Jamaican Family Search Genealogy Research Library
On the 13th February, 1661, a Commission was granted by King Charles II to Colonel D'Oyley appointing him Governor of Jamaica, and instructing him, among other things, "to discourage vice and debauchery and to encourage Ministers, that Christianity, according to the Church of England might have due reverence and exercise." In 1662 Lord Windsor was appointed as the successor of D'Oyley and the 11th Article of the new Instructions related to "the encouragement of an orthodox Ministry." Lord Windsor stayed but two months and left the island and the execution of his Commission to Sir Charles LytIeton, Deputy-Governor, who soon after convened an Assembly. Among the laws enacted was "An Act for maintaining Ministers" and "An Act for marriages, christenings, and burials." According to Mr. Hanson's contemporary account "the people of Jamaica were then generally of the Church of England, although all (except Papists) might freely exercise what religion they pleased without disturbance."
Between 1663 and 1706 no less than ten Acts of the Assembly, or at least resolutions of the House, were passed, more or less regulating the Church of England and her Ministers. But the Act that must be regarded as the first Clergy Law of Jamaica was the 33rd Charles II. chap. 18, which was passed in the session of 1680-81. By this Act the Justices of every parish were empowered to summon freeholders yearly to elect Churchwardens and Vestrymen, to assess taxes for the maintenance of Ministers and the poor, and for erecting Churches and repairing such as were already made; and the Churchwardens were charged with the disbursement of the taxes so levied. Clause 3 fixed the salaries of the Clergy. The Rector of Port Royal was allowed £250 per annum; the Rector of St. Catherine £140 per annum; the Rectors of St. Thomas, St. Andrew and St. John £100 per annum each; and the Rectors of "all other parishes that either have or shall have a Minister £80 per annum each." These stipends were made payable by the parishes "every six months at the respective dwelling houses" of the Clergymen. The number of Clergymen then in the island corresponded with the number of parishes, namely, 15. The law also declared that "none shall be presented to benefices or receive the profits of the same unless they produce testimonials that they are qualified, according to the Canons of the Church of England, by having taken Deacons and Priests' Orders."
By the 5th Anne chap. I., passed on the 6th February, 1706-7, the stipends of the Clergy were augmented "for the better encouragement of good and orthodox Divines;" and by the 38th Geo. III. chap. 24; passed on the 24th December, 1797, the stipends of the Clergy throughout the island were placed on an equal "Establishment," the stipend being fixed at £420 currency each, and made payable quarterly "by the Receiver-General out of any public moneys in his hands."
In consideration of this increase of stipend the "Clergy were required to instruct all free persons of colour and slaves who may be willing to be baptized and informed in the tenets of the Christian religion, in its principles and doctrines." The reasons for the transfer of the stipends from the Parochial to the Public Treasury were thus stated by a Committee of the Assembly: "First, because the parochial system made the Rectors in some measure dependent on the Churchwardens for the payment of their stipends; and, secondly, because by obliging each parish to pay the stipends of its Rector the small parishes were oppressed, as the tax assessed for the purpose fell heavily on their few inhabitants."
The power given the Justices and Vestry by the Act of 1681 (33rd Charles II. chap. 18) with respect to the building of Churches not having been generally exercised, the Legislature, in 1773 passed a law (14 Geo. III. chap., 13) empowering the Justices and Vestry of each parish where there was no Church, parsonage house, or burial-ground, to raise a loan not exceeding £5,000, "to be applied towards purchasing land for carrying out these requirements." There were then (according to Long) but 14 Churches and 4 Chapels in the island. But notwithstanding these provisions several of the parishes remained without Churches; and in 1797 a Committee of the Assembly attributed this to the want of means. Stringent provisions were thereupon made by law (23 Geo. III. chap 24) to compel each parish to build a Church and parsonage house on the conditions laid down in the previous enactment. Three years after the Vestries were empowered in parishes where there was no glebe to purchase not less than 12 acres, to be attached to the parsonage-house, for the use of the Rector for the time being. The Vestries had previously been directed "to run out the lines and boundaries" of the lands that had from time to time been granted by private persons or by patent as glebes, and to prosecute all trespassers.
