Rev. George Gillmore (1720-1811)
The earliest exact knowledge we
have of George Gillmore comes from
the University of Edinburgh which states that he studied there in 1762
in the class of Logic and Metaphysics and in the class of Natural
Philosophy. He probably studied there the following year also, as
he notes in his diary -mentioned below -- that
"I delivered a lecture in the divinity Hall College of Edinburgh upon Proverbs 3 ch. and beginning at the 13 Verfe, the 18 of February 1763" which reads:
"Happy is the man that findeth wisdom and the man that getteth understanding"
Another notation says "I delivered a sermon in the divinity Hall at Edinburgh upon the 9 of April 1763." The University states, however, that he does not appear in their list of graduates.
Prior to the above dates information regarding his life is silent. Who his parents were, where they resided, where and when he was born and married is in the realm of cloudy conjecture. According to what meager guidance is available it is believed he was born 1720 in the County of Antrim, Ireland - married there a Miss Allen and that three of his children were born there. Diligent, patient and time consuming research of the writer during the past fifty years covering the period prior to 1769 has unearthed nothing further than the above. Whatever data regarding the Gillmore family there may be in Antrim or elsewhere is buried under 200 years of records in some archive unknown to the writer and is left for a future historian nearer the source to bring it to light. From the foregoing it will be seen that it was at a considerably later period of life than usual that George Gillmore entered upon theological studies.
At this point a definitive narrative begins. In 1769, when he was nearly fifty, he ventured on a voyage to the Colonies in America with his wife Ann and his three children Rebecca, Jane and Samuel all under ten years of age. His wife's first name is definitely known, as three other of his children were born in America, appearing in the record as the children of "George Gilmore and Ann his wife". George Gillmore (exactly as he signed his name in letters hereafter quoted) was a Presbyterian "Covenanter" and as such he harboured a great distaste for episcopacy and bishops. This was undoubtedly a major reason for his leaving the British Isles for Colonial America as was the case with others of that time.
He kept a diary during the voyage only part of which is still in existence in which he writes
"June the 21 we set sail for America with a very agreeable Gail"
Facilities available to travellers were primitive. Food was a problem and toilet arrangements limited. Those who were hardy enough to brave such a voyage took aboard with them some of their own provisions and other comforts to eke out the scanty rations allotted from the ship's stores. On leaving he was much dejected, for as he notes ---
"Imprecations which were echoed by everyone aboard discouraged me very much"
The diary is now in the Library of Pine Hill Divinity Hall, Halifax, Nova Scotia where it had lain uncatalogued for some time, only having been discovered in recent years. [note- in 1999 this is in the United Church Archives in Sackville N.B.] Many of its pages have been missing for over a hundred years as is testified by the following fact. In 1860 there was a Presbyterian monthly journal called the "Christian Instructor" the editor of which at that time was lent this identical diary by a descendant. The editor published numerous extracts from it in the June 1860 issue, and he then stated that many pages were missing, In form it is what used to be known as a "penny notebook" and measures 51 inches on the spine and 31 inches wide. It is soft covered in light cardboard and consists of 27 leaves in all and shows traces of 6 other leaves originally in it. All the pages of the diary as it now exists have been carefully copied word for word by the present writer, through the kind permission of the Librarian of the Pine Hill Divinity Hall. The copy used twenty pages the size of this sheet. [Legal size pages]
The voyage occupied nearly three months, which was no uncommon period in those days. The entries in his diary give a good idea of the discomforts of an ocean voyage of that length in 1769 and the treatment accorded passengers.
It is full of accounts of
unfavourable winds, short allowances and,
he saw it, wickedness on the part of passengers and crew. The
extracts copied verbatim exhibit its general tenor.
