Petition of Peter Williams Jr. to Trinity Church

The petition of Peter Williams, Lewis Francis, Andrew Rankin, John Kent, Thomas Zabriskie, John Beas, John Marander, and William Yate, managers of the African Episcopal Catechetical Institution, in the city of New York, humbly shewith that the attendants of the meetings under their charge having become so numerous, that the room which the occupy, though the most commodious they could hire, is not sufficiently large to contain them; and having reason to fear that it will not be [ ] much longer, feel an earnest desire to erect a place, which may better answer the purposes of the Institution, and may serve also as an Episcopal School for the instruction of coloured youth: that for this purpose they have drawn up a subscription, which the Right Reverend Bishop of Dicoese having patronized by his subscription and recommendation, they hope, though the times are rather unpropitious for such charities, will be so far successful as to raise a sum adequate to the building of such a place provided they could obtain form the Corporation of Trinity Church the grant of a piece of ground to erect it on. Your petitioners, knowing that the appeal to the bounty of your venerable and justly esteemed board, are very numerous and extensive, would not make this application were it not a case of urgent necessity.

Being poor men themselves, and the congregation in whose behalf they act, though considerable in numbers, being also poor, though they feel disposed to give liberally, according to their circumstances, they cannot hope to raise enough even with what aid they may receive form other individuals who are friendly towards them, to enable them both to erect the building and to purchase the ground. But that they would be made to accomplish the former should the liberality of the Corporation of Trinity Church bestow the latter upon them, there can be no doubt: their view being so humble that they have resolved if not able to build such a place as they wish to content themselves with building such as they can. Your petitioners presume that they need not say much as to the expediency of the measure. They would appear to the Right Reverend Gentleman who presides over your board and to all the Episcopal clergy in the city for a testimony of the order in which their meetings have been conducted, of the disposition which they have manifested to conform in all things to the rites and ceremonies of the church, and of the prospects they have in providing a convenient place, of securing to the Church the attachment of a large number of coloured persons. On the other hand, it is most evident that if some such arrangement is not soon made there will be a great falling off in that class of Episcopalians. Your petitioners have to lament that, within the compass of their knowledge, some hundreds have already left the church, whom they have reason to believe would not have done so had some such provision been made for their accommodation. And as heads of families they feel the more anxious for it to be made, lest their children should also be led to depart from that form of worship, and those doctrines which they believe to be most scriptural and most conducive to the interests of true religion.

In making this address to your benevolence your petitioners would think it highly presumptuous to designate any particular part of the city as being preferable for such a building. They would leave this matter entirely at the disposal of your honorable body, persuaded if their petition should be granted the spot selected would suit their purposes, and find them in duty ever to pray for your happiness and prosperity.

Signed in behalf of the Board of Managers of the African Episcopal Catechetical Institution

Peter Williams Jr., Catechist

New York, November 17th 1817