Henry Knox Sherrill

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The Most Reverend
Henry Knox Sherrill
20th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church
Henry Knox Sherrill.jpg
Church Episcopal Church
In office 1947-1958
Predecessor Henry St. George Tucker
Successor Arthur C. Lichtenberger
Ordination 9 May 1915
Consecration 14 October 1930
Personal details
Born (1890-11-06)November 6, 1890
Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died May 11, 1980(1980-05-11) (aged 89)
Boxford, Massachusetts, United States
Nationality American
Previous post Bishop of Massachusetts (1930-1947)

Henry Knox Sherrill (November 6, 1890 – May 11, 1980) was an Episcopal clergyman. He was the 20th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church from 1947 to 1958, having previously served as Bishop of Massachusetts (1930-1947).


Henry Knox Sherrill was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Henry Williams and Maria (Prue) Knox Mills Sherrill.[1] His father died when he was ten-years-old, and his mother raised him to be religiously observant.[2] He graduated from Brooklyn's Polytechnic Preparatory School in 1906, after which he attended the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut, for a year.[1] At age sixteen, he entered Yale College, from where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1911.[3] While a student at Yale, he taught Sunday school at St. Paul's Church in New Haven and experienced a call to the ordained ministry. One of his greatest mentors at Yale was Henry Sloane Coffin, a Presbyterian theologian and educator.[2] He earned his Master of Divinity degree from the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1914.[3] Sherrill was ordained to the diaconate on June 7, 1914, and to the priesthood on May 9, 1915.[3] He then served as an assistant minister at Trinity Church in Boston until 1917, when he became a Red Cross chaplain at Massachusetts General Hospital. He later became an Army chaplain, with the rank of First Lieutenant, at Base Hospital 6 in Talence, France.[2]

Upon his return from the war service, he served as rector of the Church of Our Saviour in Brookline from 1919 to 1923.[1] In 1921, he married Barbara Harris, with whom he had four children: Henry Williams, Edmund Knox, Franklin Goldthwaite, and Barbara Prue.[1] He then returned to Boston's Trinity Church, where he had begun his ministry, as rector.[3] In addition to his duties as rector, he served as a professor at the Episcopal Theological School and the Boston University School of Theology, and was active in various civic and religious organizations, including the Greater Boston Council of Churches.[3] He also proved to be a gifted fundraiser, increasing Trinity's average annual contribution to the national church from $30,000 to $35,000—one of the largest of any Episcopalian parish in the country at that time.[2] In 1928, he was elected Coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, but declined the position.[1]

On Oct. 14, 1930, Sherrill was consecrated the ninth Bishop of Massachusetts. He served in that position until June 1, 1947, when he resigned to become Presiding Bishop. He served on the President's Committee on Civil Rights in 1946 for President Harry Truman. From Jan. 1, 1947, until Nov. 14, 1958, he was Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. At the General Convention of 1943, a canon was passed which required the Presiding Bishop to tender to the House of Bishops the resignation of his previous jurisdiction to take effect on the date of assuming the office of Presiding Bishop or no later than six months thereafter.[citation needed]

Sherrill was the first Presiding Bishop chosen after this canon was passed. While Presiding Bishop he led in the organization of the Episcopal Church Foundation and the establishment of the Seabury Press. Sherrill was the founding President of the National Council of Churches from 1950 to 1952, and one of the presidents of the World Council of Churches from 1954 until 1961. He was the first president of the National Council of Churches from 1950 until 1952. He resigned as Presiding Bishop in 1958 for reasons of health.[citation needed]

In 1953, Sherrill delivered the benediction at the inauguration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.[citation needed]


Sherrill died in Boxford, Massachusetts, and is buried at Cone Hill Cemetery in Richmond, Massachusetts.[4]


Sherrill House, a nursing and rehabilitation center in Jamaica Plain, Boston, is named in his honor.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Henry Knox Sherrill Papers". Yale University Library. 
  2. ^ a b c d "The Church & Churches". TIME Magazine. 1951-03-26. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Henry Knox Sherrill (1947-1958)". Episcopal Church of the United States of America. Archived from the original on 2010-04-07. 
  4. ^ "Henry Knox Sherrill". FindAGrave. 
  5. ^ "Sherrill House: About", Sherrill House website.

External links[edit]

Episcopal Church (USA) titles
Preceded by
Henry St. George Tucker
20th Presiding Bishop
January 1, 1947 – November 14, 1958
Succeeded by
Arthur C. Lichtenberger
Preceded by
Charles Lewis Slattery
Bishop of Massachusetts
Succeeded by
Norman Burdett Nash