"I may very properly say that Satan that old serpent was loofed out of the bottomlefs pitt: For one of his Emefires being prompted by the Same Spirit he uttered such horrid Blafphemies and unheard of Imprecations as nothing perhaps could equall them, nay Lucifer himself could not blafpheme more"
"Die Saturni (Saturday) 22 July. It was very serene. Nothing appeared to make us afraid. The Ether (air) had an agreeable aspect"
"Die Sabati (Sunday) 30 (July) now comes on something both remarkable and of importance. On the morning of the Lord's day we expected a fair wind but were difapointed"
This entry for Sunday goes on at length to record a captain's avarice. A passing ship was hailed which turned out to be from the West Indies laden with rum. Passengers asked if they might replenish their empty kegs which was granted by the captain of the West India ship at 3 shillings per gallon, The ship's boat was sent for it and on its return, the passenger' captain "seized it as his own" intending to sell the rum to the passengers at 6 shillings per gallon!
Nearing Newfoundland the following entry appears --
"Die Martis (Wednesday) August 8 we prepared to sound on and fisch on this but found none till toward evening, Its a stated and common Law that everyone who had not crofsed to America before to pay one shilling which is called the half way Bottle (Indeed it was what we long looked for). Everyone who refused was according to this Law of mariners to be ducked - there (were) some that appofed this which created a great deal of Difturbance - the sailors treated them very ill in their refistance. After this was quelled everyone that had a bottle came aft and powered (poured) it into a vesel prepared for that purpofe and those who had none paid down a shilling. The collection of the money was greater than the Liquor becaufe those that had Liquor when they came on board expended it before this time".
Even water was scarce and their rations were cut to three pints a day. During a rain storm at night everyone got up to catch it, he getting "but very little and was very wet". He notes that the captain made "Joakes and fair speeches" when they asked for more allowances for food, with but little favorable response. And so the diary continues with a weary recitation of disturbing and anxious days. Let anyone imagine taking a three months voyage to-day with a wife and three small children under those conditions.
After such a tedious and what must have been a most trying three months voyage under the circumstances illustrated by the foregoing extracts from his diary, he and his wife Ann and family were undoubtedly happy to reach their destination, for he says that
"We all landed safe and in good health at Philadelphia Saturday Sept 9th. We met with Alexander Smith who showed great kindness to us and conducted us to his quarters where we were kindly entertained"
Shortly after his arrival he preached at Blandford, Mass. as is noted in his diary:- "I received another order from ye above mentioned Selectmen of Blandford, for eight Pounds lawfull due me George Gillmore for preaching. This they wrote and seigned October 30 Day A.D. 1769". This was Massachusetts, although he did not give the name of the Colony for a writer of 1821 wrote, with reference to that town, that they had given a call to George Gillmore to Settle with them. The Town had been through a period of several years dissension prior to 1769 concerning who should be their settled minister and although Mr. Gillmore appears to have intermittently served there for a year he declined their invitation. His comment "ye above mentioned" must have referred to a notation on a previous page of his diary, now missing, as there is no other reference to these Selectmen in the diary.
On adjacent pages of the diary
there are the following entries
"Connecticut Government, Leechfield County, Cornwall"
"I began to open School at Stratford October the 29 17(69?) from the above dates to 1st of January is nine weeks. Due to (Mrs.) Chandler for Diet 9 weeks from the above dates to this first of Jan From which I entered a second Quarter"
"I received from Abner Jujdfon for keeping school
"June the 3 I received in full the whole of my clearance for school keeping at Stratford from Abner Judfon the Just and full sum of 2-19-7 being the whole of the arears due"
All of the above notations obviously refer to Mr. Gillmore's work in his first year in America. "Leechfield" County undoubtedly means Litchfield, for Cornwall is in the northwesterly part of that County. Stratford adjoins Bridgeport, Connecticut on the ocean and Blandford, Mass. is about 15 miles west of Holyoke on the Connecticut River.
In October 1770 he settled in Voluntown, Connecticut which is on the border of Rhode Island at the extreme northeast corner of New London County, Conn. Here he had been sent by the Presbytery of Boston, (vacancies in the jurisdiction of which he had been filling) to supply the old First Church of that town, as the Rev. Samuel Dorrance, who had been the Pastor there for nearly fifty years, had been dismissed. This church was reorganized some nine years later (after Mr. Gillmore had left) upon a Congregational basis.
