Rectors of St. Paul’s


Rectors of St. Paul’s, from 1712 up to 1924

Read all about crossing out the Royal Family from our prayer books, why our church doesn’t have a spire steeple and why we are known as the “Bishop’s Church“, our rector who left for foriegn lands, gunshots, leg o’ mutton sideburns, stolen silver, and fire!

In the first two hundred years of St. Paul’s Church, there were fourteen rectors:

Timeline, Rectors of St. Paul's Church, 1712 through 1924

Rev. John Lambton, 1712 - 1714 Rev. Henry Lucas, 1715 - 1720 Rev. Matthias Plant, 1723 - 1753 Rev. Edward Bass, 1753 - 1803 Rev. James Morss, 1803 - 1842 Rev. John S. Davenport, 1843 - 1844 Rev. Edward Washburn, 1845 - 1851 Rev. William Horton, 1853 - 1863 Rev. John Crocker White, 1863 - 1870 Rev. George D. Johnson, 1870 - 1875 Rev. Edward Drown, 1876 - 1884 Rev. James H. Van Buren, 1884 - 1890 Rev. William C. Richardson, 1890 - 1897 Rev. Arthur Henry Wright, 1899 - 1924

Reverend John Lambton, 1712 – 1714

Colonel Frances Nicholson was authorized by the Society for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Partsto settle a mission at Newbury and provide a minister –which he did by directing Captain Bleck of Her Majesty’s Ship Phoenix to release their Chaplain, The Reverend John Lambton.The Reverend John Lambton arrived at Newbury on November 14, 1712 to find a “Handsome building which had been built and furnished by the members of the congregation.” Mr. Lambton’s orders from the Society for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts were to remain at Queen Anne’s Chapel. The congregation numbered at over two hundred members.During this time, the Chapel held the first elections for Wardens and Vestrymen. These Vestrymen then asked the Society for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts to pay Mr. Lambton’s salary.

In 1714, John Lambton resigned his post due to ill health.

John Lambton's letter, April 15, 1714
John Lambton’s letter, April 15, 1714, requesting a replacement minister due to his impaired health.

Reverend Henry Lucas, 1715 – 1720

Between the time of John Lambton and the arrival of Henry Lucas, the members of Queen Anne’s Chapel felt that they were being neglected by the Society for Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. This neglect resulted in some members of the congregation removing the vestments, ornaments, and books and setting up their own worship.

In 1715, Reverend Henry Lucas was transferred from Braintree to Newbury. When he arrived he found a great deal of conflict. Upon showing his credentials, the Chapel was turned over to him and the articles that had been taken were returned. Yet, some members continued meeting at a nearby home while others attended services at the Chapel.

Reverend Henry Lucas was successful in restoring peace to the ministry at Queen Anne’s Chapel, although some considered his ministry to be a “thorney cure” for it appeared that Reverend Henry Lucas and his congregation had little sympathy for each other and also both were disappointed in the expectations.

In 1718, a bell was given to Queen Anne’s Chapel by the Bishop of London and placed in the steeple. In 1770, the steeple, with the bell, was blown down into the street during a severe storm. Mr. David Whitmore took the bell into his possession for safekeeping. Later, the bell was restored by Mr. Josiah Little and placed in the belfry of the Belleville Schoolhouse on High Street. The bell was used to call students to school and also the Belleville congregation to worship. In 1839, in the dark of night, the bell was removed and no one knows what happened to it.

The Reverend Henry Lucas remained at Queen Anne’s Chapel until he died on August 23, 1720. He was buried on the 25th of August under the Altar of Queen Anne’s Chapel in a ceremony conducted by the Reverend David Mossom of Marblehead. The Reverend David Mossom occasionally served at Queen Anne’s Chapel until the Reverend Matthias Plant arrived.

Reverend Matthias Plant, 1723 – 1753

Reverend Matthias Plant was born and educated in England. He was appointed by the Society of Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts to serve in the Colonies and arrived at Queen Anne’s Chapel on April 24, 1722. He preached his first sermon on April 24, 1722. He boarded in the home of Samuel Bartlett and on December 27, 1722, he was married to Lydia, Samuel Bartlett’s daughter. The Reverend David Mossom officiated at the wedding.

