1845 Trial of Bishop Benjamin Onderdonk – Clergy Abuse “Me Too” Grolier Club (Sabin 57309)


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The Court. The Proceedings of the Court Convened Under the Third Canon of 1844 in the City if New York on Tuesday December 10, 1844 for the Trial of the Right Rev. Benjamin T. Onderdonk, Bishop of New York on a Presentment Made by the Bishops of Virginia, Tennessee and Georgia. (New York and Pennsylvania: Appleton, 1845) – Sabin 57309 – probable first. 5 copies in OCLC.

Octavo. 333 pages. Hardcover. Bound in leather covered boards stamped in gilt. Black leather label stamped in gilt on spine, board edge stamped in gilt. All edges marbled. Marbled end papers.

Condition: Good. Boards detached. Front endpaper detached. Light foxing throughout. Bookplate attached to front pastedown. Chipping to front endpaper and a few bumped pages.

Provenance: Bookplate of William Gilbert Davies on front pastedown.  William Gilbert Davies (March 21, 1842-July 26, 1910). Admitted to the Bar in 1863, he soon after found himself an insurance lawyer for Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York. He served in the Civil War, fighting at Gettysburg. He taught Law at the University of the City of New York and was a member of the Grolier Club (May 6, 1890).

Benjamin Tredwell Onderdonk (July 15, 1791, New York City – April 30, 1861, New York) was the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York from 1830–1861.

William Meade, Bishop of Virginia (later the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America) received a number of affidavits of women who alleged that Onderdonk had made improper advances towards them and had engaged in improper touching. This eventually resulted in a trial before the House of Bishops. Throughout, Onderdonk maintained his innocence. By all accounts the trial was a bitter affair, with Onderdonk making accusations of a secret conspiracy to remove him due to his theological views by falsifying charges and Meade accusing the Onderdonk faction of witness intimidation. The trial resulted in the suspension of Onderdonk.

Following his suspension, Onderdonk remained Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York but was suspended from performing his duties. Provisional Bishops were consecrated to fill his duties. They were Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright I, consecrated to serve as Provisional Bishop in place of Bishop Onderdonk, 1852–1854 and Horatio Potter consecrated in 1854 to serve as Provisional Bishop in place of Onderdonk; became diocesan in 1861. His brother, Henry Ustick Onderdonk, Bishop of Pennsylvania, was also suspended upon allegations of intemperance during the same time period.