Project Canterbury

The Diocese of Jamaica
A Short Account of Its History, Growth and Organisation

By J.B. Ellis, M.A.

London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1913.

Chapter XIII.

BISHOP Douèt returned to Jamaica immediately after his consecration and threw all his remarkable energy into duties which he continued to discharge until his retirement in 1904. He probably knew Jamaica and its needs and conditions, both religious and secular, better than any man in the island. Ordained in 1862, he had held cures in different parts of the Diocese until his appointment in 1879 to the Rectory of the Cathedral Church in Spanish Town, where he remained until his removal to Mandeville in 1892. He was keenly interested in educational matters, and was himself an experienced and successful teacher. While Rector of Spanish Town, he was also Principal of the Government Training College for Elementary Teachers and was for some years head master of the Beckford and Smith's Middle Grade School in that town. From the time of his ordination he had been an ardent supporter of the Missionary Society and a frequent speaker at its meetings. The help of such a man as Assistant Bishop was a great personal relief to Bishop Nuttall, more especially as his duties and responsibilities as Bishop of Jamaica were further increased by his being chosen in 1894 Primate of the Province of the West Indies in succession to the late Bishop Austin of British Guiana and being appointed in 1897 Archbishop of the West Indies. The important work connected with this office is only fully known to the Archbishop and the members of the Provincial Synod, but it is a matter of general knowledge that various exceptional events, involving much correspondence and many communications on matters civil and political, as well as ecclesiastical, have combined to make the Primacy and the Archbishopric a heavy and critical burden.

After sixteen years of vigorous and devoted Episcopal labour Bishop Douèt's health broke down and in 1904, acting under expert medical advice, he was compelled to retire from Jamaica work. He was appointed Rector of Ashton Hayes, near Chester, and his friends hoped that under more favourable climatic influences his health might be restored and that he would be enabled to do useful work in the Diocese of Chester and to encourage in England interest in the Jamaica Church. But this was not to be. After some months of wearying sickness he passed away on the 27th of December, 1905, in the Seamen's Hospital, Albert Dock, London. It is not easy to tell of the affection and regard which were felt for him all over Jamaica: there is not a Church or a Mission Station in whatever out-of-the-way corner of the Diocese it may be, where he was not known and loved and where there are not many to tell of his goodness and his sympathy: there is not a clergyman, a catechist, a teacher, who is not a better and more efficient worker because of help and counsel received from Bishop Douèt. During a ministry extending over forty years he had been a very real power for righteousness and order and development in Jamaica, his influence extending to every phase of Church and civil life and progress.

I quote here in full the Resolution agreed upon by the Diocesan Council and Financial Board, and endorsed by the Synod, when Bishop Douèt's resignation was officially reported:--

"The Diocesan Council and Diocesan Financial Board learn with profound regret that the Right Reverend Charles Frederick Douèt, D.D., Assistant Bishop of this Diocese, acting under the highest medical advice which prohibits his return to the tropics, has been compelled to resign his appointment as Assistant Bishop. The announcement of his decision will be received throughout the Diocese by all the members of the Church of England in Jamaica with very genuine sorrow; for Bishop Douèt, during the tenure of this office (extending to a period of sixteen years and including the visitation of every Church in the Diocese), has endeared himself to our congregations by his kindness of manner, his genial disposition, his heartfelt sympathy, and by the sterling nobility of his character and the faithfulness with which all his episcopal duties have been performed; and nowhere will his presence be more missed than in the meetings of the Church Boards, where his conciliatory temper and the stimulus of his self-denying energy have been most valuable. The loss of the services and of the personal influence of Bishop Douèt will be severely felt, not only within but without the pale of the Church of England among all classes of the community and by most of the religious denominations in the Island. The position filled by Bishop Douèt in Educational as well as in Church matters is one that will be exceedingly difficult for any other to occupy, as no one knew the wants and dispositions of our people better; and his advice and active co-operation at every stage of educational development in this Colony during the last thirty years has been most valuable. The Council and Board feel that they are voicing the sentiments of the people of Jamaica generally in regretting the necessity for Bishop Douèt's resignation and, prompted by feelings of the deepest respect and warmest affection for him, they earnestly pray that much better health may be in store for him and that he may be spared for many years of usefulness in the sphere of labour to which he has been appointed in

On the Bishop's relations to the Archbishop of the West Indies, I cannot do better than recall the Archbishop's words in his address to the 1905 Synod:--

"It has been given to few communities such as ours to have the advantage of that amount, variety and quality of public service from a single individual which we have derived through the long connection of Bishop Douèt with this Island and Diocese."

