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 XII. The Church's Growth

THE condition of affairs in the new diocese of Nova Scotia, when Bishop Charles Inglis came to it in 1787, was briefly as follows: In Nova Scotia proper there were twelve missionaries at work: Dr. Breynton in St. Paul's, Halifax, Mr. Howseal among the Germans in St. George's, Halifax, Mr. Bailey at Annapolis, Mr. Money at Lunenburg, Mr. Ellis at Windsor, Mr. Wiswell at Cornwallis and Horton, Mr. Eagleson in Cumberland, Mr. Viets at Digby, Mr. de la Roche at Guysborough, Mr. Shreve at Parrsborough, and Dr. Walter and Mr. Rowland at Shelburne. In New Brunswick, as we have already seen, there were six: Mr. Cooke at Fredericton, Dr. Byles at St. John, Mr. Beardsley at Maugerville, Mr. Scovil at Kingston, Mr. Andrews at St. Andrews, and Mr. Clarke at Gagetown. In Cape Breton there was one; Mr. Ranna (Réné) Cossit, who had been sent out from England by the S. P. G., in 1765, with instructions "to repair with all convenient speed to Cape Breton," and who, establishing himself at Sydney, was the only missionary in the island for many years. In Prince Edward Island there was probably but one, Mr. Des Brisay, of Trinity College, Dublin, who in 1775 "was appointed by His Majesty, George III., rector of the parish of Charlotte."1 After his first episcopal visitation, the bishop wrote the Society that he had found all these missionaries "properly employed in their respective stations," but that he had proposed some changes in the disposition of the old missions, which could probably be brought about the ensuing year, and that he also projected some new missions. Writing

'In the autumn of 1773, Mr. Eagleson, of the Cumberland mission, visited Prince Edward Island and began the first mission there, which in 1775 was taken up by the Reverend Theophiius Des Brisay, who remained for forty-six years rector of the parish. St. Paul's Church, Charlottetown, has on its walls memorial tablets to Lieut.-CoI. Sir Aretas Young, Kt., Lieut.-Col. Peter Des Brisay Stewart, Sir Donald Campbell, Bart., Lieut.-Governor of Prince Edward Island, who died in 1850; John Stewart, Esq., Rev. Theophiius Des Brisay, General Edmund Fanning, LL.D., Lieut.-Governor, first of Nova Scotia, then, for nearly nineteen years, of Prince Edward Island; Captain Frederick Augustus Fanning, his son, H. M. 22d Foot; Hon. Thomas Heath Haviland, and other distinguished persons.

to his friend, Bishop White, of Pennsylvania, shortly after his consecration, he says: "I found the state of this province nearly such as I imagine you found that of your diocese--in great want of the superintending care and inspection of a bishop; and much need I have of the divine aid to enable me to discharge the duties of this station--much prudence, judgment, temper, and zeal guided by discretion are required. I have the same authority given me over the clergy that bishops have in England over their clergy; but the temporal powers vested in English bishops by the constitution are withheld; and this by my own choice, for I drew up the plan that was adopted." Of his methods with his clergy he later writes Bishop White: "A stranger who read this letter would be apt to think I am an assertcr of high Episcopal prerogative. But my clergy will unanimously testify that nothing of this appears in my conduct. I treat them as brethren--give them any assistance and consolation in my power--live in love and harmony with them, and use no other expedient than persuasion and example in the exercise of my authority." Here, indeed, is the keynote of Bishop Inglis' episcopate. The "superintending care," he speaks of in his letter to Bishop White, he faithfully gave all the missions he could reach, in his vast field. Before his death, and many times, he visited the greater part of these missions in the various provinces under his spiritual control, giving personal fatherly advice and sympathetic aid to the struggling churches and hard-working missionaries of the Church whose first colonial bishop he had become.

In 1790, to aid him in his work in the scattered province of New Brunswick, he appointed Dr. Samuel Cooke commissary for that part of the diocese, and during the last years of his life, as during his successor, Bishop Stanser's long absence in England, his son, Reverend John Inglis, acted as commissary for the diocese, performing all the acts that a presbyter could possibly perform. After his death, for seven years, owing to Bishop Stanser's ill health, and consequent absence in England, the diocese was practically without a bishop, and its interests suffered. Yet in 1824, when Bishop John Inglis was appointed to his father's see, the clergy of Nova Scotia numbered twenty-eight, of New Brunswick, eighteen, of Prince Edward Island, two, of Newfoundland, seven, and of Bermuda one.

To his episcopate Dr. John Inglis brought a thorough acquaintance with the diocese over which he was placed, and a deep interest in its welfare. The report of the S. P. G. for 1825 says that "the consecration of the Right Reverend John Inglis, D.D., and the appointment of his lordship to the diocese of Nova Scotia, has placed the ecclesiastical concerns of that diocese under a more favorable aspect than it had enjoyed for a considerable length of time." One of the first acts of this bishop was the erection of four archdeaconries within his diocese, the Reverend Robert Willis, missionary at Halifax, being made Archdeacon of Nova Scotia, the Reverend George Best, missionary at Fredericton, Archdeacon of New Brunswick, the Reverend George Coster, Archdeacon of Newfoundland, and the Reverend A. G. Spencer, Archdeacon of Bermuda. The practical wisdom of this will at once appear. By means of his archdeacons, the bishop was able to keep in touch with the remoter parts of his diocese and to exercise a supervision which, otherwise, would have been far from possible. In 1826 he visited the whole of his diocese, except, perhaps, Prince Edward Island. In Bermuda, where no bishop had ever been before, and where there were now nine parishes and parish churches, and four resident clergymen, he administered the rite of confirmation to twelve hundred persons. Then he went to Newfoundland, where he carefully inspected the missions, founded in that island at different times since 1703. Later, he turned his attention to the eastern part of Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, and the Gulf Shore, the total number confirmed at this visitation being four thousand three hundred and sixty. In 1828, he again visited Newfoundland, where he consecrated eighteen churches and twenty burying grounds, confirmed, it is said, two thousand three hundred and sixty-five persons, and travelled five thousand miles. The number of persons confirmed at this time is very large, but it will not seem so remarkable when it is remembered that for almost ten years there had been no confirmations held in the diocese.

