|Seabury, Samuel||First Episcopalean Bishop in America|
Samuel Seabury (1706-1764) after being ordained in England, organized the parish of St. James, New London, Conn., of which he was rector, 1732-43; and resided at Hempstead, N.Y., as rector of St. George's church, 1743-64.
It was amid this atmosphere of church influence that the son spent his boyhood and received his preparation for college and for the priesthood. He was graduated from Yale, A.B.,and fourth in the class of 1748 (A.M. 1751), and served as catechist and pursued a course in theology under the direction of his father, 1748-51. He was then sent to England to receive orders, and before, ordination studied medicine in the University of Edinburgh. He was ordered deacon by the Bishop of Lincoln (Dr. John Thomas) Dec. 21, 1753, and advanced to the priesthood by the Bishop of Carlisle (Dr. Richard Osbaldiston) two days later.
On his return to America, with the license of Sherlock, Bishop of London, to officiate in New Jersey, he was elected rector of Christ Church, in New Brunswick in that province, and served this parish, 1754-57.
While at New Brunswick, he was married, Oct. 12, 1756, to Mary, daughter of Edward Hicks of New York.
He was then called to Grace church, Jamaica, L.I., N.Y., where he was rector, 1757-66, and in 1766 was inducted into the rectorship of St. Peter's, West Chester, which he held for about ten years.
In November, 1775, he was taken by a band of armed men under Sears to New Haven, where he was imprisoned for six weeks, being finally released on requisition of the governor of New York as a citizen taken from his province without process of law. Returning to his parish he found hostilities commenced, and being unable to continue his duties he closed the church and took refuge in New York where he in part supported his family by the practice of medicine, serving also through the war as chaplain of the King's American Regiment, under commission of Sir Henry Clinton (Feb. 14, 1778).
Upon the recognition of the Independence of the American States he was elected by the clergy of English ordination in Connecticut (Woodbury, March 25, 1783), to be the bishop of the church in that state, and sailed for England with credentials as an applicant for consecration by the English bishops, with instructions that failing in this quest he should apply to the bishops of the Scottish church, whose line of succession back of the time of Charles II, was identical with that of the English episcopate, but who had lost their civil status by refusal to swear allegiance to the successors of James II. The English bishops could not legally confer consecration without the oath of allegiance to the king, which could not be taken by one who was to exercise his office in a foreign state. Various other difficulties were suggested, but this was the main point. The bishops could not dispense with the oath; the king and privy council would not; and, in the vain hope that Parliament would, the applicant resided for about sixteen months in England; after which, concluding that he had been "amused if not deceived," he went to Scotland where at Aberdeen, Nov. 14, 1784, he was consecrated by the Scotch Bishops Kilgour, Petrie, and Skinner, returning to America as the first Bishop of Connecticut, as well as of the American Church.
In the General Convention of 1789, by action of the House of Bishops, he became by virtue of seniority of consecration the first to hold the office of presiding bishop. During the exercise of his episcopate he resided in New London, being rector of St. James church, 1785-96, and Nov. 18, 1790, was also made bishop of Rhode Island. His first and only act of consecration was on Sept. 17, 1792, when he co-operated with Bishops Provoost, White and Madison, all consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, in the consecration of Thomas John Claggett, bishop of Maryland, through whom, however, every subsequent bishop of the American Church traces his episcopal lineage.
He received the degree of A.M. from Columbia in 1761, and that of D.D. from the University of Oxford in 1777. He is the author of: Free Thoughts on the Proceedings of the Continental Congress, The Congress Canvassed, and A View of the Controversy between Great Britain and Her Colonies, all in 1774, under signature "A. W. Farmer"; Sermons (2 vols. 1791; 1 vol. 1798). The Rev. Eben E. Beardsley, D.D., wrote "Life and Correspondence of Samuel Seabury" (1881), and the Rev. William Jones Seabury, D.D. read a sketch of Bishop Seabury before the New York Genealogical and Biographical society, Dec. 14, 1888, which was published in the Record of the society, April, 1889, and subsequently reprinted in pamphlet form.
Bishop Seabury died in New London, Conn., Feb. 25, 1796, in the 12th year of his episcopate, having been in orders nearly forty-three years.
The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable
Americans: Volume IX, page 286
A source for
ordering this Samuel Seabury book during the Revolution (He was a loyalist.)
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