The Rt Rev William Hart Coleridge Bishop of Barbados from 1824 until 1842
The terrible events of the conviction and death of Rev John Smith and that of Shrewsberry who had to flee for his life stirred those of the Abolition movement in England. They pushed and gained the declaration of religious toleration in the West Indies.
The events also revealed the apathy and indifference of the Anglican Church. The Bishop of England had earlier tried to address the issue by sending better trained clergymen to Barbados between 1792 and 1806 but the programme had lapsed. Up to 1812 there were no schools in Barbados for slaves outside of Codringtons estates. After the insurrection of 1816 social consciousness was raised and brought about some improvement for the education of the underprivileged
In 1818 the Colonial Charity School was founded for coloured and black children. In 1819 the Central School in Bridgetown was opened for the children of the poor whites. Unfortunately the plans made by the Bishop of London were gradually reduced. The Church of England interest in the slaves and their education was not maintained. It relapsed into the condition of apathy, as the church of the planters it turned its back on the spiritual condition of the slaves.
It was under these circumstances that two dioceses were established in the area and funds were provided from England. Coleridge was appointed as the Bishop of Barbados and this began a new era of the Anglican Church in Barbados. It was said of Barbados "that any place which received the Word of God so many years should still remain together in the wilderness as sheep without a shepherd.
Coleridge set about to change the above and began christening educated slaves. He encourages all men free or slave to follow Christ and to be christened and live a life that reflected that of Christ. Bishop Coleridge stated “Every soul is God's property, every soul in your parish must be your care. The soul of the master, and the soul of the slave, will equally be required at your hands."
Coleridge in 18 years of his episcopate more than doubled the number of clergy from 15 to 31. He multiplied the number of laced of worship in the Island and founded 8 schools. From 500 to 7000 students enrolled in schools. He also worked tirelessly to see the repair work done on the churches and schools after the hurricane of 1831.
The Coleridge and Parry School in Barbados were originally 2 separate schools that have joined to become one were named after the first Bishop of Barbados being Coleridge and Parry being the second.
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