From the Saunderson Rare Books Room: Bishop Strachan Pamphlets

This month’s special collections feature is a set of recently purchased pamphlets which contain the writings of Bishop John Strachan. These pamphlets were once owned, and were bound into two volumes, by John Solomon Cartwright (1804-1845), aristocrat, lawyer, and politician, son of Richard Cartwright, the man who brought Strachan to Canada in the first place.


The first of these volumes, A Letter, to the Congregation of St. James’ Church, York, U. Canada, Occasioned by the Hon. John Elmsley’s Publication, of the Bishop of Strasbourg’s Observations, on the 6th Chapter of St. John’s Gospel, was written by Strachan while he was the Archdeacon of York. The letter is an explanation by Strachan of why it was that John Elmsley had converted to Catholicism (he was sufficiently persuaded by an argument about transubstantiation), and why he was being mislead by the Bishop of Strasbourg. It is a slim volume, only 100 or so pages long, and it has held up well since its publication in 1834.


The second volume is a little more complicated. It contains eight distinct publications which Cartwright had bound together. The publications range from an annual report of a New York State Sunday School Society to published letters or sermons by clergymen celebrating the lives of other clergymen. What interested the John W. Graham Library in this book were two sermons and a letter by Bishop Strachan: Church Fellowship: A Sermon, Preached on Wednesday, September 5, 1832. At the Visitation of the Honorarle [sic] and Right Rev. Charles James, Lord Bishop of QuebecA Sermon on the Death of the Honorable Richard Cartwright: With a Short Account of His Life. Preached at Kingston, on the 3rd of September, 1815; and A Letter to the Rev. Thomas Chalmers, D.D. Professor of Divinity in the University of Edinburgh, on the Life and Character of the Right Reverend Dr. Hobart, Bishop of New-York, North-America. It was not uncommon for people, especially in the nineteenth century, when they had accumulated a number of pamphlets or short books which were usually purchased without covering boards, to have several of them bound into a single volume. While this can mean that several items that normally would not sit next to each other on the shelf are all now located in the same place, it is more important for the library to preserve the volume as it was created and used, rather than to separate all of the pamphlets into their own discrete units.


Like all our rare books and special collections items, these two volumes are available for consultation any time in the John W. Graham Library. For further information, please inquire at the circulation desk or contact us at

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