[Bell Historians] Old North Church, Boston

Richard Smith richard at xmQ7ryUL3yYv-F4o9gSLvvI7xtsATwKiSm-FPeh3NgXmz5tyKDTd59d5h6vm1LF-j0bPdoY2Y7T7qhsq.yahoo.invalid
Tue Jun 19 14:44:11 BST 2012

Thanks for the various replies, on list and privately, to my 
email about Old North.  It seems that no-one else has drawn 
a link between Shute and bells at Old North, and it seems 
there is no evidence for such a link.  We know that Shute 
left the province in 1723; whether he ever returned is not 
clear, though Wikipedia (for what that's worth) says he 
"remained politically influential" in Massachusetts.  He 
died in 1742, in Westminster.  The bells were not cast until 
1744, so clearly he was not directly involved in their 

What is not clear is when the idea to install a ring of 
bells in Old North was first seriously considered.  The 
decision to furnish the church with such a fine steeple must 
surely have been made during Shute's governorship.  But was 
the steeple originally intended to house a peal of bells, or 
were the bells a later idea?

Chris Pickford quotes Dr Timothy Cutler, the first rector of 
Old North, as saying he "resolved to furnish its massive 
brick tower with a ring of bells".  Does the 1904 book, 
"Christ Church Bells", place a date to this statement?  In 
any case, we can be fairly certain that Cutler was not 
involved in the decision to equip the church with a large 
tower as we know he was in England at the time of the 
church's construction, and had spent the preceeding decade 
in Connecticut where he had been Rector of Yale College.

Even though the tower pre-dated Cutler's return to Boston in 
1723, we don't necessarily need to invoke Shute's influence 
for the bells.  Cutler, though born in Charlestown and a 
graduate of Harvard, had just returned from a period in 
England where he had taken a DD at Oxford, subsequently 
incorporating at Cambridge.  Both cities seem to have had 
active bands in the 1720s, and Cutler presumably would have 
become acquainted with change ringing there, even if he 
never practiced it himself.



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