JOHN, BY DIVINE PERMISSION
THE MOST REVEREND
— JOHN MEDLEY D.D. —
First Bishop of Fredericton (1845-1892)
Metropolitan of Canada (1879-1892)
It was on St. Barnabas' Day, June 11, 1845, that John Medley was enthroned as the first bishop of the newly erected Diocese of Fredericton in the old parish church at Fredericton, which stood close by the present Cathedral. He had been consecrated on May 4 at Lambeth under Letters Patent of Queen Victoria (which designated Fredericton as the seat of the diocese, thereby making it a city) by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Bishops of London, Lincoln, Rochester, Hereford and Lichfield. By the time of his death in 1892, Medley's mark was to be clearly and indelibly stamped on the Church in his diocese—visibly in terms of wood and stone, and less tangibly in countless other ways, not least of which is the high esteem in which the lay people of the diocese have traditionally held their bishop. The late Miss Margaret Wilkinson, the daughter of a priest ordained by Medley, was to claim that the three great powers of her childhood years were God, Queen Victoria and Bishop Medley—and she was uncertain of the order!
Born in London, December 19, 1804, and left fatherless at a very early age, John Medley was raised by his mother, a woman of high principles—benevolent, devout, and a firm disciplinarian. From his earliest years, she directed him towards the ordained ministry; young John's earliest memory was that of "...preaching the Revelation from an upturned chair, with his pinafore turned back to front as a surplice". His daily lessons were from the Bible; at four he began to learn the Psalms and at six knew the 119th Psalm by heart and had begun Latin; at ten he began Greek and at twelve, Hebrew. Confirmed at fourteen, he immediately became a Sunday school teacher and at nineteen entered Wadham College, Oxford, graduating with honours in 1826. He was ordained deacon in 1828 and made priest the year following. He served as curate of Southleigh, Devon, 1828-31; incumbent of St. John's, Truro, 1831-38; vicar of St. Thomas', Exeter, and Prebendary of Exeter Cathedral from 1838 to his nomination as bishop in 1845.
John Medley was twice married—first to Christina Bacon (a relative of the first missionary at Chatham, the Rev. Samuel Bacon), by whom he had five sons and two daughters. In later life he married Margaret Hudson of Exeter, who survived him; she was to be lovingly remembered in Fredericton, and St. Margaret's Church there is said to be named in her honour. Two of his sons were to serve in the diocese—the Rev. Edward S. Medley, rector of St. Stephen; and the Rev. Charles S. Medley, for many years rector of Sussex and Secretary of the Diocesan Synod. A third son, the Rev. John Bacon Medley served for a short time at the Cathedral before taking a parish in England.
Unusual sorrow and difficulty befell the Medley family in the years immediately before their coming to New Brunswick. In 1839, a son died, and two years later Medley's wife Christina fell victim to tuberculosis, leaving six children, one only a year old; then, in 1843 his eldest daughter, Emma, who had taken charge of the household, died of scarlet fever. The next year his mother was killed by his side in a carriage accident, in which Medley himself was so severely injured that only his determined opposition prevented the doctor from amputating his left arm.
It was on top of this family distress and anxiety that the letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury came offering Prebendary Medley the newly separated Diocese of Fredericton. Medley apparently never knew who had recommended him for the post, although it seems likely that his friends Coleridge and Gladstone, both treasurers of the Colonial Bishoprics Fund, may well have put his name forward.
The fact that Medley served in the Diocese of Exeter is highly significant. Henry Philpotts, the bishop from 1829 was virtually the sole episcopal champion of the Oxford or Tractarian Movement, which was to have such a tremendous impact upon the future of Anglicanism. Exeter was something a haven for clergy who accepted the "high Church" teaching of the Tractarians, and John Medley was one of these. Though far from the centre of action, he was very much involved in the work of the Oxford Reformers. Through the famous Coleridge family of Ottery St. Mary, near Exeter, Medley was personally acquainted with both W.E. Gladstone, lie future prime minister of Great Britain and lay champion of the Oxford Movement, and John Keble, its saintly founder. Keble was later to express a desire "to do some little for dear Medley", while to Gladstone, Medley's was "the wisest head I hat wore a mitre". To one of the early Tractarian projects, the publication of "A Library of the Fathers", Medley contributed part of the translation of St. John Chrysostom's Homilies on the First Epistle to the Corinthians.
