SPG Archives C/CAN/NFL/107
BONAVISTA PETITION 1791
To His Grace The Right Reverend Father in God, John (by Divine Permission) Lord Archbishop
of Canterbury, Primate of All England, and President of The Society for Propagating
the Gospel in Foreign Parts.
The humble petition of the Inhabitants of Bonavista.
That there are at this time in the harbour of Bonavista upwards of three hundred poor
children- that the parents of these children have themselves been bred on the most
gross ignorance, and are not only wholly incapable of conveying instructions to their
offspring, but from their extreme poverty are destitute of the means of procuring for
themselves so great a blessing.
Thus yearly, are multiplied, numbers who have as little sense of the ends for which
providence as placed them in this world as the untutored savages of the woods. Deprived
wholly of the assistance of a Missionary whose precepts and example might excite to
piety and a moral life, the best cement of society; this poor people are also destitute
of the most common means of attaining to that small degree of cultivation which the lowest
orders possess in most civilized nations. To be able to read is among the first blessings,
since it furnishes the medium of improving the mind, and learning our duty to God and our
neighbours. The end Your Grace's petitioners hope for in this application, is to obtain a
small salary for a Schoolmaster, to enable him to instruct gratis, poor children in reading
and writing. There is at present here a person (George Bemister) who has been for some time
past employed in that capacity; but those who are in a situation to pay him for this
attendance are so few, that the emoluments arising from his school will not furnish the
most ordinary means of support. Your Grace's petitioners therefore humbly request that
you will take into consideration the unhappy circumstances of the poor children of this
place, and in charity grant a small annual gratuity to a Schoolmaster, for the purpose
of instructing them in reading and writing gratis. And may the blessings and prayers of
those who may happily benefit from Your Grace's benevolence add to that peace and
serenity of mind which can only result from doing good and which Your Grace's petitioners
wish you may to the latest period of life enjoy.
John Bland JP
Gerrard Ford JP?
William Brown JP
Wright William Ward
John Butler/ Cutler?
J G-thing/ Gosling?
Robert X Dugdale
William X Pledwell
Moses X Keel
Henry X Edmonds
Hugh X Abbott
William X Hicks
William X Baker
Bonavista Petitioners Nov 11, 1791 (rearranged in alphabetical order):
Abbott X Hugh
Baker X William
Bland John JP
Brown William JP
Butler/ Cutler John
Dugdale X Robert
Edmonds X Henry
Ford Gerrard JP
Hicks X William
Pledwell X William
Wright William Ward
Bonavista 11 Nov 1791.
UNITED SOCIETY FOR THE PROPAGATION OF THE GOSPEL
ARCHIVES C/CAN/NFL: 2. DATE OCT 31, 1792
PRESENTED BEFORE THE COMMITTEE JANUARY 1793
This is Akerman's letter which accompanied this 1792 petition from the inhabitants of Bonavista.
TO REV. DR. MORICE? GOWER? STREET BEDFORD SQUARE LONDON
Whereas the inhabitants of this Town and District has with great satisfaction beheld my
laudable exertions in doing the duty of the Church at Bonavista and supporting the Protestant
Religion from a total decay for these nine years past and that their children have been
baptised in the foundings? of Christ and taught the Knowledge and fear of God.-- They
have thought it prudent to petition to His Lordship and the other members of the Society
in granting me a small salary.-- I humbly request Your Reverance's kind aid and assistance
with His Lordship and the other good members of the Society in granting their request-- and
am, Reverend Sir, your most
obliging and most humble servant.
BONAVISTA PETITIONERS OCT 31, 1792
USPG ARCHIVES C/CAN/NFL:2
To the Right Reverend Father in God John ( by Divine Commission ) Lord Archbishop of
Canterbury, Primate of all England and President of the Society for Propagating the
Gospel in Foreign Parts.
