St Paul's Anglican, Chatham, Ontario 1836-1861

Thomas Brock Fuller From the old Register, already referred to, it appears that Mr. Morley was succeeded as minister of St. Paul's Church, Chatham, by the Reverend Thomas Brock Fuller.   The first entry in the Register in his handwriting states, "Charge was taken of this parish by Rev. Thos. Brock Fuller June 19th, 1836." Mr. Fuller was a native of Canada, being born in the Garrison at Kingston, where his father, a Major in the 41st Regiment, was stationed. He belonged to a distinguished family and was called after General Brock, who was his godfather. Mr. Fuller remained here until 1840, when he removed to Thorold. Afterwards he became Rector of St. George's Church, Toronto. And, later bishop of the Diocese of Niagara.

During Mr. Fuller's incumbency of the parish there are two interesting records in the old Register besides the ordinary entries of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials. One of these is in 1838 and tells of the visit of the Bishop of Montreal in whose Diocese Chatham then was.

"We were favoured by a visit from the Lord Bishop of Montreal on Saturday, the 22nd day of September, at Zone Mills, on Bear Creak ; and on Sunday and the two following days at Chatham. His Lordship confirmed at Zone Mills and Chatham ; at the former place ten candidates, and at the latter fifteen presented themselves for that holy rite. His Lordship also consecrated St. Paul's Church, and the adjoining church yard, on Monday the twenty-third. All expressed themselves highly delighted and I trust much benefited by his Lordship's visit; and the only cause of regret was that, in all human probability, they should "see his face no more.''

"His lordship held a ''Visitation'' on Wednesday, the l0th of October, at Toronto, when fifty of his Clergy assembled from all parts of this extensive province; and after a very admirable charge from their Diocesan, together with his Lordship, consulted on various matters of immense importance to the Church."

From this we see that the Church was consecrated, which implies that it was free of all debt, nineteen years after it was built. I do not imagine, however, that if was the existence of debt that kept it from being consecrated before. but more probably the fact that the land on which it was built, although set apart for the Church prior to 1819, was not granted by patent until 1833. In those days Episcopal visits, like Angel visits, were few and far between and probably this was the first visit by the Bishop after the patent was issued by the Crown.

The other item of interest among Mr. Fuller's records is the minutes of an old time vestry meeting held in 1839.

"At a vestry meeting held in St. Paul's Church April the 13th, at which were present Messrs. D. McGregor, I. P. Taylor, I. M. Taylor, John Waddell. E. Bereton, Jos. Woods, Dan'l Forsythe, W. Eberts, H. Eberts, T. B. Fuller.

Messrs. D. McGregor and Thos. McCrae were chosen Churchwardens, the former on the nomination of the Rev. T. B. Fuller, the latter on motion of Mr. Wm. Eberts, seconded by Mr. Dan'l Forsyth.

The treasurer's report of the Church funds account was submitted, by which it was shown that the receipts for the last year were £11-14-7 1/2, which, with a balance on hand from the preceding year, made a sum of £12-19-7 1/2, and that the expenditures hand amounted to £10-2-6, thus leaving a balance on hand of £2-17-1 1/2, most of which, however was then due to the sexton for services rendered."   A minute then follows about the alteration and painting of the fence and it ends "To not thank of painting the Church, but to look forward at no distant period to the erection of a new one."

The Rev. Thos. Brock Fuller was evidently a man of great ability and with a genius for organization. During his incumbency improvements were made and the idea of a new church began to grow in the parish. Some business matters which had been dragging along for years were now completed. In 1833 the Government made a grant of land to the Church in addition to the land on the River bank. This is the property on King Street now owned in part by Dr. Duncan and on which his residence stands. It was in Mr. Fuller's time that this land which had been granted, but for which the patent was not yet issued, was exchanged, at the request of the congregation, for the land on Adelaide St., now known as the Glebe Lands. Whether that was a wise action or not is open to question, but there is no doubt that the Incumbent and the congregation of that day thought it was in the best interests of the Church. Mr. Fuller, at any rate, brought the matter to a successful conclusion and the patent for the Glebe Lands was issued in Sept. 1837, just a little more than a year after he took charge of the parish. It was also during his ministry that Miss Ann Smith endowed the Church in Dover.

In 1840, on the removal of Mr. Fuller to Thorold, Rev. Charles Oliver Wiggins was appointed Missionary at Chatham. He remained only a little over a year. Not much is known about him but he is spoken of as a man of ability and a good scholar. The last entries in the old Register are made by him and by Duncan McGregor, Esq., who through all these years which we have reviewed, seems to have acted as a Lay Reader. Many burials are recorded by this devoted layman, who, apparently, acted in the absence of the Clergyman, or during a vacancy in the Parish, and any way in which he could serve the Church.

The next Incumbent was the Rev. William Henry Hobson, who came in 1842. Judge Woods says of him, "He was a refined and cultured gentleman, possessing a fine library''; and another Chronicler says, ''Those who remember him were impressed with his small but elegant physique, his scholarship and polished manners and his unvarying neatness of dress. This gentlemanly mind became unhinged, and he was found dead on the 12th of October, 1846, on the plains near Windsor whither he had wandered and perished through an aberration of the mind.


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