Francis William Pitt Greenwood.

A history of King's chapel, in Boston, the first Episcopal church in New England; comprising notices of the introduction of Episcopacy into the northern colonies online

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Online LibraryFrancis William Pitt GreenwoodA history of King's chapel, in Boston, the first Episcopal church in New England; comprising notices of the introduction of Episcopacy into the northern colonies → online text (page 6 of 13)
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he directed a letter " to the Parishioners of the
King's Chapel at Boston in New England," as
follows :

" Gentlemen, — Inasmuch as I am at present
in a very low and languishmg condition, and God
only knows when I shall recover my health, so
as to be able to perform the Duties of my Holy
Function, I therefore most earnestly intreat you
speedily to find out some method to procure me
a Curate from England, who may come over as
soon as may be ; and in so domg you will oblige
your very weak and afflicted but faithful Friend
— Samuel Myles.

Boston N. E. Feb. 2nd : 1727-8."

In the beginning of March Mr Myles died.*
He may be considered the first rector of the
Chapel, though not of the Society, because Mr
Ratcliffe left Boston soon after the Chapel was

* The expenses of his funeral were nearly £200, and
were defrayed by the church.

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built. With the exception of his voyage to Eng-
land, and occasional services rendered to the
church at Marblehead, he officiated constantly
at the Chapel, from its opening till within a few
months of his decease, a period of nearly forty
years. To judge from the steady increase of his
congregation, he must have been a worthy and
pious man and an acceptable preacher. His suc-
cessful mission to England, shows him to have
been prudent and energetic. He certainly was
not very happy with either of his assistants, but
the nature of the relation between them suffi-
ciently accounts for this ; and though he may
have committed no aggression or wrong, he pro^
bably maintained all his rights. He lived peace-
ably and usefully with his coftgregation, much of
whose prosperity was owing to his exertions, and
which continued to flourish without intermission
under his equable care, till he was called, as we
may trust, to higher services in a holier temple.
On his decease, his people paid every mark of
respect to his memory, but were divided among
themselves with regard to a successor. There
was a party in favor of Mr Harris, but they were
a minority. The larger portion were much
offended with him, and were opposed to his being
either rector or curate. The causes of this op*
position I am not enabled by the records to

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determine. They could not have affected bis
moral character, nor could the opposition have
been carried to any extreme of virulence, because
he all the time officiated at the Chapel, and con-
tinued so to do, by vote of the congregation, till
his own decease.

Another difficulty was raised respecting the
right of presentation to the rectorship of the
Chapol. The congregation were afraid that the
Bishop of London would claim it, whereas they
insisted on its belonging to themselves, and voted
to defend it at any expense against any who
might dispute it. Their agent m this business in
London, was Mr Thomas Sandford. He had sev-
eral interviews with the Bishop, in some of which
he was accompanied by Mr Charles Apthorp who
was then in England, and an amicable settlement
was the result. Even on his first visit to the
Bishop, the latter told him that he did not pre-
tend to the right of presentation, but thought
that it was in the congregation who supported the
minister; and it was agreed that his lc»xlship
should recommend some fit person as rector, who
should be the person whom Mr Sandford, as the
agent of the congregation, should present to his
Lordship for his license. Accordingly Mr Roger
Price was recommended, presented, and licensed.

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The Bishop* says of him, in a letter written in
April, 1729, "He has been long known to
me, and is one whom I am willing to en-
trust with the power of commissary for in-
specting the lives and manners of the clergy, if
he succeed in that place ; and I think a better
service cannot be done the congregation than the
inducing both parties to unite in him."

The account of the new rector's mduction is
truly a tale of old times to us, and must impress
every reflecting mind with a sense of the changes
which a century has produced on this spot.

" At a meeting of the Vestry in King's Chapel
on the 25. June, 1729,

" Present,

William Randle, } rn. l tjt- j
Tjir o > Church rvardens.

William Speakman, j

James Stevexs, Es(i. John Checklky,

George Cradock, Benjamix Walker,

Joshua Wroe, Samuel Grainger,

George Stewart, Robert Skixner,

Jonathan Pue .Esq. Thomas Creese, Junr.

Thomas Child, Thomas Holker.
Thomas Wallis.

" About four o'clock in the afternoon, the
Rev. Mr Roger Price was conducted into King's

* Edmund Gibson was theo Bwbop of London.