Medley's theological views were unquestionably typical of the high churchmanship associated with the Tractarians. The Church was, for him:
...a supernatural society, essentially independent of the State, calling men to a transcendant holiness, proclaiming a divine message in its doctrine, and ministering divine grace in its sacraments, acting by the authority of Christ Himself, visibly mediated to its ministers through the apostolic succession of its bishops.
"At the celebration of the Holy Eucharist", he wrote to an English clergyman, "I worship and adore Christ—God and man—then and there really and objectively present in this Holy Mystery, and offering to me His very Body and Blood for my spiritual food." But with this high view of Church and Sacraments was coupled a clear understanding of the inclusive nature of Anglicanism which enabled Medley to treat those who disagreed with him with a charity often lacking in their attitude towards him. In 1868, he was to tell his clergy:
...whether a man be called Low churchman, or Ritualist, there is comprehensiveness enough in our church to embrace him, and there ought to be charity enough to make use of his zeal and piety, though, as to the means he makes use of to promote the glory of God and the salvation of souls, our conclusions may widely differ.
Certainly Medley had put his own precept into practice in accepting aid from the strongly evangelical Colonial and Continental Church Society, ordaining a number of candidates sponsored by that group. Among them was W.N. Boyer who ministered at "The Bend", as Moncton was then known from 1849 to 1872. Another "Col and Con" man who served in the diocese was James Paterson Sheraton, later to become first principal of Wycliffe College, Toronto. Medley's generous attitude extended to the Roman Catholic Church on the one hand, and the Protestant denominations on the other. "God forbid", he said in an 1883 address to the Provincial Synod of Canada, "that I should presume to undervalue piety wherever it is to be found, or refuse to recognize—thankfully to recognize—the glorious fruits of the Holy Spirit of God."
In no way can Medley be accused of being a hidebound traditionalist, unwilling to accept any change. At the 1873 diocesan synod, he declared:
If the Church is to make progress, and to show such signs of life as to make it worthwhile for any person outside her communion to join her, she must meet the want of the present generation, not by proclaiming stereotyped formulas and negative propositions, but by presenting all Scriptural and Catholic truth in its purity to the minds of the young, in a way that can interest and attract them, and by occasionally resorting to a new form in order to deepen the truth enshrined
in the old.
It follows from Medley's high view of the Church that, unlike the people of the Loyalist colony in which he was to serve, he was not a staunch advocate of establishment as such.He complained that, in the colonies, the theory of establishment had been "...carried just so far as to put into places of honour those who held it... But had efforts been Width in the early days to provide the episcopate in each colony, great benefits might have accrued, both to Church and state. On the eve of his leaving England for New Brunswick, the new bishop declared his intention "...not to look to his connection with the state, so much as to the spiritual power and authority given him by the Lord Jesus". This attitude was to govern his entire ministry in New Brunswick. In his early years, some vestiges of establishment remained, including a seat for the bishop on the Legislative Council. These gradually disappeared, and, in 1868, Medley could state that "...the legislature deals with us on exactly the same footing as with ill of her religious bodies".
Despite his lofty view of the office of a bishop in the Church of God, Medley's lifestyle was humble and simple to the end of his days. "He has", said an observer in 1849, "no palace, but lives in a very plain way in a rented cottage...". He was never impressed with his own importance. Archdeacon W.O. Raymond tells the story of a woman autograph hunter approaching him on a voyage to England. The signature, "John Fredericton" did not satisfy her, and she insisted that he must put beneath it what he was. Medley wrote: "A miserable sinner". An example of the keen sense of humour which enabled him to tell stories, often at his own expense, concerns a visit to Albert county. Approaching a farmhouse to enquire whether there were "any Episcopalians" (as Anglicans were often called in nineteenth century New Brunswick) in the area, he was told by the lady of the house, "I don't know, but the boys killed something out under the barn the other day." He could at times be stern. Archbishop Carrington relates this delightful story of Medley's later years:
One night [the Bishop] landed, cold and weary, at Campobello Island. The lady of the house where he took refuge saw his condition, and put a hot-water bottle in his bed; but it was a new invention then, and the Bishop received a shock when he encountered it. He came to the conclusion that the small boy of the house had played a trick on him, and next day scolded him severely. The boy's name was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and I heard the story from him personally.
