Recently I came across some information about a legacy donor from seventy odd years ago—one that piqued my curiosity. Fortunately, Dr. Melvin Baker, retired historian from Memorial University of Newfoundland, had done a write-up on this cleric in 1999 and from that article, I was able to glean something about this man’s life.
The Rev’d John Thomas Hiscock has left a legacy that has continued for 73 years. Dr. Baker writes:
“‘Father Tom’ as he was affectionately known, was born in Catalina on July 14, 1879. His parents were John and Maria Hiscock of Catalina. After receiving his early education in Catalina, he attended Bishop Feild College at St. John’s and, following graduation, he taught school for a few years. In 1902 he entered Queen’s Theological College at St. John’s; he was ordained as a deacon in 1905 and as a priest the following year. In 1907 he studied in England at Durham University graduating in 1909 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He was one of two Newfoundland Anglican priests to attend Durham at this time and their association with Durham allowed Queen’s College to affiliate with it. Hence, Queen’s students could take the Licentiate in Theology at the College and then proceed to Durham for the Bachelor of Arts degree.”
Dr. Baker went on to report that following his return to Newfoundland, Fr. Hiscock served in various outport communities, including Bonne Bay, Fogo, Newtown, and Catalina. In 1929 he joined the Faculty of Queen’s College where he became Vice Principal serving until 1942 when he retired to Catalina. His chief academic interest at the College lay in New Testament Greek and Christian Worship.
In his retirement, Fr. Hiscock remained very active in community and church affairs in the Catalina area.
Dr. Baker continues:
“He became a Director of the Bonavista Cold Storage Company established at Bonavista in 1939 by Hazen Russell. This company was active in pioneering cold storage shipping in Newfoundland and Father Tom was an ardent supporter of this endeavour; He was also a member of the Board of the Joseph Clouter Free Public Library established at Catalina in 1937. This was the first public library to be established in Newfoundland outside St. John’s, where the Gosling Memorial Library had opened in 1936.”
Father Tom died in Catalina on August 24th, 1950 but not before leaving a legacy for the Church in Newfoundland. According to Dr. Baker, “During the 1930s and 1940s Father Tom had invested in the financial stock market. Following his death, part of the assets from his estate were used to help create a pension fund for retired Anglican clergymen in Newfoundland and Labrador.”
Our Joint Committee Officer, the Rev’d Fred Marshall, reported on the benefits of the Hiscock legacy.
“Each of the three dioceses in NL share in the premium cost of the medical benefits plan for retired clergy based on years of service. Revenue from the Father Tom Hiscock Memorial Fund is received by the Tri-Diocesan Joint Committee and then distributed to the dioceses to offset this cost. Today, seventy-three years since his passing, 72 retired clergy benefit from Father Tom’s generosity and financial foresight.”
That investment and subsequent legacy gift is still contributing decades later.