At a meeting of the Presbytery of Boston, held at Londonderry, New Hampshire in May 1773, it was unanimously voted to ordain Mr. Gillmore, for which ordeal he was directed to prepare himself, He was also directed to preach a sermon on Matt. 16th: 15,16. July 2, 1773 he was formally ordained by a committee of this Presbytery of which body he now became a member. After the ceremony he was instructed to,
"consult Messrs McGregor, Houston and Williams respecting preaching in their parts"
these being Londonderry, Bedford and Windham respectively. May 26, 1774 he and a Mr. Hutchinson were appointed by the Presbytery, which met at Kingston, N.H., on this date, to supply vacancies at Pelham, Mass. and Dunbarton, Francestown and Wiertown, N.H. Mr. Gillmore continued a member of the Presbytery of Boston until 1775, when it was formed into the Synod of New England. He was then allotted to the Presbytery of Palmer in which he retained his membership until the dissolution of the Synod, September 12, 1782. After this date, the Synod was known as the Presbytery of Salem, and Mr. Gillmore's name remained on its roll until October l, 1789, at which time the Presbytery met at Winthrop, Maine (not Massachusetts). On this date the minutes record:--
"As the Rev. George Gillmore has been long absent from this body and we not knowing where he is, the Presbytery conclude to drop him out of their list"
There are many entries in the minutes of the several New England Presbyteries, recording Mr. Gillmore as being absent from their meetings. These entries begin about 1775. His brethren in the Presbyterian ministry, with the exception of a Mr. Drumond, seem to have been ardent In their support of the Rebellion, for at the first meeting of the Synod of New England, held at Londonderry, N.H., September 4, 1776, the question was put
"whether any suspected to be inimical to the liberties of the Independent States of America, which they are now contending for, and refuses to declare his attachment for the same, should have a seat in this Judicature? Voted they should not"
A writer of over a hundred years ago who was nearer In point of years to the Revolution of 1775 than we are today commented on this action of the Synod, "this was certainly pretty decided meddling with politics for a church court", However, with the result of the Second World War vividly before us in 1960, liberty is freedom whether it be 1775 or 1960. Inasmuch as Mr. Gillmore was not deprived of his seat until 1789, and then only for lack of knowledge that he had long since left the States, it may safely be inferred that he was not then known to his associates as a Tory.
It was, no doubt, while on trips to the places mentioned in the preceding paragraphs that he preached to the inhabitants of Derryfield (now Manchester), N.H. Here he was so well liked that the Town voted in December 1773 to give him a call to settle among them and become their permanent preacher, which ministry they voted should carry with it a settlement of "£ 30 in cash and £ 60 in labor" plus a yearly salary of £ 30. A committee of four took the matter up with him, but he thought best not to accept their call, the reason being, very likely, that his income at Voluntown, Conn. was £ 50 annually. Another fact may also have been a contributing cause, namely, that at this time the townspeople of Derryfield were divided in opinion as to where a new Meeting House should be built. This question, indeed, became so bitterly contested that the inhabitants were at sword's points with each other --- certainly not a Christian attitude. For Mr. Gillmore's occasional services during 1773 and 1774 (at which time Derryfield consisted of but 279 persons) the town paid him £ 5-14-0.
As an Illustration of how a New England Town recorded its doings, the following are copies of some of the "Warrants" for town meetings and "minutes" of the same, as concerns Mr. Gillmore --- still avoiding the Scotch spelling of his name,
"Province of New Hampshire - Hillsborough S.S.
To Ezekiel Stavens Constable for the Town of
Derryfield -- Greeting
You are required in his majestyes name to Warn a Meeting of the freeholders Inhabitants of Said town Qualifyd by Law to Vote in Town meetings that they meet at their meeting house In Said Derryfield upon Monday the Sixth Day of September Next at one of the Clock.
