Shield of the Historical Society of the Episcopal ChurchHistorical Society
of the Episcopal Church

Historiographers of The Episcopal Church

Samuel Farmar Jarvis
Samuel Farmar Jarvis
(January 20,1786—March 26,1851)
Historiographer,
September 16, 1838—March 26, 1851

Born in 1786 in Middletown, Connecticut, Samuel Farmar Jarvis was the first historiographer of the Episcopal Church. He was the son of Bishop Abraham Jarvis of Connecticut. Ordained in 1811, he served as rector of several New York and Boston churches in his first 15 years of ministry, including St. James’ Church in New York City (1813-1819), and St. Paul’s Church in Boston (1820-1826). During this time period, he was also appointed the first professor of biblical learning at General Theological Seminary, shortly following its establishment. After traveling Europe on a tour of its most important libraries, Jarvis returned to America in 1835 to serve as a professor at Washington (Trinity) College and then as rector of Christ Church, Middletown from 1837 to 1842. The General Convention named him historiographer in 1838, directing him to produce a history. One volume, The Church of the Redeemed, was published in 1850. Jarvis died in Middletown in 1851. He has been remembered as “a theological writer of distinction,” and also for his notable private library. The Jarvis Papers, donated to the Archives by the Diocese of Connecticut, include unpublished manuscripts, notebooks of his wife, Sarah Hart Jarvis, and correspondence, which complements his correspondence in other Archives' collections. A substantial portion of the papers includes an inventory of purchases made in Italy, which he seems to have created in relation to a divorce petition sought by his wife. The Papers total six cubic feet, and include an oversize, framed oil portrait of Jarvis.

https://www.episcopalarchives.org/jarvis-the-rev-samuel-farmar

Francis Lister Hawks
Francis Lister Hawks
(June 10,1798—September 27, 1866)
Historiographer,
?—September 27,1866

An American writer, historian, educator and priest of the Episcopal Church. After practicing law with some distinction (and a brief stint as politician in North Carolina), Hawks became an Episcopal priest in 1827 and proved a brilliant and impressive preacher, holding livings (a church benefice including revenues) in New Haven, Philadelphia, New York City and New Orleans, and declining several bishoprics. However, scandals during the 1830s and 40s led him to posts on the American frontier and rejection of his selection as bishop of Mississippi, although Hawks then became the first president of the University of Louisiana (now known as Tulane University), then moved to Baltimore, Maryland, and eventually returned to New York City.

Hawks's major contributions now seem literary. He edited the single volume Appletons' Cyclopaedia of Biography (1856), which added American biographies to the volume edited by Elihu Rich and published in 1854 by Richard Griffin & Company (London). Hawks' church history works remain important today. After being named the Episcopal Church's historiographer in 1835, Hawks traveled to England and collected materials afterwards utilized in his Contributions to the Ecclesiastical History of U.S.A. (New York, 1836–1839). The first two volumes dealt with Maryland and Virginia, while two later ones (1863, 1864) were devoted to Connecticut.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_L._Hawks

William Stevens Perry
William Stevens Perry
(January 22, 1832—May 13, 1898)
Historiographer,
October 23, 1868—May 13, 1898

Bishop and church historian. He was born in Providence, Rhode Island. Perry graduated from Harvard College in 1854 and then studied for a while at the Virginia Theological Seminary. He was ordained deacon on Mar. 29, 1857, and priest on Apr. 7, 1858. From 1858 until 1861 Perry was rector of St. Luke's Church, Nashua, New Hampshire, and from 1861 until 1863 he was rector of St. Stephen's Church, Portland, Maine. He served as rector of St. Michael's Church, Litchfield, Connecticut, 1864-1869, and of Trinity Church, Geneva, New York, 1869-1876. From 1871 until 1874, Perry was professor of history at Hobart College in Geneva, and in 1876 for several months he was president of the college. He was secretary of the House of Deputies from Oct. 24, 1865, until Oct. 3, 1877, and from Oct. 23, 1868, until his death, he was the third historiographer of the Episcopal Church. On Sept. 10, 1876, he was consecrated the second Bishop of Iowa and served in that position until his death. Among his many publications are Journals of the General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America (1861), Documentary History of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Connecticut, 1701-1789 (1863-1864), Historical Collections Relating to the American Colonial Church, 5 vols. (1870-1878), Historical Notes and Documents Illustrating the Organization of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America (1874), and The History of the American Episcopal Church, 1587-1883, 2 vols. (1885). Perry died in Davenport, Iowa.

