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Samuel Sobieski Nelles fonds
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Samuel Sobieski Nelles fonds

  • CA ON00357 2038
  • Fonds
  • 1842-1962

During his thirty-seven years as a teacher and administrator at Victoria College, Samuel Nelles made an indelible imprint on both the ministry of the Wesleyan Methodist Church and the system of higher education in Ontario. Consequently, his papers possess significant research value for religious, intellectual, and educational historians. The collection held by the Archives is a fairly representative sampling of Nelles' correspondence, essays, articles, sermons, speeches, addresses, lectures, and notes. The earliest material dates from his student days in the early 1840's, and the last records were written only days before his death in 1887.

Fonds consists of the following series: Correspondence, 1856–1962; Diaries and journals, 1846–1887; Essays and articles, 1842–1896; Sermons, 1848–1888; Speeches and addresses, 1842–1887; Lectures, 1854–1887; Notebooks of sermons, addresses, lectures, essays and notes, 1847–1887; Writing and memorabilia, 1846–1902; and Material relating to Victoria College, 1851–1884.

Nelles, Samuel Sobieski

Journal. "Random Thoughts and Mental Records." vol.2.

Contains thoughts on a variety of topics such as the Trinity, mysticism, the Reformation, revelations, moderation, the Holy Spirit, atonement, and the dangers of sectarianism. Makes a number of generalizations about human nature.

Diaries and journals

Series consists of journals and diaries, 1846-1887, containing reflections/essays on various topics, predominantly religious and spiritual; daily activities and quotations .

The box of diaries and journals covers the period between 1846 and 1887, with most of the entries being made before 1870. The early diaries tend to be more reflective, revealing Nelles' reaction to his reading material and his inner spirtual thoughts; the later journals focus more on daily activities.

Daily Journal.

Discusses university question and Morley Punshon's arrival. Shows close relationship with his children.

Rowsell's Diary.

Most entries deal with family or college matters. Mentions petition against Professor William Kingston (mathematics and science).

Diary. Cobourg.

Detailed account of daily activities, readings and thoughts with good insight into family and college routines. Not as introspective as the early journals,but does have occasional statements of beliefs. Discusses Aylesworth controversy, doctrine of eternal misery, conscience and desire.

Journal. "Random Thoughts and Mental Records." Toronto.

Contains a few quotations, some discussion of reading material. Most of journal concerned with self evaluation (state of his soul), with a general air of spiritual conflict. Discussion of state and church, relationship between scripture, reason, and nature, differences between unity and uniformity, tolerance for beliefs of others, good works, religious excitement. One of main themes is his aversion to creeds and suspicion of orthodoxy.

Journal. "Book of Random Thoughts on Speech. Public, or Private Conversation."

Contains skeleton of sermon, advice on public speaking and conversation, critical profile of Mr. Gemly's sermon in Port Hope, prayer, self culture, Christian evidence, logic, reading matter (especially Chalmers), remark about Egerton Ryerson. Writing marked by occasional tone of despair - Nelles very aware of his own shortcomings.

Journal. "Book of Random Thoughts."

Wesleyan University, Mount Pleasant, Newburgh, Port Hope, Toronto.
Contains quotations, musings, small essays, daily plans, rules of conduct, character sketches, and a description of 1847 Conference held in Toronto (with remarks about figures such as Dr. Alder and the Ryerson brothers). Touches on wide range of topics (most of which deal in some way with self improvement), also comments on future of Canada, the Conservative party, limitations of creeds, scripture interpretations, analysis of aspects of Wesleyan Methodism-especially an interesting section on holiness.


Address. "Important Folk." n.d.
Convocation Address. May 13, 1885.
Educational Address re: Endowment for Victoria College and Federation. 1885.
Sermon on Salvation. Richmond Street, Millbrook. 1884. Carlton Street, Toronto. 1885.
Sermon. Eternal Life. n.d.
Sermon. "Whatsoever things are true." July 16, 1885.
Sermon. "Kingdom of God." July 16, 1885.
Sermon. "The Way of God More Perfectly." July 17, 1885.
Sermon. Gifts of God. September 3, 1885.
Sermon. Labours. September 13, 1885.
Sermon. "The Church of the Living God." September 14, 1885.
Sermon. "Thy Kingdom Come." n.d.
Sermon. "A God that hidest thyself." November 29, 1885.
Sermon. Able Ministers of the New Testament. n.d.
Sermon. Kingdom as Leaven. March 31, 1886.
Baccalaureate Sermon. May, 1887.
Sermon. Wisdom and Knowledge. Central Methodist. January 23, 1887.
Notebook. Educational Sermon. Dominion Church, Ottawa. March 6, 1887.
Sermon. Actual and Ideal. July 21, 1887.
Sermon. Weapons of Warfare. August, 1887.


Series consists of lectures, 1854–1887, predominantly concerning religion, but including philosophy, metaphysics and ethics.

The three boxes of lectures range in date from 1854 to 1887. Most are contained in notebooks, and they tend to be in the form of brief notes and questions rather than fully realized drafts. Usually the academic lectures are constructed around the texts which have been chosen for a particular course. Also included in this series are several lectures of a more popular or informal nature which were designed to appeal to student audiences or to the general public. Following the lectures are those notebooks which contain some combination of record types such as essays, sermons, addresses, and lectures.

Notebook of Lectures.

