Project Canterbury

The Church of England in Nova Scotia and the Tory Clergy of the Revolution

By Arthur Wentworth Eaton

New York: Thomas Whittaker, 1891.

Chapter I. The Annapolis Garrison

NOVA SCOTIA has the dignity of being the oldest Colonial diocese of the Church of England, her first bishop having been the first bishop consecrated for England's loyal children in any of the growing colonies of her empire in the East or the West. Except Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania, she is the eldest, indeed, of that great sisterhood of Anglican dioceses, that from four continents now claim the Church in England as their mother. On this account, if on no other, the history of the diocese of Nova Scotia should command the interest of Anglican Churchmen everywhere. But there are facts other than ecclesiastical about this sea-girt province that lend interest to its church history. Nova Scotia is the ancient Acadia, the camping ground of two great nations that for more than a century fiercely contended for supremacy in these western wilds. To Acadia France sent some of her most adventurous spirits, some of her bravest explorers, some of the gayest and courtliest of her nobles. In her welfare were interested the proudest of France's sovereigns, the greatest of her statesmen, the most influential of her priests, the most brilliant women of her Tuileries and Versailles. About the old Acadian forts cluster many of those romantic traditions of love and sorrow that France always left where she planted her lilies. In the conquest and settlement of Acadia, England exhibited some of her most marked traits--indomitable energy, undaunted courage, military ardor, and a genius for successful colonization. To her Acadian possessions many of her sturdy sons turned their steps for trade and agriculture, and in the conquered forts, first and last, dwelt many who bore the greatest English names. To the interest that such traditions give, one must add the charm of quiet scenery--rich alluvial dyke lands, well-tilled upland farms, and orchards in the midst of which nestle homes that remind travellers of the homes in the Greek islands, as they appear to those who sail by; slight mountain ridges that end in bold, picturesque headlands; gracefully indented coasts, blue bays and harbors with green slopes to their edges, long lilied lake chains where, for days, one may row unhindered from point to point; luxuriant pine and maple woods, with autumn colors more brilliant than elsewhere, and wild flowers with crisper, clearer tints.

Acadia was originally a region of undetermined extent, in a general way embracing the maritime provinces--Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, part of the province of Lower Canada, or Quebec, and part of Maine. In the treaty of Utrecht its boundaries are given as, south, the Atlantic Ocean, west, a line drawn due north from the mouth of the Penobscot, north, the St. Lawrence river, east, the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Strait of Canso. Of all this tract of country De Monts was named, in 1603, lieutenant-general, his powers likewise extending to all the inhabitable shores of America north of the latitude of Philadelphia. His first settlement, which was soon abandoned, was on St, Croix island, in the St. Croix River, his second, which was permanent, was Port Royal, on the Annapolis basin. With De Monts, in this first settlement were associated Champlain, Pontgrave, and Jean de Poutrincourt. In 1613, Captain Samuel Argall, an Englishman, engaged in settling Virginia, came north and wantonly destroyed the little French colony at Mt. Desert, established by the Countess de Guercheville for converting the Indians, and the next year came farther on and tried to destroy Port Royal. In 1621, England having gained nominal possession of Acadia, Sir William Alexander, a Scotchman, obtained from James I. a charter of "New Scotland," comprising Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and made several attempts to colonize his domain. To put new life into the enterprise he parcelled out the territory into baronetcies, and established the order of Baronets of Nova Scotia. In 1632, by the treaty of St. Germain's, Britain surrendered the territory to France, Alexander's rights having been previously bought by Claude and his son, Charles de la Tour. Shortly after the peace, Chevalier Razilly was made by Louis XIII. governor of the whole of Acadia, appointing as his lieutenants Charles de la Tour, east of the St. Croix, and Charles de Menon, Sieur d'Aulnay-Charnisé, west. The former established himself on the river St. John, the latter at Castine, on the eastern shore of Penobscot Bay, and one of the most romantic chapters in Acadian history is the long story of their quarrels, of the brave defense of her husband's fort by Madame de la Tour, of her death soon after from grief and humiliation, then of Charnise's death, and two or three years later of his widow's marriage to her husband's old rival, de la Tour. In 1654, under Cromwell, Acadia was subjugated by two Puritans, Major Robert Sedg-wick of Charlestown, Massachusetts, and Captain John Leverett of Boston, and in 1656 Sir Thomas Temple, one of Cromwell's supporters, was made its governor. In 1668, by the treaty of Breda, it was again ceded to France with undefined limits, and again in 1690, Port Royal was conquered by Sir William Phips, who became soon after the first royal governor of Massachusetts. Once more, in 1697, by the treaty of Ryswick, Acadia was handed back to France, to be restored finally to England in 1713.