Reverend Rufus Emery, D. D., in his address of 1811, at the time of the dedication of a memorial cross marking the site of Queen Anne’s Chapel, said “Mr. Plant was a faithful missionary, a farmer, and land owner, and was well known to the colonial authorities as he often entertained them at his home.”

While Mr. Plant was at Queen Anne’s Chapel, a group of men living at the seaside built a chapel which they named St. Paul’s at the corner of Ordways’ Land and High Street. The Chapel was begun in 1739 and by 1740 the members began
inviting ministers to preach. In 1749, Mr. Plant accepted the position of rector at St. Paul’s and appointed Mr. Edward Bass as his assistant. Matthias Plant was the individual who maintained the connection between Queen Anne’s Chapel and St. Paul’s, thus giving us the continuing history from 1711. He maintained a connection by serving both Queen Anne’s Chapel and St. Paul’s Church until Queen Anne’s Chapel ceased in 1753.

Reverend Edward Bass, 1753 – 1803

Bishop Edward BassReverend Edward Bass was elected rector by the vestry, in 1753 and he served until his death in 1803. From 1753 until 1765, he faithfully held services once a month at Queen Anne’s Chapel (the vestry refused to pay him for this). The congregation at Queen Anne’s Chapel was deserting the chapel of the congregational church and the building, without repair, was becoming unfit for services. In 1755, Queen Anne’s Chapel was taken down.

In 1753, during his first year as rector at St. Paul’s Church, a porch and gallery were added to the church building.

In 1756, the Brattle Street Organ was purchased from King’s Chapel in Boston and placed in St. Paul’s Church. Thus, St. Paul’s Church became the first church in the Newbury area to have an organ.

In 1764, the “Seaside” became independent from Newbury by being incorporated as a new town called Newburyport.

Mr. Bass kept St. Paul’s Church open during the time of the Revolution. He considered himself neutral and he became one of the few rectors who did not flee the colonies. He was charged by the Society for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts with collaborating with the colonists and as a result lost his salary. This did not bother him for he continued to serve the congregation at St. Paul’s Church. The vestry asked him to discontinue any prayers or reference to the English Royal Family. He used his quill pen to cross from his prayer book any reference to the English King and Royal Family.

In May of 1789, at a convention at Salem, Edward Bass was elected Bishop of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. His own parish rejected his election because of the omission of the laity in the election. In July of 1789, he was given an Honorary Degree of Doctorate of Divinity from the University of Penn. In 1796 Dr. Bass was re-elected Bishop of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine. This time his parishioners accepted his election to Bishop because they, the laity, had participated. He was consecrated First Bishop of Massachusetts in May of 1797 in Christ Church, Philadelphia.

In 1800, the old church building was torn down and a new church was built on the same site. The new church was completed on October 15, 1800. The bell, organ and reredos from the older building were placed in the new building. The eagle, over the reredos, and the Bishop’s Mitre, for the steeple, were carved by Joseph Wilson, a local woodworker. With the Bishop’s Mitre on the steeple, St. Paul’s Church became known as the Bishop’s Church. Today, a copy of the Bishop’s Mitre is still on the Church Steeple. The Bishop’s Mitre from the 1800 church is on display in the church entrance. The eagle that was over the reredos disappeared in the 1950s and to this day has never been located.

Dr. Bass died suddenly on Saturday, September 10, 1803, as he was making preparations to go to Portland, Maine to consecrate a new church and to ordain Mr. Hillard. Mr. James Morss, in his diary, wrote about Dr. Bass, “He felt ill on Saturday and felt he could not preach Sunday night and was concerned about my conducting the service without him as I had not done so before, but he was dead before Sunday.”

Mr. James Morss was a candidate for Holy Orders who was attending Harvard and also teaching school while studying under Dr. Bass in 1803.

Reverend James Morss, 1803 – 1842

Reverend James Morss, Rector St. Paul's Church 1803 - 1842Dr. Morss was rector for 39 years and was the third rector who died in office. He married Martha Boardman and built the house at 190 High Street. There is a picture of the house the the book, Architecture Along The Merrimac, where the caption reads, “called the Court of St. James” because of the elegant style in which Dr. Morss lived. Mr. and Mrs. Morss had eleven children of which only four survived to maturity. His wife, Martha, died in 1829 and then he married Elizabeth Tyning 1831. Elizabeth Tyning’s previous husband had died in 1830.