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Chapel by the Rev. Mr Henry Harris, it being
a few hours after the arrival of the Rev. Mr
Price, and a letter from Mr Thomas Sandford to
the Committee was read, importing that the Rev.
Mr Roger Price was the person he had present-
ed to the Lord Bishop of London, by virtue of
the power devolved upon him by the votes of
the Congregation of the 13th March, 1727-8.
Whereupon the Rev. Mr Price produced the
following Licence and Certificate, reading them
in the Church, and then delivered them to the
Church Wardens to be recorded in the Church

Here follow copies of the Bishop's Licence in
Latin, and Mr Price's declaration in English to
conform to the Liturgy, duly sealed and signed.
Then the account proceeds.

" These above being read, the Rev. Mr Henry
Harris, the Church Wardens, the Vestry-men,
and the people who were present, all went out
of the Church, the Church Wardens at the door
delivering the key of the Church to the Rev.
Mr Price, who locking himself in the Church,
tolled the bell, and then unlocked the door of
the Church, receiving the Church Wardens and
Vestry men into the Church again, who wished
him joy upon his having possession of the Church.

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— • Then the Rev. Mr Price ordered the Clerk
to give public warning in the Church upon the
Sunday following, that the Congregation meet in
the Church next Wednesday, at eleven of the
clock in the Forenoon."

This ceremony was in accordance with the
. customs of the English Church ; but though it
was gratifying to many of the Chapel congrega-
tion, and met with open ' opposition from none,
there were yet many who did not in the least
relish it, for a republican spirit was even now
working in this most royal and loyal church.
There were many who preferred to come to the
King's Chapel, who yet were not thorough Eng-
lish churchmen. They had the congregation-
al notions respecting their property, and could
with diflSculty agree that Mr Price should own,
even in form, what they had paid for. They
had a dislike, also, to the whole proceeding of
foreign presentation to the Bishop. These sen-
timents spread and prevailed in the church more
and more.

Mr Hai-ris survived the arrival of Mr Price
but a few months. He died on the 16th of the
following October; and it may serve to show
the terms on which the church and he had lived
together for a few years past, to state, what is

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92 PERIOD fifth;

unpleasant to state in the solemn eoBsexioh of
death, that more than a year after his decease^
the congregation voted that no money should be
paid out of the church stock toward defra3riiig
the charge of burying him, though they had
granted an expensive fimeral to Mr Myles. His
life, indeed, for the last years of it, must have
been btit a "fitful fever," and whatever were the
exciting causes of it, or whoever was most to
blame for it, himself or others, it is enough now
to know, that " after it he slept well." This v is
the universal termination, and it is a quiet one.
And, truly, as I turn over the yellow leaves of our
records, and read the lines of faded ink, and note
the successive variations of orthography and style,
and the constant changes of handwriting, and see
Wmes, some familiar and some forgotten, of min*-
isters, governors, wardens and vestrymen, appear^
ing and then disappearing, the representatives of
generations which have here " kept holy time,"
the fleeting nature of our life, with all its scenes
and occupations, is revealed to me with more
than a common distinctness, and men and ages
seem to meh away before me like the flakes of
sjaow in spring-time, which dissolve as they feel
the earth. And when I have perused votes, ex-
pressive of division or estrangement, and think
that the hands which were held up to pass them,

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and the hands which were employed in reccurd-
ing those, are now turned to dust, ^d that some
of those who were so active and so heated then
are now sleeping cddly in the green yard beside
us, or beneath this very floor,* I seem to hear
the voice, the " still small voice " of peace. It
speaks of love ; it speaks from the grave ; it
qpeaks to those for whom the grave is waiting —
and alas for us if it speaks in vain.

Immediately after Mr Harris's death, the con-
gregation applied, as usual, to the Bishop of
London, for some one to succeed him. The
Rev. Thomas Harward was accordingly sent;
and the Bishop, in a letter to Mr Price, dated
July 3d, 1730, thus speaks of him. "Mr
Harward, who comes over to succeed Mr Harris,
is well recommended by the neighboring clergy
in Surrey, where he has been an incumbent for
many years, near Guilford ; and their recommen-
dation is confirmed by the Bishop of Winchester,
their Diocesan, according to the method I use for
receiving due satisfaction concerning the Charac-
ters of such Persons as oflfer themselves for mis-
sionaries. He is directed to behave himself to-
wards you with all due respect, as his Superior,

• There are family tombs under the Chapel, and a large
one, called the Stranger's Tomb, under the tower.

