From Diocese of Connecticut 1784-1791 - Letters

This entry, is from Diocese of Connecticut : formative period, 1784-1791 by Joseph Hooper, page 65.


Ebenezer, a son of Wakefield Dibblee of Danbury, Connecticut, was born about 1715. He graduated from Yale College in 1734. The death in his senior year threw him entirely upon his own exertions for a living. He studied theology and on March 4, 1734-5, the Fairfield East Association licensed him to preach. For ten years he occupied the pulpit of vacant Congregational Churches in Fairfield County, but apparently had no call to settle.

In 1745 he conformed to the Church of England and became lay reader at Stamford. He went to England for ordination in April, 1748, partly at the expense of the parish. He was made deacon and ordained priest in September of that year by the Bishop of London.

In addition to his duties in Stamford and Greenwich he went into Litchfield County and the destitute portion of Westchester County. His ministration at Sharon led to the building of a Church in that town in 1758. He was instrumental in fostering the Church in Danbury and officiated at the opening of a new Church building there in 1763. His work was of the most arduous character but was always done with cheerful content. He had the warm regard of the whole community in which he lived. He remained at his post during the Revolution, and so great was the esteem in which he was held that he was practically undisturbed by mobs or patriot violence. He suffered, however, greatly from the necessary withholding of his stipend from the Venerable Society and the inability of the congregations he served to give him a comfortable support. After the declaration of peace the distress which was everywhere affected him. He, however, continued his ministrations without murmur or complaint until the end of earth came in the eighty-fourth year of his age and the fifty-first of his ministry.

Upon his monument is this eulogium: "He became endeared to all by his unwavering devotion to their best interests, his holy life, and unremitted zeal in the name of Christ and His Church."

Mr. Dibblee married in 1736, Joanna, daughter of Jonathan and Joanna (Selleck) Bates of Stamford.

His son Frederick was for many years a highly honored clergyman in New Brunswick.

It is to be noted that the name is spelled both Dibble and Dibblee. Usually the Rector of Stamford employed two ee's.

State of Connecticut
Stamford Augst 1, 1788.

Reverend and dear Sir —

I have yours of the 24th of March before me, and note the contents.

The forsaken Miss Sally Thorp, with your approbation, hath this day in my presence, drawn a set of bills upon you for £25 Sterling, payable at ten days sight, in favour of Mr. Moses Rogers merchant in New York. Uppon your honoring the bill, he promises to her the money, with interest, at 5 or 6 pr cent above par.

Miss Sally wishes me to give you this advice, with her tribute of gratitude.

It is a seasonable favour to Miss, a promising young woman for her years, and manner of Education. — Her parental neglect hath been surprising, as it is reported, her father, through your kind influence, hath a pension and is not under needy circumstances. Her friend's here, are ill able to support her without her own industry. I say no more, in this case, as in many others there is a whele within a whele.

I received your advice that Doctor Morice had paid you my bill of £25, and advised you that I had drawn a bill upon you for £20 in favour of Mr. Moses Rogers of New York, wishing £5 worth of books might be sent to his care for me; as I have heretofore mentioned; of which, & concerning my son and his prospects, I trust you must have received advice. — Bishop Inglis was expected this month at New Brunswick, and expect soon to hear if Frederick goes into Orders or not.

I am not too much prejudiced in the Bishops favr, I have no reason to be, from the character he sustains in many respects, especially from his unpolite treatment of me just before his departure from New York. — Nevertheless since he is honor'd with the Mitre, I sincerely wish and pray he may do honor to religion, the Church of God, and the dignity of the office he sustains. The hearts of Bishops as well as Kings are in the hand of God, and he can turn them as the rivers of water are turned —