Reverend James Morss’s son Richard was organist at St. Paul’s for many years after his father’s death.

Mr. Morss studied under Bishop Bass and had been examined for Holy Orders but Bishop Bass died before the papers were signed. While attending a convention in New York City, Mr. Morss was ordained, June 11, 1804, by Bishop Benjamine More.

Reverend Morss was considered very modern for his day because he traveled a great deal, attended many conventions and frequently exchanged pulpits. He also entertained most eminent clergymen at his home in Newburyport.

He entered everything concerning the church and his work in his Common Book. He recorded the names of contemporary rectors and those with whom he exchanged pulpits. He entered the following in his Common Book: “In 1812 a handsome Russian stove was built in the church and paid for by subscription. In 1812, a Chalice engraved “Donation of the Female Communicants to St. Paul’s Church, December 25, 1812″ was presented. In 1824 Dr. Jarvis of Boston preached at St. Paul’s during the months of April and May. And in 1833, the Brattle Street Organ was sold to St. John’s Portsmouth and St. Paul’s purchased an organ built in Newburyport.”

He also entered the following: In 1805, he recorded the drought. In 1809 he recorded the earthquake and in 1810 he recorded the death of his eldest son. In 1811, he recorded the great fire in Newburyport, which he felt was incendiary.

In 1826, Reverend James Morss received an Honorary Degree, D. D. from Princeton. Dr. Morss wrote two histories of St. Paul’s Church; one in 1811 given at the Centenary of Queen Anne’s Chapel, and the second in 1837 at the Centenary of St. Paul’s Church. Both have been published. Also some of his sermons were published.

On December 15, 1832, Dr. Morss was on his way home from church, at the corner of Winter and High Street, a man held a gun at him. Dr. Morss struggled with the man and the gun discharged so close to Dr. Morss that his vest and coat were burnt. The man ran away and shot himself when he reached Market Square. It was believed that the assailant was “diseased in mind” rather than having a purpose for attacking Dr. Morss. This incident is recorded in the Vestry Minutes. Prayers of Thanksgiving were later read in the church.

At 1:05 a.m. April 26, 1842, Dr.James Morss died. the bell at St. Paul’s was rung from 5:00 – 7:00 a.m. on that day. The present bell, first rung on January 7, 1900, is a memorial to him. The inscription reads, “To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of the Reverend James Morss, D. D. Rector of St. Paul’s Church, Newburyport, Massachusetts,. 1803 – 1842.

Reverend John S. Davenport, 1843 – 1844

Reverend John S. Davenport, Rector St. Paul's Church 1843 - 1844This photograph of Reverend Davenport may have been taken sometime between 1883 and 1893 (because of the type of sideburns) and shows him as an elderly man; he was probably much younger when he came to St. Paul’s. He was ordained to the Priesthood in St. Paul’s Church in December of 1843.

In 1843 the church interior was completely renovated. During this time the congregation worshipped in the Court House. It was at this time the eagle over the reredos disappeared. In 1881, Ben Perley Poore discovered the eagle. It was restored by C. W. Mosely and replaced over the reredos. The eagle again disappeared in the 1950s and has never been found to this date.

On July 4 and 8, 1844, the Reverend Davenport was attacked in the Newburyport Herald in two anonymous letters. It was later discovered that the letters were written by Dr. Kelly, a member of the Vestry. At first the Vestry was going to move a vote of censure of Dr. Kelly but decided that it would be more dignified to pass a vote of confidence in the Rector. Dr. Kelly had accused Reverend Davenport of Puseyism, a reform movement then popular in England and of Unitarianism. This accusation did have an effect and began to create a rift between the rector and the parish. On November 13, 1844 Reverend Davenport resigned.

Reverend Edward Washburn, 1845 – 1851

Reverend Edward Washburn, Rector St. Paul's Church 1845 - 1851Mr. Washburn was young when he came to St. Paul’s. He had been ordained to the Diaconate but not yet to the priesthood. He was officiating at Fall River, Massachusetts. He substituted from April 25, 1844 to Easter 1845. The Vestrymen were impressed and invited him to be rector at St. Paul’s.

