From the Archives: Lambeth Conference, 1948

 

By Mary Klein, archivist

As Bishop Noble Powell made plans to attend the Lambeth Conference of 1948, the Standing Committee of the diocese surprised him with the announcement that a fund to send not only the bishop, but his wife to England had been established. Mary Rustin Powell accompanied her husband aboard the U.S.S. America, leaving New York on June 23 and departing from England on August 13. After the trip Mrs. Powell wrote the ladies of her home parish, Emmanuel Church, Baltimore, who had contributed generously to the purse making her adventure possible. That letter was published in the Maryland Churchman so that all you had contributed to the purse could glimpse the exciting journey. Following are excerpts from Mary Powell’s reminiscences of her nearly two-month sojourn abroad. Among the notable events shipboard, she wrote, “Those were six wonderful days enjoyed to the full, especially by me, perhaps, for never in the 24 years since I’ve been married have I known just where I could find my husband.”

Remarking on the scarcity of food and consumer goods in England, even three years after the end of World War II, Mrs. Powell noted, “I don’t understand how they can be so cheerful eating such rations year after year. In fact, we Americans are spoiled in every way. I can think of nothing I would rather do than send everyone I met a nice box of food and clothes.” The sight of the ruins in London touched her deeply, and at her first sight of Canterbury she observed, “I walked under the beautiful Cloister Gate, and as we climbed the steps I noticed some snapdragons growing out of ruins. There was no earth to be seen, just the stone; yet flowers were growing. I couldn’t help feeling it was typical of the British spirit – flowers growing out of ruins.”

Thrilled by the Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, Mary Powell made some observations, “The Princess Margaret came our way. She is quite small and lovely looking in a pretty robin’s egg blue taffeta suit, hat and shoes to match. The Shah of Iran was there with his retinue; several Indian potentates with their lovely wives exquisitely dressed – their clothes floated around them. Probably the most interesting people were the former Prime Minister and Mrs. Churchill. He was jolly and gallant to everyone – seemed to know everyone and never stopped smoking his cigar. When they left everyone cheered, and I wondered if Mr. Atlee were around and what his feelings were.”

In closing to her friends at Emmanuel and throughout the diocese, the bishop’s wife wrote, “And so my trip abroad is over, but the memory of it will always remain, and with it my gratitude for your generosity in making it possible. Thank you again for these thrilling weeks.”

The Protestant Episcopal Brotherhood, Diocese of Maryland, 1851-1966

By Mary Klein, diocesan archivist

The Protestant Episcopal Brotherhood was “an organization of churchmen founded for benevolent purposes” in 1851. In the preamble it is stated that their purpose was to “associate ourselves for the purpose of mutual benefit in times of sickness and distress, for the promotion of Christian fellowship and love, and for the dispensation of temporal and spiritual aid and comfort to all who are in need of sympathy.” Those who were eligible included “every clergyman of the Church, a resident of the Diocese of Maryland, and every layman, baptized or confirmed, or a communicant in the Protestant Episcopal Church, if a resident of the Diocese of Maryland…” The dues were steep: three to five dollars to join, depending upon age, and two dollars every quarter. In return, a member who could not work received $5 dollars a week disability for the first 13 weeks, $3 per week for the next 13 weeks, and $2 per week for the remainder of his illness. (One man’s benefits went on for 179 weeks!) There was also a payment of $100 toward funeral expenses, as well as a $20 payment upon the death of a wife. A Widows’ and Orphans’ Fund also existed, as well as a Charity Fund.

In a day when unemployment insurance was unheard-of and unions were not prevalent in Maryland, a mutual benefit association which would provide some assistance while a man could not earn a living, was a God-send. Destitution could haunt a family quickly if the bread-winner were incapacitated; so the safety net provided by the Brotherhood, the vast majority of whom lived in Baltimore, probably spared many families the horrors of poverty.

The membership application form asked several interesting questions: “Are you temperate in all your habits?”, “Will you endeavor to increase the membership for the Brotherhood and promulgate its interests?”, “Are you able to earn a livelihood?”. The rector of the applicant’s parish had to be named and three Brothers had to recommend the applicant. There was also a medical examination required, a printed form appearing in about 1900. A physician examined the applicant and reported on his height, weight, heart and lungs. An interesting question was, “Are you ruptured, and if so, will you wear a truss?” That must have been a big problem, if it showed up on a medical exam form! The applicants were all men, at least 18 years of age, and looking at the height and weight figures is interesting to us a century later. The forms from 1903 until 1907 indicate that height ranged from 5’ 4 ½ “ to 5’ 11”, and the weight from 110 pounds (on a man 5’8”) to 156 pounds on a man 5’7”.  Ages of the men applying ranged from 18-42, and most were shorter than today’s man and much lighter in weight, the average height being 5’8” and weight 134 pounds. Diets and work habits apparently make a huge difference in determining weight and height.