Apart from the few French or English who from time to time settled in Acadia, the country was originally inhabited solely by various tribes of the Algonquin family of Indians, for the most part naturally quiet, harmless people, who seem to have taken not unkindly to the French and the religion of the French priests. Parkman's "Jesuits in North America" tells thrillingly the story of the early missions among the Indians in Acadia of the Jesuits and Recollets, the latter a reformed branch of the Franciscan order. Under the influence of Father Peter Biard, a Jesuit at Port Royal, the aged chief of the Micmacs, Membertou, and many of his people were soon converted, and this was the beginning of long, successful labor by missionaries of the Church of Rome among the Micmacs of Nova Scotia, the Malecites of New Brunswick, and the Abenakis of the country of the Kennebec. In 1663, Bishop Laval founded a seminary at Quebec, which soon become the centre of Jesuit missions on this continent; from Quebec priests were sent to Acadia, Illinois, and the lower Mississippi, Cape Breton Island being one of the chief missions. So vigorously were these missions pursued that by 1690, it is said, all the Micmacs had become Catholics.

The present diocese of Nova Scotia comprises the province of Nova Scotia (including Cape Breton) and Prince Edward Island, with ninety-four parishes sending delegates to the Diocesan Synod, and over a hundred names on the clergy list. In the beginning this diocese embraced all the British colonies in America from Newfoundland to Lake Superior, besides the islands of Bermuda. From it in 1793 was detached the second oldest Colonial diocese, the diocese of Quebec, then comprising the whole of Canada. In 1839 the see of Newfoundland, including Bermuda, was created, and in 1845 that of New Brunswick.

Three noteworthy epochs in the history of Nova Scotia must be kept in mind as one studies the history of the Church in this province, the period of the final cession of Acadia to England by the treaty of Utrecht in 1713, the founding of Halifax under Lord Cornwallis in 1749, and the Tory emigration from the revolting English colonies--chiefly New York and Massachusetts--between 1775 and 1784. The history of the Church does not properly go further back than the second of these periods, but for nearly forty years before that, in the garrison at Annapolis, English chaplains had ministered to the troops and the British or French settlers who lived about the fort.

When De Monts, in 1604, sailed into the tranquil bay, a century afterward named Annapolis Basin, he brought with him both a Huguenot minister and a Roman Catholic priest. Champlain was with the party, and he says that these reverend gentlemen agreed but poorly on the voyage, sometimes growing so fierce in their discussions that they fell to with their fists on questions of faith. "I leave you to judge," he naively says, "if it was a pleasant thing to see." In 1605 Port Royal was founded and is thus, save St. Augustine, in Florida, the oldest European settlement on the American continent. The early history of Annapolis Royal, which is still an important point in the diocese of Nova Scotia, perhaps exceeds in interest that of any town on the continent. There is, as has been said, a rare charm about the Nova Scotia scenery. It is true it has none of that semi-tropical luxuriance which makes the southern landscape, with its spreading palms, drooping cypresses, and rich odor-breathing magnolias, so attractive to the student of southern pioneer history, but there is a charm of outline, a virile grace in the landscape of Nova Scotia, a clearness in the skies, a vivid beauty in the forests, and a brilliancy in the wild flowers that in abundance come to bloom, that compensate for the lack of southern profusion. Its charms the adventurous noblemen, Champlain, De Monts, Poutrincourt, Pontgrave, and their associates felt as they sailed up the Annapolis Basin and anchored before the spot which soon became the site of their fort and their village. Their fort held no rude company, but such men as Marc Lescarbot, "avocat en Parlement," poet and first historian of the colony, and those other gallant sons of France who united to form the renowned brotherhood of l'Ordre de Bon Temps. After the first winter at Port Royal, its founders sailed away, but the houses were left standing, and in 1610 Poutrincourt came back with a new ship-load of French settlers who became the Pilgrim Fathers of the people of Acadia. On St. John Baptist's Day, in June, 1610, the priest La Flèche in his vestments, surrounded by gaily dressed French courtiers, soldiers in uniform, sailors, lawyers, laborers, and lackeys, baptized into Christianity on the shore of the basin twenty-one Indian converts, and to the reverent wonderment of the half-clad natives, in concert with his devout attendants, loud and clear, chanted the Church's Te Deum. As in Acadia generally so here for many years the spiritual welfare of the colonists and natives was in the hands of the Jesuit missionaries, of whom Father Biard was at least one of the most active and best known.

