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 XIII. Later Bishops


ON the resignation by Dr. Breynton of the rectorship of St. Paul's, the Reverend Robert Stanser, an English clergyman, was recommended to the parish as his successor. Mr. Stanser, of whose antecedents little is known in Nova Scotia, left London, June I, 1791, for his new charge, into which he was inducted early in the autumn. The report of the S. P. G. of the next year contains the following notice of his induction: "The Reverend Mr. Stanser, who succeeded the Reverend Dr. Breynton, the Society's old and most respectable missionary at Halifax, has acquainted the Society of his having been instituted into that parish by the bishop of Nova Scotia, and legally inducted by the church-wardens, and that he had received every mark of attention, which he could expect or desire." In 1799, on the occasion of Mr. Stanser's second visit to England, it was voted unanimously by the parish, "That the thanks of the parishioners be given to the Reverend Mr. Stanser for his diligent, faithful, and conscientious discharge of the parochial duties, as also for his assiduous and affectionate attention to his parishioners during his residence among them. And that the church-wardens and vestry furnish him with a certificate expressive of the affectionate esteem of the parish, and of their high sense of his pious, diligent, and faithful discharge of his various duties as pastor of this parish from his first induction thereinto, in the year 1791, to this present period." Indeed, Dr. Stanser seems to have been, during his whole term of office, a faithful and efficient pastor, and to have grown every year more and more liked by his parishioners. Dr. Hill speaks of him as "very much beloved and, in the ordinary acceptation of the word, highly popular." In 1815 Bishop Charles Inglis died, and as has already been stated, Dr. Stanser was recommended by the provincial legislature as the most suitable person to succeed to the episcopate. The Archbishop of Canterbury preferred the Reverend John Inglis, and it is said that he received Dr. Stanser "not only with coldness but with a brusque if not rude manner." Dr. Stanser was consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1816, and soon after his consecration returned to Halifax, but owing partly to the death of his wife, which had occurred in the preceding year, partly to the seventy of the climate of Halifax, his health was too poor to admit of his entering very fully upon his work, and he almost immediately went back to England, where he remained until his resignation was accepted in 1824. During this time Dr. John Inglis performed the duties of ecclesiastical commissary, but he could not confirm or ordain, and for the long term of seven years every candidate for the ministry in Nova Scotia had to go for ordination, either to England or to Lower Canada. Fortunately the Church of England does not make confirmation an indispensable pre-requisite of Holy Communion, so even without the administration of the rite of confirmation the Church grew. The disadvantage of having no resident bishop was, however, very great, and Dr. Stanser himself urged the Imperial Government, time and again, to accept his resignation. One of the reasons for the Crown's unwillingness to do this was probably its fear that such a precedent might open the way to the resignation of their sees and their seats in the House of Lords by bishops in England. This, at least, is Dr. Hill's opinion in the account of the matter given by him. A somewhat different statement, however, was made by Earl Bathurst in a speech in the House of Lords in 1828. This nobleman said that he had advised Bishop Stanser to resign, but that the latter had replied that "he had but very little private fortune, and could not give up the emoluments derivable from his ecclesiastical offices." Color is given to this version of the story by Earl Bathurst's recommending the governments of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to pension him, which they did, the former province granting him three hundred and fifty pounds a year, the latter two hundred and fifty, the S. P. G. adding two hundred more. [See Mr. H. Y. Hind's "University of King's College," pp. 60, 61.] When Bishop Stanser resigned, Dr. John Inglis was appointed, as he should have been, seven years before, to the Nova Scotia see. A point of some little interest was settled during Dr. Stanser's episcopate. It was at first a question whether colonial bishops should or should not be called "lord bishops," and be addressed as "my lord," and "your lordship." The prince regent set the matter finally at rest by saying to Bishop Stanser when the latter was presented to His Royal Highness at a levee: "I am glad to see your lordship," or "How do you do, my lord bishop?" Bishop Stanser died in London in 1829. His wife, of whom there are few notices, is said to have been an amiable and lovely woman. When she died the congregation of St. Paul's erected a very chaste monument to her memory in the church of which Dr. Stanser had for so long been the faithful and earnest rector.