----- 21y to see if the Inhabitants of Said town Will Vote to Give the Revr George Gillmore a Call to the Works of the Menestry in Said Derryfield to be their Menester
31y to See how much yearly Salery they Will Vote the Said Gilmore if he Except their Call
41y to Se how much Setelnen Money they Will Vote ----
51Y to See if they Will Vote to Sand a man or meen to treet With the Said Gilmore and agree about the Mater as the town pleceses to order, and this Shall be your Sufecant Warrant Geven under our Hands and Seal this 20th Day of August 1773
Samuel Boyd, James MacCalley, Select Men"
On 23 December the Town met in regular meeting to carry on its "Commn afairs" and among other things -- "to Here the Commettee Reporte Relateing the treete Beteen the Rev t George Gilmore and said commettee"
At this meeting, which was adjourned to be at "Lev tn John halls house" -(maybe the Meeting House was cold'.) they voted among other things to give Mr. Gillmore
"a Call to the wourk of the Ministry"
as above stated, to which
in the following
February they recorded that they
"had not Received aney answer"
Mr. Gillmore's congregation at Voluntown, though small, supported him and his family with "a comfortable subsistence", giving him about £ 50 per annum. His parishioners also supplied him with a farm, rent free, where he lived with his wife and six children "in love and amity" until the outbreak of the Revolution. It was while living at Voluntown, Connecticut that his daughters Ann, Sarah and son George were born in 1771, 1772 and 1774 respectively. An infant daughter Hanah died two weeks before George was born. Whether Hanah was born in Voluntown or elsewhere is unknown to the writer. The sole record of this daughter is on the last page of the diary, wherein the Rev. George Gillmore wrote:-
"My daughter Hanah departed this life on the 30th of October being Sabbath Day. I had a son born to me on the 13th of November being the Sabbath Day in Voluntown A.D. 1774".
Having lived for several years in Voluntown in peace and with a sufficient income to support his family, the smouldering unrest in the Colonies for liberty unquestionably became a great tragedy to so staunch a Loyalist as George Gillmore. He was caught in the middle as thousands of other persons were and it is not surprising that about 1776 Gov. Turnbull of Connecticut denounced him as more to be censured for his attachment to the British Governnent than the Episcopalian Tories. Feeling against him in the community then soon ran high, the people generally began to hate him and his friends forsook him, The members of his flock would not attend the services he conducted and refused to have their children baptized by him. They then began to demand rent from him for the farm he occupied, and later dispossessed and warned him to leave.
There were but two Presbyterian
Connecticut at this time, says Mr. Gillmore, a Mr. Drummond and
both of whom espoused the cause of the British Government and both of
fled Connecticut at about the same time, Mr. Drummond being killed in
York by a British officer, under what circumstances is not
The Rev. Mr. Peters, an Episcopalian, in his "History of
published in London in 1781, says of the Presbyterians in Connecticut
"This sect has met with as little Christian Charity and humanity in this hair- brained county as the Anabaptists, Quakers and Churchmen. The Sober Dissenters of this town (Voluntown) as they style themselves, will not attend the funeral of a Presbyterian".
Forced finally to leave his
Church, Mr. Gillmore
"demitted" preaching, and for a time lived on what money he had saved
on the proceeds from the sale of what cattle he had. When his
were exhausted he was at a loss to know what to do and in his extremity
took to farming. Through the combined effort of his wife and
of his children who were able to work, they had barely enough to keep
and soul together. For about a year they lived in this way, but
last partly from his failure to succeed at farming, though more on
of the popular odium and the excitement of the mob, the clergyman was
in the winter of 1776-1777. to leave his family in Voluntown and seek
place for them to live. At last he procured a small farm in Noble
near Albany, N.Y., and sent for his wife and children. Here the
family resided for a few years in
"low Circumstances supporting himself by preaching, keeping school and farming."
