The History & Founding Principles of the


Reformed Episcopal Church


Bishop Edward Cridge 1817 - 1913

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“Our Lord’s Church also known as The Church of Our Lord.”

 

John & Grace (nee Dyer) Cridge lived in North-Bratton Hamming, Fleming in Devonshire, England, and it was on a bright day on December 17th, 1817 that their son Edward was born. Grace Cridge who appeared to be frail creature of ill health, passed away while Edward was still a child. This left the raising and education to John Cridge, Edward’s father, who, after giving him what he could in basic education, then entered him in the schools of North and South Hilton grammar schools. Edward was a very promising and enterprising person and he persevered with his learning so that at the age of 19 he became the third master at the grammar school at Oundle in Northamptonshire holding this office for 6 years. He studied at St. Peter’ s College in Cambridge, his specialty being mathematics and in 1848 received his B.A. This was the year of the great Irish famine and Edward and others of a sympathetic nature took an active part in soliciting aid for those poor unfortunate souls in Ireland. Thus at an early age Edward shows his compassion and love for those in need. It was during that year he passed his theological examination at Cambridge and was ordained by the Bishop of Norwich as a deacon. From there he was appointed Curate of the church of North Walsam in Norfolk, and also became the second master of the school in that city. Edward was a musician of note having been trained to play the ‘cello and he was also one of the organizers of the Cambridge Musical Society, the others being Lord Kelvin, C. G. Coombs, W. Blow and A. A. Pollock His religious duties began to grow and because of his compassion and resolution in Christ, and in 1851 he was appointed to be in charge of Christ District Church at Walsam, London. His career as a minister began to blossom and God saw fit to place an opportunity before him of an opening in the colonial country of Canada.

 

As Bishop Cridge later recalls - “On Wednesday, August 30th, 1854, the Vicar of West Ham told me that the Chaplaincy of Vancouver’s Island was vacant and thought that if I applied I might very likely obtain it, for which purpose he would use his influence on my behalf: he wished me to give him some notion of my mind and matter before the evening as Captain Pelly who had informed him of the vacancy had also told him that the Hudson’s Bay Company wished to make the appointment immediately.” Charles Lillard Times Colonist August 21, 1993

 

Edward Cridge was 37 years of age when this offer came to him, and he was in the prime of his life and in excellent health. We can imagine the enthusiasm that this offer of Chaplaincy of Vancouver Island meant to Edward Cridge. His first thought was to contact his sweetheart, Mary Winmill, and convey the good news to her. Mary was the daughter of one George Winmill of Romford, Essex. As he rushes to her side to relate what has happened, he proposes marriage, and we can imagine his conversation as he says, “Mary my beloved, I come with the joy of God in my heart to relate to you the good news that has come our way. I have been offered the Chaplaincy of Vancouver Island in Canada. This is the most wonderful opportunity of a lifetime, to go to the colony of Canada and to work for Christ in the remote areas of the world. To become a missionary in the field, it is what I have dreamt about and the good Lord has seen fit to choose me for this position. Mary, you know that I love you with all my heart, but I will not accept this position without your support. You know that eventually we planned marriage, so I am proposing to you that we wed at once and prepare for the greatest adventure that God has placed before us. We have two weeks to gather our belongings together, set sail, have our honeymoon aboard ship, and arrive in a new land to do God’s work.” Mary it must be said loved Edward very much indeed, for she accepted his proposal of marriage, and his proposal for a new life together in foreign lands. She was aware that the long sea voyage could take up to a year to complete, yet with all this she gladly supported Edward in his decision, and her answer was a simple “Yes.” They are wed very quickly, perhaps by the vicar of West Ham, who seems to have used his influence to procure this position for Edward. It must be said that there were other clergy that could have filled the post offered, but the vicar of West Ham saw the great possibilities that were beginning to be awakened in Edward, and knew right away the Edward Cridge was the man for the job. This decision was borne out later on in Cridge’s life, when he began a hospital, a home for orphans and the start of the Y.W. C. A., and these incidents will be related in their proper place.

