Davenport, James

Davenport, James an eccentric Presbyterian minister, was born at Stamford, Connecticut in 1716. He graduated from Yale College at the age of twenty-two. In 1738 the Philadelphia Presbytery gave Maidenhead and Hopewell leave to call him, but he preferred to set tie at Southold, L.I., and was ordained by a council, October 26, 1738. He was not an eloquent speaker, and in preaching exhausted himself, exhibiting strange contortions of face, and a strange, singing tone, which was imitated by many Baptists of the South. Whitefield, who met him in 1740, styles him "one of the ministers whom God had sent out, a sweet, zealous soul." Davenport had considerable success in Southold, and was the means of a great revival in Baskingridge, N.J., where he preached for a season. He visited Connecticut in 1741. At Stonington, one hundred persons were converted by his first sermon. Twenty of the Niantic Indians were converted under his preaching at East Lyme, and many of the Mohegan tribe, also. At New Haven he came into, conflict with the pastor. He was afterwards arrested at Ripton for disorderly proceedings and carried to Hartford, where he sang all night in prison. The grand jury presented him as a defamer of the ministry; he was treated as insane, and carried to his home. In March 1743, he went to New London and organized a separate church, his followers making a bonfire of religious books and fine clothing. After a severe illness, his mind underwent a change; he bewailed his errors, and in July 1744, made ample retraction. In 1746 he became a member of the New Brunswick Presbytery. Having recovered his health, he spent two months, in 1750, in Virginia, and also labored with some success at Cape May, N.J. He was called to Maidenhead and Hopewell, and was installed October 27, 1754. As moderator of the synod of New York he preached the opening sermon, which was printed with the title The Faithful Minister Encouraged.He remained pastor for three years, but his labors were not greatly blessed. Many of the extravagances charged against him were untrue, coming from scoffers and worldly men. Davenport died in 1757, and was buried in the New-Light graveyard, near Pennington, N.J. (W.P.S.)

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