Duncan McColl joined the British 74th Regiment of Foot (Argyll Highlanders) as a company pay sergeant in 1777 when Colonel John Campbell of Barbreck was recruiting men for service with the regiment during the American Revolution. He accompanied the regiment to Halifax, then to Fort George (Castine, Maine), and finally to New York where he was discharged in 1783. He was on board a Loyalist refugee ship bound for Halifax which encountered such severe weather it was blown off course and eventually reached Bermuda. It was during his stay there that he met his future wife, Elizabeth Channal, a Methodist from Philadelphia, and was strongly influenced by the Bermudan Methodists.
In the spring of 1784 the refugees finally reached Halifax, and in 1785 McColl and his wife moved to St. Andrews, and then to St. Stephen, New Brunswick. McColl was employed for a time to administer the financial affairs of two army officers, but soon began ministering to the refugee Loyalists who had come to the area. The following years saw the phenomenal growth of Methodism in south-western New Brunswick. William Black founded the Nova Scotia District in 1786 and McColl became a member in 1792. For several years he was the only Methodist preacher in New Brunswick. In 1795 he was ordained by the Methodist Episcopal Conference at New London, Connecticut. During his final years, McColl was given an assistant missionary to serve the outlying parishes of St. David, St. Andrews and St. Patrick, but he continued to serve St. Stephen until shortly before his death at the age of 76 years in 1830.
The collection contains the correspondence and sermons, as well as some personal notes and accounts for the methodist minister at St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Duncan McColl, 1794-1839. The correspondence, mostly to McColl, which came from members of the church in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, share impressions of the state of the church and the difficulties it encountered in various places in the region, and of personal spirituality. McColl's personal notes found scattered within his sermon book, give insight into his life ministering and his sentiments about some of the issues arising in the St. Croix River area during his time there. Two revealing letters pertaining to McColl and family are included. Topics covered include for example: religion, missions, ministers, evangelicalism, health, finances,Bible Society, local history relating to the war of 1812 and boundary dispute.
Detailed Contents (arranged as follows):
Section 1: Mostly letters from Methodist preachers to McColl, 1799-1839. Topics covered include: personal health and spirituality; religion – travels preaching, local situations, conferences, McColl’s difficulties with Thomas Asbury; lack of missionaries; financial difficulties, lists of those recently deceased, and the Bible Society. Letters are as follows:
Section 2: Sermon Record, 4 April 1794 – 1818; includes the dates and places of sermons and the biblical text utilised for each. Scattered within are some pages of a personal note book and a section with accounts (1796 onward). At the end are certificates pertaining to McColl’s appointments (1792-95) – 1. Elder of Methodist Episcopal Church, signed Francis Asbury; 2. Oaths taken and subscribed by law, signed by Jonathan Odell; and 3. Elected member Methodist Society at Chapel in St. Stephen, signed by Robert Hutching, William Kennedy, Robert Watson and Benjamin Gitchell and others.
Section 3: Miscellaneous letters to McColl, 1808-1828; relates to the following: religion, health, bible society, impressions on imminent war and St. Andrew’s preparedness, family, boundary dispute and conduct of preachers, and evangelicalism.
The following letters are included:
- James Mann (Shelburne) to John Kirk (Liverpool): 10 Feb 1799
- James Mann (Shelburne) to Alexander Cook (NY): 24 Oct 1804; 4 Mar 1805
- James Mann (St. John) to McColl (St. Stephen): 25 Aug 1819
- William Bennett to McColl (St. Stephen): 22 Mar 1809 from St. John; 24 Apr 1813 from Sackville; 20 Mar 1817 from Granville, NS; 5 June 1821 from Horton, NS
- William Croscombe (St. John) to McColl (St. Stephen): 1 Sept 1815; 25 Jan 1816; 4 May 1816; 19 Nov 1816
- R. Alder (St. John) to McColl (St. Stephen): 18 June 1821; 23 Nov 1821
- Knowlan (St. John) to McColl (St. Stephen): 14 Feb 1814
- James Priestley to McColl (St. Stephen): 7 Jun 1817 from Halifax; Aug 1823 from Sackville
- William Sutcliffe (Granville, NS) to McColl: 17 Apr 1812
- J. Dunbar (Halifax) to McColl: 11 Nov 1818
- Alex McLeod (St. John) to McColl: 17 June 1826
- Stephen Bamford (St. John) to John Smith (Windsor, NS): 10 April 1838
- William Croscombe (Montreal) to John and William Smith (Windsor, NS): 4 Dec 1833
- R.H. Crane to Isaac Enslow (Shelburne, NS): June 1824
- A.C. Avard (Halifax) to Isaac Enslow (Shelburne): 2 June 1818
- I/J? Shaw (New Providence) to John Smith Jr. (Windsor, NS): 18 Jan 1831
- G.T. Ray (St. John) to John Smith (Windsor, NS): 22 Aug 1839
- A? McNutt (Peticodiac, NB) to Charlotte Newton (Guysborough, NS): 8 Aug 1826, his sister
- Hugh McLaurin(nephew, South Carolina) to McColl: (9 letters). Religion and health; health and family in South Carolina (including his brother John McColl); 9 January 1808 the state of religion in South Carolina and family health inquiries; 15 August 1808 religion in his area and family matters; 26 June 1809 family matters and matters regarding Duncan Stewart; 2 April 1810 family matters; 28 July 1811 family matters, 6 October 1811 family matters, 25 April 1815 family matters.
