Members of the Prayer Book Society from across Cornwall attended its Spring meeting and AGM in the Lychgate Room at Kenwyn Church on Sunday 27 April.

Having opened the gathering with the Collect for the 2nd Sunday of Easter and the Prayer of St Chrysostum, chairman, Revd Canon Pat Robson, engaged members with an intriguing account of how Eusebius, in his book, the History of the Church, exonerated the Apostle Thomas from his common descriptor, ‘Doubting’ Thomas.

It was a fascinating story involving Eusebius’ access to letters he discovered in a library full of original documents in Edessa – including correspondence ostensibly between Abgar the Toparch and Jesus – and to which was appended evidence that, far from doubting, Thomas had been instrumental in sending out disciples ahead of his own journeys confirming the good news of the Risen Christ across Mesopotamia.

The Annual General Meeting itself was attended by 25 of the total 54 individual members across the diocese. Honorary secretary, John St Brioc Hooper, reminded them of the activities that had taken place during the past year, the various reports that had appeared in both national and diocesan publications, and the fact that four Deacons had been presented with special copies of the Book of Common Prayer on the eve of their ordination.

John also drew the attention of members to the refreshed national Prayer Book Society website.  There was also some discussion of the proposed changes to the method of collecting subscriptions.

The formal business completed, PBS members were then held spellbound by Miss Jean Baker who gave a talk on the subject of the Life of Joseph Emidy, the African slave who became a celebrity in Cornwall through his musical accomplishments and who was buried in Kenwyn churchyard.

Born in 1775 in Guinea in West Africa, Joseph (who bizarrely at the age of 12 owned a violin), was captured by the Portuguese in 1787. His slave master took him to Lisbon where, within a few years, he was playing second violin in an orchestra.

In 1795, the British naval vessel, HMS Indefatigable struck a rock and had to put in to port for repairs. Her Cornish master, Captain Pellew, went to see the opera at which Joseph was playing and – much against Joseph’s will – pressed him into becoming his ship’s fiddler. However, in 1799, Captain Pellew was promoted and when his ship docked in Falmouth, he freed Joseph to lead his own life.

He earned his living as a violinist and a music teacher and, having married a local tradesman’s daughter, he moved to Truro, eventually becoming the leader of the Truro Philharmonic Orchestra and one of the most celebrated and influential musical figures in early 19th century Cornwall. He composed many works including concertos and a symphony but no known copies survive.

Joseph died in 1835 and was buried in Kenwyn churchyard.

Following generous sandwiches and a ‘more-ish’ cream tea, Prayer Book Society members visited Joseph Emidy’s grave and laid a wreath, before attending Sung Evensong in Kenwyn Church.

The next meeting of the Prayer Book Society will be on 15 June (Trinity Sunday) at 3pm at Trewithen for a tour of the gardens and house, followed by tea and then Sung Evensong in Creed Church at 6pm.

To join the Society or for details of its meetings, contact John St Brioc Hooper at or call 01726 76382.