested.

During the summer of the next year the Bishop had a providential escape. The following note, from the Annals of the Diocese, August 18th, 1887, gives the particulars:

The Bishop left home with Mrs. Medley. At Zionville, seventeen miles from Fredericton, the cars ran off the track, and they were mercifully delivered from a sudden and violent death--the space between the cars and the edge of a precipitous bank above the river Nashwaak being only about a foot. After some delay they proceeded on their journey.

In the autumn of this year, October 15th, the Bishop was greatly cheered by a visit from his son, Rev. J. B. Medley, who remained at Bishopscote until Wednesday, November 2nd.

In the usual summary at the close of this year it is stated:

The Bishop ordained at Halifax, N. S., three deacons and two priests, and confirmed eight. Miles travelled, eight thousand six hundred and ninety-five. Confirmed in the Diocese by Coadjutor, one hundred and ninety-two; by the Bishop, four hundred and fifty-nine; ordained three deacons and one priest; consecrated one church; received one young woman from the Church of Rome. All praise be to God.

The third Lambeth Conference was summoned to meet in July, 1888. The Bishop, Metropolitan of Canada, was now in the eighty-fourth year of his age. Though wonderfully strong and vigorous, much anxiety was felt at his undertaking such an extended journey. Necessarily there would be much fatigue in connection with the various meetings, by which a life, regarded of such value, might be endangered.

He left home early in the summer, accompanied by his son, Rev. Charles Medley. The Bishop Coadjutor had preceded him. In the absence of both Bishops, the Rev. Canon Brigstocke, D. D., rector of Trinity church, St. John, was appointed commissary.

At the meeting of the Synod, July 4th, 1888, the chairman read the following communication from the Metropolitan:


Reverend and Dear Brethren:

I have been requested by His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, to attend a Conference of Bishops to be holden at Lambeth, in the month of July next, to consider several matters of importance to the Church, which will be laid before us by the Archbishop. The resolutions which may be adopted at the Conference of so many of our Fathers in God, presiding over Dioceses in our own Church, and in the sister Church of America, though not binding upon us as canons, will, no doubt, receive the most respectful and attentive consideration; and I have felt that I could not with propriety decline to be present at this Conference. On no other ground should I be willing to be absent from you at a time, when the presence and counsel of your Bishop seem to be especially required, both at the annual meeting of the Diocesan Church Society and at the meeting of the Synod. I rely, however, on the wise and zealous co-operation of the clergy and laity of the Diocese to adopt such resolutions as are calculated to promote its extension and prosperity. And I take this opportunity of expressing a hope that it will not be necessary to abandon any of the work which the Church has undertaken, and that by united and harmonious action this great evil may be prevented.

I have appointed the Rev. Canon Brigstocke to be my commissary to transact such business as it may be necessary to do during my absence, and the absence of the Bishop Coadjutor.

When the Synod is duly organized, I should think it desirable, if there be a quorum, that the reports of the committees should be presented and the committees re-appointed; but I should not deem it advisable that any business be transacted which involves a change in the constitution of the Synod. Notice must be given of the time and place of the next meeting of the Synod.

I hope to return by the Vancouver steamer, on September 6th, and I earnestly ask your prayers, that I may have a safe and prosperous voyage, and that I and my house may be preserved from harm.

Commending you all to the loving care of our Heavenly Father, I remain, my dear Brethren,

Your faithful Friend and Bishop,


In the Annals for 1888 is the following note:

April 21st. The Bishop left Fredericton for Halifax, and on the Festival of St. Mark, at St. Luke's church, Halifax, the Rev. F. Courtney, late rector of St. Paul's church, Boston, was consecrated Bishop of Nova Scotia, he having been unanimously elected by the Synod. There were present, and assisting with the laying on of hands, the Metropolitan, the Bishops of Ontario, Maine, Quebec, and the Coadjutor of Fredericton; also about sixty of the clergy of the Diocese, several from the Diocese of Fredericton, and a deputation from the Diocese of Massachusetts, U. S.

