SHORTT, JONATHAN, Church of England clergyman and journalist; b. 15 Sept. 1809 at St Helier on the island of Jersey, son of Dr John Shortt and Harriet McCausland; m. first, Lucy Hartshorne (d. 1849), by whom he had two children, and m. in 1850 Isabel Harper, and they had three children; d. 24 Aug. 1867 at Port Hope, Ont.
Jonathan Shortt’s father had served in the Peninsular War and was surgeon to the 79th Regiment in Canada from 1825 to 1835. Little is known about Jonathan’s early life, but he was for some time a gentleman cadet at the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, England. He was in Montreal in 1829, when, instead of moving to Kingston with his father when the latter’s regiment was transferred, he remained in Montreal to begin studies for the ministry of the Church of England under clergymen John Bethune* and Abraham Fuller Atkinson. At the same period he began lifelong friendships with Henry James Grasett*, later dean of St James’ Cathedral, Toronto, and William Plenderleath* Christie, a prominent landowner and church builder. On 21 Oct. 1832, Shortt was ordained deacon at York (Toronto) by Bishop Charles James Stewart*. He then assisted Archdeacon George J. Mountain at Quebec City until his appointment to Laprairie (La Prairie) near Montreal in August 1833. In 1834 he was ordained priest at Quebec and was stationed at the mission of Beckwith Township, Upper Canada. After three years at Beckwith Shortt was appointed rector of Port Hope, arriving in his new parish in September 1837. Here he remained for 30 years.
During his long ministry Port Hope increased in population and importance. Shortt was prominent in community affairs and became a well-known advocate of temperance, serving in 1859 as grand worthy patriarch of the Sons of Temperance in Canada West. He added to his meagre stipend by teaching school, as his predecessor, James Coghlan, had done. In November 1839 he advertised in the Church that he was prepared to instruct day pupils in French, Latin, history, geography, and elementary mathematics.
On behalf of a group of Anglican evangelicals he edited the Echo and Protestant Episcopal Recorder at Port Hope from its first issue of 14 Oct. 1851 until it moved to Toronto in 1854. The Echo accurately reflected Shortt’s Irish background and his strongly Protestant, conservative churchmanship. The newspaper was not popular with all Canadian Anglicans. In 1853 an acidulous pen commented in the Hamilton Gazette on “that shallow, Jesuitical slip-slop carping against the distinctive doctrines of the Anglican Catholic Communion which characterises our semi-dissenting contemporary the Echo.” Within the framework of his evangelical convictions, however, Shortt was essentially a moderate who gained the respect of his fellow Anglican clergy of different views. His obituary in 1867 stated that his editorials “were characterized by great clearness, logical acumen and bold faithfulness in the defence of truth,” and that those he criticized “had never any reason to accuse his utterances of acerbity.”
In 1857 when Shortt was to visit Ireland Bishop John Strachan of Toronto described him as one of his “senior and approved clergy” in a letter of introduction to Archbishop Richard Whately of Dublin. In that same year the archbishop of Canterbury, J. B. Sumner, granted Shortt the Lambeth degree of dd.
Jonathan Shortt was the author of “Peace in believing . . .” (Toronto, 1847); A sermon preached to the loyal Orange lodges, assembled in St. John’s Church, Port Hope, July 12, 1853 (Montreal, 1853); and Sea air in summer: a lecture (Montreal, 1866). PAO, Strachan (John) papers, letterbooks, 1839–43, 1844–49, 1852–66. QDA, 49 (B-3), p.122; 107 (G-1), 1, 1832–34. St Mark’s Anglican Church (Port Hope, Ont.), Registers and vestry minutes of St John’s Anglican Church, Port Hope. Church, 1837–56; especially 23 Sept., 4 Nov. 1837; 23, 30 June 1838; 5 Oct., 16 Nov. 1839; 8 May 1841; 14 July 1843; 13 June 1845; 16 July 1847; 22 Feb. 1849; 15 Aug. 1850. Church Chronicle (Toronto), October 1867. Church of England, Church Soc. of the Diocese of Toronto, Annual report (Cobourg; Toronto), 1843–67; Diocese of Toronto, Journal of the Synod (Toronto), 1865–67; Proc. of the Synod (Toronto), 1853–64. Echo and Protestant Episcopal Recorder (Port Hope; Toronto), 1851–54; 19 Jan., 9 March 1855; 1 May, 5 June 1857; 27 June, 10 Nov. 1859. Soc. for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, Report (London), 1841. Historical records of the 79th Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders, comp. T. A. Mackenzie et al. (London, 1887). W. A. Craick, Port Hope historical sketches (Port Hope, Ont., 1901). P. C. Moffatt, Time was: the story of St. Mark’s Anglican Church, Port Hope (Cobourg, Ont., 1972).