The conquest of Port Royal in 1710, which was the downfall of French authority in Acadia, was effected chiefly through the energy and persistency of the people of Massachusetts Bay. Naturally, the Puritans had no love for the French. Two peoples could not have been farther apart in temperament and general views of life than the New England people and the settlers of Acadia, and the dislike seems to have been mutual. The Indians, moreover, had in the beginning conceived a strong liking for the French, and had always taken sides with them against the English. Consequently there were frequent depredations of the Indians on the life and property of the New England colonists, which only served to increase the hatred of New England to those who, as they believed, were inciting the Indians to deeds of violence. In 1710 the long-continued hostility resulted in an expedition against Port Royal, carefully planned between the colonies and the Home Government, with Colonel Francis Nicholson, as its chief leader, and Colonel Samuel Vetch as his associate. All the New England governors were instructed to aid the undertaking, and accordingly four regiments were raised in New England--two in Massachusetts, one in Connecticut, and one in New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Nicholson was general, and Vetch adjutant-general of the whole expedition, and the colonels of these New England regiments were Sir Charles Hobby, Taylor of Massachusetts, Whiting of Connecticut, and Shadrach Walton of New Hampshire. The grenadiers of Walton's regiment were commanded by Paul Mascarene, so long a prominent figure in the military government of Nova Scotia. On the 18th of September, the armament sailed from Nantasket, and early in October Monsieur de Subercase, the Governor of Port Royal, surrendered his fort and the English entered into final possession. The place was now named Annapolis Royal in honor of Queen Anne, and General Nicholson manned the newly acquired fort with two hundred marines and two hundred and fifty New England volunteers, commissioning Colonel Vetch as governor. Henceforth, instead of the white flag of the Bourbons, the red cross of St. George floated from the chief fort of Acadia as it had for so long floated over the neighboring New England shores.

At the annual meeting of the S. P. G., held February 20, 1712-13, it was resolved that the Honorable General Francis Nicholson then starting for America, Her Majesty's Governor of Nova Scotia or Acadia, and of Annapolis Royal, within the same province, and also commander of all Her Majesty's forces there and in Newfoundland in America; "should be requested to take cognizance of, and make inquiry concerning all the Society's missionaries, school-masters, and catechists; as also of the churches, glebes, parsonage houses and libraries, sent by the Society in the plantations within the verge of his commission (as a person who has deserved well of the Society in his several stations, for his love to the ministry, and for his laying the foundations of churches), accordingly a deputation has been given him under the common seal of the Society, for the purposes mentioned, with a salvo to the Queen's prerogative, and the jurisdiction of the Lord Bishop of London." Governor Nicholson, to whom the Venerable Society gave this trust, had no little influence upon the early history of the Church on the American continent. He is remarkable as having been governor of more colonies than any other Englishman. He was lieutenant-governor of New York under Edmund Andros from 1687 to 1689. He was governor of Virginia from 1690 to 1692, and again from 1699 to 1705, of Maryland from 1694 to 1699, of Nova Scotia from October 12, 1712, until August, 1717, and of South Carolina from 1721 to 1725. He served first in the army, and after commanding the expedition against Port Royal, went to England to urge the complete conquest of Canada, taking with him five Iroquois chiefs whom he presented to Queen Anne. The expedition against Canada was made, but was unsuccessful. Governor Nicholson was knighted in 1720, returned finally to England in June, 1725, and died in London, March 5, 1728. During his governorship of Virginia he helped secure a grant of twenty thousand acres of land for an endowment for William and Mary college in that churchly colony. While governor of Maryland he wrote the Archbishop of Canterbury that "unless bishops can be had the Church will surely decline," and in this colony he once led out of church a clergyman who was drunk, "and caned him soundly with his own hand." [McConnell's "History of the American Church," p. 89.] From all the colonies he successively governed, he sent frequent letters to the S. P. G., informing them of the progress of the Church and making suggestions for the work of the Society. He was an energetic, but violent and unpopular man. In Maryland, "he hectored and browbeat a whole convocation and drove them to sign an adulatory testimony to his own religious devoutness." Commissary Blair, of Virginia, once wrote: "The governor rules us as if we were a company of galley slaves, by continual raving and thundering, cursing and swearing, base, abusive, Billingsgate language, to that degree that it is utterly incredible." ' One commissary was given the lie in his own house by the governor; and a correspondent of the Bishop of Litchfield, advocating to his lordship the appointment of a bishop for Virginia, writes that "if a right reverend father, of the stamp of Governor Nicholson, of Maryland, should come, it 'would make hell tremble.'" [Bishop Perry: "Historical Collections," vol. Virginia, pp, 125, 491]

