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 VII. The First Colonial Bishop

IN his admirable history of the American Episcopal Church, Dr. McConnell has recorded the successive plans made by the bishops in England, and the successive appeals made by Churchmen in the colonies for the complete equipment of the Church in the new world. Early in the 17th century Archbishop Laud had a scheme to send out a bishop to keep the Puritans in check in America, as he himself was trying to do in England; later, Tenison and Compton, Archbishops of London, and Seeker, Archbishop of Canterbury, vainly labored for the same end. On this side the water many plans for the Episcopate were made. In 1695, at the time of the capture of New York, the Reverend Mr. Miller, chaplain of the fort, proposed that the Bishop of London should consecrate a suffragan for New York, the province being a Crown colony. His plan was to take the king's farm for a bishop's seat, and build a bishop's church, the large sums of money raised in England for missions in America to be administered, and in short, general jurisdiction over the missions on the whole American continent to be had by the bishop who should be appointed. Chaplain Miller's excellent plan failed, but in 1702, Messrs. Keith and Talbot, the first missionaries of the S. P. G., again urged strongly America's need of the Episcopate. "I don't doubt," writes Talbot, "that some good man with one hundred pounds a year would do the Church more service than with a coach and six a hundred years hence." A little later he writes his friend, Mr. Keith, that several of the clergy, both of New York and Maryland, have said that they would pay their tenths to a bishop--the man then proposed being a Mr. John Lillingston--as the vice-gerent of my Lord of London, "whereby the Bishop of America might have as honorable provision as some in Europe." In a letter to the S. P. G. he writes rather sharply of the little attention paid in England to the call that, like Macedonia, America had so long been sending across the sea. In 1705, a convocation of fourteen clergymen at Burlington sent a petition to the Archbishop of London, representing that many Lutheran and Independent ministers were ready to conform to the Church if a bishop were here to ordain them. In 1709, the officers of the Venerable Society, possibly at the instigation of, certainly seconded by their trusted Francis Nicholson, then Governor of Maryland, begged Queen Anne "that a colonial bishopric might be endowed out of the proceeds of the lands ceded by the Council of Utrecht; but the death of the queen put an end to the project." In 1715, the Society again took the matter up, proposing to George I. that four bishops should be consecrated, one for Barbadoes, one for Jamaica, one to have his seat at Burlington, New Jersey, and one at Williamsburg, Virginia; but the Scottish rebellion breaking out, this appeal, like the others, went unanswered, and no new scheme was proposed until fifty years more had gone by. In 1765, a new petition came from the American colonies themselves. This time the clergy of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York all united in an appeal to the authorities at home. But still the Church refused to act. A few bishops and agents of the S. P. G. were fairly well informed regarding the plantations and felt some responsibility concerning their spiritual needs, but to English Churchmen at large the colonies were too far away much to stir their imaginations, too mythical to move their hearts to missionary zeal. By-and-by, when the Episcopate became a greater possibility, the colonies had begun to think of separating from the mother country, or at least had begun strongly to desire home rule, and a suspicion was abroad that the appointment of bishops would serve rather to strengthen than weaken the authority of the Crown. As the Revolution approached, the prospect, of course, grew darker, until the land was plunged in war, and the Church, in the minds of the majority, the friend of a hostile power, seemed on the point of losing forever her influence, if not her identity in the western world.