The humble petition of the inhabitants of Bonavista
That the town of Bonavista, the Capital of this District, has been many years without
a Missionary; and that your Lordship's Petitioners beheld with concern the declining
state of the Protestant Religion and the rapid increase of Popery, for want of a
person to instruct the ignorant, and to m----- unto the minds of the unenlightened, a
knowledge of our? Religion and the Duties of Christianity, until Mr. Akerman, voluntarily,
and without Reward or Emolument whatever, undertook to do the duty of the Church which he
has constantly served these nine years, to the entire satisfaction of the inhabitants of
this Town and District-- That our children may be brought up in the knowledge and fear of
God. We, your petitioners, ---- humbly beg the sanction of your Lordship and the assistance
of the Society, in granting to Mr. Abraham Akerman a small salary, to enable him the better
to carry out his present laudable undertaking. Your petitioners beg leave to inform your
Lordship that Mr. Abraham Akerman has been married for many years and has a wife and four
children now living in Bonavista. In consideration of which and of his zeal and attachment
to the Protestant Religion, we are induced to implore the aid of the Society : humbly
hoping that your Lordship and the Society will take his present situation into your
consideration and your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Bonavista, October 31, 1792.
Petitioners names rearranged in alphabetical order:
Abbott X Hugh
Brown William, ( J.P. )
Baker X Willaim
Batt X Joseph
Bright X Francis
Collins X John
Clouter X Henry
Crocker X George
Cummens? X John
Dunden? X Moses
Dyke X Richard
Etsell X William
Ford Gerrard (J.P.)
Fielden William, Sen.
Fielden William, Jun.
Gellett X John
Hailey X John (Haley)
Hayward X John
Hix(Hicks) X James
Hix(Hicks) X Robert
Hix(Hicks) X Thomas
Hobbs X Robert
Ingram X Benjamin
Lander Stephen, Sen.
Lander Stephen, Jun.
Little X Giles
Lush X Edward
Lush X William
Mashfield Cornelius (Marshfield)
Moulam James (Mouland)
Oldford X George
Parell X William
Stagg X Edward
Steeds X William
Tilly(Telley) John X
Tilly X Richard
Way X William
SLA PG 191
Charles Saint, of Wimborne Minster, originally went to Bonavista as a parish apprentice
to Thomas Bass, but by 1806 was an owner occupier of a fishing room. Some three decades
later, he was appointed guardian to a daughter of James Oakley "native of Wimborne
Minster, now of Bonavista, Island of Newfoundland"
[TC Note - Pretty certain this was a Charles Saint junior]
Obtained from the Anglican Church Archives, Toronto
DATE NOV 17, 1792
Bonavista 17th Nov 1792
I learn from the list published by the Society for the Propagation of Christian
Knowledge that they have been pleased to appoint me Schoolmaster at this place
with a salary of fifteen pounds a year. Altho' I have not been officially informed
of this appointment, I think it my duty to return my thanks to the Society for thier
favor; And to beg you will be pleased to assure them of my endeavours to deserve their
protection. I am with very great respect,
Your much obliged,
and Obedient servant.
Obtained from the Anglican Church Archives, Toronto
DATE NOV 20, 1792
Bonavista 20th Nov 1792
Last year I had the honor to enclose to you a petition from the principal inhabitants
and others of this place to the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge
in Foreign Parts, praying they would grant a small salary to a schoolmaster which
we understand has been conferred on the person who did then, and still continues in
that capacity. I am now? to return? our sincere acknowledgement for the attention
which the Society has been pleased to show to our request, and to assure them that
their bounty, as far as depends on us, shall not be improperly applied.
Encouraged by the success of that petition I have learnt that a second has lately
been (------) thru this settlement, which has for its object to obtain a salary for
one Abraham Akerman for officiating as minister , or catechist. Altho I am the Chief
Magistrate of this District, no application for very obvious reasons, has been made
for my concurrence, or for that of the more respectable part of the inhabitants,
which to give the measure a fair appearance, ought certainly to have been done. In
fact, this business seems to have been managed with some (-----) for it is only
written a few days that I came to the knowledge of it.
When Bonavista in respect to the community was at a very low (----) Abraham Akerman
who then was, and still is, an inferior servant in the fishery, read the service from
the Common Prayer Book in the best manner he could, and at the festival of Christmas,
sang carols about the neighbourhood, from which performances, if I am not greatly
misinformed, he now continues to draw a dear emolument of thirty pounds a year
exclusive of his wages as a servant. The man may be drawing enough in the useful,
but humble task where providence has placed him but the nature of things has not left
it in his power to merit attention beyond it. The office of catechist made by the
appointment of your Society, must, presuppose some (-----) at least. The man for
whom this appointment is entrusted cannot, therefore, be recommended as a fit person.