Our English Jesuits, I think equal, if not exceed, any in France & Spain —

Great are the expectations, pompous are the representations of the same, of the increasing, flourishing state of the Episcopal Church in genal, in the united States ; in New England in particular. Would to God it may be true. The prevailing influence of honor, Power, Reputation, Interest, are against us. Under the present load of public taxes, the unsettled state of our Government I fear not likely to be betterd, by the new revolution or constitution which will undoubtedly take place; together, with the incapacity of the Church to support it self and their dignified Clergy; I can see no such happy & glorious prospect. —

My Church rises but slowly out of its ruins, labours under uncommon obstructions, insufficient for my support, clogged the third time with an expensive law suit, with my good old friend Mr. John Lloyd, demanding Hundreds, for what he expended upon it from its infancy to its maturity and to the baneful Independency of the United States — at which period he renounced all connection with me and concern for the Church, and seemingly with as much zeal endeavors to demolish it, as in a laudible manner he endeavoured to it raise up.

The adverse dispensations of providence are great to me and mine. (Gods will be done) Doctor Morice's neglect to answer my last letter to him, and address to the venerable Society, and your Silence, prognosticates ; I am in future, in the winter of life, to end my days in want and its constant attendant, contempt.

It is my dear friend, with reluctance I repeat my grievances — I know the goodness of your heart; can no method be devised for my relief, in consequence of my declining, in the winter of life, and cold climate of adversity, to remove to Nova Scotia. Necessity not choice prevents. Heaven forbids it, by my great age & Mrs. Dibble's, now in her 80th year; and in the want of health in the family, the effects of my persevering in that line of duty allotted me during the late Rebellion ; out of Loyalty to my Sovereign, and to confirm & preserve his Subjects, and members of my Church in dutiful Obedience to Church and State; at the hazard of all that is dear in life.

I mean not to arraign the conduct of the Venerable Society; but I sincerely thank them for their past favours, and pray God to prosper, & succeed, & reward all their most pious & charitable designs, but I see no more merit in fleeing from the storm, than abiding it; nor any more inconsistency, in continuing their vaunted charity to such as 'remain unable to flee under Royal protection, after the winds & rains abates, but having suffered shipwreck; then in granting their favours to such, as being in the Noon of the life can flee under their Shadow or for the State to continue their Pensions to their Chaplains, residing and ofiiciating as ministers of religion in the United States. Neither can I see why such Loyalists have suffered the loss of all things, for their Loyalty to their Sovereign, and attachment to the british constitution in Church & State, are not equally entitled to Royal favour and recompense, as well as those that fled, not having taken an active part against Government; but were Serving the interests of it effectually, by encouraging persevering Loyalty, amidst the most fiery trials. God bless you my dear Sir, for your past attention to my unhappy Situation, readiness to do good to the suffering State of your countrimen in general, & your brethren in particular. —

But if I am forsaken in my old age, and while I am grey headed, by my best friends and Benefactors, mine integrity I will hold fast, my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live; and the uncommon share of health, I am personally favour'd with, shall be employed in promoting the interest of the best religion, and best constituted Church in the World. —

My time is now short, the fashion of this world will soon pass away; I am sick of this world ; were it not for my tender, connexions, am so worn out with trouble, that I could wish to sing good old Simeons nunc dimittis.

All things continue in much in Statu quo.

Doctor Seabury continues to conduct with propriety. No alterations in Ecclesiastical Polity hath taken place. —

Please to make my compliments acceptable to Doctor Morice. No Coalition with B — Seabury takes place. Bishops Provost and White refuse to unite with him in constituting a Bishop for Virginia. Brother Hubberd is meditating a Removal to St. Johns N- Brunswick. Bowdon to West Indies. —

My Prayers & best wishes attend you. Affectionate regards to Mr. Jarvis & his Lady. His friends well. His Sister Levina is addressed by Mr. Todd in Deacons Orders. A likely young Gentleman, a good Speaker. I prophesy a Match.

Revd. Sir

Yours most Affectionately,

Ebenezre Dibblee.

Revd. Doctor Peters.

Stamford, State of Connecticut
Octobre 22. 1789.

Reverend, Dear Doctor.

