Each missionary was expected keep a journal as well as to periodically write to his superiors in England. The letters sent back to England are now archived at the Methodist Missionary Society, who can now be reached at 25 Marylebone Road, London, England, NW1 5JR. I looked at microfilm copies housed at the United Church Archives in Toronto, Ontario under location number "87.225C".
Below I have transcribed excerpts of some of the letters written at Trinity. Occasionally a missionary would include in his letters excerpts from his journal, which today shows us a small glimpse of the information contained in these journals. From the letters I have read, it is clear that the Methodist missionaries were conducting baptisms, marriages, and burials... at a time when no registers of such events were being kept. The journal excepts which appear in the letters thus illustrate the wealth of information which exists in the journals, information not available elsewhere.
Unfortunately, the current location of many of these journals is unknown, assuming that they still even exist. Nevertheless, I would like to make a request of anybody who may be able to help... specifically, if anybody knows the whereabouts of ANY journals of Methodist missionaries once stationed in Newfoundland, please contact me.
For the curious, I've also made available biographical information on some of these missionaries.
Having said all that, let's get on with the excerpts. I've taken the liberty of doing minimal editting (mostly no more than fully stating dates and the addition of punctuation).
In this letter, Rev. Barr provides some excerpts from his journal, in which he describes a journey from St. John's to Trinity.
If affords me the greatest pleasure to learn from the various publications with which the Committee have [unclear, maybe furnished or forwarded] to me that the good cause of the Redeamer prospers so gloriously in the different parts of the world - that the instruction of the rising generation is preserved with so much zeal and [unclear] is truly pleasing. Experience has convinced us in this Island that it is difficult to do those good whose minds are narrowed through the want of education. When we have been conversing together over this subject it has often been said - well we [unclear] do all with them we can, but our best hope is principaly with the youth.
But how shall the youth be taught; except in St. Johns perhaps there are not half a dozen schools in the Island. To speak of this station, Trinity Bay may contain 6000 inhabitants distributed over a coast of 300 miles and except one small school where 10 or 12 children are taught I know of no regular school or teacher in the whole bay. The places are either too poor or small or careless to keep one. Even in Trinity which is the head of the bay and by far the richest and finest place in [unclear] a teacher tried to establish himself as a teacher but failed.
The only way in which it is practable to affect this end is by gratuitous teachers principaly on the Lords day. This plan has been adopted in this place and attended with the best effects. At present our school contains nearly a 100 children. Most of them can read in the Bible or New Testament. Most of them, particularly the girls, can read well.
My heart rejoices when I think that these dear children who otherwise must have ignorant of God and his word are taught the knowledge of both by means of this institution. The school meets twice on the Lords day and once on Thursday afternoon - We are well supplied with teachers a strange thing in this country - and tolerably with books. The Court House (through the kind permission of the magistrates) is our school room - where we are comfortable and have a fire in the winter. Most of the Sunday schools in this land are given up in the winter through the intensity of the cold. But ours has met through the whole of the winter. Indeed it speaks highly in favour of our [unclear] and particularly the two Ladies that teach the girls that the rough weather only interrupted their school on one Sunday and one Thursday during the whole winter.
On the whole our school does well and we may expect the most [unclear] effects to arise therefrom which will manifest themselves when those who now labour in the good cause are enjoying their reward in a better world.
You will see the state of this circuit in the minutes of our latest District Meeting - I have thought it right to give you some account of our school that you may see that we enter into your record as far as we can go according to our instructions.
I remain with respect, yours truly, Ninian Barr
In this letter, Rev. Barr documents the revelry which occurred at the end of October when many servants' contracts of service expired. Presumably such celebrations occurred each year, which may help to explain the many marriages recorded in the Trinity parish records during the months of October and November.
In this letter, Rev. Noall documents the burial of Mary Lucas of Trinity.
In this letter, Rev. Noall documents the death of Margaret Ivamy of English Harbour, aged 95.
This letter is a petition from residents of Trinity.
This letter is a petition from residents of English Harbour.
This lengthy letter documents some controversial charges levied against Rev. Wilson by other Methodist ministers.