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C series materials, 1714-1908


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C series materials, 1714-1908

The USPG records to be found in the C series are unbound and mostly later in date than those in the A series and B series, which are separately published within the collection of American material in the archives of the USPG, 1635-1812. Though the colonial churches on the mainland and in the islands were administered together and their histories ran parallel, the C series, unlike the earlier collections, are arranged in groups relating entirely to the West Indies. They are voluminous and contain important items of history. They are divided into eight sections: the general archives and those appertaining to the Bahamas, Jamaica, Barbados (including the Codrington Estate), Antigua and the Leeward Islands, Trinidad, British Guiana and Honduras (Central America and the Mosquito coast).





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West Indies general, 1823-1844

C/WI/GEN/Box 1. Contains 23 sections, mostly official items dealing with education. It is interesting that in 1823 the British government was particularly anxious for details of the present condition of the church in the West Indies since it was proposed that two bishops be appointed for the West Indies, one for Barbados and one for Jamaica. Public support and help from the SPG was encouraged for subscriptions for negro education and chapels in the West Indies (1835); and the British government continued to be particularly interested in furthering the SPG work for negro education, 1835-6 being the key years for this. The correspondence prudence between Bishop Coleridge and the Church Missionary Society (n.d.); the appointment of C.J. Latrobe as inspector of schools in 1837 following upon the Parliamentary grants of 1835 and 1836 for negro education; and items dealing with the founding of schools are included. In 1842 there was an incomplete paper on education in the West Indies generally. In spite of the work of the Lady Mico Trust (an old foundation remade for emancipation) and of Baptist missionaries, all was not well and the paper noted that though Blue Books urged that schools be set up, teachers (and many were Baptists) were not qualified and church schools of all denominations failed all too often, though clearly education itself was not a failure. It was felt essential (contrary to the views of Bishop Lipscomb in Jamaica) that wealthy Creoles should form local schools to train 'gentry' for posts rather than sending them away to Britain to be educated.

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West Indies general, 1894-1908

C/WI/GEN/Box 2. Contains a miscellany of administrative materials, mostly relating to diocesan matters, handled by the Archbishop of the West Indies, Rt. Rev. Enos Nuttall. Details of an appointment to the bishopric of Antigua are discussed in full. Also includes the Constitution, canons and resolutions of the Provincial Synod of the Church of England in the West Indies, as adopted (1883), modified (1887) and amended (1888 & 1897), as well as the Constitution and canons of the Synod of the Diocese of Antigua from 1901.

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Antigua & the Leeward Islands, 1714-1908

C/WI/ANT. This box can be divided into two sections. The eighteenth century material, especially papers for 1714-1717, reveal the problems of dealing with Roman Catholics on the islands. This issue was to be a serious one in the eastern Caribbean later on. The bulk of the letters run from 1840-1853 during the bishopric of D.G. Davis and reveal the extent to which Anglicanism had taken hold in the diocese. Davis' pastoral duties included appointing a teacher from Bishop Coleridge's home, Ottery St Mary; ordaining a coloured priest; and allowing an American ordinand to preach in St Croix, though not in Antigua (there were apparently still reservations about the power to ordain American priests). Davis travelled his diocese extensively but was hampered in his work of building by two serious hurricanes, in 1843 and 1847. Davis' appointment marks an important stage in the history of the Anglican church in the West Indies particularly in the smaller islands after emancipation.

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Bahamas, 1726-1822

C/WI/BAH/Box 1 covers the years of the first colonial empire, the Bahamas being offshore islands of the mainland American colonies and administered as such. Letters from the missionaries and school teachers complain of the poverty and hardships of the post, of carrying out parochial duties in a huge archipelago of coral islands, mostly very tiny. There are no records of the first SPG missionary to the Bahamas, William Guy, but several testimonials relating to his fellow worker, William Smith, bear witness to his good character. The majority of letters fall within the 1760s and 1770s, the decades of the American Revolution and its early beginnings. From these we see the strong support customarily given to the SPG by the governors, in this instance Governor William Shirley. All too often the men sent by the SPG were of poor calibre, illiterate (Edward Kennedy) or even bigamous (Rev. Richard Moss), though their references might be good, for example, John Thornton, later connected with the Clapham Sect, was a sponsor; and several candidates, Robert Carter, John Hunt or Belcher Noyes, were excellent workers. All expressed loyalty to Britain at the time of the Revolution, experienced harassment from American privateers together with privation and illness and, standing firm against the American patriots, welcomed the loyalists to their shores.

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Bahamas, 1790-1810

C/WI/BAH/Box 2 is particularly interesting. Dealing with the post-revolutionary decades, it reveals that the SPG seems to have renewed its energies in the islands, extending their activities from New Providence to the other islands. The stirrings of the evangelical revival in Britain and growing anti-slavery sentiments and the dislocation occasioned by the American Revolution, help to explain some of the new energy shown, especially by men such as Rev. John Richards and Rev. William Gordon. The latter, a second Granville Sharp, is remarkable for the physical protection he gave slaves, protecting a girl after she had been raped by four male slaves, at the cost of his career. References to the Methodists and the native sects and the need to counteract these revivals, and unceasing vain attempts to augment their meagre salaries, fill the letters of this period.

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Bahamas, 1834-1858

C/WI/BAH/Box 3 deals with the emancipation eras but there is a gap of some decades in the correspondence. Many of the reports, increasingly detailed, reveal the new authority of the Bishop of Jamaica who had diocesan control over the Bahamas. With emancipation, the need for teachers and schools, as well as churches, was openly acknowledged and new grants were made for this end. Both the statistical reports now included and letters attest to growing and devout black congregations, to continue support for the SPG from the governors of the islands, civilising what was once 'a nest of pirates' and making it into a haven for those rescued from illegal slave ships, a quiet multi-racial community.

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Barbados: Government correspondence, 1823-1846

C/WI/BAR/Box 1 (a). In addition to ms. letters, includes printed copies of letters to West Indies governors from the 3rd Earl Bathurst at the Colonial Office in 1823; text of an Act of Parliament passed in 1825, providing for salaries and annuities payable to bishops, etc., in Jamaica, Barbados and the Leeward Islands; circular from the Colonial Office to clergy and teachers in 1834, containing a questionnaire on inhabitants; an Act from 1842 to increase the number of bishops and archdeaconries in the West Indies.

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Barbados: general correspondence, 1826-1847

C/WI/BAR/Box 1 (b). Items relate chiefly to missionaries, but also include other topics such as the extension of church buildings.

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Barbados: letters, etc., on negro education & chapels, 1835

C/WI/BAR/Box 1 (c). Includes chiefly details of subscriptions for the furtherance of these charitable uses.

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Barbados: correspondence from England, 1822-1838

C/WI/BAR/Box 1 (d). A small collection of letters concerning the work of the diocese.

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