Samuel Provoost

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Samuel Provoost
3rd Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church
Samuel Provoost
ChurchEpiscopal Church
In office1792–1795
PredecessorSamuel Seabury
SuccessorWilliam White
Other post(s)Bishop of New York (1787-1815)
OrdinationMarch 25, 1766
by Edmund Keene
ConsecrationFebruary 4, 1787
by John Moore
Personal details
BornMarch 11, 1742
DiedSeptember 6, 1815(1815-09-06) (aged 73)
New York City, New York, United States
BuriedTrinity Church Cemetery
ParentsJohn Provoost and Eva Rutgers
Maria Bousfield
(m. 1766)
Alma materKing's College, New York
SignatureSamuel Provoost's signature

Samuel Provoost (March 11, 1742 – September 6, 1815) was an American Clergyman. He was the first Chaplain of the United States Senate and the first Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, as well as the third [1] Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, USA. He was consecrated as bishop of New York in 1787 with Bishop William White.[2] He was the first Episcopal Bishop of Dutch and Huguenot ancestry.

Early life[edit]

Coat of Arms of Samuel Provoost

Samuel Provoost was born in New York City, New York to John Provoost and Eva Rutgers on 26 February 1742. He was baptized on 28 February 1742 (The Roosevelt Genealogy, 1649–1902). He was a descendant of William Provoost, who was of a Huguenot family (some of the early settlers in Quebec). His paternal grandmother was Mary (née Spratt) Alexander (1693–1760).

Provoost was educated at King's College, now known as Columbia University, graduating in 1758. In 1761 he arrived in England and continued his studies at Peterhouse, Cambridge,[3][4] from which he graduated in 1765.[5] Samuel was fluent in Hebrew, Greek and Latin, and while he was at the College he learned French and Italian gaining the distinction as a linguist.[6] Samuel Provoost also matriculated at the University of Leiden, July 28, 1764.[7][8]


In February 1766, Provoost was ordained a deacon at the Chapel Royal of St James's Palace in Westminster and a priest in March 1766. In September 1766, he sailed to New York with his wife and in December he became an assistant rector of Trinity Church. Provoost's dry preaching style, along his support for American independence, offended some church members and in 1769 a motion was made in the vestry to dispense with his services. The vestry subsequently resolved "That Mr. Provoost be continued, and paid by what can be raised by subscription only," but funds weren't forthcoming and in 1771 Provoost resigned and settled in Dutchess County near his friends Walter Livingston and Robert R. Livingston.[9]

During his 13 years there he preached occasionally in neighboring churches, and joined his neighbors in their pursuit of the British after the burning of the town of Esopus, but he declined offers to serve as a delegate to the Provincial Congress and as chaplain of the New York Constitutional Convention of 1777, as well as the rectorship of churches in Charleston, South Carolina, and Boston.[10]

In 1783, after the end of the American Revolutionary War, the outspoken Tory rector of Trinity Church, Charles Inglis (the future first Anglican Bishop in Canada), left for England and was replaced by assistant rector Benjamin Moore, who had stayed at Trinity through the British occupation. Returning Patriots objected and in 1784 installed Provoost as rector of Trinity, with Moore agreeing to stay on as assistant rector.[11] In 1785, he was named chaplain of the Continental Congress.[10]

The Episcopal Church of the United States broke away from the Church of England and held its first General Convention in 1785. In 1786 Provoost was elected first Bishop of New York at the Diocesan Convention.[12] A short while later, he was honored with the degree of Doctor of Divinity from the University of Pennsylvania.[13] In 1787, Provoost was consecrated with Dr. William White at Lambeth Place by Dr. John Moore. Provoost was elected Chaplain to the Senate in 1789. Due to health issues, he resigned the rectorship of Trinity in 1800. The following year, Provoost sought to relinquish his episcopal office, but the House of Bishops declined his resignation, instead appointing Moore as Adjutant Bishop. Provoost effectively retired, but remained Bishop until his death in 1815.[2][14]

Personal life[edit]

On June 8, 1766, he married Maria Bousfield (d. 1799)[14] who was the daughter of Thomas Bousfield, a rich Irish banker and the sister of Benjamin Bousfield,[2] a Sheriff of Cork City. Their children were:[15][16]