 

Edward and Mary only have a week to prepare for this adventure and prepare they did. The great adventure included sailing from England on the ship the “Marquis of Bute”, on the Atlantic Ocean, down past South America, around Cape Horn, into the Pacific ocean and through to Fort Victoria on Vancouver Island. The Panama Canal would come at a later date and would serve a purpose for such travelers, cutting their journey in half, but for Edward and Mary it was the long sea voyage. It would be only natural to assume that during this voyage Rev. Cridge would have taken the opportunity to minister to the people onboard in his capacity as chaplain and perform the necessary services that are usually held each Sunday and weekdays. Edward would never let an opportunity like this pass him by, and he always read his bible daily, keeping the word of God before him to sustain him and Mary on this voyage. After sailing on this sea going voyage, braving the winds, high waves, scorching sun of the tropics, and living in cramped quarters for 8 months, they finally arrive at Fort Victoria and are greeted by James Douglas himself. The day is April 1st, 1855. The beautiful natural and native scenery immediately captivates Edward and Mary. The lush greens of the forests, the abundance of wild flowers, the ocean with its sea life, all go to make this an enchanting paradise for them. Even though their feet are encased in the mud of Victoria, they see the beauty of God all around them and are ecstatic in their duty to God. They are ready to put up with anything, as they go about doing the work that they came to do, to save souls for Christ. James Douglas greets them and welcomes them to Fort Victoria, where they are to stay until circumstances prove them ready to expand their ministry to a permanent church, and until proper accommodation can be found for this newly married couple.

 

The living conditions at the fort are primitive compared to England, but this does not deter them. They make friends with James Douglas and other members of the fort, and James goes out of his way to make sure that they are comfortable in everyway possible. When James Douglas hears that Mary Cridge is anxious to have fresh milk for her tea, he requisitions milk from his own personal supply to provide for the comfort and ease of the Cridge’s. Apparently the cows that supply this fresh milk are still out to pasture, not having been brought in from their wintering, and so we see a side of James that is magnanimous in his character, and this will show up again and again in his life.

 

Writing years after his arrival, Bishop Cridge tells us: “I know not what the population of Victoria might be at that time, though I think two hundred would be the outside; the population of the whole Island being 600. You could, I think, count the houses on each side of the four principal streets, Government, Fort, Yates, Johnson, on the fingers of one hand. I remember three on James Bay side, to reach which, there being no bridge to connect with Government Street, you had to go round where the Church of Our Lord now stands.” Charles Lillard Times Colonist August 21, 1993

 

Two previous churchmen had filled the post of Chaplain at Fort Victoria unsatisfactorily. The first was Rev. Henry Beaver who was very quarrelsome and could not get along with anyone and complained bitterly about everything at Fort Vancouver and Victoria, and is eventually sent back to England. He undoubtedly gave bad reports about his experiences of this “primitive colony.” The next churchman is Rev. Robert Staines, and although not much is heard about him, he returns to England.

 

Unfortunately for the Rev. Mr. Staines he embarks upon a return journey to England, but the ship sinks and he amid other, drowns. Rev. Cridge becomes the third clergyman that the Hudson’s Bay company hires, and immediately the change in atmosphere in the fort is noticeable, for Rev. Cridge gets along with everyone, does not complain about their living quarters, and sets about to perform his services to the Glory of God and to make a firm foundation in Jesus Christ for the benefit of all concerned.

 

Reverend Cridge holds his first service in the Fort’s messroom April 8 1855, just eight days after his arrival (there being no jet lag from their traveling) and his first sermon was a “simple statement of the Gospel which I meant to preach – ‘Go ye into the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.’” Mark 16:15. This sermon was prophetic for Edward, for he made it his life’s work to preach, to teach and to save souls for Christ. Rev. Cridge also gave services on board ships that sailed into the harbour. Transportation during these early days was by way of “shanks pony”, which means everyone walked, or if one was fortunate to own a horse, you could ride. The streets were not paved, and when it rained, the trails turned into mud baths. It would be a few years down the road when suitable roadways would be built and transportation such as carriages would be offered.

