Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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EMBURY, Philip, preacher, born in Ballygaran, Ireland, 21 September 1729; died in Camden, Washington County, New York, in August 1775. His parents were members of the colony of Germans that emigrated from the Palatinate to Ireland early in the eighteenth century, and in which Wesley labored with great success. Embury was educated at a school near Ballygaran, and learned the carpenter's trade. He was converted on Christmas day, 1752, became a local preacher in 1758, and in 1760 came to New York and worked at his trade.
In common with his fellow emigrants, he began to lose interest in religious matters, and did not preach in New York till 1766, when, moved by the reproaches of Barbara Heck, sometimes called the "foundress of American Methodism," he began to hold services first in his own house on Barrack Street, now Park place, and then in a rigging loft on what is now William Street. The congregation thus formed was probably the first, Methodist congregation in the United States, though it is a disputed question whether precedence should not be given to Robert Strawbridge, who began laboring in Maryland about this time. The first Methodist Church was built under Embury's charge in 1768, on the site of the present John Street Church, and he himself worked on the building as a carpenter, and afterward preached there gratuitously. He resigned in 1769 and went to Camden, New York, where he continued to work at his trade during the week, preaching every Sunday. He organized among Irish emigrants at Ashgrove, near Camden, the first Methodist society within the bounds of what is now Troy conference. He died suddenly, in consequence of an accident in mowing, and was buried on a neighboring farm, but in 1832 his remains were removed to Ashgrove Churchyard, and in 1866 to Woodland cemetery, Cambridge, New York, where in 1873 a monument to him was unveiled, with an address by Bishop Simpson.
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