New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

William Hubbard Complains to Edward Winslow about the Congregationalists in Sheffield

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From the blog at

William Hubbard Complains to Edward Winslow about the Congregationalists in Sheffield

I posted an article in this blog on August 22, 2012 entitled “The Early Settlement of Maugerville and the Sheffield Parsonage Dispute.” The Sheffield parsonage was on Lot 15, where the Sheffield United Church now stands. The Loyalists from Maugerville wanted this lot for an Anglican church, while the people of Sheffield wanted it for a Congregationalist church. The whole dispute was animated by disagreements between the Congregationalists and their minister who defected to the Anglicans.

Eventually, the Congregationalists occupied the building and were determined to hold it. The Anglicans then raided it with muskets in hand claiming to be carrying out a legal action when, in fact, they were acting outside the law as private churchmen. In the end, the lot was officially granted to the Congregationalists.

That blog post may be found at

Now, a new document has emerged from The Winslow Papers, 1776 to 1826, edited by W.O. Raymond in 1901, and is reproduced below. It is a letter in which William Hubbard (an Anglican) complains to Edward Winslow that the Congregationalists had always been disloyal revolutionaries and that their religion was also unacceptable. He wanted Winslow’s help in assuring that these undeserving outsiders were not granted any favors by government.

The letter is a doozy!

Sheffield United Church

The Sheffield United Church

Site of the first Protestant Church on the Saint John River


William Hubbard to Edward Winslow

Fredericton, May 29, 1792

Sir,—I was exceedingly sorry that I lost the opportunity of conversing with you before you left town on a subject which I conceive of very great consequence to the peace and quiet of the country. If, Sir, the people who have endeavoured to impose themselves upon the Governor & Council as a regular dissenting congregation should gain so much credit as to obtain the end sought for, it will introduce into this Province more anarchy and confusion, than has hitherto been known. It will I am fully convinced drive many and valuable subjects from it such as will not be easily replaced.

Hitherto the members of the Church of England have peaceably acquiesced under every act of the Governor & Council, arrogating no merit to themselves for such a conduct, tho’ they have secretly complained that the Governor & Council have been imposed upon by misrepresentations to the prejudice of the Loyal Inhabitants, that they have emigrated to this country, whilst on the contrary those who could not have the least right to expect special favors have insidiously obtained them. Let me ask you, Sir, whether these very people have not been the first to murmur and complain? Suffer me, Sir, to enumerate a few instances wherein the former Inhabitants have been favored to the prejudice of the latter.

In the Parish of Burton nearly one half of the lots of land have been granted to the old Inhabitants who had lands granted to them before. They on finding the country likely to be populated, many of them quitted their own ground and took possession of unlocated Lands, they made but small improvements, but being in possession and it being represented to Government that they were in possession and had made improvements thereon, without being informed that their only motives were either to be paid for them or obtain grants whereby they might dispose of them to their own emolument and the distress of the suffering Loyalists. Many of them to this day hold their Lands and suffer them to lie uncultivated to the great damage of the settlers, and others to my own knowledge have immediately on receiving their Grants sold their lots at from fifty to two hundred pounds and some of them after selling them have immediately left the country.

They stile themselves in their Petition “a regular dissenting congregation.” Pray Sir what regularity is there in that mode of worship that admits into its Churches Preachers of every denomination, except those of the established religion of the land? Do they ever enquire into the authority or credentials of the man who says he is a preacher, or do they enquire into his moral character? No, let him be a Baptist, a Methodist, a Quaker, a Mahometan, or a Jew, or let him be of what sect or religion whatsoever, so that he is not a lawful preacher, he is admitted.

If, Sir, the lot in question was to be given to the Dissenters, suffer me to ask what description of Dissenters have the right? I conceive the law knows of no distinction, and I humbly conceive it out of the power of any body of men to make an equitable and just distinction. Those who now ask for it are neither more “regular” nor more moral than the others, and as to their three leading men a small portion of honor will fall to their share. The first character has been indicted by two inquests of the county for perjury and still lies under the censure, the second has been charged upon a well-grounded suspicion of Burglary, the third and last great man was a Cowardly Rebel Sergeant acting against Cumberland. Now, Sir, these are the characters that have the assurance to ask for special favours. It is said that Government are prevented from complying with the prayer of the memorial of the Wardens & Vestry of the Church of England by a former promise to those people that they should not be disturbed in their possession of the Lot. Grant that such a promise has been made; but was that promise made to the Hammonites, to the Palmerites, to the Brookites or to the last and worst of all the Pearlyites or Burpeites—for these all once professed to be one and the same people in profession of religion.

If the Lot should be given to either it would give great offence to the others, for I conceive each have an equal claim of right. If, Sir, Government think themselves so far pledged to those people that they cannot grant the lot to the Church of England, let me intreat, Sir, that you will use your power to let the Lot remain as it is—in which situation the Church being in possession we are perfectly easy and secure in our title.

I hope in the name of God that Government are not pledged to put them in possession. They have fairly and righteously dispossessed themselves, we are in legal possession and, as far as the laws of our country will justify us, we mean to defend it.

I must ask your pardon for taking the liberty of thus making known to you the most humble request of every member of the Church of England in the County of Sunbury, that you will, as they have every hope to believe, stand forth in the defence of the rights of the Church of England, and I have it in command to say that you will insure the hearts of every Churchman, who are ever loyal.

I am, Sir, in behalf of the members of the Church, with profound respect, Your humble Servant,

Wm. Hubbard


Written by johnwood1946

February 17, 2016 at 9:54 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. A very interesting letter, such passion! Many of my ancestors were with the dissenters, not a Church of England among them, 🙂

    Donna van Eeghen

    February 18, 2016 at 4:40 PM

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