 

The prominent men at the fort in those days were the Honorable John Sebastian Helmcken, who was then the HBC surgeon, and Senator Macdonald, who in 1851 were among the voyageurs in the “Tory.” It was the senator who at one time, paying a genuine tribute to the friendship that began and existed between Bishop Cridge and himself, exclaimed “the prelate was one of the best and conscientious man living, and that his life is altogether beautiful.” Thus is seen from this close friendship the beginning of trust in the person of Edward Cridge, who himself trusted in the good Lord.

 

Mary Cridge soon opens a Sunday school at the fort, which is immediately successful. Her manner was such that she was gentle but firm with her students that were entrusted to her care. The children loved and adored her and she also taught the Gospel with a firm conviction, that children who had been in her Sunday school classes always remembered her moral teachings from the Bible.

 

Rev. Cridge became a busy man at the fort and the surrounding district and was appointed Superintendent of Education and Inspector of Schools, a position that did not have any monitory stipend at that time, and in which office he continued to serve until 1865 when the post was taken over by Alfred Waddington, who was the first paid superintendent. Money was not the great concern of Edward, who firmly believed that the Lord would provide for His servants, and this attitude of trusting the Lord in all circumstances was to prove a great Blessing in later years.

 

“For over a year service was held at the Fort whose tall palisades, frowning bastions and sentinel at the gate, contrasted with, and even heightened the peaceful nature of the exercises of the assembly within in which newcomers were mingling with their praises with the devotions of the more early adventurers.” Cridge from the Colonist, May 5, 1855

 

A District church was completed in 1856 for the Rev. Edward Cridge on the site known as Church Hill, high above the town. Rev. Cridge names it Christ Church in memory of the parish church he worked in at West Ham, London. The architect was J. B. Pemberton and the builder William Leigh. It was a wooden frame building of the type erected according to the design of such churches in the colonies. It lasted for thirteen years when it succumbed to a fire in 1869. It was rebuilt in 1872.

 

During those early years, Rev. Cridge holds many services outside Christ Church, some held on board men of war ships anchored at Esquimalt and Craigflower, as has been told earlier, and also held services in Colwood, Esquimalt and Nanaimo. Remembering the transportation difficulties of these early days, it would be necessary to find some means of conveying him to these services, presumably by horse and buggy. In 1859 Edward accompanied a missionary, a Mr. Gammage of the Propagation Society, and these gentlemen traveled as far as Hope, from there by canoe to Yale, and then across the mountains on horseback to Lytton and Lillooet and home by way of Douglas. Edward taught and baptized as he went, spreading the Gospel to these far away communities, communities that would only rarely see a minister every few years, if then. Rev. Cridge had the distinction of being the only Protestant Minister in this part of the country during these early pioneer years.

 

 

The beginning of the Royal Hospital which we now know as the Royal Jubilee Hospital

 

In 1858 Dean Cridge found a very sick man (his name was later established as a Mr. Braithwaite), at the bottom of his garden lying on a mattress. When the Dean asked why the man was there, the sick man told him that he had been brought and left there by his friends. When Edward Cridge asked him why they had brought him to his garden, the sick person remarked “they thought that you were the proper man” and, says Dean Cridge “I suppose I was under the circumstances, and so we set to work the meet the case. A cottage was temporarily rented on the corner of Yates and Broad Street from a Mr. Blinkhorn and placed a Mr. W. S. Seely in charge as steward and Dr. Trimble as the medical officer in charge. Later as the hospital developed and grew, the good Bishop supported Dr. J. S. Helmcken as one of the Directors. This was the beginning of the Royal Hospital, the only other hospital on the coast being located in California at this time. The Royal Hospital was later moved to a wooden building on the Indian Reserve and later still to upper Pandora Street. Bishop Cridge was ever active in seeing that the hospital prospered, and it was he who organized a Sunday each year where the proceed would go to the upkeep of this necessary building for the sick and elderly.

 

The Protestants Orphan’s home now known as the Cridge Centre for the Family.

