Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Jacob Bailey - Exile in Nova Scarcity and Legacy

Today's post is the final installment of a three part history on the life of Rev. Jacob Bailey. The image in this post is Old St Edward's Church in Clementsport, Nova Scotia. This is one of the churches where Jacob Bailey would have performed regular services.

As he did through the majority of his life, Bailey kept an accurate and descriptive journal of his daily activities. It is through these journals, as well as his copies of correspondence that he kept in letter books, that we gain insight not only into Bailey but into the time in which he lived. Bailey’s journals from June of 1779 record the family’s sadness on leaving Pownalborough, their voyage to Halifax and their arrival in Nova Scotia’s capital. Bailey “had a most advantageous striking view of this Northern capital stretching a mile and a half upon the eastern ascent of an extensive hill – while a large a collection of shipping lay either contiguous to the wharves or else were riding with the Britannic colours flying, in the chanel, a sight which instantly inspired”.

Life was not easy for the Bailey family in a colony that many Loyalists came to call Nova Scarcity. Although they were among the first of the Loyalists to arrive in Nova Scotia, the Bailey family would soon be followed by thousands of their fellow refugees. This massive influx of people who did not have either sufficient housing or food put great strains on those who were already living in Nova Scotia. Additionally, the people who were already settled, those whom Bailey refers to as “Bluenoses” in his journals, did not accept the Loyalists with open arms. For at least a generation, there was a great deal of mistrust, if not outright hostility, between the Loyalists and those who had settled here before them.

After his arrival in Halifax, Bailey accepted a short, if somewhat turbulent, posting to Cornwallis (Kentville, Nova Scotia). Bailey had trouble with his parishioners, many of whom sympathized with the American cause. In 1881, the Bailey family moved once again, this time to Annapolis Royal.

On his arrival in Annapolis Royal, Bailey took up his duties as the Rector of St Luke’s Anglican Church. Still drawing the majority of his salary from the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in England, Bailey was able to supplement his meager income by renting the Glebe lands in the lower town. In addition to his official duties at St. Luke’s, Bailey acted as chaplain for the garrison at Fort Anne. This position was held by his brother-in-law Joshua Wingate Weeks, who refused to leave Halifax after he arrived. Rather than allow the soldiers to stray from their faith, Bailey performed this service without compensation.

Despite an ongoing feeling of remoteness, Bailey was happy in his new home. In a letter to Bartholomew Sullivan he wrote “Annapolis is seated on a delightful spot of ground, surrounded by the beauties and grandeurs of nature”. Through the rest of his life Bailey continued to minister to his parishioners and to record his daily activities. In 1808, Jacob Bailey died in Annapolis Royal. He is buried in the Garrison Cemetery beside Fort Anne.

Throughout his life Jacob Bailey was an avid and accurate chronicler of his times. While he was not one of the key figures of his era, Bailey’s volumes of written material give the modern reader fascinating insights into the lives of those who lived in revolutionary America. His writings, including journals, correspondence, sermons, a novel, poetry and even a play are preserved in various archival collections around Nova Scotia. Without question, the work of the child whose skill was discovered when he accidentally dropped a piece of paper, comprises one of the most important collections of late 18th century writings.

All for now,
RGS

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