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BOLLES, JAMES A.

BOLLES, JAMES A. (2 May 1810-19 Sept. 1894), controversial rector of Trinity Church from 1855-59, was born in Norwich, Conn., the son of Ralph and Happy (Branch) Bolles. After graduating from Trinity College in Hartford (1830) and studying at the General Seminary in New York, in 1834 Bolles became an Episcopal priest and rector of St. James Church in Batavia, N.Y. In 1853, primarily through Samuel L. Mather, Bolles became rector of Trinity Church in Cleveland. Opposed to the evangelical movement, Bolles advocated written sermons and practices associated with the Catholic church, strongly objecting to the mass conversions of revival meetings and arguing against the interdenominational movement, which he considered superficial. Bolles engaged in public, published debate with the Episcopal bishop of Ohio over such issues, drawing national church attention.

Within a few months of Bolles's coming to Trinity, the church burned down. Bolles provided the leadership to rebuild it. During his ministry, Bolles emphasized charity and implemented systematic giving and the founding of 2 mission churches. He advocated the free church system, including free (as opposed to rented) pews, and in 1859 resigned when the vestry refused to make Trinity a free parish, with his congregation already divided over his advocation of daily services and other Catholic practices. In 1859, Bolles became rector of the Church of the Advent in Boston, but returned to Cleveland in 1871 as a senior canon at Trinity Church for many years. Bolles wrote Vade Mecum: A Manual for Pastoral Use, used by a generation of pastors.

Married twice, Bolles' first marriage was in 1833 to his cousin Mary Frances Bolles (d. 1849); they had 3 children: Abby, Constance, and Kendrick. His second marriage was to Martha Elizabeth Evans in 1850; they had a daughter, Mary Frances. Bolles was buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.


Pierce, Roderic Hall. Trinity Cathedral (1967).