 

Mrs. Mary Cridge and Mrs. Senator Macdonald were the founders of the Protestant Orphan’s Home. During the gold rush days, there were many unfortunate ladies of the evening who gave birth to children, and then deserted them when they could not provide for them. These ladies of Christian Charity had compassion on these poor souls and found homes for them at first, then as the problem continued to grow, they rented a cottage and placed them in charge of a Miss Todd. In the course of time more and more children were found to be orphans in need of care and a larger building was rented on the corner of Blanchard (that is the spelling in the 1800’s) and Rae Streets. This became too small and another move was made, this time through the generosity of a member of Bishop Cridge’s congregation, a Mr. John G. Taylor who donated property and money to the tune of $30,000.00 for the present location. Bishop Cridge’s living example of Jesus Christ in his personal life, was a beacon of love to his congregation, who responded with thanks and blessings such as Mr. Taylor and many others.

 

The start of the Y.W.C.A.

 

Many ships were sailed from England with part of their cargo as young Christian ladies embarking upon a colonial life as domestics and perhaps being fortunate to marry one of the farmers or gentry in the community of Victoria. One of the first ships to arrive with such a blessed cargo also carried with it a disease of Scarlet Fever and unfortunately some of the young ladies succumbed and died. The touched the heart of Mrs. Harris, the wife of the first mayor of Victoria, and she together with Mrs. Senator Macdonald and Mrs. Mary Cridge organized a hostel for these young ladies so that they could be given the proper care and attention in sickness and to establish themselves in a manner becoming Christian Ladies. Thus was born in Victoria the beginning of the Young Women’s Christian Association. Bishop Cridge gave his wholehearted support on these projects, they were very dear to him, and were part of his ministry throughout his long, industrious and prosperous life.

 

The Secession

 

Anglicanism had trouble right from the 16th Century when the leadership of the Reformation saw themselves as reformers of Catholic Christianity and not revolutionaries. Since that time there have been many reformers that have had to deal with the ritualistic Catholicism of the Church of England. Bishop Cridge was familiar with the history of the troublesome Tractarians and their beliefs, and was also familiar with the Anglo-Catholic Movement of 1833. Suffice it to say the Bishop Cridge believed in the basic Christian doctrine found in the Bible, which he preached and taught constantly and with enthusiasm.

 

During the gold rush days, the population of Victoria took a surprising turn, mushrooming form 400 persons to 4,000 persons overnight. When Rev. Cridge saw the possibilities of ministering to this vast crowd of people that God had put before him, he asked for ministerial help. The powers in England saw an opportunity to increase their ministry by sending out a Bishop George Hills, who was not the missionary the Edward Cridge had asked for. However Rev. Cridge graciously worked with Bishop Hills in building up the congregation and expanding the mission work into all the outlying communities.

 

In 1872 at the opening of Christ Church Cathedral, Bishop George Hills had Rev. W. S. Reese preach the sermon. Rev. Reese advocated ritualistic practices that were abhorrent to Dean Cridge’s nature. So the Dean at the conclusion of the service, instead of announcing the closing Hymn, addressed the congregation and said, “that this is the first time since the church had been built, and he its minister, that such doctrines had been advocated, and with God’s help he would see that it was the last, as long as he was its minister.”

 

Bishop Hills immediately brought things to a head by asking for an apology, which Dean Cridge at first refused to do. Bishop Hills took Dean Cridge to Ecclesiastical Court and won his case, but not receiving the apology he asked for, then proceeded to take Dean Cridge to the Supreme Court, Judge Begbie presiding. Bishop Hills again won his case, and the result was that Dean Cridge was to lose his licence to preach. The proceedings of these trials took two years, at the end of which time Dean Cridge decided to leave the Christ Church Cathedral and begin his own church. Such was the love felt for Dean Cridge that 75% of the congregation of Christ church left and went with Dean Cridge, including the wardens and the vestry.

 

At a public meeting of all his supporters Dean Cridge on October 27, 1874, began to organize a new church. He had just recently heard of a new organization that was in keeping with his Christian Teachings, The Reformed Episcopal Church, started by Bishop Cummins, a branch of which had just been formed in Ottawa. The congregation enthusiastically decided that this was the way to go and applied for membership, with the understanding the Edward Cridge would be their minister. Two years later Edward Cridge was consecrated the Bishop of Canada and from the west cost from California to Alaska.