A worse time than May of 1845 for the arrival in the Loyalist Province of a bishop holding Medley's views could scarcely be imagined. The worst fears of the opponents of the Tractarian Movement had just been confirmed by the defection of its best known spokesman, John Henry Newman, to the Roman Catholic Church. One parish had already decided that, in petitioning for a clergyman, the new bishop should he asked "...to preserve the service of our Church pure and free from the doctrine and practices of that party commonly designated Puseyites". (Apart from Newman, Dr. E.B. Pusey was the most prominent leader of the Tractarians.) Nonetheless, there were some in New Brunswick who were prepared to wait and see. The editor of The Courier was suitably impressed by Medley's "dignified yet courteous manner" and his "spiritual and apostolical discourses", expressing the conviction that "...those who are immediately interested are ready to accompany him, heart and hand, in a career of usefulness, co-extensive with the bounds of his newly-erected diocese."
Immediately after his arrival, Medley plunged himself into the work of the new diocese, beginning a visitation tour in August which took him to almost every area of the province. He confirmed 795 candidates, consecrated four churches, and ordained three priests and one deacon: James Neales, the progenitor of a clerical family outstanding in diocesan history, Thomas Magee, and E.J. Roberts, and William Quintard Ketchum, long rector of St. Andrews and Medley's biographer. He also arranged the placing of clergy in several parishes. These extensive annual tours, through which he became a familiar and beloved figure, were his most effective weapon in overcoming the adverse criticism which abounded in the popular press. In 1847 Medley held the first of his Triennial Visitations of the Clergy at which he delivered his charges. These documents were commended by the Rev. E.C. Woolcombe of Balliol College, Oxford, for "...their weighty teaching, at once so primitive and so peculiarly suited to our own needs...". At that first Visitation, Medley subdivided the diocese into seven deaneries; rural deans were elected by the clergy, and their appointment confirmed by the bishop.
Much of the early opposition to Medley centred around the building of the Cathedral—a project which he had initiated even before his consecration. His interest in ecclesiastical architecture had manifested itself long before in restoration and building projects in his English parishes.
Medley's work there was noted with approval by The Ecclesiologist, the publication of Cambridge Camden Society, a group which promoted the architecture of the Gothic Revival the only type of architecture considered genuinely Christian by the Tractarians. In its first number, The Ecclesiologist had given its blessing to Medley's tract, Elementary Remarks on Church Architecture. His relationship to the Camden Society is unclear, but he had been instrumental in the organization of the Exeter Diocesan Architectural Society, which The Ecclesiologist recognized as "our sister society". On a visit to England in 1848, the Bishop of Fredericton was the speaker at the anniversary meeting of he Ecclesiological Society (the name later adopted by the Camden group). Certainly he subscribed wholeheartedly to its principles, modifying the plans for his cathedral as it suggested, and employing its favoured architect, William Butterfield, to complete the designs. Medley was, beyond question, one of the leading exponents of the Gothic Revival nn the North American continent. Indeed, Douglas Richardson, in his thesis on the architecture of Christ Church Cathedral, argues convincingly that Medley deserves credit for he introduction of the purer phase of the Gothic Revival to this continent; he brought to Fredericton Frank Wills, the brilliant and influential young architect, who was to design some thirty churches in Canada and the United States, the last of which was Christ Church Cathedral, Montreal. Medley had brought with him to New Brunswick Wills' designs for his Cathedral Church, based on St. Mary's, Snettisham, a church he had visited in Norfolk, to which he sent "an architect [Wills] to make a plan of the mouldings"
Many in New Brunswick regarded the proposed Cathedral as an unjustifiable extravagance but, for Medley, it was an integral part of the missionary task he had undertaken. As one writer of the period expressed it:
The course of proceeding adopted for the conversion of any new district...was the mission of a bishop and his clergy, the erection of the See and the building of a Cathedral. This was not the result, but the means of conversion. It was the first aggressive effort upon any new territory which was to be subsequently subdued for the Kingdom of Christ.
