James Hervey Otey

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The Right Reverend

James Hervey Otey
Bishop of Tennessee
Bishop James Hervey Otey.jpg
ChurchEpiscopal Church
In office1834-1863
SuccessorCharles Todd Quintard
Personal details
BornJanuary 27, 1800
Bedford County, Virginia, United States
DiedApril 23, 1863 (aged 63)
Memphis, Tennessee, United States
SpouseElizabeth Davis Pannill

James Hervey Otey (January 27, 1800 – April 23, 1863), Christian educator and the first Episcopal Bishop of Tennessee, established the Anglican church in the state and its first parish churches.


James Hervey Otey was born January 27, 1800 in Bedford County, Virginia to Major Isaac Otey and Elizabeth Mathews.[1][2] Otey attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Upon his graduation in 1820, he was appointed as a tutor in Greek and Latin at the school. Following his marriage to Elizabeth Davis Pannill, daughter of William Pannill and Martha Mitchell of Petersburg, Virginia in 1821, he moved to Maury County, Tennessee and became principal of a boys' school.

On returning to North Carolina to head the academy at Warrenton, Otey was baptized and confirmed in The Episcopal Church. He became a deacon in 1825 and priest in 1827. He then returned to Franklin and organized Tennessee's first Episcopal church there in the Masonic Lodge. He established several other churches and on July 1, 1829, established the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee at Nashville.

Otey was elected the first bishop in June 1833 and was consecrated at Christ Church, Philadelphia, the following January. Following his election, Otey also took charge of the Diocese of Mississippi and was missionary bishop for Arkansas and the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). He traveled for months at a time across the extensive region, establishing new churches and preaching the Gospel.

Otey was fervently interested in Christian education and helped organize schools at Ashwood, Jackson and Columbia, Tennessee. His dreams for a "Literary and Theological Seminary" for the region were realized when the University of the South at Sewanee was established in 1857.

Otey lived at "Mercer Hall" in Columbia from 1835 to 1852, when he relocated to Memphis, Tennessee, where in 1863 he died.[3] After the Civil War, he was re-buried at St. John's Church at Ashwood in Maury County.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Churchman Associates(1898) The Churchman, Volume 77 https://books.google.com/books?id=5GExAQAAMAAJ&pg=RA18-PA21 Retrieved September 1, 2013
  2. ^ Boots, John R. (1970). The Mat(t)hews family: an anthology of Mathews lineages. The University of Wisconsin — Madison
  3. ^ "Death of Bishop Otey". The Weekly Standard. Raleigh, North Carolina. May 20, 1863. p. 1. Retrieved June 15, 2018 – via Newspapers.com. (Registration required (help)). Cite uses deprecated parameter |registration= (help)
  • Richard Quin ([n.d.]). James Hervey Otey. In: The Tennessee Encyclopaedia of History and Culture. Nashville, Tennessee: Tennessee Historical Society. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain. – please see talk

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