And then after an apt quotation from the De Amicitiae in which Laelius speaks of his friendship for Scipio, His Grace added:--

"I should think it a unique experience for a Bishop and an Assistant Bishop to work together as Bishop Douèt and myself have done, under difficult conditions, and in circumstances in which there has constantly been room for diversity of opinion and action, and yet no thought or word or act indicating annoyance or misunderstanding, and no failure in active mutual co-operation, has occurred."

The present generation of Jamaica Church people need no reminder of Bishop Doubt's life and work: future generations will find memorials of him in the Cathedral and in Mandeville Parish Church. The latter consists of the completion of the re-seating of the Church, an undertaking planned and begun by the Bishop, and of a lectern on which is the following inscription:

"To the Glory of God, and in affectionate remembrance of Charles Frederick Douèt, D.D., Assistant Bishop of Jamaica and for 14 years Rector of Mandeville.

"Born 9 May 1840: At Rest 27 December, 1905.

"His absolute unselfishness, simplicity of character large-hearted devotion to duty and ready sympathy gained the love of all who had the privilege of knowing him."

Bishop Doubt's resignation of his office made it necessary to appoint either another assistant Bishop or a coadjutor with the right of succession. The appointment of one or the other was imperative, for the episcopal work had grown largely during the years that Bishop Douèt was assisting the Archbishop. It could not be decreased and must continue to increase. Neither standing still nor going back was to be thought of. Members of Churches and of Mission Stations had become used to annual visits and often indeed to more frequent visits from Archbishop or Bishop. Temporary and much appreciated relief in clearing off arrears of confirmations accumulated during Bishop Douèt's long illness had been given by the Bishop (Ormsby) of Honduras, but this could not long continue and in no sense met the full needs of the Diocese or gave the Archbishop the amount of help he required apart from Confirmations. Then, too, there were many other demands on the Archbishop's time and energy. In recent years notable progress had been made, and there were many indications that in coming years more progress would be made, in Jamaica in matters educational, philanthropic, social and agricultural. In all these the Archbishop had been called on to take an active, in many of them a leading, part. He could not help himself. It would have been impossible for him, when called on, to hold aloof from such movements as I am referring to, which, by the way, were not of a political character. His knowledge and widely-gathered experience outside ecclesiastical matters had to be at the service of the whole Island. The well-being of the members of the Churches was so closely connected with the material life and progress of the Colony that the Archbishop would have fallen short of the responsibilities of his office, as Head of the Church of England in Jamaica, had he limited his energies merely to his Episcopal duties, however wekome such a limitation might have been to him personally. A short quotation from the Archbishop's 1903 Synod Address will illustrate what I mean:

"You will not be surprised," His Grace said, "when I now say that I wish to divest myself, as much as may be rightly possible, of responsibility and effort in regard to many of those other things which heretofore it has appeared to be my duty to undertake, and to devote such portion as may remain of my active life to the promotion of those greater, those abiding spiritual things, to which I have alluded."

Since these words were spoken "the responsibility and effort in regard to those other things" have vastly grown, but with this growth there has also grown a corresponding increase in devotion to "the promotion of those greater, those abiding spiritual things." No wonder that the combined burden of "those other things" and "those greater things" required continual relief and help!

A successor, then, must without delay be found to take Bishop Douèt's place. The Archbishop, accordingly, laid before the 1905 Synod a Report from the Diocesan Council and Financial Board which contained alternative suggestions as to how the necessity might be met and recommended the appointment of a coadjutor Bishop with right of succession. The Synod agreed to this recommendation and delegated the selection and appointment to the Archbishop with the advice and help of such other persons as he might think fit to consult. The Archbishop's choice fell on the Rev. Albert Ernest Joscelyne, D.D. at that time Vicar of St. John's, Islington, a clergyman of much and wide experience, gained in various home parishes, both in parochial work and in conducting mission services. Dr. Joscelyne was consecrated in Westminster Abbey on St. Luke's Day, 1905, and arrived in Jamaica in December of that year, being cordially welcomed by the Archbishop and the members of the Executive Boards of the Church.