Occupations of applicants are also interesting to study. Of course there were clergy, as well as bookkeepers, students, salesmen and real estate brokers, but the vast majority seemed to clerks.

The prevalence of corner stores meant lots of clerks were needed. There was also a Supreme Court bailiff, a music teacher, a proofreader, a draughtsman, and a boilermaker. Machinist’s helpers, apprentices, telephone operators, attorneys, and stonecutters also applied; as did a car repairer, a confectioner, a post office clerk, a dentist, a stenographer, a paperhanger and a sexton. Merchants, bank clerks, laborers, as well as a moulder, a “general collector” and a glassmaker round out the occupation list. The list itself gives us a glimpse into the social structure of turn-of –the-century Baltimore, as well as the job market.

Receiving sick benefits didn’t happen just as a matter of course. A member on the Relief Committee paid the sick Brother a visit to verify that he was ill and deserved the payment. A physician also had to send a note to the Brotherhood stating that the member was under his care and was unable to perform the duties for the carrying out of his occupation. In about 1900 a standard form was available for the application for sick benefits, requiring the physician to determine if the illness or injury was “caused by intemperance or any immoral conduct.” Diagnoses may appear strange to modern ears.  Nervous prostration, lumbago, sciatica, acute mental aberration, pleurisy, malaria and typhoid were all reported. Injuries included being fallen upon by a sleigh, sprained ankles, poisoning, broken ribs, mashed hands, dislocated hips, broken wrists, puncture wounds, and run-away horse accidents. Rheumatism and pneumonia were common, as were stomach troubles, tonsillitis, and bronchitis. “La grippe” was reported often; we know it today as the flu. One man was diagnosed with “locomotor ataxia” and nervous exhaustion and was later confined to a mental institution.

During the years 1891 to 1903, one Maryland clergyman received benefits often. Born in 1835, aging and apparently prone to accidents. He was 66 years old in 1901 when he filed a claim saying that he was prevented from performing his usual duties because he had been injured by a run-away horse. In 1902 he was injured again (this time the cause was not given), and in 1903 he was diagnosed with “printer’s arm”, whatever that might be. He also filed claims in 1891, 1892, 1894, and 1895.

Another clergyman seemed to have been plagued with nervous disorders, as well as other problems. Although he left the diocese in 1886, he continued to belong to the Brotherhood, pay his dues, and receive sick benefits. In 1892 he was diagnosed with “herpes zoster”, what we call shingles; in 1893 his sleigh fell on him, causing several weeks of disability, and in 1895 he was diagnosed with malaria. Advent and Christmas must have been overwhelming for him, because the doctor’s report filed on December 25, 1901 said that he had a breakdown caused by overwork and nervous prostration. This diagnosis was repeated in 1902, and he died December, 1902 at the age of 60.

Modern insurance possibilities made inroads into the Protestant Episcopal Brotherhood’s stance as the sole help of many disabled workers in the Diocese, and the Brotherhood dissolved in 1966. There were forty members remaining and each received $200.00 at the dissolution. The Brotherhood’s resources of over $10,000.00 were turned over to the Diocese, thus bringing to an end a century-old experiment in relief, disability insurance and fellowship.

Baltimore Hosts General Convention, 1808

By Mary Klein, diocesan archivist

Meeting from May 17-26, 1808, twenty-seven clerical and lay deputies, representing seven states, convened at St. Paul’s Church in Baltimore for the seventh General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church. Only two bishops attended: William White of Pennsylvania, who was the Presiding Bishop, and Thomas Claggett of Maryland. Bishop Benjamin Moore of New York, The Rt. Rev. Samuel Jarvis of Connecticut (who had also failed to attend the 1799 Convention) and Bishop James Madison of Virginia did not attend and the other dioceses – New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, and South Carolina were without bishops.

