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James Scovil
Loyalist Priest and Pioneer
d. 19 December 1808

trinity kingston1.jpg (64046 bytes)James Scovil was born on February 9, 1733 in Watertown, Connecticut, the son of Lt. William Scovil (probably a Lieutenant in the local militia). The Scovils had originally come from the town of Escoville in Normandy. They settled in England in 1066, at the time of the Norman Conquest.

James Scovil's early years were spent in rural employment, as his father had not intended to give him a profession. In his seventeenth year, while employed as a weaver, he met with an accident which changed his life. He was severely lamed, and his father placed him with an eminent surgeon who lived in a nearby town. There he became the pupil of Mr. Southmayd, minister of the Parish. This gentleman found him such an apt scholar that he recommended a liberal education, which was approved by James' father.

When fully recovered, James returned home where he pursued his studies with such vigour that in three years time he entered Yale College, graduating with his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1757. He followed that by going to King's College (Columbia), New York, to study for his Master's Degree. Two years before graduation, his father died, leaving him 200 pounds to complete his education. Rather than continuing on at King's College, James went to England where he became an ordained minister of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (the Society which supplied ordained Church of England ministers in America). Rev. James Scovil returned to Waterbury, Connecticut in 1759, and took up his duties as Parish Rector - receiving from the S.P.G. 30 pounds annually.

At some later time - probably in the early 1760's -  James Scovil married Miss Amy Nichols.  Following the outbreak of the American Revolution, his sympathies were with England, but he continued to minister to his parishioners with good sense and prudence.

Sometime in 1785-86 Rev. Scovil received an offer from the S.P.G. to move to New Brunswick and take up work there.  Facing some degree of hardship because of his Loyalist stance, he began in May 1786 to spend the summer in New Brunswick, and to officiate in Waterbury through the winter, a pattern which continued for two years.

In July 1787 James Scovil made arrangements to move his family to Kingston, New Brunswick, at which time the vestrymen of the Parish voted him the Lot reserved for the parsonage. In June 1788 he arrived in Kingston with his wife and nine children, and immediately began to build the house - which still stands today, a fine old parsonage in continuous use by succeeding rectors.

On July 5th. of the previous summer, Messrs. Silas Raymond, Elias Scribner, and John London had agreed to give one acre of the adjoining corners of their lots, on which to build a church. In December 1788, a subscription was signed by 72 parishioners for the amount of 134 pounds, 15 shillings to help meet the cost; and early in 1789 the British Government contributed 500 pounds toward the building.

On June 27, 1789 the frame was raised, and on November 5, 1789 Trinity Church was dedicated to the service of Almighty God by the Rev. James Scovil. This, the oldest Anglican Church in the province, was the keystone of the Church of England in New Brunswick; it was commemorated as a National Historic Site in 1980.

In 1802, fifty-five residents of Kings County, headed by Rev. James Scovil, petitioned for and secured the passage of the first New Brunswick School Act. This Act granted assistance from public funds for the
several parish schools and thus marked the beginning of public schools in New Brunswick.

Rev. James Scovil was succeeded as rector of Trinity by his son, the Rev. Elias Scovil, who in turn was succeeded by his son, the Rev. William Elias Scovil. The latter died in 1876 - marking the 90th year that Scovils had continuously served as rectors of Kingston Parish.

James Scovil died on December 19, 1808, in his 76th year. It was said of him "punctual in performance of all his duties, of grave and becoming deportment, he died respected by all. The soundness of his doctrines delivered from the pulpit, should not be reckoned among his chief excellencies, for he taught his people from house to house. He comforted the aged, instructed the young, and made himself agreeable to children, no despicable qualifications in a clergyman."

trinity kingston interior.jpg (79757 bytes)                  trinity scovil plaque2.jpg (84983 bytes)


Written material taken from Loyalists All, compiled and edited by Gail Bonsall Pipes, and Macdonald Consolidated School