Mention may here be made more fitly than elsewhere of some few of those who have now passed away and who, since Dr. Nuttall's consecration, were among the foremost in Church effort and organisation and administration--such as Archdeacon Ramson, a strenuous worker and vigorous enthusiast for the missionary society: Archdeacon Panton, keenly interested in Sunday school work: the Rev. H. H. Isaacs, for many years honorary secretary to the missionary society, which owes to him and to his painstaking care much of its present position of usefulness and still more of its progress in struggling days: the Rev. E. B. Key, the first superintendent of the Panama Mission; the Rev. Canon Kilburn, secretary of Synod and active in many good works in Kingston. This list, did space permit, might easily be enlarged. For obvious reasons I refrain from naming others who are still living and working. Of course there is always a danger of putting a relatively higher value on the services of men who have occupied prominent and official positions and lived more in the public eye than on the less showy but equally important work of the Christian pastor. The growth of the Church since disestablishment is not merely the outcome of central organisation and of accurately kept accounts. These are necessary, so necessary indeed that in the early days of a disestablished and disendowed church the Apostolic order would seem to be reversed and those who "serve tables" and attend meetings and keep accounts appear to occupy more important positions than those who limit their functions to the discharge of their purely pastoral or missionary duties. Increase in numbers, growth in influence, though partly due to careful organisation, are in reality quite as much, if not more, due to lives of unassuming usefulness and quiet benevolence. There has, it is true, been a great improvement in the structure and general appearance of churches and mission stations and school-houses; more order and more seemliness have been maintained than in years gone by; things which were quietly accepted as the best possible forty years ago would not be either permitted or endured to-day. But when all that has been admitted, it remains that much of actual Christian work has been done--and though surroundings and conditions are year by year being made better is still being done--in dull and distant hamlets, in hidden valleys, on mountain sides, in negroes' huts, in dingy mission rooms, in roughly furnished churches, done by men living on a mere pittance of a salary, cheerfully and willingly done, because they feel the doing of it to be a duty. These--the quiet, the zealous, the self-denying, the unnamed workers--are often enough the real heroes of the Church in Jamaica as well as elsewhere. An English Bishop is reported to have said of a clergyman in his diocese, "He must be a good fellow, because I never heard of him." That criterion for excellence cannot exist in Jamaica, where Archbishop and Coadjutor Bishop are in constant touch with the clergy. But still it often happens in a Colonial Church as well as at home that it is not always the most prominent and pushing clergy who are the most efficient ministers.

Two events of a very helpful and welcome character may suitably be placed on record here. The former of the two was a general Diocesan Mission in 1888, conducted by the Rev. Canon Grant, Rector of Holy Trinity Church, Guildford; and the latter was a visit paid to Jamaica by Professor Collins (afterwards Bishop of Gibraltar) in 1902, when he held a series of "Quiet Days" in the Cathedral for clergy, conducted two missions and preached in many churches during his short stay in the Island. The stimulus thus provided, not only by new ideas but by unfamiliar and unaccustomed ways of expounding old ideas, served in both cases as an inspiration and an encouragement both to congregations and to cleigy. The almost inevitable danger of getting into a rut, which English country clergy, in common with their brothers in Jamaica, are too painfully conscious of, is greatly lessened by such intercourse and visits as these. Professor Collins, on his way home, spent two weeks in Barbados, and both there and in Jamaica was able to learn much about Church work throughout the West Indian Dioceses. The impressions made upon him and the conclusions he arrived at were thus summed up in the Ramsden Sermon, which (when Bishop of Gibraltar) he preached before the University of Oxford, on Whit-Sunday, 1909. He said:--

"The noble little Church of the West Indies--in my judgment one of the brightest jewels of the Anglican Communion (as the British West Indies themselves were formerly called the brightest jewel of the English Crown)--can in some respects teach us all. Elsewhere divers races have learned to live and deliberate and worship side by side; but I know no part of the world where the racial problem has been so far solved, and certainly no Church which has solved it so thoroughly. Elsewhere the Church is a strong, unifying force, but I know no region where the Church does so much for union as in the West Indies, helping to develop, as it does, a common life in the British islands of a great archipelago,in which there is little else to hold them together. Elsewhere the question of finance has been very pressing, and has been gallantly met; but I know of no region where they have, so far, solved it as here, adopting the system of our Wesleyan brethren and adapting it to their own circumstances, and thus providing that, whilst the Church shares, as it should, the poverty of the people, no amount of poverty will cause it to lose sustenance altogether, and that, on the other hand, it will profit by the prosperity which we trust is yet in store for the West Indies."

Nowhere was the news of the early death of Bishop Collins more regretfully received than in Jamaica, and by none is his memory more affectionately cherished than by the many friends he made there.

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