Thus, the bishop had a base from which to work, a Mother Church which would influence the whole of his diocese.
Immediately on his arrival, the new bishop proceeded with his grand design. At a public meeting in Fredericton, some £3100 was subscribed, and this, added to a sum of more than £1500 presented to Medley before his departure from England, enabled him to go ahead. Support from other areas of the diocese was negligible; Saint John was particularly hostile, greatly displeased that Fredericton had been chosen as the seat of the new diocese. The corner stone was laid on October 15, 1845, and work continued for eight years with various delays mainly due to lack of funds. A well-known story concerns the arrival from England of a gift of £500 from an unknown donor, identified only as "F.S.M.", which enabled the resumption of work, after the bishop had spent a night in prayer in the unfinished cathedral. The first stone laid after this dramatic answer to Medley's prayers bore the initials of the unknown donor. It must have been a major disappointment to the bishop that problems with the foundations (coupled with necessary financial restraint) forced the replacement of the originally contemplated twin transept towers with a single central tower, whose spire had to be shortened for the same reason. At the restoration of the Cathedral after a disastrous fire in 1911, the foundations were strengthened a new spire erected according to the original design. Finally completed with tower, sanctuary and furnishings designed by William Butterfield, the Cathedral was consecrated nil August 31, 1853 in the presence of most of the bishops in British North America, and a number of guests from the United States, with whom Medley had established (and was to maintain) close relations. On that day the bishop wrote in The Annals of the Diocese of Fredericton: "All praise be to God who has enabled me, amidst many difficulties and much opposition, to finish it. May the Lord pardon all that is amiss, and make it his holy dwelling plat a forever. Amen."
Christ Church Cathedral, and St. Anne's Chapel, which Medley had built as a chapel of ease (with free seats) to the old parish church, and which was to serve as the parish church of Fredericton for more than a century after the completion of the Cathedral, set the pattern for church buildings in New Brunswick. Well designed wooden Gothic buildings, most of them built in the 1860's and 70's became the rule, many of them replacing older Georgian buildings, which Medley quite unjustifiably decried as "borrowed from the Puritans". Medley was not above making a joke at the expense of those who were convinced "...that popery peeps out upon you from a decently proportioned lancet window", and is quoted by the Rev. Henry Christmas in his 1849 pubhcation, The Emigrant Churchman:
If people forgetting even the simple fact of the utility of a roof of high elevation in keeping off the snow, must needs imagine that a pointed style in architecture connected itself of necessity with Romish and other heresies, then, according to the judgment of such persons, the flatter the ceiling the greater must be the proportional amount of orthodoxy, and a heathen temple must be the most indubitably orthodox of all ecclesiastical buildings whatsoever.
Much of the credit for the development of wooden Gothic in New Brunswick must go the bishop's son, the Rev. Edward S. Medley, who had trained as an architect under Butterfield. Among the smaller churches he designed are All Saints', McKeen's Corner in the parish of Bright, and St. Mary the Virgin at New Maryland. His outstanding achievement was Christ Church, St. Stephen, which has been described as "...one of the most interesting and successful...attempts...to adapt the construction and decoration of framed buildings to the form of Gothic Architecture". He also designed the lovely church at Apohoqui, and his influence is obvious in Trinity Church, Sussex, both of which were built by his brother, the Rev. Charles S. Medley.
