Henry Lind — hero or rogue?

The Compass - - EDITORIAL OPINION -

Henry Lind (1805-70), a Church of Eng­land cler­gy­man, ar­rived in New­found­land from Eng­land in 1829. He was em­ployed as a school­mas­ter at Port de Grave.

Or­dained pri­est in 1841, Lind was trans­ferred to Heart’s Con­tent. He took over a mis­sion con­sist­ing of nine set­tle­ments and five churches.

Heart’s Con­tent his­to­rian Ted Rowe de­scribes Lind as a “pi­ous, self-right­eous man with a hu­mour­less de­meanour.”

Rowe, in an un­der­state­ment, also notes that Lind “fin­ished out his term at Heart’s Con­tent in an ex­tra­or­di­nary swirl of con­tro­versy.”

Un­sur­pris­ingly, not ev­ery­body in the town liked the English cler­gy­man; mag­is­trate Robert Oller­head was Lind’s chief de­trac­tor.

In 1854, a woman ac­cused Lind of hav­ing com­mit­ted adul­tery with her some seven years ear­lier.

“At first,” Rowe writes, “it looked like it would all blow over when the woman re­tracted her charge, claim­ing that she had been con­fused about what she was say­ing.”

I won­der, though, How can a woman be con­fused about whether or not a man com­mit­ted adul­tery with her?

At the same time, Lind swore an af­fi­davit of de­nial, pro­vid­ing Bishop Ed­ward Feild (1801-76) with a state­ment declar­ing his in­no­cence.

Lind then de­parted the is­land for a leave of ab­sence in Eng­land.

Back at Heart’s Con­tent, Lind quickly learned to his cha­grin the woman had re­in­stated her charges against him.

Oller­head and his co­horts lob­bied Feild to re­move Lind. The Heart’s Con­tent cler­gy­man re­sponded by su­ing the mag­is­trate for slan­der.

In June 1856, Lind showed up in a St. John’s court­room with his wit­ness- es, his wife and two other women.

Ten days later, the troika was sent home when Oller­head failed to put in an ap­pear­ance.

Though the mag­is­trate and his wit­nesses even­tu­ally ap­peared, the trial was post­poned un­til the fall.

Mean­while, Oller­head spread word around the town that Lind had been fear­ful to pro­ceed.

“As a re­sult, he was shunned by his con­gre­ga­tion, who de­nied him en­try to the church and re­fused to al­low him to con­duct ser­vices or ad­min­is­ter the sacra­ments,” Rowe writes.

Some Church of Eng­land stal­warts even had their chil­dren bap­tized by the Methodist preacher from Hant’s Har­bour.

The trial re­sumed in Novem­ber. All par­ties ap­peared and all wit­nesses were ex­am­ined. How­ever, it came to a grind­ing halt, with­out a ver­dict, when a ju­ror fell ill.

“ The tes­ti­mony showed that the woman’s fam­ily had a his­tory of men­tal in­sta­bil­ity and Bishop Feild was sat­is­fied of Lind’s in­no­cence of the adul­tery charge,” Rowe ex­plains.

Feild is­sued a letter, sup­port­ive of Lind, to the Heart’s Con­tent con­gre­ga­tion.

How­ever, it did noth­ing to clear up the ill feel­ing against Lind. “His rep­u­ta­tion had suf­fered badly and the bishop had no choice but to re­move him,” Rowe writes.

Lind was sent to St. Ge­orge’s Bay on the west coast of the is­land where, in Rowe’s words, “he fin­ished out his mis­sion­ary days in rel­a­tive peace and quiet.”

Feild later claimed: “ The trou­ble was got up by a wicked man (Oller­head) to get rid of a dis­agree­able cleric.” Pri­vately Feild said: “I have never had any mat­ter which gave me so much dis­tress, and I may say mis­ery, since I have been in the Dio­cese.”

An­other Lind bi­og­ra­pher Fred­er­ick Jones con­cludes, “Lind was an undis­tin­guished mis­sion­ary whose grasp of church prin­ci­ple Feild found want­ing. He is an ex­am­ple ... of a cler­gy­man who had the mis­for­tune ... to of­fend a lo­cal mag­is­trate and ac­quire no­to­ri­ety as the sub­ject of the in­tol­er­ance pos­si­ble in a small, claus­tro­pho­bic com­mu­nity.”

Was Lind a hero or rogue?

The an­swer to this is left to the reader’s imag­i­na­tion.

The his­tory of Heart’s Con­tent is re­plete with tales such as the scan­dal swirling around Rev. Henry Lind. Read all about many of them in Ted Rowe’s lat­est book, “Heroes and Rogues and the Story of Heart’s Con­tent,” pub­lished by Cre­ative Pub­lish­ers in St. John’s.

Free­lance jour­nal­ist Bur­ton K. Janes lives in Bay Roberts. His col­umn ap­pears in The Com­pass ev­ery week. He c an b e r e a ch ed a t bur - tonj@nfld.net

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