Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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FERRIS, Isaac, clergyman, born in New York City, 9 October 1798; died in Roselle, New Jersey, 16 June 1873. He entered Columbia when but twelve years of age, joined the military company raised among the students in the war of 1812, and did duty in the forts around New York harbor. His College course was delayed one year by this, and he was graduated in 1816 with the highest honors of his class, He taught in the Albany academy one year, and then studied theology under Dr. James M. Mason, and in Rutgers seminary, was licensed to preach in 1820, and became pastor of the Reformed Dutch Church in New Brunswick, New Jersey, in 1821. He was afterward settled in Albany in 1824'36, and at the Market Street Church, New York, in 1836'53. He went to Holland as commissioner on behalf of American missionaries in the Dutch East Indies in 1842. He was long connected with the Sunday school union, was president of the City organization from 1837 till 1873, was the originator of the Rutgers female institute, and for a long period its principal and the president of its board of trustees for eighteen years, and was subsequently connected with the Ferris institute.
In 1852 he accepted the chancellorship of the University of New York, at that time under serious embarrassment from heavy debts. He collected about $74,000, outside of the rentals and other receipts of the University, and thus relieved it from its financial embarrassments, and materially raised the standard of scholarship. He filled the chair of moral science and Christian evidence during his whole connection with the University, and was also acting professor of constitutional and international law in 1855'69. He retired from the chancellorship in 1870, but was immediately chosen chancellor emeritus. He removed a year later to Roselle, New Jersey, where he resided until his death. The degree of D. D. was conferred on him by Union College in 1833, and that of LL. D. by Columbia in 1853. He published numerous occasional sermons, essays, and addresses, including "Appeal to the Ministers in behalf of Sunday Schools" (Philadelphia, 1834), and a "Report on Separate Action in Foreign Missions" (1857).
His son, John Mason Ferris, clergyman, born in Albany, New York, 17 January 1825, was graduated at the University of the City of New York in 1843, studied theology at the New Brunswick seminary, was licensed to preach in the Dutch Reformed Church in 1849, and served in various parishes from 1849 till 1865, when he was elected secretary of the Board of foreign missions. He became editor of the "Christian Intelligencer" in 1883, and treasurer of the Foreign mission board in 1886. Mr. Ferris is the author of a "History of Foreign Missions," published in the "Manual of the Reformed Church" in 1869 and 1879.
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