When the war closed it was plain that something must be done, for the Church was now left "without reputation, without money, without men." In the process of reorganization and readjustment it was most natural that Churchmen should more than ever desire the Episcopate, for it was now clearer than it had ever been that the Church in America must be fully equipped if she was to live and grow. Accordingly in Connecticut, where "the controlling motive was ecclesiastical," and where "the Church idea had been far better wrought out "than elsewhere, and where, indeed, the strength of the Church in New England chiefly lay, on the 25th of March, 1783, a company of clergymen met secretly at Woodbury, a little village among the hills of Litchfield county, and chose for the Episcopate, which they were determined now to secure, the Reverend Dr. Jeremiah Learning and the Reverend Dr. Samuel Seabury, both Connecticut men by birth, though now in New York, one or the other of whom they hoped might be prevailed upon to accept the high office, even with the dangers and difficulties which they clearly enough foresaw would attend it. They were not even certain that whoever might be consecrated would be permitted to live in the United States, but they said: "If he is not, then we can establish him across the border, in Nova Scotia, and send our candidates for ordination to him there until better times shall dawn." Dr. Learning was an old man and declined the office; he could not face the dangers and discomforts of the long sea voyages to and from England, nor had he strength for the labor and care that must fall on the first American bishop in such troublous times. But Dr. Seabury, who was younger, accepted, and a little more than two months later, in Admiral Digby's returning flag ship, sailed to England, where he vainly tried for a year to get consecration. At last, finding that farther attempts in England would be useless, he went north to Scotland, and by the bishops of the "obscure and broken "non juring Scottish Episcopal Church, Robert Kilgour, Arthur Petrie, and John Skinner, on the 14th of November, 1784, he was consecrated the first bishop for the continent of America. [Bishop Seabury preached his first sermon in America, after his consecration, in Trinity Church, St. John, New Brunswick. Dr. Chandler wrote from London to his friend Isaac Wilkins in Nova Scotia, by Dr. Seabury himself: "He goes by the way of Nova Scotia for several reasons, of which the principal is, that he may see the situation of that part of his family which is in that quarter, and be able to form a judgment of the prospects before them. He will try hard to see you, but as he will not have much time to spare, he fears that he will not be able to go to Shelburne in quest of you." Boulton's "History of Westchester," p. 103.]

The year 1783 had an importance for Nova Scotia even greater than that which the accession of thousands of people to the population of the province gave it. On the 21st of March of that year, just four days before the meeting of the Connecticut clergymen at Woodbury, eighteen clergymen met in New York, as so many groups of men in various parts of the country had met before, to discuss their plan for securing for America the historic episcopate. This time the scheme had not direct relation to either New England, the Middle States, or the South, but rather to the remote province of Nova Scotia, where already many of the Church's warmest supporters in the now independent colonies had taken refuge, and whither some of themselves contemplated soon removing. These clergymen were: the Reverend Charles Inglis, D.D., Rector of Trinity Church, New York, Reverend H. Addison, of St. John's, Maryland, Reverend Jonathan Odell, Missionary at Burlington and Mt. Holly, New Jersey, Reverend Benjamin Moore, D.D., Assistant Minister of Trinity Church, New York, Reverend Charles Mongan, Reverend Samuel Seabury, D.D., Missionary at Staten Island, New York, Reverend Jeremiah Learning, Missionary, late at Norwalk, Connecticut, Reverend I. Waller, Reverend Moses Badger, S. P. G. Itinerant Missionary in New Hampshire, Reverend George Panton, Missionary at Trenton, New Jersey, Reverend John Beardsley, Missionary at Poughkeepsie, New York, Reverend Isaac Browne, Missionary at Newark, New Jersey, Reverend John Sayre, Missionary, late at Fairficld, Connecticut, Reverend John Hamilton Rowland, Missionary in Pennsylvania, Reverend Thomas Moore, of New York, Reverend George Bissett, Rector of Newport, Rhode Island, Reverend Joshua Bloomer, Missionary at Jamaica, Flushing, and Newtown, Long Island, and Reverend John Bowden, of Newburgh, New York. Of these eighteen clergymen, nine, as we shall see further on, went soon after to the province where they were now proposing to erect a diocese. Of the number, three, Drs. Seabury, Inglis, and Moore, became in 1784, 1787, and 1801, respectively, bishops of the newly-organizing Church in the western world. The outcome of this New York convention was a letter to Sir Guy Carleton signed by seventeen of the clergymen who composed it, dated New York, March 26, 1783, recommending for consecration to the Nova Scotia see, Dr. Thomas Bradbury Chandler, then in England, a New Jersey clergyman, nearly fifty-seven years old, a native of Connecticut, a strong churchman and foremost among those who desired to see Episcopacy fully established in America. Dr. Chandler was in ill health, suffering from some disease of which he died in 1790, and so felt obliged to refuse the proffered bishopric, but being requested by the Archbishop of Canterbury, with whom he was on terms of friendship, to propose some other clergyman, he at once named his old friend, Dr. Charles Inglis.

