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John Kelly Temperance Letter

Identifier: MSN/EA 5042

Scope and Contents

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).


  • Creation: 1837 or 1838


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on this item.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Biographical / Historical

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.


1 item (1 folder)

Language of Materials



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.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The John Kelly letter was purchased by the Hesburgh Libraries in 2016, from Michael Brown Rare Books of Philadelphia (List 134, Item 43).

John Kelly Temperance Letter
Rachel Bohlmann
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Notre Dame Rare Books & Special Collections Repository

102 Hesburgh Library
Notre Dame IN 46556