Walking with the Saints

Samuel Seabury

Samuel Seabury was born in Croton, Connecticut, and the son of a Congregational Minister, who later in life became a priest of the Church of England.  Samuel graduated from Yale College in 1748 and then studied theology with his father.  He then went to Edinburgh to study medicine for a year and then was ordained as a deacon and later as a priest in 1753. When he returned to the United States he was the rector of Christ Church in New Brunswick; for about three years and several other parishes’ until 1775.

As a devoted loyalist he was one of the signatories of the White Plain Protest.  He wrote “Free Thoughts” on the proceedings of the Continental Congress under the pen name of A.W. Farmer.  As one can imagine, he and Alexander Hamilton were in constant conflict, one a loyalist and the other in favor of the American Revolution, which probably resulted in Seabury’s arrest in 1775 by local patriots\.  After six weeks he took refuge in New York City where he was appointed as chaplain of the King’s American Regiment.  Yet at the end of the war he stayed in the United States and moved to Connecticut.

In 1783 he was elected as the first American bishop but had to go to England in order to be consecrated, since there were no American bishops.  However, this was not possible since as an American he could not take the oath of allegiance to the King, and so he turned to Scotland.  If you think that was easy, you have another guess coming.  In order to be consecrated there, he had to study Scottish rite of Holy Communion and work for its adoption. Interesting for us is our liturgy adheres to the main features.

Seabury was most influential in forming our liturgy, particularly including the Holy Spirit in the prayer of Consecration. He moved away from Cranmer’s theology and his Eucharistic Prayer was more linked to the Roman Catholic Church.

He died in 1796 having established a firm foundation for the future of the Episcopal Church