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MAN (Mann), JAMES, educator and Methodist minister; b. in the early 1750s in New York City; d. unmarried 25 Dec. 1820 in Cape Negro, N.S., and was buried at Shelburne, N.S.

Although he lived and preached in Nova Scotia from 1783 until his death in 1820, James Man is a rather elusive figure. He was of Dutch ancestry and may have been a Lutheran in his youth. His brother John was caught up in the first phase of Methodist activity in New York City in the 1760s and for a time was minister of the Wesley Chapel (John Street Church) there; James acted as clerk to the Reverend Charles Inglis, soon to be named the first Anglican bishop of Nova Scotia. Apparently James Man became a Methodist before leaving New York.

The Man brothers were identified, as were many other Methodists, with the loyalist cause in the American Revolutionary War and emigrated to Nova Scotia in 1783. James Man opened a school in Liverpool in 1785; Simeon Perkins, who soon was on close terms with him, noted on 9 January that “Mr Mann the Schoolmaster Read one Sermon, & prayed very Acceptable to the Congregation.” A year later Man was recruited as a probationer for the Methodist ministry by the Reverend Freeborn Garrettson, an American preacher who in 1784 had been persuaded by Thomas Coke and William Black* to come to Nova Scotia.

Methodism began spontaneously in Nova Scotia in much the same way as it had earlier in the Thirteen Colonies. William Black, the first itinerant, a member of a family of Yorkshire Methodists, looked for assistance first to John Wesley, who urged him to seek help from the societies in the United States. From 1784 until 1800, about 20 missionaries from the new Methodist Episcopal Church worked with Black, the Man brothers, and others, but by 1800 only two American preachers were still in Nova Scotia. Black once again turned to the Wesleyan Conference in England, which assumed responsibility for the societies in the Maritime provinces. When the General Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society was established in 1818, the Maritimes were constituted as a regular missionary district under the society’s direction.

James Man’s career spanned this formative period in the development of Methodism in the eastern colonies. In 1786 he began work on the Barrington circuit, where, he later reported, 50 members were added to the society during the first year of his itineracy. Ordained with Black and John Man at the Philadelphia conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1789, James served until his death on the Barrington, Cumberland, Liverpool, Halifax, and Shelburne circuits, and also on the Sheffield and Saint John circuits in New Brunswick. He was responsible for the building of the first Methodist church in Sackville, N.B., and in 1806 he presided at the opening of a new church in Shelburne. In 1791–92 he preached for several months in New York City; for part of 1802–3 he acted as superintendent of the societies in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in the place of Black; Man considered Shelburne his headquarters, however, and before and after his retirement in 1812 he moved in and out of that town in response to the directions of his brethren.

The form of Methodism that James Man helped to establish in the eastern provinces had certain distinctive characteristics. As in Britain and the United States, the missionaries were genuinely peripatetic, and nominally each one was stationed each year on a new circuit. In practice, however, the older itinerants became a semi-settled ministry in that they became identified with particular centres: Black with Halifax, John Man with Newport, N.S., Duncan M’Coll* with St Stephen (St Stephen-Milltown), N.B., and James Man with Shelburne. As a result, Methodism was undoubtedly strengthened in these areas, but its organization lacked the flexibility of Methodism elsewhere. Similarly, although Man and his colleagues were fervent evangelists, they seem to have been more restrained than their counterparts in the Methodist Episcopal Church. Man’s own sermons were said to have been “chaste, edifying and usually unimpassioned; sometimes upon the love of Calvary, but more frequently upon the terrors of the law.” He shared with his fellow missionaries a strong antipathy to the antinomian outlook which the Methodists believed was characteristic of the New Light movement and its Baptist successors [see Henry Alline*]. Thus in 1796 he reported: “I have prevented Stephen Snow from exhorting. . . . He is strongly tinctur’d with enthusiasm & holds to no falling from Grace.” A year earlier he had been concerned lest the society in Saint John should “be pick’d up” by “Antinomian innovaters.” Moreover, the Man brothers believed that Methodists should be loyal subjects. Loyalism had brought them to Nova Scotia; in 1795 Man commented that “religion is low in this City [New York]. Republican principals & politics eat it out of many hearts. . . .” Later he would exclaim about the United States: “Ah sir, there is a rod in soak for them; depend upon it, there is a rod in soak for them.”

In appearance, James Man was apparently a striking figure: according to one report, he was of “large stature and dark complexion, presuming generally the old custom of ‘short clothes,’ and attending with scrupulous care to the details of dress.” This impressive physical presence was matched by the strength of his character. Noted for his personal rectitude and puritanical zeal – like other preachers he often denounced balls and dancing – Man believed intensely that his task as a Methodist missionary was to rescue people from their wickedness by preaching Wesley’s doctrines of free grace and Christian perfection. He travelled tirelessly throughout Nova Scotia and the Saint John valley to establish and nurture Methodist societies imbued with this gospel. His last sermon was delivered on the day of his death. A fellow preacher, Winthrop Sargeant, said of Man that “no frivolity or mirth could appear in his social intercourse, yet he was cheerful and happy”; another preacher claimed, “Even the ungodly would not allow an insinuation against his memory, but would fight for him.” The Methodist community Man had helped to found in the Maritime provinces would be nourished by the memory of his sober, self-sacrificing zeal.

G. S. French

School of Oriental and African Studies, Univ. of London (London), Council for World Mission Arch., Methodist Missionary Soc., Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Soc., Corr., Canada, 1800–17 (mfm. at United Church Arch., Central Arch. of the United Church of Canada, Toronto). James Man, “Memoir of Mr John Man, missionary in Nova Scotia,” Methodist Magazine (London), 41 (1818): 641–46. Methodist Magazine, 44 (1821): 622–23. “The papers of Daniel Fidler, Methodist missionary in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, 1792–1798,” ed. G. [S.] French. United Church of Canada, Committee on Arch., Bull. (Toronto), 12 (1959): 3–18; 13 (1960): 28–46. [The originals of these letters are in Drew Univ. Library (Madison, N.J.).] Perkins, Diary, 1780–89 (Harvey and Fergusson); Diary, 1790–96 (Fergusson); Diary, 1797–1803 (Fergusson). Matthew Richey, A memoir of the late RevWilliam Black, Wesleyan minister, Halifax, N.S., including an account of the rise and progress of Methodism in Nova Scotia . . . (Halifax, 1839). G. H. Cornish, Cyclopædia of Methodism in Canada, containing historical, educational, and statistical information . . . (2v., Toronto and Halifax, 1881–1903). E. A. Betts, Bishop Black and his preachers (2nd ed., Sackville, N.B., 1976). S. D. Clark, Church and sect in Canada (Toronto, 1948). G. G. Findlay and W. W. Holdsworth, The history of the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society (5v., London, 1921–24), 1. G. [S.] French, Parsons & politics: the rôle of the Wesleyan Methodists in Upper Canada and the Maritimes from 1780 to 1855 (Toronto, 1962). T. W. Smith, History of the Methodist Church within the territories embraced in the late conference of Eastern British America . . . (2v., Halifax, 1877–90).

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Cite This Article

G. S. French, “MAN, JAMES,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 5, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed June 19, 2024, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/man_james_5E.html.

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:

Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/man_james_5E.html
Author of Article:   G. S. French
Title of Article:   MAN, JAMES
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 5
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1983
Year of revision:   1983
Access Date:   June 19, 2024