The new Bishop was received with great enthusiasm, being the first Bishop consecrated in Halifax since the revolution, that is, in one hundred and one years. Crowds of laymen filled the Church of St. Luke. The service was most reverently performed, and in the evening the Bishop was formally installed.

Nothing but necessary business was taken up by the Synod in the Bishop's absence. On the second day of the session the chairman was requested to send to the Most Reverend the Metropolitan, by cable message, an expression of most respectful and affectionate greeting. It was also resolved that an address of welcome be presented to the Lord Bishop on his return to his Diocese, and that a committee be appointed by the chairman to prepare such an address.

The Bishop's long experience, deep learning, and high theological attainments, fitted him to take a prominent part in the important deliberations of the Conference. He was greeted with respectful feelings of reverence and regard on his visits at Cambridge and Durham, where he received the highest honours at the universities. He also took a leading-part in the anniversary celebration at St. Augustine's College. The following extract is taken from a memorial article in the London Church Guardian, republished from the Canadian Gazette:

At the last Lambeth Conference the words and counsels of the Metropolitan of Canada were held in honour, while no one who was present at the S.P.G. meeting that year will forget how the simple pathos with which, at the close of his speech, he spoke of returning to his Diocese to die at his post, touched the large audience that filled St. James's Hall. When degrees were conferred at Cambridge on the leading Colonial and American Bishops, at no name--with the exception, perhaps, of Bishop Whipple's--did the crowd in the Senate-house so "rise" as at that of Bishop Medley.

The following extracts from the Annals enable us to follow the Bishop in his journey:

On the 14th June, 1888, the Bishop and Canon Medley embarked on board the steamer Vancouver.... They landed on the 23rd June at Liverpool. The Bishop and his son proceeded to Windesham, Surrey, and remained at Mrs. Robinson-Owen's till the 26th. They then went to London.... They proceeded on the 28th to Canterbury, and on the following day (St. Peter's) the Bishop preached in the chapel of St. Augustine's College, and after a public entertainment, in company with a large number of Bishops, he went to the Cathedral, where the Archbishop delivered an address from his throne in the sanctuary.... The Bishop received the holy communion on the 2nd July, with the Bishops, in all one hundred and forty-five, in Lambeth chapel. On the same day the Conference began, and the committees were appointed.

The Conference met daily at 10.30 a. in. and 2 p. m., allowing for an interval of a few days, when the committees were holding their meetings, until July 28th, when there was a general meeting of the Bishops at St. Paul's Cathedral, and the Archbishop of York preached.

July 7th, the Bishop and Canon Medley went to Salisbury by invitation of Bishop Wordsworth. On Sunday, the 8th, the Bishop celebrated at 8 a. m. in the Cathedral, and read one of the lessons in the afternoon.

An American candidate for the ministry was ordained deacon, with the Bishop of Salisbury's permission, in the domestic chapel.

At the morning service, the Bishop of Minnesota preached in the Cathedral, and in the afternoon the Metropolitan of India preached. A large number of laity called after the afternoon service. Prayers were said at 10 p. m., in the Bishop's chapel.

Mrs. Wordsworth, the next day, kindly took us to see the site of old Sarum.

July 10, a public meeting was held in St. James's Hall, on behalf of the S.P.G. The Bishop and other bishops delivered addresses.

We went to Lullington, and on the 15th (Sunday) I celebrated holy communion with my three sons, and preached in the evening.1 In the afternoon John and Charles walked to Orchardleigh, and Charles preached. July 16th, a missionary meeting was held in the school room. July 17th, John, Charles, H. Lancaster (the Bishop's son-in-law), his wife and daughter, drove to Bath to see Mrs. Ford, who entertained us hospitably. We also went to see the chapel and the memorial window in memory of my dear daughter, Christiana.... The Bishop then proceeded to London, and thence to Cambridge. On the 18th, an honorary degree of LL. D. was conferred on me by the University of Cambridge in the Senate House. On the following day we went to Norwich, and we remained over Sunday, the 22nd July, when I preached twice.