The habits of life, as may be naturally supposed from this situation, are too abject
to command respect, and he is besides, so grossly illiterate as not to be able to
read intelligibly. Can a man so unfortunately unmastered as to the acquirement of
knowledge be possibly thought competent to discharge the trust which the petition
aims to obtain for him? It might be asked (if his performances can be called
officiating ) why is he suffered to officiate at all? The truth is no one else as
yet offered, and the people of better mind can find no inducement to attend his
performances, it is thought more proper to have some show of religion than none at
all nonetheless silently to suffer this ignorant, low bred man to be placed in a
permanent situation with a salary, to which assuredly, he can have no pretensions,
would be to connive at abuse and to preclude the hope of having a regular clergyman
settled among us. It would be, in fact, to consent that the receivers of cultivated
talents be prostituted to gross ignorance- It would be to suffer a benevolent
institution to be duped into an appointment which. instead of promoting, would defeat
the very act proposed to be attained by it. I cannot, therefore, think that I should
discharge my public trust with fidelity, were I knowingly to allow this imposition
to pass on the Society, who will now be better able to inform themselves as to the
merits of Akerman's petition.
As Bonavista as lately much increased in respectability and population, the
necessity of a public instructor in the religious and moral duties of life, becomes
every year more evident and shall hope that another season will not pass on without
some proposal for effecting so desirable an end.
I am, with great respect Reverend Sir, Your faithful Humble servant John Bland
To Pastor? Morice?
UNITED SOCIETY FOR THE PROPAGATION OF THE GOSPEL
ARCHIVES C/CAN/NFL: 2. DATE OCT 23, 1793
PRESENTED BEFORE THE COMMITTEE JANUARY 1794
To The Reverend William Morice DD.
Postage paid at Poole.
No 3 from Mr. George Bemister- John? Bonavista (TC Note -George of John maybe?). 23 Oct 1793.
The Society's printed list, last yeat inform'd me, that I was appointed Schoolmaster
for this place with a salary of ,15 annually, commencing the 17th Febr. 1792. I have
taken the liberty to give a short detail of my proceedings in that capacity; since my
residence of three years in this place - I have had constantly attending my School
upwards of forty children, but through their parent's indigence, I could not procure
payment for half of them; I was obliged therefore to resolve on quitting the harbour.
-After communication my intentions to the Inhabitants of the necessity I laid under of
removing; they judged it proper to petition the Society's assistance, which thank God
has found the desired effect. - I am teaching gratis, twenty children, but the poor
things are quite destitute of books. - I have taken the liberty to draw on the Society's
Treasurer (Calvert Clapham, Esq.) for twenty two pounds ten shillings, in favor of
Mr. Jame Bayley of Poole;- being one year and a half salary, due unto me from the
17th February 1792.
It will ever be my earnest endeavour to retain (by a ----- application to my business)
the protection of the Society.
I am Reverend Sir.
most dutifully. Your
much obliged and very Humble Servant.
Bonavista Oct 25, 1793.
We do hereby certify that George Bemister has performed the duty of the Schoolmaster
in Bonavista, Newfoundland from the 17th February 1792 to the date hereof; During
which time he has paid a proper attention to the Duties of his Office, and has had
under his tuition near fifty children from three years old to fifteen, of whom he
has taught gratis, upwards of twenty- their parents not being in circumstances to
pay for instructions.
J. Bland, J Peace.
G Ford, J Peace.
UNITED SOCIETY FOR THE PROPAGATION OF THE GOSPEL
ARCHIVES C/CAN/NFL: DATE NOV 13, 1793
PRESENTED BEFORE THE COMMITTEE FEBRUARY 1794
Bonavista 13 Nov 1793.
It is with much satisfaction that I enclose to you a petition from the principal
inhabitants of this place praying for a missionary to reside among them.
