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Office of the Registration Commission, 22, Downing Street,
2d December, 1836. Sir,- The Commissioners who have been appointed by His Majesty to inquire into the state of Registers or Records (not being parochial) of Births, Baptisms, Deaths, Burials, and Marriages, have directed me to transmit to you the inclosed paper of Questions, and to request that you will afford to them, upon the several points, at your earliest convenience, all the information which you may be able to supply.
For the purpose of shewing the benefits that may result from this inquiry, and with the hope also of securing the concurrence and co-operation of all parties interested, the Commissioners have instructed me to state the principal subjects to which their attention will be directed. They will be, as follows :- 1st. To inquire into the state, custody, and authenticity of such Records : 2nd. To inquire what measures can be most beneficially adopted for collecting, arranging, depositing, and preserving them, for giving full force and effect to them as evidence, and for facilitating the production and reception of them, in Courts of Justice. It is evident that the successful accomplishment of these objects will very materially promote the interests of the non-conforming classes of the community.
The information, which is requested in answer to the inclosed Questions, will be necessary for enabling the Commissioners successfully to discharge the trust consigned to them. The Commissioners therefore reckon with confidence upon the assistance of all parties, to whom this communication shall be made known.
The proposed inquiry will extend to the Registers or Records, of the description above-mentioned, belonging to all the nonconformist churches, or congregations, such as the Roman Catholics, the Quakers, the Jews, the Scotch Churches in England, and also the Churches of Foreign Protestants in England. But I am directed to observe, that this Circular Letter is more particularly intended for the Ministers, Officers, and Trustees, or other leading Members, of Protestant Non-Conformist Churches in England and Wales.
The Commissioners are very desirous, for the purpose of obtaining the best information by actual and minute inspection and examination, that all existing original Register Books of Births, Baptisms, Deaths, and Burials, and of Marriages before the passing of the Marriage Act in 1753, should be transmitted to them.
Registers belonging to any Congregation in London or the neighbourhood, may be delivered to me at this Office any day between eleven and two o'clock.
Any Register Book belonging to a Congregation in the Country, not exceeding five pounds weight, may be inclosed in a cover, directed as follows: No. 1.
ON HIS MAJESTY'S SERVICE.
The Secretary of State,
a nt Home Deparment,
Don and may be delivered to the nearest Post Office.-Where it exceeds that weight, it may be directed as follows:
and may be sent (as an ordinary parcel) by the Mail Coach, or other safe Conveyance.
I am further directed to request, that when any register is delivered or transmitted, a certificate or statement should accompany it, according to the inclosed form, to be filled up as far as can be done ; and that such certificate should be signed either by the Minister, or by one or two of the Trustees or Church Officers, or by such other person as can supply the information required; in the latter case, the reason why no Minister or Trustee or Church Officer signs, should be stated. The certificate may be annexed to the inside of the cover, or to the first blank page of the book, or of the first or last book of the series, where there are more than one.
The Commissioners will take charge of the registers entrusted to thein, and be ready to re-deliver them, if required. But it will be most advisable, that they should not merely be produced for inspection, but that they should remain under the charge of the Commissioners, in order that at the close of the investigation, they may, if the Legislature should só provide, be safely transferred to the custody of the Registrar-General, or to such other depository as may be directed; and also that the most effectual means may be adopted for imparting to them, as documentary evidence, more weight and a fuller legal sanction than they have hitherto received.
To those who may feel objections to the depositing of the dissenting registers in a central public office, I am instructed to observe, that when the general system of registration, appointed by the recent Act, shall come into operation after the 1st of March, 1837, the necessity for keeping registers at the dissenting chapels will cease, and there will consequently be danger of their being lost :-at all events there will be great and increasing difficulty in proving, for legal purposes, that the document produced in a court as a register book, comes from what such court will consider as the proper custody. There appears to be no adequate provision against these inconveniences, except the plan of depositing and arranging the documents in a public office, when the object of their continuance in private custody shall be at an end.
The Commissioners are aware, that some inconvenience may arise from the transmission of registers which are in present use, since the substitute, provided by the late Act for a general registration, will not come into operation till after the 1st of March ensuing. Should any such inconvenience be apprehended, the Commissioners will, if desired, return the register with the least possible delay. This may be done with regard to congregations in London, without difficulty; but, with regard to congregations in the country, the Commissioners would strongly recommend that a new book, of a convenient size, should be prepared for any subsequent entries that may be necessary until the new system of registration shall come into operation, which supplementary matter may be afterwards transmitted to the proper depository, together with any other books which may have been previously lodged in their office.
You will greatly promote the speedy and effectual discharge of the duty entrusted to the Commissioners, by doing all in your power to make this communication known to your congregation, and also in any quarter from which you think information may be obtained. For this purpose, duplicates of the questions and of the certificate are inclosed, and additional copies may be obtained from this office.
