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Anglicans Online last updated 9 December 2018

The Bishop of New Jersey writes about the presentment

'The Appeal, which he now makes, is for "the house of God. and the offices thereof". One member cannot suffer, and all the members not suffer with it. That which is now attempted in New Jersey, may be pursued, elsewhere. If the mere representation of four laymen, without confirmation from his diocese, and even without examination as to its value, can be regarded as the sufficient warrant for three Bishops to present a Bishop to be tried; or, what is infinitely worse, demand his obedience and submission to their will, under the penalty of a presentment, what Bishop can be safe, what diocese secure?

'The undersigned would rouse his brethren, all, to the alarming inroad, which is now attempted on the peace, the freedom and the order of the Church. The first stride of the three Bishops ... is longer than the Papacy achieved, in centuries. The spirit of Popery is not confined within the Vatican. There are potential Popes, upon whom no shadow from the seven hills has ever fallen. The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States has nothing to fear from the the thin shade of Leo or of Hildebrand, that lingers yet and trembles along the Tiber. Our Popery is here. The Papacy of prejudice is that from which we have to fear.

'The freedom, peace, and order of the church are threatened now, through a triumvirate of tyrants. And the undersigned could never rest upon his pillow, nor go in hope to his grave, nor look for mercy at that day, did he not call upon his brethren in the Episcopate, as they shall stand with him before the Judge ...

-- George Washington Doane, Bishop of New Jersey, in Protest, Appeal, and Reply (1851),
which he published when he was presented for ecclesiastical trial the first time.


When the first presentment occurred in 1851, Dr. Doane had been Bishop of New Jersey for almost 20 years, developing the diocese (which was then the entire state) as one of the premier High-Church dioceses in the US, growing in parishes, giving, numbers of clergy, numbers of communicants, and the like.

Bishop Doane had been a nuisance to low-church people for years, but they had never been able to stop him. In 1851, several discontented laymen and a few unhappy priests were able to ally themselves with three low-church, evangelical bishops outside New Jersey to bring a series of presentments of Doane. Through a series of comical legal blunders, there was really only one trial, despite the fact that there had been three presentments. Ultimately, the presentment was dismissed.

Legal Issues

The Doane presentment in the Diocese of New Jersey had a significant effect on ECUSA Canon Law. Since Canon Law is detailed, we must delve into details. If you do not care about these details, you can skip directly to a brief biography of Bishop Doane at the end of this page.

White and Dykman have this to say about the Doane case (Annotated Constitution and Canons, Protestant Episcopal Church, Volume 11, 1954, pp. 328-330):

The bishop had established two schools, one for girls and one for boys, in the city of Burlington, New Jersey. In carrying on these two institutions, the bishop became heavily involved, and owing, in part, to a financial depression then prevailing, he was unable to meet his financial obligations, and was forced to make an assignment to his creditors. Certain newspapers took up the matter and attributed to the bishop motives that were dishonest, and tending to bring disgrace upon the Church. The first step toward an investigation of the rumors affecting the bishop's character were taken in 1849, by the introduction of a resolution in the Convention of New Jersey of that year, calling for the appointment of a committee to "make such inquiries as shall satisfy them of the innocency of the accused, or of the sufficiency of ground for presentment and trial." After extended debate on the question, the convention voted unanimously against the adoption of the resolution. Two years later, in 1851, Bishops Meade, McIlvaine, and Burgess addressed a letter to Bishop Doane, stating certain charges, demanding that a special convention of the diocese be called, and a committee appointed to make an investigation, and implying that, in case of failure to do this, the inquiry would be undertaken by them.

A special meeting of the convention was called to meet in Burlington, New Jersey, on March 17, 1853, "to answer and express their judgment on the official conduct of these three Bishops, as touching the right of the Bishop and the Diocese, in dictating a course of action to be pursued by them." By a very large vote, the convention refused and resisted the dictation, and declared their confidence in the bishop to be such as to make unnecessary any investigation, as proposed.

The three presenting bishops then prepare a presentment, and issues a summons to the bishop to attend a trial thereon on June 24, 1852. A present having been made, the convention felt themselves bound to redeem their pledge of investigating any changes duly made and presented. A committee of seven was appointed for this purpose, and directed to report at an adjourned meeting of the convention in July, 1852.

