The Gretna Green Clergymen of Windsor and Essex County

Windsor and Essex County’s high cross-border marriage rates were lucrative for the Clergy of many churches. It appears that only the Catholics and the Salvation Army were not involved in the business (Detroit Free Press 1908: July 31st, p. 3).

The Windsor Evening Record (1899: June 21, p. 4)  reports that “Windsor is a location much sort after by ministers of all churches owing to the aggregate receipts from marriage fees almost equalling, in many cases, the yearly clerical stipend. We know of one Methodist minister whose wedding fees amounted to $700 during 12 months spent in Windsor.” In addition to being paid for their actual services, the Clergy could apparently expect gifts  varying from $2 - $5 per wedding (Detroit Free Press 1894: August 26th, p. 8).

During one 6 month period from July – December 1901 (Detroit Free Press 1902: Jan. 3rd, p. 10), the City Clerk, Lusted, records 448 marriages performed in Windsor, including:

Rev. James Livingstone, Windsor Ave. Methodist Church: 135

Rev. Duncan H. Hind, St. John’s Church, Sandwich: 130

Rev. David Bovington, Bruce Ave. Baptist Church: 81

Rev. J. C. Tolmie, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church: 35

In the 1905 Ontario Vital Statistics report, the Deputy Registrar General, Dr. Charles Hodgetts,  is very critical of the clergy and their families, who often served as witnesses. Although no names are actually mentioned, he clearly singles out the Reverend Duncan Henry Hind of St. John’s Church, Sandwich who performed 297 out of the 318 marriages in this town (p. 7) The Reverend Duncan Hind served at St. John’s from 1887 until his death in 1916.

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For more information about the Reverend Duncan Henry Hind and St. John’s Church, Sandwich, see: St. John’s Church, Sandwich, Windsor, Ontario, 1802-1952 by Harrison Westgate:





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