Since there were only two bishops comprising the House of Bishops, the Rev. Joseph Bend, rector of St. Paul’s Parish, offered the bishops St. Paul’s rectory as “the place of meeting during the sitting of the Convention”. Each day, the bishops met at the rectory and worshipped with the clerical and lay deputies at the parish church; evening services were held at St. Peter’s Church since St. Paul’s was “not fitted for service by candle-light”. The Rt. Rev. Samuel Parker of Massachusetts had been scheduled to preach at the opening service, but, having died only three months after his consecration in 1804, Bishop White agreed to take his place as preacher.

 

 

 

 

The Convention passed legislation adding thirty hymns to those contained in the Prayer Book, as well as legislation mandating that “Ministers of this Church ought not to perform the funeral service in the case of any person who shall give or accept a challenge to a duel”, which was passed four years after the famous duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton was buried at Trinity Church, Wall Street, and the funeral was conducted by Bishop Benjamin Moore of New York, who served as rector of Trinity, as well as being bishop. A resolution that clergy could not unite in matrimony any divorced person, unless the divorce was on account of adultery was also passed. The House of Bishops sent a note of thanks to the Rev. Dr. Bend, “for the accommodations which they have received in the use of his parlour, and in other attentions, during the Session of the Convention.”

General Convention would not meet in Baltimore again until 1871, then again in 1892.

Bishop Whittingham in Europe 1834

By Mary Klein, diocesan archivist

Maryland’s fourth bishop, William R. Whittingham, became rector of St. Luke’s Church, New York City, on October 1, 1831, at the age of 26. He had married Hannah Harrison the previous year, and his son Edward was six months old when he moved into the rectory. The Whittingham’s first daughter Mary came along just a year later, and the new rector was busy editing six volumes of standard written works of Christianity, as well as his duties as rector. Unwell with lung and throat ailments which would dog him throughout his life, Whittingham took his wife and small children to Orange, New Jersey, Hannah’s home, to rest and recover in April of 1834. On son Edward’s third birthday, April 22, 1834, Whittingham’s little daughter Mary died, leaving Whittingham despondent and more ill. The Sunday after her burial, two members of St. Luke’s vestry approached their rector with news from his physician, saying that he must stop all work or die of consumption, the old term for tuberculosis. After consulting a specialist who diagnosed Whittingham with chronic bronchitis which would deteriorate into consumption if he did not stop all work immediately and take months in a warm, dry climate, Whittingham resigned St. Luke’s. The vestry generously promised him his full salary through July, and $400 annually for two years, as well as $500 for expenses for the journey. That day, Whittingham saw an advertisement for a vessel ready to sail for Gibraltar, contacted his brother-in-law John van Ingen to secure his services as assistant and companion, and made arrangements to leave immediately. The brig, “William Tell” left New York on May 31, with Whittingham and van Ingen aboard; they would not return for fifteen months.

While in Sicily, Whittingham received word that his wife had given birth to a daughter, whom they named Mary, in loving memory of their first dear girl, and his dark sadness began to abate. On his return to New York, he was no longer broken down by ill health, overwork and personal tragedy, but energized and ready to resume work. He became professor of ecclesiastical history at his alma mater, General Seminary, and four years later was elected Bishop of Maryland, where he would serve the next forty years.

 

Excerpt from a letter written June 27, 1834 by Captain James Riley of the William Tell

 “Mr. Whittingham had a tough spell of seasickness for nearly ten days which thoroughly emptied his stomach, he soon gained an appetite and his old disorders of soreness of the throat and pain in the side seemed very much to abate, while his general health improved most astonishingly. He is truly a man of great talents, fine education and liberal mind, cheerful in his temperament, unassuming, conciliatory, possessing of all the requisites of a great and good man, as the foundation was laid in common sense and a vigorous and powerful mind. Such a man would do honor to any situation and I look forward with an eye of faith when he will return to his home in health and fine spirits – and become an ornament to the profession he has chosen and be raised to the highest point of honor and usefulness by his merits, and that I may live to see him a bishop.”

The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland and the African Republic of Maryland

By Mary Klein, diocesan archivist

On November 5, 1843, the Rt. Rev. William R. Whittingham confirmed nine people at St. James’ (First African) Church in Baltimore (now St. James’ Church, Lafayette Square). Always a meticulous record-keeper, the bishop noted in his book of confirmations “All late of Trinity Parish, Charles County, but about to sail for the Maryland Colony, Africa; being manumitted servants of the Rev. Henry B. Goodwin, by whom they have been prepared and are recommended for confirmation.” Read more