Between 1825 and 1838, is the period of most marked growth in the whole history of the diocese. ["A Sketch of the Rise and Progress of the Church of England in the British North American Provinces," by Thomas B. Akins, D.C.L., p. 56.] King's College was then supplying clergy for the places of the aged rectors who were falling off and for new missionary fields, so that there was no anxious waiting for clergy to be sent from England; and with increasing prosperity in the province and a multiplying population, in every direction new congregations were being organized and new churches built.

During all these years the faithful S. P. G. bore the chief financial burden of the Church in Nova Scotia. At the time of Bishop John Inglis' consecration, the diocese was drawing from its treasury nearly twelve thousand pounds a year. After a time, however, a gradual diminution began in the parliamentary grant to the Society for the support of the clergy in North America, and in 1834, the allowance had dwindled to four thousand pounds sterling. That year, an arrangement was made between the Society and the Government, whereby the reduced salaries of those missionaries already in Nova Scotia, should be paid directly by parliamentary grant, while they lived, or remained in the colony; and the Society accordingly transferred them to the Crown. At the present time, there is but one church in the peninsula of Nova Scotia, the church at Shelburne, which receives an allowance from the British Government under this act of transfer, while there are nine which are still aided, in greater or smaller sums, by the Society itself.

Statutes passed in 1758, and later, had provided for the erection of parishes throughout Nova Scotia by order of the governor and council, and the appointment of church-wardens and special vestries in each parish, with corporate powers to hold lands for the benefit of the parish church. To the Church lands of Nova Scotia we have already referred. Shortly after the transfer of the Society's missionaries to the crown in 1834, and the reduction of their salaries, an attempt was made in England to induce the provincial governments to alienate the clergy reserves throughout the whole of British North America, without stipulating for the appropriation of any part of them to the purposes for which they were originally set apart in 1791, or stipulating even for a nominal equivalent. In Prince Edward Island in 1836, this was really effected, and the Church lands were sold for four thousand pounds currency and the proceeds applied to other than Church uses. An appeal was soon made to the Archbishop of Canterbury, with the result that the proceeds were restored to the Church and made a fund for the support of the Church of England schools, under the direction of the bishop and the governor. In 1839 tne Nova Scotia government passed a law declaring that all school lands should be vested in trustees, for the general purposes of education, but the British Government refused to sanction it, and declared, after hearing the opinion of counsel in England, as to the rights acquired by the S. P. G., that all school-lands already occupied and improved should be preserved to the Church. Lord John Russell, in his dispatch, even expressed doubts whether it would not be proper to admit the claims of the Church to a portion of the lands yet unoccupied.

In 1817, the S. P. C. K. began to extend its usefulness in North American dioceses by forming district committees in aid of its funds, and for the distribution of books and tracts. In its liberality, of course, Nova Scotia shared, and her missionaries' hearts were many times gladdened by the receipt from England of valuable boxes of books for use in their work. In 1837, a Church Diocesan Society was established in the province, to raise funds for books and tracts for destitute missions, to assist students for the ministry, and to aid in the erection and enlargement of churches and chapels. The usefulness of this society was very great, but in 1876 its funds were vested in the Diocesan Synod, in trust, to be held and managed for the several purposes for which they had previously been held by the society. The various sources from which parishes now receive aid are, the British Government, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, the Board of Home Missions, the Church Woman's Missionary Association, the Colonial and Continental Church Society, and the Church Endowment Fund.

In the latest report issued by the Boards of Home and Foreign Missions, the number of parishes in the diocese is given as ninety-four, and the number of clergy, including the professors of King's College, as a hundred and sixteen. The diocese of Fredericton now contains seventy-seven parishes and seventy clergymen. The officers of the diocese of Nova Scotia, besides the bishop, are a dean, three archdeacons, four canons and an honorary canon, and nine rural deans. There is as yet no cathedral, though the corner-stone of one was laid by Bishop Binney, in 1887, shortly before his death.

Other clergymen in the diocese before 1830, exclusive of the first missionaries and the Loyalist clergy were: The Reverends Thomas Adin, Jerome Alley, H. Nelson Arnold, Samuel Bacon, Edward Lewis Benwell, George Best, Charles Blackman, William Bullock, John Burnyeat, John Burt, F. H. Carrington, John Chapman, James Cochran, William Cochran, James Cookson, Frederick Coster, George Coster, George Cowell, Theophilus Des Brisay, Alfred Gilpin, Edward Gilpin, Archibald Gray, Benjamin Gerrish Gray, J. W. D. Gray, Thomas A. Grantham, H. Hayden, Charle Ingles, James Jackson,------Jacob, Louis Charles Jenkins, T. J. Laugharne, Thomas Lloyd, John Millidge, James Milne, Christopher Milner, Raper Milner, George E. W. Morris, Robert Norris, David Ormond, A. D. Parker, Cyrus Perkins, Charles Porter, Walter Price, James Shreve, Alexander C. Somerville, James Somerville, A. G. Spencer, Samuel Thomson, Skeffington Thomson, William Twining, R. Fitzgerald Uniacke, A. V. Wiggins, Gilbert L. Wiggins, Robert Willis, Edward Chapman Willoughby, Edward Wix, Abram Wood, Joseph Wright.

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