In the session of 1816 the Assembly appointed a Committee "carefully to investigate the means of diffusing the light of genuine Christianity", among the slaves. The result of their inquiry was the passing of a law (5 Geo. III. chap. 24), the preamble of which stated that "from the extent of many of the parishes of this island, and the number of inhabitants therein, religious instruction cannot be extended to all under the present Ecclesiastical Establishment, therefore, it is necessary to increase the number of Officiating Clergymen for the purpose of giving religious instruction to the slaves. " The Governor was thereupon empowered to appoint Curates not exceeding the number of "Beneficed Ministers," and to assign them to such parts of the island as he might think best. The salaries of these Curates were fixed at £300 per annum currency, to be paid quarterly by the Receiver-General. Subsequently £200 currency was added to the stipend of each Curate to enable him to provide himself with a residence and with servants.
The Vestries were by the same law directed to provide proper places besides the Churches where Divine Service might be performed on Sundays and holidays; and to certify as to the due discharge of their clerical duties by the Rectors and Curates previous to the payment of their stipends at the Treasury. The latter provision was adopted as a matter of discipline.
In Jamaica, as in England, the King was the temporal head of the Church; and the Governor, as his Chancellor, had the gift of all benefices. (Wood's Preface to the Laws of Jamaica.) But the Bishop of London up to the year 1799 exercised ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the Clergy of Jamaica. In that year an Act was passed by the Local Legislature annulling this jurisdiction, and granting to the King the power to appoint persons to exercise ecclesiastical jurisdiction in the island. In April, 1800, the King appointed five Clergymen as Commissaries who were empowered to appoint Registrars and an Apparitor, and to present to benefices. The Church continued under this jurisdiction until July, 1824, when Letters Patent were issued by George IV. constituting the Island of Jamaica, the Bahamas, and the settlement in the Bay of Honduras a Bishop's See, to be called "The Bishoprick of Jamaica," and presenting Dr. Christopher Lipscombe thereto. In the following year His Majesty also issued Letters Patent constituting an Archdeaconry in the island and appointing Dr. Edward Pope to that Office. The salaries of these dignitaries, £4,000 sterling for the Bishop and £2,000 sterling for the Archdeacon, were made charges on the Consolidated Fund of England.
The Bishop arrived in the island on the 11th of February, 1825, and was duly installed four days later. He brought with him six Clergymen, and on the 13th April of the same year he held his first Ordination for Priests and Deacons. There were then in the island 21 Rectors and 25 Curates, making an Ecclesiastical Establishment of 46 Clergymen.
His lordship was received with military and other honors. Addresses of the most encouraging descriptions poured in upon him from every parish, and in his replies he confidently recommended the adoption of every measure which he thought might improve the spiritual condition of the slave population and render effectual the object of his mission. (Bridges' Annals of Jamaica, vol. 2.)
During the first sitting of the Legislature after his Lordship's installation a law was passed which enacted, among other things, the reception into the island of all the ecclesiastical canons, laws and ordinances used in England, so far as they related to the due Government of the Clergy . The salaries of the Rectors were increased to £600 per annum currency, independent of their surplice fees, but the salaries of the Curates (now termed Island Curates) continued at £500 currency. The number of Curates was extended to 42, but none were to be appointed until a place of worship was provided. A Registry Office, under the designation of "The Bishop's Office," was created, and all baptisms, marriages and burials were required to be recorded there by the Registrar of the Diocese, the then existing records of the Churches being transcribed and forwarded thereto for preservation. No Clergyman was permitted to officiate in the Diocese except he had received a license from the Bishop; and every Clergyman was required to keep a "duty book" in his Church or Chapel, and carefully to enter all the clerical duties performed by him. Provision was also made in the Act for the appointment of Clerks, Sextons, etc., their salaries being made charges against the parochial funds.