[NOTE- I cannot decipher the balance of this letter by John Bland-
(what a terrible writer) T. Cole].
Petition Nov 5, 1793:
To His Grace the most Reverend John Lord Archbishop of Canterbury and the --- of
the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts.
The humble petition of the principal inhabitants of Bonavista.
That upwards of forty years have elapsed since a minister of the gospel resided
among them and during that period the Inhabitants have unhappily been deprived,
not only of the blessing of a public administration of the rites of the Christian
religion, but of spiritual assistance in that awful moment when worldly
consideration are no longer of avail. The increase of population within the
aforesaid period is a circumstance -- under the absence of an --- missionary
subject of particular regret. It has been recently ascertained that no? less than
five hundred children underage? are numbered in Bonavista to say nothing of its
dependencies. The native inhabitants, as of necessity they must be, are too
generally to be reckoned among the worst order of society; and as they have not
the same advantages of moral instructions as that class in the mother country,
their offspring are bred in a more lamentable ignorance of the great concerns
Your petitioners are deeply impressed with a just sense of their own situation-
of what they owe to God, to themsekves and their children, and they believe that
it is the pure practice of religion alone that can insure to them the best
enjoyment of the blessings allotted to mortality. But while they solicit for
themselves the benevolence of your charitable institution, they are not unmindful
of an obligation incumbent upon them. They are sensible that a missionary who
devotes his time solely to the laborious duties of his office, can have nothing
to spare from the customary bounty of your society, and they have not been
wanting in the estimation of their own means to continue to his support so as to
place him above resorting to employment which they conceive ought not to be
blended with his sacred function.
Your petitioners are sensible to the intention of your society in sending
ministers into remote parts, is to, promote the saving knowledge of the Gospel
and consequently render mankind happy: but they cannot help observing that precept
must fail where example is wanting. Rather would they have to remain bereft? of
the blessing they solicit- rather would they see the dark cloud of ignorance
continue to hover over them, than the pious intention of your society defeated
in their regard.
Your petitioners are desirous to have established among them a truly christian
minister- one whose life would be an example of the doctrine he taught: and on
their part they promise to adopt such additional means for his support as may
reasonably relieve his mind from the common solicitude of this life and -- him
to attend only to the concern of a better --.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
1793 Petitioners in Bonavista to USPG Nov 5, 1793:
Bland J. JP
Ford G. JP
October 20, 1994- from Lloyd Brown, Bonavista Petition dated 08 Oct 1795
at the Wesleyan Methodist Society (London) Archives 1791-1886 H-2705:
[TC Note- This is the Pro Smith Petition, which I have referred to earlier as the
Anti Akerman Petition/ There is also a letter -at The Anglican Archives- by George
Welch recommending Smith].
To His Grace The Right Reverend Father in God, John by Divine Permission Lord
Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England, and President of The Society
for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts.
The humble petition of the principal Inhabitants of Bonavista.
That two years ago your Grace's Petitioners signed and sent to England a Petition
setting forth their desire to have a Missionary established among them, to which
an answer has not yet been received. Since that period your Grace's Petitioners
have been happily visited by a person who came to this country under the protection
of a religious Society in England. Your Grace's Petitioners have during parts of
two last summers witnessed the force and efficacy of this Minister's labors and
Disinterested Endeavours to promote the Good of Souls. And convinced as your Grace's
Petitioners are that the Inhabitants of this place have profited much from the Zeal
and Pious example of the Rev. George Smith, they beg leave to Recommend him to Your
Grace's Notice as a Proper Person to be appointed Missionary of Bonavista. And your
Grace's Petitioners, as in Duty bound, will ever beg.
STEP ABBOTT SEN
STEPHEN LANDER JUN
JOHN ABBOTT SEN
RICHARD MARSH SEN--- [TC NOTE MESH??]