The adjourned convention met, received the report of the committee, declared their renewed and strengthened confidence in the bishop's integrity and his entire exculpation from any of the charges, and appointed a committee to present their action to the Court of Bishops.

Without waiting for the results of the investigations by the committee of the convention, the three presenting bishops drew up a new presentment, dated July 22, of that year.

A special meeting of the convention was called for October 27. In the meantime the court met in Camden, New Jersey, on October 7, and adjourned to Burlington. The committee of investigation of the convention sent their report to the court on October 9. On October 15, the court adopted the action of the convention in dismissing the first presentment and relying on the convention soon to meet, to investigate the matters alleged in the second presentment, decided to proceed no further with it.

At the special convention on October 2, the same year, the matter of the new charges was referred to the same committee, and it was directed to report at an adjourned meeting in December of that year. The committee made their report to the convention in December, and the convention adopted resolution, urging "in more earnest words, the futility and falsehood of the charge, their unabated confidence in their Bishop, and their appeal to the Church to ratify this result of their fulfillment of their solemn pledge."

The same three presenting bishops made a third presentment in March, 1853. This new presentment was made necessary, if it was desired to bring the bishop to trial, because, under the interpretation of the canon which was admitted by the three presenting bishops, the convention of the diocese had the right to act in the first instance, and the convention having declared the former two presentments unproven as to the charges therein contained, a new presentment had to be made. The annual convention of that year, meeting in May, adopted a series of resolutions declaring the identity of the three presentments, "asserting that the action of the Committee, as recognized by the Court, has proclaimed and proven these changes unsubstantiated and branding the attempt of the Presenters as a violation of the most common rights of their Bishop and themselves," appointed a committee to present a statement of their action to the court, called to meet September 1 of that year, and to protest again any further action in the matter.

The court of the House of Bishops met in December 1853, and after careful consideration of the whole matter, unanimously decided to dismiss the presentment".

The canon (Canon 3, enacted in 1844) under which Bishop Doane was presented was repealed by General Convention in 1856.

Biography of Bishop Doane

Doane, George Washington, born 27 May 1799, Trenton, New Jersey, only son of Jonathan Doane and Mary Higgins. Educated private school Geneva, New York, A.B. Union College (Schenectady, New York) 1818, summa cum laude, valedictorian, Phi Beta Kappa.

Spent one year being tutored in law before proceeding to become a candidate for Holy Orders in the Diocese of New York under Bishop John Henry Hobart. B.D., General Theological Seminary, 1822 (first graduating class). Deacon, 1821, priest, 1822, both by Bp Hobart.

Assistant minister, Trinity Church, New York 1822-1824; founding faculty member (rhetoric and belles lettres), Trinity College, Connecticut and non-stipendiary priest, Diocese of Connecticut, 1824-1828. Elected assistant rector, Trinity Church, Boston, Massachusetts, 1828-1830, rector, 1830-1832. Whilst rector, elected Bishop of New Jersey. Consecrated in 1832, and for the duration of his episcopate served in addition as Rector of St Mary's, Burlington, New Jersey. Honorary doctorates, Trinity College [Connecticut], Columbia University, 1831; LL.D., St John's, 1841.

Doane was the first American invited to preach in a Church of England pulpit since the Revolution (dedication of new Leeds Parish Church, 1841). He was a close friend of John Keble and Edward Pusey, bringing out the first American edition of Keble's 'Christian Year'. Spent much time with William Wordsworth when he was in England. Champion of the Oxford Movement in America, when that movement's first appearance provoked suspicion and scepticism. Author of several well-known hymns, amongst them, 'Thou Art the Way, to Thee Alone' and 'Fling Out the Banner, Let it Float'. Prolific author, with more than 100 miscellaneous works to his credit. In association with Richard Upjohn, he built the first cruciform church in the States (St Mary's, Burlington).

Married 1829 Eliza Greene Callahan Perkins. Two sons, both of whom entered Holy Orders: 1) George Hobart Doane, who in 1853, as an Episcopal deacon, converted to Roman Catholicism, eventually becoming vicar general of Newark (NJ), and an apostolic prothonotary; and 2) William Croswell Doane, who became the first Bishop of Albany (NY).

Bishop Doane died of an 'infectious fever' (probably pneumonia) on 27 April 1859, in Burlington, New Jersey, aged 59. He is buried in St Mary's churchyard.

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