- 1682-1954 (Creation)
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0.34 cubic metres
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The Christian Faith Society originated in 1691 from a charitable bequest made by the natural philosopher Robert Boyle (1627-1691). Boyle had served as Governor of the Company for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England from 1662 and in his will he left money to be used for ‘the advancement of the Christian Religion among infidels in Virginia.’
In keeping with his wishes an estate was purchased in 1694 in Brafferton, Yorkshire, and its income was initially remitted to the William and Mary College in Virginia where it was used to fund an Indian School, housed from 1723 in The Brafferton, a purpose built house which is today the second oldest in the college.
This income ceased to be paid during the American War of Independence and when, in the years afterward, the college once again claimed the rents of the estate, together with the accumulated arrears, the trustees of the charity brought a suit against the college in Chancery. The suit was decided in favour of the charity and its trustees were permitted to find an alternative use for the income of the Brafferton estate.
As a result the charity was reconstituted in 1794 as The Society for the Conversion and Religious Instruction and Education of the Negro Slaves in the British West-India Islands. It received its Royal Charter in the same year and Bielby Porteus, Bishop of London, became its first President. The Society consisted of certain ex-officio members, namely, the Bishop of London, the Deans of St. Paul's and Westminster, and parochial clergy of London and Westminster, the President of the Board of Trade, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, the Lord Mayor and three senior Aldermen: to these were added four West India Merchants or Planters, residing in London or its vicinity, and provision was expressly made in the charter for supplying the places of those merchants, when they might die or resign, by some other West India merchants or planters.
In 1836, following the abolition of slavery, the Society was renamed The Society for Advancing the Christian Faith in the British West-India Islands, and elsewhere, in the Dioceses of Jamaica, and of the Barbadoes and the Leeward Islands, and in the Mauritius. It received its second Royal Charter in 1836 and a further supplemental Royal Charter was granted in 1962.
As of 2015 the Society is still a registered charity under the name The Society for Advancing the Christian Faith, although it is also commonly known as the Christian Faith Society. It contributes towards training and religious instruction for clergy and laity in Anglican dioceses in the West Indies and the Indian Ocean.
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