History of Trinity Church, Saint John,  1791-1891

Compiled and edited by the Rev. Canon Brigstocke, D.D.

It seemed that Mum had been getting ready for Christmas for weeks. Way back in early November, she had spent a whole day making a dark fruit cake. Then came the baking of honey bars, raisin squares, lemon bread and pies that were all placed in tin containers and stored in the back pantry.

Speaking of getting ready for Christmas, the congregation of Trinity Church in Saint John probably spent lots of hours getting ready for the first divine service that was held in the church on Christmas Day in 1791.  And they also possibly readied themselves with warm clothes as there was no provision made for warming the church until 1804.

Although fire destroyed this church in 1877, the one hundredth anniversary of the opening was held on Christmas Day in 1891 when great preparations were made for a grand impressive service, with invitations being sent to several dignitaries.  It was for this milestone the ‘History of Trinity Church, 1791 to 1891' was compiled and edited by the Rector of the church, the Rev. Canon Brigstocke, D.D.  Four days after Christmas on December 29, 1891, a Conversazione, which was the social part of the celebration of the Centenary was held in the school house of the church. There was lots of getting ready to turn the large room on the upper floor into a Parish Drawing Room with the aid of flags, tropical plants, flowers, pictures, arm chairs, rugs and Chinese lanterns. Commemorative medals were struck at the mint in Birmingham, England depicting both churches and were presented to the Officers, Teachers, and Scholars of the Sunday School, as well as to the Organist and members of the Choir and some others.

Interesting details are given in the book of the articles placed in the box that was to be opened on Christmas of 1991. Information on the Bishops of the Diocese and the church rectors has been included.

The wife of the Reverend B. G. Gray and a female servant perished in a fire that burnt the Rectory on Wellington Row in November of 1833. The Parish Registers were also destroyed. Thus, no vital statistic church records are available prior to 1833.

After the loss of the Old Trinity church in the great fire of Saint John in 1877, the cornerstone for the present day Trinity was laid on May 18, 1879. In a cavity cut in the stone, a box, made of the copper which formed the dials of the old clock was placed, containing many documents.

Reading the donors of gifts to the church leads one to many families who had connections.

    *”In memory of Letitia Frances Wiggins, relict of the late Stephen Wiggins, Esq., died Nov. 16th, 1868, aged 75 years.”
    * “In memory of Samuel and Mary Seeds, A.D. 1880"

    * In 1862, Dr. Botsford gave $3000 to be held in perpetual trust for the benefit of orphan children.

    * George Sweeney left his Real and Personal Estate for a perpetual fund for the benefit of orphans and widows.

History of Trinity Church, Saint John, N.B. 1791-1891, compiled and edited by the Rev. Canon Brigstocke, D.D., Rector is not only a history of a church but gives a glimpse of the people who attended and supported it. You will find this 202-page book that was published in 1892 in several research institutions in New Brunswick.

The website at http://www.trinitysj.com/ provides information on the history of the church.
Many of the surviving records of Trinity Church have been microfilmed and can be viewed at the Saint John Free Public Library and the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick in Fredericton.

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