I H. Brooks



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Mr. Brooks tells Bishop Chase of a Mr. Cockren, who recently became Episcopalian. Brooks thinks Cockren would do good in the service of Bishop Chase in America, ministering to the "Scotch" in Ohio.




Retford, England


England voyage, Mr. Shaw, Church Missionary Society, Mr. Cockran


Retford 27th May 1824

Revd. & dear Sir

Among the numerous clergymen who have been introduced to you at the various places you have visited, you perhaps will not be able to recollect one of the names of Brooks who had that pleasure at the house of Mr. Shaw of Halifax. I think I understood from you at that time, not only that your object was to raise a Fund for a college in the diocese of Ohio, but also that you would be happy to meet with suitable persons to go out with you as preachers of the Gospel; and such a one I am inclined to think I can recommend to your notice from this neighbourhood. I will endeavour, without further preamble, to describe what he is, & what he is not. His name is William Cockren; he is a native of Chlingden [Chillingham?] near Woller Northumberd. But his dialect so broad, that I always supposed him to be a scotchman till he wrote his address &c; and indeed he considers himself one, and was educated & brought up a Presbyterian. His origin is mean; he has been trained up in his youth (but he is now only 27 years of age) to agriculture; with every branch of which he is acquainted; & I apprehend possesses rather superior abilities in that way; for he has had the situation of Bailiff of a gentlemans estate offered him more than once; and more particularly I understd that John Stuart Esq. of Trewitt House near Alnwick, with whom he served three years, would be likely to give him a good character as a husbandman, should it be needed. His reason for refusing the eligible situations which presented themselves in this department was that as soon as he received serious religious impressions, his desire was to preach the Gospel he had received to others; and though his circumstances almost led him to despair of ordination, yet he determined at all events to keep his object steadily in view, and the pursue such avocations as might rather facilitate his preparation, than retard it; or at least afford him opportunites for study. Consistently with this resolution he commenced teaching, as a village schoolmaster, in a very humble way in this neighbourhood. His school is in a house formerly licensed as a Methodist meeting, and Mr. Cockren used to co-operate in religious matters with that body, though he never was a member of their society. As he became better acquainted with them, he had reason to condemn, in his own judgment, many of their sentiments, and much of their system; which embroiled him with him: & his proceedings, in his endeavours to benefit the souls of those around him, had well nigh got him into difficulty, owing to the jealousy of some of the surrounding clergy. As he had been a hearer of mine when curate of this Parish, he applied to me for advice; and as I deemed his conduct irregular in several points, I condemned it, and advised such a course as was doubtless, to a member f another community, a great trail of his humility & self denial, & of his sincerity in applying to me for advice. He nevertheless, after due discussion, adopted it; and I can truly say, that ever since my acquaintance with him (which commenced at this time) I have found him teachable; and tenderness of conscience, and a desire to win souls, have ever seemed predominant in all his proceedings & determinations. From his application to me, and the advice which arose out of it, the question as to what is really an Apostolic Church came on the topic; which led to much earnest enquiry on his part, and I am happy to say, that the result is, he is now a Consistent Episcopalian. And I should add, that the curate of the parish in which he teaches & catechises; who is also the vicar of Pontefract (alias Pomfret) and who was in the first instance very prejudiced against him, has been so won by his prudent & Christian conduct, that he is now his warm friend, has him frequently to hi shouse to tea, helps him in Greek & Latin, & strongly advises his entering the Church. This is the more remarkable, as I am satisfied, that Mr. Cockren has never compromised his principles, nor concealed his sentiments; and Mr. Marshall, the Clergyman in question, is opposed professedly to men of Evangelical sentiments. When he consulted me about entering the Church, I dissuaded him from the idea of ever seeking to become a minister of the establishment in this country; for such is prejudice, that the circumstances of his birth, which would soon be blased[?] abroad were he likely to become useful; — his marriage also, for he is united to a young woman, who, though a suitable match for him, was a servant in a gentleman’s family in this neighbourhood, — his manners, which though meek and christian, have not that polish which bespeak the gentleman; — and lastly his dialect, & great want of information connected with all that is associated with enteel society in this part of the world; — these circumstances I repeat would I am sure prevent his usefulness, if he exercised his ministry in connection with the Establishment in this Country. Thinking him, however, well fitted for the Christian Ministry, I wrote to the Church Missionary Society, and communicated all particulars respecting him; & the result was, an offer on their part, in the first instance, of the situation of Farmer or superintendt. of the land ceded by the king of Travancore to the Syrian College; but as that situation would, as he conceives, close the door upon his hopes of preaching the Gospel, he has declined it, though eligible in a pecuniary point of view. I then determined to wait Mr. Bickersteth’s (the Secretary’s) annual visit to this place, that he might see & converse with Mr. Cockren; but in the mean while I thought from his knowledge of agriculture, his ability & readiness to endure hardships & privations, and the circumstance of there being so many Scotch in Ohio, he would be so desirable a coadjutor in your diocese, that I wrote to the Missionary Society for the printed statement concerning your visit, which I put into his hands. The result is a most earnest device on his part to be with you; & Mr. Bickersteth after conversing with him the day before yesterday, told me, he found his mind so biased toward Ohio, that tho’ he was much pleased with his spirit & character, & could wish to have him in the Employ of our Society as a Missionary, he thought it better that I should write to you. Of his other acquirements I have to notice that he is self taught in Latin & Greek (with the exception of Mr. Marshalls assistance) and is deficient in those languages. I have a brother whom I am preparing for the Church, & by way of improving him, & doing Mr. Cockren a service, I have set them to read Grotius & the Greek Testament togehter; occasionally examining them as they proceed. Mr. Cockren has since made a stride, but he is quite ignorant of prosody, and I have not cared to touch it; as I think, in his case, it is of very secondary consideration. Besides this however, he is well acquainted with Arithmetic and practical mathematics, so to be able to teach them; and I think would soon recover the Elements of Geometry (which he has formerly studies) so as to be able to do the same.

Under these circumstances, dear Sir, I introduce him to your notice; not so much the way of recommendation, as wishing you to exercise a cool & deliberate judgment. Have the goodness, however, to let me hear from you soon, that I may not keep him in unnecessary suspense; & if you do not think his services desirable, I have little doubt but he will be acceptable to the Church Missy. Society. I shoudl add, that he has no property; if therfore you feel disposed to ordain him, be so kind as to say whether he is ot accompany, or to follow you to America; & whether any assistance could be afforded him toward his Passage out: I think I might be able to raise a trifle her. I am so ignorant of the etiquette in America that I hope you will ecuse any irregularity or omission in my mode of addressing you; believe me to remain, with sincere respect, & prayer for the success of your object, Revd. & dear Sir


I H Brooks

Letter to Philander Chase



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