Lecture on Jouffroy. January, 1871.
Lecture on Hamilton. November, 1873.
Lectures on Ethics. Lectures on Logic. 1875, 1877, 1878, 1879.
Lecture Notes on Whewell's Elements. n.d.

Notebook of Lectures.

"On Logic." (Whately) n.d.
Saturday Lectures to Preachers. (Homiletics) March 7, 1868.
Lectures to Candidates for the Ministry. February-April, 1872.
Lectures on Homiletics. March-May, 1873.
Closing Lecture. April 30,1875.

Notebook of Lectures.

Lectures and Questions on McCosh on Intuitions. n.d.
Questions on Whewell's Elements. February, 1868.
Questions on Locke. September, 1869.
Lectures on Whewell's Elements. September, 1870.

Notebook of Lectures

Hamilton's Metaphysics. October, 1867.
Metaphysics. 1869-1870.
Psychology. September, 1871.
Stewart's Discussion of God and a Future Life. 1872-1873.
Ethics. (Wuttke) 1875-1876.

Notebook of Lectures.

Lectures on Butler. October, 1867.
Lecture on Paul's Life. March 13, 1870.
Lecture on Biography of Paul. 1870
Lectures on Logic. 1873.
Lectures in Ethics. 1876-1877


"Questions and Notes on Butler's Analogy" Commenced November 17, 1866. Preparatory to the Class Exercises of the 1866-7 Session.

Notebook of Ethical Lectures.

"Questions and Prelections on Westcott's Introduction to the Study of the Gospels." August, 1866.
Ethical Lectures. 1867-1868.
Lectures on Whewell's Elements.1870-1871.

Sunday Lectures.

Personal Testimony to Value of True Piety. December 2, 1866. Keeping Up the Good Work. January 6, 1867. Holding Fast One’s Integrity. March 3, 1867.
English Versions of the Bible. October 4, 1868.
Bible Lectures. September 12, October 3, October 10, 1869.
Sunday Lectures. Progressive Character of Religious Truth. November 26, December 17, 1865.
"On Our Faults." January 14, 1866.
Moral Character of Opinions. November 27, 1866.
"Essentials and Circumstantials." October 6, 1867.
Head vs. Heart. November, 1867.
"She hath done what she could." December 7, 1867.
Dangers of Over-intellectualism. March 8, 1868.
"There is a spirit in man." April 19, 1868.
Familiar Lecture to the Preachers. March 19, April 9, 1866.


Notices and Counsels. 1873-1874.
Sermon Bones. God Hidden and Found. August 20, 1881.
Be Ye Also Enlarged. October 23, 1881.
Educational Sermon. St. Thomas. November 27, 1881.
Eternal Life. n.d.
Leaven. Sherburne Street. March, 1883.
Work Out Salvation. August 8, 1883.
Whatsoever Things Are True. n.d.
God Hideth. n.d.
Whatsoever Things Are True. August 24, 1883.
Educational Sermon. n.d.
First the Blade, then the Ear. July 2, 1884.


Sermon for Conference. "This is the victory that over-cometh the world."


Notes on Jouffroy. n.d.
Lectures in Logic. September, 1867.
Sermon. "Attractive Powers of the Cross". n.d.


Notes on Stewart's Active Moral Powers. August, 1867.
Thoughts and Reflections in Ethical Readings. December 18, 1867.
Bible Class on Matthew. Whedon. August, 1868. Notes on Stewart's Outlines. April 17, 1869.
Questions on Farrar's Critical History of Free Thought. 1869-1870.
Notebook. Lectures in Logic. n.d.
Lectures on Paley's Evidences. 1872-1873.


Select Sentences from Various Authors. January 26, 1867.
Lectures, Questions, Critiques on Ethics. January-March, 1879.


Scripture Readings. 1866-1867.
Summary of Readings on Atonement. October, 1867.
Notes on Butler's "Of a Future Life."

Preparation Book.

Baccalaureate Sermon. Emancipation of Thought. April 29, 1866.
Educational Address. Hamilton Wesleyan Female College. June 27, 1866.
Address. Union of Piety and Refinement. July 5, 1866.
Sermon. "Seek first the Kingdom of God."


Lecture Questions on Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments. October, 1865.
Questions on Butler's Sermons for Vacation Work. 1866.
Notes on Paley. January, 1871.


Sermon. "Church Extension." December 24, 1863.
Sabbath School Sermon. "All thy children shall be taught of the Lord."


Dedication Sermon re: Church Enlargement. St. Catherines. August 10, 1863.
Sermon. Good Samaritan. n.d.
Sermon. Truly the light is sacred. n.d.
Sermon. Worship. n.d.
Sermon. In the Beginning. n.d.
Sunday School Sermon. Thy Kingdom Come. Cobourg. February, 1865.
Tea Meeting Speech on Education. Baltimore. April 6, 1865.
Notebook. Dedication Sermon. The Design of the House of God and its Desecration. April, 1865.
Sermon. Growth. May 7, 1865.
Sermon. In the Beginning. Mount Pleasant. June 18, 1865.
Sermon. Fellow Helpers to the Truth. Toronto. January 28, 1866.
Missionary Speech. Time as a Condition to Missionary Success. Kingston. February 5, 1866.
Sermon. Seek ye first the kingdom. August, 1866.
Sermon. Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. December 16, 1866.
Sermon. Actual and Ideal. August 11, 1867.
Sermon. "I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." December 29, 1867.

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