THE RIGHT REVEREND CHARLES INGLIS, D.D., the first bishop of Nova Scotia, was born in or about the year 1733. His father was the Rev. Archibald Inglis, of Glen and Kilcarr, in Ireland, a clergyman of the English Church, as were also his grandfather and great grandfather. Like many other British youths, in early life he emigrated to the New World to seek a livelihood, and for several years before 1757, was in charge, or else assistant master, of the Free School, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, established by a society in England, with the Archbishop of Canterbury at its head, for the purpose of educating the children of German settlers in Pennsylvania. At last, in 1758, having been ordained to the diaconate and priesthood by the Bishop of London, and licensed to minister in Pennsylvania, he was appointed to the mission at Dover, Delaware, and in the summer of 1759, after a long and stormy passage across the Atlantic, entered upon his cure. In Bishop Perry's sermon on the centenary of the consecration of Bishop Inglis, preached in Westminster Abbey on Friday, August 12, 1887, his work in Delaware is thus described:

"In that noble collection of letters from laborers in mission fields, bound up in huge volumes on the shelves of the library of the venerable society--letters which, so far as they relate to the Church in the United States, have been carefully transcribed at the cost of that Church, and published in sumptuous volumes--and in the MS. collections at Fulham and Lambeth, there still remain the letters of this tireless missionary, this faithful parish priest. Vivid, indeed, are the pictures of clerical life and experience in America a century and more ago given in these carefully-written folios. The mission of Dover, assigned to Mr. Inglis, comprised the whole county of Kent, in Delaware, and was thirty-three miles in length, and from ten to thirteen miles in breadth. The cure included a population of seven thousand souls. The climate was unhealthy. The labor was unceasing. Three churches needing repair, lacking proper furnishings, and wanting all the accessories for reverent and fitting worship, awaited the missionary's arrival. To make these untidy structures meet for the worship of God, was the first care of the young 'missioner.' Their enlargement followed. The substitution of a more substantial edifice for one of perishable material was the next step in the advance. Still another, a fourth, church was soon required. Nor was the spiritual prosperity of the people overlooked. Soon the mission was reported to be ' in a flourishing state, if building and repairing churches, if crowds attending the public worship of God, and other religious ordinances, if some of the other denominations joining us, and the renewal of a spirit of piety can denominate it such.' [See Perry's "Historical Collections of the American Colonial Church," v., 112.] The zeal and faithful ministrations of Mr. Inglis obtained the public commendation of the great evangelist Whitefield, then making his progresses through the colonies, and at this period of his career free from many of the extravagances of his earlier years. The friendship of the leading clergy of the neighboring colonies, and the confidence and favor of the laity as well, were also secured; and on the death of his wife, and on the loss of his own health, which had been impaired from the first by the unhealthiness of the climate, Mr. Inglis reluctantly accepted an invitation to New York, where he was appointed an assistant minister of Trinity Church, and a catechist to the negroes of the city. So pleasant had been his relations with the Venerable Society, that he accepted his new appointment on condition of his continuance on the list of the Society's missionaries."

Of Bishop Inglis' early labors in New York, we learn much from Berrian's History of Trinity Parish, and from the bishop's own letters, many of which Bishop Perry has carefully transcribed and published. As missionary in Delaware he had been earnest and faithful. Now in a subordinate position, in a far different field, he soon gained an equal reputation for diligence, faithfulness, devotion to the Church's work, ability, and eloquence. Dr. Berrian in his annals of this period of the history of Trinity parish makes marked mention of "the growing estimate of the value and importance of his services." [Berrian's "History of Trinity Parish," New York, p. 127. Also Bishop Perry's Centennial Sermon in Westminster Abbey.] He undertook a "mission of inquiry" to the Indians and made a very valuable report concerning them; he became a skilful controversialist, defending the views of his Church against the various forms of dissent; he corresponded regularly and faithfully with the S. P. G., who came to regard him as one of their most reliable missionaries, and who frequently guided their movements by his judgment, and he preached sermons so earnest and evangelical that Whitefield spoke in their praise.