The worship of the new Cathedral, conducted with emphasis on reverence, proper following of the rubrics, and good music, gradually became the generally accepted standard of the diocese. Medley's interest in, and important contributions to, church music in the composition of anthems, hymn tunes and chants, is now coming to a new appreciation. This was underscored by the use of Medley's music at the 1994 closing service of the Diocesan School of Church Music at Trinity Church, Saint John, and in the recording made by the school as a Sesquicentennial project. Dr. Willis Noble's commentary on the music used at that service describes Bishop Medley as "...undoubtedly the most prolific and talented anthem composer of post-confederation 19th century Canada". With this assessment Medley's contemporaries would enthusiastically agree. Lt. Col. Alexander Ewing, composer of the tune for "Jerusalem the golden", who was involved with the music of the Cathedral when he was stationed in Fredericton in the late 1860's, was of the opinion "...that it would have been difficult to meet with a better service out of England", where he had "...heard many worse...in places of considerable pretension". The introduction of a Diocesan Hymnal in 1855, later replaced by Hymns Ancient and Modern, provided relief from the metrical psalms of Tate and Brady. The influence of the Cathedral's worship was carried into the parishes by the younger clergy, most of whom were trained in Fredericton, taking classes at the university, supplemented by a weekly period of instruction from the bishop. It was, therefore, only a matter of timee until the views and practices of Bishop Medley made their way in the province.
Medley's influence was to extend to the cultural and lierary life of the city of Fredericton and beyond. Professor Malcolm Ross argues convincingly that it was his Tractarian emphasis on "the holiness of beauty" which overcame the Puritan distrust of the senses with its consequent separation of grace from nature, the sacred from the profane—a mindset the Loyalists had brought with them from New England, and made possible the flowering of the Fredericton School of Poets. Sir George Parkin, mentor of the group, deeply involved In the life of the cathedral, was greatly affected by "...the character and influence of the Bishop." Charles G.D. and Theodore Goodridge Roberts were the sons of the rector of Fredericton, Canon George Goodridge Roberts, and their cousin Bliss Carman and a good many of Parkin's students at the Collegiate school in Fredericton, were members of the congregations of the Cathedral or St. Anne's.
For a good many years, however, the bishop faced criticism and obloquy. Medley's refusal to consecrate any new church in which the seats were not free was a particular source of discontent. The sale and rental of pews was a time honoured source of parish revenue. Medley objected to the system on I oth theological and architectural grounds, views set forth in an article, "The Advantages of Open Seats", published in the Transactions of the Exeter Diocesan Architectural Society in 1843. In the parish of Upham, St. Peter's Church remained unconsecrated for five years because the corporation refused to comply with the bishop's "invariable custom". This building, wrote an anonymous critic, "...stands forth as a monument of surprise and sympathy", a reminder that "...with the laity it must rest...to fight the battle of the Reformed Church of England in the colony, as handed down to them by their ancestors". A great storm of protest arose in 1846, when Medley refused to discipline the Reverend James Hudson, travelling missionary on the Miramichi, for distributing allegedly "Puseyite" literature. Hudson, a faithful priest, "the apostle of the Miramichi", who laboured on there from 1836 to his death in 1871, was a convinced Tractarian, who was later to erect a window to the memory of John Keble in St. Andrew's Church, Newcastle. Medley remained unmoved, relying, as was his custom, on the passage of time to allay the fears and quiet the tongues of his opponents.
Not all opposition to the first Bishop of Fredericton was of so serious a nature. In 1864, the following letter was received by the S.P.G.:
We the undersigned members of the Church of England in the County of Carleton, New Brunswick, wish to become a separate Diocese from the Diocese of Fredericton, N.B., under the jurisdiction of the Reverend James Henry Doyle, B.A., Lay Reader of the Church of England, Lower Woodstock.
We wish you to license him as a missionary Bishop—We number 2,669 Episcopalian members.
Your Obedient Servants, Reverend James Henry Doyle, B.A. And one hundred Others.
P.S. Please send Bishop's Robes by next mail.
"Bishop" Doyle was a well known eccentric in the Woodstock area.