At the time of Nicholson's appointment to the governorship of Nova Scotia, the S. P. G. had in all America less than twenty missionaries and less than six lay schoolmasters. In 1716, in the report of the Society, a full list is given, and there we find in New York State seven clergymen, besides a catechist and an interpreter to Mr. Adams, the Indian missionary; in New Jersey four clergymen, in South Carolina three, in North Carolina two, in Pennsylvania two, in Rhode Island two, and in Massachusetts two. In thirty years the list had so increased that in 1749, when the Cornwallis fleet sailed into Chebucto Bay, bringing two clergymen and one schoolmaster for Nova Scotia, there were already working in America no less than sixty-three clergymen, twelve schoolmasters, and six catechists, of which number New England had nineteen clergymen, New York ten, South Carolina ten, Pennsylvania eight, New Jersey five, Georgia five, North Carolina two, Newfoundland two, and the Bahama Islands two.

This summary does not of course include the clergy of the self-supporting churches of Virginia and Maryland, where society was wealthier and more aristocratic than in the other colonies and where the Church had necessarily a firmer hold. In 1700, says McConnell, "forty of the less than three score clergy scattered from Portsmouth to Charlestown were in these two colonies. There were in them two or three comfortable churches, built of imported brick. In every settlement was a church of logs with puncheon floors and clapboard roof. To these little log chapels the people came, on horseback and in canoes, from twenty, thirty, and forty miles away." ["History of the American Church," p. 87.]

The first English chaplain at Annapolis Royal was Reverend John Harrison, for in Nicholson's journal we have this entry: "Tuesday the 10th (October, 1710), was solemnized a day of Thanksgiving for the success of Her Majesty's Arms in reducing Port Royal, etc., being so appointed by the General. After Divine Service which was performed in the Chapel by the Reverend Mr. John Harrison, Chaplain to Commodore Martin (and now left Chaplain to the Garrison by commission from the General) a sermon was preach'd by the Reverend Mr. Samuel Hesker, Chaplain to the Hon. Col. Reading's Marines."

Later he states that the Honorable General Nicholson was pleased to "Commissionate," before he went from Boston on the expedition to Port Royal, among other officers, "John Harrison, Clerk, Chaplain to the Garrison of Annapolis Royal." One of Mr. Harrison's early official acts, was the marriage of Magde-laine Maissonat, one of the original inhabitants, to William Winniett, a French Protestant, one of the captors of Port Royal, and an "officer of the fort." [Murdoch, vol. 1., p. 339.] It is also stated that he baptized their child, Anne Winniett, born March 20, 1712. Mr. Harrison was chaplain in 1720, for that year, April 25th (o. s., May 6th, n. s.), Governor Philipps chose him as one of the first Councillors of the Province. [Murdoch, vol. i., p. 363] When other chaplains were appointed, he must still have lived at Annapolis, for November 23, 1732, he received from Governor Armstrong a grant of four acres, as church land, in the lower town, "measuring 660 feet, 407 feet, 605 1/2 feet, and 274 1/2 feet, on its external lines, its contents being four acres, three rods, and thirty-eight perches." It was granted free of quit rent, as glebe land, for the chaplain, or "if a parish be established," for the parish minister. It is probable that Mr. Harrison retained office as senior chaplain, but that as he grew older he needed assistance. At any rate, the Reverend Robert Cuthbert was chaplain as early as 1724, and as late as 1728, while, as we learn from the above record, Mr. Harrison was still there in November, 1732.

Reverend Robert Cuthbert was chaplain in 1724, for in that year he fell into disgrace in the garrison "for keeping company with Mrs. Margaret Douglass, wife of Alexander Douglass, contrary to his own promises, and the good advice of his honor, the Lieutenant Governor," and Murdoch says, "contrary to all reproofs and admonitions from Alexander Douglass, her husband." The 22d of September, 1724, the Council ordered "that he, the said Mr. Robert Cuthbert, should be kept in the garrison without port liberty; and that his scandalous affair, and the satisfaction demanded by the injured husband, be transmitted, in order to be determined at home; and that the hon'ble. lieut. governor may write for another minister in his room." In 1728, this clergyman "was suspended from the exercise of his functions." In 1725, Mr. Cuthbert attempted to recover possession of a house which had been bought by Samuel Douglass from Lieutenant Jephson, of the 40th Regiment. This house, which had originally been built by Governor Vetch, and by him sold to Jephson in 1717, Cuthbert claimed as occupying a site on church lands. [Murdoch, vol. i., p. 420. Also Calnek's manuscript history of Annapolis, in King's College library, Nova Scotia.] The facts having appeared in evidence before the council, they gave Douglass leave to remove it.

