Early Rectors in New Brunswick


        The following account is taken from a work titled "Queens County", by Rev. W. O. Raymond, on Gagetown's early history. It is an eleven page (double column) newspaper article. The newspaper was not identified in the item I read. This copy was found at the Oromocto Public Library, in their reference section.

        I am placing it here, in the General Section, rather than in Queens County, as the portions I will be quoting takes in many areas of the province. (Comments and abv. added by CBB.)

        "On Oct 20, 1765, an immense tract, 20,000 acres of land, comprising the greater portion of the present parishes of Greenwich and Hampstead was granted to the following persons: General Thomas Gage, Daniel Disney, John Johnston, Stephen Kemble, Henry Gage, Wm. Bayard, Wm. Harvey, Archibald McCall, Giles Creed, Wm. Crockfort, John Van Horne, Samuel Bayard, John Wells, Robert Bayard, Stephen Johnstone, Andrew Simpson, Phillip French."

        Raymond goes on to say that the greater part of this grant was never developed, and was regranted to Loyalist when they came. He also touches briefly on the grants given to James Spry Heaton and Capt. William Spry along the Jemseg, and to Capt. Spry and Lieut. Wm. Shaw, above these Jemseg lands. He then proceeds:

        "The first Clergyman to visit the settlements on the St. John River was the Rev. Thomas Wood, S.P.G. Missionary at Annapolis [NS]."

        Raymond gives an account of his many abilities, such as speaking French and Micmac. The latter feat was gained by studying under a French Missionary, Antoine Simon Maillard who died in 1762 leaving him a few papers on the subject. Wood built upon this base and eventually compiled a Micmac grammar, as well as translated 'considerable portions of the Scriptures and the Book of Common Prayer.'

        "In the year 1769 Mr. Wood, at the request of Lord William Campbell, governor of Nova Scotia, made a missionary tour among the St. John river settlements. On Sunday, July 30th, he held three services at St. John for as many different classes of people - the morning service for a party of Indians who were on their way to Passamaquoddy, at which an indian child was baptized, and an evening service for the French inhabitants, which also a number of Indians, who understood that language, attended. During the ensuing week Mr. Wood visited "The several rising townships, Gage, Burton and Maugerville." Whilst at Gagetown he baptized two Indian children.

        From this point Rev. Raymond moves into the coming of the Loyalist. He says: "The Rev. John Sayre, on his arrival in the month of October, found the local authorities quite unable to grapple with the situation. "Many of the Loyalist are unsheltered and on the brink of despair on account of the delay in allotting their lands to them."

        "The Rev. John Sayer continued to manifest the greatest interest in the future of his fellow exiles from the old colonies. In his report to the S.P.G., written from St. John in Oct. 1783, he mentions that ... if the society `thinks proper to open a mission at the mouth of St. John's river it should include the townships of Conway (Carleton) and Gage, at least 'til the inhabitants shall require the care of pastors in smaller district.' ... For nearly three years the people at Gagetown remained without a resident clergyman, but were occasionally visited by the Rev. John Bardsley of Maugerville, and Rev. Dr. Cooke of St. John."

        "The first rector, the Rev. Richard Samuel Clarke ... was the fifth son of Samuel Clarke of West Haven, Conn, where he was born in 1737, graduated at Yale college in 1762 and the same year received the degree of M.A. from Kings (now Columbia) college, NY, Feb 23rd, 1767, he was licensed by the bishop of London "to preach in the plantations" of America. His first parish was that of New Milford, which, having served for 19 years, he abandoned after the revolutionary war and in 1786 with two brother missionaries, Messrs. Samuel Andrews and James Scovil, to New Brunswick. On the 22nd of May the vessel in which the exiled clergymen were passengers touched at Beaver Harbor, Charlotte Co., where Rev. Mr. Clarke baptized "Sally, ye dau'r of Shadrach and Lydia Stevens of Seely's Cove," his first ministerial act in the province. At the earnest solicitation of the people of Queens county Governor Carleton assigned the Rev. Mr. Clarke to the mission of Gagetown, to which he must have proceeded almost immediately after his arrival in St. John, since his record contains the baptism at Gagetown on the last day of May of "Hariot, ye dau'r of John and Ellen Whitlock." Mr. Clarke seems to have been an exceeding active and vigorous missionary and not to have confined his ministrations simply to his own mission. His register of Baptisms, marriages and burials, which he kept with considerable care, shows that he performed ministerial duty at Fredericton soon after his arrival. A few weeks later he paid a ten day visit to Kingston, where he baptized 58 persons. ...About the end of June Mr. Clarke appears to have officiated in St John where he baptized Jared, ye son of Daniel and Mabel Belding, and several other children. He also married Alexander Fairchild and Ann Seeley.'

        "A few incidents may be mentioned in connection with the life of Mr. Clarke. On Mar 5th, 1788, he was called upon to bury his old friend and brother in the ministry, Rev. Geo. Bissett, first rector of Trinity church, St. John. June 11th, 1800, Mr. Clarke married his neighbour, Rev. John Beardsley of Maugerville, to Mary Quain, widow. This was Mr. Beardsley's fourth venture in the matrimonial line.'

        "In the year 1811, Mr. Clarke's son, Rev. Samuel Clarke, assisted him in his ministerial duty, but the father's satisfaction in having his son in holy orders, and in a position to assist him was speedily marred by a terrible and unexpected event, to which the following entry in the bereaved father's own hand refers.'

        "Gagetown, March 17, 1811. - Buried by Rev. Mr. Scovil the remains of Sarah Coldwell Clarke, Marshall Clarke Andrews and Mary Hubbard; the first named being the daughter, 2nd the grandson, 3rd the niece of the Rev. Richard Clarke. All three suffered death by fire which consumed the house to ashes on the 13th instant. The house was discovered to be on fire as near as I can judge about four of the clock in the morning. The family exclusive of the unfortunate children consisting of nine persons escaped the flames by leaping from the windows excepting four, viz: Mary and Samuel Clarke, a white boy and a black girl.'

        "The effect of this terrible accident so overcame Mr. Clarke that he retired from his work at Gagetown, where he had laboured 25 years, and removed to St. Stephen, where he officiated as the first rector for 13 years, and then passed to his reward at the ripe old age of 87 years and in the 58th year of his ministry."

        Rev. Raymond continued his article with details about the founding of the church. building the building and the first vestry at Gagetown, then moves on to describe the picnic celebration of the "Loyalist Reunion and Church of England Centennial Celebration" in a second newspaper article, attached to the one above.

Mounted: 17 April 1998
Updated:Wednesday, 20-Nov-2002 22:10:50 MST