The 17th instant Mr. Bates delivered your favor of the 4th of August. I sincerely thank you for the advice you give me, and that the venerable Society in their charity pay any attention to the unhappy incumstanies of your aged brother in Christ, and your most affectionate friend, almost worn out with the troubles of life.

Last May I wrote you a long letter, as soon as I got the affair of Miss Thorps bill setled; with an acknowledgement of the receipt of the books you sent. I have neglected no letter I ever received from you, without a return of my most grateful acknowledgements. I am happy to hear the candle of the Lord Shines bright upon your tabernacle. May the best of heavens blessings always attend you and yours &c.

Samuel Seabury - stained glass window on Cambridge
Samuel Seabury
first Espicopalian Bishop in America
on a stained glass window
in St Giles church, Cambridge, UK

I am chained down here, to suffer the inflictions of an angry God. Your letter found my family in the greatest adversity. My Daughter Polly, who had never fully recovered the steadiness and tranquility of her mind, since by the terrour of our Sovereign Lords the Mob in the begining of our late troubles, she was thrown into a state of insanity; hath a third time, gradually relapsed into it; for 3 months past I have been confined to close attention to her, scarcely can go out but to attend public duty. She is reduced to the lowest state, her life not expected many days; we thot her expiring this morning; but she revived; but still as discomposed. Gods will be done — In this time of life, and scenes of adversity, how could it be that possible for me to remove?

I envy not Mr. Moore, Beach, good Mr. Leaming, their deserved honors. The honour which comes from God, my highest ambition is to obtain.

I can only advert a little to the concerns of the Church. Bishop Seabury an ornament to the Episcopal character, is gone to Philadelphia, accompanied with Hubbard & Jarvis to an adjourned Convention of the Southern States; who have in ample manner recognized his ecclesiastical dignity, a happy Condition we hope will succeed; Unity, Uniformity, in doctrine worship & government be established, without any mutilated Service. But unhappy, Bishop Provost I hear refused to attend P Convention, and treated Bishop Seabury at New York with entire neglect. — I lay down my pen to attend my distressed child.

Mr. Bowden sailed last Saturday week, with his family, for St. Croix, West Indies, we lament the loss of so worthy and good a man. Public annimadversions begin to appear, upon the doings of our new Sovereigns the Congress. They treat religion, and the publick support and encouragement of it with neglect. The Church must stand upon its own ground: and for the want of a better establishment and support will rise but slowly to a high degree of estimation. Sectaries of every denomination, abound.

Mr. Bates cannot he says furnish me with proper information concerning the power of appointing you my Agent &c. I shall soon forward it.

Our prayers & best wishes attend you.

Your ever most affect. Brother

In adversity.

Ebenezer Dibblee.

Kind compliments wait upon Mr. Jarvis and his Lady.

Reverend Doctor Peters.

Stamford State of Connecticut.

November 6, 1789.

My dear, and Worthy Friend :

Agreeable to the intimation in my last, I have it now in my power to send you my power of Attorney, hoping it may be of service. The kind offices you render me, meets with, and merits, my most grateful acknowledgements.

The melancholy distressed state of my family, in consequence of my Daughter Polly's Insanity, into which she hath relapsed, and continued in ever since, last June, engrosses all my attention, scarce leaves room for parochial duty.

How could the Venerable Society think it practicable to remove in this time of life, encumbered with a family, ruined by the late Rebellion; and reduced by oppression, for persevering in a line of duty appointed me; or cruelly desert me in this day of adversity and winter of life?

Their charitable interposition and application to Government for the relief of my necessities; which if not successful and the encouragement you give of the renewal of their charity, will merit, and meet with the most grateful resentments.

If there is in your hands or Mr. Jarvis's any money granted by Government, or shall be granted, for the relief of the Widow and children of my unhappy son, I wish it might be stopped and retained for the discharge of a Debt of his to a considerable amount; to the payment of which, I am unexpectedly liable and exposed.