In 1777, Dr. Auchmuty, Rector of Trinity Church, died and Dr. Inglis succeeded to the rectorship. The church had been burned the year before in the terrible fire in which nearly one thousand buildings in the western part of New York City were destroyed, [St. Paul's Chapel and King's College would have been burned at this time, save for Dr. Inglis, who, happening to be near, sent men to the roofs of both with buckets of water. This he himself tells in a valuable letter written in 1776.] and Dr. Inglis was inducted into office by placing his hands on a portion of the ruined wall, ["By placing his hand on the wall of the said church, the same being a ruin;" is Rev. William Berrian's way of putting it.] in presence of the wardens, and taking the usual obligations. From letters of various missionaries to the S. P. G., we learn that when General Washington assumed command in New York, designing to attend Trinity Church, he sent word by one of his generals that he would be glad to have the rector omit the customary prayers for the king and the royal family. To this request Dr. Inglis paid no attention at the time, but when later he saw Washington, he remonstrated with him on its unreasonableness. Soon after, he was insulted and threatened with violence in the streets by Whig sympathizers, who called him a traitor to his country, his great offence being his persisting to pray for the king. At last, one Sunday morning, during service, about one-hundred and fifty men entered the church with bayonets fixed, drums beating, and fifes playing, and after standing for a few minutes in the aisle were given seats in the pews. The congregation were terrified, but Dr. Inglis went quietly on with the service and as usual offered the offensive prayers, the soldiers listening, however, without remonstrance. In August, 1776, like most Episcopal clergymen throughout the disaffected colonies, having closed his church, he took refuge in Flushing, Long Island, sending his family, for safety, seventy miles up the North River. In Flushing the Whig committee discussed the question of seizing him, but for some reason he was allowed to go free, and for a time kept himself as much as possible concealed. When the royal army gained possession of New York he returned to the city, where he drew up a petition which was signed by about a thousand persons; praying His Majesty to pardon their temporary submission to the rebel forces and to receive the city again under his gracious protection. This petition was presented to Lord Howe on the i6th of October, and by him forwarded to the king. During his stay in Long Island, his house was stripped of everything of value it contained. His letters during the progress of the Revolution, show him to have been very pronounced in his sympathy with the Crown, and correspondingly bitter against the Whigs. "The present rebellion," he writes to the Society in the autumn of 1776, "is certainly one of the most causeless, unprovoked, and unnatural that ever disgraced any country." Not one of the clergy in these provinces, he says, "and very few of the laity who were respectable or men of property, have joined in the rebellion." "I have no doubt but with the blessing of Providence, His Majesty's arms will be successful, and finally crush this unnatural rebellion."

Both Dr. Inglis and his wife were included in the confiscation act of New York, and in 1783, the year of the evacuation of New York by the British troops, he went to Nova Scotia. As early as May, 1785, he was in England, where he probably remained until 1787, when, on the 12th of August, he was consecrated at Lambeth the first bishop of Nova Scotia, with jurisdiction over the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Bermuda, and Newfoundland. Sailing from England, he reached Halifax on Tuesday, October 16, 1787, and was received with many expressions of good will and of hopefulness for the success of the work he had undertaken. [Bishop Inglis writes in 1787 that he had received two patents, one to himself for life, making his see a bishop's see, the other during the king's pleasure.] In May, 1809, he was made a member of His Majesty's Council, his place to be next after the chief justice. It was declared, however, that he was not to administer the government in the absence or on the death of the lieutenant-governor. He died, February 24, 1816, in the eighty-second year of his age, the fifty-eighth of his ministry, and the twenty-ninth of his episcopate, and was buried on Thursday, February 29th, in St. Paul's Church, the Reverend William Twining, Rector of Rawdon, reading the burial service; the Governor, Sir John Coape Sherbrook, the ex-Governor, Sir John Wentworth, the members of council and of the assembly, the officers of the army and navy, the clergy and the principal inhabitants attending the funeral.