Mr. Gillmore preached to the people of his denomination in this town until the defeat of Gen. Burgoyne, when, being recognized by some who knew his principles, he was "stopped from exercing the office of the ministry". He was, however, able to support his family by keeping a school at Spencer Town, Columbia County, N.Y, until the capture of Lord Cornwallis, when the patriots, encouraged by success, obliged him to leave his family at the mercies of his enemies and make his escape through the woods to Canada. His flight was through the then dreary wilderness and along the length of Lake Champlain, so that before he reached St. Johns (now St. Jeans), Quebec, in the Fall of 1782, he had had a wearisome journey. At St. Johns he wintered with the British forces under Major Rogers, sharing in their rations as did other Loyalists. The ensuing Spring, 1783. he went to Quebec to place his case before Governor Haldimand, who enrolled him on the list of Loyalist pensioners. George Gillmore, however, received from this source only one installment, amounting to £ 7 and was cut off from further payments "agreeable to his Majesty's special instructions" which undoubtedly applied to other claimants as a group and not to him alone.
In the Fall of 1783 he left Quebec and went to Sorrel, at the same time sending for Ann his wife and children. While at Sorrel he ministered to the Artillery there all winter and preached a sermon to a Lodge of Free Masons. The sermon contained a defence of masonic institutions and was afterward published in London in 1788. Copies of such items as an old published sermon are rare, especially so of one of a relatively little known personality to the 20th century as George Gillmore. It was therefore like finding the "needle in a haystack" when the present writer came across a virgin copy at the library of the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston, in which the title page runs thus:-
"A sermon preached before a lodge of Free and Accepted Mason's, at Sorrel in Canada. on the Day of St. John the Evangelist, 1783, by the Reverend George Gillmore, A.M., formerly Minifter of the Kirk in Voluntown in the Colony of Connecticut, and now Minister of the Kirk on Ardoise Hill in His Majefty's Province of Nova Scotia"
On a page that follows it states that it was,
"compofed and delivered at Sorrel in Compliance with a Requeft made by a Number of Freemafons, whofe Beneficence and Charity were not wanting to the Preacher after his Arrival in Canada, and is publifhed by the Desire of fundry Gentlemen, who have heard and read it with Approbation; otherwife it would have remained in Parochial Obscurity with its Author, below the Critick's eye".
There are twenty three pages to this printed copy, each 5" x 8" totalling some 4500 words, so it must have been some discourse! The text was taken from Gal. 6:10.
It was at Sorrel (now spelled Sorel) in Nov. 1783 that Mr. Gillmore heard of the Act of Parliament authorizing the payment of claims, after they had been investigated, of Loyalists. who had fled from the States and who had suffered financially and otherwise thereby. The succeeding January he sent in what he considered a very moderate claim, amounting in all to $700, the nearest 1960 equivalent probably being much over $2000. The papers for his claim had been drawn up in December by John Mourese, a Notary Public at Sorrel.
Ann Gillmore and her six
at St. Johns, Quebec in March 1784. To Ann, the Maternal ancestor
this family, great tribute is due for her fortitude in those days of
and suffering, and raising and caring for a family when all about her
the waste of wars For fifteen years up to this point great burdens had
to her --- a three months ocean voyage, rugged living in New England,
three children and now at this point of life a trip through a
with six children, two of the daughters near twenty and Samuel then
being of some help. They had suffered greatly from the cold on
trip across Lake Champlain. They were probably not met at St.
by Mr. Gillmore.. but continued on and joined him at Sorel where, as
noted, he had been all Winter. From here, on account of
they all went to Quebec, where they "met with great kindness from
and shared largely in his Majesty's royal bounty, both as to clothing
rations". Notwithstanding this support, it appears that while in
they were reduced to great want, for, again to quote Mr. Gillmore,
"hearer's are few, circumstances low, minds shut up and purses closed, all which considerations render (I can truly say) our situation very much embarrassed".
