Gilbert Tennent

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Gilbert Tennent
Jacob Eichholtz - Gilbert Tennent (1703–1764), Trustee (1747–64) - PP10 - Princeton University Art Museum.jpg
portrait by Jacob Eichholtz
Born(1703-02-05)5 February 1703
Died23 July 1764(1764-07-23) (aged 61)
Resting placeSecond Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia[2]
39°57′08″N 75°08′41″W / 39.952310°N 75.144683°W / 39.952310; -75.144683
EducationMaster of Arts (honorary)[1]
Alma materLog College
Yale College (1725)
OccupationPresbyterian minister
Years active1726–1764
EmployerPresbytery of Philadelphia
Known forThe First Great Awakening of the American colonies and New Jersey
Board member ofOriginal trustee of the College of New Jersey[1]
SpouseCornelia de Peyster (2nd wife)[1]
ChildrenGilbert, Elizabeth, Cornelia[1]
Parent(s)William Sr., Catherine[1]
RelativesWilliam Tennent, Jr. (brother)[1]

Gilbert Tennent (5 February 1703 – 23 July 1764) was a pietistic Protestant evangelist in colonial [3] America. Born in a Presbyterian Scots-Irish family in County Armagh, Ireland, he migrated to America as a teenager, trained for pastoral ministry, and became one of the leaders of the Great Awakening of religious feeling in Colonial America, along with Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and his father William Tennent. His most famous sermon, "On the Danger of an Unconverted Ministry," compared contemporary anti-revivalistic ministers to the biblical Pharisees described in the Gospels, resulting in a division of the colonial Presbyterian Church which lasted 17 years. Although he engaged divisively via pamphlets early in this period, Tennent would later work "feverishly" for reunion of the various synods involved.


Early life[edit]

Gilbert Tennent was born and raised in a Presbyterian Scots-Irish family in County Armagh, Ireland.[4] He was home schooled by his father, William Tennent. In 1718 the family emigrated to Philadelphia. His father founded the Log College nearby, which trained many Presbyterian ministers; Gilbert was an assistant there, around 1725.[1]

Role as an emissary[edit]

In the aftermath of the French and Indian War, Scots-Irish immigrants encroached on Native American land in Pennsylvanie west of Philadelphia, later claiming Indian raids and killings; Reverend John Elder, a parson from Paxtang, known as the "Fighting Parson,"[5] helped organize the Scots-Irish frontiersmen into a mounted militia and was named Captain of the group, known as the "Pextony boys,"[6] later the "Paxton Boys." This settler band, acting as vigilantes, attacked the local Conestoga, a Susquehannock tribe, many of whom had converted to Christianity and had been living peacefully alongside their European neighbors since the 1690s, on land donated by William Penn. Because of a snowstorm, most of the Conestogas were out of their camp; those in camp were scalped or otherwise mutilated by the Paxton Boys, and most of the camp was burned down.[7] After further such incidents, the Paxton Boys marched on Philadelphia in early 1764 to express grievance that their concerns for safety were not being met by the government, and while doing so further threatened the lives of about 200 Moravian Indians.[8] In February 1764, Gilbert Tennent was one of a group of clergymen sent as an emissary by John Penn, Governor of Pennsylvania, to the marching frontiersmen.[8]

See also[edit]


  • Tennent, Gilbert (1740). "The danger of an unconverted ministry, considered. In a sermon on Mark VI. 34. Preached at Nottingham, in Pennsylvania, March 8, anno 1739,40. (Sermon)". Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  • Tennent, Gilbert (1740). "The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees considered. In a sermon on Matth. V. 20. Preach'd at the evening-lecture in Boston, January 27, 1740 (Sermon)". Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  • Tennent, Gilbert (1757), "Love to Christ (Sermon)."[9]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Sprague (1858), "Gilbert Tennent. 1725–1764," in Annals, pp. 35–43.
  2. ^ Sprague (1858), "Samuel Finley, D.D. 1740–1766," in Annals, pp. 96–101, esp. p. 100.
  3. ^ "Gilbert Tennent | American Presbyterian clergyman". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
  4. ^ Webster, Richard (1857). A History of the Presbyterian Church in America: From Its Origin Until the Year 1760, with Biographical Sketches of Its Early Ministers. Vol. 374, American culture series, ATLA monograph preservation program. Philadelphia, PA, USA: Joseph M. Wilson. ISBN 9780524013380. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  5. ^ McAlarney, Mathias Wilson (1890). History of the sesqui-centennial of Paxtang church: September 18, 1890. Harrisburg Publishing Company. p. 224.
  6. ^ Sprague (1858), "John Elder. 1736–1792," in Annals, pp. 77–80.
  7. ^ Brubaker, John H. (2010). Massacre of the Conestogas: On the Trail of the Paxton Boys in Lancaster County. History Press. pp. 23ff. ISBN 9781609490614.
  8. ^ a b Kenny, Kevin (2009). Peaceable Kingdom Lost: The Paxton Boys and the Destruction of William Penn's Holy Hxperiment. Oxford, GBR: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195331509. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  9. ^ Bennett, James B. (1993). "'Love to Christ': Gilbert Tennent, Presbyterian Reunion, and a Sacramental Sermon". American Presbyterians. 77 (2): 77–89. JSTOR 23332732.


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]