Contee, Benjamin, Dd
Contee, Benjamin, D.D.
a Protestant Episcopal minister, was born at Benfield, Charles County, Maryland, in 1755. When the war of the Revolution broke out he entered the American army, and held a commission in 1776. After independence was declared he visited France, Spain, and England. He was a scholarly man, very courteous in his manner. In 1789 he was elected a representative to the first Congress under the new constitution. Though not a public debater, he was profound in investigation and wise in counsel. Washington was his personal friend. Returning from Congress, his father established him as a merchant in Nottingham, Maryland; but he was unsuccessful, and returned to Blenheim, where he had been married. Subsequently he became a planter. He accepted the appointment of chief judge of the testamentary court of Charles County, which he held during his life. In May 1802, the parish of William and Mary, in Charles County, of which he had been vestryman, solicited him to enter holy orders and become their pastor, to which he consented. In June 1803, he obtained deacon's orders, and in 1805 was placed on the standing committee, and became the official visitor of his own and the adjoining county, a position which he held ever after. The adjoining parish, Trinity, invited him to its pulpits about this time, and he continued to preach there during the following five years, although one church was twelve and the other twenty miles distant from his home. Bishop Claggett's health failing, Dr. Contee became, in August 1811, rector of St. Paul's parish, a part of the bishop's charge, and in this pastorate he continued for three years. During this time he had five places of worship to supply, the most distant being forty miles away. In 1812 he came very near being elected assistant to the bishop. In 1813 he began to curtail dis field of labor, giving up Trinity Church and St. Paul's. William and Mary, the parish in which he resided, was held by him until the date of his death, January 23, 1816. His character was distinguished by self-denial, great zeal, and devotion. See Sprague, Annals of the Amer. Pulpit, 5:487.