By far the most thorny problem for Bishop Medley was that of setting up the institutions of self-government for the Church in New Brunswick. Just as the province had been reluctant to adopt the ideal of responsible government, so the Church for many years resisted the organization of a diocesan synod. Medley had taken part in a conference of British North American bishops at Quebec in 1851, and was himself fully in favour of synods. When, however, he called a meeting in 1852 to consider forming a synod, his letter was "entirely misconceived and misconstrued", and the projected meeting, cancelled. A long letter defending his action was written to the clergy who had asked for such a gathering. So violent had been the controversy, that the bishop resolved to manage without a synod until "...there shall exist a general desire for the formation of such a body among the clergy and laity undid my charge". In the meantime, he relied on the Triennial the Clergy and the annual meetings of the Diocesan Church Society.
The opposition was spurred on by The Church Witness, the mouthpiece of the evangelical party, based in Saint John. him how, were based largely on the supposition that synods would contravene the statutes of the realm, undermining what little remained of the establishment of the Church in the colony One correspondent revealed the actual basis for the fears of the low church party when he spoke of "the supreme power and authority in matters ecclesiastical over the consciences, the persons and the properties of all under the Bishop irrespective of the Royal Supremacy". This, he maintained, was the logical implication of Newman's teaching in Tract XC. As the years passed, Medley's position as bishop of a diocese without a synod became increasingly difficult. Successive decisions of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council established the fact that the Letters Patent under which he and most of the other colonial bishops had been onsecrated, were null and void; the bishop of a self-governing colony was left with no legal means of enforcing discipline. "Deprive the Bishop of all power to deal with offenses committed against faith, or morals", complained Medley, "and the episcopal office is in commission; it is shorn of one part of thy duty the Lord committed to it."
The only solution lay in the organization of the church on he legal basis of a voluntary society. This action was finally Taken in 1866, at a meeting in Saint John. A synod, the bishop told the assembled delegates, was the only answer to the problems which now faced the diocese. Only such a body, in which the bishop, clergy and laity act in concert could "...preserve whatever is valuable untouched, as well as add what is lacking". There need be no fear of an increase in the bishop's power, for in a vote by orders, "both clergy and laity have a veto on each other, and on the Bishop". The episcopal power would be augmented only in that "it would be corrected and amended by discussion, and would be more freely acquiesced in when it became the judgment not of the bishop individually, but of the whole Church". The gatheringresolved unanimously that steps be taken to form a diocesan synod. The following year, organization was completed, and annual meetings began in 1868. An act incorporating The Diocesan Synod of Fredericton was passed by the New Brunswick Legislature in 1871, and the synod reorganized in accordance with its provisions. It is for this reason that sessions are numbered from 1871, even though the synod had been formed five years earlier.
There remained the task of bringing the diocese fully into the life of the Church in what was now the Dominion of Canada, by joining the Provincial Synod of the Province of Canada, which had been formed in 1861. New Brunswick and Nova Scotia had remained aloof at that time, and legal problems later prevented the seating of their delegates. Some thought, shortly abandoned, had been given to establishing a Maritime ecclesiastical province. Finally, in 1874, the Diocesan Synod passed the necessary resolutions, and the first delegates to Provincial Synod were elected. Thus the Diocese of Fredericton took its place within the Canadian Church and, a year after Medley's death, went on to take part in the establishment of General Synod.
By 1874, John Medley had made his greatest contributions to the life of the Church in New Brunswick. The eighteen years remaining to him were a period in which he could enjoy the fruits of his labours. On the eve of his departure for the Lambeth Conference in 1878, the clergy of the diocese, as "a mark of their affection and respect", presented their bishop with "...a handsome episcopal ring—an amethyst, with the arms of the See, and the Bishop's arms engraved on it, and the mitre".