ROBT DUDGALE--- [TC NOTE DUGDALE]
8th October 1795
The? desires by the inhabitants of Bonavista to transit to you the Enclosed
Petition. If it would be necessary on my part to say any thing to enforce the
propriety of granting its prayer, --- --- the people here are much attached
to the Minister whom they recommend. I believe that upon a former occassion
--- --- to you that the bulk of the inhabitants of this District are grossly
ignorant and if we consider their Relations, Situation the neccessity of some
effort to check the progress of Vice and ------- will appear the greater. The
Minister recommended in the Enclosed Petition is in my Opinion earnestly-
calculated to promote a Reform in the People of Bonavista, of great simplicity
of manners and unremitting in his labors. He is so far far from seeking to
make any advantage of his labors which is too general and ---- charge that
he --- shares the ------ ---- ----??. His Disposition will speak more forcibly
to the heart than eloquence and learning for we all know that it is Example
alone that can influence the -- conduct --- ---? in a rude and uncultured state.
I will not offer any further Observations, but I will hope the Petitioners
may be gratified in their wish.
--- Great Respect
Your most Obedient Humble
From The Church of England Archives C/CAN/NFL3 425:
Dated 22 Dec 1795:
Re Mr. Smith
To his grace the archbishop of Canterbury.
May it please your grace.
About two years ago a Merchant at Harbour Grace in Newfoundland, wrote to one
of his Friends at Poole, expressing the desire of himself and others, that a
Missionary might be sent to them, who could read prayers, preach and bury the
dead, as they were in the greatest distress in these respects, and had made
application to the higher powers without success.
Some of the Merchants of Poole, who were will acquainted with Mr. George Smith,
the Bearer of this letter, who was then at Poole, earnestly desired him to go
over to Newfoundland on this merciful earrand. He accordingly complied; and has
officiated at Harbour Grace and Carbonear, with very great profit to the people.
During his residence in those parts, Mr. Thistle, the chief Churchwarden at
Harbour Grace, opened the Church to him, there being no regular clergyman of
the Established Church in those parts: and he continued to officiate there,
almost till the arrival of Mr. Jennet? [TC Note- This was Rev. George Charles
Jenner, nephew of Dr. Jenner], the Missionary lately appointed by your Grace
and the other Honourable Members of the Society for the propagation of the
gospel in foreign parts.
Some time before the arrrival of Mr. Jennet [TC note - Jenner] in Harbour
Grace, Mr. Smith made a visit to Bonavista, one of the most northern points
of the Island, opposite the Coast of Labrador; [TC Note- Welch was not well
acquainted with Newfoundland- Bonavista isn't anywhere near Labrador] where
the Inhabitants have been destitute of a Clergyman or any kind of Minister
for about thirty years; and too many of them are little better than heathens.
The people received Mr. Smith with the utmost cordiality, and have drawn up
a petition to your Grace, which has been signed by the Justice of the Peace
and all the Principal Inhabitants, earnestly entreating your Grace to ordain
Mr. Smith, and to appoint him, or get him appointed, their Minister and the
Missionary for that place and neighbourhood: and Mr. Smith is willing to devote
himself to that work in that most disagreeable and desolate part of Newfoundland.
When I was last winter at Poole, I received very pleasing accounts of the
success of Mr. Smith's labours, from Mr. Kemp, my nephew, who is the principal
merchant in Conception Bay; and have also had letters from Poole, since the
arrival of Mr. Smith in England, earnestly importuning me to do every thing
in my power, to give success to Mr. Smith's design, and to the earnest wishes
of the People of Bonavista.
Permit me, therefore, my Lord, to recommend Mr. Smith to your Grace's notice;
as I really believe, that your ordination of him and appointment of him as
the Missionary of Bonavista, will tend exceedingly to the reformation and
happiness of those poor People, who live in one of the most dreary regions
in the British Empire.
Permit me to subscribe myself
with very great respect
and obedient servant
London 22 Dec 1795.
Church of England Archives C/CAN/NFL3 426
To The Reverend
Feb 5, 1796
Mr. Smith having been with the Archbishop & by him informed of a counter
petitions against his request to be sent as a Missionary to Bonavista, has
expressed a wish to see these petitions which the Archbishop therefore would
have Dr. Morrice show him. The Archbishop has also told Mr. Smith that he
can't ordain him, and that he could not therefore propose him as a Misssionary,
even if there had not been any counter petition before the Society. J. Cantnan.
[IE GEORGE SMITH].