Wrington Village
Web Archive - Page 2
Rector Francis Roberts

Rev Francis Roberts
Can you help solve a mystery ?

Susan Bethune of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, has written to say she has in her possession a copy of a book 'Key to the Bible', written in 1665 by the then Rector of Wrington, Rev Francis Roberts

The Vera Effigies - or true likeness - of the Rector of Wrington in the 1660s, the Rev Francis Roberts.

It's the first of a series of pictures of all the rectors, from his time to the present day, to be found hanging in the vestry of All Saints'.

Susan - and others too, no doubt - would dearly like to know how such a book has ended up in Winnipeg.

If you can shed any light, e-mail <news@wrington.org.uk>

The full text of Susan's e-mail [and there's a second e-mail after this one]

In 2001, the Anglican parish of St James the Assiniboine, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary. This is very old for this part of the world. According to our rector, our church was one of only two in this diocese that was supported by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (most were Christian Missionary Society sponsored).

The old original church is made of 10 inches' square hand hewn oak logs and fronted with wood siding. It stands on the north bank of the Assiniboine River south of the very busy Portage Avenue thoroughfare and is surrounded by its peaceful cemetery.

The first service was held in 1851 in the rectory. In 1852, the rectory became a refuge from the devastating, raging flood waters that covered the countryside from south of the American border (60 miles south of here). 

The church is unheated but is still used for Sunday worship at 11:00 a.m. from the end of June to the end of August each year. We were recently the target of an arsonist but, fortunately, those big old oak logs stood us in good stead. The church still stands and will be restored in time for our opening service at the end of June. It survives both floods and fire!

We have been turning out both the old and the new churches to find out more of our history. Amongst other things, three books have surfaced. A large altar copy of the Book of Common Prayer, embossed in gold with the parish's name and that it was given to us by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel,  came to us from the Diocese of Rupertsland Archives.

The second book is a large family bible. It has names written in it. The names are not known to current parishioners but the surname is an old Red River name. We do not know the source of this book. It is also a not uncommon surname here.

It is the third book that I am writing about. From the story I have gleaned, this book and the bible just "turned up in the storeroom"  of the "new" church when two parishioners went looking through our "archives". Nothing but location connects the two books together.

One theory of its acquisition is that it "came in in rummage" and was put to one side because it was "old and interesting". When was this? Who knows! Talking to the ladies who 'found' it (and they don't acknowledge finding the bible) gives one the feeling that it might have been 5 or 10 years ago or it might have been only a couple of years ago or maybe even last year!!! Our local church historian had never seen it before so it arrived after 1984.

Our wish is to know more about this book. This may give us some clue as to its origins and why we have it. It might make a good story for our anniversary.

The following is a description of the book together with the complete title page.

The book is bound in brown leather with 6 panels down the back, the 2nd from the top says ROBERTS'S KEY TO THE BIBLE. The other five panels have an embossed design in gold. There are plain end papers and the paper edges are a dark red brown (well worn). The paper is fairly rough and coarse but in relatively good condition especially compared to the binding which is not in good condition. The typescript throughout is uneven.

The book measures approximately 8 inches by 12 inches by 3 ½ inches. It is dedicated to Arthur, Earl of Essex,  Viscount Maldon, Baron of Hadham.>

I have left out the complete title only because it goes on forever. If you would like it I can send it.

[A] summary from the Concise Dictionary of National Biography's entry for the Earl of Essex and of Francis Roberts has me even more puzzled as to how St. James acquired this book.

The story I have had from people at church is so bizarre. And these people are really quite sensible, usually. One just doesn't find a book in a basement cupboard that has been thoroughly gone through only a few years before.

And one just does not have a 1665 book by Francis Roberts given to a rummage sale in this neck of the woods! Roberts having been a Puritan does explain the style of his book. It is quite puritanical in flavour! And, my goodness, my St. James was once supported by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel - such a juxtaposition!!>

I look forward to anything that transpires!


There's more information in a second e-mail from Susan ........

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