MOUNTAIN, JACOB GEORGE, Church of England clergyman and educator; b. 14 Oct. 1818, son of the Reverend Jacob Henry Brooke Mountain, rector of Blunham, England, and Frances Mingay Brooke; m. 1854 Sophia Bevan; there were no children by this marriage; d. 10 Oct. 1856 in St John’s.
Grandson of Jacob Mountain*, the first Church of England bishop of Quebec, nephew of George Jehoshaphat Mountain*, the third bishop of Quebec, and son of an Anglican minister, Jacob George Mountain too became an ecclesiastic. He was educated at Eton College, where he won the Newcastle medal, a high distinction in that school. In 1838 he attended Merton College, Oxford, as a postmaster, earning a 2nd class honours degree in classics. Mountain then returned to Eton where he was engaged as a private tutor. Some time later he was offered a mastership, a position of honour and great responsibility which was rarely proffered to anyone but a fellow of King’s College, Cambridge. However, a desire to enter holy orders dominated his thoughts and he refused the post. Mountain was subsequently ordained deacon and became the assistant curate of Clewer, near Eton, so that he could complete his tutoring assignment.
Initially Mountain wanted to work in one of the many thickly populated areas in England neglected by the church; when no offer was made, he volunteered for the colonies. Although his uncle in Quebec could well have used his services, Mountain was attracted by the conditions in Newfoundland described by Bishop Edward Feild*, who had journeyed to England in 1846 to appeal for men to serve in the extremely isolated and spiritually neglected portions of his diocese. Mountain, a Tractarian like Feild, offered to come as soon as he could. He set sail in April 1847, arriving the following month.
His ability and learning would have been invaluable to the Theological Institute at St John’s, but Mountain insisted on being sent to a hard and destitute outport where he could work with the poor. That autumn he became the first rural dean at Harbour Breton in the mission of Fortune Bay and laboured there, without any companionship of mind, for seven years. The parish, which had a long, bare, and rugged coastline and covered approximately 200 square miles, contained some 40 tiny settlements, most composed of only three or four resident families along with the migratory West Country fishermen. They had to be reached by oar or sail and Mountain’s task was made more difficult because he was never free from seasickness. As chairman of the board of education for the region, he established at least one government school on Brunette Island and had at least two schoolmasters brought out from England at his own expense.
In July 1854 Mountain journeyed to England where he married. Returning to Newfoundland that autumn, he assumed the post of principal at Queen’s College (formerly the Theological Institute). While still retaining the charge of the college, at the end of February 1856 he replaced Thomas Finch Hobday Bridge, who had just died of fever, as chief minister of the parish and cathedral church of St John’s and commissary to Feild. He also had in his charge two outports located near the capital. Seven months later Mountain, in an exhausted state caused by overwork, also became ill with fever and passed away on 10 October. In 1867 his widow married Bishop Feild.
Jacob George Mountain is the author of Some account of a sowing time on the rugged shores of Newfoundland, published in London in 1857 as no.35 in the SPG’s Church in the colonies series, and also as an offprint. A copy of the latter is preserved in Queen’s College, now part of Memorial University of Newfoundland, St John’s.
USPG, C/CAN/Nfl., 6–7. [Edward Feild], Journal of the Bishop of Newfoundland’s voyage of visitation and discovery, on the south and west coasts of Newfoundland, and on the Labrador, in the church ship “Hawk,” in the year 1848 (2nd ed., London, 1851). Times and General Commercial Gazette (St John’s), 15 Oct. 1856. H. W. Tucker, Memoir of the life and episcopate of Edward Feild, D.D., bishop of Newfoundland, 1844–1876 (London, 1877).