At Lambeth, Medley caused a real sensation by responding to the Archbishop of Canterbury's specific request for "...the opinion of the venerable Bishop of Fredericton" on the Public Worship Act, by which the British Parliament had attempted to restrain the elaborate ceremonial practised by the so-called "Ritualists"—the more extreme successors of the earlier Tractarians, with the prophetic comment: "My opinion is that the Church of England will never enjoy any real peace until the Public Worship Act is repealed." He saw this statement, which was little to the liking of the English bishops, as "...an earnest endeavour to extend toleration to all who honestly subscribe to the Formularies and endeavour to carry into that which they deem to be the plain rules of our Church." Appreciation for Medley's stance was shown by the presentation to him of a gold chalice by Father Mackonachie, St. Alban's, Holborn, one of the leading ritualist clergy, who had been imprisoned under the provisions of the Public Worship Act.
Medley's sympathy for those who desired the "advanced ritual" of what we now call Anglo-Catholic worship, was to find expression in his own diocese with the establishment of he "Mission Chapel", a proprietary chapel (i.e. outside normal parish jurisdiction, with a self perpetuating board of trustees) in St. Paul's parish, Saint John. This was done, apparently with Medley's approval; nevertheless, the matter was brought to the 1882 synod by Canon DeVeber, the rector of St. Paul's, and a close friend of Bishop Medley—his travelling companion to the 1878 Lambeth Conference. Debate, Canon Ketchum tells us, was restrained, and public controversy avoided, but many were critical of the bishop's role—at least for a time. The end result was that the Mission Church of St. John Baptist, now combined with St. Clement's as the Parish of Milidgeville, began to take its important place in the life of the diocese and in the city of Saint John, where the work among the poor carried on by its clergy, particularly the Rev. Canon J.V. Young, and the Anglican Mission Sisters under the redoubtable Sister Sheila, forms one of the brighter chapters of our history.
Medley had long since overcome the distrust of the Evangelicals, and was able to maintain genuinely amicable relationships with them. The Rev. G.M. Armstrong, rector of St. John's (Stone) Church, Saint John (which then, as now, maintained a vital witness to evangelical principles), who on one occasion had maintained that the Bishop "had not preached Christ", later concluded his belief that "all true and vital religion was confined to those who held his views" was mistaken. Although his own theological opinions remained unchanged, Armstrong became "one of the most steadfast and devoted friends of the bishop". Armstrong was later appointed a canon by Bishop Medley, and served as the bishop's commissary during his absence at the 1878 Lambeth Conference. It is interesting to note that, after Medley's death, commemorative sermons preached by the Rev. J. deSoyres at Stone Church, and by the Rev. Pelham Williams at the Mission Church, were equally laudatory, though couched in rather different terms!
Medley had, in 1879, been elected by his fellow bishops as Metropolitan of Canada, the first of four bishops of Fredericton to hold that office, and it was as "the Metropolitan" that he was known from that time forward. At the meeting of the Provincial Synod the next year, the new metropolitan was presented with the staff—a sterling silver cross, still carried before the Metropolitan of Canada, with these words:
This offering of our reverence and of our love is the emblem of that pastoral office which you have so long and faithfully discharged...
It was in 1879 that Medley, pleading advanced years, asked diocesan synod for a coadjutor bishop, and was granted the privilege, doubtless unique in Canadian Church history, of choosing his own successor. His nomination of Hollingworth Tully Kingdon was confirmed by a special synod in January, 1881, and Bishop Kingdon was consecrated in the Cathedral at Fredericton on July 10, the first Consecration of a bishop to take place in the Maritimes. Medley, as metropolitan, was chief consecrator, assisted by the bishops of Nova Scotia, Quebec, Maine and Albany.
Kingdon was able to assume some of the tasks of the aging Medley, but it appears that after almost forty years with sole responsibility, the diocesan had difficulty in delegating authority. In Canon Ketchum's words:
The Bishop retained full management until within a few months of his last illness, presided over the meetings of the Synod and Church Society, and held confirmation in places of easy access. The most distant and fatiguing duty was assigned to the Coadjutor, who also rendered efficient service as assistant chairman at the meetings referred to.
Stories have circulated that the relationship of diocesan and coadjutor was sometimes stormy; there is an unlikely story that two clerical Kingdons existed, and the wrong man was contacted. Kingdon himself was to testify to Mrs. Medley's resentment of his position, and this lends credence to the story that, after her husband's death, she destroyed his papers to prevent their falling into Kingdon's hands.
