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.


THE history of Nova Scotia has a unique and varied interest, which likewise extends to the Church of England in this Province. On the Church in Nova Scotia, practically nothing has been written; a valuable sketch by the late Dr. Thomas B. Akins, long out of print, and a brief account of the early history of the Church in New Brunswick, by Mr. George Herbert Lee, are the only published writings directly on the subject. In the United States there should be much interest in the Diocese of Nova Scotia, for that Diocese owes its existence to the Tories of the Revolution, who went in thousands from New York and Massachusetts to the "Acadian Province by the Sea," and its first bishop was, at the outbreak of the war, the honored rector of the leading Church in the older Colonies.

The attention I have given to biography, in this volume, has seemed to me necessary from the fact that the Church in Nova Scotia, which has been quite out of the range of great movements of thought, and great events, has had, notwithstanding, among its clergy and laity, a large number of distinguished men. Many of its early clergy were highly educated and able men, who at the Revolution left comfortable parishes in the older Colonies for raw missions in the Nova Scotia and New Brunswick wilds, and long and manfully did the Church's work on these new shores. Many of its laymen were also persons of note in the Colonies from which they came, and resuming public life in Nova Scotia, in their new field showed the same energy of character and marked inability they had shown before. I was born too late to do more than catch faint echoes of Tory times, but in boyhood I worshipped in one of the old Parish Churches in the Acadian Land, which had about it all the atmosphere of Colonial Days--an atmosphere that lasted long in Nova Scotia--and my vivid recollections of the dignified worship, and my love for the worshippers, has made the writing of this book a very pleasant task.

It was my first intention to write brief sketches of the various parishes in the Diocese, but from lack of response to my circulars, and for other reasons, I soon changed my plan, and so have been obliged to omit many local details that would necessarily have been given in a more statistical account of the Church in Nova Scotia. I have, however, gathered many documents and pamphlets that would be useful for such a work, and shall deposit them, together with the reports of the S.P.G., which I have had copies in New York and in London, in the Provincial Library at Halifax.

In the biographical work in this volume my indebtedness to Sabine's "History of the Loyalists" will be readily seen; but I have likewise been helped in the preparation of biographies by Sprague's "Annals of the American Pulpit," Bolton's "History of Westchester County," Beardsley's "History of the Church in Connecticut," the records of Harvard, Yale and Columbia colleges, where the greater number of the Tory clergy and many of the leading Loyalist laymen were educated, and by many pamphlets and small publications in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, which are hardly to be found outside these provinces. The strictly historical work in this book has been made easier by two Nova Scotians, to whom every year gives me a deeper sense of indebtedness; the late Mr. Beamish Murdock, whose three volume documentary history of Nova Scotia contains untold historical treasures; and the late Dr. Thomas Beamish Akins, the painstaking Record Commissioner of the Province, largely through whom the great wealth of manuscripts in the Provincial Library at Halifax has been made available for the purposes of historical research. For many of the details of such a work as this, the careful Reports of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel are, necessarily, the chief source of authority.

"AN infant Church is rising under the favour and protection of Government in Nova Scotia; and it is of a singular description, consisting of Honourable Exiles, under the pastoral care of Fellow-Sufferers."

THE BISHOP OF OXFORD, in a sermon preached before the S. P. G.. February 20, 1784.

Project Canterbury