The Reverend John Inglis, who became the third bishop of Nova Scotia, was one of the three children, of whom Mrs. Inglis in 1776 writes, as her "three helpless babes." He was born in New York in 1777, and at ten years of age began his studies in the academy at Windsor, among the first seventeen who entered the school. His later education was obtained at King's College, Windsor, of which institution he was one of the many pre-charter students.

In 1796, Bishop Charles Inglis-writes that, "as soon as this horrid war is over," he intend:; to send his son to Oxford to finish his education, but whether he carried out his plan or not is nowhere told. In 1810, John Inglis was ordained by his father the second minister of the parish in Aylesford, a church having been built there, in great measure through the influence of Mr. James Morden, in 1790. July 31, 1800, he was made a justice of the peace for Aylesford, and the same year he seems to have gone to England, for Sir John Wentworth, writing to the Under Secretary of State on some important matter, says: "This will be presented to you by Mr. Inglis, only son of our bishop. He is a sensible, discreet gentleman." In Aylesford he remained from 1801, until the resignation of Dr. Breynton of the rectorship of St. Paul's, when he removed to Halifax. During the last years of his father's life, as has been said, he acted as ecclesiastical commissary, and at his entrance on the rectorship of St. Paul's, the S. P. G., "as a mark of the very high opinion entertained by the Society of his important services in the active superintendence of the diocese during the long illness of the late bishop, agreed to advance his.salary £200 per annum; and in consideration of the very laborious duties attached to the mission, deemed it expedient to allow £100 per annum for an assistant at St. Paul's." Among the honors conferred by the province on Mr. Inglis, was his appointment to the legislative council in 1825, and also to the chaplaincy of the house of assembly, February 18, 1817.

On the death of Bishop Charles Inglis many people supposed that his son, who for some years had so efficiently acted as commissary, would be his successor. Mr. Inglis naturally thought so himself, and soon prepared to go to England. But the same vessel that took him across the Atlantic took also a memorial, drawn up by the Honorable Hezekiah Cogswell and other influential persons, and signed by the council and the assembly, requesting the Home Government to appoint Dr. Stanser, the popular rector of St. Paul's, bishop instead. To the evident chagrin of the Archbishop of Canterbury the prayer of the Nova Scotia legislature was granted, and Dr. Stanser was elected to the vacant bishopric. "Mr. Inglis," says Dr. Hill, "bore the disappointment with dignity, came back to the discharge of his duties with a good spirit, and was elected the third rector of St. Paul's." This was in 1816. After seven years, on account of ill health, Bishop Stanser resigned and Dr. Inglis, who, during the bishop's protracted absence in England had continued to act as commissary, was at once appointed. In 1824, he sailed for England, was consecrated at Lambeth on Palm Sunday, March 27, 1825, and the 19th of November, with his wife and daughters, arrived in Halifax harbor, in His Majesty's ship "Tweed." Next day he landed in the admiral's barge, "under a salute of cannon and ringing of bells," and on the nth of December was sworn in a member of the council, under a mandamus, and took the seat next after the president, being complimented in addresses from many of the inhabitants of Halifax, the graduates of King's college, of which he was a governor, and other persons. [Murdoch: vol. 3, p. 539.] For twenty-five years he administered the diocese, lovingly, wisely, and well; but at last in November, 1849, on one of his visitations, at Mahone Bay he was attacked with fever, of which he was ill for months. When he grew better he went to England, but his work was done, and he died in London, October 27, 1850. Although a memorial tablet, similar to that erected for his father, was placed to his memory in St. Paul's Church, Halifax, his body does not lie there, but in Battersea churchyard, London. Bishop John Inglis' income from his see is said to have been about eleven thousand five hundred or twelve thousand dollars per annum, but his travelling expenses were so great, his hospitality was so generous, his gifts to charitable objects were so large, that he died poor. Of this very liberal salary, two thousand pounds sterling was paid by the Imperial Government from a parliamentary grant, which was to be continued during Bishop John Inglis' lifetime, four hundred pounds was from the American Bishop's Fund, administered by the S. P. G. and from the rental of a farm near Windsor, purchased for the diocese by the S. P. G.

