Full text: Religion, colonising & trade

Shropshire in 1656, went to Oxford, was ordained and 
given a living in Warwickshire, and then came to 
London on the strength of reputation acquired by 
published lectures. In April 1696 he was invited by 
the Bishop of London to go out as his commissary to 
the colony of Maryland, and he started in December 
1699. By that time the S.P.C.K. had been founded 
and was at work ; and either before Bray went out or 
after his return—for there seems to be some confusion 
of dates—he planned the S.P.G. He made his visit 
to Maryland conditional upon being given assistance 
in providing parochial libraries for the ministers who 
should be sent to the colony and, as he was leaving 
England, he founded libraries at the seaport towns at 
which his ship called, Gravesend, Deal and Plymouth. 
His design was to institute lending libraries for the 
clergy both at home and overseas, and together with 
it he contemplated providing schools for negroes, for 
he held that civilising coloured men was a necessary 
preliminary to their conversion. In later life his 
philanthropic interest in prisoners and unemployed 
brought him into touch with Oglethorpe. His 
intense zeal for providing libraries for the clergy 
meant that in his view ignorance was the mother 
of vice and knowledge the highroad to Christianity. 
Thus the S.P.C.K. started with promotion of know- 
ledge in its title and in the forefront of its work, 
and with education of poor children—the provision 
of charity schools in the true sense—engrossing in 
early days the main energies of its founders. = A circu- 
lar letter, which they issued in 1699, attributed the 
decay of religion and the increase of vice in great 

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