Plans were made and a date set for his Ordination in St. Paul’s by Bishop Eastburn. Suddenly the Bishop refused to go forward with the Ordination. The Reverend John Woart, Rector at Cambridge and on the Bishop’s Standing Committee, objected to the Ordination of Edward Washburn. Reverend Woart did not consider Mr. Washburn to have any talents, that many of the parish were doubtful of his piety, suspected him of Unitarianism, and they could not understand his sermons. Mr. Woart said that it would be a sad day of St. Paul’s if Mr. Washburn were to be ordained.

St. Paul’s Vestrymen resolved that Mr. Woart was influenced by personal animosity unworthy of a clergy. They resolved that St. Paul’s Church would not open on July 23, 1843 unless it was for the Ordination of Edward Washburn. This was signed by 56 of 75 parishioners and sent to the Bishop on July 22, 1843. The Bishop replyed that if the minutes of July 22 were annulled he would ordain Mr. Washburn, or he must be ordained elsewhere.

The Vestrymen re-read their minutes and could discover nothing amiss so they refused to annul their meeting minutes. Mr. Edward Washburn was ordained by the Bishop but there is no record of where. Reverend Washburn became an ordained rector of St. Paul’s.

In August of 1851 Reverend Washburn asked the Vestrymen to meet with him at his boarding house on Brown’s Square. At this time he made known his intentions to travel in foreign countries, Asia and Europe. The Vestrymen requested that he take a sabbatical of two years to pursue his travels. This he did.

Reverend George Chapman took over the parish for the next year. And then the pulpit was supplied by visiting preachers. Mr. Washburn never returned to St. Paul’s Church.

After his death in 1881, his poems, his essays on Church History and his Social Law of God as well as two volumes of Sermons were published.

On February 6, 1881, the Reverend Edward Drown, then rector of St. Paul’s Church gave a sermon in memory of Reverend Edward Washburn.

Reverend William Horton, 1853 – 1863

Reverend William Horton, Rector St. Paul's Church 1853 - 1863Mr. William Horton, of Salisbury, a candidate for Holy Orders was examined, in 1826, by Dr. James Morss, who was on the Standing Committee for Massachusetts. In April and May of 1829, Mr. Horton preached at St. Paul’s Church. Dr. Morss had Mr. Horton’s name on his list of visiting clergy. He became rector of St. Paul’s on August 4, 1853 and lived at 31 Green Street, Newburyport. He received has doctorate in 1858.

There are three remaining associations with Dr. Horton; St. Anna’s Chapel which was built in 1863, the Album presented to him at the opening of the Chapel and a pair of mittens probably a gift of a Woman’s organization from St. Paul’s. The mittens were found in a rummage sale in Maine and returned to St. Paul’s. A fourth association with Dr. Horton was a solid silver pocket Communion Service a gift of the Sunday School Teachers and children in October 1855. The Communion Service was stolen with St. Paul’s silver in 1887.

In August of 1854, a year after he came to St. Paul’s, his only daughter, Anna, died. From this time Reverend Horton was very ill and offered to resign. But the parishioners did not want him to leave. Since he enjoyed being at St. Paul’s, he stayed and paid a clerk $800.00 to help him.

In 1856 gas was introduced to the church and paid for by the Ladies Sewing Circle. The exterior of the church was painted and the Bishop’s Mitre was re-gilded for a price of $249. Also Mrs. Mary Hale had the Chapel in the church painted, papered and carpeted. The sidewalks at the front of the church were paved with brick to the road at the expense of Captain and Mrs. Bogardus.

In 1856, the congregation tried Congregational singing but no one liked it so they went back to Choir singing.

In 1861, Dr. Horton asked for some vacation time. This was granted but he paid the substitutes so that the church would not be closed. In the Fall of 1861, Dr. Horton engaged and paid for an Assistant in Deacon’s Order. Robert Murray was the deacon he hired, and he stayed with Dr. Horton until the Reverend John C. White came as an assistant.

