Over the summer holidays the Archivist has been working with Mrs Judith Bright, National Anglican Archivist on re-housing and re-listing a series of Diocesan Correspondence. This correspondence has been culled in the past by person(s) unknown however some crucial items have remained, largely to be found in a miscellaneous folder under letters of the Alphabet.

In an envelope under “B” was found a copy of a letter from William Guise  Brittan to the Archbishop of Canterbury. The handwriting appears to be that of Christopher Calvert, Secretary to the Bishop Designate, Thomas Jackson.

Transcribed it reads:

To the Most Reverend Father in God the Archbishop of Canterbury.

My Lord

I have the honour to be deputed by the Council of Canterbury Colonists, and in the name of our whole Body, to convey to Your Grace the expression of our very grateful thanks for the readiness with which Your Grace has so kindly consented to preach to us a farewell Sermon in the Cathedral of St Paul on Sunday morning next.

Regarding as we do the religious element as the distinguishing feature of our great scheme, we cannot but feel greatly encouraged by this public sanction of our undertaking on the part of Your Grace, as the Head of the Church and as we look forward with feelings of the most profound satisfaction to the prospect of receiving from Your Grace’s  hands the parting benediction, that will assure us of ( what we most desire to be supported by, in carrying out our great and difficult enterprise) the Church’s blessing and the Church’s prayers.

In the name of the whole Body of my grateful fellow Colonists

I have the Hour to subscribe myself

My Lord yr  most faithful & obed servt

W G Brittan Chairman

1 Adelphi Terrace Strand

August 29 1850.

William Guise Brittan was writing on behalf of the Society of Canterbury Colonists  which was formed  as they described in a letter to the Committee of Management of the Canterbury Association  “for the purpose of co-operation and mutual assistance and discussion amongst themselves upon items of interest to the general welfare of the settlement.”

The Minutes of this Society, which  on arrival in New Zealand became the Society of Land Purchasers in the Canterbury Settlement, and later reverted to the original name, can be found digitized and transcribed on the Christchurch City Library website. https://christchurchcitylibraries.com/DigitalCollection/Archives/Archive16/MinutesCanterburyColonists/PDF/Archive16-1.pdf

There is no mention of Brittan being asked to write the above letter, however there is a description of the actual event—a full choral communion service—in a number of English newspapers of early September 1850.

The Oxford and City Herald of 7 September 1850 reports that the Archbishop of Canterbury, John Bird Sumner, took as his text ‘The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all”. [Corinthians 13:14 ] He “earnestly exhorted those who were about sailing for their distant home ever to remember that they were members of the universal church dispersed throughout the world—a recollection which would support them in any of those difficulties and trials which they might be called upon to undergo.”