“An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors, Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY.

Samuel Hart
Samuel Hart
(June 4,1845—February 25,1917)
Historiographer,
October 17,1898—February 25, 1917

Secretary of the House of Bishops and dean of the Berkeley Divinity School. He was born in Saybrook, Connecticut. Hart received his B.A. from Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, in 1866, and his B.D. from the Berkeley Divinity School in 1869. He was ordained deacon on June 2, 1869, and priest on June 28, 1870. From 1870 until 1873, he was tutor at Trinity College. From 1873 until 1899, he was a professor at Trinity where he taught almost all the courses in the curriculum. In 1899 he became vice-dean and professor of doctrinal theology at Berkeley. From 1908 until his death he was the third dean of Berkeley. Hart became the third custodian of the Standard Book of Common Prayer in 1886, secretary of the House of Bishops on Oct. 24, 1892, and the fourth historiographer of the Episcopal Church on Oct. 17, 1898. He served in all three positions until his death. His major book was a History of the American Book of Common Prayer (1910). Hart died in Middletown, Connecticut.

“An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors, Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY.

Edward Clowes Chorley
Edward Clowes Chorley
(May 6,1865—November 2,1949)
Historiographer,
October 14, 1919—October 1, 1949

Historiographer of the Episcopal Church, founder and editor of the Historical Magazine. He was born in Manchester, England. Chorley graduated from Richmond College in England in 1888, and served for a number of years in the Methodist ministry. He then came to the United States. Chorley was ordained deacon on Feb. 23, 1902, and priest on May 25, 1902. After serving as assistant to the rector of Christ Church, Yonkers, New York, 1901-1902, he became rector of Emmanuel Church, Great River, New York, 1902-1906, and assistant at Bethesda Church, Saratoga, New York, 1906-1908. From 1908 until his retirement in 1940, Chorley was rector of St. Philip's Church-in-the-Highlands, Garrison, New York. He served in many positions in the Diocese of New York. He was historiographer of the diocese from 1915 until his death. He served as the fifth historiographer of the Episcopal Church from Oct. 14, 1919, until Oct. l, 1949. He persuaded the General Convention of 1931 to authorize the publication of the Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episcopal Church, now called Anglican and Episcopal History. Chorley published many articles on the history of the Episcopal Church and six books. Among his books are The New American Prayer Book-Its History and Contents (1929), and Quarter of a Millennium: Trinity Church in the City of New York, 1697-1947 (1947). His magnum opus was Men and Movements in the American Episcopal Church (1946), which were the Hale Lectures delivered at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary. Chorley died in Cold Spring, New York.

“An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors, Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY.

Edgar Legare Pennington
Edgar Legare Pennington
(January 15,1891—December 10, 1951)
Historiographer,
October 1, 1949—December 10, 1951

Walter Herbert Stowe
(January 22, 1895—January 2, 1989)
Historiographer,
September 11,1952—September 27, 1967


Historian and writer. He was born in Waterville, Minnesota. Stowe received his B.A. in 1915 from the University of Minnesota and his B.D. in 1918 from Seabury Hall Divinity School. He was ordained deacon on Dec. 16, 1917, and priest on Feb. 2, 1919. Stowe was master of Shattuck School, 1918-1919, and priest-in-charge of Trinity Church, Woodbridge, New Jersey, 1919-1921. While at Woodbridge he was a fellow at the General Theological Seminary. Stowe was rector of St. Luke's Church, Willmar, Minnesota, 1921-1925; rector of St. Mark's Church, Denver, 1925-1929; and then rector of Christ Church, New Brunswick, New Jersey, from 1929 until his retirement in 1966. He was managing editor of the Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episcopal Church, 1934-1949, and editor, 1949-1961. He contributed numerous articles to the Historical Magazine. Stowe was historiographer of the Diocese of New Jersey, 1936-1967, and historiographer of the Episcopal Church, 1952-1967. One of his major books is The Life and Letters of Bishop William White; together with the services and addresses commemorating the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of his consecration to the episcopate (1937). Stowe died in Bound Brook, New Jersey.

“An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors, Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY.

