Henry John Whitehouse

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Bishop Whitehouse of Illinois

Henry John Whitehouse (August 19, 1803 – August 10, 1874) was the second Episcopal bishop of Illinois.

Early life[edit]

Whitehouse was born in New York City, the son of John Whitehouse and Eliza Norman.[1] He graduated from Columbia University in 1821, and from the General Theological Seminary in 1824.[1] Whitehouse was ordained deacon in 1824, and was ordained priest in 1827.[1] After his ordination as priest, he became rector of Christ Church in Reading, Pennsylvania.[1] Two years later, he moved to become rector of St. Luke's Church in Rochester, New York, during which time he married his wife.[1] He remained there for fifteen years before moving to New York in 1844 to become rector of St. Thomas Church.

Bishop of Illinois[edit]

Whitehouse was elected coadjutor Bishop of Illinois in 1851.[1] He was the 55th bishop in the ECUSA, and was consecrated by Bishops Thomas Church Brownell, Alfred Lee, and Manton Eastburn.[2] Upon the death of Bishop Philander Chase, Whitehouse became bishop, but refused to take up his seat for nine years, until his salary demands were met.[3] The diocesan convention in 1860 charged him with dereliction of duty and generally condemned him.[3] During the American Civil War, Whitehouse displayed decidedly pro-Southern sympathies, further alienating his Illinois flock.[4]

Whitehouse identified with high church Anglicanism, and in 1868 he wrote of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.[5] Several of his clergy, led by Charles Edward Cheney, denounced the Anglo-Catholic idea, accusing Whitehouse of "unprotestantizing this Protestant Episcopal Church, corrupting her doctrine, debasing her worship, and over-turning her long-established rites, ceremonies, and usages."[5] Whitehouse had his revenge when, on hearing of Cheney's unauthorized omissions of certain liturgical phrases, he attempted to have Cheney deposed,[6] and by 1871, he was successful in having Cheney suspended from the ministry.[7] Cheney later became one of the original clergymen of the Reformed Episcopal Church.

While in England in 1867, Whitehouse delivered the opening sermon before the first Pan-Anglican conference at Lambeth Palace, by invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury. He was among the first American bishops to advocate for a cathedral system in the Episcopal Church.

Henry John Whitehouse died in Chicago on August 10, 1874. He is buried in the Whitehouse family plot in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York.


Henry John Whitehouse married Evelina Harriet Bruen (1806-1864) on August 8, 1835, and they had five sons and one daughter: Henry Bruen Whitehouse (1838-1889), an attorney; Edward Norman Whitehouse (1839-1904), a career Naval officer whose duties included the office of Paymaster; Frederic Cope Whitehouse (1842-1911), also an attorney, but he engaged so ardently in his avocations of archaeology and Egyptology that his obituary in The New York Times referred to him as “the well-known Egyptologist”; William FitzHugh Whitehouse (1846-1909), yet another attorney; Francis Meredyth Whitehouse (1848-1938), the architect; and Louisa Bruen Whitehouse (Sheldon) (1850-1919). The middle names of some of these children, specifically, Meredyth, Cope, and FitzHugh, were surnames of women who had married into the Whitehouse family prior to 1800.

His great-grandson was Ambassador Charles S. Whitehouse. His great-great-grandson, Sheldon Whitehouse, is a Senator from Rhode Island.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Batterson, 167 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "sketch" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  2. ^ Batterson, 168
  3. ^ a b Guelzo, 79
  4. ^ Guelzo, 80
  5. ^ a b Guelzo, 81
  6. ^ Guelzo, 82
  7. ^ Guelzo, 85


  • Guelzo, Allen C. (1994). For the Union of Evangelical Christendom: The Irony of the Reformed Episcopalians. Pennsylvania State University Press. ISBN 0-271-02732-0.