Monday, October 18, 2010

Amanuensis Monday- Reverend I. E. Bill’s Memoirs

Ten years ago a distant cousin sent me a photo copy of Reverend Ingraham Ebenezer Bill’s memoirs. He was my 3x great grandfather, who had a grade school education, never attended Divinity School, yet became a Baptist preacher who spoke all over Canada, the Eastern United States and England. The original journal is in the archives at Acadia University in Wolfeville, Nova Scotia. He was part of the original committee of Baptist ministers who founded Acadia College in 1839, and they later granted Rev. Bill an honorary doctorate. I’ve transcribed his memoirs, and will post in several parts over the next few Amanuensis Mondays.

a photograph of Reverend I. E. Bill
from the Bill Genealogy by Harry Bill

 Ingraham Ebenezer Bill, son of Asahel Bill and Mary Rand, born 19 February 1805 at Billtown, Cornwallis, Nova Scotia, died on 4 August 1891 at St. Martin’s, New Brunswick; married on 20 April 1826 to Isabella Lyons, daughter of Thomas Ratchford Lyons and Ann Skinner. Five children born in Billtown.

1. Asahel Bill, born 14 May 1827 and died 20 July 1848 shortly after graduating from Acadia College.
2. Mary Anne Bill, born 27 April 1829, died 17 November 1865; married on 14 September 1851 to Thomas McHenry
3. Edward Manning Bill, born 27 March 1831, died on 18 December 1904 in Boston, Massachusetts; married on 6 June 1857 to Charlotte Grace in Australia. Please see my blog post for more information on E. M. Bill, who lived for a while in Australia.
4. Caleb Rand Bill, born 30 May 1833, died on 30 December 1902 in Salem, Massachusetts; married on 7 June 1858 to Ann Margaret Bollman in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Please see my blog post for more information on Caleb R. Bill, my 2x great grandfather, the music professor at Salem, Massachusetts.
5. Rev. Ingraham Ebenezer Bill, Jr., born 8 April 1836, died after 1887; married on 23 November 1871 to Eleanor Pike in Maidstone, Kent, England.

See my blog post for more information on the Bill family lineage.


"A Personal Sketch
By the Reverend I. E. Bill

Having been mercifully preserved amid manifold dangers and temptations by sea by land, at home and abroad, for more than half a century in the ministry of the gospel of the blessed Lord, it is deeply pressed upon my soul as a solemn duty which I owe to my covenant God and Father to record his wondrous goodness and rich grace as made manifest in what I have seen, heard and experienced during these years of protracted ministerial service. Not indeed that self may be exalted but that Christ the Saviour may be glorified and his church benefit. A few paragraphs regarding my ancestry will not be inappropriate.

In a history of the Bill Family edited by Mr. Ledyard Bill of Connecticut and published in 1869, I find the Bill ancestry traced back to 1490. The first name in the list is Dr. Thomas Bill, a physician of great eminence, and an attendant of the Princess Elisabeth in 1549. He took the degree of M. D. at the celebrated university founded by the Emperor Charlemagne at Paria in Italy. He was one of the physicians to Henry VIII and Edward the VI and from these sovereigns received distinguished honors.

William Bill L.L.D was another distinguished name in the annals of Britain. He was born in Hartfordshire England about 1505. Subsequently as a literary man he was elevated to very high positions one of which was master of St. John’s College and soon after he became vice chancellor of the university. In 1551 he was appointed Master of Trinity College, and became one of the Kings Sir Chaplains. He had with many others high in office to suffer bitter persecution under the cruel reign of Mary and was compelled to go into retirement for safety, but on the secession of Queen Elisabeth he was restored to his former honors and became Fellow to the famed Eton College. He was also appointed a member of the Royal Ecclesiastical Commission, consisting of the distinguished Bishop Cramer and others, to revise the calendar of sermons and homilies to be used in the church service throughout the year. On the 15th of June 1560 he was installed Dean of West Minster being the first incumbent of that office.

He died on the 15 of July 1561, and was interred on the 20th of that month in the Chapel of St. Benedict in Westminster Abbey where there is an altar tomb having thereon a brass with an outline portrait of the deceased with an inscription round the verge noting the honors conferred upon this eminent man. It seems that no other person ever held at the same time the three important positions of Master of Trinity, Provost of Eaton and Dean of Westminster.

Having thus briefly noted two prominent members of English ancestry we ?? on to say that the first mention of any of the Bill family in America is found in the ancient records of the town of Boston, where says Ledyard Bill in his history, we read John Bill died Nov 10 1638. The writer of the history assumes for good reasons that John Bill and his wife arrived in the New World prior to 1635. They had sons and daughters, who in their turn married, multiplied and passed into other generations. These are very sketched by the author of the history giving names, dates, marriages, births, callings, positions, professions, offices, residences, purchases, sales, deeds, and deaths ?? of our relatives in America for eight generations.

Before proceeding with our own parentage justice demands that we should make a panning reference to our cousins, whose ancestors adopted the teachings of the American revolution and who pledged their fortunes and their lives to the cause of freedom from what they regarded as British tyranny of the darkest shade, many of these were men of high ???, of bold adventure and of brave instincts they believed they were right and rushed with others to the mighty conflict determined to conquer or to die. We have the result; a nation was born that is now mighty in its numerical strength, boundless in its resources of material wealth. Rich in its political institutions, enriched in its agencies for mental and religious cultures, and filled with the treasures of learning and of a God given Christianity. A nation whose ships traverse very sea, and whose commerce extends to all the towns and cities of the world. A nation that has given birth to intellectual giants in all realms of thought, invention and progress, and whose statesmen, generals, poets, orators, theologians, ministers and missionaries take rank with the greatest and the best of nations.

We have seen that the Bill family was of British origin, and that English blood courses in the veins of its numerous generations, but what is America to day in all its high and noble instincts, but the expansion and growth of British blood, language, energy, ???, education, intelligence, freedom, and Christianity on this broad American continent. It is the daughter of the grand old mother struggling by her side for the diffusion of light, liberty and salvation among all nations, peoples, and ?? for the ushering in of that age of gold when the knowledge of the glory of God shall fill the whole earth. We have therefore no political quarrels with our cousins across the lines, but heartily offer the prayer God bless them and their nation and prosper them in every good word and work!..."

This is part one of his memoir
For part two, posted on 25 October 2010, click this link:

For part three, posted on 1 November 2010, click this link:

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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