Church Historical Society
Historiographer,
September 20, 1976—March 21, 1989

John Everett Booty
John Everett Booty
(May 2, 1925—April 17, 2013)
Historiographer,
March 22, 1989—November 1, 1999

John Robert Wright
John Robert Wright
(b. October 20,1936—January 12, 2022)
Historiographer,
July 5, 2000—July 5, 2012

The Rev. J. Robert Wright, a retired General Theological Seminary professor who was known in The Episcopal Church for his work promoting ecumenical dialogue, died Jan. 12 at his home in New York. He was 85.

“As this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity closes it is with profound gratitude that we remember and honor J. Robert Wright. His work toward Christian unity shaped not only The Episcopal Church’s ecumenical engagement, but the movement itself,” said the Rev. Margaret Rose, ecumenical and interreligious deputy to the presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church.

“Because of him, countless Episcopal seminarians understand ecumenical work as vital to their ministries. Expressions of gratitude came into our office this week, from Christians across the country.”

More recently, Wright had served as the St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery emeritus professor of ecclesiastical history at GTS; alumni, faculty and associates remembered him fondly.

“From his time as a student at GTS, through his time as professor and mentor, Father Wright was an inspiring teacher of church history and ecumenism at General for decades. In that role he also supported The Episcopal Church as an official historiographer and in his relationship with the Old Catholic Churches and the Iglesia Filipina Independiente,” wrote the Very Rev. Michael W. DeLashmutt, acting dean and president and associate professor of sacred theology at The General Theological Seminary, following Wright’s death.

“His passion for the legacy and future of Christian history was thorough and all encompassing; an inspiration and a standard in one way or another for all who studied with him,” DeLashmutt said.

Wright was known internationally for his engagement in ecumenical dialogues between The Episcopal Church, the Roman Catholic Church, Armenian Apostolic and Russian Orthodox, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Old Catholics and the Philippine Independent Church, among other churches. He was the principal Episcopal author of the Called to Common Mission accord with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

“Bob was my introduction to formal ecumenical work when he invited me to serve as secretary on the New York Diocesan Committee on Relations with the Russian Orthodox Church in 1998. I became his research assistant and typist for the final stage of his work on the Called to Common Mission full communion agreement with the ELCA, and I collaborated on his history of St. Thomas Fifth Avenue, his volume of patristic commentary on scripture, and several book projects and articles that remained unpublished,” Richard J. Mammana, The Episcopal Church’s associate for ecumenical and interreligious relations, told Episcopal News Service.

“He was the major American Anglican ecumenical leader of the second half of the twentieth century, and he opened doors everywhere. It is not uncommon to have a Lutheran, a Roman Catholic, an Orthodox Christian, or a member of another church ask ‘Do you know Bob Wright?’ and immediately a working friendship will begin based on his decades of ecumenical work,” he said.

Born on Oct. 20, 1936, Wright attended The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. He also studied at Oxford University and the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies in Toronto, Canada. He would become the longest-tenured faculty member at GTS.

“For many years at the seminary, Wright taught a class on liturgical celebration, otherwise known as ‘Mass class.’ The class was a ‘rite of passage’ for many at General Seminary, quite distinct from the more sober class on pastoral liturgy taught by his colleague Thomas Talley,” wrote the Rt. Rev. John Bauerschmidt, bishop of Tennessee, co-chair of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Theological Consultation in the United States of America and a former student of Wright’s, in a tribute published in The Living Church.

Wright’s ashes are interred at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York.

Episcopal News Service, January 20, 2022


Robert Bruce Mullin
(b. October 24, 1953—)
Historiographer July 5, 2012— June 2022


The General Convention in 2022 did not act to appoint a new Historiographer. By canon, the Registrar, the Rev. Canon Michael Barlowe, becomes the Historiographer. Not being in a position to actively take on those duties, Mr. Lee Little of the Diocese of Indianapolis has been appointed the Assistant Historiographer to assist with those duties until General Convention 2024 is able t act. Additional information will be available soon.

This list is based on the work of the Rev. Donald Smith Armentrout, retired professor of church history and historical theology, the Charles Quintard professor of dogmatic theology, and director of the Advanced Degrees Program at the University of the South’s School of Theology in Sewanee, Tennessee. It had been supplement by Matthew P. Payne, Director of Operations of the Historical Society of the Episcopal Church.

Historical Society of the Episcopal Church

Dedicated to preserving and disseminating information about the history of the Episcopal Church and its antecedents.
A 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization established for educational, charitable and religious purposes.
(920) 383-1910 | administration@hsec.us | PO Box 1301, Appleton, WI 54912-1301 | © 2021

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software