Rev Enos Nutall – visionary leader and humanitarian
Jamaica has many historical institutions, many of which have helped to shape the direction of the country. Institutions such as the Kingston Parish Church, St George’s Anglican Church, Nuttall Memorial Hospital, the Mico University College, and Shortwood Teachers’ College are all linked by one individual: The Most Reverend Archbishop Dr Enos Nuttall.
Born on January 26, 1842 at Clitheroe in Lancashire to James and Alice Nuttall, Nuttall spent most of his early years in Yorkshire, England. His father, James, was a Wesleyan Methodist who was described as “a man of strong character and of great natural ability, qualities which were said to be transmitted to his children”. The younger Nutall gleaned his business acumen from his father along with many practical skills such as accounting, building, and construction.
With the support and influence of a very religious family, by the age of 17, the younger Nuttall began preaching at the Wesleyan chapel. His reputation as a preacher increased considerably, and his preaching activities were brought to the attention of the chairman of the Wesleyan Society. By 1860, he wished to be engaged in mission work among the heathen. He eventually wrote to the Rev Dr Osborn, the secretary in London of the Wesleyan Missionary society, requesting to get involved in mission work in Fiji in order to preach the gospel “to the heathen, and especially the savage Fiji Islanders”. In November, 1862, Nuttall was asked by Rev Osborn to go to Jamaica, instead of Fiji, in response to the “great, and in some respect mischievous, excitement all over the island in connection with a revival”.
And approximately 158 years ago, in 1862, a twenty-year-old Enos Nuttal arrived in Kingston, Jamaica, and took his place as one of the three representatives of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in the city of Kingston. After three years of service, Nuttall left the Wesleyan Missionary Society in 1865 and joined the Anglican Church in January 1866. At the Anglican Church, he was an instrumental figure in reorganising the Church of England in Jamaica following the disestablishment in 1870 when the Church of England in Jamaica was no longer supported by the colonial government. He was eventually consecrated as Bishop of Jamaica in London on October 28, 1880. This was a significant appointment for the Church of England in Jamaica because a locally ordained priest was being given the honour to lead the Church instead of the usual practice where a bishop from England was appointed.
As Bishop of Jamaica, Nuttall became chief administrator of the affairs of the Church of England in Jamaica. His primary responsibilities involved the appointment and ordination of new priests, deacons, and laymen and also the confirmation of various church members. He was also responsible for the opening and dedication of new churches. He oversaw the finances of the church by ensuring that they were judiciously distributed among the many rectories for maintenance purposes or new construction projects as well as the payment of stipends and pensions. He was also responsible for the Widows and Orphans fund. He also over saw British Honduras and he also established a mission in Panama to cater to the needs of the emigrants from Jamaica and other English-speaking peoples.
As primate and then archbishop of the West Indies, Nuttall was responsible for the implementation of policies agreed by the members of the Province of the West Indies. Most of the major decisions made by the members of the province occurred at the Provincial Synod, which was overseen by Nuttall.
Outside of the Church, Nuttall was heavily involved in the education and welfare of the population of the island. So much so that he was appointed as the first chairman of the Board of Management at the Shortwood Teachers’ College, where it was said that he served with great enthusiasm. He also served as the chairman of the of the Mico University College Board for 34 years.
For all of his humanitarian work, Nutall has been memorialised by many institutions such as The Mico University College and the Nuttall Memorial Hospital. He was also awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity at the Oxford University in 1897. His title then became The Most Reverend Archbishop, Dr Enos Nuttall. The stamps pictured were donated to the Institute of Jamaica by the Nuttall family. They were used by the Most Reverend Archbishop to stamp and seal all official documents that he had written. Today, we celebrate the birth of one of Jamaica earliest visionary leaders and humanitarian.
Information compiled by Sharifa Balfour, assistant curator, National Museum Jamaica, Institute of Jamaica.