As the Story is Told: The History of Trinity Church, Howard – Part 1

As the Story is told: A history of Morpeth and communityEvery week, I share an excerpt from my Great Aunt’s book, As the Story is Told: A History of Morpeth and Community, which was printed in 1986. This week describes the history of a little church called Trinity. I remember vividly that in Grade 8, our class went to this cemetery to do research. I was impressed how old some of the tombstones were, and I believe some of my ancestors are buried there. When my husband and I were first dating, I remember we rode bikes with my dad to Trinity to look around the cemetery as well. Here’s the history:

…previous chapter…

The History of Trinity Church, Howard

1845-1945 – Written for Centennial 1945


Situated on No. 3 Highway, at the highest point in Howard Township, with a picturesque outlook on the silver-blue waters of Lake Erie a mile distant, Trinity Church is one of the most attractive landmarks of Kent County. In the adjacent churchyard sleep many of the early pioneers of Howard and Orford townships.

On the occasion of its hundredth anniversary, celebrated in September 1945, it is fitting to recall the beginnings of the historic church a century ago and some of the more interesting features of the intervening period, which link the days of the pioneers with the present.

The thoughts of the pioneers of Upper Canada, once they had cleared homes for themselves in the wilderness, were first directed to securing spiritual opportunities for themselves and education for their children. The religious opportunities of the early settlers on the Talbot Road in Howard were limited, for the time, to the visits of a travelling missionary, the Rev. James Stewart, who held services in the homes of those able or willing to accommodate him. The arrival of the Rev. Mr. Stewart on horseback, in those days of difficult transportation, was no doubt a welcome sight to the lonely pioneers, and his spiritual ministrations were even more valued.

In 1844 some of the people of the community decided it was time to have a community. As a site, the pioneers selected part of Lot83 South Talbot Road, perhaps the highest point in this section of Howard. The site of the church was the free gift of John Green Sr.

The response of the pioneers, when lists were circulated to raise funds for the building of the church, was in the same generous spirit. Men of many different church affiliations were among the pioneer of South Howard, but regardless of church affiliations, they gave freely.

John Green Sr. Headed the list of original subscribers. Other names were: John Stewart Sr., David H. Gesner, Andrew Bachus, Philip Desmond, George Hewitt, Robert Walters, John Bell, Joseph Hackney, Alexander Goff, Richard Pearce, Walter Patterson, John Unsworth, George Duck and John Lane of Howard; Oliver and James Stewart of Harwich.

In the fall of 1844 the foundation for a church building, to be known as Trinity Church, Howard, was laid. The building was completed the following year. Most of the work was done gratis and much of the lumber was taken from the nearby farms.

Trinity Church, 1845 1892 Morpeth OntarioTrinity Church as originally completed was a white frame building. The seats were made locally from solid walnut. The joiner work was done by John Bell and John Green, the frame work by Levi Smith. Some of the tools used for this work are still cherished by descendants of these pioneers.

Joseph Jewitt gave a large flagstone for the doorstep. The stone was taken from a schooner which called at the early trading port of Antrim.

Lord Morpeth, who at this time was visiting his kinsman, Colonel Talbot, hearing of the erection of the church made a donation of Twenty-five pounds sterling.

The James Stewart Missions generously donated a set of service books, an Irish linen altar cloth, and a beautiful silver communion service bearing this inscription:

“This communion service is a bequest to Trinity Church, Raleigh, C. W. From Charlotte, 2nd daughter of the late Governor Simcoe. She was an unwearying supporter of these missions to the end of her life. Ob. July 17th, 1842.”

At a later date the parish received a bell bearing this inscription:

“This bell is given to St. Charles Church, Dunwich, U.C. in memory of Charles James Stewart, late bishop of Quebec, by the supporters of the Stewart Travelling Missions, March 1846.”

Through some strange mischance, the bell and the communion service were interchanged with those of another church. The mistake was never rectified.

At the time the church was erected it was decided, following the old country custom, to use the surrounding grounds as a cemetery. Here the remains of the sturdy pioneers, regardless of their religious denomination, were laid to rest in consecrated soil. The earliest dated stone is that of Wm. Ridley Jr., Jan. 10, 1831.

The first baptism recorded by the Rev. James Stewart was in a home held on July 31, under the celebrated Bishop Strachan. The Rev. James Stewart presented the class. The thirty confirmed were: Mrs. Henry Ridley, Charlotte Humphrey, George Boothroyd, William Green, Mary Bell, Hannah E. Duck, Mrs. Wilson, Mrs. John Green, Mrs. Richard Green, Margaret Nelson, David Gesner, Mrs. Richard Pearce, Freeman Green, John Green, John Green Jr., Mrs. Gesner, John Gesner, Mrs. Brown, Mrs. Bury, Miss Bury, Mr. Ridley, Miss Ridley, Timothy Newcombe, John Johnston, Miss Armstrong and Mrs. Francis Johnston.

The Rev. Francis William Sandys, D. D., came to this country from Ireland in 1851. He was a descendant of the Right Rev. Edwin Sandys, one of the outstanding figures of the Anglican Church in the days of Queen Elizabeth I, and who became Archbishop of York and Primate of all England.

The Rev. Sandys, as missionary, traversed a circuit extending 150 miles from Tryconnel to Sandwich. Rain or shine he covered the circuit on his favourite black horse and conducted services in Trinity Church every second Sunday till 1849. In later years this distinguished clergyman was mainly instrumental in the erection of the present Christ Church at Chatham.

On August 31, 1845, the funeral of Miss Elizabeth Armstrong, daughter of the late Charles Armstrong, took place in Trinity Church. Rev. F. W. Sandys, D. D., conducted the burial service. The church records also show that the Rev. James Stewart presented a class of 22 confirmation candidates to Bishop Strachan at Trinity Church on June 24, 1848. The first marriage was recorded thus:

“Orford Township, Canada West, 21st of June 1848. This day were married by special license, William Ford of St. Mary’s in the Huron District and Elizabeth Bury of the Township of Orford, Spinster. James Stewart, Minister. George Galloway and A. B. Jacobs, Witnesses.”

…to be continued next week…

2 thoughts on “As the Story is Told: The History of Trinity Church, Howard – Part 1

  1. Pingback: As the Story is Told: Church Centennial Services – 1977 | The Farmhouse Chronicles

  2. Pingback: As the Story is Told: Trinity Church, Part II | The Farmhouse Chronicles

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