The first missionary to Prince Edward Island was Francis Metherall. He was born in North Devon in December, 1791. In 1819, at the age of 28, he was converted to the newly organized Bible Christian faith, which had been begun four years earlier by James Throne and William O’Bryan. He joined the ministry in 1822, and was received into full connexion in 1825. During these first three years, and the years that followed, he served congregations on the Isles of Scilly, at Monmouth in Wales, on the Islands of Jersey and Guernsey, at Portsea in Hampshire and at Penzance in Cornwall. While on Guernsey he met and married Mary Langlois, sometimes called Mary Langley, 22 August, 1826.
At that time, Prince Edward Island was beginning to see immigration from England (until that time most of the immigration to the island had been by Scottish settlers) and many of these immigrants were from Devon and Cornwall. Ship builders from the coastal areas of these counties were after the timber of the island. Ships were constructed at the bays and harbours of PEI, then sailed home, unfinished. The craftsmen of Devon and Cornwall did the finish carpentry on the vessels and put them into service – carrying passengers out to PEI, and bringing home timber for further ship building.
In 1830, one of the inhabitants of PEI, Henry Abbott, sent a letter to the English Conference, asking for a Bible Christian preacher to be sent to the community, and in 1831 Francis Metherall accepted the position as missionary. With their two children, he and his wife set off on their journey, however, ten days into their voyage the shp sprung a leak and they returned to Plymouth. They did not undertake another voyage until the spring of 1832 when the ship Amethyst carried them to PEI.
Francis Metherall died June 9, 1875. During his years there, he served all across Prince Edward Island, beginning congregations in all three of the counties. He dealt with a great deal of hardship, as well as a great deal of satisfaction at a job well done.
To learn more about Rev. Metherall and other Ministers who worked on PEI, please see the book The Damascus Road.
The congregations and chapels
Prince Edward Island and her three counties
There were two circuits established in Kings County –Sturgeon and Murray Harbour
The chapels on this circuit were in the village of Sturgeon and at Montegue, just beyond the bridge. They were taken from other circuits in 1874 to make this new circuit.
There were seven meeting places on this circuit, not all meetings had their own chapel – Sturgeon (see above), Murray Harbour, Three Rivers, White Sands, Georgetown, Bay Fortune and St. Peters.
Queens County had five circuits – Charlottetown, Union, Vernon River, Wheatley River, New London
This was a circuit of one station, as it was in most large cities. Although there was only one chapel on Prince St, there was also a meeting place just outside the city at Bridgetown in Lot 35 (aka Grand River).
This circuit was formed from the old King’s Mission in 1850. Located in Lot 33, there were four stations…
Winsloe North, Winslow South, Rustico Road (possibly at Milton) and Union Road.
The parsonage for this circuit was located at Winsloe – a large house on a large lot 40 rods square.
This circuit had only two stations – Vernon River and Cherry Valley.
There were four stations on this circuit – Wheatley River, Princetown Road, Rustico Road and Hunter River. This circuit was formed in the 1870’s .
Although this was one of the areas early visited by Francis Metherall in his “drive” across the Island, it was not a long-lived chircuit, though it did last about 20 years. It is unlikely that chapels were erected at any of these places: Little York, Covehead Road, Mill River, South-west Bedeque and New London.
This county was the last of the three to see Bible Christian attention. It had two fairly extensive circuits –Summerside and West Cape.
This circuit had four stations: Summerside, Bideford, Northam and Travellers Rest.
Francis Metherall turned his attention to this area of Prince Edward Island in 1844. This is likely the longest of all the other circuits, with six stations on it – Cape Wolfe, Milburn, Bethel, West Devon, Knutsford, and Miminegash.
For further information about the Bible Christians on Prince Edward Island, please see these books:
If you have questions or comments, please contact Sher Leetooze.