Sunday, May 29, 2016

Revolutionary War Chaplain, Rev. Samuel Blair (Jr.)

Rev. Samuel Blair (1712-1751) was my six times great grandfather. He was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Philadelphia in 1730. Eventually, he became the minister at Faggs Manor, where he began a college for the classical and theological studies for pastoral training. One of his students, Samuel Davies, considered the Apostle of Virginia, thought Blair the finest preacher on two continents -- "none was better than he at the exposition of God's word."

Rev. Blair took as his wife and helpmate, the granddaughter of an early New Amsterdam settler, Francijnke "Frances" Van Hook. Their first son, Joseph Blair, died at the age of 13. Their second son, also named Samuel Blair followed his father into the ministry. He was considered by many to be the "most accomplished and promising young minister in the Presbyterian church" and known as Dr. Blair.

Rev. Samuel Blair, Jr.; courtesy Wikipedia

Rev. Samuel Blair, Jr., attended the College of New Jersey (now Princeton,) and graduated with honor at 19 years of age. He remained in Princeton where he tutored for several years before being licensed to preach by the Presbytery of New Castle.

He was called to Old South Church in Boston in 1764. On the journey north, he was shipwrecked. Though, he survived, he lost all his clothes and sermon manuscripts and suffered health problems as a result. He remained one of two pastors at Old South Church for two years until ill-health forced him to resign.

Old South Church, circa 1835; courtesy of Wikipedia

He moved to Germantown (now part of Philadelphia), Pennsylvania, planning to devote the rest of his years to study and married Susan Shippen in 1767. She was a descendant of Edward Shippen, considered the first mayor of Philadelphia under William Penn's 1701 charter.

But Rev. Blair's active, public life was not yet completed. During the Revolutionary War, he served as a chaplain to a brigade of artillery. From 1790 through 1792, he was the chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives, the second minister to ever serve in that capacity. Rev. Blair died on 23 September 1818 and was interred at Ivy Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia.

Rev. Samuel Blair, Jr., headstone; courtesy of Find A
Grave member Crypt Tonight

Rev. Samuel Blair, Jr.'s older sister, Mary Blair was my five times great grandmother. She married another Presbyterian minister, Rev. David Rice, who became known as the Apostle of Kentucky.

[1]Sprague's American Presbyterian Pulpit, The Log College, by A. Alexander

Apostle of Kentucky

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