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and not to intermeddle in any matter, but what
shall appear to belong to him as Lecturer. But
it is impossible for me to descend to particulars,
since I do not know what share of duty properly
belongs to him as such. If you can fix that mat-
ter between yourselves, with the advice and as-
sistance of some serious persons of the Congrega-
tion, I shall be ready to ratify it, that it may be
a rule to all future Ministers and Lecturers of
that Church."

Mr Price received at the same time ftom the
Bishop his Commission as Conmiissary ; an of-
fice which had been created for the sake of the
English Church in America, to answer the pur-
poses in some measure, of the episcopal function
and dignity. It was a kind of vicarage under the
Bishop, invested with a superintending authority
(irom the Bishop, and subject to his control.
Other Commissaries beside Mr Price had been
appointed for other parts of the country. " I
also send you," says Bishop Gibson, " three
copies of the Directions I have drawn, for all the
Commissarys in the Plantations, in order to their
proceeding against irregular Clergymen, which
I hope you will have no occasion to carry into

Of Mr Harward, the assistant, or lecturer, or
kiog's chaplain, as he was mdifferently termed,

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we hear nothing in connexion with the* Chapel,
but that not long after his arrival he refased to
join with a Committee appointed by the united
vestries of King's Chapel and Christ Church, m
drawing up a memorial to the Bishop of London,
and a petition to the King, respectbg what were
called " the sufferings of the Churchmen in this

The sufferings of the Churchmen ! What a
change, and what a retribution ! Think of the
days of Archbishop Laud. Thmk of the " suf-
ferings " of the old puritans. And think, and
think again, how unjust, how blind are pains and
penalties and all kinds of coercion in matters of
religion. History teaches nothing more plainly
than this ; and it teaches nothing more impor*
tant than this, or more necessary to be learned,
and got by heart ; and yet how slowly it has
been learned, and with how little heartiness have
its truth and necessity been accepted. The suf-
ferings complained of, arose directly from the ope-
ration of the laws of the Colony. Members of
the Church of England were distrained and im-
prisoned for not paying towards the building of
Congregational, or what they termed Dissenting
meeting-houses, and the support of Dissenting
teachej^. Application was made for redress
to the " Great and General Court ; " and the

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Court being backward in affi)rding redress, the
united churches employed counsel to prosecute
their claims in London, and chose a committee,
as before stated, to represent their case to their
Diocesan and to the King.

The answer which the Bishop returns, sets
forth, it must be confessed, in a strong light, the
impartiality of the gentlemen of the law abroad,
and their adherence to their principles in spite of
their feelings and prejudices. " We have at last
obtained," he says in his letter to Mr Price, of
Feb. 6, 1732-3, " the opinion of the Attorney
and SoUcitor General in relation to the New Eng-
land Charter, and the power of the Legislature
there to make laws for rateing the members of
the Episcopal Churches to the Independent
Ministers." He then declares, though with sor-
row, that those high legal authorities thought that
the exercise of the power claimed by the colony
began so early, and had continued so long, that
there was little encouragement to hope that their
acts could be pronoimced null and void. " I am
obliged to write," he adds, " in this plain, though
uncomfortable manner, that you may judge how
far it will be advisable for the members of the
Church there to make it a Cause ; and if judge-
ment be given against them, as it certainly will,
to bring it before the Kmg and Council by way
of appeal.''

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HeiB was consistency, at least. Dissenters
in Ejigland were, and still are obliged to support
the clergy of the establishment, beside obliging
themselves to support their own, and it was but
fair that Churchmen, when surrounded abroad
by a majority who looked on them as Dissinters,
should not be permitted to complain very loudly
or effectually of the operation of a poBciple
which was acted on at home.* But how defec-
tive is the principle itself; and how impossible it
b, at least in this case, for an old wrong to grow
into a right.