 

Sir James Douglas donated the land for the building of The Lord’s Church, which became in common usage The Church of Our Lord, and it was also Sir James that purchased and donated the Thomas Appelton organ for our church. This is the oldest organ on the North American Continent and is still in being played for all our servise.

 

Although Bishop Cummins and Bishop Cridge never met, they did correspond and found that their Christian Ideals were one and the same and their message was also the same one of Salvation.

 

Bishop Cridge was active all his life both physically and mentally until his death at the age of 96 and we can imagine his arrival before his Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, who welcomed him with those words “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”

 

 

All these were members of Reformed Episcopal Church, at its founding, having followed Dean Cridge when he left the Christ Church Cathedral in 1874


Name Number in family


Governor, Sir James Douglas 5
Judge Pemberton & family 4
Senator W.J. Macdonald & family 6
Judge Elliott “ “ 3
Chas. Haywood “ “ Contractor 6
Dr. J. S. Helmeken “ “ 5
Jos. D. Pemberton “ “ Surveyor General 6
H. Moffat, Captain “ “ Hudson Bay Co. 4
Capt. Mouat “ “ “ “ “ 5
B. W. Pearse “ “ Provincial Govt. 3
Capt. Devareux “ “ Drydock 4
Col. Rich. Wolfenden “ “ Queens Printer 4
Mrs. Dr. Nicholles “ ‘ 2
Mayor Harris “ “ 4
Dennis Harris “ “ Civil Engineer 3
J. J. Young “ “ Govt. Official 2
Capt. Swanson “ “ Hudson Bay Co. 2
Richard Carr “ “ Merchant 7John Flewin “ “ 3
Thos. Elwyn “ “ Govt. Official 2
T. N. Hibben “ “ Bookseller 6
Wm. Heathorn “ “ Merchant 5
Wm. P. Sayward “ “ Lumber Merchant 3
Alex. A. Green “ “ Banker 4
Richard Lewis “ “ Mayor 3
Digby Palmer “ “ Prof. Music 5
Capt. Wm. Mitchell “ “ Hudson Bay Co. 1
Mr. Mahood “ “ Surveyor 3
Alfred J. Langley “ “ Druggist 6
Cornelius Thorn “ “ 2
Mr. & Mrs. Thain “ “ 2
Madame Pettibeau 1
Thos. T. S. Allatt “ “ Contractor 6
Mrs. Carter Booth “ “ 2
Mrs. McTavish & family 3
Mrs. Nesbitt “ “ 4
Mr. & Mrs. R.W. Fawcett “ 6
Mr. & Mrs. E. Fawcett “ “ 2
Mdm. & Mdlles Hartnagle “ Hotelkeeper 3
Jno. Crowther “ “ 3
Name Number in family
Mr. & Mrs. Andaun and family 2
Cornelius Thorn “ “ 2
Henry Thain Mrs. 1
Robt. Jenkinson “ “ Contractor 5

Mrs. Fanny 1

R. Maynard “ “ Photographer 2

Wm. Leigh “ “ Town Clerk 4

J. I. Kennedy 1

Mrs. Blinkhorn 1

Capt. Ella “ “ 5

J. H. Carmichael “ “ 5

Jno. Dutnall 1

E. Dickinson “ “ 4

Hon. Allen Francis “ “ U.S. Consul 3

Wm. Newbury “ “ 7

Mrs. Couves “ “ 2

Coote Chambers “ “ 3

Peter Lester “ “ & Booths 4

Gac. Morison “ “ Druggist 3

I. Engelhardt “ “ Agent 5

Geo. Frye “ “ Customs 4

D. W. Higgins “ “ Editor 5

Samuel Nesbitt “ “ 4

T. Nicholson “ “ 3

Capt. & Mrs. Lewis “ “ Hudson Bay Co. 2

Capt. & Mrs. Moffatt “ “ “ “ “ 2

R. Offerhaus “ “ 2

Stephen Jones “ “ Hotelkeeper 3

Thomas L. Fawcett 1

 

Total 252