Mr. White was elected as Associate Rector on January 19, 1863. Dr. Horton relinquished his salary so that Mr. White might receive a salary. Dr. Horton remained at St. Paul’s as Rector emeritus and assumed the duties of the Sacrament, Baptism and Supervision of the Sunday School.

St. Anna’s Chapel was proposed in 1862 to be built as a meeting place for the Sunday School and for Lectures. On May 23, 1863, St. Anna’s Chapel was dedicated by Bishop Eastburn. Dr. Horton created a fund of $8,300. for the upkeep of the Chapel. He did not want the Chapel to become a burden on the parishioners of St. Paul’s Church. Dr. Horton gave a service, assisted by Mr. White, in St. Anna’s Chapel on May 31, 1863. He was exhausted at the end of the service and his health was further failing.

At 4:00 a.m. on October 29, 1863 Dr. William Horton died. He was 59 years old. The bell rang from 5:00 to 7:00a.m. that same day. The Horton Fund is for the upkeep of his grave in Oak Hill Cemetery and for St. Anna’s Chapel.

Reverend John Crocker White, 1863 – 1870

Reverend John C. White, Rector St. Paul's Church 1863 - 1870Reverend John White was Associate Rector, under Dr. William Horton, from January 19, 1863 – October 29, 1863. When Dr. Horton died, the Vestry voted to hire John White as Rector of St. Paul’s Church. Two years later there were complaints within the parish that he was neglecting his parochial duties and a petition signed by thirty people asked him to look for another church. Reverend White visited each person named on the petition. He listened to their criticism of him and discovered that they did like and enjoyed him. He promised to do better if he could stay.

In 1866, the bylaws were changed so that a majority of voters could dissolve a connection between them and the rector. This does seem to suggest that some of the parishioners were still not satisfied with his work. Also during this year the church was renovated, the galleries were altered and improved. The first gas organ by Hamill Company was installed. The church bells were rung for fifteen minutes twice on Sundays, for the 10:00 a.m. and the 2:30 p.m. services.

In 1870, Mr. John Currier became a committee of one to brick the sidewalk in front of the church from Summer Street to Market Street. Also the Lectures were still being held in St. Anna’s Chapel.

On April 1870, at the Annual Parish Meeting, The Reverend John White presented his resignation to take effect after the Diocesan Convention on May 18, 1870. Reverend John White preached his last sermon on May 15, 1870.

Reverend George D. Johnson, 1870 – 1875

Reverend George D. Johnson, Rector St. Paul's Church 1870 - 1875In 1870, Reverend George Johnson came from Boston, Massachusetts and was elected to be rector at St. Paul’s Church at a yearly salary of $1200.00

In 1872 the Vestry voted to raise his salary by $200.00 in order to meet an offer from Cold Springs, New York who wanted Reverend Johnson to become their rector. On October 18, 1872 Bishop Manton Eastburn died and on October 27, Fr. Chapman died. The pews were draped in black for the Bishop and the balcony was draped in black for Dr. Chapman. These black drapes remained for a period of thirty days.

In 1873, the 2:30 p.m. service was changed to 4:30 p.m.

In 1874 Reverend Johnson asked for two months leave of absence to visit England. In his letter of request to the Vestry he says, “I wish to express my gratitude to the Parish for their sympathy and forbearance during my recent trial.” The Reverend Samuel Emery was in full charge while Reverend Johnson was away.

The Reverend Johnson resigned September 29, 1875. He had a chance to answer a call from another parish, which he felt he must accept.

On August 28, 1906 Reverend Johnson died in Brighton, Staten Island, New York. His obituary in St. Paul’s Chronicle reads, “The Venerable George Dorvall Johnson, D.D., Archdeacon of Richmond, New York and Rector emeritus of Christ Church, New Brighton. He was gradated from Trinity College in 1854 and Berkeley Divinity School in 1860. He served the Church in Darien, Conn., Oswego, N.Y., Boston, Ma., and St. Paul’s Newburyport. Dr. Rufus Emery was a classmate of his. ”

Reverend Edward Drown, 1876 – 1884

Reverend Edward Drown, Rector St. Paul's Church 1876 - 1884Reverend Edward Drown substituted once a month from November 1875 until his appointment in May of 1876. This photograph is possibly one from 1893 rather from the time he was at St. Paul’s.

