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Title: The development of official Anglican interest in world mission, 1783-1809, with special reference to Bishop Beilby Porteous
Author: McKelvie, Graham D.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3625 1117
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 1984
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This thesis examines the missionary interest of Bishop Beilby Porteus, successively Bishop of Chester and London, and his contribution to the development of official Anglican missionary interest in the period 1783 to 1809. The American War of Independence created problems for two of the three official Anglican societies, the SPG and the Associates of Dr. Bray; their work in the former colonies was brought to a halt. At the beginning of 1783, both societies were faced with the problem of their relocation. The SPCK, which was not really a missionary society, had problems of a different kind; lack of personnel and shortage of funds for its mission in India. Porteus, as Bishop of Chester, preached the SPG Anniversary Sermon in 1783 and he called on the Society to initiate a new missionary thrust. The Society should devote its energies to the civilisation and conversion of the Blacks in the West Indies or, at least, the Blacks on its Trust Estates there. It should also do something for the settlers in Canada. This new initiative should be undertaken by the Society irrespective of whether government or others acted or not. Thus the central questions with which this thesis is occupied are the nature and extent of Porteus' own missionary interest and whether he was able to stir the official Anglican societies and the Church of England into a new and wider missionary interest. The thesis begins with a background to the study by tracing official Anglican missionary interest from 1699 to 1783. It then takes an overview of the period from 1783 to 1809 including the social history of the period. This is important as it was a period in which the Church of England was in danger of becoming a minority establishment. In Chapter IV a brief account of Porteus' life and ministry is given to provide the background and setting to his own missionary interest. His background provided him with a wider outlook on the world than many of his fellow prelates and, while he was one of the new breed of bishops that began to emerge late in the eighteenth century, it is clear that his background does not explain his missionary interest. Porteus' missionary interest developed while he was one of Archbishop Seeker's domestic chaplains. Thus it was virtually restricted to North America and hence his North American missionary interest is examined in Chapter V. Porteus' North American missionary interest followed traditional Anglican lines; he was interested in the settlement of religion and bishops among the settlers; the civilisation and Xll Xlll conversion of the Blacks and Indians; support for the Anglican societies. His interest was maintained by the literature he read and the correspondence and conversations he carried on with visitors to and residents in the new world. Porteus' interest in North America peaked shortly after Seeker's death and the surprising thing is how quickly his interest declined. This is largely accounted for by the emergence of Porteus'.interest in the civilisation and conversion of the Blacks in the West Indies, which became the major and most sustained of all Porteus' missionary interests. This aspect of his missionary interest is considered in Chapters V to VII. Although this interest went through clearly identifiable stages, it can be summed up as a search for means. Initially, Porteus tried to interest the SPG in the work and his 1783 Sermon and 1784 Plan were devoted to this end. When he failed to stir the SPG, Porteus turned to the Associates of Dr. Bray in the full knowledge of their limitations due to their small income and low membership. He accomplished about as much as he could through them, the main achievement being the publication of catechetical materials suitable for use among the Blacks. After he became Bishop of London, Porteus made what was to be his final attempt to stir the SPG into action on its Trust Estates but, when that failed, he turned to other means. He tried to interest the West Indian clergy in working among the Blacks and to introduce Sunday schools, but he had limited success. He contemplated launching a subscription scheme to provide clergy and missionaries for that purpose, but it never got off the ground. He used the self-interest of the owners to try and get them to give their permission for their Blacks to be instructed and he used the Moravian example in Antigua to support his case. He tried to move the British and West Indian legislatures to do something for the civilisation and conversion of the Blacks, but unsuccessfully. He did succeed in securing some laws that ameliorated the conditions of the Blacks and in providing for their protection, but little was done on a practical level. When he gained control of the Boyle Charity, Porteus obtained a charter for the Society for the Blacks, but the Society never lived up to his expectations for it; lack of adequate numbers of suitable missionaries was always a problem. Porteus tried to overcome this problem by arranging for the adaptation of the Bell system of education for use in the West Indies but this occurred too late in his life to succeed. He even went so far as to recommend that the British government employ Moravian missionaries to achieve his goal but this too fell on deaf ears. He maintained his own interest in the Blacks throughout his life, but he was unable to stir the Church of England to attempt this task in the degree he wanted. Porteus' missionary interest in India and the Near East, the Far East, Australia and the Pacific and Non-Christian Europe is considered in Chapters VIII, IX and X. Porteus' missionary interest in India gradually developed over several years from an academic interest to a full blooded commitment. It was helped by Claudius Buchanan and his interest in Bible Translation. Porteus' interest in the other areas was relatively minor compared with the Blacks in the West Indies and India. Porteus' missionary interest received a second wind in the last years of his life and this can be explained by his interest in Bible translation as a missionary means, particularly when there was a shortage of personnel. This interest can be traced from Carlyle's Proposal for the use of the Arabic translation as a missionary means. This aspect of Porteus1 interest is considered in Chapter XI and it includes an examination of Porteus' relationship to the wider missionary movement and voluntaryism. It is perhaps ironic that Porteus, a committed Anglican, was unable to generate much missionary interest in his own communion and that most of his successes came through voluntaryism.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Anglican Communion