McCAWLEY, GEORGE, Church of England clergyman and educator; b. at St John’s, Newfoundland, in 1802; d. at Halifax, N.S., 21 Dec. 1878.
George McCawley was educated at the University of King’s College, Windsor, Nova Scotia, from which he was graduated with a ba in 1821 and an ma in 1824; he was granted his dd in 1835. From 1822 to 1828 he was headmaster of the grammar school at Fredericton, New Brunswick. He was ordained deacon by Bishop John Inglis* of Nova Scotia on 9 July 1826 at Fredericton, and was raised to the priesthood in 1827. He was appointed professor of Hebrew and mathematics at King’s College (University of New Brunswick), Fredericton, in 1828, and the next year became chaplain to the Legislative Council of New Brunswick. Between 1831 and 1834 he also served as a visiting missionary for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. While in Fredericton he married Anne, the daughter of William Franklin Odell*, a loyalist who had been provincial secretary under the imperial government. They had one child, a daughter, who married the Reverend Charles Bowman.
When the Reverend Charles Porter* resigned as president of King’s College, Windsor, in 1836, McCawley was chosen to succeed him. Both Bishop Inglis and William Howley, archbishop of Canterbury, highly approved the appointment; the former wrote: “he [McCawley] is a man of superior talents, an excellent scholar of great distinction, and a man of most pleasing address.” McCawley’s long tenure at King’s can be called its second formative stage; the first was the period ending with Dr Porter’s resignation. McCawley went to King’s at a crucial time; there had been grave difficulties in 1835 when the government demanded the surrender of the college charter. In 1849 the government attempted to make King’s a secular college by prohibiting the teaching of theology, and in 1850 the government grant was withdrawn when the college refused to conform to the new ruling. These problems could have brought disaster, but McCawley met them resolutely, and the college continued.
Since the emoluments at King’s were insufficient for his needs, McCawley was appointed rector of Falmouth in 1846. He held this office until his death, but retired from active parochial duties in his later years. In 1865 he was appointed archdeacon and senior canon to assist Dean William Bullock at St Luke’s Cathedral in Halifax, and held these offices until 1874. He resigned the presidency of King’s on 1 Oct. 1875, and retired on pension. He then moved to Halifax where he lived quietly until his death. McCawley was buried in the Old Burying Ground in Windsor, N.S., within sight of the college to which he devoted most of his active life.
PANS, John Inglis papers, Journal, 1806–7; letters to SPG, 19 Jan. 1827, 17 Nov. 1846. Morning Chronicle (Halifax), 23 Dec. 1878. Encyclopedia of Canada, IV, 158. Pascoe, Two hundred years of the S.P.G., 867. F. W. Vroom, King’s College: a chronicle 1789–1939, collections and recollections (Halifax, 1941), 96, 105, 123.