Letter from W[illiam] Dowson, Port of Spain, Trinidad, to Reverend Dr [Thomas] Coke and the [Wesleyan Methodist] Missionary Committee, with enclosure of extract from the minutes of the Council of Trinidad

Scope and Content

Letter addressed to Mr Tho[ma]s Blanshard, City Road, London. A number of 'unfounded and infamous' accounts being circulated suggesting Mr [Thomas] Talboys is a disturber of the peace, etc. When he arrived on 14th March unable to land until the intervention of Mr [Thomas] Tyler. Upon landing he found the chapel shut, Talboys on a charge, not permitted to preach, and being vilified by press and public. Has asked Governor for permission to preach but denied. On 20th March Governor and council met and placed charges before Talboys (who denied them). Talboys allowed to preach but under restrictions (including only preaching or meeting three times a week) as enclosed [see below]. Entreats Coke and committee to use influence to remove restrictions on them, particularly with regard to preaching to 'negroes'. He and Talboys are generally in good health except that his eyes weakened by the 'excessive heat'. In postscript mentions there may be an opportunity to preach in Martinique.

Enclosure is entitled 'Trinidad. Extract from the Minutes of His Majesties Council held by adjournment at the Government House the 20th April 1811' and considers a petition accusing Talboys of 'holding forth Doctrines destructive of the good order and peaceable conduct of the free coloured inhabitants & slaves of the Islands', not complying with his license to preach, extracting contributions from poor followers and promoting 'dangerous principles of equality'. Petition requests he is expelled from Colony. Talboys denies all charges and supported by Mr Camm. Until clarification is received from Crown Talboys is permitted to officiate in his chapel under the following restrictions: (1) Obeys section 5 of the Act of Toleration, (2) confines sermons to the Gospel without alluding to politics, (3) not administer the sacrament, (4) only three divine services a week and no later than 8 o'clock.

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