In 1885, the fortieth anniversary of Medley's episcopate was marked by the establishment of the Bishop Medley Fund as what a synod resolution called "...a slight appreciation of the work of our revered bishop for the past forty years". The sum of $6,000—considerably more than had been expected, was contributed, and the income devoted to providing assistance for Divinity students, at the bishop's discretion.
It was in 1888, in his eighty-fourth year, that Bishop Medley undertook his final overseas journey, to attend the third Lambeth Conference. Fully aware that this would be his Jied visit to England, Medley took with him his son, Canon Charles Medley, and planned an itinerary which would include visits with family members and friends, as well as a pilgrimage to his former parishes in the Diocese of Exeter. At the conference itself, the London Church Guardian reported hair years later in its obituary of Medley:
...the words and counsels of the Metropolitan of Canada were held in honour, while no one present at the S.P.G. meeting that year will forget...the simple pathos with which...he spoke of returning to his Diocese to die at his post.
Medley, along with other Lambeth Fathers, was the recipient of honorary degrees from Cambridge (LL.D) and Durham (DD.). At Cambridge, said the same article, "...at no name... did the crowd in the Senate-house so 'rise' as to that of Bishop Medley."
The bishop's last years were greatly saddened by his son Charles' illness and subsequent painful death (in 1889) from throat cancer. From this blow, Medley never recovered, and his "grey hairs were brought down in sorrow to the grave". Though his memory was failing, neither his determination nor his sense of humour flagged. After he had injured his right wrist in a fall, he set out to learn to write with his left hand, and later sent a message to Canon Ketchum: "Tell him I can write more plainly now with my left hand than he does with his right." But Medley could not endure much travel, and spent most of his time in Fredericton, where he was "...constantly present at the daily services of the Cathedral, always reading at least one of the lessons." On July 6, 1892, he was able to be in Saint John to attend meetings of synod and church society for the last time, taking the opening prayers, and sitting in on some sessions. He was present at a choral
Evensong in Trinity Church, and remarked that he "...had never expected to witness three surpliced choirs taking part in a service in St. John!" His final sermon was preached on July 17 at St. Paul's Church, Saint John. He returned to Fredericton by way of Sussex where he visited his son's grave, and saw the hall erected as a memorial to Charles Medley at Apohoqui. Thereafter, his condition steadily and rapidly declined and, in his illness, he constantly spoke of his beloved diocese and his clergy, for each of whom he had always prayed daily by name. His last coherent words were from the liturgy: "0 Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, grant me Thy peace." He died peacefully on the morning of Friday, September 9, 1892, and was buried, after impressive and largely attended ceremonies, beneath the east window of the Cathedral he had erected and loved so well. A grateful diocese was to place in the Cathedral, as his memorial, a handsome altar tomb, with its realistic marble effigy, and to establish the Bishop Medley Memorial Canonry Fund.
The significance of Bishop Medley's life and work are summarized by the Canadian Church Historian, C.W. Vernon, with the observation that Fredericton Cathedral:
...marks in stone the transition in the Church in Canada from the old Georgian...conception of the "Church of England as by law established". It stands for the passing of Grecian architecture, "three deckers", parish clerks, pew rents, and too infrequent services, and still less frequent celebrations of the Holy Communion. It stands for the new conception of Church life...influenced in some cases very definitely and consciously, but Irr trlJ cases deeply, if unconsciously by the Oxford Movement...
But Medley himself must be given the last word. When the Diocesan Synod of Fredericton expressed its congratulations to his oh« Hon as Metropolitan of Canada, he replied that:
...honourable as that title is, the name of the Bishop of Fredericton is dearer to me. It reminds me of many a trial, of constant labour in your service, of willing support, and faithful affection, of many a beloved fellow-labourer, now called to his rest; of a Cathedral Church, where, for many years, the faithful have offered a daily sacrifice, and where a body of earnest young men have received the grace of Holy Orders; of "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" wafted to the throne of God, and chanted, as we hope, with fresh purity by those who have" washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."