Bishop John Inglis' wife was Miss Cochran, daughter of the Honorable Thomas Cochran, speaker of the house of assembly and member of the legislative council, who died, August 26, 1801, "at an advanced age, and after a long and painful illness." Of Mr. Cochran's family, Thomas became a judge in Upper Canada, and was accidentally drowned, William was in the army and became a general, James was Chief-Justice of Gibraltar and was knighted; one daughter was married to Commodore, afterward Sir Rupert Dennis George, and another was Mrs. Inglis. The children of Bishop Inglis were, Dr. Charles, Sir John Eardley Wilmot, Thomas, a captain in the Rifle Brigade, one daughter married to an officer, Lieutenant Kil-vington, and two who were not married. Lieutenant-Colonel Sir John Eardley Wilmot, the second son, was born in Halifax in 1814, and died at Hamburg, Germany, September 27, 1862. He was in the campaign in the Punjaub in 1848 and '49, and, his regiment being at Lucknow in the summer of 1857, on the death of Sir Henry Lawrence he succeeded to the command.

The Reverend Richard Avery writes of this bishop: "Bishop John Inglis was the Chesterfield of the Episcopal bench. It was said of him that next to George IV., he was the most polished gentleman of his time."

M. Mariotti, a cultivated Italian, who during Bishop John Inglis' episcopate was for a short time professor of modern languages at King's College, describing his reception in Halifax when he first arrived in the province, says:

"Immediately on landing at Halifax and taking up my quarters at the 'Mason's Arms,' I called upon the bishop, who . . . took me out in his carriage to introduce me to Lord Falkland, the governor of the province, and asked me to dine with him that same evening, with Mrs. Inglis and the four Misses Inglis, and with such friends as he could manage to summon at a moment's notice. The bishop was a dapper, little man, with a lively face, on which the sense of what was due to his prelatic dignity was perpetually struggling to check the impulses of his bustling activity. There was something in him of the look and manner of Dean Stanley. The bishop's wife and four daughters had stateliness enough for the whole Episcopal bench in the Lords."


The Reverend Hibbert Binney was born in Sydney, Cape Breton, August 2, 1819, and educated at King's College, London, and at Worcester College, Oxford, where he graduated with classical and mathematical honors in 1842. After graduation, for five years previous to his consecration, he was a fellow of his college and tutor in mathematics there. In 1844, he received from Oxford the degree of M.A., and in 1851, of D.D. By the Bishop of Oxford he was ordained deacon in 1842, and priest in 1843; and March 25, 1851, was consecrated at Lambeth, fourth bishop of Nova Scotia. Bishop Binney's father was the Reverend Hibbert Binney, a clergyman of New England Puritan descent, who was graduated at King's College, Windsor, in 1811 and received from that college in 1827, the degree of D.C.L. He was at one time rector of the joint parishes of Aylesford and Wilmot, at another of the parish of Sydney, and in later life of the parish of Newbury, Berks, England. His mother was Henrietta Lavinia, daughter of the Honorable Richard Stout, of Cape Breton. The first member of the Binney family in Nova Scotia was Jonathan Binney, of Hull and Boston, Massachusetts, who was born in Hull, January 7, 1725, and coming to Nova Scotia as a trader, became a member of the first legislature of the province, and later of the legislative council, and died in 1807. Bishop Binney married, January 4, 1855, Mary, daughter of the Honorable Judge William Blowers Bliss of Halifax, of a Massachusetts loyalist family, who bore him five children, the second of whom is a clergyman in England. He died suddenly at Halifax, April 30, 1887. A memorial tablet to him was erected in the Hensley Memorial Chapel at King's College, Windsor, a church built in great part by his cousin, Edward Binney. Bishop Binney was a good man, and one in whom many persons who knew him best found much to like. He was, however, a pronounced high churchman, and with an English education, came to his diocese, not from the broadening and mellowing experience of parish life and the ministry of souls, but from a tutorship of mathematics. Bishop John Inglis, although an aristocratic, courtly man, was a person of genial qualities, had lived most of his life in Nova Scotia, and well understood the peculiarities of the mixed population the province contained. Accordingly, unfavorable contrasts were soon made between Bishop Binney and him, and it can hardly be said that the first impression the former made on the people at large ever wore off. For thirty-six years, however, he honestly administered the diocese, and his thorough business methods did much to put its affairs on a firm and settled basis. To the welfare of King's College, especially, his energies were directed, and that institution now owes much to his prudence and good judgment. With his death, the last link binding the Church in Nova Scotia formally to the Church of England was snapped, for henceforth the bishops of Nova Scotia were not to seek consecration in England, but at the hands of prelates on these shores. Bishop Courtney, in his first address to the Diocesan Synod of Nova Scotia says of his predecessor: "Bishop Binney came at an interesting and eventful time . . .of little more than canonical age to be consecrated, in sympathy with the revived ideas of Churchmanship, deeply impressed with the importance of grafting them upon the Church life of the diocese, with the prospect of a long life in which he might 'see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied,' what wonder is it that he found his task a hard and difficult one? That he succeeded so far, that he made for himself a name and reputation, that to those who knew him best he was a loving and tender friend, ready at all times with sweet sympathy and generous help; that the longer any one was associated with him the more he was respected and his character revered, must be to those who most mourn his loss, a deep satisfaction and an enduring comfort. A strong character, striving to express and impress itself in all ways open to it, he gained credit for high-minded integrity, strict conscientiousness, the acting always upon Christian principles, the endeavor to obtain by lawful means what he regarded as laudable ends; and, therefore, he secured the admiration of those who were animated by his spirit and agreed with his views; while those who opposed him, gladly acknowledged the blamelessness of his Christian life and the purity of the motives by which he was actuated.

