Friday, March 28, 2014
John Gloucester: Former Slave and African-American Presbyterian in Early 19th-Century Philadelphia
Over at the website of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, in a series called "History Hits," Daniel Rolph tells Gloucester's story. Here is a taste:
Many people are familiar with the contributions to early American religion by such African-Americans as Richard Allen and Absalom Jones. However, fewer are acquainted with the name of the Rev. John Gloucester and his life and contributions to the Presbyterian religion, primarily in Philadelphia, from 1807 until his death in May of 1822.
John Gloucester, or Jack as he was originally known, was born sometime enslaved during the early years of the American Revolution in Kentucky. He was later purchased by Gideon Blackburn of Tennessee, a Presbyterian minister and ardent evangelist among the Cherokee Indians. Through legislation in Tennessee, Blackburn was able to not only free Jack, but to have his name changed to John Gloucester and successfully authorize him to preach the Presbyterian faith “to the Africans.” Therefore, as early as 1807, the Presbytery of the Union Synod of Tennessee had recommended to the General Assembly at Lexington, Kentucky, that a “slave should be licensed to preach among colored people."