Apparently Canada (of which Nova Scotia was not then a part) offered no favourable opportunity for Mr. Gillmore to prosecute the work of a clergyman, for in November 1784, he petitioned and received from Gov. Haldimand "a certificate and recommendation as a minister and Loyalist for the Province of Nova Scotia", where he hoped to obtain a living in the line of his profession. The succeeding Spring, Col. Hope, the Commandant of the garrison at Quebec, secured for him and his family, a passage to Halifax, at the expense of government and supplied them with plenty of rations for the voyage. At Halifax they spent the Summer, having arrived there in July, but in the Fall they removed to Windsor, where Mr. Gillmore assumed charge of the Presbyterian congregation that the Rev. James Murdock had gathered at both this town and Newport.
In February 1786 Mr. Gillmore obtained a Grant of 500 acres at Ardoise Hill, Hants County, some ten or fifteen miles east of Windsor on the Halifax road, to which he removed. This was his home for the next six years during which he continued his ministry of Windsor and the Township of Newport. There was then no place of Presbyterian worship in either township and his preaching was in barns in Summer and in private homes in Winter. The people to whom he ministered were few in number and not in circumstances to afford him a support, and in consequence his family were for some time in want of the barest necessaries of life. The statements in the following paragraph, which the present writer has seen quoted in a number of short articles in recent years is taken from the November 1860 issue of the monthly periodical published by the Presbyterian "Christian Instructor" (which ceased issuing that year). That article stated they were quoting some letters which they then possessed, and as the present writer has never seen those particular letters, the 1860 article is the sole source of authority for the next paragraph.
Having spent all his means in clearing part of his farm, and his crops having failed he says that he travelled on foot to Halifax, (about thirty miles) and offered his land and home for security for a single barrel of flour and some pork and was refused. He and his family were then obliged to subsist for months almost solely on potatoes and other vegetables. "Three Winters" he says at another time "I have bought hay at a great price and carried it on my back four miles through the woods, where there was no path or road, to keep alive two cows, which were the support of my family with the help of potatoes".
The Presbyterian ministers of Nova Scotia met for the formation of their first Presbytery, called the Presbytery of Truro, on the 2nd of August 1786 and Mr, Gillmore was among the four ministers present, though it is stated in their minutes that he was only admitted as a corresponding member. He does not seem to have afterwards attended their meetings, nor considered himself a member, the reason probably being that he represented in Nova Scotia the Established Church of Scotland, while the other clergymen did not. Until his death, however, he took an active part in the upbuilding of the Presbyterian Church in the Province.
In 1786 he was also pressing his claim at Halifax with the Home Government, and on the 14th July he took the certificate, which he had received from Governor Haldemand in 1784, to the Commissioners. In the recital of his movements and his losses during the war, he says "Thus he (himself) hath spent a number of the years of his life in wandering, his days in poverty, hunger, nakedness and cold, and all for his loyalty".
Apparently getting no satisfaction from the Commissioners at Halifax, he later sailed for London to press his claim there. He kept a Journal during this trip and visit to Glasgow and London, the existence and whereabouts of the Journal now being unknown. In that Journal he wrote
"Wednesday 5 December 1787. We sailed from Halifax favored with a fine day and a fair wind"
"Friday, 11 January 1788. Landed all safe and well, through the goodness of the God of Heaven, without any sickness or death among us. We landed about four miles from Greenock and travelled thither on foot"
While at Greenock (a port a little to the west of Glasgow) he was asked, and accepted the invitation, to preach in the Kirk. He was greatly embarrassed, however, for 'ere he was half way through his sermon he became faint and had to desist, much to the surprise of his hearers. A few days later he took the coach to Glasgow, where he was also asked to preach, this time by the Rev. Mr. Gillis, minister of the College Church. The following Sunday he did preach, from Ecclesiastes 8:2. In Glasgow he spent about a month, preaching occasionally and no doubt visiting old friends. From here he went to Edinburgh, where he arrived 16 Feb. 1788. On the 20th he took the coach to London, reaching there at midnight of the 22nd.
The following March he took the
certificates of recommendation, one from Lt. Governor Hamilton of
and one from the Rev. Mr. Peters to the Lord Commissioners. His
Journal, above referred to, was then full of accounts of the evasive
he received from members of the Government. At one time in
to some one who was not favorable to him he said they had said to him,
"I told you before you left Halifax, that it would be to no purpose to come to London, for you will hardly get as much as will defray your expenses home."
