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About Bill Acres

I am currently working on materials in the V. P. Cronyn Archives Litigation fonds, Huron University (Diocesan papers). These papers were gathered originally as evidence in a class-action lawsuit by survivors of the Mohawk Institute. Some twenty years after the lawsuit began, all is digitized (and will be available at the National Research Centre for Truth and Reconciliation). I found a series of cases involving the Institute in which the Department of Indian Affairs methodically deprived the English Charitable Society, The New England Company, of lands purportedly surrendered and (later deeded, 1843 and 1845) by the Six Nations' Council of Warriors and Chief Sachems in 1827, 1835 and 1837. The Company's funds were administered under English trusts (and Charitable Act of 1853) for a vast array of 'Pious Objects' for evangelizing and Christianizing the Six Nations. A longstanding series of disputes over Six Nations lands by the Council of Chiefs was ultimately resolved by the Attorney General of Canada, 1932-4. What resulted was the scattering of the 'pious objects'. This is a story of Canadian nationalist aggression over the Six Nations in Departmental policy and national legislation enacted in temporary alliance with radical political groups on the Six Nations. The relationship of law (two systems), church and state is one which illustrates wider cultural currents in early Twentieth Century Canada (and especially with reference to the continued archaism of policy in Indigenous contexts).

Funding for this project is provided by Huron University's Pilot Research Fund, Huron's Faculty of Theology Research and Conference Fund, and a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Insight Development Grant, 2018-2020. As I am on sabbatical 2019-20, I will be working on the following related materials:


Six Nations Genealogy Society, Woodland Cultural Centre (10 Feb, 2019): "Mapping the hidden litigation within the litigation: Six Nations, Department of Indian Affairs and the New England Company, 1836-1934"

Huron Research Day, May 23, 2019: “Pious Objects on the Six Nations: Education, economy and urban expansion, 1891-1930” 

Canadian Law and Society Association, Learneds, Vancouver, June 3-5, 2019: "Breaking Trust on the Grand River Station: The New England Company and the Department of Indian Affairs, 1910-1934".

SHARP at Amherst MA, 15-18, July 2019, "Indigeneity, Nationhood, & Migrations of the Book"., "Decolonizing the residential school archive: a case study of the Mohawk Institute, Brantford, Ontario"

Tri-History Conference ( Toronto, June 18-21, 2019, "Trauma and Survival in the Contemporary Church": The New England Company, Trust and the Six Nations, 1894-1934’

Guest editor: Vol. LVI, Special Issue for Tri-History Journal of the Canadian Society of Church Historical Studies (2018), June, 2019.

"Samuel Hume Blake's Pan-Anglican Exertions: Stopping the expansion of residential and industrial schools for Canada's Indigenous Children, 1908", Conference Proceedings, Journal of the Canadian Society of Church Historical Studies (ed. Acres), Vol.LVII, 2019;

Pious Objects: Nationalism and Charity in Indigenous Identities on the Six Nations, 1836-1934;

Edition of documents relating to the Exchequer Court decisions, 1922-34.

Digital Mapping of the Grand River Stations of the New England Company; Digitization of Litigation before the Exchequer Court of Canada, London Metropolitan Archives class CLC 8005; LAC, RG 10, various classes; Huron Archives, Litigation fonds, Synod papers; General Synod Archives, MSCC Papers, GS 75-103; Ontario Archives, Nelles, Thorburn Papers--funding by Pilot Research Fund (Huron University) and SSHRC Insight, Summer, Fall 2019.

I also work on John Strype, indefatigable assembler of manuscript (and entire archives of) evidence in support of a political history joining state and church over a very long publication life, 1680-1737. Something of a magpie, a poor transcriber, and apt to theological error, Strype managed to publish a great series of manuscripts before the national institutions of historical 'state' papers (British Library, Historical Manuscripts Commission, etc) vastly increased access to materials. He adopted an 'annales' approach, echoing Cardinal Cesare Baronius. He recalled John Foxe in his use of martyrology, and through Foxe, Eusebius. But his story shows the need for access, a career parlayed by publication into the public sphere and the burgeoning market for such histories during the reign of William III and after. Strype's theological drift from Dissent to Uniformity was a jarring one. But after 1688 he amassed traction against the Catholic attack on royal legitimacy by finding new precedent for church-state relations in the English Reformation.

I have recently (2018) published William Cecil Lord Burghley's Letters to his Son, Sir Robert Cecil, 1593-8, at Cambridge University Press, Camden Fifth Series for the Royal Historical Society vol. 53 (for which the Society elected me a Fellow in February 2018) as well as Exploring Religion: A Reader (Oxford University Press, 2014).


Present Comparative Religion and History, Huron University, London ‐ Faculty of Theology

Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests

'Pious Objects': The New England Company, the Six Nations and the Department of Indian Affairs, 1836-1934, John Strype: Assembling the Reformation 1680-1737, and Samuel Hume Blake's campaign against Indian Residential Schools


2018 - Present Huron University College Pilot Research Fund
Huron University
Mapping the New England Company's Grand River Stations 1836-1965
Role: Investigator
2018 - Present Pious Objects: Discourses of Power and the Mohawk Institute, 1830-1997
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
Insight Development Grant
Role: Investigator
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Professional Service and Affiliations

2019 - Present Co-Editor, Journal of the Canadian Church Historical Society, Canadian Church Historical Society
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Honors and Awards

  • Fellow, The Royal Historical Society


  • Religion and Difference
  • The Early Church
  • Church History: Medieval to Modern
  • The History of Christianity in Canada
  • The Story of Anglicanism
  • Religious Studies 2130


1985 - 1990 PhD, Cambridge University ‐ Faculty of History
1978 - 1982 BA (Hons), Western University (Huron University College) ‐ Department of History