Rev. W. H. Spencer (1855-1929)
William Herbert Spencer was born in Great Village, Nova Scotia, on 6 June 1855, to Martha and J. F. Spencer. He had at least two siblings, Eldridge F. (b. 1858) and Romelia (poss. Amelia) Anne (b. 1870). William's father, J. F. Spencer, was a farmer and as a result, most of William’s youth and early adulthood was spent on the farm.
In 1872, William represented his Sabbath school at the Maritime Convention in Summerside, Prince Edward Island. The following year he attended Pictou Academy. He would then attend Dalhousie University for four years after which he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1881. William continued his education at the Theological Hall (Pine Hill) in Halifax, and then at Princeton Theological College, where received his theology degree in 1884.
Throughout his education William worked as a school teacher in Mount Pleasant, Highland Village, and Nappan.
On 8 January 1884, William married Mary E. Peppard in Great Village, Nova Scotia. They had three children; Marie Herbertine, b. 17 November 1884 (later Mrs. A.C. Sinclair), Eldridge Geddie, b. 12 September 1886, and Willard Graham, b. 21 April 1889. All three children were born in Georgetown, PEI.
In April 1884, William was licensed by the Presbytery of Halifax. His ordination occurred on 2 October 1884, in Georgetown, Prince Edward Island and he was inducted into the charge of Georgetown and Montague until 1888.
In 1900, William became the first vice-president of the Interdenominational Sunday School District Association.
By 1905 he was the Minister of St. James Presbyterian Church, in Covehead PEI, one of the oldest church buildings on the Island.
William was a member of the Orange Association Lodge and was the Grand Chaplain of the Order in Prince Edward Island. He wrote an article on the history of the Lodge in PEI in 1905.
According to the 1911 Canadian Census, he was living as a boarder in Queens County, Prince Edward Island, with his wife, Mary.
William was also appointed as an agent of the Maritime Provinces for the Augmentation Fund of Presbyterian Church.
In 1921, William became the pastor of St. Matthew’s Church in St. John, New Brunswick. He remained there until 1925, when several Protestant denominations joined together and created the United Church of Canada.
William retired from the ministry when he was 70 years old. According to his obituary in The Guardian, Spencer was “...recognized as one of the ablest preachers in the Presbyterian Church and regarded as a man of very high intellectual attainment” (p. 6).
On 2 April, 1929, Reverend William Herbert Spencer died, as a result of angina pectoris, in his home on Brighton Road, in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.
UPEI’s Provenance Collection holds a full four-volume set of The Ante-Nicene Fathers by A. Cleveland. Inside there is a bookplate that reads Legislative Library gift of Rev. W.H. Spencer.
1871 Census of Canada. Census Place: Lower Londonderry, Colchester, Nova Scotia;Roll: C-10557; Page: 30; Family No: 108
1881 Census of Canada. Census Place: Lower Londonderry, Colchester, Nova Scotia; Roll: C_13174; Page: 27; Family No: 116
1891 Census of Canada. Census Place: Lot 59, Kings, Prince Edward Island; Roll: T-6382; Family No: 171
1901 Census of Canada. Census Place: Lot (township/canton) 59, Kings, Prince Edward Island; Page: 15; Family No: 133
1911 Census of Canada. Census Place: 21 - Part - Township 33, Queens, Prince Edward Island; Page: 8; Family No: 68
1921 Census of Canada. Reference Number: RG 31; Folder Number: 36; Census Place: Saint John (City) - Lorne Ward, St John and Albert, New Brunswick; Page Number: 10
“City and Country News.” The Charlottetown Guardian, 27 September 1900. Pg. 9. Accessed through Island Newspapers on 14 November 2016.
Cochrane, William. The Canadian Album: Men of Canada. Volume III.. Bradley, Garretson & Company, 1894. Accessed through Google Books
“In Memoriam.” The Charlottetown Guardian, 4 April 1929. Pg. 6. Accessed through Island Newspapers on 14 November 2016.
Nova Scotia Marriage Registrations. Year: 1884. Book: 1809. Page: 214. No.: 5. Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics. Nova Scotia Archives, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
“The Presbytery on Church Union.” The Charlottetown Guardian, 11 May 1904. Pg. 1. Accessed through Island Newspapers on 14 Novemeber 2016.
Prince Edward Island Baptismal Records. Year: 1889. Baptismal Place: Montague, Prince Edward Island. Book: 2. Prince Edward Island Public Archives and Records Office.
Prince Edward Island Baptismal Records. Year: 1885. Baptismal Place: Georgetown, Prince Edward Island. Book: 1. Page: 28. Prince Edward Island Public Archives and Records Office.
Prince Edward Island Baptismal Records. Year: 1886. Baptismal Place: Georgetown, Prince Edward Island. Book: 1. Page: 30 Prince Edward Island Public Archives and Records Office.
Spencer, W.H. Early History of the Orange Association in Prince Edward Island, 1905. Accessed 7 March 2017.
St. James Church in Covehead PEI. www.historicplaces.ca Accessed 7 March 2017.
Photo from William Cochrane's book The Canadian Album: Men of Canada. Accessed through Google Books