Any letters in reply to this circular, or with reference to the subjects herein mentioned, may be sent by the post, addressed as (prescribed in the first direction on the preceding page.) I am, Sir, your most obedient servant, Jno. S. Burn, (Secretary.)
Questions referred to in the Circular Letter, 1. Are you or have you been Minister, Trustee, or Member, or Representative of any Minister, Trustee, or Member of any and what Chapel, respecting the Register of which you can give information; or in what way have you been connected with any such? State the name, denomination, and situation of such Chapel.
2. Is the Chapel or the Congregation subsisting? Or if dissolved, when dissolved ?
3. Has any Register Book or Books of Births, Baptisms, Deaths, or Burials, or of Marriages before the Marriage Act of 1753, been kept by the Minister or Trustee or other Church Officer of such Chapel, or in connexion with it?
4. State over what period such Register or Registers extend. How many are there?
5. Who is the Minister, who the principal acting Trustees, Deacons, or other Church Officers of the Chapel with which you are connected ?
6. In whose custody is such Register Book or Books; and where is it deposited ? In whose custody has it usually been kept, and where has it been usually deposited ?
7. If you know of any Register being lost, state the time and occasion of the loss to the best of your information.
8. Will you, or will the party having the custody of any Register, produce it or send it to the Commissioners? By what mode of conveyance will it be sent? If you do not produce or send it, state the reason.
9. If you know of any Register, which is not in your possession, give an account of it, as far as you are able, where it is, and what is the name and address of the person who has it.
10. May any Register sent by you to the Office of the Commissioners, remain in the custody of thc Board for the purposes mentioned in the Circular Letter? If you have any objection to its being so deposited, state it.
11. Have you in your custody or power the Register Book (not parochial) of any other Chapel or Burial-ground?
12. Can you give information as to any such Registers in the possession of private persons ? Communicate all the information in your power.
Signature of the Person answering the above Questions.
THE LATE Rev. Dr. Morrison's CHINESE LIBRARY.-The late Rev. Dr. Morrison, in the year 1824, brought to England a collection of Chinese books, in every branch of the Literature of that nation, which he had obtained by great perseverance, and at an expense of about £2000.
It consists of about 900 distinct works, occupying (according to the manner of the country), nearly 10,000 volumes, and forming, undoubtedly, the most complete Library of Chinese Literature to be found in Europe.
His design, in bringing this Library to England, was to offer it as a free gift to his country, provided it could be rendered the means of introducing into it the study, and of establishing, in one of its seats of literature, a School for the cultivation of the Chinese language.
Not meeting with encouragement in this primary design, he projected a Society under the title of “ The Language Institution,” to whose apartments in Bartlett's Buildings the Library was transferred. The object of the Institution was to give instruction to all persons desirous of obtaining a knowledge of the Chinese and other Oriental languages; and gratuitously to such as intended to devote their attainments to the propagation of Christianity. Dr. Morrison himself attended at stated hours, and gave instructions in Chinese to several
After his retorn to China, the Institution languished, and at length was closed. The Library, according to the Doctor's directions, was placed under the care of the Trustees, in the house of the London Misionary Society, where it still remains. The Trustees have since made several efforts to dispose of it to the Government and other public bodies, in their own country, but without success. In the mean time, the attention of the Professor of Chinese in the College of France having been attracted to it, and a catalogue granted, overtures of purchase for the Royal Library of Paris were made, on the communication of which to the Doctor he declared it be his determination that it should not be sent out of England.
In consequence of the death of Dr. Morrison, and the inadequate provision which is found for the support of his widow and seven children,-five under the age of ten years (and one only, his eldest son, provided for), it becomes imperative that this unique collection of Chinese literary productions should be rendered available to the better support of his family, and the education and future establishment of his children. To give effect to this interesting measure, by inviting an extended and liberal Subscription for the purchase of the Library, is the object of the present Address.
It would derogate from the honour of the country, to doubt that a plan, intended to express public esteem for the memory, and benevolent feeling towards the family of a man, whose name whether he is regarded as the Founder of the Anglo-Chinese College, the Compiler of his great Chinese and English Dictionary, the chief Translator of the Holy Scriptures into Chinese, or for many years the able servant of the East India Company, as Chinese Translator to their factory at Canton,-presents so many claims to the esteem of his countrymen, will meet with their cordial support. **
From Dr. Morrison's original intention in bringing this Library to England, it is concluded that a destination of it, which shall render it instrumental in promoting the study of the Chinese language in Great Britain, will erect the best monnment to his memory, and accomplish his patriotic desire thereby to confer an important benefit upon his country.
With this view, the friends of the deceased, who have undertaken to conduct the measure now submitted to public attention, beg respectfully to recommend, that, as the Library will be obtained by voluntary donations, the Trustees of the fund shall be authorized to present it, as a gift, to one of the most eminent Literary Institutions of the Metropolis, the Directors of which shall be willing to institute a Professorship of the Chinese Language. The increased interest which recent political events have given to the vast and important regions of the globe, over which that Language and its cognate Dialects prevail, seems to invite Great Britain, at this crisis, to the honour as well as the advantages of adopting a measure which, together with other important results, may yield facilities to the formation of future relations, between the Chinese and British nations,
These views are submitted to the consideration of the public, in the confidence that they will meet with the concurrence and support of Englishmen of all ranks, at home and abroad, who feel it an honour done to their country, when unassuming merit, and disinterested labours, for the good of mankind, meet from it a sure, though it may only be a posthumous reward.