In 1876 the Evening service was changed to 3:30 p.m.

Reverend Edward Drown was not popular in the parish. In 1877 he suggested that the able bodied poor receiving help from the church should be made to clean the church. He also used the collection on Communion Sunday for the cleaning of the church.

In 1877, Reverend Drown was given permission by the parish to start the Water Street Mission, providing there was no liability on the parish.

In 1878, the parishioners voted at the Annual Meeting to take a collection for current expenses. Also the rector relinquished $200.00 of his $2000.00 salary.

In 1880, Dr. Foote, of King’s Chapel, Boston, requested the loan of two pieces of Communion Silver for the purpose of photographing them. The pieces of silver were sent by messenger who was charged with the duty of not leaving sight of the silver and to return it that same evening. In October a vote was taken to paint the interior of the church.

In 1881, Reverend Drown preached a memorial service for Reverend Edward Washburn. The Vestry voted to have the sermon published. As of this time no copy of the sermon has been found.

In 1883, at the Annual Meeting on March 26, 1883, a report was made that a subcommittee had met with Reverend Drown to discuss his possible resignation because many of the parishioners wished him to do so. Reverend Drown refused to resign until specific charges were brought against him. At this same Annual Meeting, Nathaniel Foster was asked to become Senior Warden but he was reluctant to do so because of the unrest between the parish and the rector. He was persuaded to become Senior Warden. In 1885, individuals from the parish were getting requests from Florida and other places inquiring into the character and services of Reverend Drown. These inquiries were shown to the Vestrymen who decided that they were unofficial and were not to be answered. In April, Reverend Drown left St. Paul’s.

After Reverend Drown left, his Parish Register Book could not be found. The Vestrymen wrote to Reverend Drown asking for the location of the book. It was soon discovered that he had not kept a Parish Register Book. The Vestrymen sent a circular to the members of the parish to obtain the necessary information.

In 1886 the Vestry voted to receive and place on file the correspondence between the Bishop and Wardens about Reverend Drown. Also in 1886, at the 17th Anniversary of the founding of St. Paul’s, the Reverend James Van Buren asked if he should invite Reverend Drown. The Vestry requested that he not invite Reverend Drown because it would be detrimental to the harmony of the parish.

Reverend James H. Van Buren, 1884 – 1890

Reverend James H. Van Buren, Rector St. Paul's Church 1884 - 1890The Reverend James Van Buren came to St. Paul’s Church in December of 1884.

During his first year at St. Paul’s Church, he had four calls from other churches and in December of 1885 he gave his resignation to the Wardens in order to accept a call from Christ Church in Dayton, Ohio. The Vestry accepted his resignation but then thought better of it and wrote to Christ Church asking them to release Reverend Van Buren so that he might remain at St. Paul’s. Reverend Van Buren was re-installed on January 26, 1886.

In 1885, an Alms Basin was given to the church by Mrs. T. Gillis Todd. St. Paul’s silver was photographed at the church for a book being written by John H. Buck for Gorham Silver. The miniature Communion Service, belonging to the late Reverend William Horton, was given to the church by Mr. French of Salem, executor of William Horton’s estate. In April of 1885, the Vestry voted to have a safe made for William Horton’s Communion Service. This is the service that was later stolen and never recovered.

In 1886, a building fund was started. 1887 was the year that St. Paul’s silver was stolen. In June 19, 1887, for the celebration of the 175th anniversary of Queen Anne’s Chapel, Reverend James Van Buren wrote a history of St. Paul’s which was printed verbatim in the Newburyport News.

In 1888, Jane R. Wood and her brother gave a Christening Basin in memory of their father, David Wood. The children of the church gave the black walnut Pulpit for St. Anna’s Chapel. In March of 1888, the altar cross was given by T. Gillis Todd and a chalice was presented by Alex D. Brown in memory of her daughter, Endora Brown. On April 22, 1888, Reverend James Van Buren’s salary as increased by $400.00. And at the end of the year there was an appeal to enlarge the Chancel, create more space for the Sunday school and build more pews.

