Establishing the Anglican Church in Chatham, Ontario

St Pauls Church 1820, Chatham, Ontario by Rev. Canon Howard, M.A.
Rector Christ Church, Chatham, Ontario
Notes on the History of the Church of England in Chatham
published in 1917 by the Kent Historical Society

The Reverend Richard Pollard was the first missionary of the Church of England in this district. Before his ordination he was sheriff of Essex and Kent with headquarters in Detroit, which was then part of Canada. In 1794 he was appointed Registrar of the Surrogate Court and two years later, when under Jay's treaty Detroit passed to the control of the United States, Mr. Pollard, together with many other British people, crossed the Detroit River and took up his residence in Sandwich. In 1801 he was appointed Judge of Surrogate for Essex and Kent and, in the same year, was ordained Deacon. The next year he was advanced to the Priesthood and carried on his missionary work in addition to his duties as Judge of Surrogate. His clerical and legal duties covered the same area, viz. - the Counties of Essex and Kent. We even read of him as officiating in the Protestant Episcopal Church in Detroit, his former home. His memory is still cherished there by a memorial window in St. Paul's Church. He continued as Rector of Sandwich until his death in 1824.   There is a tablet to his memory in St John's Church, Sandwich, recording his faithful labors as a pioneer missionary of the Church of England in this Western district. He was a man of whom the Church and the Country may well be proud. In his active and varied career he did noble service for both Church and State. His patriotism and goodness are indicated by the fact that he was made a prisoner of war in the stirring times of 1812 and that he is particularly mentioned by the Americans for his kindly treatment of American soldiers who were captured by Indians and others in that war.

It was, no doubt, due to the labours of this devoted missionary that the first Church in Chatham was built. Of the date of that building there is no certain record, but, from circumstantial evidence we conclude that it was in the Sprlng of 1819.

The late Judge Woods says, "I have seen a copy of the subscription which bears date 7th January, 1819, and these are the words of it :

"We, the undersigned subscribers, promise to deliver flour, wheat or corn to the amount of the sum affixed to our names at the current price on the River, on or before the first day of June next, to be delivered at Messrs. Arnolds' mill, John Dolsen, Esq., or Chatham mills, which sums of money or produce are to be applied towards erecting an Episcopal Church in Chatham. The subscribers are as follows : Wm. McCrae $60 Louis A. Macon $5, Jacob Dolsen 10 bushels wheat, Hezekiah Wilcox $5, Elizabeth McCrae $5, Ann Smith $10, Isaac L. Dolsen $5, John Peck $5, Francis Drake $10, George Jacob, Jr., $5, J. Goose $2, Andrew Hamilton $5, Jas. Forsyth $5, John Laird $5, John Williams $5, Alexander McIntosh $5, Mrs. Margarite McDonnell $25, paid to John Dolsen, Thos. Crow $10, paid to John Dolsen.''

This interesting document not only gives us the details of the subscription but also fixes the date at which events were begun for the building of a church in January 1819.

The building was probably begun that same Spring and no doubt, gifts of material and voluntary labour were added to the subscriptions already mentioned.  


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