After the Bishop was made a member of the council his winter residence was in Halifax, but early in his episcopate, through the influence of Mr. James Morden, a retired officer of the Ordnance in Halifax, who owned a large property in Aylesford, now part of Kings County, he bought land there and built a country house, calling his place "Clermont," the name it always since has borne. In time, Bishop Inglis gave part of his Aylesford land to his daughter, Margaret, wife of Sir Brenton Halliburton, and for many years both the Bishop and Sir Brenton moved regularly from Halifax every spring, with their horses and servants, to their Aylesford homes, a distance of about ninety miles. When the bishop died he willed Clermont to his son John, fixing the entail in the next generation, on his grandson, Charles. Later, this property came into possession of King's College. Sir Brenton Halliburton willed his part of the Aylesford property to his son John, who sold it. [When the Duke of Kent arrived in Halifax in 1794 the Bishop, on behalf of himself and his clergy, presented him with an address which, it must be confessed, is rather bombastic. At some time during the Duke's stay in Halifax the Bishop fell from his horse and broke his leg. The Duke hearing of it, sent a deputation of soldiers all the way to Aylesford, bearing a large comfortable English arm-chair for his use. This chair is still in Aylesford in the possession of a Mrs. Rutherford. The Reverend Richard Avery, long Rector of Aylesford, now of Kentville, has a table, flute, microscope, and paper-knife of the first Bishop Inglis, as well as steel engravings of both father and son. Bishop Charles Inglis had a fine library which after his son John's death was sent to England and sold. This library contained among other things a full set of the early reports of the S.P.G., which so far as is known, no library in this country now contains. It is most unfortunate that they were lost to the Province.]

In 1767 Bishop Inglis received from King's College, New York, the honorary degree of M.A., and three years later became a governor of the college. A few years after, he received the same degree from Oxford, which university, in 1778, also conferred on him the degree of D.D. His published writings were very few. In 1776, he published an answer to Paine's "Common Sense," which Sabine says the Whigs seized and burned, two editions of it, however, being printed afterward in Philadelphia. He published also an essay on Infant Baptism, a "Vindication of the Bishop of Llandaff s Sermon," and two or three letters and sermons. During his seventeen years' ministry in Trinity Church, New York, he married nine hundred and twenty-five couples. On the death, in 1774, of Dr. John Ogilvie, for nine years his colleague, he preached an eloquent and feeling funeral sermon, performing the same office in 1777 for his rector, Dr. Auchmuty, with whom he had been associated for twelve years. His first wife, whom he married soon after he went to Delaware, was a Miss Vining, who died without children in 1764. It was her ill health, he writes, that decided him to leave his Delaware mission. His second wife was Margaret, daughter of John Crooke, Esquire, of Ulster County, New York, who died in 1783, the year of his going to Nova Scotia, aged thirty-five, leaving four young children, a son who died at nine years of age, John, Margaret, and Anne. In November, 1776, during the Revolutionary troubles, Mrs. Inglis was at New Windsor, whence she wrote asking Mr. Duane to procure leave for her to join her husband in New York "with her family and effects." She had been absent from him, she said, nearly fourteen months, had three helpless babes, and was greatly distressed. The Bishop's family at this time, besides his wife and children, is said to have consisted of his mother-in-law, Mrs. Crooke, two white servant women, a nurse, and a white servant boy, all of whom at length joined him, under a flag of truce. Of his childen, John became the third bishop of Nova Scotia, Margaret was married, September 19, 1799, to Sir Brenton Halliburton, Chief Justice of Nova Scotia, and Anne was married to the Reverend George Pidgeon, for many years rector of Fredericton, New Brunswick, and afterwards of St. John. Mrs. Pidgeon died at Halifax in 1827, aged fifty-one. Sir Brenton Halliburton describes his father-in-law as a gentleman of the old school, dignified but not formal, with a slight figure and an open, intelligent countenance. In preaching he had great energy and earnestness, he says, and in conversation was cheerful and communicative. He was of studious habits and was well read, but was free from pedantry.

