William Henry Furness

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Reverend Doctor William Henry Furness (1886) by Cecilia Beaux.

Rev. William Henry Furness (April 20, 1802 - 1896) was an American clergyman, theologian, reformer and abolitionist.


Furness was born in Boston. In 1823 he graduated from the theological department of Harvard University. He then became minister of the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia at the age of 22, serving from 1825 to 1875. A close friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson, he presided over a period marked by the growth and increasing prosperity for First Church. A fiery abolitionist, he was a supporter of the rights of all segments of society, including African-Americans and Jews. Following the American Civil War, he raised funds for Black schools the South, including Morehouse College.

He was the father of painter William Henry Furness, Jr.,[1] Shakespearean scholar Horace Howard Furness, architect Frank Furness, and author and translator Annis Furness Lee.

In the position of Minister Emeritus, Rev. Furness lived to see the completion of the current First Church building in 1886, designed by his son Frank.

Selected works[edit]

  • Remarks on the Four Gospels (1836).
  • The Blessings of Abolition (1860)


  1. ^ William Henry Furness, Jr., from American Gallery.

External links[edit]