Stephen Elliott (bishop)

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The Right Reverend Stephen Elliott
Bishop of Georgia
SElliott.png
Province

Episcopal Church in the United States

Episcopal Church in the Confederate States
Diocese Georgia
Orders
Consecration February 28, 1841
Personal details
Born (1806-08-31)August 31, 1806
Beaufort, South Carolina
Died December 21, 1866(1866-12-21) (aged 60)
Savannah, Georgia
Buried Laurel Grove Cemetery
Denomination Anglican Communion
Spouse Mary Gibbes Barnwell
Children Sarah Barnwell Elliott

The Right Reverend Stephen Elliott (August 31, 1806 – December 21, 1866) was the 37th bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. He was the first Bishop of Georgia and Provisional Bishop of Florida. He was also the first and only Presiding Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America.

Early Life and Career[edit]

He was born on August 31, 1806 in Beaufort, South Carolina, the son of Stephen Elliott the botanist. He attended Harvard and graduated in 1825 from South Carolina College, where he was president of the Clariosophic Society. He studied law and practiced in Charleston (where he was one of the founders of the Forensic Club) and Beaufort, South Carolina from 1827 until 1833.

Elliott had a conversion experience during a sermon by Presbyterian evangelist Daniel Baker (1791–1857) at the Episcopal Church in Beaufort, South Carolina.[1] He became a candidate for holy orders in the Episcopal Church in 1833, was ordained a deacon in 1835 and a priest the following year. A professor of sacred literature and revealed religion, Elliot taught at South Carolina College from 1835-41.[2]

Family Life[edit]

Elliott married his cousin, Mary Gibbes Barnwell, daughter of Col. Robert W. Barnwell, LL.D. on Nov. 18, 1828. After her death, he married another cousin, Charlotte Bull Barnwell, daughter of John G. Barnwell and granddaughter of Gen. John Barnwell and of Gen. Stephen Bull, of the Revolutionary army.[2] Among their children were the Rt Revd Robert W. B. Elliott (1840–1887), missionary bishop to West Texas;[3] John Gibbes Barnwell Elliott, M. D.; R. Habersham Elliott; and their youngest, the novelist Sarah Barnwell Elliott (1848–1928).[4] (Note: a common misconception, frequently published, especially online, is that Confederate Brigadier-General Stephen Elliott, Jr. (1832–1866) was the son of Bishop Elliott. The General was the son of Bishop Elliott's first cousin, Rev. Stephen Elliott (1804-1866).)

Episcopacy[edit]

In 1840 he was chosen first bishop of the Diocese of Georgia, and after his consecration, February 28, 1841, became rector of St. John's Church, Savannah. In 1844 he became provisional bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Florida, to be succeeded in 1851 by Francis Huger Rutledge, the first bishop of that diocese.

Bishop Elliott was committed to education. In 1845 he resigned the rectorship of St. John's to take charge of the Female Institute at Montpelier, Georgia, which he had founded several years earlier. He assumed the management and with it a large debt, and resided in Montpelier, 1845-53. He was also instrumental, with Bishops Leonidas Polk and Otey, founding of The University of the South at Sewanee, Tennessee.

After Georgia and other southern states seceded, many of the Christian denominations in the U.S. split into Northern and Southern branches, a division that sometimes persists today. The Episcopal Church was no different. When the Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America split off, Stephen Elliott became its Presiding Bishop. He later became known for his funerary oration for the "Fighting Bishop" Leonidas Polk at St. Paul's Church during the Atlanta Campaign. Largely through the efforts of Bishop Elliott and his friend Bishop John Henry Hopkins of Vermont, who was the Presiding Bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church, the Northern and Southern branches reunited after the Civil War. Both men considered this crucial to the survival of the Church and the nation.

Death and Legacy[edit]

Bishop Elliott died on December 21, 1866 in Savannah, Georgia. He was buried at Laurel Grove Cemetery (north) in Savannah.[5] John W. Beckwith succeeded him as bishop of Georgia.

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  • Barnwell, Stephen B. (1969). The Story of an American Family. Marquette. pp. 156–159. 
  • Northen (Ed.), William J. (1910). Men of Mark in Georgia. Atlanta: A. B. Caldwell. pp. 349–351. 
  • Perry, William Stevens (1895). The Episcopate in America. New York: The Christian Literature Co. pp. 82–83. ISBN 0-524-01662-3. 
  • "Death of Bishop Stephen Elliott". The Daily News and Herald (Savannah, Georgia) (Savannah, Georgia). 1866-12-22. p. 2. 
  • "Georgia: Death of Bishop Stephen Elliott". New York Times (New York, New York). 1866-12-31. p. 2. 
  • Brown, John Howard (1900). Lamb's biographical dictionary of the United States, Volume 2. James H. Lamb Co. p. 638. 

External links[edit]