By John P. Greene
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Additional resources for Between Damnation and Starvation: Priests and Merchants in Newfoundland Politics, 1745-1855
36 Such reports reveal the presence of some circumstances that made Newfoundland ripe for the appeal of sectarian religion. It was British Wesleyans, however, and not New England "sectaries," who best took advantage of that situation. During the eighteenth century and especially after 1750, the loyalty of New Englanders was suspect throughout the British colonies and the suspicions were all confirmed with the American rebellion in the 17705. Newfoundlanders, although prone to drunkenness and rioting, had learned by hard experience that their fortunes lay with the British connection.
Nevertheless, there were disturbing rumours afloat of a government plan not rooted in the reality of the times. 24 Anglican claims upon special government favour were based on a pessimistic assessment of their position in the colony and long-standing fears of both Catholics and Wesleyan Methodists. 25 It is clear, however, that by the mid-i8305 Anglicans were barely 35 per cent of the population, a marked decline from the middle of the eighteenth century when they accounted for almost the entire population of the colony.
In addition, new rules for empanelling juries reserved their membership to "Principal Merchants and Gentlemen," thereby making it much more difficult for a Catholic to be a juryman. 22 At government expense, the Anglican bishop of the diocese of Nova Scotia was escorted to and from Newfoundland on board a British man-of-war, and as the bishop of Newfoundland he was accorded precedence at Government House. H. Carrington, was on full pay as garrison chaplain, a privilege not yet accorded to any Roman Catholic priest although considerable numbers of Catholic soldiers were stationed at the garrison.