Of his unceasing watchfulness for the welfare of the diocese, his anxious endeavor to discharge his duty in the sight of God and with the approval of his conscience, his abundant labor, his unsparing giving of himself, his thought and study and prayer to prove himself 'a workman that needeth not to be ashamed,' a faithful Shepherd and Bishop of the souls committed to him, a wise counsellor, a courageous leader,--you all know better than I, for you were the witnesses of his actions, the objects of his care, his 'fellow-laborers unto the Kingdom of God.' He is of the number of those of whom it is said, 'Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord: yea, saith the Spirit, for they rest from their labors, and their works do follow them.'"


The Reverend Frederic Courtney, D.D., was born in Plymouth, England, January 5, 1837. He was educated in part at Christ's Hospital, first at the preparatory school at Hartford, then the blue-coat school in Newgate street, London. After that he graduated in the first class from King's College, London, in 1863, when Dr. Jelf, Dr. McCabe, Bishop Ellicott, Dean Plumtre, and Archdeacon Cheatham were professors there. The degree of doctor of divinity was conferred on him by Racine College, Wisconsin. He was ordained priest by the Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1865; was curate of Hadlow, near Tunbridge, Kent, from 1864 to 1865; incumbent of Charles Chapel, now St. Luke's, Plymouth, from 1865 to 1870; incumbent of St. Jude's, Glasgow, Scotland, from 1870 to 1876, and assistant minister of St. Thomas' Church, New York, from 1876 to 1880. From New York he went to St. James' Church, Chicago, where he began his rectorship the first Sunday after Easter, 1880, remaining in that pastorate until March, 1882, when he accepted a call from St. Paul's Church, Boston.

He was consecrated at St. Luke's Church, Halifax, by Bishop Medley, Metropolitan of Canada, assisted by the Coadjutor Bishop of Fredericton, the Bishop of Ontario, the Bishop of Quebec, and the Bishop of Maine, on St. Mark's Day, April 25, 1888. Among the clergy present at his consecration were the following from the diocese of Massachusetts:

The Reverends Phillips Brooks, D.D., G. S. Converse, William J. Harris, D.D., and Horatio Gray of Boston; George Zabriskie Gray, D.D., of Cambridge, L. K. Storrs of Brookline, G. W. Shinn, D.D., of Newton, Roland Cotton Smith of Beverly, Charles S. Hutchins of Medford, and John Bevington, of Wareham.

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