HARTLEY, GEORGE ADKIN, Free Christian Baptist minister; b. 14 Oct. 1831 in Mouth of Keswick, N.B., son of Valentine Adkin Hartley, a blacksmith, and Charlotte Foster; m. first 18 March 1854 Emeline Estabrooks (d. 1855) in Woodstock, N.B.; m. secondly 12 July 1858 Jael Ann Hayden (d. 1868) in Brighton Parish, N.B.; m. thirdly 2 Dec. 1869 Catherine Anna Clark in Saint John, N.B.; he was survived by three sons and two daughters; d. 15 Feb. 1903 in Saint John.
In his 45-year urban ministry George Adkin Hartley was a key figure in moving New Brunswick’s Free Christian Baptists away from the anti-formalist tradition of Henry Alline* and into the mainstream of evangelical Protestantism. His paternal grandparents were Allinite converts of Edward Manning* but, in the early 19th century, the Hartleys turned away from New Light Baptist sentiments and aligned themselves with Calvinist Baptist churches. Thus it was that G. A. Hartley united with the Woodstock Baptist church in 1844. By 1850, however, his religious impressions had altered and he joined the Free Christian Baptists, the anti-Calvinist, anti-hierarchical Baptist sect most directly in the ecclesiological tradition of Alline. Immediately he began to preach, missioning to lumber camps in the vicinity of Woodstock while continuing his trade there as a printer. Six years later he was ordained.
From the beginning Hartley demonstrated that he would not be a traditional Free Christian Baptist minister. Until well after the middle of the 19th century most of the sect’s preachers held so true to Allinism’s disdain for external forms that they resisted ministerial education, settled pastorates, sabbath schools, missionary societies, and other badges of settled denominationalism. When, therefore, Hartley established a sabbath school in Woodstock in 1850, accepted, in July 1858, a pastorate in Saint John, on the geographical periphery of the Free Christian Baptists’ rural strength, and joined with Ezekiel McLeod* in 1858–61 to publish the Religious Intelligencer newspaper, he took the lead in attenuating the Allinite impulse in order to appeal to an increasingly semi-urban, literate populace. Like fellow Saint John pastor McLeod, Hartley remained an earnest evangelical, but his labours in the city made him place unAlline-like emphasis on church order and pastoral stability in the nurturing of converts. An 1886 lecture entitled “How to make our churches more efficient” bespeaks the nature of his concerns. His success in combining evangelicalism with respectability is reflected in the fact that his converts included such upwardly mobile young men as future New Brunswick Supreme Court judges James Alfred VanWart and Sir Ezekiel McLeod and federal finance minister George Eulas Foster*. It is a measure of the extent to which the Free Christian Baptists had denominationalized during his long career that both of Hartley’s sons who became ministers were college-educated and, at his death, a daughter was in college preparing for foreign missionary service. He himself had accepted an honorary dd from a Maine religious college in 1898.
[G. A. Hartley is the author of Immortality versus annihilation (Saint John, N.B., 1867), a highly derivative attack on the Adventist teaching that the wicked would be annihilated rather than punished eternally. d.g.s.]
Carleton Sentinel (Woodstock, N.B.), 25 March 1854, 12 May 1855, 17 July 1858, 25 Jan. 1862. Daily Telegraph (Saint John), 16 Feb. 1903. W. O. Raymond, “George Adkin Hartley, and his descendants,” Dispatch (Woodstock), 24 June 1896 (includes autobiographical sketch by G. A. Hartley). St. John Daily Sun, 16 Feb. 1903. Saint John Globe, 8 Feb. 1886. D. G. Bell, “The Allinite tradition and the New Brunswick Free Christian Baptists, 1830–1875,” An abiding conviction: Maritime Baptists and their world, ed. R. S. Wilson (Saint John, 1988), 55–82. Free Christian Baptists of New Brunswick, General Conference, Extracts from the minutes, 1850–54, continued by Minutes, 1855–97, and by Free Baptists of New Brunswick, General Conference, Minutes, 1898–1903 (published at various places in New Brunswick). General catalogue of Bates College and Cobb Divinity School, 1864–1930, ed. Mabel Eaton (Lewiston, Maine, 1931). The Newlight Baptist journals of James Manning and James Innis, ed. D. G. Bell (Saint John, 1984). E. M. Saunders, History of the Baptists of the Maritime provinces (Halifax, 1902).