Not the least interesting part of Bishop Inglis' correspondence, are his letters to Bishop White, of Pennsylvania, both before and after the latter's consecration. He had long been one of the foremost advocates of the establishment of the Episcopate in America, and not content with aiding by word and pen the efforts of Connecticut Churchmen to get consecration for Dr. Seabury, he gave judicious counsel and valuable help to the clergy of the Middle States in their efforts to secure bishops in the English line. It is needless to say that with the scheme of a Presbyterian Episcopal Church, for a time favored by Dr. White, he had no sympathy.

Of the Bishop's work in his own diocese, something more will appear in a later chapter. In his sermon in Westminster Abbey, Bishop Perry has thus summed it up:

"Gathering his clergy together for counsel and personal knowledge, the Bishop of Nova Scotia proved himself to be a missionary apostle by the wisdom of his charges and sermons, and the magnetism of his personal interest in each one who had been placed under him in the Lord. In long and most wearisome visitations he visited, so far as was in his power, the various portions of his almost illimitable See, and till the close of a long and honored life he maintained that character for devotion, that reputation for holiness, that fervor of ministrations, that faithfulness in every good word and work, which should characterize the 'good man,' 'full of the Holy Ghost and of faith.' Nor was this all. Through his long and earnest labors, ended only when the summons came to depart and be at rest, 'much people were added to the Lord.' A church was organized; a college was founded and built up to a measure of efficiency and success. The institutions of religion and learning were thus established and supported. The preaching of the Word and the ministration of the Sacraments were provided for the crowds of exiles who, in their devotion to Church and State, had exchanged their American homes for the bleak shores of Nova Scotia, and to the frontier settlers in the dense forests of New Brunswick and Quebec. Thus through unremitting labors, blessed by God, ere the life of the first Colonial Bishop was ended there had been set on foot measures for the development of the Church of Christ in the northern portion of the American Continent which shall act and react for good till time shall be no more."

Reverend Thomas Bradbury Chandler, D.D., the first clergyman nominated for the Nova Scotia See, was the son of William and Jemima (Bradbury) Chandler. He was born in Woodstock, Connecticut, April 26, 1726, graduated at Yale College in 1745, and received from Oxford the degrees of M.A., and D.D., the latter in 1766. Bred a Congregationalist, in 1751, he went to England for Holy Orders and was at once appointed to the mission at Elizabethtown, New Jersey, which also included Woodbridge. In 1767, he published and dedicated to the Archbishop of Canterbury an "Appeal to the public in behalf of the Church of England in America; wherein the Origin and Nature of the Episcopal Office are briefly considered, Reasons for sending Bishops to America are assigned, the Plan on which it is proposed to send them is stated, and the Objections against sending them are obviated and confuted. With an appendix wherein is given some account of an anonymous pamphlet." This pamphlet was spiritedly answered in the New York Gazette, and the Pennsylvania Journal, and by Rev. Dr. Chauncey, in a pamphlet with a title nearly as long-winded as that of Dr. Chandler's. Before the Revolution Dr. Chandler, who was an uncompromising Loyalist, tried by voice and pen to avert the coming conflict. Then he went to England where he remained from 1775 to 1785. In England he lived in intercourse with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and other dignitaries of the Church, and noblemen, and while there was elected bishop of Nova Scotia. His letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury declining the honor was answered by his Lordship in a most friendly way. In a short time, by request of his parishioners in New Jersey, who seem still to have regarded him as their rector, Dr. Chandler returned to Elizabeth-town, and resumed the rectorship of St. John's Church, although, owing to a cancer on the nose, he never officiated except at one or two funerals. He died in 1790. His wife was Jane, daughter of Captain John Emmott, of Elizabethtown, who died September 20, 1801, aged sixty-eight, General Maxwell, in a communication to the legislature in 1779, said of her: "There is not a Tory that passes in or out of New Jersey . . . but waits on Mrs. Chandler, and most of all the British officers going in or out on parole or exchange, wait on her; in short, the governor, the whole of the Tories, and many of the Whigs." Dr. Chandler "was large and portly, of fine personal appearance, of a countenance expressive of high intelligence though considerably marred by the small-pox, with an uncommonly fine blue eye, a strong, commanding voice, and a great love of music." He and Mrs. Chandler had a family of six children. One of their daughters was the wife of General E. B. Dayton, and another of Bishop Hobart, the third bishop of New York.

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