Armed with these legislative powers the Bishop at once entered on the practical duties of his See; but several of the Clergy soon took exception to his ruling, and his administration was described by the historian Bridges as "a partial and arbitrary system of ecclesiastical government, whose irregularity is in many respects degrading to the profession and injurious to the credit of the Church." But this opposition did not prevent Dr. Lipscombe from continuing his ameliorations and reforms. The want of Churches in the rural districts was seen and felt. His Lordship urged the Government, and did not urge in vain, to supply that want. The result was that in 1832 it was stated in evidence before a Committee of the Assembly that 13 new Churches had been erected since the Bishop's installation, and that nine were then in course of construction. Religious instruction was imparted on 280 properties by Clergymen and Catechists, and thousands of the slaves were christened and brought under religious training.
The next year was the last of actual slavery, and the "commencement of the apprenticeship was attended by the arrival of some excellent Missionary Clergymen." In 1836 there were 57 Clergymen in the island. . .
In 1858 the Clergy Law was renewed for 11 years (22 Vic., chap. 23). The provisions were the same as in the Acts then in force, with the exception of an increase in the number of Island Curates to 50, and provision being made for the payment of half the stipends of ten additional Curates, the other moiety of their salaries being payable by the Bishop out of the funds at his disposal derived from the English Missionary Societies. But these Missionary Societies, considering their work in the late slave colonies as chiefly inceptive, had already withdrawn nearly all their special grants to Jamaica and had transferred to the Bishop their buildings and lands, so the funds thus presumable at his Lordship's disposal had considerably decreased by this time.
The staff of clergy in 1860 may be stated as follows: a Bishop; 3 Archdeacons; 22 Rectors; 50 Island Curates; 15 Missionary British and Island Stipendiary Curates; 5 Substitutes for Clergymen on leave or additional Curates for town Churches, and one Chaplain of the Penitentiary, 97; but as two of the Archdeacons were also Beneficed Clergymen the actual Staff was 95 Clergymen of all grades. The cost of this Establishment was £7,100 to the Imperial Government and £37,284 to the Local Government, including the parochial expenditure for Church servants, etc.
In that year (1860) the Bishop of Kingston and some of the leading Clergy founded the Home and Foreign Mission Society which was soon able to sustain 20 mission stations in the more remote and spiritually destitute portions of the interior. These stations were served on Sundays by Catechist Schoolmasters who resided in the midst of the people, and were superintended by the nearest Clergymen. Sunday schools were also held at these stations, and the Catechists acted as Schoolmasters of the day schools, all of which were under Government inspection.
Thus stood the Church at the time of the inauguration of Crown Government in 1866.
One of the early despatches of Sir John Grant to the British Government announced that the "charges for Organists, Beadles and other Church servants, and all the miscellaneous and contingent expenses of the several Churches and Chapels which were defrayed by the several Parish Vestries out of the annual appropriation from the general revenue mare to these Vestries" had been discontinued with the concurrence of the Bishop of Kingston; and that "no vacancy occurring in the Ecclesiastical Establishment would be filled until a new scheme for supplying the religious wants of the island should be determined upon by Her Majesty's Government." (Parliamentary Papers on the Affairs of Jamaica, July, 1867). The Governor added that these arrangements would effect a saving of £8,894 in the expenditure of the year 1867, and he asked for instructions as to the future, adding that "it has been perfectly understood by all parties here that the re-arrangement of the Ecclesiastical Establishment after 1869 would be treated as an open question."
This reference led to a lengthy correspondence between the Bishop of Kingston, Sir John Grant, and Earl Granville, the then Colonial Minister, which continued until the disestablishment of the Church by the expiry of the then Clergy Law. Subsequently the enabling statute, Law 30 of 1870, was passed by the Legislative Council. This Law "regulated the disestablishment and the gradual disendowment of the Church of England in this Island."
SEARCH THIS SITE
Plan of this website
Help - Frequently Asked Questions
Jamaica Almanacs Slave-owners, Civil & Military officers, Magistrates etc.
Items in the Samples Directory
Items in the Members Directory
Transcriptions from Registers and Wills (Church of England, Dissenters, Civil Registration)
Jamaican Roman Catholic Church Registers - transcriptions
Jamaican Methodist Baptisms - transcriptions
Jewish births marriages deaths - transcriptions
Slaves and slavery in Jamaica
Photographs, maps, prints, etc.