REVEREND THOMAS SHREVE UE, LOYALIST.
Before leaving for Lunenburg, Rev. Shreve sold some of his property. In 1798 he sold 127 acres of lot 3 for ten pounds to John Vickery. (51) In 1801 he sold lot 20, that he states had been deeded to him by Asa Olney and consisted of 250 acres, for 40 pounds to Daniel Holmes. (52) He sold another portion of lot 3 consisting of 91 and four tenths acres to John Vickery in 1803 for 20 pounds. (53) The remainder of his property in Parrsboro was sold by his family after his death in three transactions between 1827 and 1835. (54) It would appear that the records of land transactions for this period are not complete as the deeds referenced above suggest there were previous sales of Rev. Shreve's land for which there is no official record.
The first records relating to Rev. Shreve's ministry at St. John's Anglican Church in Lunenburg are dated 1807 (55), although DesBrisay claims Rev. Shreve began his duties at Lunenburg in 1804, a year after Rev. Richard Money, his predecessor, suffered from a stroke. (56) The original church was unheated, and parishioners brought their dogs to church to lie on their feet to warm them according to church guides. The first stove was installed during Rev. Shreve's ministry. Rev. Shreve obtained tracts and books that were sold to parishioners to encourage reading. (57)
Some time after he became Rector at Lunenburg, he received a commission to keep a school there and, in 1810, was appointed one of twenty-two Justices of the Peace for the County. These extra duties were necessary as Anglican Priests throughout Nova Scotia again had problems with remuneration. The British government imposed income tax in 1805 to pay for the war with France. By 1811 this had risen from 5 per cent to 15 per cent. He lost a dispute over the tax increase in 1811 and, with the penalty he was forced to pay, it cost him more than one year's salary. In addition, the exchange rate was extremely unfavourable to the colonists. The tax and exchange-rate together reduced his annual government allowance by one third. (58)
He was good friends with Detleb Christopher lessen who donated bells for the church and after whom Rev. Shreve named his son, Charles Jessen Shreve. According to DesBrisay, "As for travelling conveyance, none was seen until about fifty years ago when the late Rev. Thomas Shreve drove the first gig, the first four-wheeled carriage having been imported by the late Dr. Bolman." (59) It seems Rev. Shreve's spirit was undimmed by the strenuous life he had faced in Parrsboro.
Rev. Thomas Shreve died in Lunenburg on 21 August 1816. (60) A search for his will in the records of Service Nova Scotia, Bridgewater, Lunenburg County, shows that he died intestate. According to records of St. John's Anglican Church, he was buried on 24 August 1816 by Rev. Charles Inglis, the Missionary at Chester. (61) His name appears on a plaque that lists those buried beneath the church. It also appears on another plaque in the church with that of his son-in-law, Dr. Godfrey Jacobs, who for many years was a physician in Lunenburg. The plaques and remains were rescued from the fire that destroyed the church in 2001. St. John's church was subsequently rebuilt exactly as it had been. Rev. Shreve worked hard to minister to a far-flung parish, to improve the lot of his parishioners and to support his family. It was said of him that he was a Christian gentleman with broad religious principles. (62)
At the time of his death his wife, Abigail, was 44 years old with five children under the age of 15 to support, the youngest only six years old. In spite of the difficulties she may have faced, the children did well. James and his younger brother, Charles Jessen, both became Anglican priests in Nova Scotia. Mary Ann married Dr. Godfrey Jacobs, the doctor of Lunenburg. One of Rev. Shreve's great-grandsons, Richmond Harold Shreve, was head of the architectural firm "Shreve, Lamb and Harmon," that designed and built the Empire State Building in New York City. Richmond Shreve oversaw the construction. (63) Abigail herself died thirty-three years after her husband, on 16 April 1849. At the time she was living with her son, Rev. James Shreve, and his family at the rectory in Chester, Nova Scotia. (64) She is buried in the church yard of St. Stephen's Anglican Church. (65)
A copy of a painting of Rev. Shreve still hangs in St. John's Anglican Church. The original portrait (Figure 1) belonged to a cousin of mine who said it hung in her parents' home when she was a child. She donated the portrait to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. The appraisal done for the Art Gallery describes the painting as "watercolour and ink on paper." The appraiser assumed that Rev. Shreve must have been a prominent citizen as "Only the relatively socially prominent people had their portraits painted in those days." The appraisal further concludes that the portrait appears to have been painted by an artist in Nova Scotia. (66)
In sharing Shreve family information with cousins, another version of the portrait came to light. One of Rev. Shreve's descendants who lives in the United States owns the second portrait. The second version appears to be oil on canvas. Neither portrait was signed by the artist. From the similarities, both appear to have been painted from the same sitting. It is possible that the watercolour/ink portrait was a sketch made quickly at a sitting and that the more formal oil painting was done later in the artist's studio. As Rev. Shreve was not a wealthy person, it is unlikely that he would have commissioned a portrait of himself. If St. John's Anglican Church in Lunenburg had commissioned the portrait, the original would most likely have remained in the church. It may have been a gift from a friend, possibly D.C. Jessen, or the Masons may have commissioned it on the occasion of his sermon in 1803.
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Dorothy Meyerhof wrote Part One of the life and service of Reverend Thomas Shreve UE, Loyalist, that appeared in The Loyalist Gazette, Spring 2019, Volume LVII, No. I, page 28 to 31.