His Widow inherits all the Lands destined to her husband and his effects, &c. &c. &c.

The grand Convention at Philadelphia is broke up, we are to have a federal Church as well as State. I have received no particular authentic account of their doings; am only told, mutilations, omissions and alterations in our Service, are inconsiderable & of no importance. As they judged in their superour wisdom. Poor Athanasius is beheaded, his Creed condemned as heretical. Areans Socinians &c. may now fill our Churches.

Bishop Seabury did himself honour, but returned with the loss of a fifth part of his dignity; as four fifths of the lower house of Convocation, made up with lay delegates, will carry any point against the House of Bishops. I suspect this State will not adopt the doings of the general Convention.

The Convocation here, has agreed and unanimously voted, and adopted the Church of England, as the Standard of Orthodoxy, her form of Government & worship, as the rule of their faith and practice, unconnected with the State.

I may be able, perhaps, in my next to advise you more minutely of the doings of the late council of Trent.

I cannot see how Episcopacy & Republicanism can well coalesce. Bowdon, truly wrote well, as you observed in his first and 2nd. Letter to Stiles; and the Weaver was a just and good rod of correction to the pedantick Mr. Sherman. But I cannot see the wisdom of reviving those religious controversies, in our present unsettled state; unless with an evil design to prejudice Government here against the Church as unfriendly to the united States - I impatiently wait for your next.

The best of heavens blessings attend you, and yours; is the sincere wish and fervent prayer of,

Reverend Sir

Your humble Servant

and most affectionate Brother in Christ.

Ebenezer Dibblee.

Reverend Doctor Peters.

Dibblee Revd.
6 Novr. 1789:
recd. March 9-1790.
ansd. June 5-90.

Stamford State of Connecticut

Sembr 27, 1790.

My Revd. dear Sir:

Your favour of the 5th of June 1790, I received the 25th Instant. In which I have the melancholy advice, that nothing as yet was done for me, either by the Commissioners of American claims, or the Venerable Society —

I am full of anxiety to know my fate. Have you received my power of Atorney &c. &c. ? If there be no prospect of relief, I must, at least I can see no other way, to avoid contempt but throw my self upon the Societies Charity, & ask for a living in Nova Scotia, or New Brunswick rather.

Your letter found me, still in the greatest family trouble, Polly is no better, but remains insane, a miserable unhappy object, engaging our whole attention.

The Church slowly & gradually rises out of its ruinous State, but incapable of affording me & dependents an adequate support, & in character, and in this evening of life, & cold climate of adversity to think of removing, it is impossible — Heaven forbids it — I must have my distressed family — The Church under my care will crumble to pieces — No — I hope still, & will cast my burden upon the Lord.

I pray God to still the tumults among the Nations, & prevent the calamities of a general War.

Our Civil & Ecclesiastical Policy is upon no permanent foundation. The bond of peace is broken, and no cement to Christian Union — Our new form of Church Government & purification of the Liturgy will take place — but not to the satisfaction of the old English Churchmen — They court Bp. Seabury, but will never coalesce with him in a Consecration of a Bishop. Sectaries abound — Error is multiplied upon Error — Division upon Subdivision — The Church I fear will become a scene of confusion, discordant forms of worship — Inconsistent systems of faith — The Lord have mercy upon us, —

Make my Compliments acceptable to Harry Lloyd Esqr. & his Lady — Mr. Jarvis & his agreeable Consort; his Connexions are well — May you be honord with a Mitre — I hope to meet you in the undisturbed delight of Paradise — My prayers & best wishes attend you — I am with sentiments of unfeigned esteem

Revd. Sir

Your aged, afflicted Affect. Bro.

Ebenezer Dibblee.

N.B. I have wrote to the Society & Doctor Morice, Doctor Chandler is gone, for heaven — Doctor Leaming returns to private life —

Sundry of Bp. Seabury's Disciples cannot find Cures.