The following gentlemen have consented to become Trustees of the Fund to be raised, until the Library shall be legally conveyed to the Institution which shall accede to the proposed terms :—Sir George Thomas Staunton, Bart.; Samuel Mills, Esq.; William Alers Hankey, Esq.
Donations will be received by the following Bankers; Messrs. Coutts and
* At the Anniversary of the Royal Asiatic Society, May 1835, Sir George Thos. Staunton, Bart., said, “That when he reflected on Dr. Morrison's vast work of a complete Chinese and English Dictionary, and his entire version of the Holy Scriptures into the Chinese language, and the important use of these two great achievements, he could not but think that such a union of Christian zeal and eminent learning, so usefully devoted to the good of mankind, had rarely if ever been exceeded.”
The Right Hon. Henry Ellis, at the same meeting, remarked that “ He thought that extraordinary individual (Dr. Morrison) deserved some mark of national gratitude."
Co., Strand; Sir Claude Scott, Bart. and Co., Cavendish Square; Messrs. Williams, Deacon, and Co., Birchin Lane; Messrs. Hankey and Co., Fenchurch Street,
CAFFRE WAR AND THE WESLEYAN MissioNARIES.—The lengthened statement on this subject which we prepared from the Parliamentary Papers, and inserted in our Magazine for November, was immediately reprinted in The Christian Advocate, The Manchester Times, &c. but remained unnoticed for three weeks by The Watchman Newspaper, which has been, not unaptly, called The Conference Gazette, when at length, instead of inserting the article itself, with an open, manly comment upon it, a leader of more than a column long was inserted about it. We say about it-for no vindication of the conduct of the Wesleyan Missionaries in South Africa was attempted, or even an explanation of their very dubious conduct essayed. The worthy Editor only imputes motives and calls names-charging us with being “blinded by the spirit of party"-betraying “ indecent baste" in publishing “the real or supposed errors of our Wesleyan brethren"-supplying “abundant evidence that there is a great deal of party spirit and maneuvre in the whole affair"--with making " a vile attack on the character of the whole Methodist body”—and then, quoting our Saviour's solemn admonition, about “ the mote” and “the beam," crowns the whole by plainly declaring that many will think (Dr. Philip) has made himself responsible to an awful extent, for the Caffre blood which the Hottentot soldiers shed during the war."—We have not space for a full reply to these things, but we shall glance at the most important of them. An eagerness to expose the failings of our brethren would certainly have betrayed an unchristian spirit. But what is the fact? Dr. Bunting and the Wesleyan Missionary Committee knew of Lord Glenelg's just displeasure in January last. The Parliamentary Papers were ordered by the House of Commons to be printed on the 30th of May--they were in the hands of the public before the close of July--when Mr. Shrewsbury's sanguinary document and Mr. Boyes's fawning address to the Governor excited disgust in many intelligent circles. We published our remarks in November. So much for our indecent haste!
Now we ask, why did not the conduct of Mr. Shrewsbury become the subject of discipline at the Conference in July last? His humanity and uprightness were both impeached, and yet he was appointed to the Rochester circuit, as if nothing had happened It would have been indelicate to have interfered with the question before the meeting of the Conference, because it would have appeared to anticipate their proceedings, but when that ecclesiastical Divan had convened and separated without any public measures upon a great public question, it was high time for honest and christian journalists to remind all the parties concerned, that there is such a thing in this country as public opinion, and that its voice may even penetrate the chamber of Conference, though its doors should be walled up like those of the conclave at Rome. “ Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also nay fear.” It is curious that Mr. Shrewsbury was not even named by The Watchman throughout his article. That was certainly very judicious. Col. Smith, to whom he wrote his hateful letter, has also sadly neglected him, for that gentleman, when addressing the Caffre Chiefs on the 13th of September last, whom Mr. Shrewsbury would have treated like “irreclaimable wolves," takes no notice of the coercive policy that was so humanely recommended to him, but acknowledges the progress which in a few months they had made in civilization, and the happy influence which a conciliatory policy has wrought on their minds.-- l'ide The South African Commercial Advertizer, Sept. 28.
We are not to be seduced from the present question by the “ manauvres" of The Watchman to excite a discussion of measures of four and twenty years date, but will explicitly reply to his recriminating statement, that the evils which befel the Caffres in the late war were mainly inflicted by the Hottentot soldiers, who were called into the field from our missionary stations by Dr. Philip, while “the Moravian missionaries complained of the part which their Ilottentots were compelled to take in the DEFENCE of the colony, while the missionary of the London