In 1889, the parish was bequeathed $12,663.00 from John Williams for the purchase of communion silver, a Bass Memorial Tablet, and for a striking tower clock.

On June 17, 1890, Reverend James H. Van Buren resigned to accept a call from St. Stephen’s, Lynn, Massachusetts. He began his duties in Lynn on July 1, 1890. Later, Reverend James H. Van Buren became Bishop of Puerto Rico. His book, “Sermons That Have Helped” was published in 1908.

Reverend William C. Richardson, 1890 – 1897

Reverend William C. Richardson, Rector St. Paul's Church 1890 - 1897Reverend William Richardson came to St. Paul’s on September 1, 1890. He was considered to be artistic, musical and a perfectionist. George F. Person, organist since 1878, would not come under his direction and left in 1895. Craig S. Hazard served as organist for six months and then Victor Nicholson, who remained organist for 28 years, came to St. Paul’s. The choir became famous under the direction of Victor Nicholson.

The Reverend William Richardson liked to organize societies and he started seven new ones at the rate of one a year. These societies were: starting in 1891 the Girl’s Friendly Society, the Sewing School, St. Agnes Charter of Junior Girls, the Brotherhood of St. Andrew, the Mother’s Club, the Workman’s Club, and the Lawrence Club for Boys. He also renewed the South End Mission.

In 1892, the Chancel was carpeted and the expense being paid for by the ladies of the Parish Guild. In 1896, the Monica Society raised funds to build a Parish House on the side and back of the church, at the same time increasing the size of the Chancel. The Parish House opened on December 31, 1896.

In 1896, Reverend Richardson sent his report to the Vestry with a letter saying that he was suffering from temporary exhaustion. He also sent his report of 490 communicants, 267 services, 115 public addresses, and the formation of the new club called the Workman’s Club.

In 1893, Reverend Richardson began the collection of photographs of the former rectors. And in 1894 Moses Brown gave a verbal report on the history of the bell of Queen Anne’s Chapel and the preservation, by subscription, of the graves of the founders of Queen Anne’s Chapel.

In 1895, after two years of persuasion by Reverend Richardson, the Vestry adopted the Envelope system for pledges. Also during this year Reverend Richardson discontinued the daily services.

In 1896, Reverend Richardson suggested that a plan be made of the churchyard with the location of all gravestones to be numbered and recorded for easy research. He also suggested that a book should be created containing the inscriptions of each gravestone. That this map and gravestone book be created with corresponding numbers thus facilitating research. This gravestone book and blue print of the churchyard were done by George Langdon and completed in 1900. Reverend Richardson also suggested that the historical records be placed in a trunk in the bank for safekeeping. At the Annual Meeting in April it was voted that the Annual Meeting be held each year in January. The Bishop Bass Centennial was celebrated May 28, 1897, in Boston in the morning and in Newburyport in the afternoon. Reverend Richardson had designed the elaborate white Altar Hangings that we now use at Christmas time. The ladies Guild did the embroidery for the Altar Hanging.

In 1897, Henry W. Moulton gave the stone doorstep from Reverend Matthias Plant’s home to St. Paul’s. The doorstep became a marker for the site of Queen Anne’s Chapel in Belleville Cemetery. James E. Whitney gave a portrait of Bishop Bass to St. Paul’s Church.

Reverend William C. Richardson resigned on April 21, 1897 at the Annual Meeting just prior to the Bass Centennial. He had no calling at that time so was hired by the vestry by the month to culminate in one year. He left on July 1, 1897.

In 1902, Reverend William Richardson became rector of St. James Church, Penn. He received his doctorate from the University of Penn. on February 22, 1906.

Reverend Arthur Henry Wright, 1899 – 1924

Reverend Arthur Henry Wright, Rector St. Paul's Church 1899 - 1924Reverend Arthur Wright became rector of St. Paul’s Church on March 1899. This ministry, spanning the first 25 years of the 20th century, was considered a wonderful ministry. A gift of the green Altar Hangings was given by Mrs. Donald McNulty, daughter of Reverend Wright, as a memorial for her parents. In 1900, the Anniversary of the laying of the corner stone of the second church was celebrated. Reverend Rufus Emery gave the address for this celebration. In 1901, St. Paul’s participated in the 50th Anniversary of the incorporation of Newburyport as a city. The Wardens of St. Paul’s served on the committee for the celebration.