- George Gawler (St. Andrews) to McColl: (3 letters). 9 December 1824 includes plans for Society, bibles for Parent initiation in Saint John; 5 January 1825 St. Stephen’s Bible Committee; 16 September 1826 leaving St. Andrews for Saint John and Liverpool, Nova Scotia.
- M. G. [Martin Gay] Black (Halifax, Nova Scotia) to McColl: (2 letters). 29 June 1821 mentions Mr. Ritchie and his whereabouts preaching, Reverend Mann and Reverend Avard, parents who attended a conference at Horton and now at Cumberland, Black’s family, Black’s spirituality, and bible society. 13 August 1823 mentions a lack of books, family matters, and religion in Marsault Bay and Cole Harbour.
- Reverend John Sprott (Windsor, Nova Scotia) to McColl: (2 letters). 28 March 1822 mentions Reverend Gray, want of more missionaries, and Bible Society. 9 October 1822 mentions the flock (congregation) at Pictou and witnessing the Shelburne revival.
- John Campbell (St. Andrews) to McColl: (3 letters). 10 September 1812 mentions impressions on the immanency of war, Commodore Roger’s squadron chased off Sable Island, Captain Dacer, Commander Querreer, and underage commanders, as well as the poor military readiness of many towns. 3 January 1814 mentions the expected conduct of Ministers of Gospels on boundary lines while at war, Black’s licence, a discrepancy with Odell, and mail (interceptions). 4 February 1814 mentions McColl’s political views, Major Buck relieved by Major King’s detachment of the 99th Regiment, and Campbell’s wife’s health.
- D. M. Bennison (woman, Saint John, New Brunswick) to McColl: (2 letters). 6 September 1814 mentions personal spirituality. 11 August 1815 mentions her health, husband’s health, and family spirituality.
- D. H. Lunt (Saint John, New Brunswick) to McColl: 7 August 1809 the letter is faint – mentions personal spirituality.
- David Avery (Mansfield, Connecticut) to McColl: 21 April 1810 mentions McColl in Maine and spiritual laments on the spread of Zion.
- Timothy Robinson (Eastport, Maine) to McColl: 31 July 1818 mentions travels and impressions on work of God.
- John Brewer et al. (Robbinston, Maine) to McColl: 31 August 1818 includes an invite to McColl to the installation of Pastor Daniel Lovejoy.
- Enoch Mudge to McColl: 10 September 1816. Writing to inform McColl that he is ill and must move. Also mentions the work of God beginning to revive the Circuit.
- Angus McKenzie (Moose Island) to McColl: 2 April 1819. Blessings to go to Indians ; poor state of health after leaving Schoodick.
- St. Andrew’s Bible Society to McColl: 5 January 1825. Cooperation suggested benefitial between St. Stephens, St. Andrews. Signed George Gawler, John Cassiles, Alexander McLean.
- R. Williams (Saint John, New Brunswick) to McColl: 2 September 1827. Received payments for books sent.
- Alexander McLean (St. Andrews, New Brunswick) to McColl: 9 September 1828. Asking him to meet and inquiring about books he sent to McColl.
- E. Kellogg (Belfast, Maine) to McColl: 8 October 1825. State of missions in area where Kellogg preaches.
- Thomas Wyer (St. Andrews, New Brunswick) to McColl: 19 January 1816.
- McColl (St. Stephen, New Brunswick) to George Hill: 29 June 1819. Subscriptions for relief and help of suffers of the Battle of Waterloo; mentions spirituality of dead wife; state of the church; personal matters (including loneliness).