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landed in Barbados the preceding year, and the members appeared to consist at the opening of the meeting-house of about fifty persons, of whom sixteen were whites.
The establishment of their tenets in the island did not appear to meet with general approbation. Large mobs pelted the building with stones, and frequently interrupted the prayers with hideous noises. Preaching by candle-light became impracticable. The missionary succeeded in the following March in bringing these riotous opponents before some magistrates, who obliged the offenders to pay the expenses of the prosecution, and dismissed them, upon their promising never to disturb the congregation again. The Wesleyans amounted to sixty-six in society at that time1.
Their tenets however found few adherents, and in 1796 the number of members amounted only to fifty. The following year they had decreased to twenty-one. "This gloomy aspect," writes one of the missionaries, "begat within us some serious thoughts of quitting the island altogether." Mr. James Alexander the missionary was consequently removed in April 1798. Another attempt was made in 1801; a missionary landed in Barbados, whom Lord Seaforth assured of his protection. The Society increased but slowly, and consisted in 1804 of only forty-nine members; in 1806 of twenty-one whites, and twenty-one persons of colour. In 1807 they had decreased to thirty-four individuals; and in 1812 the Society was composed of thirty persons, eleven of whom were whites, thirteen were free persons of colour, and six were slaves.
During subsequent years their number increased, and with that increase a spirit of intolerance was raised among some of the inhabitants, which manifested itself in 1823, showing an entire disregard of religious feeling and a decided contempt of the laws in those who laid hands on the sanctity of a place of Christian worship. The riots of 1789 were commenced anew; the congregation was frequently disturbed; and while assembled for the purpose of worship on the 5th of October, these wanton disturbers went so far as to throw bottles of thin glass filled with an offensive and pernicious mixture into the chapel. On the 19th of that month a riotous assembly collected at the Wesleyan Chapel, and proceeded to destroy the building. Their intention being not entirely executed that day, the finishing stroke was given the subsequent day, and the house of worship completely demolished. Sir Henry Warde, who at that time administered the Government, offered by proclamation a reward of one hundred pounds to any person who should give such information as might lead to the conviction of any of the perpetrators of this sacrilege. The reward however was never claimed, as the ringleaders kept their secret. Nearly a quarter of a century has passed since that wanton act, and
1 Cook's West Indies, vol. iii. pp. 56, 398.
the congregation of the Wesleyan Methodist Mission has increased in numbers, and consists at this period of 1857 members, and sixty-eight on trial. The attendants on public worship in their chapel and meetinghouses are estimated at 5380. They possess eight chapels and four other preaching places under the superintendence of three missionaries, and fourteen local preachers'.
Sir Jonathan Atkins mentions, that among other sects resident in Barbados there were Anabaptists; this is repeated by Sir Richard Dutton, but I have not been able to find any further information on this subject.
The Roman Catholic religion has only a few members in the island. I have not any data whereby to judge whether their number was formerly larger. On the 14th of July 1724, M. Gilmar, a Romish priest, made a public recantation in St. Michael's church of the errors of the Church of Rome, and soon afterwards preached in the same church to a Protestant auditory 2. A Catholic priest is located in Barbados, chiefly in consequence of the military, there being always a large portion of Catholics among the garrison a room is appropriated in the barracks of St. Ann for the celebration of their service.
According to the best information that can be obtained it appears that the earliest settlement of the Jews in this island dates from about 1628. A tomb is at present standing in one of the burial-grounds bearing date 1658. Although they were occasionally subjected to persecution and oppression, the policy they exhibited in keeping on good terms with the powers that were, caused their civil rights to be extended in 1680; and their testimony, which had been long rejected in the courts of law, was from that time admitted in all civil suits (though not in other cases) upon an oath taken upon the five books of Moses, according to the tenets of their religion. The Colonial Act of 1 William IV. cap. 10, which passed the Legislature on the 25th of March 1831, removed any restraint or disabilities under which persons professing the Hebrew religion then laboured, and subjected them like other white persons to fines and penalties for the non-performance of duties.
At one period the congregation consisted of a very large number, but from deaths, and many of the European families returning to England, the number has been reduced. The circumstance of their having so many as five burial-grounds, three of which are completely filled3, proves that their congregation has been considerable.
Their synagogue was so severely injured by the hurricane in 1831, that it was deemed necessary to erect a new edifice, which was consecrated on the 29th of March 1833. It is considered to be one of the
These statistical details have been obligingly communicated to me by the Secretary of the Wesleyan Missionary Society in London.
2 Caribbeana, vol. i. p. 368.
According to their custom, only one individual is interred in each grave.
handsomest and most substantial buildings of its kind in the West Indies. Its size is fifty feet long by forty feet wide, and it occupies an area of 2000 square feet; its cost amounted to 14,000 dollars (about £2,920), which was met by the funds of the community without extraneous assistance from any quarter1.
