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Guide to the John Kelly Temperance Letter

MSN/EA 5038


Collection Summary

Title: John Kelly Temperance Letter
Dates: 1837 or 1838
Collection No.: MSN/EA 5038
Creator: Kelly, John, d. 1866
Extent: one folder
Language: Collection material in English
Repository: University of Notre Dame. Hesburgh Libraries, Department of Special Collections. 102 Hesburgh Library, Notre Dame, IN 46556
Abstract: A single manuscript letter from John Kelly, a Catholic priest, to an unnamed Protestant clergyman and the Chairman of the local Clerical Meeting, 1837 or 1838. Kelly explains why Catholic clergy generally remain aloof from temperance societies.

Selected Search Terms

Temperance -- History -- 19th century
Temperance -- United States -- Societies, etc
Temperance -- Religious aspects -- Catholic Church
Catholic Church -- Relations -- Protestant churches
Kelly, John (d. 1866)

Administrative Information

Restrictions: There are no access restrictions on this collection

Preferred Citation: John Kelly Temperance Letter, MSN/EA 5038-1, Department of Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame.

Acquisition and Processing Note: The John Kelly letter was purchased by the Hesburgh Libraries in 2016, from Michael Brown Rare Books of Philadelphia (List 134, Item 43). Finding aid 2017, by Rachel Bohlmann.

Biographical Note

John Kelly (d. 1866) was a Catholic priest and a Jesuit. He was born into a well-to-do family in Trillick, Ireland probably in 1802 and immigrated to the United States in 1825. He entered St. Mary's Seminary in Maryland soon after, to continue studies begun in Ireland, and was ordained in 1833. The next year he was assigned to upstate New York and by 1837 had been appointed to Albany, where he was serving when he wrote this letter. He remained in Albany until he took a missionary post in Liberia, on the west coast of Africa in 1841. Kelly returned to the United States in 1844 and was assigned to St. Peter's Church in Jersey City, New Jersey, where he remained until his death. His brother was Eugene Kelly (1806-1894), a businessman and banker in New York City.

Scope and Content Note

One letter, dated 1837 or 1838, with docketing. John Kelly to an unnamed chairman of the local Clerical Meeting, "at the Rev. Mr. Vermyle's." This minister was probably Thomas Edward Vermilye (1803-1893), who held the pulpit at the First Dutch Church in Albany, New York at that time. Kelly sends his regrets that neither he nor his fellow priests, John Urquhart and Gregory B. Pardow (1804-1838), would be able to attend. Presumably the clerics were meeting to discuss temperance reform, since Kelly went on to offer reasons why Catholic clergy remained aloof from temperance societies. In this period, most temperance groups were organized by Protestants, many of whom were caught up in the reforming fervor of the Second Great Awakening (1790s-1830s).

Arrangement Note

Container List

  • Letter: John Kelly, [Albany, New York], to unnamed recipient, [Albany, New York] 1837 or 1838. Folder 1 (MSN/MN 5019-1).
    ALS, 2 pages on 1 sheet.