The Reverend Micajah Townsend

Micajah Townsend


The Reverend Micajah Townsend

For this section, I have taken most of my information from an article written by Frances Micajah Townsend, son of Micajah Townsend, and printed in a report by the Missisquoi County Historical Society. Direct quotations are taken from this article.

In the late 1700's and the early 1800's, the early settlers of Christie and Caldwell Manors were served by clergymen who visited the area. Eventually, in 1815, a meeting was held to discuss a proposal to build a church. Construction of St. George's Anglican Church in Clarenceville was begun in 1818 and completed in 1820. From the very beginning, the Reverend Micajah Townsend was ever present in the life of the people of Clarenceville and in the lives of our ancestors.

Micajah was born January 22, 1789 in Brattleboro, Vermont. His family moved to Farnham, Quebec where the British government had given to each member of the family of Colonel Samuel Wells in 1798, 1200 acres of land as a reward for their loyalty during the War of Independence. Micajah's mother was a daughter of Samuel Wells and was therefore entitled to such an allotment. Micajah came with his parents, Micajah (his father) and Mary (Wells).

In 1810, at the age of twenty-one, his health somewhat impaired by the hard labor of clearing the land for a new farm in the wilderness, he left home to teach school in Alburgh, Vermont and eventually, Northfield, Massachusetts. He returned home in March 1812, a journey of two hundred miles on foot in six days

Not long after his return, he began his studies for the ministry in the Church of England. He supported himself once again by teaching at a small school at Philipsburgh on the eastern shore of Missisquoi Bay. He was ordained Deacon in 1815 and assigned to the parish of St. George de Clarenceville. Under his direction, funds were raised and the church built in or about the year 1818. Mr. Townsend also contributed toward its construction.

Mr. Townsend purchased a farm near the church and built himself a house and rectory about the year 1820. Eventually, churches were also built in the parish at St. Thomas and Henryville. The rectory of Clarenceville was created and presented to the Rev. Micajah Townsend as first rector on May 10, 1822. Mr. Townsend also held the position of chaplain to the forces on Isle aux Noix. a fort on an island in the Richelieu River, about six miles from Clarenceville.

Micajah was married on March 19, 1823, to Anne Elizabeth Davidson of Plattsburgh, NY. They had three children: Morris Miller, Frances Lupton and Micajah. The latter two died in early childhood. After eleven years of happy marriage his wife died in 1834.

Some time after the death of his wife, Micajah met his second wife, Sarah Kellogg Nash, born in Connecticut, currently in Plattsburgh, where she was teaching. They were married on July 6, 1836 at the home of her brother in St. Alban's Vermont where he was rector. The couple had six children: Heber, Hobart, Anne Eliza, Helen, Frances Micajah and Harriet Matilda.

Continued in column 2...

Micajah Townsend (continued)

His term of ministry over these parishes extended over fifty-six years. His sole stipend from the responsibilities consisted of eight hundred dollars. The rearing and educating of a large family, often augmented in numbers by children of relatives unable to acquire a proper education, open hospitality to all who might come, and a liberal contribution to all public objects, was a drain upon the limited private exchequer which only the most skilful financiering could accomplish.

His achievements are many:

- In the early settlement of the parish, Mr. Townsend transacted and prepared all legal work such as wills and petitions for local purposes.

- During the rebellion of 1836-38, Mr. Townsend was instrumental in helping farmers receive compensation for losses suffered by raids from across the border. In appreciation, he was presented with a number of articles of silver plate.

- He played a significant role in the building of the Academy at Clarenceville and was chairman of the Board of Directors.

- After the first restoration of the Church of St. George, he donated to the Church a very beautiful stained glass window which he purchased at his own expense. It was placed in the chancel and was much admired.

>- In 1854, Mr. Townsend was made an Honorable Canon of the Cathedral of Montreal.

- On June 14, 1865, an impressive gathering of the congregations were present at the rectory to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of his ministry and to present him with gifts.

His devotion to his work and commitment to the people in the parish at Clarenceville is beautifully expressed by his son: The exposure involved in attending parishes distantly situated was often very great. The work was only accomplished with much difficulty and suffering, especially in the winter season; but it was a rare occurrence when the violence of the storm, even with low temperature, prevented him from keeping his appointment with the people.

As can be seen from the accompanying photo, he was a handsome man and prepossessing in appearance. He was courtly in manner, kindly and genial in disposition, a loving father, and ever a faithful friend. His death took place at Clarenceville. January 17, 1871 and he was buried on his birthday, January 22, 1871, full of days and of the honor and love of his family and fiends.

It is evident that Reverend Micajah Townsend played a significant part in the development of the town of Clarenceville and is intertwined with the early history of the family of Benjamin Bullock. His beautiful writing as found in his signature on most of the documents of birth, marriage and death is a mark of his impact on them in their community of Clarenceville.


1. "Reverend Micajah Townsend." Fifth Report of the Transactions of the Missisquoi County Historical Society: Consisting of Papers, Sketches, Items and Portraits of Local and National Interest. This account of the life of Canon Townsend was written by his son, the late Francis Micajah Townsend, and is copied from his book, the "The Townsend Family Record."Missisquoi County Historical Society, 1913; p. 84 to 94.

2. Photo of Reverend Canon Micajah Townsend: Ibid; p. 84