This unkindly speech made him feel very much dejected; but after staying in England until August he was finally encouraged by being pensioned. According to the "American Loyalists, Imperial Reports Transcript" (Vol. 8, page 322) in N.Y. Public Library, "The Commissioners decided to pay him £ 20 in full and £ 20 more on his return to Nova Scotia as it would take too much time to refer the matter back to the Commissioners in Nova Scotia for further investigation." This action is, no doubt, the origin of the belief that he enjoyed a pension of £40 [annually] the rest of his life.
In September he left England, sailing from Gravesend on the 10th and arrived in Boston, Massachusetts some six weeks later. From Boston he sent a long letter to the Rev. Dr. Stiles then President of the University of New Haven, (Yale), soliciting his aid in regard to the unsatisfactory ecclesiastical situation then prevailing in Nova Scotia,, This situation had been brought about by the appointment in 1776, of the Rev. Charles Inglis, as Bishop of Nova Scotia with a salary of £1000. per annum, by Royal Letters Patent, an event which excited not a little the jealousy of the various dissenting bodies in the Province. It was even f eared that this step might be the prelude to the introduction of a legal establishment of the Anglican Church, with tithes and other oppressive regulations from which the "Dissenters" had sought an asylum in America,
Leaving Boston the Rev. George
sailed for Halifax and on 30 October was met by his family at
Hill. Speaking of his arrival home, he wrote:
"The few names that
with me in this barren country have manifested great joy at my return
for poverty prevents not spiritual joy, even in a wilderness, although
hang our harps on the willows and weep as often as we remember Zion."
At Windsor and Newport he continued to minister until 1791. when he removed to Horton, in Kings County, where he succeeded Rev. Dr. Murdock in the pastorate of the Kirk at Grand Pré; and where he rented a farm from the Hon. Mr. Cochrane of Halifax. At Windsor and Newport he was succeeded by the Rev. James Munroe. Presbyterianism in the Province at that period was not too robust, no doubt because the various Protestant bodies were not united in their ministrations. However, in spite of that, the Rev. George Gillmore initiated the plan to build what is the present Old Presbyterian Covenanter Is Church at Grand Pré" which was started in 1804 and completed the year in which he died, 1811.
To digress at this point -- one hundred years later, 1912, the Rev. George W. Miller served this Church for ten years. The interest of this to Gillmore descendants lies in the fact Mr. Miller, though not of the Gillmore Clan, his brother Harry H. Miller was -- by marriage to a descendant - Jane Eliza Hunter, a great granddaughter of Jane Gillmore, (the daughter of Rev. George Gillmore and the wife of Lodovich Hunter). Also, the Rev. Miller was one of those who years ago assisted the writer in several ways, which is here again gratefully acknowledged. The Old Church building continued in use for many years but finally the ravages of time and by some neglect It became used mostly as the focus of tourist interest. It stands at the top of a slight grade on a road leading south from the main Wolfville - Windsor highway (Route 1) at Grand Pré corner. It is not to be confused with the Evangeline Memorial chapel on the same road leading north, which is not a church but a museum. The site of the Old Church is a lovely tree shaded lot grown over with myrtle and surrounded by a burying ground in which several of the family rest. Services are now held only in the summer months of July and August. The writer visited there in July 1958 and was very graciously guided around by the Misses Kate and Frances MacLatchy who are the devoted custodians, living in their nearby home. Their pleasing personalities make it a joy for all who stop to pay respect to the venerable building and commune with their ancestors who then seem so near. To those two gracious ladies this is an acknowledgement of the debt of us all for their kind attentions.