On the 15th of April, 1736, Mr Harward
died,-)- and the usual application for another Assist*

* The grievance to the Churchmen here, was not in fact
very great. Only three cases of oppression could be produced
before the General Court, and the churches were obliged to
pay for hunting up more. One thing complained of was,
the refusal of seats in the Board of Overseers of Harvard
College to the ministers of King's Chapel and Christ Church.

' t At a vestry meeting, April 16, 1736. << Voted that Mr
John Merrett, Mr James Gordon, and Thomas Greene be a
Committee to take care that the Rev. Mr Thomas Harward
be buried in a decent frugal manner, and in the absence of
either of them, Mr Samuel Bannister is to act in his room."
At a meeting of the Congregation, April 18. " Voted that
the charges that shall arise by burjring the Rev. Mr Thomas
Harward, deceased, be paid out of the Church Stock. Voted^
that Mr John Merrett, Mr James Gordon, and Thomas
Greene be a Committy to order the way and maimer of th«


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ant was again made to the Bishop, in a letter
fix«n the rector, wardens and vestry. In this let-
ter they say, " Our infant Church being air-
rounded with ten dissenting Congregations in this
principal Town, which are pmvided with Minis-
ters the most esteemed for Learning and Piety
among them, its prosperity depends much on the
Abilities and good Qualities of our Ministers.
We therefore relye on your Lordship's Judge-
ment and Goodness in speedily supplying us with
a proper Person." The person appomted was
the Rev. Mr Addington Davenport, who had
been for some time minister or missionary to the
church in Scituate, He entered on his duties
about a year after the death of Mr Harward.
Bishop Gibson wrote liim the following letter on
his appointment.

"Whitehall, Jax. 29, 1736-7.
" Good Sir, — I have appointed you to suc-
ceed Mr Harward in the duty at the King's
Chappie, there to be performed by you under
the rules and directions which have been given
by the Bishop Compton and myself. You will
not fail in general to pay all due respect to Mr
Price, both as chief Pastor of the congregation
and as my Commissary ; and when the duty of
this latter station obliges him to be absent from
Boston, which, as I am informed, is very seldom,

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I tiavk it reasonaUe that you should perferm Us
duty there without expecting any gpattiity for it.
As to the other accidental inabilities or absences
on account of health or necessary bu^iess^ which
both of you in your turns may hare occasion
fiwr, I hope there is no need ta exhort either of
you to afibrd mutual assistance to each other.
I desire you to communicate this letter to Mr
Price, and have no more to add at this time but
to commend you to the Divine protection, and
to wish you success in your pastoral labours, which
will always be a great satisfacticm to

Sir, your assured Friend and Brother,

Edm. London/'
And still Episcopacy continued to spread in
Boston. Notwithstanding Christ Church was
built in 1723, and large galleries had since been
added to King's Chapel, it had been resolved as
early as the year 1728 to build a new Church at
the comer of Summer Street and Bishop-alley,
now Hawley Street, "by reason that the Chapel
was full, and no pews to be bought by new
comers." The comer stone of Trinity Church
was laid by Commissary Price, on the 15th of
April, 1734. On the 15th of August, 1735, the
Rev. Mr Harward read prayers there, and Mr
Price preached the first sermon. Afterwards
Mr Price and Mr Davenport officiated there, by

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100 nmioD fifth;

leave of their own church, as did other episco-
pal ministers. In May, 1740, Mr Davenport,
who had so recently been made Assistant at
Kmg's Chapel, accepted the invitation of the
congregation of Trinity Church to become their
pastor, and he was accordingly mducted as their
firsr rector.

To prove still further that episcopacy was then
prevsuling as it has never since prevailed here, at
a vestry meeting holden on the 18th of Septem-
ber of the same year, 1740, the following vote
was passed to consider of the rebuilding the
King's Chapel. " Voted that a Committee of
six persons of this Church shall be joined with
the minister and church wardens, and shall be
chosen to consider of a method of raising a sub-
scription for the rebuilding the King's Chappel."
The measures which were taken in pursuance
of this vote, and which resulted in the erection
of the elegant and spacious church in which we
now worship, wiD be considered, with other
matters, in the next discourse.

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In consequence of the vote passed in 1740 to
consider of the rebuilding of the Chapel, William
Shirley, Esq. a warden of the church, and after-
wards Governor of the State, was appointed to
draw up a subscription paper, which he did, and
headed the list himself with the liberal sum of one
hundred pounds sterling. Other subscriptions to
a considerable amount were obtained, and Peter
Faneuil, Esq.'* was constituted Treasurer of the
building fund. Owing to his death, however, and
some other circumstances, the business received
a temporary check, and was suffered to rest f(Nr
several years.