From July 23rd to 27th, I attended the Conference. The last meeting was held on the 27th. The following day there was a grand service at St. Paul's. I did not attend, but drove to see an old friend, ninety years of age, and confined to bed, with whom I prayed and read.

On the 30th July, we went to Durham, and on Tuesday, the 31st, the honour of a D.D. degree was conferred on me by the University of Durham. On the same day, two magnificently rendered services were held in the Cathedral. More than one thousand nine hundred singers took part in them. The Cathedral was quite full, and a long procession of Bishops and other clergy took place in the Sacrarium. Before we left Durham, the Bishops present subscribed to present the Bishop of Durham with service books for his chapel.

...On the 7th August, John, Charles, Edward and his wife, went with the Bishop to Exeter.... The Bishop and his son were most hospitably entertained by the Misses Marrich, the Chan, Exeter. Numerous friends joined the party. All the family went to St. Thomas and Exwick. The Bishop stayed on the three following days with Canon Courtenay, and his dear friend, Mrs. Fox Strangways.... On the 18th, the Bishop and Canon Medley went to Southleigh, and on the 19th, both preached in the old church...........

On the 6th September, the Bishop and his son went on board the steamer Vancouver, and arrived safely on Friday evening, 14th September, at Rimouski, and, travelling all night, reached Sussex rectory on the 15th, having been preserved by God's mercy from perils on land and sea, and from any serious illness.

On Monday, the 17th, the Bishop reached home with his dear son. The clergy and laity, and Sunday school children at Frederic-ton, all joined in hearty welcome. A thanksgiving service was held in the Cathedral on Thursday, the 20th September, and addresses of welcome were presented to the Bishop and to the Bishop Coadjutor, in the Cathedral.

It was on this occasion that the following address was presented by the committee on behalf of the Synod:


May it please Your Lordship:

We, the clergy and laity of the Diocese of Fredericton, as represented in Synod, approach your lordship with much respect and affection, to offer our hearty welcome on your return to the Diocese.

We feel deeply thankful to our Heavenly Father for the gracious care with which He has watched over you during your absence; for the kind protection He has afforded you in all your journeyings; and for the safety and health with which He has been pleased at all times to bless you.

While greatly missing your lordship's counsel during our late deliberations, we were not unmindful that at the Lambeth Conference your deep learning and ripe experience were largely contributing to the highest interests of the Church throughout the world, and aiding in the solution of many difficulties which now beset her in her high and holy mission.

We gladly avail ourselves of the opportunity of expressing our deep sense of the signal benefits which have accrued to this Diocese from your lordship's work and example during your long episcopate, and we earnestly pray that your remaining years may be productive of still further blessing.

Signed on behalf of the Synod.

O. S. NEWNHAM, Secretary
F. H. J. BRIGSTOCKE, Chairman.
St. John, N. B., September, 1888.

The Bishop replied as follows:


Dear Brethren of the Clergy and Laity:

I thank you heartily for the welcome which you have given me on my return to my Diocese. It affords me unfeigned satisfaction to be once more among you, and to be assured by you that my presence and labour amongst you are conducive to the best interests of the Church. I have to thank our Heavenly Father not only for the preservation from danger which He has mercifully afforded, but the abundant measure of health and strength which have enabled me to continue my labours among you from year to year during my long episcopate.

The honours which the Universities of Cambridge and Durham were pleased to bestow upon me, and the esteem and veneration which our brethren at home showed to my office in the Church, are not gratifying to me alone, but must be felt in their measure by yourselves, for when one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

If it please God to spare me, I hope as long as I live to be a co-worker with you, taking the oversight of the flock of God, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind, through the gracious help of the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord.

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