  • Maria Provoost (1770–1837), who married Cadwallader D. Colden (1769–1834)[15] in 1793.[17][18]
  • Benjamin Bousfield Provoost (1776–1841), who married Nellie French (d. 1863) in 1803,[17] and had 8 children.[15]
  • John Provoost (d. 1800), who died young.[15]
  • Susanna Elizabeth Provoost, who married George Rapalje (1771–1885) in 1798. and later Dr. Julian Xavier Charbet (1792–1859).[15][17][19]

His wife died in August 1799.[14] Bishop Provoost died in 1815 due to a stroke.[2]


Samuel Provoost was the third[20] bishop consecrated for the Episcopal Church of the United States.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Living Church Annual, 1944, pg. 375
  2. ^ a b c d "Samuel Provoost; American Clergyman" "Encyclopædia Britannica"
  3. ^ "(PRVT761S)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. Retrieved June 16, 2020.
  4. ^ Sprague, William B., "Rt Rev. Samuel Provoost" "Project Canterbury" 2008
  5. ^ "Provost (or Provoost), Samuel". University of Cambridge Alumni Database. Retrieved July 11, 2023.
  6. ^ "Provost (or Provoost), Samuel (PRVT761S)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  7. ^ Album Studiosorum Academiae Lugduno Batavae MDLXXV-MDCCCLXXV, kol. 1082.
  8. ^ Index to English speaking students who have graduated at Leyden university / by Edward Peacock, F.S.A. - London : For the Index society, by Longmans, Green & co. 1883, p. 80, 1082.
  9. ^ Chorley, E. Clowes (June 1933). "Samuel Provoost: First Bishop of New York". Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episcopal Church. 2: 1–25 – via Project Canterbury.
  10. ^ a b Wilson, James Grant (1886). The Centennial History of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of New York 1785-1885. New York: D. Appleton and Company.
  11. ^ Lowndes, Arthur, ed. (1911). Archives of the General Convention (Volume II ed.). New York: Privately printed. pp. 231–233.
  12. ^ Chorley, E. C., "Samuel Provoost: First Bishop of New York" "Project Canterbury" 2010
  13. ^ University of Pennsylvania. Society of the Alumni (1894). Biographical catalogue of the matriculates of the college, together with lists of the members of the college faculty and the trustees, officers and recipients of honorary degrees, 1749-1893. Robarts - University of Toronto. Philadelphia, Society of the Alumni.
  14. ^ a b c Ryder, George T. (August 21, 1886). "The First Bishop of New York". The Churchman. Churchman Company: 201–202. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  15. ^ a b c d e Greene, Richard Henry; Stiles, Henry Reed; Dwight, Melatiah Everett; Morrison, George Austin; Mott, Hopper Striker; Totten, John Reynolds; Pitman, Harold Minot; Ditmas, Charles Andrew; Forest, Louis Effingham De; Maynard, Arthur S.; Mann, Conklin (1880). The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record. New York Genealogical and Biographical Society. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  16. ^ Valentine's Manual of Old New York. Valentine's manual, Incorporated. 1916. p. 228. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  17. ^ a b c Whittelsey, Charles Barney (1902). The Roosevelt Genealogy, 1649-1902. Press of J.B. Burr & Company. p. 33. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  18. ^ Adams, Louisa Catherine (2014). A Traveled First Lady. Harvard University Press. p. 305. ISBN 9780674369276. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  19. ^ Fisher, James (2015). Historical Dictionary of American Theater: Beginnings. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9780810878334. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  20. ^ The Living Church Annual, 1944, pgs. 376-377
  • W. S. Perry, The History of the American Episcopal Church, 1587-1883 (Boston, 1885)
  • The Centennial History of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of New York, 1785-1885, edited by J. G. Wilson, (New York, 1886)

External links[edit]

Episcopal Church (USA) titles
Preceded by
1st Bishop of New York
Succeeded by
Preceded by 3rd Presiding Bishop
September 13, 1792 – September 8, 1795
Succeeded by
Preceded by
1st US Senate Chaplain
April 25, 1789 – December 9, 1790
Succeeded by