Reverend Richard Watts was probably the next chaplain, for July 20, 1732, he applied for, and by a deed dated September 19, 1733, we learn that he obtained, a grant of land.'

In 1728-29, he was in the pay of the S. P. G. as "schoolmaster at Annapolis Royal;" in 1730, he was one of sixteen witnesses to the oath of allegiance subscribed by two hundred and twenty-seven French "inhabitants of the Annapolis river," his name coming next to that of R. C. de Breslay, prêtre missionaire, curé, and being given, "Rich. Watts cler's."; and a deed has been found dated September 19, 1733, in which his name appears.

The first mention of missionaries or schoolmasters in Nova Scotia to be found in the reports of the S. P. G., is in the report presented at the annual meeting of the Society, held January 31, 1729. There we find the name of Mr. Watts, "Schoolmaster at Annapolis Royal," with a salary of £10 a year, and henceforth his name appears regularly in the reports of the Society, until the year 1738, when it is no longer found. August 8, 1737, the Reverend George Pigott at Marblehead, Massachusetts, writes that he had procured Mr. Watts to officiate at his church, so that he could go to Providence to administer the Lord's Supper; and September 27, 1738, the Reverend Mr. Honeyman, senior missionary of the Society in Rhode Island, writes to England that not being well he had for some time had his church supplied by the Reverend Mr. Watts, "late the Society's schoolmaster at Annapolis Royal, and now settled in his neighborhood at Bristol." In 1768, Mr. Watts, or some one of his name, is reported as having acted for the previous year as schoolmaster at Windsor and Newport, Nova Scotia. He therefore left Nova Scotia in 1738, and Mr. Calnek, in his manuscript history of Annapolis, writing of the year 1742, says that there had been no chaplain to the garrison in the town since 1738, and the want of one was much felt and his absence deplored by those residents who needed his services. [Calnek, Part 2, p. 3, and chapter 2, p. 17.] This is probably ascertained from a letter to the Board of Trade from Mr. John Adams, a Boston trader, formerly resident at Annapolis, and for a little while president of the Council, who writes from Boston, March 12, 1742: "I would have returned to Annapolis before now, but there was no chaplain in the garrison to administer God's word and sacraments to the people; but the officers and soldiers in the garrison have profaned the holy sacraments of baptism and ministerial function, by presuming to baptize their own children. Why his majesty's chaplain does not come to his duty," he says, "I know not, but am persuaded it is a disservice and dishonor to our religion and nation; and as I have heard, some have got their children baptized by the Popish priests, for there has been no chaplain here for these four years." [Murdoch, vol. ii., p. 17.]

In 1744, during the siege of Annapolis by Indians, said to have been led on by the missionary, Monsieur de Loutre, the Church at Annapolis was burned, "through a mistake of orders." Other buildings also were pulled down at this time "as a measure of precaution and defence." It is doubtful if the Church was ever rebuilt.

In 1752, there was no chaplain at Annapolis, for the 15th of August, of that year, "a license was granted by the Governor to John Handfield, Esq., a justice of the Peace for the Province, to join together in holy wedlock Captain John Hamilton, widower, and Miss Mary Handfield, spinster, 'provided neither the chaplain of the garrison, nor any other lawful minister be present.'" Captain Handfield, to whom this authority was given, was then commanding officer at Annapolis, and was, in 1755, engaged in the expulsion of the Acadians. Captain John Hamilton was a son of Major Otho Hamilton of the 4Oth Regiment, of the Hamiltons of Olivestob, East Lothian, Scotland. Captain Hamilton had some time before been made a prisoner by the Indians and taken to Quebec, but had lately been ransomed.

In 1749, the government was transferred to the newly-founded settlement at Halifax, although a few troops were kept at Annapolis until somewhere about 1850.

In early times, before Halifax was founded, one other military post in Nova Scotia besides Annapolis for a time came under the eye of the S. P. G. That point was Canso, where from 1736 until 1743, at a salary of £10 a year, a certain Mr. Peden was continuously kept as schoolmaster. In 1725, there were forty-nine English families at Canso and "only one or two" at Annapolis, and Governor Armstrong thought the seat of government should be removed to Canso, but whether at this or any other time there was an English chaplain stationed there, is not known. The place was captured by M. Du Vivier with a few armed vessels and about nine hundred men from Louisburg, in May, 1744, and the seventy or eighty soldiers and few inhabitants there, taken as prisoners to Louisburg and afterward sent to Boston. After Mr. Peden's removal, which was probably at the time of Du Vivier's capture of the place, we find no mention of Canso in the Society's reports.

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