By this time -- 1791 -- his daughters were married, and his two sons, George 17 and Samuel 24, were at home to help him on his farm and his circumstances were much more comfortable. At last he seemed to have found a haven from troubles and reverses, and here he and his wife Ann lived and labored for twenty years until their life's end. Ann is believed to have died sometime prior to the Rev. George, but the exact date is unknown. He died twenty years after going to Horton, passing rather suddenly 30 September 1811 at the age of 91. About three years prior, he had been taken ill and his end was feared. However, he recovered and was not again sick until the day he died. He was mourned by the above two sons and his .tour daughters Rebecca Densmore, Jane Hunter, Ann Smith and Sarah Cummings. He sleeps in the Churchyard of the Kirk at Grand Pré where for so long he Preached and the slab of slate that marked his grave is inscribed in Latin. In private life Rev. George Gillmore was highly esteemed, as the letters in Vol. II [Public Archives of Nova Scotia] and other sources testify. He was devoted to the spiritual welfare of his parishioners, and the hardships of his life do not seem to have colored his natural tendency to free social intercourse.
Over the years the slate tombstone marking his resting place, was ravaged by the elements and some careless visitors, causing parts of the edges to be damaged, It was, therefore, removed years ago and imbedded in a thin layer of cement, framed and now hangs on the wall at the base of the belfry of the Kirk at Grand Pré (now the United Church). The Latin inscription, secured by the writer in 1912 while it was in better readable condition than it is to-day, reads as shown below. It was through the aid of the late Miss Flora MacInnis of Lockhartville and the Rev. George W. Miller of Wolfville that the wording was obtained -- though some of the letters at the edge were missing and later supplied by scholars for this copy. It was probably composed by some other Clergyman after Rev. George's death. The interpretation was made for the writer by scholars at Harvard University through the help of Dr. A.W.H. Eaton of Nova Scotia who was then in Boston.
Latin inscription on Gravestone
which translated is
According to Dr. A.W.H. Eaton at the time this inscription was obtained (he has long since gone to his eternal rest) he said that:
The 8th line is quoted exactly from the Aeneid
of Virgil, line 204
The 9th line suggests Horace, Odes 3.3.1
The 10th line is quoted from Horace Odes
Book 1, Canto 24, 9th line
Grand Pré, Wolfville and surrounding towns continued to be the home of Rev. George's children and his grandchildren for many years. The "greener pastures" of other fields -- New England, California, and elsewhere drew many of a later generation to opportunities of less rigorous living, so that the family is now widely scattered. So far as the writer is aware the only descendants of the Rev. George Gillmore to follow the ministry were the late Rev. Aubrey Caldwell Gillmore (F- 8) a great, great, grandson who was born in Massachusetts 1871, educated to the Congregational ministry and later became an Episcopalian. At one time he was Rector of the Church of Our Savior in Middleboro, Mass. Another is the Rev. Ralph L. Tucker, also an Episcopalian (son of the writer) a great, great, great grandson born 1921 in Massachusetts, served as a Missionary in China until vacated by the Communist threat in November 1948 and now Rector of St. Martin's, New Bedford, Mass. The only other two are Charles Patterson (D -1) who died 1928, a Congregationalist, and Harry L. Smith (D-15), ordained Baptist minister.
Children of Rev. George and Ann Gillmore
A - REBECGA, born in Ireland,
married Samuel Densmore
B - JANE SOPHIA, born in
Ireland about 1763
married Lodovich Hunter
C - SAMUEL, born in
Ireland about 1767
married Sarah Hamilton
D - ANN, born in Voluntown,
Conn. 20 April 1771
married Archibald Smith
E - SARAH, born in Voluntown, Conn. 30 Sept. 1772 married lst Mr. Bennet, 2nd Mr. Cummings
F - GEORGE, born in
Voluntown, Conn. 13 Nov. 1774
married Rachel Terry
G - HANAH, date of birth
unknown but died in Voluntown, Conn.
30 Oct. 1774 as stated by Rev. George Gillmore in his own handwriting in his diary and must therefore have been very young. No record of birth found, which leads to surmise she may have been born in Ireland. This record of death is the sole information about Hanah known to the writer.
Gillmore Saga by Sidvin Frank Tucker, Boston, Mass. 1960 -- web version
prepared by Ian Scott in 1999
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