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Saint James The Apostle,
Sherrington, Quebec's Vanishing Anglican Church

In 1837 and 1838 an itinerant Deacon named William Dawes, with the support of a missionary society of Christ Church in Montreal, set forth an Anglican revival in the growing communities between the Richelieu River and Covey Hill. Among his stops were Anglo settlements in the Seigniory of Lacolle and Hemmingford Township, including Roxham, Bogton, Covey Hill and Scrivers Corners. The main route of travel from Montreal, to Hemmingford, passed through the Seigniory of Sherrington where there also existed a substantial cluster of Irish and a few English settlers regionally coexisting with Hemmingford and Lacolle pioneers. In 1838 the peripatetic Reverend Dawes held services at Sherrington and found a faithful energetic congregation.

A church was soon proposed for the Sherrington flock, its construction initiated on Lot 42 of the 2nd Range. John Boston granted the parcel to the Anglican Bishop, George J. Mountain of Montreal. Boston was a Sheriff of Montreal and a substantial landowner. The Sherrington Church was built of stone and featured arched windows and door. Work on the building was completed in due course and the Church was in use by 1843. It was eventually equipped with all the essentials for divine worship. The worthy structure was dedicated and consecrated by Bishop Mountain on the 9th of July, 1846 as the Church of Saint James the Apostle.

By the time the Sherrington Church was fully constructed, its pioneer clergyman, the Reverend William Dawes, had been replaced. Reverend William Bennett Bond was appointed to the region in 1840 and Reverend Robert George Plees soon followed him. In addition to overseeing completion of new churches at Sherrington and Hemmingford, both of Reverend Dawes’ successors were responsible for a wide constituency, from Lacolle as far west as Edwardstown and Russelltown.

During the first confirmation at the Sherrington Church in 1843, the mainly Irish congregation of 150 expressed their dissatisfaction with mere weekday services. A request was made for a permanent minister. Bishop Mountain responded by appointing the Reverend Henry Hazard, a new arrival from England, who had recently been ordained Deacon. Reverend Hazard’s charge, then known as the Sherrington Mission, would also include the soon to be completed Saint Paul’s Church, three miles north of Srcivers Corners, and high-spirited congregations meeting in several schoolhouses throughout Hemmingford Township.

During the latter part of Henry Hazard’s fourteen-year appointment to the circuit, Reverend J. Mckeown and Reverend Gerald de Courcy O’Grady assisted. When Henry Hazzard moved on, Reverend McKeown was appointed to Saint Paul’s and Reverend O’Grady was assigned to Sherrington and Napierville. In January of 1856, Reverend Thomas Mussen led the mission briefly until June of that year when Reverend Edward Duvernet arrived from the Eastern Townships.

The number of Anglican families diminished in Sherrington through the 1840s and 1850s. Sherrington settlers were resentful of seigniorial rents and fees and many were dissatisfied with the poor quality of the soil and low productivity of their land. When the fertile Hemmingford Crown Reserves opened for settlement in 1834, many Sherrington pioneers took the opportunity to improve their situation. For the sum of one hundred dollars a settler could purchase a partially cleared lot, sometimes including a squatter’s abandoned shanty.

The breaking up of the original Hemmingford Township into three smaller blocks led to an inevitable reorganization of the Sherrington Mission. For the next several years the regions circuits were rearranged to accommodate the changes in population and demographics. The Sherrington congregation was subsequently realigned with other churches in Henrysburg, Napierville and L’Acadie. By 1859 there were still some twenty active families making up the dwindling Saint James Congregation. It was at this time that the mission was attached to Lacolle and served by Reverend C. R. Wetherall.

Monthly services continued at Saint James Church through the 1860s led by the Reverend Edward Duvernet. The last service was held on the 11th of June, 1872 for the wedding of Christiana Sophia Busby of Sherrington, and John Albert Cookman of Bogton. Although the church had long been out of use, it was cleaned and made ready for the final ceremony.

Not one Protestant family remained in Sherrington by the turn of the century. The church was sadly in a ruinous state with only its walls remaining upright. The journal of the 37th Synod of the Diocese of Montreal recorded the following notation, “The Church has long been disused and the Reverend Walter Windsor made application on behalf of Mr. Boston Stewart, Seignior, by who’s uncle the site had been given, for authority to take down and remove the unsightly walls of the church and to make a friendly arrangement with one of the neighbors to fence off and protect that part of the lot used as a graveyard in return for the privilege of cultivating another part of the lot fronting the ruin.” The matter was referred to the Chancellor who saw no legal objection to the agreement. He did not however see his way to allowing the removal of the Church which he thought from a legal point of view, should not be disturbed. Authority was given in accordance with the report.

The property was later leased in 1918, under an agreement approved by Bishop Farthing, to a near-by proprietor, on the similar condition that the cemetery be fenced in and remain accessible. The parcel was finally sold with perpetual terms for the cemetery remaining in place.

Today, nothing remains of the Church of Saint James the Apostle at Sherrington, or the iron fence that once stood around its hallowed Anglican burring ground. Much of the Churches written history was reduced to ash, when fire ravaged the old Hemmingford parsonage. With the exception of one window, which was removed to the Napierville Chapel upon its construction, its brief thirty-year existence is all but forgotten. Vanished is this sacred place where early Anglican settlers worshiped, wed, and laid their loved ones to rest.

The St James Church ruins as painted by Laura Elizabeth Keddy

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