Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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BLAIR, Samuel, clergyman, born in Ulster, Ireland, 14 June 1712; died 5 July 1751. He came, while young, to Pennsylvania, and received his education at William Tennant's "Log College," in Neshaminy, Pennsylvania He was licensed to preach by the Philadelphia presbytery on 9 November 1733, and in September 1734, accepted a call to Middletown and Shrewsbury, New Jersey He was one of the original members of New Brunswick presbytery, formed in 1738, and in November 1739, took charge of the Church at New Londonderry, or Fogg's Manor, in Chester County, Pennsylvania Shortly after his settlement there he established a seminary, at which young men were educated, some of whom were afterward prominent in the Presbyterian Church, among them Rev. Samuel Davies and Rev. John Rodgers. In the controversy about revivals, which followed the visit of Whitefield to this country, and which finally divided the Presbyterian Church, Mr. Blair sided with the so-called "New Side." His principal writings were collected by his brother John (Philadelphia, 1754), with an elegy by Samuel Davies, and Dr. Finley's funeral sermon. This volume contains an elaborate treatise on "Predestination and Reprobation."*His brother, John, clergyman, born in Ireland in 1720; died in Walkill, Orange County, New York, 8 December 1771, was educated at the "Log College" of Dr. Tennant. He was licensed to preach by the Newcastle presbytery, belonging to the " New Side" division of the Presbyterian Church, and on 27 December 1742, was ordained pastor of three Churches in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania While here he made two visits to Virginia, the last in 1746, and organized several new congregations. As his parishes were frontier settlements, exposed to Lydian depredations, Mr. Blair resigned his charge on 28 December 1748, and returned to the more civilized part of the colony. In 17,57 he succeeded his brother as pastor at Fogg's Manor, Pennsylvania, and also as head of the seminary. In 1767 he was chosen professor of divinity at Princeton, and vice-president of the College, acting also as president for a short time. In 1769, as the College proved unable to support a professorship of divinity, Mr. Blair resigned, and, on 19 May of that year, accepted a call to Walkill, where he remained until his death. He published a treatise on "Regeneration," Calvinistic in its tone; a treatise on the " Terms of Admission to the Lord's Supper," and several sermons.*John's son, John Durbarrow, born in Fogg's Manor, 15 October 1759; died in Richmond, Virginia, in January 1823, was graduated at Princeton in 1775, and preached for many years in Richmond.*Samuel, son of Samuel, noticed above, clergyman, born in Fogg's Manor, Pennsylvania, in 1741 ; died in Germantown, Pennsylvania, 24 September 1818, was graduated at Princeton in 1760, and was tutor there from 1761 till 1764, when he was licensed to preach by Newcastle presbytery. In 1767 Mr. Blair, though but twenty-six years old, was elected to the presidency of Princeton College, Dr. Witherspoon having declined the first call of the trustees. But learning that, owing to a change of circumstances, Dr. Witherspoon was willing to accept, Mr. Blair declined in his favor. In November 1766, he was settled, as colleague of Dr. Sewall, over the Old South Church, Boston. While on his way thither from Philadelphia, he was shipwrecked, and narrowly escaped with his life. His health was much injured by the exposure, and in the spring of 1769 he had a severe illness, which, in connection with some theological differences between him and his congregation, induced him to resign. He left the Old South Church in 1769, and in the same year married a daughter of Dr. Shippen, of Philadelphia. The rest of his life was passed in German-town, Pennsylvania, where he was the principal founder of the English Presbyterian Church, and preached gratuitously for a season. He was several times a member of the Pennsylvania assembly, and was for two years chaplain to the continental congress. In 1790 the University of Pennsylvania gave him the degree of S. T.D. He published an oration on the death of George II. (1761).
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