Jerry McAuley

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Jerry McAuley
Jerry McAuley
Jeremiah McAuley

1839 (1839)
DiedSeptember 18, 1884(1884-09-18) (aged 44–45)
OccupationFormer thief
Known forFounder of the New York City Rescue Mission
Spouse(s)Maria McAuley

Jeremiah McAuley (1839 in County Kerry, Ireland – September 18, 1884), along with his wife, Maria (née Fahy) McAuley, founded the Water Street Mission in Lower Manhattan. A self-described "rogue and street thief" who spent seven years in Sing Sing prison during the 1860s, McAuley's mission became America's first rescue mission and is now known as the New York City Rescue Mission.

Early years[edit]

McAuley had been born in County Kerry, Ireland in 1839, the son of a counterfeiter. His father abandoned the family to escape law enforcement officers pursuing him. Jerry's mother sent him off to live with his grandmother.[1]


In January 1857, aged 19, he was accused of highway robbery, convicted, and sent to Sing-Sing.[2] While there, McAuley heard a man by the name of Orville Gardner testify of his conversion. On March 8, 1864, aged 26, McAuley was pardoned and set free. He set out to associate with Christians.

Rescue mission[edit]

Soon after this, McAuley met Alfrederick Smith Hatch, a businessman. Hatch became McAuley's confidant. In October 1872 McAuley took possession of the Water Street house. The money he had raised was used to repair the building and soon after, the mission at 316 Water Street named "Helping Hand for Men" was open.[3]

Years of service[edit]

In 1882, after twelve years, McAuley left Water Street to start the Cremorne Mission near Times Square. Two years later, on a fall afternoon in September 1884, he died from tuberculosis contracted while in Sing Sing.[4] His widow, Maria Fahy McAuley, married prominent architect Bradford Gilbert in 1892; the couple had a daughter, Blossom.[5]


  1. ^ "Jerry McAuley, Ex-Inmate of Tombs & Sing Sing, Rescue Mission Pioneer". 2005-03-17. Retrieved 2017-06-25.
  2. ^ "Jeremiah McAuley." Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1936. Gale In Context: Biography. Accessed 14 July 2020.
  3. ^ Kurian, George Thomas; Lamport, Mark A. (2016). Encyclopedia of Christianity in the United States. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 1446. ISBN 978-1-4422-4432-0.
  4. ^ Fahey, David M.; Miller, Jon S. (2013). Alcohol and Drugs in North America: A Historical Encyclopedia [2 volumes]: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. pp. 418–419. ISBN 978-1-59884-479-5.
  5. ^ "Jerry McAuley's Legacy" (PDF). The Gospel Rescue Mission Fellowship.

External links[edit]