The name of the congregation is "Kaal Kadosh Nidhe Israel," or the holy scattered congregation of Israel. The funds at present do not allow the payment of a salary to a reader, and the service is therefore performed by three members alternately. The congregation consists of a warden, a killer and examiner of meats, an officer who has the care of the synagogue, and a total number of seventy individuals, half of whom are natives of the island. The expenditure is met by seat-rents and voluntary contributions. There is a public Sabbath-school entitled "Shangere Limud," or the Gate of Learning, which, between the hours of ten and one o'clock, is attended by five females and ten males.
Returning now to the Established Church of England, we find that the clergy consisted in 1812 of eleven rectors and an assistant curate. The great measure which was dawning for the emancipation of our fellowbeings from a state of slavery awakened likewise the religious feeling of Great Britain. The day could not be far distant when the slaves were to become free citizens. The greater number of these beings were still walking in heathen darkness, and the Government as well as the numerous religious societies, with that excellent institution the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts at their head, consulted as to the means of improving the religious state of the colonies. Government resolved
1 The following more detailed description of the synagogue is from the Barbados Globe of April 1st, 1833:-"It is thirty-seven feet high, and receives considerable strength from the rounding of the angles, which are capped with large antique censers uniting a balustrated parapet all round, the roof being so little elevated as not to be perceived. The windows are lancet-shaped, and tastefully harmonize with the proportions of the building; a double flight of stone steps on the north side, covered with a Gothic hood, leads to the gallery within; the whole of the exterior is lightly tinged of stone-colour, and scored out in blocks, and the appearance altogether is classical and chaste; those walls which had hitherto rendered the passage to the old synagogue so dull and sombre, being now lowered so as to afford one general view of the whole at the entrance of the avenue. The court-yard around this edifice is well-drained and neatly paved, and a handsome marble fountain occupies a niche within the inner court, railed off by an iron trellis." The interior corresponds with the outer appearance; a light and tasteful gallery occupies three sides of the interior, supported by neat Doric columns. The reader's desk in the body of the edifice is sufficiently elevated to give a conspicuous view of the persons officiating. From the ceiling is suspended at each corner in front of the gallery a single brass chandelier, of eight lights, and in the centre one of a similar kind containing twenty-four. The area of the building is paved in alternate squares of black and white marble; and the ceiling, painted in relief, produces a most pleasing effect, as well from the artist-like manner in which it is executed as from the chasteness of its design. It is computed to hold about three hundred persons.
upon erecting the Caribbee Islands into a separate bishopric, comprising Barbados, Grenada, St. Vincent, Dominica, Antigua and Montserrat, St. Christopher, Nevis and the Virgin Islands, Trinidad, Tobago, St. Lucia and their respective dependencies, including on the continent of South America the colony of British Guiana, which diocese was to be styled the Bishopric of Barbados and the Leeward Islands. William Hart Coleridge, Doctor of Divinity of Christ Church, Oxford, was nominated and appointed the first Bishop, with the title of Right Reverend. The letters patent were signed by George IV. on the 24th of July 1824, and the Bishop was consecrated on the following day. Bishop Coleridge arrived in Barbados on the 29th of January 1825. The great and beneficial improvements which took place after his arrival are perhaps unparalleled in the history of the colonies. I extract from "The Tabular Statements relating to the Diocese of Barbados,' the following comparative tables, which will bear out my statement.
Name of the Colony.
Comparative Statement of the number of Clergy and of Charity Schools in the years 1812, 1825 and 1834, in the Diocese of Barbados.
1 Besides catechetical and other desultory instruction on estates.
Comparative Statement of the number of Clergy and Charity Schools in Barbados in 1825 and 1834.
15 27 14
Number of Parish Churches
The destructive hurricane in 1831 destroyed seven parish churches, namely, those of Christ Church, St. Philip, St. John, St. Joseph, St. Lucy, St. Peter, and St. Thomas. The sittings in these churches amounted to 2370. Of the seven chapels-of-ease erected since 1825, six were destroyed in 1831. These churches and chapels were rebuilt, partly by funds supplied by parliamentary and legislative grants, partly by private subscription, and the munificent liberality of pious societies in England, as the following statement will more clearly exhibit.
Summary of Tabular Statements of the Number, Cost, &c. of Churches, Chapels, Chapel-Schools, and Schoolhouses in the Rural Deanery of Barbados for the year 1837.
28 1525 2 75
160 14 421 160 10 271 120 2 83 100 14 554 850 650 24 800
7770 7340 154 7447
The asterisk signifies that the church is still in ruins, not having been rebuilt since the destructive hurricane in 1831.
+ Church and chapel in ruins.
Refers to the sittings in the chapels, or temporary places of worship, the church being in ruins.