A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF HUTCHINSON

A SHORT BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF REV. RICHARD HUTCHINSON

By Denis Fortin

(April 1994)

Personal life :

Rev. Richard Hutchinson was born around 1823 near Liverpool, England. In the late 1830s he emigrated to Stanstead, Lower Canada. There he met Valeria Mansur, daughter of Daniel Mansur and Nancy Davis. Valeria was born on May 27, 1814 in Stanstead. Her father Daniel Mansur was born December 4, 1769 in Methuen, Massachussetts, and her mother, Nancy Davis, was born January 18, 1776 in Barrington, New Hampshire. Valeria’s parents were married on March 6, 1798 and moved to Stanstead in 1801.[1]

In 1861, the Hutchinsons lived near Waterloo in Shefford township and by then had six children. The census returns indicate that, in 1861, Richard was 38 years old and was a doctor by profession. Valeria Mansur, his wife, was 47. Their six children were Mary (20), William (17), Nancy (15), R.T. (male) (12), Alfred (9) and Nora (6). The census returns indicate also that Richard Hutchinson was born in England, while the rest of the family were born in Canada.[2]

Professional life :

Rev. Richard Hutchinson came to Canada in the late 1830s to serve as a Wesleyan Methodist missionary. However, before coming to Canada, he received some medical training which allowed him to go by the title of Doctor. He was sometimes referred as Doctor Hutchinson.

In 1842, an Adventist minister by the name of Josiah Litch came to Stanstead to preach the Adventist message that the Lord Jesus Christ would return to the earth around 1843. Hutchinson went to hear him and was convinced of this message. From that moment on, Hutchinson became an Adventist minister. (He was not the only minister to make this switch from one denomination to Adventism. Other ministers, either Methodist or Baptist, in northern Vermont and Lower Canada accepted the Adventist doctrines.)

Hutchinson became very active in the Adventist denomination. During 1843-1844 he published an Adventist periodical, The Voice of Elijah, which was published from Sherbrooke (Québec), Montreal or Toronto. This paper was sent free of charge to England where it was used to raise an Adventist awareness and Adventist churches. The Voice of Elijah was discontinued in late 1844.

Even though the Adventist prophecy that Christ would return around 1843-1844 did not materialize, Hutchinson continued a very faithful ministry for this group of believers and was instrumental in shaping and institutionalizing the Adventist Church in the Eastern Townships of Québec. In 1846, he went back to England, without his family, to visit his parents and to preach the Adventist doctrines. When he came back in 1847, he suffered from a throat disease which left him unable to use his voice for many years. His ministry to the Adventist Church was therefore hindered by this disease, however, his influence was still important. Although greatly hindered from public speaking he visited church members, attended church business meetings, and preached occasionally.

In 1850, Hutchinson became the centre of a controversy in the Eastern Townships when he published a letter accusing the Wesleyan Methodist Conference of not paying him 66 pounds of back wages he deserved before he left the Methodist ministry in 1842. Rev. John Borland, Wesleyan Methodist minister in Stanstead, argued back that these wages would not be paid to Hutchinson since he had preached Adventist doctrines while he was still a Methodist minister. The Stanstead Journal published many letters about this dispute from January to April 1850.

In 1848, with the help of other ministers and Josiah Litch, a prominent Adventist minister from Providence, Rhode Island, Hutchinson founded the Advent Conference in Eastern Canada. In 1852, this Conference was reorganized and was called the Canada East and Vermont Conference. He served for many years as its president, at least from 1848 to the late 1860s. This Adventist Conference was affiliated with the Adventist periodical, Advent Herald, published in Boston, Massachussetts by Joshua V. Himes (from 1844 to 1858) and by the American Millennial Association (from 1859 to 1899). There were many branches of Adventists in the mid-1800s in the Eastern Townships of Quebec and elsewhere. Richard Hutchinson, the Canada East and Vermont Conference of which he was president, and the Advent Herald belonged to the Second Advent Evangelical Church. They are not to be confounded with the Advent Christian Church, nor with the Seventh-day Adventist Church.[3]

For some unknown reasons in the late 1860s or early 1870s, Richard Hutchinson left the ministry of the Second Advent Evangelical Church and became associated with the Plymouth Brethren.[4] The last information I have found about him after this is a reference to him being a patient at a health sanitarium in central Michigan in 1877 where he was in contact with Seventh-day Adventists.[5]

Notes

[1]. References to Valeria Mansur and her parents are found in B.F. Hubbard, Forests and Clearings (Montreal, Lovell, 1874), p. 171.

[2]. This information can be found in the microfilm copy of the 1861 census returns for Shefford township (reel 1317) available at the Public Archives of Canada.

[3]. Most of this information can be found in Denis Fortin, “L’adventisme dans les Cantons de l’Est du Québec : implantation et institutionalisation au XIXe siècle”, thèse de doctorat, Université Laval, 1994. See particularly chapters 8 and 9.

[4]. See Isaac C. Wellcome, History of the Second Advent Message and Mission, Doctrine and People (Yarmouth, ME, I.C. Wellcome, 1874), p. 338-339.

[5]. Arthur L. White, Ellen G. White, vol. 3 : The Lonely Years, 1876-1891 (Washington, D.C., Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1984), p. 63.

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