On the removal of Mr Davenport to Trinity
Church, the Bishop of London was applied to
for a successor to fill his place at the Chapel.

* The same who gave to the town the famous hall
by his uame.

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The Rev. Stephen Rowe, or Roe, was mention-
ed, who was at that time a minister in South
Carolina, but unable to stay there on account of
his health. The applicants spoke of him as a
person who, they were sure, would be agreeable
to them. To use their own expressions, they
" begged leave to insinuate that they had once
heard him read divine service, and preach, and
wfBll approved his talent therein. Yet finally,"
they say, " we rest ourselves in your Lordship's
wisdom and goodness, properly and seasonably tp
supply us."

Mr Roe, after some delay, was appointed to
the situation, and entered on his duties in 1741 ;
but he did not remain long at the Chapel, nor do
I learn anything of him or his departure from the

The ecclesiastical condition of the church at
this period experienced some important changes.
Mr Price had not been long settled as rector, be-
fore differences began to sprmg up between him
and his congregation ; the short account of which
b, that he presumed too much on his place and
dignity of Commissary, and they were growing
jealous of their congregational rights and privi-
leges. In May, 1734, he communicated his in-
tention of leaving the church and returning to
England, and no regret was manifested by his

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people at the prospect of losing him. He took
his passage on board a vessel bound to LondoD^
and actually set sail in her ; but being detained
at Nantasket by contrary winds, he came up to
Boston, requested the wardens to call a vestry
meeting, and announced his resolution to stay with
his church. Whereupon a list of his former pre-
tensions was made out, and on his agreeing to give
them all up, it was voted by the congregation, on
the 26th of May, that he should be Rector and
minister of the Church as before. The six arti-
cles thus consented to, by Mr Price, serve as an
explanation of the principal causes of contenticm
between him and his people. They are as follows.
" 1 . To have no pretentions to the perquiatee
of the money for burying under the church.

2. To have no pretentions in chuseing a Church

3. To have no pretentions to the Church

4. To have no pretentions to the Church Li-
brary ; only the use of them.

5. To preach on Sunday afternoons ; when it
can be done.

6. To make due entries of the Church mar-
riages, christenings and burials in the book provi-
ded for that purpose."

That Mr Price should ever have made such

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pretensions as are here resigned, appears ^gular
to us, with our present customs and habits of
thinking. But it must be recollected that Mr
Price came over from England, and took posses-
sion of the Chapel, with English notions of a rec-
tor's prerogatives, and that some of the conces-
sions which he was obUged to make, were extort-
ed by the innovating spirit of the church. With
regard to the appointment of wardens, for instance,
it would seem that Mr Myles, the predecessor of
Mr Price, exercised the privilege of nominating
to that office ; for it is recorded, that in the year
1736 he informed the vestry that Charles Ap-
thorp refiised to serve as Church Warden, and
nominated Mr Thomas Selby, who was chosen.
I have been told that the English custom is, that
the Rector nommate one of the wardens, and the
vestry the other. But Mr Price undoubtedly as-
sumed too much, and by thus rendering himself
unpopular, lost some privileges which by quiet-
ness he might have retained.

Several other troubles of a serious nature arose
between the parties, and reference was occasion-
ally had to the Bishop of London. At length, on
Thanksgiving day, Nov. 27, 1746, Mr Price signi-
fied to the congregation his final intention of going to
England, and quitting the rectorship and cure of the
church. The congregation then took the bold

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and unprecedented step of choosing a committee
to consider of a fit person in holy orders, and to
recommend him as such, not to the Bishop of
London, but to the congregation, to be appointed
Rector of the King's Chapel, in the room of Mr
Price. On the evening of the same day, this
committee met at the Royal Exchange Tavern,
and agreed unanimously to recommend the Rev.
Mr Henry Caner, minister of the church in Faur-

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Online LibraryFrancis William Pitt GreenwoodA history of King's chapel, in Boston, the first Episcopal church in New England; comprising notices of the introduction of Episcopacy into the northern colonies → online text (page 6 of 13)