CUBIT (Cubick), GEORGE, Wesleyan minister; b. c. 1791 in Norwich, England; m. in England and had two children; d. 13 Oct. 1850 in London.
While he was still a boy, George Cubit and his family moved to Sheffield where he attended the Carver Street Chapel. He joined the Wesleyan Methodist Conference in 1808, was ordained in 1813, and served as an itinerant minister for three years. With his wife and two fellow missionaries, John Bell* and Richard Knight*, he left Poole on 1 Aug. 1816 and arrived in Carbonear, Nfld, on 4 September.
From the beginning, Cubit displayed the marks of superior intellectual ability and, perhaps for this reason, he was assigned to St John’s. On 17 September he preached at the laying of the cornerstone for a chapel to replace the one destroyed by fire almost seven months earlier. The recently appointed governor, Francis Pickmore*, and the Methodist minister William Ellis, chairman of the Newfoundland district, were present for the ceremony. Knight served as Cubit’s assistant for a few months and the chapel was opened on 26 December.
A complaint lodged in 1816 by the Anglican clergyman David Rowland resulted in Cubit and James Sabine, the Congregational minister, being summoned before Pickmore on the charge of performing marriages in areas where the Church of England had jurisdiction. Though strongly cautioned by the governor, they declared themselves unwilling to submit and took their case to the local press. They were supported by public opinion, but the governor’s position was upheld by the British government, and they were forbidden to perform marriages in Newfoundland after January 1818.
As was typical of the Wesleyans, Cubit exercised an effective ministry among the military; in St John’s he won more than 80 soldiers to the cause. Indeed, he was probably the ablest of the Wesleyan preachers then stationed in Newfoundland and attracted many people by his eloquent preaching and rich exposition of Scripture. However, the effects of the economic depression following the Napoleonic Wars, the poor fishery of 1817, and several major fires which destroyed a large part of St John’s were disastrous to Cubit’s congregation. It was saddled with heavy debts on its old chapel and the new one, and Cubit begged for funds from the missionary committee in London, at the same time apologizing for being so importunate. Matters were complicated further by the fact that many members of his church, out of financial destitution, had scattered to the outlying areas. The city itself fell victim in the winter of 1817-–18 to gangs of rowdies.
The stresses and privations proved too burdensome for Cubit’s sensitive mind. As early as October 1817 he began to complain of headaches, and by January 1818 he had to forego study. The death of his infant son on 11 April aggravated his distress. In May his request to be made a supernumerary was granted by the Newfoundland district. On his doctor’s advice, but without the required consent of the missionary committee in London, he returned to England in December 1818. His case was, before the committee for several months but censure was not imposed, probably because of his continuing concern for the struggling overseas church. By 1820 he had returned to the active ministry in England. He spent the next 16 years serving in some of the Wesleyan Church’s most influential pulpits and publishing several books, sermons, and pamphlets.
In 1836 Cubit was appointed assistant editor of the Wesleyan Book Room and two years later became principal editor, thus assuming responsibility for all the literature being produced by the church. Here he found scope for his literary gifts. He refuted attacks on Methodism by Irish politician Daniel O’Connell and was highly praised by the Times of London for the eloquence of his arguments. In his last years Cubit withdrew into seclusion, continuing to devote himself to literary duties but suffering still from extreme sensitivity. He remained as editor until his death from a stroke in 1850.
James Sabine, A sermon, in commemoration of the benevolence of the citizens of Boston . . . (St John’s, 1818); A view of the moral state of Newfoundland; with a particular reference to the present state of religious toleration in the island (Boston, 1818). Wesleyan-Methodist Magazine, 39 (1816): 954–55; 41 (1818); 42 (1819): 75; 47 (1824): 245; 48 (1825): 190; 59 (1836): 691; 73 (1850): 1213; 74 (1851). Newfoundland Mercantile Journal, 15, 18 Sept., 26, 30 Oct., 2 Nov. 1816; 11, 17 Jan., 11, 18 April 1817. Royal Gazette and Newfoundland Advertiser, 24 Dec. 1816; 4, 25 March, 8 April 1817. When was that? (Mosdell), 27. A century of Methodism in St. John’s, Newfoundland, 1815–1915, ed. J. W. Nichols ([St John’s, 1915]), 17–20. Levi Curtis, “The Methodist (now United) Church in Newfoundland,” The book of Newfoundland, ed. J. R. Smallwood (6v., St John’s, 1937–75), 2: 291. James Dove, “The Methodist Church in Newfoundland,” in Prowse, Hist. of Nfld. (1895), supp., 40. G. G. Findlay and W. W. Holdsworth, The history of the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society (5v., London, 1921–24), 1: 276. Charles Lench, An account of the rise and progress of Methodism on the Grand Bank and Fortune circuits from 1816 to 1916 . . . (n. p., ), 10–11. D. G. Pitt, Windows of agates; a short history of the founding and early years of Gower Street Methodist (now United) Church in St. John’s, Newfoundland (St John’s, 1966), 24–41. George Smith, History of Wesleyan Methodism (3v., London, 1857–61), 3. T. W. Smith, Hist. of Methodist Church, 2: 35, 38–40, 61, 418–19. William Wilson, Newfoundland and its missionaries . . . to which is added a chronological table of all the important events that have occurred on the island (Cambridge, Mass., and Halifax, 1866), 230, 238, 243. Charles Lench, “The makers of Newfoundland Methodism . . . ,” Methodist Monthly Greeting (St John’s), 12 (1900), no.8: 3–4.