In 1911, the church held a three day celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the parish. The Parish placed an Ionic Cross at the site of Queen Anne’s Chapel in Belleville Cemetery. The speeches given on this occasion were bound in a publication commemorating the occasion. The publication was titled Two Hundredth Anniversary St. Paul’s Church, Newburyport Mass., privately printed for St. Paul’s Church. Many people received complimentary editions of the book with a card from the Rector, Wardens, and Vestrymen of St. Paul’s Church, Newburyport.

From 1909 – 1913 Reverend Rufus Emery was elected to serve as an assistant to Reverend Wright. Hoopes succeeded him as assistant to Reverend Wright, also without salary. During the time of Reverend Wright there were twelve active societies including St. Anna’s and Christ Chapel Council. In 1905, the St. Monica Society became the Women’s Guild.

In 1900, Reverend Wright recommended that the church acquire for St. Paul’s Library the following books and publications:

  • Life & Times of Right Reverend Edward Bass
  • The Life of the Bishop, The Right Reverend Phillips Brooks
  • Sermons, by Reverend James Van Buren
  • Lectures on Church History
  • The Sermons on the Commandment
  • The Beatitude, by the Right Reverend Edward Washburn

He suggested that a sum of $300.00 would be sufficient to cover the cost of these books.

Reverend Wright believed in establishing funds for specific purposes for the betterment of the Sunday School and for a new Rectory. In 1918, the Rectory was realized because the sister of Reverend Emery gave a house at 266 High Street as a gift to St. Paul’s Church. The Emery sisters had purchased the house from the estate of their cousin Brainerd Emery. The Samuel and Mary Emery Fund with $5000.00 in it, established in 1902 for the purchase of a Rectory, was re-named the Rectory Fund. The Rectory Fund was to be used to maintain the Rectory at 266 High Street.

In 1904, the Emery Sister bought Christ Chapel for St. Paul’s Church. It was located on Merrimac Street in the North End. The Emery Sisters, with others, continued to support Christ Chapel throughout the ministry of Reverend Wright.

In 1905, the Emery Sister created a Land Acquirement Fund for the purpose of buying adjacent properties on Market and Summer Streets as they came on the market. In 1905, a piece of property on Market Street was purchased and in 1907/8 two pieces of property on Summer Street were purchased. Another house was purchased on Summer Street in 1921. This property was used as a Parish House after the fire in 1921.

In 1900, the Diary of the Reverend Matthias Plant was given as a gift to St. Paul’s by Mrs. Elisa Little.

In 1909, all the photographs of the rectors of St. Paul’s collected by Reverend William Richardson were made into prints. These prints were used in 1911 during the 200th Anniversary of St. Paul’s Church.

In April 1923, a Processional Cross was given in memory of Arthur Houston Wright, son of Reverend Arthur Wright by his mother, Mrs. Arthur Wright and his aunt Mrs. Susan Wright. Arthur Houston Wright had died in an airplane accident  of the epidemic of influenza during the war of 1918. The Processional Cross is still used today during services.  [ According to a personal note on 29-Sep-2012 from Susan Pardee Baker, whose mother was married to Arthur Houston Wright, he died of influenza rather than an aviation accident. ]

On April 4, 1920, the 1800 Church burned down. What followed were three hard years of rebuilding. On September 28, 1923, Reverend Wright felt that he must resign as of November 1, 1923 because he felt he was suffering from exhaustion. He was persuaded to take a year’s sabbatical. He returned late in September 1924 to carry on his work and on December 9, 1924 he died suddenly while working in his study in the Parish House.

 Posted by on Thu, 28-Oct-10  Add comments

  2 Responses to “Rectors of St. Paul’s”

  1. I was wondering why the list of rectors at St. Paul’s has not been expanded since 1924. At least a list and a picture of those who served the church since that date could be added.


    • Marge, you are right. This web page is supposedly about the rectors of the first two hundred years of St. Paul’s existence. But, that makes it 102 years out of date! An update is needed. I’ll check with Bronson.

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