Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright (bishop)

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The Right Reverend
Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright I
5th Bishop of New York
Appletons' Wainwright Jonathan Mayhew.jpg
Wainwright circa 1840-1850
Personal details
Born (1792-02-24)February 24, 1792
Liverpool, England
Died September 21, 1854(1854-09-21) (aged 62)
Nationality English
Parents Peter Wainwright
Elizabeth Mayhew
Children Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright II
Occupation Episcopal bishop
Education Harvard College
Signature Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright I's signature

Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright I (February 24, 1792 – September 21, 1854) was a provisional Episcopal bishop in Manhattan, New York City.[1]

Early life[edit]

Wainwright was born in Liverpool, England on February 24, 1792 to Peter Wainwright and Elizabeth Mayhew, who met on a trip to England from the United States. His father Peter, was a tobacconist who emigrated from England to Boston and became a citizen after the American Revolution. His mother was the daughter of Reverend Jonathan Mayhew of Boston. His parents didn't return to Massachusetts until eleven years later, in 1802. Jonathan's siblings include: Eliza Wainwright (b. 1794) who married Walter Channing.


Jonathan graduated from Harvard College in 1812 where he was afterward tutor. He was ordered deacon in the Episcopal Church in Trinity Church, Boston, 13 April 1817, ordained priest in Christ Church, Hartford, Connecticut, 29 May 1818, and became rector of the latter. In November 1819, he moved to New York and became assistant minister in Trinity Church. He was made rector of Grace Church in 1821, and remained in that charge until 1834, when he became rector of Trinity Church, Boston. In 1837 he returned to Trinity Parish, New York, as assistant in charge of St. John's Chapel, which post he retained until he was elevated to the episcopate with the exception of six months' service in 1850 as rector-elect of Calvary Church in Gramercy Park.[2] He received the degree of D.D. from Union College in 1823, and from Harvard in 1835. The degree of D.C.L. was conferred upon him by Oxford University in 1852.

He was for many years secretary of the house of bishops, and was instrumental in the founding of New York University. He was considered one of the first pulpit orators of his day. He wielded great social influence, was a ripe scholar, and was a devoted lover of music, contributing toward its improvement in the churches of his denomination. He was secretary of the board of trustees of the General Theological Seminary in 1828-34, and a trustee or officer of many other institutions and societies.

In 1844, he engaged in a controversy with his friend George Potts, which grew out of an assertion that Rufus Choate made at a celebration of the New England society. The orator said that the Pilgrim fathers had founded a "state without a king and a church without a bishop." At the dinner that followed, Wainwright, in responding to a sentiment, said in reply that "there is no church without a bishop." The subsequent discussion with Potts, which was carried on in nineteen letters in the New York Commercial Advertiser, was published as a book No Church Without a Bishop; or, the Controversy between the Rev. Drs. Potts and Wainwright. With a Preface by the Latter, and an Introduction and Notes by an Anti-Sectarian.[3]

On October 1, 1852, Wainwright was elected provisional bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York.[4] He died at his residence at 5:00 pm on September 21, 1854 in Manhattan, New York City.[5] He was buried at Trinity Church Cemetery.[1]


Besides the pamphlet mentioned above, he wrote:

  • Four Sermons on Religious Education (New York, 1829)
  • Lessons on the Church (1835)
  • Order of Family Prayer (1845)
  • Short Family Prayers (1850)
  • The Pathway and Abiding-Places of our Lord, illustrated in the Journal of a Tour through the Land of Promise (1851)
  • The Land of Bondage: being the Journal of a Tour in Egypt (1852)
  • Single sermons and papers in periodicals.
  • Book of Chants, adapted to services of the Episcopal church (1819)
  • Music of the Church (1828)
  • The Choir and Family Psalter, with William A. Muhlenberg (1851)
  • John Stark Ravenscroft, Sermons, edited with a memoir (2 vols., 1830)
  • Life of Bishop Heber, edited biography by Heber's widow (2 vols., 1830)




  1. ^ a b "Death of Bishop Wainwright". New York Times. September 22, 1854. 
  2. ^ Shoemaker, Samuel Moor (1936). Calvary Church, Yesterday and Today: A Centennial History. New York, NY: Fleming H. Revell Company. p. 295. 
  3. ^ Potts (D.D.), George; Wainwright (Provisional Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in New York), Jonathan Mayhew (1844). No Church without a Bishop; or, the controversy between the Rev. Drs. Potts and Wainwright. With a preface by the latter, and an introduction and notes by an Anti-Sectarian. Harper & Brothers. Retrieved 25 October 2017. 
  4. ^ John Nicholas Norton, Life of Bishop Wainwright (General Protestant Episcopal Sunday School Union and Church Book Society, 1858.), 134.
  5. ^ "Wainwright family papers". The New York Public Library. Retrieved 25 October 2017. 

External links[edit]